Bears Tip-Off 100th Season With First Practice Session

Bears Tip-Off 100th Season With First Practice Session

Oct. 14, 2005

Providence, RI - The Brown men's basketball team will officially open its 100th season of intercollegiate basketball with its first practice on Friday, October 14th at 10:00 p.m. at the Pizzitola Sports Center.

Just a year ago, Brown featured the youngest basketball team in the nation with just one senior and one junior. Head coach Glen Miller had to orchestrate a lineup that often featured four freshmen on the floor at the same time.

In its 100th season of intercollegiate play, the good news for the Brown basketball team is that the squad gained invaluable experience in a rebuilding season, and return four starters, including the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and 10 lettermen, including seven players who averaged more than 12 minutes a game.

Heading the list of returnees is versatile tri-captain Luke Ruscoe, the lone senior on the Brown squad and the Bears' top returning scorer. The 6-7 Ruscoe, who has played four different positions for Miller, is on the verge of a breakout season, and should be the beneficiary of the Bears' team oriented offense.

Ruscoe averaged 10.3 points per game last season, and netted 21 points in Brown's win over Central Florida, connecting on 6 of 7 treys. He also had some big games on the defensive end, pulling down 11 rebounds against Dartmouth and 10 boards against Missouri. His 5.6 rebounds per game led the Bears and were seventh in the Ivy League. He also displayed great anticipation, leading the Bears with 53 steals, second best in the Ivy League.

Junior tri-captain PJ Flaherty, a 6-9 forward, joins Ruscoe as a returning starter in the frontcourt, following a solid sophomore campaign. Flaherty, who can score from the paint, scored in double figures six times a year ago, including a career high 14 points against Holy Cross. Flaherty, who gotten much stronger since the completion of last season, also had a season high seven rebounds against Yale.

Sophomore Mark MacDonald, a 6-8 forward, has the ability to score inside and out. He netted a season high 25 points against New Hampshire, knocking down 10 of 12 field goals, including three of four three-point baskets. His 20 blocked shots led the Bears and ranked xx in the Ivy League. Sophomore Keenan Jeppesen is a 6-7 athletic swingman, who started six of Brown's last seven games and scored 16 points vs. Columbia.

Additional competition in the frontcourt will come from juniors Sam Manhanga and Nathan Eads. Manhanga netted a season high 16 points against Harvard last season, while pulling down seven rebounds. Eads got his playing legs back last year after missing the previous two years while on a Mormon Mission. He came off the bench to score eight points against Charleston Southern.

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Despite the loss of three-time All-Ivy guard Jason Forte, Brown's backcourt looks solid with the return of junior tri-captain Marcus Becker to the point, and sophomore shooting guard Damon Huffman, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year.

Huffman began the season strong, scoring 16 points in his collegiate debut against Missouri, struggled in the middle of the season, and finished strong in the last quarter of the season. A solid long-range shooter, Huffman hit five of seven treys against both Missouri and Columbia, and scored in double figures nine times. He finished the season ranked sixth in the Ivy League in three-point field goal percentage (.415).

Huffman, who averaged 8.4 points per game, netted 17 points against Columbia, and a season high 18 against Yale to finish the season. His 44 treys ranked second on last year's team, while his 34 steals ranked third on the Brown team and tenth in the Ivy League.

Becker will direct the Bears' up-tempo motion offense after starting 22 of 28 games a year ago. A slashing guard with excellent athletic ability, Becker is expected to assume more of a scoring role for the Bears. He netted a career high 12 points against Harvard, connecting on 4 treys vs. the Crimson, and grabbed a season high 8 rebounds against Yale.

Sophomore Mark McAndrew is another long-range marksman, who connected on 20 three-point baskets a year ago. He was one of three Brown first-year players to earn Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors. He helped the Bears to the UCF Holiday Invitational championship, scoring a season high 13 points in the victory over Central Florida, and netting nine points and pulling down six rebounds in the title game vs. Charleston Southern.

Miller has high expectations for this year's freshmen class, with several first year players expected to contribute immediately. Freshman Scott Friske, a native of Charlevoix, Michigan, averaged 14.5 points and 7 rebounds a game last year at Worcester Academy. Rugged 6-5 freshman forward Chris Skrelja from Trinity Catholic HS in Stamford, CT, a first team All-State selection, averaged 19 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. Freshman Aaron Jimenez, a top prospect from the Chicago area, averaged 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Leyden High School.


- When Brown beat Central Florida, 83-82 (ot) in the first round of the UCF Holiday Championship in Orlando, Florida, it turned out to be the Golden Knight's only non-league loss of the season. Central Florida posted an 11-1 non-league mark, 24-8 overall, capturing the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship and earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

- With so many underclassmen on last year's team, Bears' coach Glen Miller used 15 different starting lineups in Brown's 27 games. No Brown player has started all 27 games.

- Brown's seven non-league victories in 2004-2005 were the second highest number of non-league wins in Brown basketball history. Since the Ivy League was formed in 1954-1955, Brown teams have won seven or more non-league games just twice before, in 2001-02 (9) and 1966-67 (7).

- The Bears had never won at Princeton prior to the 2002-2003 season, covering 52 previous games, and have now captured two of the last three games at Princeton's Jadwin Gym. Brown's 57-52 win over Princeton in 2004-2005, sent the Tigers to their first loss in an Ivy home opener, other than Penn, in 20 years.

- 10 of the 14 Brown players who saw action last year scored three-point baskets. The first career field goal attempt for six of the eight freshmen on last year's squad was a made three-point basket. Luke Ruscoe's 6 treys vs. UCF were fifth best in Brown basketball history, while Damon Huffman's five treys vs. Missouri and Columbia ranked tenth in the Brown record book.