The NBA Draft took place on Thursday, and Washington’s Markelle Fultz was taken as the first pick . by the Philadelphia 76ers. Before the Celtics traded away the pick to Philadelphia, WEEI in New England contacted Yale’s Miye Oni to discuss Fultz and the Bulldogs’ opening night victory over the Huskies. Fultz ended the game with 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Oni completed his first contest with 24 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Is it really a debate? Many scribes and Ivy observers say no. The greatest Ivy team of all time? Easy.
It’s either the 1964-65 Princeton Tigers with the greatest Ivy player ever, Bill Bradley, or the 1970-71 Penn Quakers with their gaudy 28-1 record, which included a perfect 26-0 in the regular season.
Those Tigers never rose higher than No. 20 in the polls, and that Penn team had the bewildering 90-47 loss to a Villanova team which it had beaten during the regular season.
But wait a minute. How about the long forgotten 1966-67 Princeton team, coached by Butch van Breda Kolff? They did a few things which no other Ivy has done.
The Tigers that season went 25-3 and 13-1 in Ivy play, beating No. 2 UNC at fabled Carmichael Arena. They blew out the second-best Rutgers team ever, led by All-American Bob Lloyd and Jim Valvano, on the road and came within a hair of beating Carolina again, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, losing 78-70 in overtime, after beating West Virginia in the first round. They came back to blast a very strong St. John’s team in the Regional consolation game, rising as high as No. 3 in the polls and finished No. 5.
Who better to ask than Gary Walters, the star sophomore point guard on the ’64-’65 team and the all-everything on the ’66-’67 team? There is no question in his mind that the latter Tiger team was superior. It didn’t boast the best player in the land in Bradley but nevertheless enjoyed incredibly balanced scoring and rebounding and probably was the only team in the country capable of giving the Lew Alcindor-led UCLA national championship team a run for its money.
Two Princeton players adorned the cover of Sports Illustrated on Feb. 27, 1967, whose title read, “Princeton Builds a Basketball Dynasty.” That was probably prophetic, as from 1964 to 1979, Princeton was easily one of the top 20 programs in the country. The ’66-67 Tigers’ two top players were Walters and sophomore center Chris Thomforde from Long Island. Thomforde had a tremendous high school career and chose Princeton over the likes of Northwestern, Duke and Dean Smith’s UNC. Frosh were not eligible to play varsity when Thomforde entered, and his frosh team was undistinguished.
Thomforde had to beat out talented Robinson Brown for the coveted center spot on the varsity and did so quickly. Brown was classy about losing his spot and at times, both players played simultaneously. Thomforde and Walters developed a quick chemistry and played like veterans together. Thomforde cites the road Rutgers blowout win and the win at UNC as season highlights and firmly believes that the ’67 team could have competed with UCLA for the national championship if it had not entered the NCAA tourney so injured. Thomforde had played competitively against Alcindor in high school. But Walters had injured his hamstring against Rutgers, John Haarlow had a high ankle sprain and Ed Hummer had a bad hip.
Thomforde got to know Bradley in his junior season, when Bradley returned from his two-year Rhodes Scholarship stint. They have maintained a lifelong friendship. Bradley credits Thomforde for playing on the second-best Princeton team of all-time. Thomforde felt that he knew better but never engaged the former New Jersey senator and presidential candidate in a debate on the topic. He respected Bradley far too much.
On Monday morning, Attorneys General from Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a federal lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump (Wharton ‘68) alleging he violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments. While Brian Frosh, the Maryland AG, is known to be a fan of the Grateful Dead (or at least one particular quote from Jerry Garcia), Karl Racine, the District’s AG, is known as a former member of Penn basketball.
Following his recent graduation from Cornell, forward David Onuorah announced his decision to transfer to UConn as a graduate transfer. Onuorah was a starter for most of his Big Red career, including this season’s opener at Binghamton. Following that first game, he was out of action due to a reported illness for the next several contests. Despite being unable to play, Onuorah was seen defeating a Southwest Air gate agent in a push-up contest on the way to the team’s November 26 game at Houston. Afterwards, there was no mention of a reason for his continued absence. He was listed on the game notes roster as late as the February 12 matchup at Penn.
Like former Cornell star Shonn Miller, who played at UConn in 2015-16, Onuorah will take his talents to Stoors. With the Huskies’ loss of three forwards and a center, Onuorah hopes to use his defensive skills to earn major minutes and, eventually, break into the Huskies’ starting lineup.
Jack McCloskey, who led Penn to an Ivy League championship as a coach in 1966 and led the Detroit Pistons to NBA titles in 1989 and 1990 as a general manager, died Thursday at 91 in Savannah, Ga., per the New York Times, due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Former Harvard guard Jeremy Lin (2006 -10) was interviewed by his Brooklyn Nets teammate on the “Outside Shot with Randy Foye” podcast on May 10. After discussing the early part of his basketball career, Lin was asked if he was subjected to racial slurs when playing on the road. The NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent stated that he suffered more racist abuse during his time in college than in the pros.
According to a March 28 tweet from Coach Shop, Cole Harrison, a 6’11” center, will graduate Dartmouth this May and seek a graduate transfer for his final season of athletic eligibility. Harrison missed the entire 2016-17 season due to injury. The Brentwood, Tenn. native notched 1.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 5.5 minutes a game over his three seasons in Hanover.
Last week, Andrew Slater of 247 Sports reported that Yale rising senior Makai Mason will attend Baylor University in the fall of 2018 as a graduate transfer. The 2015-16 first-team All-Ivy guard missed all of last season due to a foot injury suffered in a preseason scrimmage against Boston University. Mason, who was recently named the Yale captain for the upcoming season, averaged 16.0 points, 3.8 assists, and 32.7 minutes of playing time per game in his sophomore campaign.
Mason declared for the 2016 NBA Draft, but withdrew his name a few days after the combine. Since he did not choose an agent, he returned to Yale and retained his last two years of eligibility. After his first-semester injury, Mason decided to continue his studies at Yale instead of taking a leave of absence, as opposed to Alex Rosenberg at Columbia or Siyani Chambers at Harvard. By staying in school, Mason will earn his degree in the spring of 2018 and retain one year of athletic eligibility. Since the Ivy League does not allow graduate students to participate, he is free to play his last season at any institution the following season. That freedom has been exercised over the last few years by Cornell’s Shonn Miller (Connecticut), Penn’s Tony Hicks (Louisville), Harvard’s Patrick Steeves (George Washington), Dartmouth’s Alex Mitola (George Washington) and Brown’s Rafael Maia (Pittsburgh). Recently, two graduating All-Ivy Princeton players, Hans Brase (Iowa State) and Henry Caruso (Santa Clara), have added their names to this ever-growing list.
Makai Mason made a name for himself on a national level by posting 31 points in a NCAA Tournament Round of 64 win over Baylor in 2016, Yale’s first-ever win in the Big Dance.
Now Mason has decided that if you can beat ’em, join ’em.
Several sources announced Thursday that Mason would join Baylor as a graduate transfer in the 2018-19 season following one more season at Yale in 2017-18.
Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sportsreported in February that Mason would play for the Elis in the 2017-18 season and become a graduate transfer following that season.
Mason was a standout during Yale’s NCAA Tournament run in 2016 but was injured in a scrimmage in November, reportedly needing to undergo surgery to repair his foot. Yale bowed out to Duke in the Round of 32 in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.