Ivy League Coaches Media Conference Quotes

November 2nd, 2010
Last Wednesday the eight Ivy League head coaches took part in the Ancient Eight's preseason media teleconference, and along with their thoughts the preseason poll results and preseason All-Ivy candidates were unveiled. CHN writer Jon Teitel compiled the thoughts of each coach below, and the preseason poll can be seen there as well.

Brown's Jesse Agel (11-20, 5-9)
"Hopefully we are going to progress from being competitive to winning games. I feel we are pretty good offensively, but a work in progress defensively. I am hoping that our freshmen will grow up during the season to become "February sophomores". The Sullivan brothers (Matt/Peter) are a couple of years apart, and Pete shoulders a lot of the load for us. The biggest part for Garrett Leffelman last year was trying to stay healthy for more than one month at a time. He really burst onto the scene in the second half of the season. With Pete Sullivan being down, we want Garrett to take more shots, and if he can make 55% of his shots again, he is going to have a great season. We want the stars to be stars and let our four freshmen just fill in by playing their roles, while adjusting to college life both on and off the court. They are very coachable and learning extremely quickly. We do not have any juniors in our program, so we have to garner some experience for our young guys."

Columbia's Kyle Smith (11-17, 5-9)
"We have a mostly new coaching staff and several returning players. Noruwa Agho wants to be a good all-around player: I thought he might be just a shooter, but he is willing to pass the ball and make his teammates better. The talent level in this league is excellent. I would not put 7-foot center Max Craig in the same category as Omar Samhan (who was the star of the Sweet 16 squad at St. Mary's last year when Smith was an associate coach), but he has a physical presence and plays hard. Zack Crimmins is another 7-footer we have who is skillful. We do not want to put a lot of pressure on ourselves with wins/losses: we just want to get better every day. Having success on the road is a key for any winning program."

Cornell's Bill Courtney (29-5, 13-1)
"We are a team full of unknowns, so even our returning players will have to step into new roles. I love the work ethic of my players. Losing 3 of the best players in school history means that a guy like Chris Wroblewski will have to take on a lot of leadership, and he has excelled in that role. I definitely can recall the night I scored 31 points as a senior in a two-point win against Cornell; you always remember the games when you scored 30! I always knew I wanted to be a college basketball coach. It is a tremendous honor to be at Cornell with its great reputation in both academics and athletics. My family and I have been embraced by the community. The trickiest part is figuring out the whole process of recruiting without scholarships."

Harvard's Tommy Amaker (21-8, 10-4)
"We feel like we have a good nucleus of returning players, but Jeremy Lin was incredible for us last year, so we will have our work cut out for us this year. Injuries have set us back, but if we can remain healthy and consistent, then I think we can be a very competitive team this year. A lot of on-court success is determined about how things are going for our guys off the court, particularly our younger players. Coach K has not called me to chat about Princeton: he does not have to ask me for any advice related to basketball, as it is the other way around all the time! It has been a neat environment on campus ever since we made the postseason last year (the school's first postseason appearance since 1946), and it has been wonderful to see the growth and excitement take place. We had a lot of sellouts and overflow crowds last year, and I think both our fans and our recruits enjoy our entertaining style of play. We have played MI before, which was part of the contract from before I got here because we had some kids from Boston on our roster at Michigan (Amaker previously was the MI head coach). We would love to continue to play BC since they are a local rival, and BC (and former Cornell) head coach Steve Donahue also wants to see that happen."

Penn's Jerome Allen (6-22, 5-9)
"This will be an interesting year throughout the league due to the good balance, now more than ever. I think our staff has the opportunity to bring back the brand of basketball success we are used to at Penn. They say that you never know how she is until you marry her: we are only a couple of weeks into our relationship, and still have to figure out who are going to be our constant contributors. All of our guys who were injured (such as Tyler Bernardini/Andreas Schreiber) have done a great job in rehab of getting back towards 100%. We have to compete and really respect the game. Whichever team makes the fewest mistakes and plays defense will probably be on top. Nothing has changed from a coaching standpoint in terms of starting the season as coach vs. becoming coach during the season. We just embrace the process of going from point A to point B, and after mastering that first step we will just try to keep playing the right type of basketball."

Princeton's Sydney Johnson (22-9, 11-3)
"Trying to size up our league, I think that Penn will be a very strong team and right the ship immediately. I agree with the talk that it is a wide-open league, and our task is to practice hard and be very hungry. We have told our three seniors (Bobby Foley/Kareem Maddox/Dan Mavraides) the same thing for the past four years, so now they can turn around and tell the younger guys what to do. It is always different going from individual workouts to having the whole gang out there. Marcus Schroeder was the heart and soul of our team, but we have some guys who can fill that void. We want all of our guys to be able to handle the ball, which was a major point of emphasis last spring. Rutgers and Duke will just start our season with a bang. Coach K will more than likely go down as one of the greatest coaches of all-time. Harvard head coach (and former Duke captain) Tommy Amaker has not given me any tips, but I think the Duke basketball family is pretty tight, and they should keep it that way. As we all go out and play different teams, we all represent the Ivy League. It is an interesting dynamic: you want the other seven teams to get some good non-conference wins, but you have to have tunnel vision during conference play."

Yale's James Jones (12-19, 6-8)
"We have a Good mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen, but not a lot of experience outside of Michael Sands/Porter Braswell. We certainly have to take care of home court, but also have to play consistently down the stretch. We don't need a high-scoring point guard; we just need someone to not turn the ball over and be smart with his decision-making. Expectations have been raised so high in our league due to Cornell's convincing run in the tourney. The Connecticut 6 Classic is a tremendous idea. It will not be the first game played at the Mohegan Sun Arena, and I do not think our guys will be anywhere near the casino. I think it is great for fans of all 6 teams to get to see them play there, and hope we can do it for years to come. The only thing I am worried about for the game at BC on November 18th is that my 5-year old son will come with us on the bus, and I just hope he does not burn the house down when playing with my brother Joe's (assistant coach at BC) kid. I suspect the game itself will be a dogfight, as Steve Donahue (former Cornell head coach) is a great coach."

Dartmouth's Paul Cormier (5-23, 1-13)
"I have never seen these kids play before this year and did not recruit them. We started with 20 players and are now down to 14. We have about seven who were on the team last year and the rest are new. This year is about changing the culture a bit and focusing on defense, as we know we will be recruiting some players to fit our offensive style. Some of my fondest memories were coaching in Philly (as an assistant to Rollie Massimino at Villanova): it is a tremendous college basketball environment. In the early 1980s the Big 5 games were absolutely the best. Those games were bloodbaths, as the teams left everything out on the floor. Most teams had at least a few kids from Philly and it was neighbor against neighbor, so you could just throw out any records/predictions. I enjoyed my first go-round at Dartmouth, but I got into the scouting side of the NBA game and stayed there too long. I have been trying to get back into the college game for a few years, and when the Dartmouth position opened up I jumped at the chance. There is nothing better than being back in northern New England at the school that gave me my first chance to be a head coach. I am as excited as hell about being here, and think we will be competitive in the near-future. This is the first time I have ever gone after a job without really needing it. You cannot rebuild from scratch without the commitment from the school. The admissions and financial aid process is much more transparent now."

Preseason Poll
1. Princeton (12 first-place votes) 128 points
2. Harvard (4) 120
3. Cornell (1) 96
4. Pennsylvania 89
5. Yale 57
6. Brown 55
7. Columbia 48
8. Dartmouth 19