2001-2002 BROWN BASKETBALL PREVIEW
Sept. 10, 2001
Providence, RI -
Brown's basketball program took a quantum leap towards the top of the Ivy League standings last season with a second place finish and a 15-12 overall record, registering Brown's first winning season since 1986. It was the fifth time in Brown's 94-year history the Bears have won 15 or more games.
Third-year head coach Glen Miller is optimistic that his squad will be in the "hunt" for the Ivy title once again with the return of all five starters and 12 letterwinners. At the top of the class is junior guard Earl Hunt, a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection and top sophomore scorer in Ivy basketball history, along with junior forward Alaivaa Nuualiitia, a second team All-Ivy choice. With experienced personnel and a strong incoming freshman class, Miller has set his team goals at the Ivy League title.
"Our program made some major strides last season and learned what it takes to compete with the top teams in the Ivy League," said Miller. "We still have a long way to go and a lot to learn as a team. However, if we can build on our late season success of a year ago, we'll be challenging for the Ivy title once again."
The versatile Hunt is the leader of the Bears' backcourt, playing the one, two and three positions for the Bears. At 6-4, Hunt is a tough guard to defend with his ability to score from behind the arc, create off the dribble and post-up inside.
"Earl's a big, strong, durable and athletic guard, who has explosive scoring ability," said Miller. "He's a tough match-up because he can score in a variety of ways."
Hunt became the highest scoring sophomore in Ivy League basketball history, finishing the 2000-2001 season with 993 career points. He is the first Brown player since Eric Blackiston in 1995 to be named first team All-Ivy as he led the Ivy League in scoring with 19.7 points per game, scoring in double figures in 25 of Brown's 27 games.
A two-time Ivy League Player of the Week, Hunt scored 20 or more points 15 times, including a season-high 33 points vs. Harvard and High Point. He ranked third in the Ivy League in field goal percentage (.487), fourth in three point shooting percentage (.410), sixth in free throw percentage (.772), and ninth in rebounding (6.2 rpg) and assists (1.37 apg). His 993 career points are 17th best in Brown basketball history, while the 533 points he scored last season are sixth best in Brown basketball history.
Brown's late season success was partly due to the blossoming of senior point guard Omari Ware, who averaged 10.8 points per game over Brown's last nine games, including a career high 20 point performance against Dartmouth. A quick defender who can jet down the court on the fast break, Ware handed out 102 assists last season, dishing out a career high 10 assists against Penn. Sophomore Mike Martin is a 6-4 guard who was one of the top newcomers in the Ivy League a year ago, starting 24 of 27 games for the Bears. Martin earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors last season, and scored in double figures six times, averaging 6.5 points per game, including a career high 19 points vs. Penn. Sophomore Ramel Carrington also return to the Bears' backcourt after contributing last season.
Brown's backcourt will be enhanced by the addition of freshman Jason Forte, a 6-0 point guard from The Heights School in Maryland, and Jordan Jhabvala, a 5-10 combo guard from Raleigh, North Carolina, who played at Athens Drive HS. Forte, the younger brother of former North Carolina standout Joe Forte, ran away with the county scoring title with a 30.0 ppg scoring average, including a season-high 44 points. The Rockville, Maryland resident also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out seven assists per game. Jhabvala, one of the top ranked point guards in North Carolina, is an excellent shooter, who led his high school team in scoring with 17.8 points per game while handing out 5.0 assists per game.
Nuualiitia, a 6-7 forward/center, was a major force for the Bears down the stretch, and led the Ivy League in shooting by a wide margin, hitting 58 percent of his shots from the field (118 of 205), fourth best in Brown basketball history. He shot an incredible 10 for 11 from the field against Princeton last year. Nuualiitia also ranked second in the Ivy League in rebounding, pulling down 7.9 rebounds per game.
"Alai was a warrior down the stretch last season, battling the top centers in the league, despite being undersized," comments Miller. "He is difficult to defend in the low post, leading the league in shooting percentage, and has expanded his offensive repertoire extensively in the last year."
Nuualiitia registered seven double-doubles last year, scoring a career-high 26 points against Northeastern and grabbing a career high 16 rebounds against Cornell. He averaged 11.7 points per game, 11th best in the Ivy League.
Senior Shaun Etheridge is a three-year starter for the Bears, who averaged 9 points and 5.5 rebounds a game last season. Etheridge scored a season high 21 points against Yale and pulled down a career high 14 rebounds vs. Harvard last season while registering three double-doubles. He has tremendous anticipation and court sense, leading the Bears with 38 steals.
Miller has several frontcourt players who saw significant playing time last season and are ready for major contributions. Sophomore Jaime Kilburn stepped-up late in the season and saw significant playing time in Brown's last seven games. He was named the Ivy League's Rookie of the Week after scoring 12 points vs. Harvard. Junior Brandon Howard averaged 3.8 points a game and contributed in 19 games.
Senior Josh Meyer is an experienced team leader and one of the hardest workers on the Brown team. Meyer, who plays the three and four positions, has started in 51 games for the Bears. Miller believes that several other sophomores should be able to step up to major roles. At 6-7, Patrick Powers is a strong shooter and offensive-minded player, who can slash to the basket. He started two games last season and scored a season high 11 points vs. Providence. Brad Simpson is a versatile forward, who scored 10 points against Providence, and looks to fill out his 6-8 frame. Matt McCleggon is a 6-10 center, who is still relatively young in his basketball career.
Joining the Brown front court is 6-8 freshman forward/center Nathan Eads, a native of Ellicott City, Maryland, who scored 14 points and grabbed 8 rebounds a game as a senior at the McDonough School. Freshman GJ King is a 6-7 forward from Hinsdale (IL) Central High School, who netted 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds last season.