Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on December 21st, 2008

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Not much to report from the Ivies as players from the nation’s last non-scholarship league have been taking finals rather than playing many games. Nerds. But the good news for Penn fans is that the Quakers have not lost since the last time this site had its Ivy update – which may or may not be because they haven’t had any games since then. Still, Penn fans are beginning to get a little rowdy as evidenced by this new blog called Fire Glen Miller, which I’m pretty sure is anti-Quakers head coach Glen Miller. The blog, which was created by Penn students after the Quakers were drowned by Navy (get it?) to fall to 1-6 two weeks ago, recently had an interesting guest column from former player Steve Danley. Danley, a member of a very talented senior class that helped Penn get to three straight NCAA tourneys, played for Miller in the coach’s first season in 2006-07 and maintains that he is an “offensive genius.”  He also believes the young team needs time to gel, drawing a comparison to the not so good ’03-04 team when he and other future stars were freshmen. Let’s hope Danley is right, because Penn’s former coach Fran Dunphy just led Temple to a pretty nice win over Tennessee. And we miss him. A lot. (The Quakers, by the way, return to action on Dec. 29 with a tourney in Florida.)

Despite a recent 71-54 loss to Minnesota in which it shot 17 percent in the second half, Cornell remains clear front-runners in the Ivy League. The Big Red are only 4-5 but they’ve had a brutal non-conference schedule with their last eight games coming on the road. Needless to say, they’re excited to come home, which actually is saying something because not many people are excited to go to Ithaca in December. With reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Louis Dale nearly back to full strength, Cornell welcomes La Salle tomorrow – and La Salle coach Dr. John Giannini is concerned, calling the Red the “best team on our schedule with the possible exception of those Big East and ACC teams.” He’s a doctor, so you should listen.

Doug Davis may be confusing the Princeton faithful with his – gasp – speed and athleticism, but the freshman guard is clearly the future, and the present, of the backdoor bunch from New Jersey. The league’s two-time rookie of the week torched Manhattan for 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the floor and 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point land but the rebuilding Tigers fell to 2-6 with the 70-60 loss to the Jaspers last weekend. In the team’s two previous losses to St. Bonaventure and Rutgers, Davis scored just two points apiece, but that’s probably to be expected from a freshman. The kid is clearly one of the rising stars of the league.

Speaking of stars, Brown’s junior center Matt Mullery was named the league’s player of the week after tying a career-high 22 points in the Bears’ 72-62 win over Hartford. Mullery is the league’s leader in field goal percentage, and has helped the Bears to a 4-5 overall record, which is tied for the best mark in the league with Harvard and Cornell. And yes, you should be able to figure out from the previous sentence that no Ivy League team is over .500. Thanks for bringing it up.

The most exciting game of the last two weeks came in Boston where Harvard lost a double overtime thriller to Northeastern. Despite the loss, the Crimson should be pleased they were able to erase a seven-point deficit in the final minute to force overtime. It’s still probably too early to say, but if I had to guess I’d say Harvard and Brown will be Cornell’s biggest challenger for the Ivy title. But you can never rule out the traditional juggernauts of the league, Penn and Princeton, both of whom should get better as the calendar hits 2009. Even the worst Penn teams typically finish in the top half of the league.

Well, there’s really not much else to report from the Ivies. With a good chunk of the non-conference schedule in the rearview mirror, the league is ranked 25th nationally out of 31 leagues, about where it normally is. We’ll see if any Ivy team can pull off an upset moving forward, but the interesting storylines will come when conference play begins next month.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Don’t forget to pray to God Shammgod.

rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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