Checking in on… the Ivy League

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 31st, 2011

Howard Hochman is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League

A Look Back

Let the Games Begin: For the teams in the power conferences, February is the time when jockeying for position begins. Regular season conference games are used for conference tournament and NCAA seeding purposes. But for the Ivy League, whose season got into high gear this past weekend, these games are precious, for this is a one-bid league with no conference tournament. Only the regular season champ will begin the Road to the Final Four in March.

Poll Position: Last year, Cornell, after some impressive non-conference performances, made an appearance in the Top 25. While an early season conference loss knocked them out, they continued to receive votes each week. And given their NCAA Tournament success, the votes proved to be warranted. Trying to follow in the footsteps of the Big Red, Harvard (15-3, 4-0) received a vote last week in the AP Top 25. What have they done to impress? An eight-game winning streak and opening up 4-0 in conference helps. But it is what they have accomplished outside the Ivy which has swayed the scribes. Their three losses have come at the hands of George Mason (17-5, 9-2, currently second in the CAA) in the opening game without Kyle Casey; Michigan, a young, improving Big Ten team and recent conqueror of MSU; and #5 UConn (17-3, 5-3 in the Big East). And all of those losses came on the road. The Crimson also own wins over Colorado, who themselves have beaten both Missouri and Kansas State in the Big 12; and BC (14-7, 4-3; 4th in the ACC). Can Harvard duplicate Cornell’s tournament run? Perhaps. But first they must find away to get past Princeton and win their first ever Ivy League crown.

Is the Bloom Off the Rose-n?: In 2010, RTC named Zack Rosen of Penn as the Ivy League Player of the Year. It was a somewhat controversial choice, as most gave the award to Jeremy Lin of Harvard. Either way, most observers thought Rosen would run away with the title this season. And he still may. After all, he is second in the league in scoring (15.3 points per game) and is shooting 45% from the field and close to 50% from beyond the arc, as Penn closes in on Harvard and Princeton. However, a closer look at the box score is in order. Penn has played five non-conference foes of note: Pittsburgh, Villanova, Kentucky, Drexel and Temple. Only against ‘Nova did Rosen perform up to par, scoring 20 points on 7-14 shooting. Against the other four combined,  he shot 9-25 (36%), including 6-14 from deep (42%) for a total of 37 points (9.1 per game). A disturbing trend? Maybe, but he was facing superior athletes than those he will see in conference games. But when Penn was going to the NCAA Tournament on a regular basis, guys like Onyekwe and Jabber would save their best performances for the biggest games and toughest competition. While it is definitely not yet time to pack the tack on Zack, the jury is still out.

Player of The Week: A difficult choice this time as there are some very worthy candidates, with the nicknames to match. There is Errick (Bushel and A) Peck who seems to be blossoming amidst the Cornell disaster; Jack (Scrambled) Eggleston who has become a stat sheet stuffer for the Quakers; Greg (“The Eater”) Mangano of Yale who leads the league in rebounding and is averaging a double/double. But this week, the rosters were combed to honor an unsung hero; a player who has emerged as a more than a capable running mate for Noruwa Agho at Columbia and is responsible for the Lions rise to first division status. And that is none other than Brian Barbour, who wins the award by a hair. In Columbia’s first four conference games (3-1) the 6’1 sophomore from California has averaged 19 points per game on 45% shooting. Over that span, he has also converted an astounding 27 of 29 free throw attempts. So rise from your chair, Mr. Barbour, and do an Argentine Tango while accepting the trophy.

Power Rankings

1. Harvard (15-3, 4-0)–An eight game winning streak; a six-man rotation that is as solid as they come; a mention in the AP Top 25; undefeated so far in conference. It is easy to see why they are # 1. This coming weekend will be a test and Friday at Princeton could be a game for the ages, and for the conference championship.

2. Princeton (14-4, 2-0)—It’s difficult to assess the Tigers as they have only played four games in a month and none of them versus tough competition. Their top six is equal to that of the Crimson and perhaps have the experience edge. Jadwin Gym should be rocking on Friday.

3. Columbia (12-6, 3-1)–Winners of nine of their last 11; an unlucky one-point loss to Elon and a loss at league elite Harvard are the only speed bumps for the Lions. Kyle Smith has to be the front-runner for Coach of the Year and Barbour and Agho clearly the top backcourt in a league full of quality guards.

4. Penn (8-8, 2-0)– The third of the league’s undefeated, the Quakers did what they had to do beating the bottom feeders at home, albeit in overtime over Brown. Two more home games followed by a five-game road trip should go a long way in determining where Penn’s landing will be. The good news is that they get Harvard on the rebound following their titanic clash against in New Jersey.

5. Yale (9-9, 2-2)–Two wins versus travel partner Brown followed by competitive losses in their toughest road trip against Princeton and Penn. Greg Mangano has been a beast, a POY candidate,  and with six home games in their next eight, the Bulldogs have a real chance for a top-four finish.

6. Brown (7-11, 0-4)–Two competitive losses versus travel partner Yale and an OT loss at Penn have contributed to their winless record. Sophomore forward Tucker Halperin is one of the bright spots in the league.

7. Dartmouth (5-13, 1-3)–Many thought the Big Green would go winless; the same people thought Cornell would be contenders. However, Friday’s game put an end to both parts of that speculation, as Dartmouth broke a five-game losing streak with a seven-point victory against the Big Red. Unfortunately, Paul Cormier may not get another conference win.

8. Cornell (4-14, 0-4)—I wonder how many that watched Ryan Wittman and company get to the Sweet 16 last year thought the descent would be so rapid. Peck, Ferry, and Wroblewski can play. But can Bill Courtney coach? He’ll have time, but his squad’s four victims? Wofford, Delaware, Stony Brook, and Albany. ‘Nuff said.

A Look Ahead

The loser of this Friday’s clash between league powerhouses Harvard and Princeton will have to wait a month (March 5) for a rematch. It is not unreasonable to assume a head-to head split and an early March playoff to determine league supremacy and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Princeton experience vs. Harvard athleticism.  Tommy Amaker vs. Sydney Johnson. Hummer, Maddox, Davis, Mavraides vs. Wright, Casey, Curry, and Webster.  Catch it if you can.

Share this story

Checking in on… the Ivy League

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 14th, 2011

Howard Hochman is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

A Look Back

A ho-hum two weeks to begin 2011 in the land of the Ancient Eight. Overall, the league went 11-8 and saw their Conference RPI drop to a more realistic #14. With non-league games dwindling to a precious few, it is unlikely that ranking will change much from now until March.  Still two weeks to go before the Ivies get into league play, and most of the members used the time to fatten up on inferior competition (i.e. Baruch, Lyndon St, Union). All except Penn and Harvard, who ventured into the SEC and ACC, respectively, for a couple of memorable games.

Pardon the Inter-Rupp-tion: A trip to the Bluegrass State to open the new year; a glimpse of Kentucky’s thoroughbreds — both human and equine; a national television appearance on ESPNU; and, a matchup of two storied programs, each in the top ten all-time in victories. All of that for the Penn Quakers to ring in 2011.

Except someone forgot to tell the Red and Blue that they were also supposed to be fodder for the #11 Wildcats, who were coming off a dismantling of neighboring rival Louisville. For the first 15 minutes, it was the Quakers who looked like the nationally ranked team. Riding the hot hand of Tyler Bernardini and the floor generalship of Zack Rosen, Penn opened up a 12-point lead which, left John Calipari screaming on the sidelines, wondering how Miles Cartwright had slipped through his recruiting fingers, and gave Jerome Allen flashback visions of his own great teams. It was then where things began to unravel, thanks in large part to some Kentucky defense and rebounding. A 14-1 Wildcat run to end the half gave Kentucky a lead they would never relinquish and finally allowed the 21,681 in the sea of blue to, if you’ll excuse the expression, e-Rupp-t.

The second half proved to be not much more than a scrimmage for Kentucky. They hit 12 of their first 13 shots en route to an 18-22 clip over the final 30 minutes. The rebounding numbers were even more lopsided, 36-15, in favor of the Wildcats, thanks to a workmanlike effort from Josh Harrelson. The only good news for the Quaker faithful was that the 86-62 final score meant that ,with apologies to Warner Wolf, if you had Penn and 25 you won!

Familiarity Breeds…: Three years ago, just days after Boston College had upset then #1 North Carolina, Harvard came in and beat the Eagles. A natural letdown was the explanation. Last year, despite protests from the Al Skinner and the BC players that things would be different, the result was the same. So this year, it should have come as no surprise when Harvard traveled across the Charles to Chestnut Hill and came away with a gutsy 78-69 victory. And to sweeten the (bean) pot, the congratulatory post-game handshake that Tommy Amaker received came from none other than old Cornell nemesis, Steve Donahue. And this against a BC team that had won eight out of nine and at 3-0 is currently atop the ACC leader board (that’s right, Dookies). The Crimson led just about every step of the way. BC cut an 11 point lead to five with two minutes remaining but could creep no closer. Amaker used only seven players with six getting significant minutes. The leading scorer for the Crimson…..

Player of the Week: Laurent Rivard, Harvard -Based on his name, he should either be a ski resort in the mountains of Quebec, a new Dior eau de toilette, or a left wing for Les Habitants. But freshman Laurent Rivard of Harvard (kind of rhymes) is instead this week’s RTC Ivy League Player of the Week. In the three Crimson victories, the 6’5 guard from Saint-Bruno, Quebec, averaged 16 points in 31 minutes per game. More importantly, it has become evident that he is the only one who is seeing significant minutes off Tommy Amaker’s shortened bench. So hissez le trophée Monsieur Rivard. You are well on your way to becoming the Ivy Sixth Man of the Year.

Power Rankings

With this being the last power poll before league play commences, it is time to separate the wheat from the chaff. To begin:

Prepping for March: It is difficult to separate or look beyond:

1. Harvard (11-3, 1-0)–the Crimson reclaim the top spot thanks to their 3-0 record which included the aforementioned victory over BC. The return of Kyle Casey and the rapid development of Laurent Rivard gives Harvard six players capable of scoring in double digits and who compare very favorably with the six from…

2. Princeton (11-4)—The Tigers relinquish #1 primarily because of inactivity (finals), with just a victory over Marist in the last two weeks. The quartet of Douglas Davis, Dan Mavraides, Ian Hummer, and Kareem Maddox can hold their own with any team this side of Cameron Indoor or Allen Fieldhouse. The head-to-head meetings with Harvard February 4 and March 5) should decide league supremacy.

Can Make Some Noise:

3. Columbia (9-5)–winners of six of their last seven, albeit against weak competition, the Lions look to be much improved under Kyle Smith. Led by Ivy scoring leader Noruwa Agho (16.4 PPG), Columbia next faces travel partner Cornell in home-and-home games that will go a long way in determining if the Lions are worthy of first division status.

4. Penn (5-7)—There are a lot of reasons to think the Quakers can make a run at the title. They have probably the most complete player in the league in Zack Rosen, (two rebounds and three assists short of an unheard of triple double before fouling out vs. LaSalle) a freshman comparable to Laurent Rivard in Miles Cartwright, and a veteran supporting cast. Furthermore, they have shown flashes of brilliance against nationally ranked opponents Kentucky and Villanova. But then there are games like those against Marist and Manhattan. The jury is still out.

5. Cornell (4-10)–What, you say? Make noise? A team tied with lowly Dartmouth for the cellar and a team that endured an eight game losing streak? Well, perhaps we ARE going too far back into their past performances. But it is hard to believe that a team which features veterans like Chris Wroblewski and Errick Peck who have known only success, won’t make some sort of an impact in the league race.

On The Outside Looking In:

6. Yale (7-7)–Perhaps an underrated and overlooked squad. Next to Penn, Yale played probably the most demanding non-conference schedule. The Elis did conquer BC and played Big East foe Providence tough. They will go as far as Greg Mangano and Austin Morgan take them.

7. Brown (6-7)—Games against their in-state rivals Rhode Island and Providence were the only two real tests the Bears have faced. And in each case, they didn’t pass, losing by 25 and 27 points, respectively. Peter Sullivan has been a bright spot averaging nearly 14 points and six rebounds per game.

8. Dartmouth (0-1, 4-10)–Wondering if Paul Cormier is having second thoughts about leaving the NBA for a return engagement in New Hampshire?  At least the relatives and friends of the players are happy, as there are ten members of the Big Green seeing double digit minutes.

A Look Ahead

Brown faces home-and-home travel partner Yale before going south for a Penn/Princeton weekend. The Bears could be staring at an 0-4 to open up. Columbia has the aforementioned battles with travel partner Cornell before heading to New England for Harvard and Dartmouth. Can they win three of those? Cornell has the opportunity to put their pre-conference disasters behind them as they have three winnable games before facing Harvard on the 29th. Would anyone be shocked to see the Big red atop the standings at 3-0 before that game?  Assuming they will not go 0-14, where will victories come for Dartmouth? Their first home weekend vs. Cornell and Columbia? Doubtful.

Harvard actually has an interesting game at GW before three soft league home games. It is expected that the Crimson will enter the Feburary 4 game against Princeton unblemished.  Penn must complete their rugged Big 5 schedule against old  friend Fran Dunphy and his Owls and then the St. Joseph’s Hawks. If they are not worn out from all the flapping, they should begin league play 2-0 with their softest home weekend.  A weird scheduling quirk has Princeton opening with five straight league home games. If they are perfect, the race may be over early. Yale needs to beat up on travel partner Brown before they too swing south for a trip to the Palestra and Jadwin Gym.

Note: Once league play begins, there will be games only on Friday and Saturday, for the most part. Therefore, this column will next appear in two weeks, on Monday the 31st, instead of Friday, allowing full coverage of the first big Ivy weekend.

Share this story

Checking in on… the Ivy League

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 2nd, 2011

Howard Hochman is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

A Look Back

The return from finals was not kind to most of the Ivy members. The league went an aggregate 8-12 against less than stellar competition, thus dropping the Ivy into a tie for 12th (with the MVC) in conference RPI. Lowlights abounded, including Brown becoming the first Ivy team to lose to Army, Harvard’s embarrassing no-show vs. then #4 Connecticut, and Penn traveling to snow-covered and picturesque Poughkeepsie to lose to those dastardly sly Red Foxes from Marist… the same Marist that lost to Holy Cross, effectively removing the Crusaders from the Reverse Survivor Pool. But the granddaddy of ineptitude belongs to Cornell. A more detailed description of their fall from grace below. Interestingly enough, Princeton, which doesn’t break for exams until mid-January, escaped the chaos, winning three of four. It was not all doom and gloom. We would be remiss if we did not mention Dartmouth breaking their 0-7 record in the state of Iowa (no statistical info available on their record in the other 49 states) with a victory over Missouri Valley foe Drake; a 67-59 win that was, indeed, a piece of cake. There is no truth to the rumor that the Big Green is now considering relocating to Des Moines.

The Boys From Itha-can’t

Everyone knew there would be growing pains for coach Bill Courtney in his first season at Cornell. After all, the Big Red graduated four key starters from their NCAA Sweet Sixteen team of 2009-2010. But with a returning core group that saw considerable action last year, led by Seniors Mark Coury and Max Groebe, juniors Andrew Ferry and Chris Wroblewski and sophomore Errick Peck, the future did not seem bleak. Add a solid recruiting class, and many thought that Cornell could compete with pre-season favorites Harvard and Princeton. And that the chances for a four-peat were possible and not a term limited to those in the School of Agriculture. Despite a 2-6, start the faithful were encouraged by the performance at then #15 Minnesota–a game that Cornell could/should have won. A soft schedule and lots of practice time between games would be just what Courtney needed to set his rotation and get the team back on track. Even the most pessimistic fans could not have envisioned the last two weeks. It began with a one-point loss at lowly Binghamton. Cornell was up 16 in the first half only to see the 3-8 Bearcats go on a 18-3 run and score the winning basket with 14 seconds to go. Okay–a bad loss to a bad team but the end of a five game road trip. Home cooking and a taste of Cayuga’s waters awaited. What followed was an 11-point loss to Bucknell, sending the 2600 in attendance home despondent. Nine days later, the end of the seven-game losing streak seemed like a good possibility as the Big Red faced New Hampshire in the opening round of the Richmond Marriott Tourney. However, despite four players in double figures, a see-saw second half saw the Wildcats emerge with a two point victory. The next night, however, saw a glimmer of hope. Shooting 64% from the field, including a sizzling 71% from beyond the arc, Cornell hung on to beat Wofford 86-80 despite almost squandering a 17-point second half lead.

Stats tell the story. Health and line-up changes too. Only five players have played in all 12 games and only one Adam Wire has started all of them. Twelve players are averaging more than eight minutes per game. As a team, Cornell has been outscored by an average of five points per game, outshot 44% to 38%, and outrebounded by an average of eight per game.

While the results so far have been disappointing, the rest of the season is not without hope, During this losing streak, Cornell has lost two games by five, two games by two, and  a game each by one and three. Only the loss at Syracuse was lopsided and understandable. Would the presence of Steve Donahue make a difference in some of those close defeats? Perhaps? Remember, this is Courtney’s maiden voyage sitting in that first seat.  Does he need time to grow into it? Possibly. There is still about a month to go before Ivy play begins in earnest. Supporters and Ivy fans in general hope that Thursday night’s victory is the spark that begins to turn things around so Cornell can make it a three and possibly four team race to the wire. But it is most assuredly a case of wait and C.

Player of the Week

Kareem Maddox becomes the second Princetonian (Ian Hummer) to win the coveted RTC POW trophy. In the four games the Tigers have played there was no holding this Tiger. Despite a foul-plagued, sub-par game vs. UCF,  The 6’8 Senior from Oak Park, Ca. has scored 61 points (15.2)  on 54% shooting  and has grabbed 17 rebounds. Maddox has averaged 31 minutes per game primarily coming off the bench. Clearly the favorite for Ivy Sixth Man of the Year. And kudos to his family, no doubt Lakers and Braves fans.

Power Rankings

1. Princeton (10-4)–it was going to be a great story. A nine-game winning streak punctuated by a win over a Top 25 team. Both seemed poised to happen as the Tigers led #19 UCF by eight at halftime. Then along came Mr. Jordan. Not Michael, but his son Marcus, who scored 22 of his game-high 26 points to rally the Knights to a 68-62 victory. Despite that, Princeton, the preseason favorite in most publications, enjoys its first week in the penthouse.

2. Harvard (8-3)–Crimson relinquish top spot based on Tiger success and their own dreadful performance against UConn. Harvard shot 30% en route to a 29 point defeat led by Christian Webster’s 0-9. Only Keith Wright (18 points, 7 boards) showed up. Tommy Amaker’s squad gets well vs. Div.III MIT to ring in the New Year.

3. Columbia (7-4)–with last night’s 74-71 win at Maine after a 19 day layoff, the Lions have now won four straight and six out of their last seven. Junior guard Noruwa Agho leads the way averaging a bit better than 16 points per game and continues to jockey with Penn’s Zack Rosen at the top of the Ivy scoring race.

4. Penn (5-5)–poised to take over the # 3 spot after disposing of Delaware. But evidently a feast of Blue Hen did not sit well as the Quakers fell flat vs. Marist. Miles Cartwright, a 20-point scorer and starter against Delaware, remembered he was a freshman and scored only six on 2-11 shooting. At least Jerome Allen has settled on a consistent starting lineup that now includes Cartwright and inside beast Conor Turley.

5. Dartmouth (4-8)–by default, the Big Green moves out of the cellar as the only other Ivy team to actually win a game (the aforementioned 67-59 vs. Drake) during the this two-week span. Before all you Hanoverians go careening down the slopes in paroxysms of glee, that win was sandwiched between a 29 point loss to Iowa State in which Dartmouth could manage only 42 points and a 17 point loss at Bucknell.

6. Yale (5-6)–not much separates the Elis from their Providence neighbors (see below). Both were 0-2 this week and each has a winnable game on New Years Eve. Yale gets the nod based on actually taking a cross country road trip (can you say “Fawn Leibowitz?”) to get pounded by Stanford. Seems another basketball team from the Nutmeg State had trouble out in Palo Alto.

7. Brown (4-6)–the Bears sport losses to Army (88-86) and Central Connecticut St. (67-51). Their murderous schedule continues with a home game against Bryant to close out 2010.

8. Cornell (3-9)–their struggles have been chronicled above. One doubts they are truly the worst team in the league. Sophomore Errick Peck has been the lone bright spot scoring 68 points in the last four games. Here’s hoping the Big Red has some table games and a flat screen in the basement.

A Look Ahead

Most conferences dive into conference play after the first of the year. Not so the Ivy League. With the exception of isolated games against their travel partners, intra-league battles do not begin for another month. Brown has only two games–American and Lyndon(Johnson) St–before facing travel chum YaleColumbia faces Elon, Lafayette, and Union before a home and home date with Cornell, a game they could realistically enter at a lofty 10-4. Buffalo and Stony Brook represent an opportunity for the Big Red to get things straightened out before league play. Dartmouth puts their lofty #5 ranking on the line with a game against Ivy patsy Army before facing their travel partner, Harvard. The Crimson have a chance for a bit of redemption for their rocky Hartford horror show when they travel to Chestnut Hill to see old friend Steve Donahue and his improved BC Eagles. Penn begins 2011 with a televised game at #11 Kentucky followed by a Big Five showdown with La Salle. The good news is that the Quakers will be battle tested before beginning conference play. Princeton only has one game (Marist) in the next 23 days as their players hit the books instead of the court. With games ahead vs. Holy Cross and Baruch, Yale should be looking at a two-game winning streak. Boola-boola!

Auld Lang Syne

To all the fans and followers of the schools of the Ancient Eight, may your 2011 be filled with buzzer beaters, filled and raucous gyms, creative cheers, a nail-biting Ivy race, and of course many RTC-worthy games.  And to my loyal readers–and you know who you are–my sincere wishes for happy times with grandchildren, a return to a  healthy and vibrant life, a filled Citi Field, California/New York dreamin’, and brisk camper enrollment. Happy New Year, everyone!

Share this story

Checking in on… the Ivy League

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 18th, 2010

Howard Hochman is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

A Look Back

Ivy Sedation: A quiet two weeks for the eight member schools as they all had light schedules to concentrate on finals. A total of 19 games were played in which the league compiled a 13-6 record. No big deal, you say. Well, maybe. But the league’s overall performance has catapulted them to a Top Ten national RPI ranking-for the first time in recent memory. Currently the Ivy League is ahead of the conferences of Butler (Horizon), Memphis (Conference USA), and Gonzaga (West Coast). And just ahead in striking distance are the conferences of Drexel (Colonial and recent road conqueror of Louisville) and Washington (Pac-10). Could it be that the RPI has found a kindred spirit in another three letter ranking system…the all-important GPA? Can you say “multiple bids?”

Ivy/Big Ten Challenge: In the era of preseason conference match-up challenges, don’t tell me you haven’t heard of this one? No, it wasn’t on any of the ESPN family of networks. It didn’t feature Dickie V, Jay, Len or Raff as analysts. And in fact, it wasn’t even a scheduled event. But if you tuned in to the Big Ten Network on Saturday December 4, you witnessed two white knucklers (in honor of the aircraft carrier of analysts, Al McGuire) between teams from the Ivy first division and two NCAA Tournament hopeful Big Ten teams. The Ivy reps–Harvard and Cornell–road warriors both–should have emerged victorious. Yet both went down to defeat at the hands of Michigan and then #15 Minnesota respectively. And the defeats can be summarized in four words: John Beilein and Tubby Smith. You may have heard of them. A brief recap:

  • Harvard-Michigan: The Wolverines get a raucous welcome as they return home after a three-game road trip that saw them lose close games to Syracuse and UTEP before downing Clemson in the ACC/Big Ten challenge. Tommy Amaker did not get the same type of welcome for the return to his last coaching stop.  The Crimson dominated the first half (up seven) and into the early stages of the second (up 12) in a contest that saw the return to action of last year’s Ivy Freshman of the Year, Kyle Casey (scoreless in seven minutes of action).  A Stu Douglass-led 17-1 run puts Michigan up for good; a run in which Coach Amaker assumes his stoic arms crossed, emotionless posture. Swap coaches and Harvard wins going away. Keith Wright, and standout Laurent Rivard acquit themselves nobly in defeat.
  • Cornell-Minnesota: Few visiting teams win at The Barn. Not only do they have to contend with the talented Golden Gophers, but they must also survive the always-treacherous step up onto the court. A see-saw first half left Cornell trailing by one at the break. The second half was a contest between Errick (bushel and a ) Peck/Chris Wroblewski (both finishing with 16 points) and the refs. Cornell kept hoisting threes (14-33) and Minnesota kept marching to the line (26-44 from the stripe, compared to 10-14 for the Big Red). The success at the line proved crucial, as Cornell held Minnesota without a field goal during an 11-minute stretch. Minnesota was coming off its first non-conference home loss in over three years (Virginia). Guess Tubby and co. were not about to let it happen again.

The bottom line–two of the top four Ivy teams showed they can play with the Big Ten (OSU, MSU, and Illinois notwithstanding). On a neutral court, the results no doubt would have been different.

  • Player of the Week: Greg Mangano, Yale – Not an easy choice given the lack of action in the league, but Mangano gets the honors. The 6’10 junior, a local product from Orange, CT. led the Elis to wins in two of three games. The only blemish came in a tough four-point road loss to America East power Vermont. During the three game span, Mangano scored 15.3 PPG, shot 52% from the field and pulled down 31 rebounds (10.3 RPG). His presence has allowed Yale to join Harvard and Princeton as Ivy Windex forces. And Mangano’s stats speak for themselves as the junior from Yale locks down the coveted RTC hardware.

Power Rankings

  1. Harvard (7-2) – Only losses have come at the hands of a couple of 8-2 teams (George Mason and Michigan). The return of Kyle Casey and the emergence of le frosh du Canada Laurent Rivard add to the Crimson depth. That depth and overall record keep them a notch above….
  2. Princeton (7-3) – The Tigers boast a five-game winning streak with the last of those being an OT win at Tulsa thanks to a dominating performance by Kareem Maddox (31 points and six boards). Princeton has eight solid players averaging over 11 minutes per game.
  3. Columbia (6-4) – Winning five out of their last six has vaulted the Lions into the first division, for the time being. Noruwa Agho paces the scoring with a 16.1 average.
  4. Penn (4-4) – If not for a career day from Corey Stokes, the Quakers would be riding a three-game win streak. As it is, that hard-fought loss to nationally ranked Big Five and Big East foe Villanova propels the Quakers, feeling their oats, to the first division.
  5. Yale (5-4) – The Bulldogs have won of four of five to boost them over the .500 mark. The inside/outside duo of Player of the Week Greg Mangano and guard Austin Morgan–both averaging over 15 points per game–may be unrivaled in the league. The M&M boys are becoming a sweet combination.
  6. Cornell (2-6) – So how can team with a five-game losing streak and the worst record in the league actually move up in the rankings? Simple: Couple a gritty, gutty Big Red showing at Minnesota with dreadful performances by Brown and Dartmouth.
  7. Brown (4-4) – A four-game road trip proved disastrous as the Bears ended it with a 27-point blowout at the hands of crosstown rival Providence; The Bears were outrebounded 44-26.
  8. Dartmouth (3-6) – Ronnie Dixon scores 21 as the Big Green defeat Army and show signs of life. Then, he goes and shoots 1-10 in a loss to Northeast Conference leader St. Francis.

Looking Ahead

  • Home cooking versus Ivy patsy Army may prove to be a panacea for road-weary Brown.
  • Beginning their break for finals, Columbia has only a road trip to Orono-the idyllic winter getaway–to face Maine before the New Year.
  • Cornell will have had two weeks to regroup before facing SUNY icon Binghamton, who in eight games have given up 120 points more than they have scored. Two more winnable games follow before 2011 is here.
  • For some reason, Dartmouth has chosen Iowa as their winter wonderland, traveling to the Hawkeye state for games against Iowa State and Drake.
  • Harvard comes off their finals hiatus with perhaps their toughest test of the year, a date with Kemba Walker and the UConn Huskies.
  • Penn ends the year with trips south (Delaware) and north (Marist) before ushering in the New Year with John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.
  • Princeton looks to extend their five-game winning streak at Wagner and Towson. It is likely that the Tigers will begin Ivy play at 12-3.
  • Next to Princeton/Duke, the SAT game of the year takes place in Palo Alto as Yale travels to face Stanford on the 28th.
Share this story

Checking in on… the Ivy League

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 4th, 2010

Howard Hochman is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

The Week That Was

In the last 32 games played, there were no results that sent shock waves across the world of Ivy League hoops. Over the course of the past two weeks, the members of the Ancient Eight pretty much beat the teams they were supposed to beat and lost to the teams from the more powerful conferences. They amassed a collective 17-15 record and currently stand #15 in the conference RPI rankings. Not bad. At the top of the heap was my preseason pick Harvard, who went a perfect 4-0. On the other end of the spectrum was defending champ Cornell, which went winless in its four games.

College Boards

  • More and more we see the little guys from the mid-majors being able to compete with the schools from the BCS conferences. Butler and Gonzaga have pretty much become the gold standard for this over the past few years. Last year Saint Mary’s and, of course, Cornell joined the party. What allows these schools to compete? And in particular, with regard to the Ivy League, what separates the men from the boys; the pretenders from the contenders? It is the ability to rebound; to hold one’s own on the boards. A simple look back over the past two weeks illustrates this point.
  • On the negative side of the ledger, there have been some pretty ugly rebounding margins. Yale, in its three losses, was outrebounded by 12 against Quinnipiac, seven against Providence, and nine versus Illinois. Cornell had rebounding deficits of 15 against Seton Hall, a whopping 22 against St. Bonaventure, eight against BYU and 15 against Syracuse — all losses. But leading the way is the guard-rich Penn Quakers. Zach Rosen is a solid POY candidate and Miles Cartwright may turn out to be Freshman of the Year. But neither will matter if they cannot fix their inside game. In their three losses the Red and Blue were demolished off the boards by 11 versus Manhattan, 22 against Drexel, and 15 versus Pitt.
  • After absorbing those statistics, it is easy to see why Harvard and Princeton remain the clear-cut Ivy League favorites. They are the only two squads that hold an advantage over their opponents on the boards, and we are not talking SATs here. Princeton holds about a +3 rebounding advantage per game while Harvard is an impressive +4, considering they are doing it without Kyle Casey. Admittedly, the quality of the opponent has had a lot to do with the aforementioned deficits. And with about six weeks still to go before conference play begins, coaches have time to address the problem and tinker with lineups. The road to the league title is definitely paved with… glass.

Power Rankings

  1. Harvard (5-1) – Harvard takes over the top spot thanks to a five-game winning streak. The backcourt duo of Brandyn Curry (7.2 assists per game and leading the league)  and Christian Webster (16.5 ppg) are beginning to live up to the promise they showed as freshmen on a consistent basis. Add forward Keith Wright (16.0 PPG and 8 RPG), the returning Kyle Casey, and a useful freshman class, and you have a Crimson team that will leave the rest of the league red with envy.
  2. Princeton (4-3) – Truth be told, the Tigers are three points away from being an impressive 6-1. A collapse of presidential proportions led to a one-point defeat at James Madison, a game in which Princeton led by 13 at halftime. Playing their third game in three days, in what can only be described as an heretical loss, the Tigers fell by two to Presbyterian.
  3. Brown (3-3) – Rarefied air for the Bears. They get the nod here with a .500 record aided by a rather weak schedule. Leading the way are forwards Peter Sullivan and Tucker Halperin averaging 15.6 and 12.8 PPG, respectively.
  4. Columbia (3-4) – Despite the loss to Bucknell, the Lions seem vastly improved and are playing hard for new coach Kyle Smith. A solid backcourt, led by Noruwa Agho (17.3 PPG) and running mates sophomore Brian Barbour and  freshman Dyami Starks, give Columbia a nucleus on which to build.
  5. Penn (3-3) – the Quakers may find it difficult to escape the second division any time soon given the strength of their non-conference schedule. However, they continue to show flashes of brilliance led by junior Zach Rosen and freshman sensation Miles Cartwright. At Pittsburgh, in a game that featured Big East standouts Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker, it would not be an exaggeration to say Rosen was the best player on the court.
  6. Yale (3-3) – Another team at .500 and one that appears to be much-improved after their unlikely win at BC. The Elis boast four players averaging in double figures led by underclassmen Austin Morgan (16.8) and Greg Mangano (15.7 PPG/8.5 RPG). A blowout at then-#19 Illinois has been Yale’s only clunker.
  7. Cornell (2-5) – How the mighty have fallen as the Big Red are in the midst of a four-game losing streak. Their record should put them in the power poll basement but it’s difficult to rank them below their colleagues from Hanover. Coach Bill Courtney continues to struggle to find a blend, mixing returning contributors, 2009-10 bit players, and a talented freshman class. There are twelve players averaging more than eight minutes a game.
  8. Dartmouth (2-5) – Though they seem destined once again for the cellar, there is some cautious optimism in Hanover that the Big Green can improve on their 5-23 record from last year. In their last game, an 80-63 win vs. Colgate, Dartmouth had six players in double figures. The last time they had even as many as five was in November 2007.

Player of the Week

This week’s award goes to the fuel-efficient Ian Hummer of Princeton. In the last 5 games, the 6’7 sophomore from Virginia has averaged 16 points per game on 63% shooting from the field. Over the same span he has also grabbed a team-leading 38 rebounds (7.6 RPG). So congratulations, Ian! You have most certainly earned your stripes.

Looking Ahead

Sparse schedules over the next two weeks as the teams from the Ivy League begin their hoops hiatus for finals. Wondering how many other Conference Check-Ins will contain that phrase? Brown has a three game road-trip ending with the traditional tussle with cross-town rival Providence. Columbia appears capable of racking up three wins with home games vs. Stony Brook, Wagner, and Bryant.  Another loss appears on the horizon for Cornell, as they head to The Barn to face an angry bunch of Minnesota Golden Gophers, who come off a home loss to Virginia. Fortunately, the Big Red have 14 days to lick their Gopher wounds (where is Bill Murray when you need him?) before embarking on a more forgiving part of their schedule. Dartmouth has ten days off before Army marches in. Tommy Amaker brings his league-leading Harvard squad into Crisler Arena to face Michigan. It’s anyone’s guess as to what his reception will be as he returns to the scene of his not-so-successful stint with the Wolverines. Penn/Army highlights a twin bill at the Meadowlands on Saturday for a must-see! The second game is some meaningless contest between Duke and Butler. (and the Jeopardy! answer is… What would you find in Windsor Castle?). Princeton is the one team that plays on a relatively consistent basis. A home game vs. St. Joe’s precedes a very winnable four-game road trip. Three games in four days await Yale, beginning with a trip to scenic Burlington and a date with the Catamounts of Vermont. (a school for the few, the proud, the select).

    Share this story

    Checking in on… the Ivy League

    Posted by Brian Goodman on November 19th, 2010


    Howard Hochman is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

    Overview

    The members of the Ancient Eight began their rather elongated non-conference schedule with a number of goals in mind. The four new coaches—Kyle Smith at Columbia, Paul Cormier at Dartmouth, Bill Courtney at Cornell, and Jerome Allen at Penn–hoped to get off to good starts. The four contenders for the Ivy title, Princeton, Harvard, Penn, and Cornell, wanted to reinforce their superiority early. And the league as a whole is looking to build on Cornell’s NCAA Tournament success and send a national message that the Ivy was indeed becoming a perennial, competitive mid-major. Through Wednesday, and an overall record of 7-11, the early returns can be accurately labeled as…

    The Good

    In an interesting twist, Yale beat former Cornell coach Steve Donahue and his Boston College squad at Chestnut Hill for an impressive early-season victory Thursday. The other notables include a promising debut for Cornell’s Courtney and Columbia’s Smith with wins over America East neighbor Albany and Maryland-Eastern Shore, respectively; a win at Fordham for the Brown Bears; league favorite Princeton opening with a win versus intra-state rival Rutgers, and top it off, Penn’s home opening win (and Jerome Allen’s first without the interim tag) against brand-name Davidson (more on that to come). More good news is that the conference moved up a few spots and is listed 17th in the latest RPI rankings.

    The Bad

    Dartmouth gives every indication that, they will continue to be the league doormat; Yale, with an impressive recruiting class, begins 0-2. Harvard, my pick to hoist the trophy, was not competitive in a loss to George Mason.

    The Ugly

    Doubly humiliated on national TV–no way to win friends and influence…voters. First the Big Red travels to the Garden State and becomes fodder for young Kevin Willard’s Seton Hall team, losing by 24 in a game that was over midway through the first half. But that was a nail-biter compared to what happened on Sunday at Cameron Indoor. Princeton, who most feel will win the Ivy title with their returning veterans, was thrashed by Duke 97-60, and it wasn’t even that close. Honorable mention in this category goes to the Penn Quakers who, after building a 12 point lead, went scoreless the final 7:48 of the game at Manhattan while being outscored 17-0 en route to a 59-54 loss.

    Ghosts of Guards Past

    The collective gasp heard from the announced crowd of 5,300 at the Palestra Saturday night was in response to the whistle indicating the second foul on Zack Rosen three minutes into the game. To the rescue came Miles Cartwright, a mere wisp of a guard from California. Now, informed sources had whispered that what was about to transpire should not have come as a surprise. These same sources had seen Cartwright outplay the aforementioned Rosen at the traditional Penn pre-season Red and Blue game. Yet even they had to be amazed at the 18-point first half output, keeping Penn in the game and ultimately earning Cartwright Ivy Rookie of the Week honors. But it wasn‘t just his point total, it was a combination of court awareness, defense, quickness, penetration, outside shooting, and even his physical presence that evoked memories of Ibby Jaaber. In second-half time limited by severe leg cramps, Cartwright did seem a bit lost sharing the court with Rosen. It will be up to Jerome Allen, who appeared to step up his game as bench tactician, to figure out a way for both of his point guards to get minutes and coexist productively.

    Power Rankings

    1. Princeton (1-1): The Duke debacle and their 27 turnovers notwithstanding, the Tigers remain the league favorite and clearly the most talented. POY candidate Dan Mavraides had 42 points in the two games and Ian Hummer chipped in with 31. Throw in guard Doug Davis and that is a trio that will be difficult for any Ivy opponent to defend.
    2. Harvard (1-1): For those optimists, the disappointing showing at George Mason can be tempered by the strong performance of Keith Wright (22 and 16) and the fact that the Crimson is still without the services of last year’s Ivy Freshman of the Year, Kyle Casey, who, barring any setback, is due back at the end of this month. The ship appeared to be righted as Harvard followed up with an impressive victory over Patriot foe Holy Cross with four starters in double figures and sophomore stud guard Brandyn Curry’s 12 assists.
    3. Cornell (2-1): The bad loss to the Pirates was sandwiched around workmanlike victories against Albany and Delaware, proving the Big Red can handle canines and fowl alike. The one common thread was the liberal use of the bench by new coach Bill Courtney. An average of 13 players saw daylight in the three games in an attempt to try to find a clicking  rotation as Cornell looks for an Ivy four-peat.
    4. Penn (1-1): The Quakers would have moved up to the top spot in the first poll based on their win over traditional mid-major power Davidson. Patrons leaving the Palestra were giddy with visions of a Quaker return to prominence. The celebration came to a screeching halt on Wednesday with an embarrassing loss to a weak and undermanned Manhattan team. Miles Cartwright, not the first freshman to feel the rigors of the road, went scoreless in 14 minutes of action.
    5. Brown (1-1): No matter that A-10 opponent Fordham came into the Bears’ opening game with a D1 leading 21-game losing streak. Brown got the win, led by Pat Sullivan’s 17 points. A-25 point waxing at the hands of in-state rival URI made the euphoria in Providence short-lived.
    6. Columbia (1-2): After splitting their first two games, the Lions seemed poised to take over the city as they led St. John’s by four at halftime. However, the Red Storm started running away in the second half to cruise past the Lions. Nevertheless, Coach Smith, Noruwa Agho (61 points in three games) and company look like they are headed in the right direction. A winning record is seemingly within reach.
    7. Yale (0-2): Wondering if James Jones is thinking he should have joined his brother at Chestnut Hill? A defeat at the hands of cross-town Quinnipiac was followed by a gut-wrenching defeat at Providence. Tied with about four minutes to go, the Bulldogs missed numerous chances to take the lead and PC sealed the deal at the line. The bright spot in the two games was the play of junior forward Greg Mangano with 31 points. Adding to Eli woes is the defection of key cog and captain Michael Sands who left the team indefinitely for personal reasons.
    8. Dartmouth (0-2): After a 35-point defeat at Providence, the Big Green returned home to face in-state foe New Hampshire. A 59% first half shooting clip and 15 went for naught as UNH scored with a second on the clock to send a small but raucous crowd home disappointed.

    Player of the Week

    It’s difficult to separate the performances of Keith Wright (Harvard) and Jack Eggleston (Penn) in their teams’ first two games, so we have co-winners. Wright was absolutely dominant. The 6’8 junior from Virginia scored 40 points on 15-20 (75%) shooting from the floor and 10-12 (83%) from the line. In addition, he grabbed 22 rebounds. Not to be outdone, the 6’8 Eggelston put up similar numbers. In his two games, he shot 12-15 (80%) from the floor including 5-7 (71%) from beyond the arc. He was perfect from the line (8-8) and grabbed 11 rebounds in each contest. So to Wright and Eggleston a laurel, and hearty welcome as the inaugural RTC Ivy Players of the Week.

    A Look Ahead

    Brown looks to have five soft games on the horizon, albeit three on the road, before a December 6 date with intra-city rival Providence. Kyle Smith at Columbia can win supporters quickly thanks to a relatively easy non-conference schedule. It is quite possible the Lions could be 11-3 before their January 5 meeting with Cornell. The Big Red, after three tough but winnable games, face a daunting road trip that takes them to NIT quarterfinalist Boston University, #10 Syracuse, and then to The Barn to face Tubby Smith and his Golden Gophers of Minnesota. For Dartmouth and returning coach Paul Cormier, the chances for victories may be few and far between. The best immediate hope is November 27 vs. Colgate. Tommy Amaker appears to have backed off the scheduling throttle at Harvard. Only two tough games loom, December 4 when Amaker makes his not-so-triumphant return to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines, and a January 5 date at BC and familiar face Steve Donahue. Penn, for all the improvement and return health, is still likely to bite a lot of bullets before conference play. They usher in the New Year with a trip to Kentucky sandwiched between games versus ranked Big 5 opponents Villanova and Temple. Of more immediate concern is a Turkey Weekend trip to #5 Pittsburgh. Princeton has a week to lick their wounds and then it’s off to face the Dukes of JMU, but then it’s clear sailing. It is possible that the Tigers could be 13-2 before kicking off conference play. And finally Yale has dates at BC and #13 Illinois before a string of 10 rather nondescript games.

    Share this story

    Checking in on… the Ivy League

    Posted by nvr1983 on March 12th, 2010

    Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

    This season saw an unprecedented three teams reach the 20-win plateau in the Ivy League — a dominant Cornell team headed to the NCAA Tournament (expected); a young, but extremely talented Harvard team (disappointing); and a resurgent Princeton team (surprising). Hopefully the latter two have earned an invite to one of the myriad of lesser post-season tournaments. Here’s a look at the final standings:

    1. Cornell (13-1, 27-4): The final go-around for 10 seniors proved to be the best. Now the goal for Louis Dale, Jeff Foote, Ryan Wittman et al is to win a game or two in the tournament. A preview of their chances can be found below.
    2. Princeton (11-3, 20-8): Two tough losses to Cornell sealed their fate, but they earned runner-up honors with a couple of victories over Harvard. A bright future with their top five scorers returning.
    3. Harvard (10-4, 21-7): Beat everyone except the top two. Jeremy Lin’s loss via graduation will be felt, but in freshmen Brandyn Curry and Christian Webster, the Crimson boast a backcourt that can compete with the best nationally. Next year’s preseason choice.
    4. Yale (6-8, 12-19): An up and down Ivy season for the Elis. The lone bright spot was All-Ivy senior guard Alex Zampier. He leaves New Haven as the school’s all-time assist leader while scoring over 1000 points.
    5. Columbia (5-9, 11-17): The Lions earn the fifth spot over co 5-9ers Brown and Penn by virtue of their head-to-head sweep of both teams. Next year’s team will be built around sophomore Noruwa Agho, their only double digit scorer.
    6. Brown (5-9, 11-20): Little to separate the Bears from the Quakers other than a slightly better overall record, so they get the nod here. Stat machine Matt Mullery (team leader in points, rebounds, and assists) leaves after a fine career.
    7. Penn (5-9, 6-22): The record was something that Palestra fans (those that showed up) were not used to. Nor were early-season injuries and a mid-season coaching change. Sophomore point guard and Player of the Year candidate Zack Rosen is already a star.
    8. Dartmouth (1-13, 5-23): Not much to cheer about in Hanover. Hopefully Mark Graupe can breathe some enthusiasm into a program that has pretty much been the league doormat for a while. Most of the top players return.

    Postseason Awards
    Without fanfare we present you with the best of the 2009-2010 Ivy League basketball season:

    All-Conference Team

    • Ryan Wittman 6-7 Sr F—Cornell
    • Matt Mullery 6-8 Sr. F–Brown
    • Jeff Foote 7-0 Sr. C–Cornell
    • Jeremy Lin 6-3 Sr. G–Harvard
    • Zack Rosen 6-1 So. G–Penn
    • Alex Zampier 6-3 Sr, G—Yale
    • Louis Dale 5-11 Sr. G—Cornell

    All-Freshman Team

    • Kyle Casey 6-7 F–Harvard
    • Tucker Halpern 6-8 F–Brown
    • Andrew McCarthy 6-8 F–Brown
    • Ian Hummer 6-7 F–Princeton
    • Brandyn Curry 6-1 G–Harvard
    • Christian Webster 6-5 G—Harvard

    Statistical Leaders

    • Points per game: Zack Rosen (Penn)–17.7
    • FG %: Jeff Foote (Cornell)—62.3%
    • FT %: Zack Rosen (Penn)—86.2%
    • 3-point FG %: Jon Jaques (Cornell)—48.8%
    • Rebounds per game: Jeff Foote (Cornell)—8.2
    • Assists per game: Louis Dale (Cornell)—4.8
    • Steals per game: Jeremy Lin (Harvard)—2.5
    • Blocks per game: Greg Mangano (Yale)—2.0

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Share this story

    Checking in on… The Ivy League

    Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2010

    Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

    The Not Ready For Prime Time Players

    It probably started with the nationally acclaimed recruiting class. It picked up momentum in early December when Jeremy Lin and his 30 points nearly singlehandedly upset then-Big East powerhouse UConn.

    It gathered steam with a victory against Boston College, followed soon by a seven-game winning streak. And it came to a boiling point with stories in Sports Illustrated and The Wall Street Journal prior to a showdown with Cornell.

    We are talking about expectations…specifically those for the Harvard Crimson. The trouble with expectations is that they rarely turn out as you would hopefully…expect. And in this case, they exploded on Jan. 30 when Cornell administered an 86-50 dose of reality. In retrospect, perhaps we were all guilty of anointing Harvard as a serious Ivy threat too soon. After all, its roster is composed of — amazingly — seven sophomores and seven freshmen. And its schedule, aside from a brutal three-game stretch against UConn, B.C. and Georgetown in December, was ultra-soft. The combined records of the schools Harvard has beaten (not counting Division III neighbor MIT and considering vanquished Ivy foes only once) stands at 152-224, and that figure is somewhat softened by William & Mary at 19-8.

    In fact, Harvard has beaten only THREE teams with a winning record — the aforementioned Tribe (thrashed in their BracketBuster game by Iona), BU, and GW. None of those inspire fear. Harvard has lost to the other five teams on their schedule with winning records — Army, UConn, Georgetown, Cornell (twice), and Princeton. The latter three games represent the defining moments of Harvard’s season. Given his coaching history, Tommy Amaker is an easy target. But with a youthful roster, a resurgent and rebuilt Princeton team, and a powerhouse up in Ithaca, it is clear that all those expectations were, indeed, unrealistic.

    The true measure of this team will come in succeeding seasons. Will all those recruits stay happy and keep coming — knowing that, while they will receive a superb education, they will play in relative obscurity? Cornell loses much of its strength via graduation but Princeton is back to where Princeton expects (there’s that word again) to be and Penn may be on that road as well. Harvard may likely be the sexy Ivy pick for the 2010-11 season and with it will come more … expectations.

    A Non-Ivy Footnote (or, Six Degrees of Separation from Craig Robinson)

    It has been a month since President Barack Obama sat down with Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg at halftime of the Georgetown-Duke game. And it got me thinking. Now, nothing against Special K, who we remember as a dominant forward for THE Ohio State University and who we regard as one of the finest nuts-and-bolts analysts of the college game. But we lament the fact that CBS decided to break up the Lundquist/Bill Raftery team. Their rapport and repartee was delightful, sometimes irreverent, and always spontaneous and unrehearsed. It was definitely good for a few laughs, especially during the most one-sided games. Imagine if they were still together for Barack Banter at halftime. We would have found out if he had suggested to his campaign contributors to “send it in”; if he addressed Congress as a group or “mantaman”; or if he tucked his daughters in at night with a “kiiisss” and if he left Michelle with some of her “lingerie on the deck”; and most importantly, could he deal with some of the problems in the Middle East with “onions!”

    And now on to the power rankings. With two weekends of Ivy play remaining, the top spots, while technically still up for grabs, are sorting themselves out. The middle is a muddle. And at the bottom, even Dartmouth broke into the win column. Here’s how we see it:

    1. Cornell (9-1, 23-4): The Big Red recovered from the Score Heard ‘Round the World (a 79-64 loss to Penn for those of you more interested in triple salchows) with three straight workmanlike victories. They took over undisputed possession of first place by beating Princeton at their own game — holding them to 45 points and 36% shooting. Then they shot the lights out versus Harvard (50% FG, 52% from three) and Dartmouth (57% FG, 60% from three) to finish their four-game road trip. A third straight trip to the Dance should be coming soon.
    2. Princeton (7-2, 16-7): The loss to Cornell at home was understandable. The loss to Brown at home was inexcusable — especially for a team that was still in contention for Ivy crown. They allowed the Bears to shoot 58% and score 57 points, five more than their NCAA-leading defensive scoring average. An opportunity for atonement arrives tonight when the Tigers travel to Ithaca — a game which represents the last chance for some down-to-the-wire Ivy excitement.
    3. Harvard (7-3, 18-6): Only a possible shot at second place (and perhaps some post-season-play in a tourney not named NCAA) likely awaits the Crimson thanks to that Feb. 19 loss to Cornell. That shot at the runner-up spot will come on March 6 when they close the season at Princeton. It is hard to imagine a likely 20-win season being disappointing (see above) for any Ivy team, but the goals were higher in Cambridge. The good news is that while Harvard will lose Jeremy Lin, they will return 15 out of the 18 players on their roster.
    4. Brown (4-6,10-17): OK, so, why the Bears to round out the top half of the conference and not Penn? Here’s the logic:  they have split games so head-to-head doesn’t apply. Brown has a better overall record, albeit against a weaker schedule. And while they both have games vs. Harvard and Cornell still remaining, Penn visits Princeton to end the season. So this ranking is a projection. Besides we applaud Brown’s rare (for any Ivy team over the past 30 years) southern double weekend-road wins vs. Penn and Princeton.
    5. Penn (4-5, 5-18): This could have been a resurgence, redemption, replacement (as in coaching) and an all-is right-with-the-world paragraph. Instead, the postgame euphoria that was evident after the Doug Gottllieb hyperbole win versus Cornell was followed by three straight home losses. With road contests against Cornell and Princeton sandwiched around a home date with Harvard, the hopes for a .500 conference record look bleak — but with almost everyone returning next season, more Palestra magic will be back again soon.
    6. Yale (4-6, 10-17): The Elis have exactly the same record as Brown and a better overall record than Penn. But they are kind of like 2009 football Giants — they get their wins against the teams they are supposed to beat. Their only wins in their last seven games have come at the expense of bottom-feeders Columbia and Dartmouth. And their lost loss to Penn definitively relegated them the sixth spot in the power rankings.
    7. Columbia (3-7, 9-15): The disappointing Lions appear to have a firm grasp of seventh place. A road win at the Palestra (thanks to Niko Scott’s 29 points and an amazing seven 3-pointers) is the only thing that has kept Columbia from a five-game losing streak. They would need to win their last four games (unlikely) to keep Coach Joe Jones’ string of .500 conference seasons intact.
    8. Dartmouth (1-9, 5-19): A victory on Feb. 19 vs. Columbia averted a winless conference season for the Big Green. The good news is that they have actually had at least two players in double figures in their last three games — led by junior guard Ronnie Dixon with 46 points during that span. The glass half full approach in Hanover (for a team that ranks 326 out of 347 in RPI) has to be that five out of the top six scorers return. Come to think of it, that may be the glass half empty approach as well.
    Share this story

    Checking in on… the Ivy League

    Posted by rtmsf on February 12th, 2010

    Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

    At Large….At Last?

    Following the Sports Illustrated story profiling Tommy Amaker and Harvard hoops, and with Cornell breaking into the Top 25, the intro this week was going to be all about the suggestion that the Ivy League could possibly receive (gasp!) an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The last time that happened was, well, never.Then Coach Amaker’s team did what most of his teams (Seton Hall and Michigan) have done previously — crashed and burned at the most inopportune time. An 86-50 thrashing at the hands of the Big Red was followed by a detrimental loss to Princeton. So much for the at-large conversation, right? Wrong! Traditional one-bid mid-major conferences have a simple formula for getting a second team into the tournament: have the nationally known and ranked team get knocked off during the conference tournament – i.e. Butler (Horizon League), Gonzaga (West Coast Conference) even Siena (MAAC) – allowing the eventual conference tourney champ to get the bid. But wait, all you Ivy-savvy fans say, our conference doesn’t have a tournament. So RTC presents the formula to you: Princeton (undefeated in conference) splits with Cornell and both win the rest of their games (not impossible) forcing a playoff as both teams would finish conference play at 13-1. Princeton wins the playoff and gets the automatic bid and the Big Red gets an at-large, as ESPN shows the jubilation in Ithaca when Donahue and company see their name announced. This sets up an eventual rematch with Kansas at the Final Four. And to think the dream seemed so real.

    The Gang(s) That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

    Rick Pitino’s mantra has always been shoot the three, defend the three and I’ll see you at the Big Dance. It has worked for him at all four of his college coaching stops (BU, PC, Kentucky, and Louisville). The way the game is played these days, the emphasis on success from beyond the arc has never been greater even with the line being moved back. Let’s look at how the “three for the money theory” has played out during the first two full weekends of Ivy play. Over the course of those 16 games, the losing teams shot a combined 67-255 or 26% from 3-point range. Columbia and Dartmouth each had a 1-for-11 game vs. Harvard and Cornell respectively, while Penn shot an unparalleled 1-for-18 vs. Yale. The winners shot an aggregate 111-for-281 or 39.5%. Not surprisingly, Cornell led the way with an 11-for-27 clip vs. Dartmouth, 12-for-27 vs. Harvard, and 13-for-27 vs. Yale, proving they are a bunch of equal opportunity shooters. Broken down by game, the losers are averaging about 4-16 while the winners approximately 7-17, a difference of 9 points per game. Now, if only I had some eligibility left…..

    One third of the way through the conference season, here is how RTC sees the Ivy League:

    1. Cornell (6-0, 20-3): SRO in the locker room after games as Coach Steve Donahue has used an average of almost 16 players per game (19 vs. Dartmouth). Only Ivy coaches could remember that many names. The four victories have come by an average of more than 25 pts per game. After a tune-up at the Palestra against Penn tonight, the nationally ranked Big Red face Princeton on Saturday before a rematch with Harvard the following Friday – both on the road.

    2. Princeton (4-0, 13-5): Their undefeated conference record has earned the Tigers the No. 2 spot in our bi-weekly power poll. More amazingly, the four victories have all come on the road – leaving only three games remaining away from home. Once again, defense has been the trademark with the Tigers allowing a mere 45 points per game in those wins. Jadwin Gym should be rocking this Valentine’s Eve (Ted officiating?) as Cornell comes calling.

    3. Harvard (4-2, 15-5): Leapfrogged by Princeton thanks to a head-to head loss and the aforementioned disappointing performance vs. Cornell. We are guessing that they will be much better prepared for both rematches and at least one of the losses (most likely vs. Princeton) to be avenged. This team is too talented led by likely Ivy Player of the Year Jeremy Lin (17 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game) and the highly touted freshman class.

    4. Yale (3-3, 9-14): One of two teams with a .500 record in conference completes the top half of the rankings. A home loss to Brown has been the only puzzling result and this Friday’s battle with traditional foe Harvard (a 29-29 tie perhaps?) should be the talk of New Haven. Alex Zampier’s 17.5 pts per game paces the Elis.

    5. Penn (2-2, 3-15): The other team with a .500 record jumps two spots because as we know, it is the all-important loss column that counts. The ship appears to be somewhat righted thanks to the return to Ivy competition, the shortening of the bench by Jerome Allen, and the emergence of Dan Monckton as a complement to Zack Rosen. The junior has averaged over 11 pts over the last four games, including a controversial buzzer-beating tip-in vs. Brown.

    6. Columbia (2-4, 8-12): Is Joe Jones headed for his fifth consecutive 7-7 Ivy season? To do so the Lions will have to overcome the injury bug that has plagued them, particularly to senior guard Patrick Foley, and an upcoming four-game road trip that includes stops at Princeton and Harvard. Columbia continues to be near the top of NCAA in 3-point shooting efficiency led by the marksmanship of Noruwa Agho (51.6%).

    7. Brown (1-5, 7-16): The only thing keeping the Bears out of the cellar is Dartmouth. Five consecutive losses, albeit competitive ones, followed a promising conference- opening victory at Yale. Superman Matt Mullery leads the team in ppg (15.3), rebounds (6.0) assists (3.0), field goal percentage (55.3) and blocks (1.5).

    8. Dartmouth (0-6, 4-16): After a close home loss to Harvard (in which they actually led in the second half) things have fallen apart for the Big Green. Their next four losses have been by an average of 16 points and their offense could not produce more than 51 points in any game. Coach Mark Graupe continues to look for a productive combination as no player is averaging more than 27 minutes or eight points per game. This Friday’s game vs. Brown could be the first of two basement battles.

    Share this story

    Checking in on… the Ivy League

    Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

    Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

    Seeds of Doubt?

    Last time we suggested that a single digit tournament seed was a possibility for Cornell. While we feel that it would be deserved, the reality is that it may be a pipe dream. So, you may ask, with a perfect Ivy season looming, why not a #8 or a #9 seed come March? The numbers tell the story. As of Thursday, the Big Red has an RPI of 37 and a strength of schedule ranking of 129. And with 12 games remaining within a conference with an RPI rank of 19 out of 32, those numbers won’t improve, even if they go undefeated. So expect #11 or #12 seed and a first round match-up against maybe a Wake Forest or a Pittsburgh.

    Green With Envy

    With two mid-season coaching changes in the Ivy League, most of the attention has been on Jerome Allen at Penn. Given his stellar playing career and the high profile nature of the Quaker program, the focus is understandable. But playing second fiddle up in Hanover is Mark Graupe (pronounced GRAW-pee for those keeping score) at Dartmouth. This is his first Div.1 head coaching position after 21 years in the business that has included high school and JUCO stops in North Dakota and most recently as an assistant at Colorado State. While we at RTC wish Mark much success, we would also like to remind him that there are coaching positions throughout the U.S. where the temperatures rise above single digits during hoop season.

    Ivy Futures – Buy or Sell

    Thought it might be interesting to take a look at some budding stars in the conference, so we present the gems (so far) of the Class of 2013:

    Taken as a projection the class of the Class may well be Errick Peck of Cornell (the rich get richer). Though limited in playing time given the quality and experience ahead of him, the 6’6 forward came to Ithaca with impressive credentials. The Indianapolis native not only played in the Indiana/Kentucky HS All-Star Games, but was named MVP of the first game with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

    As a class, give kudos to Tommy Amaker at Harvard with four prize recruits that include starting guard Christian Webster, possible 6th man of the year Kyle Casey (nine points, five rebounds off the bench), Brandon Curry and Dee Giger. This may be the best recruiting class at Cambridge since the Class of 1975 — G.W. Bush and Bill Gates, who left early for some computer gig but was known for his (micro)soft hands.

    Here is a closer look at Arne Duncan’s favorite conference as it enters its first full weekend of play:

    1. Cornell (2-0, 16-3): Coming off two thrashings of travel partner Columbia by 21 and 26 points, the deep Big Red has eight players averaging at least 13 minutes. They’ll tune up at home vs. Dartmouth before entertaining likely conference runner-up Harvard in an early showdown.
    2. Harvard (2-0, 13-3): Two wins came at the expense of hapless travel partner Dartmouth, though most recent win was too close for comfort (62-58). Kyle Casey (see above) led the way with 19 pts off the bench, while conference player of the year candidate Jeremy Lin continues to impress.
    3. Princeton (0-0, 9-5): Because of late exam schedule, the Tigers and travel partner Penn are the only Ivy teams who have not played a conference game. They begin play with a four-game road trip and need to win at least three if they want to contend for a runner-up spot.
    4. Columbia (0-2, 6-10): The bad news: 0-2. The good news: the Lions are done with Cornell and thus have 12 winnable games left. They need a healthy return of point guard Patrick Foley to team with sharpshooter Noruwa Agho to have a chance, however.
    5. Brown (1-1, 7-12): The Bears split with travel partner Yale, each winning as the visiting team. They badly need the return of hobbled starters and leading scorers Peter Sullivan and Matt Mullery; the two forwards and only two double-figure scorers combine for more than 27 points and 9 rebounds per game.
    6. Yale (1-1, 7-12): It’s difficult to separate the Bulldogs and Bears, but the bottom of the league should begin to sort itself out this weekend when Penn heads to Yale and Brown. The Bulldogs continue to be led by All-Ivy lock and Player of the Year candidate Alex Zampier whose 18.6 ppg average is tops in the league.
    7. Penn (0-0), 1-13): Only tradition keeps the Quakers out of the bottom spot this week after a non-competitive, non-conference showing which concluded with a 85-64 drubbing at the hands of St. Joe’s — a Big 5 rival that had already lost to Cornell and Princeton. It will be interesting to see if conference play proves to be the panacea for Penn and emerging star Zack Rosen.
    8. Dartmouth (0-2, 4-12): The last two games — a win vs. St. Francis (N.Y.) and a near-miss (62-58) vs. conference heavyweight Harvard — may auger well for the Graupe era (see above) in Hanover. At least the Big Green appears to playing hard, which may be enough for them to escape the cellar this season.
    Share this story

    Checking in on… the Ivy League

    Posted by rtmsf on January 15th, 2010

    Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

    The Good

    A lot has already been written about Cornell’s near-miss vs. Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse. It should not have come as a surprise as this is a veteran Big Red team with two players (Ryan Wittman and Jeff Foote) who will most assuredly get NBA looks. And it also has a coach who has become a proven big-time recruiter and is finally getting his just due as a game coach. With the core of his soon-to-be three time defending Ivy champ team graduating this spring, look for Steve Donahue to be a hot name for many job openings.

    The Bad

    The bottom of the conference, to be kind, has been dreadful. Brown, Yale, Penn and Dartmouth (more on them later) are a combined 4-28 in their last 32 games vs. Division 1 competition. Their RPIs are respectively 247, 291, 309 and 322. Only Penn, and to a lesser extent Brown, has played a representative schedule. Fortunately for all of those except Penn (which still has two Big 5 games ahead), the conference season begins this weekend. As the saying goes — someone has to win.

    The Ugly

    So for all those out there wishing to do some research: when was the last time two Ivy teams fired their coaches mid-season? (The keys to the Corvette for anyone with the correct answer.) Hot on the heels of Glen Miller at Penn was Terry Dunn at Dartmouth. Talk about the inmates running the asylum — the players allegedly unanimously signed a petition indicating that they would not play unless Terry Dunn was fired. This after the assistant coaches all left in the spring. Word as to their specific grievances has not leaked out. Think there is a line out the door to take over this plum assignment?

    Here are the power rankings, with a rundown on each team heading into league play:

    1) Cornell (14-3): After a warm-up on Monday, the Big Red stands at a gaudy 14-3. Can you say 28-3? A perfect Ivy season is not out of the question for the best team the league has seen since the Penn teams (who should have won an NCAA game) in the early part of the decade. Look for a Top 25 ranking and – invoking the ghost of Bill Bradley – maybe even a single digit seed in the tournament. To paraphrase ESPN analyst extraordinaire Jimmy Dykes: “Don’t be fooled by the names on the uniforms — this team can win two games come March.”

    2) Harvard (12-3): Technically at the top of the standings (1-0 league) after last weekend’s drubbing of the coachless Big Green, Tommy Amaker’s crew has played a tough schedule which included respectable losses to Big East powers Georgetown and UConn, and wins vs. BC, GW, and that West Coast sensation, Seattle (50-point conqueror of Oregon State). Right now they are the clear cut second choice and their 1/30 and 2/19 games vs. Cornell should be wars.

    3) Princeton (8-5): Tigers begin the Ivy season winning six out of their last seven games, albeit vs. weaker opposition. They should be battling Columbia for the minor awards in the league. With Cornell’s graduation losses looming, the Tigers may be the 2010-11 pre-season Ivy pick with underclassmen Doug Davis, Dan Mavraides and Patrick Saunders all returning.

    4) Columbia (6-8): Quick – which Division 1 player has the best 3-pt fg pct? You’re right if you guessed the Lions’ Noruwa Agho. The sophomore from N.Y. boasts an unheard of 62.5% from behind the line (52 attempts). He also leads the team in scoring, averaging more than 18 points per game. Columbia has played a rather weak non-conference schedule but has the pieces in place to be better than .500 in the league.

    5) Brown (6-11): A 6-11 record has to be taken with a grain of salt as two of those wins have come vs. Division 2 opposition. Nevertheless, they have played a tough schedule that included Virginia Tech, St. Johns, URI, Siena, Minnesota and Providence (all losses). The one bright spot has been 6-8 junior Matt Mullery who leads the team in scoring (15.8) rebounds, assists, field goal percentage and blocks. He may become the first Brown Bear to accomplish the near impossible Pentagon (though I just made that up).

    6) Penn (1-11): With two Big 5 games (LaSalle and St. Joes) next up, it is very likely that the Quakers will enter conference play with a 1-13 record. The good news is that new coach Jerome Allen seems to have gotten the players attention and the team is, after all, 1-1 in their last two after a not-so-terrible performance against Temple on Wednesday. He has also given free reign to sophomore point guard Zack Rosen who responded to this new-found freedom with a 28-point effort vs. UMBC. The Red and Blue have been decimated by injury with starters Andreas Schreiber and Tyler Bernadini, among others, both likely lost for the season.

    7) Yale (6-11): The Bulldogs returned to New Haven with two easy tune-ups prior to beginning conference play — this after a brutal five-game road trip that overlapped the new year. Coach James Jones’ squad relies heavily on holdover Alex Zampier. The 6’3 guard from the Hudson Valley in New York State averages almost 19 points per game and leads a rebuilding Yale team that includes three freshman and four sophomores.

    8) Dartmouth (3-11): The Big Green, like Cornell, may be well on their way to a perfect record in conference as well — on the losing end. With Terry Dunn out (after a rare victory vs. Bucknell) assistant coach Mark Graupe will handle the coaching responsibilities until the end of the season. Not a lot of joy or promise in Hanover as no starter is averaging over eight points per game. But at least they share the rock.

    Share this story

    Checking in on… the Ivy League

    Posted by jstevrtc on December 18th, 2009

    Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

    There hasn’t been much action on the floor recently as the Ivy League geniuses are in the middle of final exams — but there was one huge move off the floor when Penn fired head coach Glen Miller after an 0-7 start.  The firing has generated rare attention to the league from the national media, and most of it has been negative.  Believe me, I understand why people are saying that the Ivy League should hold itself to higher standards.  But after following the team closely for the last few years, I must say that I firmly believe Penn made the right decision.  A program that wins six conference championships this decade should never get to a point where it has the third lowest RPI in the entire country.  The Palestra, college basketball’s most historic gym, should never be silent and half-empty.  It wasn’t just the wins that disappeared; it was the spirit of Penn basketball.  And only a move like this — rash as it may seem to outsiders — can restore the program’s tradition, which has been glorious for many, many years.  I talk more about the firing in my new blog that just launched for all things Penn sports.

    On to the (unofficial) power rankings….

    • Cornell (7-2): Big Red has deservedly been getting some votes in the AP Top 25 poll.
    • Harvard (7-2):  Knocking off big-conference schools has almost become a staple under Tommy Amaker.
    • Princeton (5-4): After losing four straight, Tigers have reeled off three consecutive wins.
    • Columbia (5-4): Sophomore guard Noruwa Agho continues to dominate for the Lions, sharing league player of the week honors with Harvard’s Jeremy Lin after averaging 26.5 points per game in a pair of road wins.
    • Brown (4-7): Bears lost four straight heading into a three-week layoff but their schedule has been difficult.
    • Yale (4-6): Bulldogs are getting healthier heading into the new year.
    • Dartmouth (2-7): Big Green earned its second win of the season with a 29-point thrashing of Division III Lyndon State.
    • Penn (0-7): The Quakers are probably not the worst team in the league … but it’s hard to put them anywhere else since they haven’t won a game and have the third worst RPI in Division I.

    B.C. CAN’T BEAT HARVARD:  If not for the Miller firing, the biggest story in the past two weeks would be Harvard’s win over Boston College — for the second straight year. And this came only three days after the Crimson narrowly lost to Connecticut. Senior Jeremy Lin may be the best player in the league, and is even getting a little NBA buzz. But before anyone thinks of that, the Crimson go up against another Big East opponent when they face Georgetown (and former Ivy League coach John Thompson III) on Dec. 23. Could another upset be in the works? Don’t rule it out.

    THE HAWK DIES AGAINST CORNELL:  Cornell used a crippling 25-4 run in its most recent win, a 78-66 victory over St. Joe’s, to go into its break with a very impressive 7-2 record — considering its only two losses came against Big East teams. Still, the team hasn’t always clicked on all cylinders — which is why the 25-4 run was so nice to see for Big Red fans .

    HITTING THE CENTURY MARK:  In its 102-91 win over Wagner last week, Columbia put up the most points against a Division I opponent since the 1976-77 season — also against Wagner.  At Penn, fans get free cheesesteaks if the team scores over 100 points. Unfortunately, they haven’t been giving out half of a cheesesteak in the rare cases Penn scores over 50 this season.

    VINTAGE PRINCETON:  The Tigers beat Monmouth, 46-42, on Wednesday, despite shooting 30.4 percent for the game. The last time Princeton won with a field goal percentage as low was in 2004.

    BATTLE OF PROVIDENCE:  Despite 12 points from each of the Sullivan brothers (Matt and Peter), Brown fell to Providence, 78-62, in the annual showdown for Rhode Island’s capital. Rhode Island — neither a road nor an island. Discuss.

    BULLDOGS IN COLORADO:  Yale will spends its New Year’s Eve in the Rocky Mountain State, taking on Colorado on Dec. 29 and Colorado State on Dec. 31.

    WELCOME, JEROME ALLEN:  Penn’s interim coach Jerome Allen, a terrific player in the 90s, will lead the Quakers into Davidson on Dec. 28 for his first game as a head coach. Penn then stays in North Carolina to face Duke on Dec. 31. Allen’s first home game in charge? That’s against Temple and his old coach, Fran Dunphy. Welcome to coaching, sir.

    FEARLESS PREDICTION OF THE WEEK:  I have a feeling Harvard makes it two terrific wins in a row after it meets Georgetown. And if Penn beats Duke on New Year’s Eve, I will drink about nine extra bottles of champagne in celebration.

    Happy Holidays, everyone. Last year, I told everyone to pray to God Shammgod.  This year, I recommend you pray to Boubacar Aw — who doesn’t have a religious name…just an awesome one.

    Share this story