(Ed. Note: This article is part of CoBL's 2015-16 College Season Preview, which will run from October 2-November 13, the first day of games. For the complete rundown, click here)
While head coaches are obviously responsible for the ultimate game-planning decisions during the college basketball season, it’s the assistant coaches who do the advanced scouting and prep for much of the teams throughout the country.
So CoBL decided the best way to get to know each league we cover is to talk to the various assistants that work in those conferences.
Here are several anonymous assistant coaches’ thoughts on the Ivy League:
“I think Martin’s done a good job, I think that group of guys he brought in which are now juniors was a good class. If I had to guess, I’d say they’d be about the same as they were, I don’t know that I see them making a dramatic jump, but he’s done a good job of getting them to this point and seeing where they can go from here. … I think they’re really, really well coached, which makes them hard to scout for. They run so many different things, and you have to put more time into preparing for that. … Mike Martin does a good job, but I think, from a talent perspective, they’re a little bit behind the 8 ball this year....Very good starting five, not a whole lot of depth. They always play pretty tough, but probably a middle-of-the-pack type team.”
“Maodo Lo is the best player in the league, I thought he was the best player in the league last year. They’ve had very good out-of-conference years and haven’t quite figured it out in the league for whatever reason. …They were bad defensively last year, but they have two of probably the top five guys in the league in (Maodo) Lo and (Alex) Rosenberg. I think they have a good of a shot as anybody. ... One of the best offensive teams in the league with a lot coming back. I think they’re one of the top three teams in the league. ...Dangerous team, obviously. Hard to defend, a really good offensive teams. A lot of weapons.”
“I don’t know who is going to score for them. I know they’re going to try to play fast, but I don’t think they have enough good players to do it. ...They want to get up-and-down, they want to speed it up, they want to get steals. So that’s difficult to prepare for … Their style of play is one that hasn’t proven to be conducive to winning in the Ivy League for whatever reason. Some other teams have tried to be aggressive defensively like that and it hasn’t been successful. That being said, it does give people problems because it’s different, but it hasn’t finished in W’s. … They’re going to be in some trouble. Shonn Miller did a lot for them, and he is going to be tough to replace.”
"It’s a tough one because you lose Maldunas and you lose Mitola, who did so much for them. Cornell is probably the second-hardest job in the league, Dartmouth is probably the hardest. If I had to guess I think they take a step back. … Lose a lot of players, but Miles Wright is a very, very good player, so I’m sure they’ll be in good shape with him coming back. … I think (Paul) Cormier, every year, seems to do more with less. He is one of the best Xs and Os coaches in the league, so I have a lot of respect for that and the job he’s done. … I think they might surprise some people. I think Malik Gill and Miles Wright are two of the better defenders in the league. They’ll be OK.”
“This team is supremely talented. They have very highly recruited players, but their question mark is having guys step into different roles. They graduated so much and Chambers being hurt for the year, some guys are going to have to step in and play a lot of minutes. … Still super talented up front. To be honest, they’re a question mark. Their guards are going to be inexperienced and they’re not as highly touted as some other guys. I think they might struggle to score.. … I already thought they were going to be down, losing Saunders is a big thing and then Mondou-Missi I would have considered putting him on my first team, I thought he was that important. Then you lose Siyani Chambers, who I thought did not deserve to be all-league last year, but he’s proven to be a winner, so that makes it hard. What they have in their favor is they’re not the least-talented team by any stretch and those guys believe they should win every game. … They have some frontcourt depth, and I don’t think they’ll miss a lot inside from a defense and rebounding standpoint. But their guard play is going to take a hit.”
“They’re a bit of a wild card. I actually think Penn could be pretty good. It will be interesting. They always turned the ball over and were inefficient on offense with Jerome (Allen). So you wonder what the difference will be with (Steve) Donahue. ... A lot of people talk about their freshman class and how good it can be for the future, and I think the talent in the program has been there. So I always think they have a chance to be good. …They’ll be well-coached this year and have some talent coming back. Interested to see how they look. … I think they’ll be better than people think. With a coach who has been in the league and succeeded in the league, and he gets to work with a group of guys that is back and talented.”
“They’re talented, they were so good last year and I feel like they’re the favorite, just based off of that. They were young last year, but those guys are back in their roles. … Great size one-through-five, different kind of matchup than anyone else in the league. ...I picked them to win the league. I just think they have really good players from top-to-bottom, fit the style of play. They’re older, Amir Bell’s a year older, Steven Cook, who had a very good year last year for the most part; I really like Spencer Weisz, Hans Brase has turned out to be a great player. ...They were super efficient on offense last year. I’m not sure they can take a jump, only because I don’t know how much more efficient they can be. They have the guard play, but they didn’t play very good defense last year.”
“Justin Sears, who won Player of the Year, he’s kind of a peculiar player, he’s a hard matchup because of that and he’s very effective. Losing the point guard’s obviously a big one, but I think the kid Mekhi Mason, I don’t know that they’re going to lose that much, I think he’s going to be pretty good this year. They get the kid who was doing the singing thing, (Brandon Sherrod) coming back. ... (Justin) Sears is always a lot on both sides of the floor. But they’re losing quite a few pieces and it will be interesting to see how they replace those guys. …They’re going to be really good, but losing Javier Duren will impact them more than people realize. I think he was a pretty special player. ...They kind of have an identity year in and year out, no matter who their personnel is, they’re always going to play a physical brand.”