Final thoughts on the 2014-15 Harvard season

Harvard took North Carolina to the wire last week in Jacksonville, bowing 67-65 to the Tar Heels in the Crimson's sixth NCAA tournament game since 2012. (Rob Crawford)

Harvard took North Carolina to the wire last week in Jacksonville, bowing 67-65 to the Tar Heels in the Crimson’s sixth NCAA tournament game since 2012. (Rob Crawford)

A few days after watching Harvard’s season end in Jacksonville with Wesley Saunders’ final shot clanking off the rim and backboard, it seems an appropriate time to look back on the Crimson season that was. Amid the shock and nostalgia comes perspective … and withdrawal. Here are my final thoughts on Harvard’s memorable 2014-15 season:

On the Vine – March 24

Check out our archive of the final On the Vine podcast of the season, in which George Clark, Michael James (@ivybball) and Sam Tydings join Peter Andrews & Mike Tony to cover the latest Ivy action and what we see as the future of Ivy basketball as we know it. Segments include reflections on Harvard’s NCAA tournament matchup with North Carolina, the growth of the league and a way too early look ahead to next season’s campaign.

No. 8 Princeton’s undefeated season ends at No. 1 Maryland

Maybe it ended sooner than it could have.

Previously unbeaten No. 8 Princeton was overpowered by No. 1 Maryland in the second half of the Round of 32 matchup on the Terrapins’ home floor Monday night, reeling off a 17-2 run to start the second half that distanced themselves from Princeton for good and helped secure the 85-70 victory.

The Tigers (31-1) trailed 42-38 at the half and had harnessed momentum from the program’s first ever NCAA tournament win Saturday against Wisconsin-Green Bay. But Maryland (32-2) shot 12-for-20 from beyond the arc and enjoyed too many hot hands for Princeton to handle. Maryland’s Laurin Mincy led all scorers with 27 points and seven assists, and Princeton guard Blake Dietrick notched 26 points in 40 minutes.

2015-16 IHO Powerless Poll

Ben Franklin AQ 3Now that Harvard has been vanquished by North Carolina, Ivy basketball is officially over for the summer.  Since no one is still playing, you could say we are all equally impotent—or are we?  Thus, I give you the first annual IHO Powerless Poll. Naturally, as is my custom, I will rank teams according to how I view them from most feeble to strongest.

8. Cornell: Now that Shonn Miller is headed to some Power 5 school, the natural order of the Ivy will magically be restored and the Red can return to their rightful place at the bottom. Yes, Bill Courtney did make a nice recovery from the disaster that was the 2013-14 season, but success in Ithaca is as fleeting as the four days of summer that town is allotted each year. Look out below.

2014-15 IHO Tweets of the Year

The end of the season is finally upon us and almost all of the postseason awards have been handed out, both by the league and, far more importantly, on this website. The Player of the Year and All-IHO first and second-teams have received their due, but what about those who have contributed in other ways, meaning those who have specifically contributed 140 characters at a time?

Yes, it is finally time to reveal the Ivy League Tweets of the Year. The format chosen by our esteemed panel of judges (myself, Mike Tony and Peter Andrews) is one tweet by a player or about each team, then superlatives at the end. Without any further ado, let’s get to the tweets!

Steve Donahue nails the little things, bigger things may come

Steve Donahue rocks the red and blue tie at his introductory presser Tuesday. (timesunion.com)

Steve Donahue rocks the red and blue tie at his introductory presser Tuesday. (timesunion.com)

It had to go off perfectly.

The hiring of Steve Donahue as Penn’s next head coach was the second major decision that M. Grace Calhoun had to make since coming on as Penn’s athletic director, and it will prove to be – for better or worse – the defining decision of her tenure. And thus, everything had to be perfect.

After all, people had their doubts. Former coach Jerome Allen had left the fan base with a bad taste in its mouth, from his questionable hiring by former athletic director Steve Bilsky, to the questionable manner in which he was dismissed by Calhoun just weeks ago.

In the same way that people surrounding the program feared that the administration had done its due diligence, those same people had a wealth of questions about Donahue. To the naysayers, the pros – his years as a Penn assistant, his three-year run of Ivy League dominance that included him leading a Cornell team to the Sweet 16 – are overshadowed by the cons.

North Carolina ekes past Harvard, 67-65

Wesley Saunders scored 26 points in his final collegiate game Thursday night. (zimbio.com)

Wesley Saunders scored 26 points in his final collegiate game Thursday night. (zimbio.com)

So close. So very close.

After trailing 50-34 with 16:36 remaining in its NCAA tournament matchup with North Carolina, Harvard looked done. The No. 13 Crimson looked one-dimensional nearly the entire game up to that point, with that dimension being senior guard Wesley Saunders.

But a true team comeback propelled Harvard to its first lead of the game with 1:17 remaining, and Saunders had a chance to win the game with a three-pointer as time expired. The shot hit the glass and rim before popping out, ending Harvard’s season and giving No. 4 North Carolina the 67-65 victory in Jacksonville.