November 9, 2004

2004-2005 Men's Basketball Preview

Nov. 9, 2004

When Glen Miller took over the Brown coaching reigns six years ago, the Brown basketball program had posted winning seasons just 18 times in 93 years. In five years under Miller's tutelage, the Bears have posted four consecutive winning seasons for the first time ever, finishing second in the Ivy standings in each of the last two years and three times in the four years.

Armed with the return of two starters, including senior All-American Jason Forte, the Ivy League's Player of the Year, and junior Luke Ruscoe, the only Brown player to start all 27 games last year, Miller expects this year's young team to challenge once again for the Ivy League title and extend Brown's consecutive season winning streak.

"Even though we only return two starters, we have several other returning players who have contributed to our team," said Miller. "I'm confident that our first=year players will be able to pick up our system and make significant contributions throughout the season."

Miller's fast-break, motion offense has led the Ivy League in scoring in each of the last four years. Directing that offense is Forte, the dominant guard in the Ivy League, a two-time first team All-Ivy choice, and the 2004 Ivy League Player of the Year. He was also an Associated Press All-American, earning honorable mention honors.

"Jason will be looked to as a team leader because of his level of experience and success," said Miller. "He's a point guard who can score, and I expect him to have a great senior year."

Forte, a co-captain of this year's team, emerged as one of the top players in the nation when he accomplished the Ivy League's first "Tiny," leading the league in both scoring (21.4 ppg.) and assists (5.79 apg). The "Tiny" is named in honor of Nate "Tiny" Archibald, the only NBA player to achieve the feat of leading a league in both scoring and assists. Forte also tied for the league lead in steals (2.07 per game), and ranked fourth in free throw percentage (.856), making more free throws (95) than any other Ivy player attempted.

In back-to-back Ivy games, Forte registered a rare triple-double vs. Dartmouth (11 points, 10 assists, 12 rebounds), and a double-double vs. Harvard (24 points, 10 assists). Forte scored a season high 30 points against Cornell and added 29 points vs. Penn, scoring in double figures in every Ivy League game. Forte ranks 15th on Brown's all-time scoring list with 1,118 career points, second in career assists (405), and fourth in career free throws (373). His 129 assists in 2003-2004 are seventh in Brown hoop history.

The 6-7 Ruscoe, a co-captain of this year's team, utilized his versatility and ball-handling skills to play several positions for the Bears, and was the only Brown player to start all 27 games last year. He was the Bears' fifth leading scorer with 8.1 points per game, and ranked second on last year's squad with 43 steals, fourth best in the Ivy League (1.59 per game).

"Luke has been a total team player, who has done whatever is needed for us to win," said Miller. "He has demonstrated the ability to be a consistent scorer for our team."

Ruscoe netted a season-high 17 points against Penn, Central Connecticut and Rhode Island, and scored in double figures 11 times as a sophomore. Ruscoe ranked third on last year's team in rebounding with 4.3 per game, pulling down a team high 14 rebounds against Yale. His 64 assists ranked 15th in the Ivy League.

For the Bears to be successful, several returning players will have to assume new roles for the Bears. In the front court, sophomore forward Sam Manhanga earned nine starts for the Bears and showed promise early, and late in the season. He netted 19 points against Rider and 20 points against Maine-Fort Kent in being named the Ivy League Player of the Week.

Sophomore PJ Flaherty, a 6-9 center, is also expected to contribute after playing in 23 games, scoring a season high 8 points vs. Maine-Fort Kent, and earning some important minutes in the Ivy League season. The Bears will also be buoyed by the return of sophomore Nathan Eads, who missed the last two years while on a Mormon mission. Eads, a strong and athletic 6-8 power forward, saw some playing time for Miller in the 2001-2002 season.

In the backcourt, sophomore Marcus Becker was a major contributor, playing in all 27 games, starting four, and logging nearly 18 minutes per game. A quick, athletic player, Becker has worked very hard in the off-season to improve his outside shooting touch. Sophomore guard Kameron Chones missed a large chunk of last season due to illness, but is expected to challenge for playing time this season.

Miller's incoming freshman class features seven players who could vie for immediate playing time. In the backcourt, freshman Damon Huffman is a skilled 6-2 combo-guard, who averaged nearly 23 points per game at Petoskey (MI) High School. Freshman Keenan Jeppesen, a 6-6 guard, was voted Mr. Basketball in Ontario after averaging 20.2 points per game for Saltfleet (Ont.) High School. Mark McAndrew is a 6-3 freshman guard with excellent long-range shooting ability, who comes to Brown via Barrington (RI) High School and Worcester (MA) Academy, where he scored 17.2 points per game. Freshman Adolphe Coulibaly is an versatile, 6-5 wing from the Ivory Coast, Africa, who starred at St. George's (RI) School, scoring 15 points a game. James Daniels, a 6-2 freshman guard, averaged 15 points per game at El Camino (CA) High School. In the front court, 6-9 forward Mark MacDonald stands out after averaging 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds a game at Lexington (MA) High School. Freshman Eric Nordrum is a skilled 6-8 forward from Valley (OH) High School, where he averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds a game. His twin brother, Kyle Nordrum (6-8) also joins this year's team.