IVY SEASON PREVIEW: Brown Trendspotting

The numbers: 7-11 overall, 1-0 Ivy, 233rd RPI, 278th Sagarin, 260th Pomeroy

The recent results: lost to Army 59-51 (1/6), lost to Quinnipiac 88-75 (1/11), defeated Yale 75-66 (1/15)
The upcoming schedule: vs. Yale (1/22), vs. Princeton (1/29), vs. Penn (1/30)

Key Non-Conference Wins: at St. Francis (NY) 68-64 (11/13), vs. Maine 75-62 (11/22)

Youth Movement

While senior forward Matt Mullery gets most of the attention around the league, Brown is quietly building an incredibly deep and young team, which should be capable of competing at a high level within the league over the next three years. Rookies Matt Sullivan, Andrew McCarthy and Tucker Halpern are all hovering around a 100 offensive rating, which is the national average, but very good for freshmen. McCarthy has been the strongest performer among the first-year players, ranking in the top 300 in rebounding on both ends of the floor and blocks, while the younger Sullivan, like his brother Peter, ranks in the top 400 in percentage of minutes played.

The strong freshman class in Providence have the Bears on pace for a double-digit win season, despite playing players with an average experience which is well below the national average.

On The Rebound

Brown’s most glaring weakness this season has been its rebounding, as the Bears have run up an 11.4 percentage point difference between their offensive and defensive rebounding rates. As pointed out in the season preview, last year’s seniors Chris Skrelja and Scott Friske did an underrated job on the glass and their presence would be sorely missed, especially since Mullery has never been dominant on the boards himself. Only McCarthy has grabbed a decent share of the defensive boards (19.1 percent), while the entire rest of the team pulls down between nine and 13 percent. Simple math says that if your target for defensive boards is 70 percent, you need five guys on the floor averaging 14 percent, and the Bears simply haven’t found that type of production yet.

Lightly Guarded

With the combination of Mullery and freshmen Halpern and McCarthy, Brown has an extremely talented frontcourt. Add to that the Sullivan brothers on the wing, and the three through five positions are pretty much nailed down. The rest of the backcourt, however, is far from settled. The Bears lack a true point guard, as junior Adrian Williams has the spot in name, but dishes out fewer assists than three starters, all of whom are 6’6 or above. Peter Sullivan has done a good job at the shooting guard spot, but struggles with smaller, quicker guards on the perimeter. Junior Garrett Leffelman and senior Steve Gruber have above average shooting ability off the bench, but neither takes all that many shots when in the game. And recently, sophomore Jean-Herbert Harris left the team after seeing his playing time dwindle over his final 12 games.

While the versatility of the Sullivans have helped the Bears survive this lack of guard depth, Brown definitely needs to find some college-ready guards in this year’s recruiting class in order to bridge the gap until highly-touted recruit Joe Sharkey arrives in 2011.

Odds & Ends

– Brown’s mark of 14.5 turnovers forced per 100 possessions ranks dead last in the nation. None of the qualified players on the Bears’ roster rank in the top 20 of steal percentage in the league, and half of Brown’s qualified players rank in the bottom 10 in the league.

– Despite the Bears’ obvious advantage in the interior, Brown launches 38.1 percent of its field goals from behind the arc, 57th most nationally. The Bears are shooting 34.8 percent from deep, so it’s not hurting the team’s EFG percent, but it is certainly surprising given that Brown is shooting 50.0 percent from close range.

– Brown was the second-worst defensive team in the league last year, and it is on pace to duplicate that mark this season. The Bears’ 107.7 points allowed per 100 possessions were only better than Harvard’s 109.2 points allowed in 2008-09, while their 112.0 points allowed per 100 possessions this season are only marginally better than Penn’s 113.6 mark.

Michael James

Michael James wrote 98 posts

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