Here we go again. time for our summer review of the 2002–03 year in sports—wins and losses, delights and disappointments. Welcome to our report card, a highly subjective grading of the best and worst in recent Brown sports.
WETTEST AND WILDEST
Women’s swimmer Liz Daniels ’04, a member of two Ivy-champion relay teams, churned her way to Ivy titles in three separate events: the 50- and 100-yard freestyles and the 100-yard backstroke. Her NCAA qualifying time in the 50-yard freestyle, 22.75 seconds, was the eleventh fastest in the country. Daniels was also the only Ivy League female swimmer to score at the NCAA Championships. Small wonder she was awarded the Marjorie Brown Smith Award as the University’s outstanding female athlete of the year and was named cocaptain of the 2003–04 team.
BEST CAREER FINISHM
In the final match of his college team-competition career, cocaptain Ben Oliner ’03 came through with a four-set victory over his Williams College opponent to give men’s squash a 5–4 triumph and possession of the Hoehn Cup, emblematic of the B Division national championship.
Cornerback Jason Ching ’06, a native of Honolulu, had never seen snow in his life before playing the Bears’ wintry November 16 game against Dartmouth in Hanover. But Ching seemed right at home on the frozen tundra of Memorial Field, intercepting a pair of passes, batting away three more, and making five tackles in Brown’s 21–18 victory.
BIGGEST WIN, PART I
The men’s basketball team’s 80–73 win at Princeton ended at fifty-two games the longest road losing streak to one team in Division 1 college basketball history.
BIGGEST WIN, PART II
The men’s hockey team won, 4–0, at Yale in the third and deciding game of the ECAC quarterfinal series, propelling the Bears into the ECAC Final Four for the first time since 1994. Before Brown prevailed in games one and three, it had not won at the Bulldogs’ Ingalls Rink in seven years.
MOST DEFIANT QUOTE
In the aftermath of the crucial 73–66 men’s basketball loss at Penn, a game in which the Quakers shot twenty-nine free throws compared to the Bears’ fourteen, coach Glen Miller unloaded on the officiating crew, saying, “You can’t go to Penn and Princeton and get a fair shake. Our guys outplayed them the whole game. We got jam-med by three officials.” Staff at the Ivy League office didn’t agree. A representative later expressed the league’s displeasure to Miller over his comments.
The match lasted six hours, but the wait was worth it as the fifty-fourth-ranked men’s tennis team scored their biggest-ever upset with a 4–3 win over seventeenth-ranked Wake Forest February 22 at the Pizzitola Center. The Demon Deacons got their revenge, however, nipping the Bears by the same score in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in May.
WORST FAIR-WEATHER FANS
Too many students were AWOL at Pizzitola for the men’s basketball’s final home game, March 1, versus Princeton. The student seats had been filled to capacity the night before as the Bears battled Penn for a share of first place in the Ivies. The Bears’ chance at an Ivy title virtually disappeared with their narrow loss to the Quakers, and many student “fans” likewise disappeared the following night, when Brown closed out the home schedule against Princeton. After a record-setting season, the Bears deserved better.
Chad Buechel ’03 established a new school record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a first-place finish of 8:57:94 at the Brown Invitational on April 12. Less than a month later he smashed that record by more than four seconds with a first-place finish at the Heptagonal Championships at Yale.
The women’s basketball team bottomed out in 2002, finishing 5–22 overall and last in the Ivies at 2–12. This year, aided immeasurably by the addition of Ivy League rookie-of-the-year Sarah Hayes ’06, the Bears bounced back, going 15–12 overall and 9–5 in the Ivies, good for a second-place Ivy tie.
After almost a decade of success the football team struggled. Three weeks into the season it hadn’t won a game and fell to 122nd in total defense, out of 123 Division I-AA teams. Five weeks later the Bears were the only I-AA team in the country without a win. The skid ended during the season’s final two weeks with victories over Dartmouth and Columbia.
MOST ANNOYING CATS
The streak of twenty-one successive two-boat-competition victories by women’s crew ended with the team’s spring season opener, a March 29 loss to Princeton on the Tigers’ Lake Carnegie. The women had not been defeated in a two-boat Ivy race since 1997. The culprit back then? Yup, Princeton.
The January 22 passing of Dave Zucconi ’55, the biggest booster Brown athletics ever had. Indeed, the floral spray occupying Zucconi’s usual balcony seat at the Pizzitola Center for the men’s basketball game against Yale two nights after his death may have been the saddest image of the 2002–03 sports year.