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.

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Checking in on… the Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2009

checkinginon

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

POWER RANKINGS

  1. Cornell (6-2): The two-time defending champs have done a very nice job navigating a tricky non-conference schedule thus far.
  2. Harvard (6-1): Off to its best start in 25 years, the Crimson will look to keep the momentum going against some brutally tough teams.
  3. Columbia (3-3): Considering the Lions have already faced two Big East squads, a .500 record is nothing to scoff at.
  4. Princeton (2-4): Tigers have dropped four straight but should have better days on the horizon.
  5. Brown (4-5): Bears haven’t beaten anyone of note but have shown a lot of fight in a few of their losses.
  6. Penn (0-5): Injuries to key players and inconsistent play are again coming back to bite the Quakers.
  7. Yale (3-5): Bulldogs’ schedule hasn’t been as difficult as some of the other Ivy teams.
  8. Dartmouth (1-5): Big Green’s lone win has come against a poor Hartford team.

COOKED RICE: The story in the league right now has to be Harvard, which with its rout of Rice on Wednesday is off to its best start since 1984-85 (though in that season three of its first eight wins came against non-Division I opponents). Keep in mind, Harvard has never won an Ivy League title – and stealing the crown from Cornell this season will be a monumental task. But Tommy Amaker’s bunch may be, according to the Boston Herald, the best mid-major in New England, which sounds like a compliment.

SEEING RED: I’ll let Ithaca Journal ace reporter Brian DeLaney catch you up on Cornell because he knows more than me and he claims he can slap his hand against a backboard (debatable). One of his messages: Cornell is so loaded this season that it doesn’t even have to play well to win at lot of times. Sounds about right.

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Set Your Tivo: 11.24.09

Posted by nvr1983 on November 23rd, 2009

tivo

After last week when we really kicked off the season, our list of games this week is a little weak to be quite blunt primarily because of the Thanksgiving holiday break. Don’t worry though. It’s not all football games and turkey. There are some interesting games this week that are worth following even if you are travelling (or like some of us here) working during the week. Today we only have one game worth Tivo-ing, but it is one of the more intriguing games so far this season.

Cornell at #9 Syracuse at 7 PM on ESPN360.com: We mentioned this game in our post naming Syracuse as our Team of the Week. Everybody has been praising the Orange (and for good reason), but those who follow college basketball closely know that they could very easily lose to the Big Red, which is something I am sure that Jim Boeheim has stressed to his players since the morning after their huge win over UNC. After their wins over Caland UNC this past week everybody knows about the Orange. They have one of the best frontcourts in the nation with Wesley Johnson, Rick Jackson, Kris Joseph, and Arinze Onuaku complimented by some outstanding perimeter play (so far) from Scoop Jardine, Andy Rautins, and Brandon Triche. The country isn’t quite as familiar with Cornell who have already notched impressive road wins at Alabama and UMass before falling by 10 at home against Seton Hall. The Big Red are led by Ryan Wittman (17 PPG and 4 APG)–one of the nation’s top  players that the casual fan doesn’t know about–who is complimented by fellow seniors Louis Dale (13.7 PPG and 3.7 APG)  and Jeff Foote(11.0 PPG and 8.7 RPG). If the Orange need any motivation to get up for this game, Boeheim will just have to remind them of last year when they barely outlasted Wittman and his game-high 33 points  before pulling away late. We expect the Orange to win this one since they are the more talented team and are playing at home, but don’t be surprised to see Cornell hanging around as I’m sure their players have been looking forward to this game for quite some time as it is the second biggest game on their schedule trailing only their trip to Allen Fieldhouse on January 6th to take on preseason #1 Kansas. While I think that motivation will aid the Big Red, it probably won’t be enough to make up for their massive disadvantage inside where they won’t have an answer for the Orange big men and Johnson in particular.

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After the Buzzer: Man Oh Manny!

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2009

atb

Another intriguing “opening” day of college hoops, as mostly everybody who didn’t play yesterday played today.

Story of the Day. Manny Harris Records Michigan’s Second Ever Triple Double. These triple-double things are spreading among Big Ten players, as Michigan guard Manny Harris today dropped 18/13/10 assts in 29 minutes in a 97-50 shellacking of D2 Northern Michigan. Does it matter that Harris had his historic night (Gary Grant in 1987 was UM’s only other) against a non-D1 school? Not to us — Harris is a tremendous player and a dime is a dime. Passing the ball should always be rewarded, and Harris did his best today to make his teammates happy. DeShawn Sims could only muster a dub-dub (22/10), but his biggest crime was one of omission, as in, zero assists — share the wealth a little bit, DeShawn!  Harris’ achievement joins fellow Big Ten-er Evan Turner as the second player with a trip-dub in the last week, as the Ohio State star recorded his first on Monday. These Big Ten guys can play a little bit, which is once again why we expect the league to do some great things this year. Other than Turner and Harris, who’s next? Talor Battle? Robbie Hummel? Kalin Lucas?

photo credit: AP/Mike Ding

photo credit: AP/Mike Ding

Upset of the DayCornell 71, Alabama 67. Another day, another SEC team embarrasses itself at home.  Did anyone in Alabama care?  Probably not.  Don’t get us wrong here – Cornell is a fantastic Ivy League team with all five starters returning and gobs of game experience under their collective belt.  And Alabama is dealing with a new coach, a new system and a fanbase that is on its best day mildly interested in basketball, to put it nicely.  But an SEC team with two top 25-type players in its lineup should never lose this game at home (sorry, Goodman, but we disagree with you here).  This is not to take anything at all away from Cornell, who completely deserved the win today and will assuredly push everyone on its schedule this year, BCS team or not.  The Big Red shot 10-18 from three, and when Bama made a run to cut a 15-pt second half lead to two, Ryan Wittman (23/3), Louis Dale (13/4/5 assts) and Jeff Foote (17/7/3 blks) held steady down the stretch.  When Anthony Grant gets this thing going later this year, and we honestly believe he will, this win alone will probably be worth an additional seed line for Cornell.  Its first win over an SEC school since 1973 (!!) is quite simply a huge boon for this program, and the forty-plus excited comments on Cornell Sports Blog seems to confirm it.  Congrats, fellas.

RTC Live. We were privileged to provide online coverage for four of the top mid-major programs in America today.  Here are a couple of recaps.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #28 – Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on October 8th, 2009

seasonpreview

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League and a featured columnist.   Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials..

Predicted Order of Finish (with projected records in parentheses):

  1. Cornell (14-0)
  2. Princeton (9-5)
  3. Penn (8-6)
  4. Columbia (7-7)
  5. Harvard (7-7)
  6. Yale (6-8)
  7. Brown (3-11)
  8. Dartmouth (2-12)

All-Conference Team:

  • Louis Dale (G), Sr., Cornell
  • Jeremy Lin (G), Sr. Harvard
  • Ryan Wittman (F), Sr., Cornell
  • Matt Mullery (F), Sr., Brown
  • Jeff Foote (C), Sr., Cornell

6th Man. Tyler Bernardini (G), Jr., Penn

Impact Newcomer. Brian Grimes (F), Jr., Columbia

ivy league logo

What You Need to Know.  Fueled by three star seniors (Louis Dale, Ryan Wittman and Jeff Foote), the reigning Ivy League rookie of the year (Chris Wrobleski), and two major transfers (Mark Coury from Kentucky and Max Groebe from UMass), Cornell is coming into the 2009-10 season as the heavy favorite to capture its third straight conference crown — and perhaps win a game or two in the NCAA tournament.  Head coach Steve Donahue’s squad is so deep and talented (they also boast a pair of experienced seniors in Geoff Reeves and Alex Tyler), their toughest challenge may be finding significant minutes for all their heavy hitters. Penn and Princeton, the powerhouses that owned the Ivy League for two decades until Cornell rose to the top, are both trying to return to their glory days but might have to wait a year to make a serious run at the crown. Princeton should improve on its 8-6 league mark with the continued development of point guard Doug Davis, who averaged 12.3 points per game as a rookie last season, and the addition of Ian Hummer, who may be the best freshman in the league. This is an important year for rebuilding Penn, which clears out some mediocre seniors and hands the keys of the team to junior guard Tyler Benardini and sophomore point guard Zack Rosen, the last two Big 5 rookies of the year. Columbia has some nice incoming talent with Brian Grimes, who sat out last season with an ACL tear after transferring in from La Salle, and Loyola Marymount import Max Craig, who is 7 feet tall and not a stiff.  Harvard coach Tommy Amaker has one of the best players in the league in Jeremy Lin and a couple of good recent recruiting classes, but the Crimson are coming off a 6-8 conference season. Yale has been a consistent threat under longtime coach James Jones, finishing above .500 for nine straight seasons. The Bulldogs will need to put a lot of the burden on senior guard Alex Zampier (13.2 ppg) to keep that streak alive.  Matt Mullery shot a ridiculous 60 percent for Brown last year, but the Bears will be hard-pressed to significantly improve their 3-11 league record. And finally, after an impressive 7-7 Ivy season by its standards, Dartmouth should tumble back down the league standings with the loss of Alex Barnett and his 19.4 points per game.

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NCAA Preview: Cornell Big Red

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

Cornell (#14, West, Boise pod)

vs. Missouri (#3)
Mar. 20 @ 3pm

Vegas Line: Cornell +13

General Profile

Location: Ithaca, New York
Conference: Ivy, Automatic
Coach: Steve Donahue, 117-132 (ninth year)
08-09 Record: 21-9 overall, 11-3 Ivy
Last 12 Games: 9-3
Best Win: 79-70, La Salle, Dec. 20
Worst Loss: 61-41, Princeton, Feb. 6
Off. Efficiency Rating: 107.2; 79
Def. Efficiency Rating: 100.0; 143

Nuts n Bolts

Star Player(s): Ryan Wittman (18.5 ppg, .419 3-point percentage, .818 free throw percentage); Louis Dale (13.5 ppg, 3.6 apg, .483 field goal percentage); Jeff Foote (7.1 rpg; 2.1 bpg; 534 field goal percentage)
Unsung Hero: Chris Wroblewski, (.449 3-point percentage)
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Foote or Wittman? Both are darkhorses for sure.
Key Injuries: None
Depth: 28.5 %
Achilles Heel: Quickness. Besides Dale, Cornell will certainly lack the athleticism of other tournament teams. When they have lost this season, the coaches have typically said it’s because they didn’t move well enough without the ball.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: They make their threes and play smart, fundamental basketball – the same way any Ivy team would have a chance of pulling an upset. They’ll need a lot of luck, too.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Any of their ‘Big Three’ have off games. Dale needs to control the tempo, Wittman needs to shoot well and Foote needs to stay out of foul trouble inside.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2008, 1st-round loss to Stanford
Streak: Two
Best NCAA Finish: This is only Cornell’s fourth trip to the tournament (1954, 1988, 2008). The Big Red have never made it out of the first round, though in 1954 they got a bye into the Sweet 16 before losing to Navy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_NCAA_Men’s_Division_I_Basketball_Tournament).
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): n/a

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: Before Mark Coury transferred into Cornell from Kentucky, he was an all-state player at Detroit County Day School. Coury, however, is not eligible until next season.
Distance to First Round Site: 2350 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: There are too many famous alumni to count. So let’s go with their most famous fake alumni: Andy from The Office. I think Donahue’s pregame pep talk should go something like this: “You, me, bars, buzzed. Wings. Shots Drunk. Waitresses, hot. Football – Cornell/Hofstra. Slaughter. Then a quick nap at my place and we’ll hit the tiz-own.”
School Wishes It Could Forget: that Ann Coulter graduated from there. And her absurd recent feud with Keith Olbermann over who has the better Cornell diploma.

Prediction: The Big Red will keep it closer than last year’s 24-point whitewashing at the hands of Stanford, but pulling the upset might be too mush to ask. Next year, they shock the world.

Major RTC stories: n/a

Preview written by… Dave Zeitlin

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Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2009

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Right now, the Ivy League is a mess. Somehow, heading into the final weekend of conference play, a Cornell team that is superior to any other in the league has yet to clinch its berth in the Big Dance (remember there’s no conference tournament in the Ivies). Somehow, Princeton – the same Princeton that started 2-8 with losses to mighty teams like Maine, Central Connecticut and Lafayette on its resume – controls its own destiny. And somehow, Yale and Dartmouth – yes, Dartmouth! – are still mathematically alive with two games to play.

Here’s the deal in simplest terms: If Cornell (9-3 league) takes care of business and beats Penn tonight and Princeton tomorrow night at home (where they are undefeated this season), then they win the league. They can also win the league if they beat Penn while Princeton loses at Columbia tonight.  But if Princeton (7-4) is able to sweep Columbia and Cornell this weekend, then the Tigers’ game Tuesday against Penn – the final game of the Ivy League season – could either make or break their chances of winning at least a share of the league title. (In the case of a tie at the top, there would be a one-game playoff between the co-champs with the NCAA berth on the line).

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Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on January 30th, 2009

David Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Ivy League, its regular season is unlike any other. For starters, it is the only league without a conference tournament, thus making it the only league whose regular-season winner gets an automatic invite to the NCAA Tournament. The debate has long raged over the merits of having a conference tourney and while I don’t really want to get into that timeless argument, I will say that I appreciate the uniqueness of the Ivy League and firmly believe that the best way to crown a champ is over 14 games, not over three in the final week. That said, teams that stumble early are often dead by midseason. The Ivy League schedule is structured in a way (for academic and travel reasons) so teams play back-to-back games every Friday and Saturday. As you might expect, many seasons have been lost in single weekends alone. The dreaded weekend trip to Penn and Princeton, for example, has been a virtual death sentence for many NCAA Tournament hopefuls.

But the winds of change have swept through the Ivy League. Penn and Princeton, which combined to win every league title from 1989 to 2007, have recently been passed by Cornell as league bully. And as the Ivy season begins its Friday-Saturday routine tonight, the Big Red look to be clear-cut favorites to win the league’s “14-game tournament.”

They will, however, be tested. Here is a look at all eight Ivy teams, their projected order of finish and a case for why they will or won’t be dancing in March:

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Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on January 16th, 2009

David Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Let’s see … what to report from the Ivy League from the last two weeks. Hmm. Cornell beat a team by 54 points. That’s fun – even though they did it to Division III Ursinus. What else? What else? Oh! Yale and Columbia both added to the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s record 50-game Division I losing streak. Good for them. And … I think that’s about– oh wait, I almost forgot! Harvard had probably its greatest win in school history while providing the Ivy League with its best moment in quite some time. That’s probably the big story of the week, right?

NBC Sports)
Amaker and Harvard Celebrate the Win Over BC (photo credit: NBC Sports)

When Harvard (9-6) pulled off that shocker over Boston College last week, however, it seemed like there were two overriding sentiments: One was that since B.C. had just beaten then-No. 1 North Carolina, then Harvard should be the new No. 1 team in the land. And two, how ’bout that Tommy Amaker, huh? While I agree that Harvard is the best team there ever was or ever will be, I am hesitant to heap all of the praise entirely on Amaker. Instead, I would like to take a moment to praise former coach Frank Sullivan, a very good man who had little success at Harvard but whose lasting legacy might be leaving the program with Jeremy Lin. Granted, Amaker has brought in a very talented freshmen class, and has probably instilled a newfound belief into his players, but Lin is simply playing at another level right now. Against Boston College, the junior guard scored a game-high 27 points while dishing out eight assists. Here are some highlights of Lin schooling the Eagles.

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Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on January 2nd, 2009

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

In the latest installment of “An Ivy League team nearly beats a school from a major conference but ends up losing by a little and the big school either makes patronizing comments about how hard the Ivy League team tried or instead talks about their own lack of focus,” Yale took Alabama down to the wire before losing 66-63 on Sunday. Even though this dude started his game story by writing “Sometimes Yale has a good basketball team — that is not the case this year” (which is more just bad journalism than it is rude), you might consider this a moral victory for the Bulldogs, who came back from an 18-point second-half deficit, on the road. Yale senior forward Travis Pinick, who was named the league’s player of the week, had 17 points and 11 rebounds against the Tide. Two days later, however, Yale lost to Hampton to fall to 2-8, despite 17 points from Ross Morin and 15 from Alex Zampier.

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