IHO Power Poll: January 16, 2012

Penn is the biggest mover in our weekly Power Poll as Zack Rosen led the Quakers to an away sweep at Columbia and Cornell. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

Welcome to the third IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/15/12). Please note that these rankings are based off of our best guesses of how the Ivy League picture will sort itself out. We always love to hear your gripes and whines in the comments below.

1.

Harvard (1-0), (15-2)- After a third-straight lackluster performance against Monmouth, Harvard snapped out of its recent funk with a dominant showing at home versus George Washington. The Crimson went up 33-13 in the first half and cruised to a 69-48 victory over the Colonials for its 23rd consecutive win at Lavietes Pavilion. Harvard’s driving force this past week was co-captain Keith Wright. The forward was more assertive after the Crimson’s recent struggles at Fordham and against Dartmouth; he came up big against the Hawks, scoring 18 points and grabbing 15 rebounds, and he set the tone early versus George Washington, going four-for-four in the decisive opening period. Also on the rise is freshman forward Steve Moundou-Missi. The Cameroon Crazy racked up six points in eight minutes in New Jersey and then followed that performance with a breakout 16-point afternoon at home. With just one game over 13 days, the Crimson (specifically guards Christian Webster and Corbin Miller) will look to rest up and recover before the long haul. -C. River Banks

2. Penn (2-0), (9-9)- The big winner of the opening weekend, Penn picked up the elusive road sweep at Columbia and Cornell behind Zack Rosen's heroics. The senior point guard didn't have his best night on Friday, but was picked up by a big performance from Miles Cartwright until Rosen got his act together and took over the game. Rosen could not be stopped in the final five minutes, using his quickness to create space and nail two contested mid-range jump shots as the shot clock approached zero to put the game away. The next night, the Quakers backcourt was once again too much for a New York opponent as Rosen and Bernardini dropped 18 a piece in a comfortable victory at Newman. The Quakers' frontcourt problems haven't stopped them yet, but Cornell and Columbia are opponents that have their own issues in the paint. Next up for Penn is the final Big Five game of the year against St. Joe's as Jerome Allen's charges try to avoid a winless Philly campaign. In the league, Penn is off until January 30th when the despised Tigers visit the Palestra for a contest with big title implications. –Bruno March

3. Yale (1-0), (11-4)- The Bulldogs took the Ivy League opener 68-64 over Brown at John J. Lee, and while it wasn’t easy, it certainly was exciting. Despite the fact that Mangano (6-13 for 15 pts) played far from his best game, missing a lot of good looks around the basket and disappearing for long stretches at a time, the Bulldogs were nevertheless able to weather what looked like Brown’s best brand of basketball (the Bears shot 9-15 from deep in the first half), and stepped up their play in the final 3 minutes when it mattered most. Reggie Willhite, whose clutch play on both ends of the floor in the final two minutes proved to be the difference in the game, continued his strong play with his 3rd consecutive double-digit scoring performance (he also gave Yale the late lead with a clutch foul line jumper with 59 seconds left). Point guard Austin Morgan added 18 points, shooting 4-6 from downtown.

The Bulldogs set their sights on a rematch in Providence next Saturday, and as Brown demonstrated that it is mostly a one-dimensional basketball team on offense, relying primarily on the heroics of point guard Sean McGonagill (McGonagill led all scorers with 23 pts and played all 40 minutes), one would expect the more complete Bulldogs to win by a more decisive margin next week. Despite struggling more than one would expect, the Bulldogs seem well-positioned for their January 27th showdown with #25-ranked Harvard in New Haven.  -Blue Ivy Ball

4. Princeton (1-1), (10-8)- Not the start Princeton was looking for: the Tigers drop a game on the opening weekend of Ivy League play for the first time since 2007. This weekend’s Princeton games played out like a PSA for the dangers of living and dying by the trey-ball (This is your offense. This is your offense shooting nothing but contested threes. Any questions?). Three point shooting killed the Tigers against Cornell – Princeton was just 6-27 from beyond the arc, including a putrid 2-11 mark from the usually deadly Doug Davis. Against Columbia the next night, Princeton made more threes on half as many shots (7-14).

T.J. Bray continues to be the anchor for this team – he was the only Tiger to play more than 30 minutes in both games. Bray finished the weekend with 24 points, 11 assists, and 13 rebounds, and the big point guard’s 6 steals against Columbia helped Princeton keep it close and finally pull out a win. Reserves Ben Hazel and Jimmy Sherburne finally cracked the Tigers rotation after seeing little action during the non-conference schedule – the pair stepped in and played solid defense against Columbia. Princeton has two weeks to lick its wounds and regroup before it plays at Penn at the end of January. -Spencer Gaffney

5. Cornell (1-1), (6-10)- One for two vs. the Ps ain't half bad, but I feel like we learned more about Penn and Princeton than we did about Cornell this weekend. Princeton isn't that good. They've got a couple nice pieces (Hummer and Davis) and a bunch of tall guys, but talent-wise they're a little flat. Penn isn't particularly good either, except for Rosen, who is phenomenal. If he pulls a Kemba, they've got a shot to play with Harvard; if not, their extremely soft frontcourt will catch up to them.

As for the Red. They need another scoring option. That became abundantly clear as Doug Davis and a mix of Penn guards hounded Drew Ferry into a dreadful weekend. (Side note: Friday night was just the second time Ferry was held scoreless in his Cornell career. The first was last year vs. Princeton as well.) Devin Cherry is impressing more and more each game, becoming the third freshman, along with Shonn Miller and Galal Cancer who will likely give the Red four very solid years of contributions. Cancer was, at times, the only aggressive option for Cornell, but forced ill-advised shots and coughed up costly turnovers on both nights. Miller was effective at nearly every position on the floor this weekend but more consistency is needed before he becomes a star in the league.  The Red have the look of a .500 league team this year, but two years from now, could be scary good. -Sam Aleinikoff

6. Columbia (0-2), (11-7)- Brian Barbour deserved better than an 0-2 start to this Ivy slate. The Lions' point guard carried his team with 25 points in each of the weekend's two close losses. On Friday, the Lions mounted a furious final minute comeback that ultimately fell short after a purposefully missed free throw was knocked back to Barbour whose fading three at the buzzer clanged off the back rim. Saturday, it was more of the same, as Columbia led most of the way before a late Princeton run put the Tigers up for good. With the league as deep as it is this year, the Lions are going to need contributions from both Lyles and Rosenberg every night if they want to get over the hump. Rosenberg was quiet against Penn, scoring only five points in 36 minutes. It was Lyles' turn to disappear on Saturday as the sophomore was 1-9 from the field in the four-point loss. Columbia is going to be okay, but it was a reality check for the Lions to lose two at home to open league play. -Bruno March

7. Dartmouth (0-1), (4-13)- All good bad things must come to an end. Case in point: Dartmouth snapped its six-game losing streak with an 83-67 win over Longwood. It looked like business as usual for the Big Green, as its 11-point halftime lead was wiped out in the first 10 minutes of the second frame, but Dartmouth rallied late with some timely marksmanship, hitting five of its final seven three-point attempts (and 10 of 16 for the game). Leading the way was freshman John Golden who hit five-of-six from deep en route to scoring a career-high 17 points and grabbing seven boards for good measure. His classmates

Jvonte Brooks and Gabas Maldunas and upperclassmen David Rufful and RJ Griffin also scored in double figures as the Big Green scored a season-high 83 points against the Lancers, who are the worst defensive team in the country according to Pomeroy. Despite Brown’s surprising performance at Yale, Dartmouth’s win over Longwood ought to keep the Bears relegated to the basement. After all, the Lancers did just beat Brown in Providence. -C. River Banks

8. Brown (0-1), (5-12)- Here's the good news: the Bears played Yale much closer than any of us expected, and truthfully, they should be 1-0 after a very impressive effort in New Haven. Sean McGonagill controlled the game from the get-go, finishing with 23 points and 6 assists. The Bears did a great job limiting Mangano's chances and knocked down 12 of 23 threes (52.3%). If it weren't for some questionable refereeing (Total fouls: Brown-25, Yale- 13) that resulted in serious big man foul trouble and wide receiver Tellef Lundevall playing 20 critical minutes, Brown would have pulled off the shocker of this young season. Some painful late turnovers doomed the Bears as well, but the effort is encouraging for a team that's lost eight of nine.

And now the bad news: the Bears played about as well as they can expect to play and still departed southern Connecticut with the loss. The game plan was on point, the shots were falling, and the undersized Bears even won the rebounding battle 26-24. If Brown can't get the W when all of those things go right, it's not a good sign. The Bears won't shoot 52% from three every game, but if they can play night in and night out with the same kind of defensive intensity we saw from them on Saturday, they may surprise on a couple nights this winter. -Bruno March

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2 thoughts on “IHO Power Poll: January 16, 2012

  1. Great website guys, I’m going to bookmark it.

    That power poll looks about right, though I’m not sold on Yale. I’m expecting three tiers to teams to develop: Harvard {big gap} the P’s Yale and the C’s {big gap}Dartmouth, Brown.

    As for Cornell, we are watching the awkward phase of a team transitioning to a three point assault to an up-tempo attack. I agree with Sam that 7-7 is the likely result, but with potential for the future.

  2. If…if…if….if Yale can get by Harvard in New Haven and if the Tigers sneak past the Quakers at the Palestra this race might go down to the wire. But if form holds Penn, at 3-0, will have the best, and perhaps the only, shot at the Crimson. Anyone else will need a lot of help from other teams, although in this League this season the unexpected can occur.

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