When Missouri lost to Michigan in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament last March to finish the season 16-14, it was seen as a disappointing end to a disappointing season.
For Brown to end the 2003-04 season with a 14-13 record was a different story.
It was Bears’ fourth consecutive winning season, a school record.
They finished second in the Ivy League for the second straight year.
Junior Jason Forte was named the Ivy League Player of the Year.
This season, despite losing three seniors who scored a combined 2,300 points in their collegiate careers, Brown aims to build on its recent success, starting with an appearance in the Guardians Classic.
The Bears face the Tigers in the first round at 8 tonight.
It is the second straight season Brown has started play against a Big 12 Conference team. Last year the Bears opened with a 89-51 loss to Texas.
“It’s exciting to play against programs like Missouri and Texas to start the season,” assistant coach Kevin Jaskiewicz said. “We not only need to be good against teams in the Ivy League, but we need to be good against the top nonconference teams.”
Jaskiewicz has coached under Brown coach Glen Miller for 12 years. He spent six years with Miller at Connecticut College and is starting his sixth season with Miller at Brown.
The Bears play an up-tempo style of basketball and have led the Ivy League in scoring each of the past four seasons. Brown has also been known to use a four-guard lineup that loves to get up and down the court when the opportunity presents itself.
How Brown fairs in the Guardians Classic will depend largely on the play of Forte. In addition to being one of the team’s co-captains, Forte, a 6-foot-1 guard, fits well in Miller’s fast-paced motion offense.
He is a versatile athlete who led the Ivy League in both scoring (21.4 per game) and assists (5.79 per game) last season.
“He obviously brings quite a resume of experience and production,” Jaskiewicz said. “He’s emerged more as a leader this year, which is something he hasn’t had to do in the past.”
Junior guard Luke Ruscoe joins Forte as one of Brown’s co-captions. Ruscoe started all 27 games last season for the Bears, and Jaskiewicz said he is comparable to Missouri’s Linas Kleiza in his ability to play inside and outside.
“Luke is a guy who has for the last two years done whatever we need him to to win,” Jaskiewicz said. “The challenge for Luke is to be more of a scoring threat than last year.”
Seven freshmen and five sophomores fill out Brown’s roster. The sophomores saw limited action during their first season, and none averaged more than four points a game.
Freshmen of note include guard Damon Huffman, the brother of former Kent State star Trevor Huffman, and Mark MacDonald, a 6-foot-9 forward.
“We certainly believe we have young kids that can execute,” Jaskiewicz said. “Being young doesn’t give you the excuse for playing poorly.”
The Bears’ lack of height is an obvious shortcoming. Besides MacDonald, Brown’s tallest player is P.J. Flaherty, a 6-foot-9-inch forward.
“We feel like mismatches won’t hurt you, but not playing hard will,” Jaskiewicz said.
It is Brown’s second appearance in the Guardians Classic. In 2002, the Bears lost both games they played at a regional in South Bend, Ind.