ON THE HUNT
The rebuilding of men's basketball, year two.

When glen miller took over as head coach of men’s basketball last winter, he inherited a team coming off a 4–22 season. He set about laying a solid foundation for recovery, posting an 8–19 record, and now, in his second year, he’s ready to throw open the doors of the Pizzitola Sports Center and let fans have a look at phase two.

“I was satisfied,” Miller says of last year, “in the sense that we got a system in place, as well as an expectation level and a work ethic that are conducive to winning.” With the addition of a new crop of recruits—seven freshmen are joining the team this year—he believes the team’s talent has deepened, even if many of his players are still a bit short on experience. “We’re not where we need to be, but I’m confident we’ll be a better team this year. Hopefully, that equates to more wins than last year.”

Miller’s confidence is based in part on last year’s scores. Of Brown’s nineteen losses, eight were by six points or fewer—suggesting that even slight improvements on the floor could trigger a big difference in the win-loss ratio. Still, the coach sees the season as a transitional one. “We should really start to turn the corner in year three,” he says. “That’s not copping out on this year at all. But we’re still going to be extremely young—you’re talking about our two best players being sophomores, and [about] seven freshmen who are going to get thrown in the fire and play significant minutes.”

Those two best players—Earl Hunt ’03 and Alaivaa Nuualiitia ’03—are coming off outstanding freshman seasons. The six-foot, six-inch Nuualiitia, a five-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week, averaged 13.3 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds a game. He scored in double figures in twenty-one of Brown’s twenty-seven games. Hunt, the six-foot, five-inch-small forward, shooting guard, and point guard, is poised to become a rare specimen in Brown basketball: a bona fide star. In a January game against Harvard, Hunt poured in thirty-nine points (thirty in the first half—a school record) and snared eleven rebounds. Over the course of the season, Hunt averaged a team-leading seventeen points per game and a conference-leading 18.8 points per game in Ivy contests. He was second only to Nuualiitia in per-game rebounds, at 5.5.

But basketball games aren’t won by stars alone. Hunt and Nuualiitia need a better supporting cast, and help may be on the way. Power forward Shaun Etheridge ’02, who missed twenty games last season with a broken foot, is back to help Nuualiitia in the front court, where Brown was consistently outmanned last season. Miller will also be looking for rebounding and defensive contributions from Will Collier ’04, Matt McLeggon ’04, and James Augustine ’03. In the back court Miller is hoping for immediate punch from Mike Martin ’04, last year’s Western Massachusetts player of the year; Matt McCloskey ’04, who played for New England prep school champ St. Thomas More; and Ramel Carrington ’04.

Though well under way, Miller’s reconstruction project remains a work in progress—to everyone, that is, but the team. “If you talk to our players, we’re shooting for an Ivy League title,’’ Miller says. “Realistically, I think .500 in the Ivy League would be a tremendous year. We wouldn’t be satisfied, but that would be progress.”

 


 

WHAT IT TAKES
Women’s basketball gets its players back.

The combination of injuries and youth made the 1999–2000 women’s basketball campaign “a great season for learning,” says head coach Jean Burr. This winter it would be fine with Burr if her Bears learned a little less and won a lot more.

Injuries sidelined key contributors Rada Pavichevich ’02, Erin-Kate Barton ’02, and Ragan Kenner ’03 for significant chunks of last season, and all the Bears felt their pain. A midseason eleven-game losing streak sent the team skidding to a 9–19 overall record and a 4–10 finish in the Ivies (the first time in Burr’s twelve seasons that her team finished under .500 in conference play). But this season the Bears may be back in the business of winning. They won four of their last six games to close last season; injured players are back and healthy; and All-Ivy Rookie Barbara Maloni ’03 is back for her second year of bombs-away basketball. Maloni, a five-foot, nine-inch guard, led the Bears in scoring with 16.9 points per game (20.2 in Ivy competition) and was secondin the league in steals and third in scoring. She dumped in forty points against Pennsylvania on March 3, a school and Pizzitola record.

Last season’s finish, says Burr, “shows we work hard and we have what it takes.’’ She seems undaunted by the prospect of starting the new year with twelve freshmen and sophomores on her roster. “It’s a process. We’re just taking it a step at a time,” she adds. “We want to challenge for that championship—we know what it takes, and we’re starting it.” — Scott Cole

 


 

OLYMPIC WRAP-UP
Three medals, one surprise, and lots of disappointment.

 

For only the second time in history, and for the first time in seventy-two years, Brown athletes won three medals in the Olympic games. Unfortunately, though, some favorites also faced bitter disappointment. One of the surprising highlights came on the first day of competition, when former swim-team star Joanna Zeiger ’92 astonished observers by finishing fourth in the first-ever Olympic triathlon. Her time of two hours, one minute, and twenty-six seconds was a mere seventeen seconds short of the bronze-medal time. Ranked thirty-eighth in the world, Zeiger, who also qualified for (but did not compete with) the U.S. marathon team, thus entered the history books as the first American ever to finish an Olympic triathlon. (For more about Zeiger, see “Quick-Change Artist,” May/June.)

Two water-based Olympians took silver medals, and a third won a bronze. In one of the more dramatic finishes of the games, Pease Herndon Glaser ’83, along with skipper J.J. Isler, passed four boats in the last leg of the 470 dinghy-class sailing final to beat the Ukrainian team by one point. Representing the United States, Isler and Glaser finished fourteen points behind the Australian pair that won the gold.

Also taking a silver was Xeno Müller ’95, who rowed through the single-sculls final in six minutes and fifty-one seconds. Müller, competing for Switzerland, finished less than two seconds behind New Zealand’s Rob Waddell, thereby adding a silver to the gold medal he’d won in Atlanta in 1996. (For more about Müller, see “Rivals,” September/October 1999.) Igor Boraska ’95, meanwhile, won a bronze medal as part of the Croatian eight crew that upset the U.S. boat, whose crestfallen crew, including Porter Collins ’98 and Dave Simon ’02, had been expected to win a medal but instead finished fifth.

Among the other disappointed athletes was Jimmy Pedro ’94, who, as the world’s premier lightweight judo wrestler, was a favorite to at least repeat his bronze-medal performance in Atlanta four years ago. Pedro, who has said he will retire from competition by the end of this year, had had a remarkable four-year, 84–4 run until he was upset by Choi-Yong Sin of Korea in the bronze-medal match at Sydney. Another competitor with an uncertain future is rower Jamie Koven ’95, whose coxless-four boat finished in fifth place. (For more about Koven, see “Rivals,” September/October 1999.) Nikola Stojic ’97, who, like Koven and Müller, has excelled in single sculls, also finished fifth while representing Yugoslavia in the coxless pairs. The women’s eight crew, which included coxswain Raj Shah ’96, finished last in its final, coming in a full ten seconds behind the gold-medal Romanian boat.

The Sydney Olympics marked the end of competitive running for Ireland’s Susan Smith-Walsh ’93, who retired after failing to qualify for the 400-meter hurdles semifinal. Hampered by a hamstring injury three days before the race, she quietly ended a career that included fifteen individual and nine relay heptagonal titles during her years at Brown, where she may have been the most distinguished track star, male or female, ever to have donned racing flats.

Many other competitors with Brown roots lost before reaching the semifinals. Croatia’s Tinka Dancevic ’02 was eliminated when she did not qualify for the 200-meter butterfly semifinal, while Dawn Chuck ’02, who represented Jamaica, was beaten during an early 50-meter-freestyle round. Brown wrestler Alex Ottiano ’98 went down in an early judo matchup against Spain’s Kiyoshi Uematsu.

Alumni who went to Sydney as alternates did not get into the games: Helen Betancourt ’98, of the U.S. women’s eight crew, Siri Lindley ’91, of the U.S. women’s triathlon team, and Whitney Post ’95, of the U.S. women’s lightweight double sculls. With so many Brown athletes at the end of distinguished careers, though, perhaps some of this year’s reserves will be among the fresh faces to compete in Athens in 2004.

Much of the information in this report was taken from stories filed from Sydney for the Providence Journal by former Brown All-Ivy center fielder Carolyn Thornton ’90.

 


 

LIFE AFTER LASGANA
A new head coach for men’s lacrosse.

For the first time in sixteen years, men’s lacrosse will be taking the field without Peter Lasagna ’84 looking on. A former player himself, Lasagna has been a perennial presence with the team since he began in 1984 as an assistant coach, but his Brown career ended in July with the announcement that he’d accepted the head coaching job at Bates College in Maine. Since 1993, when he became the Bears’ head coach, Lasagna had posted a 65–51 record and led the team to three Ivy titles.

His will be a hard act to follow, but the man chosen to replace him is Scott Nelson, former coach at Michigan’s Nazareth College. With an impressive twelve NCAA appearances and three national championships during his fifteen years at Nazareth, Nelson knows how to quickly build a team into a national contender. “My goal for the season is to seriously compete for the championship,” he says. “I want the team to be competitive and improve with every game. I’m know I’m ready to work hard, and I’m very optimistic.”

It won’t be easy. The last time the Bears took home an NCAA trophy was in 1995. Their last appearance at the tournament was in 1997, when they were defeated by Duke in the first round. At Nazareth, Nelson built the lacrosse program from scratch when the school put up its first team in 1985. Three years later Nazareth landed its first NCAA playoff spot, reaching the tournament more quickly than any team in collegiate athletics. By the end of 1992, Nelson had led Nazareth to its first-ever Division Three national championship.

Nelson has already garnered the support of the team and Brown’s sports community. “I bring my wife and kids to the practices, and everyone is really friendly,” he says. Even Lasagna has provided some guidance—although the two haven’t traded strategies. “We’ve talked many times,” Nelson says, “but we haven’t talked lacrosse.” — Kari Molvar ’00