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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RTC’s 2009-10 Impact Players – Northeast Region

Posted by zhayes9 on September 2nd, 2009

impactplayersYesterday the calendar moved into September and we’re all foaming at the mouth around here to get started on the 2009-10 season preview materials, but we realize it doesn’t make much sense to start really gearing up on that until October.  Nevertheless, one feature we want to start that we’ll be publishing weekly all the way up to the start of the season is our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series.   Each week we’re going to pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Northeast Region (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, Upstate NY)

northeast

  • Joe Trapani – Jr, F – Boston College. Al Skinner hit the jackpot when Vermont transfer Joe Trapani elected to join the BC basketball program for the 2008-09 season after a successful debut campaign with the Catamounts, averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and earning America East all-rookie team honors. Trapani wanted to challenge himself at a higher level of competition, transferring to nearby Chestnut Hill where the 6’8 forward made quite an impression in his sophomore season, upping his scoring average to 13.4 ppg and rebounds to 6.6 per contest. Trapani earned a spot on this list mostly due to his all-around game; in fact, the skilled big man led the Eagles in assists in four games. His best performance may have come against Kyle Singler and Duke at home, an upset win for BC in which Trapani registered 20 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Not many 6’8 forwards can score, rebound, dish and shoot 36% from deep. His inside-outside game reminded many of the Eagle faithful of the recently departed Jared Dudley and will be even more vital to the Eagles success in 2009-10 without leading scorer Tyrese Rice. While the rest of the roster returns, it is Trapani who must lead the way if BC wants to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji, Biko Paris and other Eagles will contribute, but Trapani’s model of consistency and constant leadership makes him indispensable to Skinner and the BC program.
  • Arinze Onuaku – Sr, F/C – Syracuse. The Syracuse behemoth is one of the most puzzling players in all of college basketball. There are two statistics that jump out at you when analyzing Onuaku’s 2008-09 junior season with the Orange: 67% and 30%. Incredibly, that was Onuaku’s field goal and free throw percentage last year… in order. That’s right, Onuaku was an insanely efficient 178-267 from the floor, higher than Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, Luke Nevill, Patrick Patterson, DeJuan Blair or anyone in college basketball. On the flip side, his free throw shooting (37-124) was abysmal and downright embarrassing, meaning if Onuaku doesn’t improve in this area mightily over the summer and into the upcoming season, Hack-A-Onuaku will be explored greatly by Big East coaches in 2009-10. The big man MUST improve to at least 50% if he doesn’t want to greatly cost the Orange. Onuaku’s impact to Syracuse is mostly positive, though. The field goal percentage speaks for itself, along with 10.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG and a 19/12 double-double against Cole Aldrich and Kansas last season. With Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris gone to riches (just kidding for two of them), Onuaku will be relied on heavily by coach Jim Boeheim to be a reliable force in the paint by blocking shots, staying out of foul trouble, scoring with efficiency and scooping up rebound after rebound. With Blair and Thabeet departed, nobody can have as much of an impact down low at Onuaku both in the Big East conference and in the entire Northeast region.
  • Jerome Dyson – Sr, G – UConn. When Jerome Dyson knocked knees with an unidentified Syracuse player and crumpled to the floor during a routine win for the 23-1 Huskies on Feb. 11, you could almost hear the collective groan from the UConn faithful throughout the Northeast.  You see, the dirty little secret for UConn was that Dyson at 34.8% was one of the only two players on the roster (AJ Price at 40.2% was the other) who could reliably nail a three-pointer for the Huskies.  UConn was never going to be confused for a team of marksmen, but it’s no coincidence that a team who was shooting a robust 36.4% from deep on the season at the time of injury shot a horrid 29.8% from outside the rest of the way.  It was painfully obvious in the F4 loss to Michigan St. that once the Huskies got in the hole, the three-pointer – a useful offensive weapon in comeback attempts – simply wasn’t available to them (2-6 for the game).  Dyson should be back at 100% this season, as his meniscus injury is completely healed and he has a chip on his shoulder from seasons lost.  With four key contributors gone from last year’s team, Jim Calhoun will be looking at his senior guard to put the team on his back and take the lead in crunch time.   This shouldn’t be much of a problem considering Dyson’s scorer’s mentality and natural abilities.  If UConn is going to avoid a major letdown from its 31-win season, it’ll be largely due to the poise and play of the player who has always seemed just on the cusp of greatness, but due to some bad decisions mixed in with worse luck, has never quite made it there.
  • Kemba Walker – Soph, G – UConn. Kemba Walker is the latest in a long string of NYC-bred point guards who is set for stardom in the Big East.  As a freshman backing up AJ Price in 2008-09, it was easily apparent to anyone watching that Walker was the player with the quicker first step, better touch around the basket, and ultimately, brighter future.  As such, he’s a projected first rounder whenever he decides to come out for the NBA Draft.  However, perhaps typical of many Big Apple products, his outside jumper is still a work in progress (27.1% from deep last year), but he needn’t rely on 22-footers because he can get to the cup and finish with anybody of any size (52% on twos, which is phenomenal for a six-foot guard).  Walker had some ups and downs during his freshman year, but the reason he’s on our Northeast Region squad has a lot to do with his performance in the Elite Eight against Missouri where he sliced and diced the Tiger defense so effectively (23/5/5) that we should be forgiven for thinking he was the best player on the floor.  Several of our braintrust believe that he could double his offensive output this season en route to becoming an all-american playmaker for the Huskies in the mold of former point guards Chris Smith and Khalid El-Amin.  Regardless of postseason accolades, we should expect the UConn backcourt of Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker to be one of the very best in the nation this year.
  • Ricky Harris – Sr, G – UMass. While the Minutemen may have underachieved in 2008-09, the scoring production provided by Ricky Harris on a game-by-game basis did not go unnoticed.  With point guard Chris Lowe and shot-blocking extraordinaire Tony Gaffney departed, Harris will be the centerpiece for Massachusetts in Chris Kellogg’s second year as the Minutemen head coach. Harris reached the top six in scoring in both his sophomore and junior campaigns at 18.2 ppg, so predicting a 20+ ppg senior season out of Harris is not outside the realm of possibility. He could very well challenge Dayton big man Chris Wright for A-10 POY this year and should be the #1 scoring force and premier outside shooter in the entire conference. Want more proof? This past season Harris became the 40th UMass player to accumulate 1,000 points in his college career and has scored in double-figures in 61 of his last 66 games along with 28 career contests with 20+ points. He lit up ACC foe Boston College for 35 points on 12-19 FG and 6-11 3PT in an overtime loss. While his rebounding and passing game leaves much to be desired, Harris will make or break whether the Minutemen surprise in a weaker Atlantic 10 and reach a postseason tournament this season. Now that Tyrese Rice and A.J. Price are no longer amateurs, nobody in the entire Northeast region can match his scoring potential on any given night. Harris’ ability to catch fire and will the Minutemen to victory earns him a spot on our all-Northeast squad.
  • DJ Rivera (MM) – Sr, G – Binghamton.  Our mid-major “sixth man” for this region shouldn’t be viewed as a slight of any kind.  We recognize that Rivera, the 6’4 do-anything guard from upstate New York can capably play with anyone in the Northeast region.  In fact, the player who was openly snubbed by America East coaches when it came to conference POY votes last season might just be the top mid-major player in the entire country in 2009-10.   You know the story: the nephew of Philly legend Hank Gathers, Rivera transferred from St. Joe’s after his sophomore year, received a hardship waiver from the NCAA, and proceeded to dominate the America East unlike anyone has, um, ever?  Rivera showed his clutch abilities by averaging 25/11 against league rival Vermont in two games last year, and even dropped 20/5 on 9-14 FGs against Duke in Binghamton’s first-round blowout loss to the Devils.  He’s an absolute stud, and we expect that after briefly flirting with the NBA Draft, he’ll be back with an enormous chip on his shoulder this season given the way the rest of his league treated him.  It’s our wager that  Rivera, with a substantial amount of his team returning, will make a run at a national scoring title (#5 returning scorer in the NCAA) and another trip to the NCAA Tournament to solidify his standing. 

Impact Players NE 2

Honorable MentionTim Ambrose, Albany.  Will Harris, Albany.  Rakim Sanders, BC.  John Holland, BU.  Corey Lowe, BU.  Ryan Wittman, Cornell.  Louis Dale, Cornell.  Jeremy Lin, Harvard.  Matt Janning, Northeastern.  Sharaud Curry, Providence.  Ryan Rossiter, Siena.  Alex Franklin, Siena.  Edwin Ubiles, Siena.  Andy Rautins, Syracuse.  Wesley Johnson, Syracuse.  Stanley Robinson, UConn.  Marqus Blakely, Vermont.

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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.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.1974736&w=425&h=350&fv=videoId%3D6552638001%26amp%3BplayerId%3D271552990%26amp%3BviewerSecureGatewayURL%3Dhttps%3A%2F%2Fconsole.brightcove.com%2Fservices%2Famfgateway%26amp%3BservicesURL%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fservices.brightcove.com%2Fservices%26amp%3BcdnURL%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fadmin.brightcove.com%26amp%3Bdomain%3Dembed%26amp%3BautoStart%3Dfalse%26amp%3B]

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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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Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on December 21st, 2008

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

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

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

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Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2008

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Well, a good portion of the non-conference slate is over, and the Ivy League still doesn’t have a big signature win. But Cornell came pretty darn close to pulling off a huge early-season upset Wednesday when it led Syracuse at halftime and took the Orange right down to the wire at the Carrier Dome. Naturally, Syracuse players said it was a lazy effort on their parts while Cornell coach Steve Donahue praised his team’s effort. Fine, we get it. The only way an Ivy League team can even stay with a Big East team is by playing smart and outhustling the other team (backdoor cuts don’t hurt either). But the truth is, the defending Ivy champs have a very good team that may have a chance to make some national noise down the road. (Keep in mind, the Big Red played against ‘Cuse without their two best guards, Louis Dale and Adam Gore.

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Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008

check_in41

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Some early-season notes from the only league without scholarships or a conference tournament:

Cornell might be the class of the Ivy League, but Penn, a perennial power (save for last year), has been getting most of the early attention, thanks to a not-so-terrible loss to No. 1 North Carolina to open the season followed by a nationally televised game against Philadelphia rival Drexel during ESPN’s college hoops marathon.

Full disclosure: I’m a Penn graduate and a big college hoops fan, so I made it over to Drexel for the game dubbed as the “Battle of 33rd Street.” Amazingly, the 10 a.m. start time wasn’t even the weirdest part of the game. Or that Drexel had banners in the arena listing its flag football champions. Or that at one point Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell hollered “That’s terrible” at the refs about 23 times in succession (actually, anyone that’s seen Fast Eddie at a Penn game will tell you that’s not weird at all; the Penn grad takes his sports – and his yelling – seriously).

No, the weirdest part was probably that the game marked the first time Penn played at Drexel in a series that dates all the way back to the 1920-21 season (which you might say makes sense considering Penn’s home, the Palestra, is considered college basketball’s most historic gym). Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said the home court edge made a big difference and he was probably right as the Dragons held on for a 66-64 win in a game that featured too many fouls, too few made free throws and probably one too many “tell the professor I really am sick” jokes.

There were some positives for Penn – such as former-spare-parts-turned-valuable-seniors Brennan Votel and Kevin Egee combining for 35 points. And the Quakers fought back from a big hole and had a chance to tie it in the final seconds. But it should be obvious from those who watched the game that this young Penn team, which starts three sophomores and a freshman, needs to make significant improvements if it hopes to unseat Cornell as Ivy champs.

One more quick note on Penn: Of all the things in college basketball that are easy to predict, a freshman point guard from the Ivy League struggling in his first college game against the No. 1 team in the country probably falls somewhere between Dickie V gyrating and Digger Phelps gratuitously holding a highlighter to his tie. And sure enough, Penn freshman point guard Zack Rosen had a rough debut, getting shut out by the Tar Heels in 28 minutes. But Quaker fans should take heart that the heralded recruit who passed up schools such as Rutgers, Iowa State, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech and Gonzaga to come to Penn will only get better. Much better.

Cornell posted a nice win over Loyola Md. in the consolation of the NIT Tip-off (The NIT has consolations?) but the AP didn’t seem to notice as not one Cornell player, basket, spurt, play, band member, coach or fan was even mentioned. But I guess that’s what happens when the opposing coach goes to sit in the stands for part of the game.

The Big Red lost their first NIT game to St. John’s, but some early speed bumps should be expected as the team is currently without sharpshooter Adam Gore (ACL) and point guard Louis Dale (hamstring), the reigning Ivy Player of the Year. Dale may be back soon, but Gore is out until at least January, which might make the road to a repeat a little trickier.

–I heard something weird happened during Princeton’s first game, so I checked the student newspaper’s account of the game. And yes, the rumors are true! Princeton has a “flashy” point guard. At first, his flashiness “puzzled” the fans who were used to the “Princeton basketball of old – constant motion, backdoor screens and layups, defeating opponents by wearing them down and catching them off the guard.” But soon, they grew to appreciate the new “modern and conventional” style of basketball. Could this be the end of backdoor cuts as we know it? Don’t they realize that’s how they beat UCLA in one of the all-time great tourney upsets?  What’s next to go – set shots?? I’m not sure if a world without Princeton backdoor cuts is a world I want to live in. (By the way, the Tigers lost their first two games, but already appear to be far better than the 07-08 team that was one of the worst offensive teams in the country.)

–I thought the departure of Barack Obama’s brother-in-law Craig Robinson would hurt Brown on the recruiting front, and it very well might. But the Bears gave rookie head coach Jessie Agel a good win when they knocked off Patriot League power Holy Cross, less than a week after narrowly losing to a Rhode Island team that almost took out Duke. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama’s brother had a rough debut at Oregon State, losing to Howard, 47-45. Interestingly enough, Howard is coached by longtime Penn assistant Gil Jackson, so this game had a lot of league connections (probably why the two teams combined for less than 100 points). Perhaps even more interesting, the AP reports “a couple dozen” fans “swarmed” the court after the game. Hope they had good security there.

–From Seton Hill to Michigan, Tommy Amaker has always been known as a good recruiter, if not the smartest game coach. But Amaker’s first recruiting class at Harvard has drawn allegations of unethical behavior, some of which came to light when the Crimson’s prized recruit, Frank Ben-Eze, ended up enrolling at Davidson after committing to Harvard because of scrutiny over diminished academic standards. Still, Amaker’s first class looks mighty good. With three newcomers starting (Oliver McNally, Max Kenyi, Keith Wright), the Crimson opened the season with an 80-69 win over New Hampshire on Wednesday . If these guys can pass poly sci, Harvard may be set up for a run at the program’s first Ivy title.

–Andy Katz may think Yale can win the Ivy League, but the Bulldogs followed a fairly impressive 8-point loss to Stanford with a not-so-impressive 31-point loss to Vermont. (Yes, non-conference losses can be impressive if you’re in the Ivy League.) Yale should still be in the top half of the league, but first it needs to find a way to replace the shooting touch of the graduated Eric Flato.

Dartmouth joins Penn, Princeton and Yale with an 0-2 record, losing to Army and Providence to start the year. But the Big Green’s best player Alex Barnett already has 46 points in those two games.

–Finally, rounding out the Ancient Eight, Columbia is 1-1 after beating New York City rival Fordham and losing to the Big East’s Seton Hall. My favorite player, K.J. Matsui, the first native Japanese player to play Division I basketball, is off to a slow start to his senior year, shooting just 2-of-16 from the field.

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2008-09 Season Primers: #25 – Ivy

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2008

Marty Leon is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot and Ivy Leagues.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Cornell  (20 – 9)  (12-2)
  2. Penn   (19-9)   (10-4)
  3. Harvard   (12-16)   (8-6)
  4. Brown   (13-15)   (7-7)
  5. Yale   (13-16)   (7-7)
  6. Dartmouth   (14-13)   (6-8)
  7. Princeton   (13-14)    (4-10)
  8. Columbia   (6-22)   (2-12)

What You Need to Know (WYN2K).  In the conference of the true student-athlete, Cornell looks to be the heavy favorite after a 14-0 league record last season.  They posess a huge home court advantage, playing their  games in snowy Ithaca and return the league’s player of the year in Louis DalePenn will be nipping at their heels trying to regain their championship form,  while Harvard, with the best freshmen crop in the league, looks to be third best.  Beyond that, a logjam ensues where anyone can beat anyone on a given night.  Dartmouth has a possible player of the year in Alex Barnett and Zach Rosen out of Penn should be the best rookie. 

Predicted Champion.  Cornell (#15 NCAA) should come away with the title, as they have all the pieces to the puzzle.  Besides Dale, Ryan Whitman is one of the country’s best 3-point shooters, and 7 footer Jeff Forte provides huge frontcourt presence.  Cornell will be a #15 seed at best, as they were pounded by Stanford 77-53 in the NCAA tournament last year.  Here’s a video of their clinching game against Harvard last year.

Others Considered.  Penn could challenge Cornell as they provide three super sophomores.  Tyler Bernardini returns after a rookie of the year season, while forward Jack Eggleston and point guard Harrison Gaines are back.  Though very talented,  this team will need to rely too much on youth to go the distance.  Harvard falls in the same boat, as Coach Amaker has recruited the Ivy League version of the “fab five.”  We can’t count out Yale and Brown who are also capable of beating these three teams.

Important Games.

  • Penn @ Harvard  (1/31/09)
  • Cornell @ Penn  (2/7/09)
  • Penn @ Cornell  (3/6/09)

RPI Boosters.

  • Penn @ UNC  (11/15/08)
  • Villanova @ Penn (12/2/08)
  • Cornell @ Syracuse  (12/3/08)
  • Cornell @ Minnesota (12/6/08)
  • Cornell @ St. Joseph’s (12/22/08)
  • Harvard @ Boston College (1/7/09)
  • Temple @ Penn (1/14/09)

Neat-O Stats.

1.  Intensity –  Every league game is crucial with no conference tourney to fall back on. 
2.  Scholarships – None given in this league.  All need based financial aid.  Coaches still successfully recruit nationwide.
3.  Family Feud – Yale coach James Jones and Columbia coach Joe Jones are brothers.
4.  Roots – Hall of Fame coaches Al McGuire of Marquette and Dave Gavitt of Providence began their coaching careers at Dartmouth.
5.  Vermont Connection – Brown coach Jesse Agel and assistants TJ Sorrentine and Kyle Cieplicki were all part of the Vermont team that shocked Syracuse in the 2005 NCAA tournament.

65 Team Era.  Since 1985, the Ivy has gone 3-24 (.111) in the NCAA Tournament, with all three of the wins coming within five seasons of each other (1994 – Penn; 1996 & 1998 – Princeton).  The Ivy is now on an ten-year drought without a win in the NCAAs, and eight of those losses have been by double-digits.  Ouch.

Final Thoughts.  If you want to see the purest college basketball, the Ivy League is one of the few places left where true scholar-athletes are on the floor.  On a rare occasion, the league winner makes a decent showing in the NCAA Tournament, but that won’t be the case this season.  No team is athletic enough to compete with the big boys in March.  The real story out of the Ivy this year is second year coach Tommy Amaker’s troubles at Harvard.  After being vindicated of improper recruiting charges, the NY Times ran an article questioning Amaker’s coaching methods after he dismissed several players for no other reason than he passed over them.  The question is, “Is Amaker trying to bring big-time coaching philosophies to a school where winning isn’t the number one priority?”

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