Men's Basketball Preview
Sept. 2, 2002
If the last three years are any indication of the growth of the Brown basketball program, then 2002-2003 has all the makings of a banner season.
Coach Glen Miller's team posted a 17-10 record last season, tying the school record for victories, while winning the unofficial Rhode Island Championship with victories over Providence College and Rhode Island. The Bears' 32 wins in the last two years are the most in Brown history. Brown posted an 8-6 Ivy League mark in 2001-2002, and 9-5 record in 2000-2001, registering back-to-back winning Ivy seasons for the first time in 27 years.
Brown's dynamic offense led the Ivy League in scoring with 77.4 points per game. In addition, the Bears led the league and ranked 17th nationally in free throw percentage (753). While that's all in the past, it bodes well for the future of the program with five starters, including Brown's top five scorers, returning to the Bears lineup.
"We've made some progress in the last three years," said head coach Glen Miller, "but we still have a long way to go. The Ivy League is vastly improved in the last three years - there are certainly no easy games. I'm looking for the continued improvement of our players in all areas of the game which could give us the ability to be in the hunt for the Ivy championship at the end of the season."
Senior co-captain Earl Hunt, a two-time first team All-Ivy selection and Regional All-American, is perhaps the most dynamic and versatile guard in the Ivy League. A tough guard to defend at 6-4, Hunt has the ability to score in a variety of ways.
"In addition to his outstanding play on the court, Earl's work ethic and desire to improve his game on a daily basis has impacted our younger players and has helped set the standard for player development in our program," said Miller. "His continued leadership will be a major factor in our ability to capture an Ivy League championship this year."
Hunt led the Ancient Eight in scoring for the past two years, while averaging 19.7 points per game each season. He scored 30 or more points five times last season, including a season high 35 points against High Point and Navy. Hunt was second in the Ivy League in free throw percentage (138 of 164, .841), attempting, and converting more shots from the charity stripe than any other player in the league.
A two-time Ivy League Player of the Week, Hunt finished the season as Brown's second all-time career scorer with 1,526 career points, second to Arnie Berman, who scored 1,668 career points from 1969-1972. He is the fifth player in Brown history to be named a two-time first team All-Ivy selection.
Freshman point guard Jason Forte emerged as one of the top young players in the Ivy League last year, being named the Ivy League's Rookie of the Week five times, and once earning Ivy League Player of the Week honors.
A flamboyant scorer and passer, Forte's 11.3 points per game ranked second on Brown's team in 2001-2002. He scored in double figures 14 times, including a career high 25 points against Harvard, and 22 points against Rhode Island. His 121 assists were second in the Ivy League (4.48 per game) and eighth best in Brown basketball history. Forte handed out a season high 10 assists against Penn.
The Bears' backcourt is accentuated with the return of junior Mike Martin, who has started 42 games over the last two years. Martin averaged 6.1 points per game for the Bears, knocking down 40 three-point baskets. He scored a career high 21 points in a victory over Stony Brook, hitting 7 of 9 shots from the field.
Also returning to the lineup is sophomore Jordan Jhabvala, a combo guard with solid shooting and ball handling skills, who played just three games last year due to injury. In addition, junior Harold Bailey, a 6-3 transfer from Penn, will be eligible to compete after sitting out last season. Freshman Adam Braun (Greenwich, CT) will also join the Bears.
Senior co-captain Alai Nuualiitia is the key man in the Bears' frontcourt, and must continue to be a force in the middle for the Brown to be successful. Nuualiitia has been the Ivy League's most reliable finisher for the last two seasons, shooting a torrid 57 percent from the field in each of the last two years. An athletic 6-7 forward for the Bears, Nuualiitia converted 115 of 201 shots from the field. He scored in double figures 13 times last season, including a career high 26 points against Northeastern on 11 of 13 shooting from the field.
"Alai is completely healthy and has worked extremely hard in the off-season to improve his offensive game, strength and overall endurance," said Miller. "I fully expect Alai to bounce back this season and be one of the top players in our league."
A second team All-Ivy selection as a sophomore, Nuualiitia is 18th in all-time Brown scoring with 977 career points, despite playing most of last season with a knee injury. He has led the Bears in rebounding for the last three years, averaging 6.0 rebounds a game last season, including a season high 12 rebounds against Columbia.
Junior forward Jamie Kilburn had a breakout season in 2001-2002, shooting 53 percent from the field (78 of 146) while averaging 7.2 points per game. A 6-5 forward, Kilburn scored a career high 18 points against Penn on 7 of 11 shooting from the field, while grabbing five rebounds and blocking four shots against the Quakers. He scored in double figures nine times last year and registered a double-double in a win over Providence with 13 points and 10 rebounds. His 4.1 rebounds a game ranked third on last year's team.
Junior swingman Patrick Powers is a talented and athletic 6-7 forward, who earned five starts for last year's team and emerged as a legitimate scoring threat. He netted a career high 17 points against Harvard, hitting 7 of 8 shots from the field. Powers, who missed nine games with a broken hand, also scored 13 points against Yale.
Miller also expects continued improvement from 6-7 sophomore forward/center GJ King, who contributed some solid minutes last year in the Bears' front court. His six points against both Holy Cross and Navy were a personal best.
Miller's recruiting efforts focused on the frontcourt with four newcomers joining this year's team. Freshman Luke Ruscoe, a native of Whangarei, New Zealand, played for new Zealand's Junior National Team. He is a 6-7 forward who averaged 10 ppg, 5 rpg and 4 assists at Brewster Academy (NH), after averaging 21 ppg and 10 rpg at Nelson College for Boys in New Zealand. Freshman Ben Logan, a 6-11 center from Winston-Salem, NC, looks to impact the Bears' frontcourt after averaging 9.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3 blocks per game at Mt. Tabor. Freshman Andrew Salter, a 6-6 forward from Westwood, MA, earned acclaim in Massachusetts by scoring 26.0 ppg, pulling down 14 rpg and registering 7 blocked shots per game for Westwood High School. He is Westwood's all-time career scorer and rebounder. Freshman Saul McDonald, a 6-7 forward, from Jacksonville, FL, scored 14 points and a conference high 11 rebounds a game for nationally ranked Arlington Country Day.