Oct. 11, 2007
Providence, RI - Second-year Brown head coach Craig Robinson, the 2007 Ivy League Coach of the Year, has reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season with the return of an All-Ivy backcourt, four starters, eight returning lettermen, and the addition of seven outstanding freshmen. His squad will hit the hardwood for its first pre-season practice at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Friday, October 12, 2007, beginning at 9:00 p.m.
Brown's All-Ivy backcourt is led by first team All-Ivy guard Mark McAndrew (Barrington, RI), the Ivy League's leading scorer with 18.6 points per game. A four-time Ivy Player of the Week in 2006-2007, McAndrew was the 15th Brown player to be named first team All-Ivy in the 51-year history of the Ivy League.
McAndrew's meteoric rise to the top of the Ancient Eight is a reflection of his extraordinary work ethic and determination to succeed, and his ability to grasp Robinson's motion offense quickly and effectively.
In addition to leading the Ivies in scoring, McAndrew's 15.8 points per game overall ranked third in the Ivy League. He led the Bears and ranked seventh in the Ivy League in rebounding with 5.3 rebounding per game, and ranked third in the league in free throw percentage (.848), seventh-best in Brown basketball history. He also ranked fifth in the league in three-point field goal percentage (.442), fifth in the league in three-point field goals (2.48 per game), and sixth in the league in field goal percentage (.464).
McAndrew exploded for a career-high 33 points against Cornell and scored 30 points against Hartford; 27 points against Yale, all in the second half, 26 points against Columbia and 25 points against Dartmouth. Twice he pulled down double-figure rebounds, 14 against Quinnipiac and 13 against Cornell.
An excellent long-range shooter, McAndrew's 72 three-point baskets ranked second in the Brown record book, while his 99 career treys are 10th in Brown history. At the free throw line, McAndrew connected on 134 of 158 shots (.848), seventh-best in the Brown record book. His 15 free throws (15 of 16) against Quinnipiac rank 10th best in the Brown record book, while he connected on double-digit free throws three other times, including a 12 of 12 performance against Dartmouth.
The second half of Brown's All-Ivy backcourt is senior Damon Huffman (Petoskey, MI), the league's seventh-leading scorer (14.7 ppg.) and an honorable mention All-Ivy selection a year ago. His season nearly came to a crashing finish when he was injured early in Brown's first game against Michigan State and missed Brown's next six games. Huffman returned to the lineup in December and exploded for a career high 30 points against Rhode Island, connecting on 8 of 11 treys, including his last eight three-point attempts, one short of the Brown record.
A former Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Huffman's 2.83 three-point field goals per game ranked second in the league. His 65 treys last year rank fourth in the Brown record book, while his 160 career treys are third best in Brown basketball history.
Huffman tossed in 20 of his game high 26 points in the second half against Harvard, knocking down 13 of 14 free throws and 3 of 7 treys, and scored 20 or more points six times. He registered a career high six steals against Harvard, third best in the Brown record book. In addition, he was fourth in the Ivy League in free throw percentage (75 of 89, .843), fifth in field goal percentage (99 of 204, .485), and third in three-point field goal percentage (65 of 143, .455).
Joining McAndrew and Huffman in the Bears' backcourt is sophomore Steve Gruber (Milwaukee, WI), who saw action in 25 games, earning two starts. He scored a season high seven points in 25 minutes of play against Army.
Brown's frontcourt will feature the return of five players, four of whom started at least seven games last season. Junior 6-6 forward Chris Skrelja (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY) started Brown's last 11 games at forward and averaged 7.0 ppg for the season. He scored in double figures seven times, netting a season high 12 points against UC Davis. Skrelja averaged 3.9 rebounds per game, with a season high eight rebounds vs. Cornell.
Junior Scott Friske (Charlevoix, MI), a 6-7, 230 forward, started 18 of 29 games played for the Bears, averaging 5.0 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. He tossed in a season high 18 points against Harvard, connecting on 7 of 10 field goals, including 3 of four treys. As a freshman, Friske netted a career high 26 points against Quinnipiac and pulled down a career best 11 rebounds against Albany.
Sophomore Colin Aldridge (Colts Neck, NJ) displayed flashes of athleticism while playing in 20 games a year ago. His 10 points and six rebounds at Harvard were a season high, while his 8 points at Yale helped the Bears beat the Elis in New Haven. Hoping to return to the lineup is 6-7 junior forward Aaron Jimenez (Franklin Park, IL), who missed all of last season following surgery.
Brown's big men up front are 6-9 senior Mark MacDonald (Lexington, MA) and 6-8 sophomore Matt Mullery (Englishtown, NJ). Big Mac, who has worked extremely hard on his conditioning in the off-season, earned seven starts for the Bears a year ago, averaging 6.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. He netted 13 points in wins over Harvard and Columbia. Mullery started nine of 27 games played, displaying a soft touch around the basket. He scored a season high 10 points twice, with 10 points against both Texas Corpus Christi and Penn. Mullery grabbed a season high eight rebounds against Northwestern.
Robinson will welcome seven newcomers to this year's squad, including several impact players. "We are delighted with our incoming freshman class," said Robinson. "In addition to each of their respective talents, we are excited to have a full complement of players to practice everyday. They all come from very successful high school or AAU programs and have a good understanding of what it takes to be good. Each has an opportunity to win playing time and I'm very excited to start coaching them."
Freshman forward Jelani Floyd (Oak Park, IL) has excellent skills and averaged 22 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists per game as a point guard at Phillips Academy. Freshman guard Sean Kane (Long Grove, IL) is a 6-5 long- range shooter who scored 16.4 points and knocked down 85 treys as a senior at Carmel High School. Morgan Kelly (Rockaway Beach, NY), a 6-9 freshman forward, has the skills to play inside or outside. He averaged 12 points and 9 rebounds a game at Archbishop Malloy High School. Freshman Garrett Leffelman (Naperville, IL), who played with four other Division I players at St. Joseph's High School, is a rugged 6-4 guard who scored 11.2 points and pulled down 5.0 rebounds as a senior. Freshman forward Peter Sullivan (Wilmette, IL) scored 16.5 points and grabbed 7.5 rebounds per game at Loyola Academy, while connecting on 60 three-point baskets. Freshman Chris Taylor (Plymouth, MN) is an impressive 6-8 forward who averaged 16.0 points per game as a senior at Wayzata High School. Adrian Williams (Atlanta, GA) is another long-rang marksman who set a county record with 11 three-pointers in a game. A 6-1 combo guard, William averaged 12.7 points per game for Wheeler High School.