Some quick hitters around the league as the week between conference openers drags along:
Top 5 Wins for the Ivy League this Year
The Ivy non-conference slate ended up producing some memorable moments. Though there are still a couple big non-conference games remaining (Harvard at Memphis, Penn vs St. Joe”s and Temple, etc.), here is a list of the league”s best wins by Pomeroy rating:
- Princeton 79, (42) Bucknell 67- A turning point for the Tigers as Hummer”s supporting cast showed up to take down Muscala and the Bison.
- Brown 69, (67) Providence 68- Style points for the thrilling finish, the national TV audience, and the local rivalry.
- Harvard 67, (70) California 62- Statement game on the road for the Crimson. Saunders, Rivard, Chambers.
- Columbia 75, (87) Villanova 57- Shocking scoreline on the road. Lions showed depth as Rosenberg, Frankoski, and Mullins led the way.
- Princeton 62, (119) Kent State 50- Big road win as Bray started to shake off his slump and the Tigers held the Golden Flashes to 0.78 points per possession.
Fifty Shades of Bray
- TJ Bray has had a pretty remarkable turnaround shooting the basketball for Princeton. After starting the season 1-19 from three point range (5%), Bray was still only shooting 7-37 (19%) through the Tigers” first nine games. Credit to Mitch Henderson for sticking with his junior point guard through the struggles as he”s gone 12-25 (48%) over the last five games from deep, including a 23-point career high performance against Penn that earned Bray Player of the Week honors.
A Freshman POY Candidate
- No freshman has ever won Player of the Year in the Ivy League since the award was first handed out at the conclusion of the 1974-75 season. The way Siyani Chambers has commanded the Harvard offense through the first half of the season, he has to be considered a legitimate candidate. He certainly didn”t hurt his cause in a 22-point, six-assist performance on Saturday against Dartmouth, leading the Crimson back from down five with less than nine minutes to go. As the only true ball handler on that Harvard roster, Chambers (along with Ian Hummer) may be one of the two most valuable players in the league.
- One of the biggest year-to-year improvements for the Brown Bears has been rebounding, and nearly all of the board crashing can be attributed to rookies Cedric Kuakumensah and Rafael Maia. The advanced metric that addresses individual rebounding measures the number of boards pulled down divided by the number of total available rebounds on each end (then pro-rated based on the percentage of minutes played). Kuakumensah has the highest rate in the Ivy league, the 2nd highest rate in the nation for a freshman, and the 18th highest overall defensive rebounding rate in the country, pulling down 26.6% of defensive rebounds when he”s on the floor. As ex-Bear Mark MacDonald tweeted earlier this season, “Cedric will be one of the best rebounders in school
history. Great timing, great nose for the ball.”
- As for Maia, he”s putting up similarly impressive numbers on the offensive end. Maia is 2nd in the Ivy League (behind Justin Sears) and 31st in the country in offensive rebounding rate, grabbing 15.4% of offensive boards. This kind of dominance allowed Brown to outrebound Providence 37-30 and outrebound MAAC leader Niagara 49-39 in upset victories.
Unraveling the Mystery of Morningside Heights
- In the process of trying to figure out just what exactly is holding the Columbia Lions back from being better, I dug into the data to see what I could find.
- Pros: The Lions are the best in the nation when it comes to taking care of the ball. Only 5.7% of their possessions result in steals for their opponent. The next closest Ivy is Harvard at 123rd; the Crimson gets the ball picked 9.4% of the time. Shooting the ball, Columbia is locked in from deep (24th in the country, 38.7%) and from the line (7th in the country, 77.6%).
- Cons: Offensive troubles seem to be a result of poor finishing from the big guys. The Lions are shooting just 43% on 2-pt FGs, which puts them in the bottom 50 teams in the nation in that category. They”re also not creating many second chances, grabbing just 25.8% of offensive boards as a team, ranking in the bottom 25 in the nation. There”s only so much a team can do about three point defense, as many statisticians have concluded that it is heavily dependent on factors out of a team”s control (“luck”), but Columbia hasn”t been helping itself in defending the perimeter. Nearly all the positives gained from the Lions shooting the 3 at such a high percentage
have been lost as their opponents also
shoot the 3 better than 38%, far above the national average of 33.6%.
- Under-the-radar Performance: Grant Mullins. The Canadian sensation is putting together a remarkable freshman campaign. Mullins is shooting lights out from distance (26-54, 48.1%) and is nearly perfect from the stripe (26-27, 96%).