CIO… the Ivy League

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 1st, 2013

CIO header

Michael James is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League. You can also find his musings on Twitter at @mrjames2006 and @ivybball.

Looking Back

  • The 14-Game Tournament — College basketball’s most unique conference schedule gets underway in earnest this weekend, as the eight members of the Ivy League begin six weeks of Friday/Saturday back-to-back games for the right to represent the league in the NCAA Tournament. No conference tournament, no second chances. The only rare appearances for the league during Championship Week occur when the regular season title is shared, in which case no tiebreakers are applied and the two or more teams proceed directly to a neutral site playoff. The last one of those happened following the 2011 season, when a Douglas Davis jumper at the buzzer sent Princeton past Harvard into the NCAA Tournament. Currently, the odds of playoff this season sit around 20 percent and would most likely be a repeat of that 2011 duel.
  • Odds Aren’t — The last travel partner weekend was supposed to be a snoozer as each of the three contests had favorites of between 5.5 and 16.5 points. No one told the teams involved, apparently, as two of the three contests went into overtime and another wasn’t decided until a missed three at the buzzer. The favorites are still 5-2 in the early going, meaning that the race has gone pretty much to plan thus far. If the results from last weekend are any indication, however, the next six weekends should provide plenty of surprising moments while the league likely ends up either of the expected favorites, Harvard or Princeton, taking home the title.
Can Freshman Phenom Siyani Chambers And Harvard Head Coach Tommy Amaker Turn The Crimson Into Tournament Darlings? (Joe Murphy/Getty)

Can Freshman Phenom Siyani Chambers And Harvard Head Coach Tommy Amaker Turn The Crimson Into Tournament Darlings? (Joe Murphy/Getty)

Power Rankings

  1. Princeton (8-7, 1-0 Ivy) – Two massively important records for Tigers fans to keep in mind are 2-5 and 6-2. Those are Princeton’s marks when Ian Hummer uses over and under 35 percent of his team’s possessions, respectively. Hummer is everywhere on the offensive end, taking tons of shots, drawing many fouls and even leading the entire Ivy League in assist rate. As a whole, though, the Tigers are far more effective when the 6’7″ senior is doing a lot, but not too much. The new, improved Princeton squad of the last month has thrived on ball movement to find any of the myriad three-point shooters that can knock down open looks. When the offense is running smoothly and efficiently, it becomes very difficult for one player to use more than a third of the team’s possessions, which likely means that Princeton’s title hopes rest on Hummer doing less, not more. Read the rest of this entry »
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March Madness Comes Early for the Ivy League

Posted by mpatton on February 26th, 2012

Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Saturday’s Harvard-Penn game in Cambridge.

With just under two minutes and thirty seconds left to play in the biggest Ivy League matchup of the season, Zack Rosen cut Harvard‘s lead over Penn to one. The lead had gradually dwindled from nine points six and a half minutes earlier, despite four opportunities for the Crimson to push the lead to double digits. Forty seconds later Henry Brooks fouled out, sending Kyle Casey to the charity stripe where he re-upped Harvard’s lead to three. Rosen answered again. A missed three from Harvard senior co-captain Oliver McNally meant the Quakers possessed the ball with just under a minute left only down one.

Zack Rosen Scored Penn's Last 9 Points to Lead the Quakers over Harvard. (credit: Meghan Cadet / Daily Pennsylvanian)

This was Harvard’s year. The Crimson are the most deep, talented, and experienced team in the Ivy League. Talk to coach Tommy Amaker and he’ll praise the team’s “bench and balance” repeatedly. Prior to conference play, the only true slip-up for the Crimson was their loss at Fordham. Amaker’s team (which didn’t lose any players from last year’s team) blitzed the nonconference slate compared to its prospective challengers. Princeton started the season 1-5 before finally righting the ship; Yale fared slightly better, but against far worse competition; and Penn couldn’t crack .500. After drubbing Yale on the road 65-35, the Harvard hype grew to an all-time high.

After Fran Dougherty grabbed an offensive board, Penn coach Jerome Allen called a timeout. Everyone in sold out Laveites Pavilion knew where the ball was headed. Rosen owned the Quakers’ last seven points. This was his moment. The senior inbounded the ball, immediately stepping in and taking a handoff from Rob Belcore near halfcourt. Rosen proceeded to drive straight past Brandyn Curry, the Ivy League’s best on-ball defender, forcing Casey to send him to the line with 23 seconds left.

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Checking In On… The Ivy League

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 17th, 2012

Michael James is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League. You can also find his musings on Twitter at @mrjames2006 and @ivybball.

Reader’s Take

 

Looking Back

  • Perfect No More: Heading into last weekend’s back-to-back, Harvard held a one-game lead and an undefeated mark in Ivy play. The trip to Penn and Princeton claimed the latter, but the Crimson survived with the former intact, as Harvard remains a game ahead of both Penn and Yale in the loss column and two games up on Princeton and Cornell. The Crimson got its most important win of the season on Friday night at The Palestra, as freshman Corbin Miller scored 17 points in just 18 minutes and Kyle Casey added 15 to hold off a pesky Quaker squad 56-50. Miller and Casey combined to shoot 11-19 from the field and 4-8 from three, while the remaining players from both squads connected at an anemic 28% clip. Casey and Miller continued their solid play the following night at Jadwin Gym against Princeton and even got some help from Brandyn Curry and Keith Wright, who combined for 31 points on 12-21 shooting. It was the defense that betrayed the Crimson against the Tigers though as Princeton shredded the Harvard defense with effective back door cuts and well-executed post isolation mismatches. The Crimson cut a 10-point Tigers lead to four with under a minute to go, but Princeton went 7-8 from the line to clinch a 70-62 victory. Harvard had been looking for its first win at Jadwin since 1989 and first road sweep of Penn and Princeton since 1985. Ivy teams have combined for just seven sweeps of the Quakers and Tigers on the road in league history.
  • Collapse Of All Collapses: Don’t take a look at this Ken Pomeroy Win Probability chart if you are a Columbia fan, but otherwise prepare to be astonished. Just ten minutes away from having to turn its attention to the postseason’s smaller dances, Yale ripped off a 26-5 run to end the game, overcoming a 20-point deficit and keeping itself in the midst of the Ivy race. The Lions might have long been out of the title chase, but the loss was still incredibly damaging. With five teams from the Ivy League likely to finish above .500, the race for postseason slots will be incredibly competitive and Columbia’s profile is one of the weakest of that group. Getting swept by the other team with a weak profile (Yale) is probably the best way to ensure being the odd man out in the selection process.

RTC Ivy Award Favorites

  • Player of the Year – Zack Rosen, Penn: He’s been the front-runner from start to finish. Rosen is second in points produced per game (a metric that includes all contributions to offense, not just points scored) and has an Adjusted Offensive Rating of 107 on 28% usage during league play. Watch Out For: Brian Barbour, Columbia; Greg Mangano, Yale; Ian Hummer, Princeton

    If The Season Ended Today, Penn's Zack Rosen (1) Would Be Our RTC Ivy League Player of the Year

  • Defensive Player of the Year – Brandyn Curry, Harvard: He leads the league by a mile in Defensive Plus-Minus and has been great at generating steals and forcing five-second calls. Since its inception, the award has gone to forwards and centers, but this might be the first time that a guard takes home the hardware. Watch Out For: Greg Mangano, Yale; Ian Hummer, Princeton
  • Rookie of the Year – J’Vonte Brooks, Dartmouth: This one has turned into a two-horse race for the title with Cornell’s Shonn Miller being very deserving as well. Brooks has given Ivy defenses fits as he has bullied his way to the free throw line early and often, posting a Free Throw Rate (free throw attempts divided by field goal attempts) of 94%. His turnover rate is alarmingly high, but on a team without many offensive creators, that’s a drawback that Dartmouth can easily accept. Watch Out For: Shonn Miller, Cornell
  • Coach of the Year – Jerome Allen, Penn: It’s hard to argue with the statement that the Quakers have overachieved the most this season, though Kyle Smith and Columbia would have a case if the Lions hadn’t fallen so quickly in league play. Allen might be unfairly benefiting from Rosen’s unbelievable offensive performance, but he’s a win away from setting the high-water mark in victories since Penn last made the NCAA Tournament in 2007. Watch Out For: Kyle Smith, Columbia; Mitch Henderson, Princeton
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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.

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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!

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RTC Conference Primers: #24 – Ivy League

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 11th, 2010

Howard Hochman is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.


Predicted Order of Finish

Most publications and prognosticators see Princeton as the most obvious choice to win the conference crown. They base this on the fact that the Tigers return all of their key players – a group that took eventual champion Cornell down to the wire in both games last season. However, I believe the collection of sophomores up in Cambridge, even with leader Kyle Casey getting a late start due to injury, will improve dramatically and thus wear the crown come March. And for those of you unfamiliar with Ivy hoops, this is the one conference where being regular season champ really does matter, as there is no postseason conference tournament. Here is how I see it:

  1. Harvard (12-2)
  2. Princeton (11-3)
  3. Penn (10-4)
  4. Cornell (9-5)
  5. Yale (5-9)
  6. Brown (4-10)
  7. Columbia (3-11)
  8. Dartmouth (2-12)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Kyle Casey (F) – Harvard (10.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG)
  • Doug Davis (G) –  Princeton (12.7 PPG)
  • Brandyn Curry (G) – Harvard ( 7.3 PPG,  3.5 APG)
  • Christian Webster (G) –  Harvard (8.8 PPG)
  • Zack Rosen (G) – Penn (17.7 PPG, 4.5 APG)

6th Man

  • Dan Mavraides (G) – Princeton (11.5 PPG,  4.3 RPG)

Impact Newcomer

In a league that does not offer athletic scholarships, ferreting out an incoming freshman that will have the greatest impact is not an easy task. After all, one does not find a lot of McDonald’s All-Americans on any of the Ivy rosters. Given that, we look to Ithaca where Cornell, under new coach Bill Courtney, looks to retool. And the freshman that could make the biggest splash is none other than Dwight Tarwater. This 6’6 forward from Knoxville, Tennessee, comes with some impressive credentials. He was a two-time all-state selection and as a senior was named Division II-A Mr. Basketball. His stats were equally impressive, averaging 23.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He shot 61% from the field and 78% from the free-throw line.

Honorable mention in this category goes to the entire Yale class of 2014. This quintet is led by home-grown product 6’3 guard Isaiah Salafia, who was a McDonald’s nominee as a senior. Coach James Jones calls him his most athletic recruit with all the tools to become a star.

Zach Rosen is unquestionably the Ivy League’s best player, but what about his supporting cast? (Penn Athletics)

What You Need to Know

  • New Men on Campus: There are four new coaches taking the reins this fall. Bill Courtney (Cornell) and Kyle Smith (Columbia) come with respected recruiting resumes. The former built the team at George Mason that went to the Final Four; the latter helped build the St.Mary’s program out west – that’s Australian for hoops, mate – that gave Gonzaga all they could handle the past Few years. Then there is Jerome Allen at Penn who had the interim tag removed over the summer. While this Quaker legend was a popular choice, it remains to be seen if he has enough game experience to lead the red and blue to what their fans believe is their rightful place on top of the standings. And finally, Paul Cormier returns to Dartmouth. He was at the helm when the Big Green competed, but a return to glory is not in the immediate future.

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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.

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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.
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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 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.

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Buzz: Penn’s Glen Miller Fired Today

Posted by rtmsf on December 14th, 2009

The Orchestra has finished its recital at Penn a little earlier than expected today, as the Philadelpia Daily News first reported that head coach Glen Miller has been let go by the Quaker program after getting off to a horrendous 0-7 start this year. This was Miller’s fourth season at the school, the third in a row of which appeared headed toward another disappointment, so the school pulled the trigger and placed former Penn star Jerome Allen into the top spot on an interim basis. Allen is an interesting choice, as he has no head coaching experience and only a few games as an assistant under his belt, but he is considered one of the all-time great Penn players (averaged 14/4/5 apg in a four-year career at Penn from 1991-95) and at a minimum should be able to energize the rabid Quaker faithful in the coming months.  Anything’s better than oh-fer, right? The Miller firing continues a somewhat troubling collegiate trend of ADs pulling the trigger on coaches midseason – just eleven days ago, Fordham’s Dereck Whittenburg was canned after a spate of transfers and a 1-4 start to the season, while last year Alabama dropped Mark Gottfried in January. We’re not sure that we’re a big fan of this, but we certainly understand the pressures involved at the administrative level of these athletic departments.

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