IHO Power Poll: January 23, 2012

Brown hops into the top half in this week
Brown hops into the top half in this week”s Power Poll after the Bears” impressive home victory over Yale.

With the first round of the 14-Game Tournament in the books, we may be finally starting to see the slightest bit of separation in the middle of the league. The top three favorites all held serve in their openers and the Brown Bears, winners of three in a row, have come on strong to make a push for the top half in this edition of the Power Poll. The bottom four teams all look pretty flawed after picking up losses, but Yale and Cornell narrowly earn the 5th and 6th slots based on their slightly more efficient offenses and having at least one Top 200 win. Without further ado, let”s get to the poll:

1. Harvard (1-0), (9-6)- Harvard”s 60-50 loss at Memphis felt something like a win after the Crimson came all the way back from a 20-point deficit, even taking a brief lead with just over 6 minutes remaining. Of course, a 16-4 Tiger run to close out the game sent Harvard packing with an L, but there”s reason to be optimistic if you”re a Crimson fan. Saturday marked the sixth straight game that either Steve Moundou-Missi or Jonah Travis posted an offensive rating above 100. The two undersized big men have been sneakily effective against some pretty stiff competition since mid-December. If Moundou-Missi and Travis can stay out

of foul trouble (the duo averages 10 fouls per 40 minutes), this resurgence bodes well for a Harvard offense that faces five of the six worst Ivy defenses over the next three weeks. -C. River Banks

2. Princeton (1-0), (7-7)- The Tigers took care of business at Jadwin in the Ivy opener against Penn. The victory was Princeton”s 18th straight home league win, dating all the way back to February 20, 2010 when Brown went into Old Nassau and came away with a victory. Against Penn, TJ Bray was the story of the night, as the junior point guard went 6-11 from behind the arc, leading the black and orange with 23 points. Hummer was held to 13 points, but his penetration allowed the Tigers to tee off from distance. Hummer”s helpers are finally finding their groove as the Tigers have won four of their last five and boast the league”s top defense (0.937 ppp). Very few teams have found any success shooting over the lengthy Tigers, and only Syracuse has reached the 70 point plateau this season. Princeton gets a Sunday matinee this week against local D-III outfit TCNJ before hosting Cornell and Columbia next weekend. That Saturday night game with Barbour, Cisco, and Co. should be a real treat. –B. March

3. Columbia (1-0), (9-6)- The Lions went into Ithaca and pulled away late behind a balanced attack that got Cisco the ball deep on the block and let the talented Columbia guards go to work against an overmatched Big Red backcourt. The result was 54% shooting from the field and 83% shooting from the line. Columbia should handle the Big Red again at home this weekend, though expect Courtney to come up with some sort of wrinkle to try to neutralize Cisco”s strength. It won”t really matter though. The Lions have too many weapons. Barbour, Cisco, and Frankoski all had a great game last weekend, but little has been said about Isaac Cohen, the freshman guard who played 25 minutes off the bench and recorded seven assists and just one turnover. Or Grant Mullins, another freshman guard who continued his torrid streak shooting the basketball– now 5th in the nation in True Shooting percentage (a metric that counts threes as 50% more than twos and factors in trips to and efficiency at the stripe). Rosenberg didn”t even play particularly well that night. This is a deep, young squad. Lots to be excited about in Morningside Heights. –B. March

4. Brown (1-0), (7-8)- The Bears seem to be coming together at the right time. The Yale win came on the shoulders of a dazzling 20 point, 0 turnover game from McGonagill. Sullivan”s year-to-year improvement has been huge for this team. No longer is he just a shooter, but his newfound ability to get into the lane and score creates more space for the team”s other shooters. Sullivan has already scored more 2-point FGs this season than in any of his previous three seasons,

Getting Albrecht back (even for 10-15 minutes a game) is also a big boost for an offense that has struggled to score at times this season. The bench continues to come along too as Ponticelli”s role expands in the frontcourt. Of course, the biggest difference lately has been the Bears” defense. Bruno has really clamped down on their opponents in the last few games, holding Yale to just 0.81 points per possession and holding the Sears/Kreisberg/Morgan trio to just 16 points. Under Agel, the Bears never had a defense ranked higher than 283rd in the nation (2009). Martin already has the Bears” defense at 162nd and rapidly rising. If they can go into John J. Lee and smother Yale again, the league will be put on notice that Brown is not a team to be taken lightly. –B. March

5. Yale (0-1), (6-12)- It”s not time to panic in New Haven just yet. If the Bulldogs can get their offense cranking in the back end of the home-and-home with Brown to salvage a split, they”ll regain the inside track to a top half finish. But who”s going to provide that spark for the lethargic Bulldogs? It seems that Coach Jones isn”t sure who or what the answer is, as his hockey line substitutions continue to baffle, but something has to happen, whether it”s running double picks for Morgan or getting Kreisberg more touches, or even giving more minutes to Sam Martin who has been the team”s best shooter. When you record just four assists in your conference opener, something”s got to give. One thing Yale does do well is get to the line. The dominant strategy on Saturday might be to pound it inside relentlessly and see if they can get to the stripe and get the Bears in foul trouble. After Yale”s shot at redemption, a daunting date at Harvard lies ahead next Friday. If the Elis don”t get the offense going quickly, they could be staring 0-3 right in the face. –B. March

6. Cornell (0-1), (8-10)- Successful basketball teams look seamless. When things are working you can’t tell where one guy”s game starts and the other guy”s ends. Cornell’s seams are separating. Play looks fragmented and more importantly, individual. Cornell has talent, there’s no doubt about that, but that talent is limited in scope. Miller is an elite low-post defender, but offensively gets lost wandering around the perimeter. Asafo-Adjei is a great on-ball defender, but has a shooting deficiency so large that opposing defenses sag back to the foul line when he has the ball.  Cancer and Cherry can get to the rim at will, but are often so out of control that disaster looms.  You get the point.  Until Courtney can take these pieces and mold their skills into one working cohesive unit, don’t expect Cornell to appear any better than 6th on this poll. –Gorge Newman

7. Penn (0-1), (3-14)- The Temple game notwithstanding, the Quakers have been bad. Really bad. Their last win against a terrible NJIT team was one they could have easily, and probably should have, lost. The pummeling they got from St. Joe’s on national television was a complete embarrassment. At times, the players look completely out of control. The team does not have the calm composure that is so evident when Siyani Chambers carries the ball for the Crimson. Nor do they display the moxie that Mike Martin has somehow managed to instill in the Brown Bears, or the unified team chemistry of the Princeton Tigers. Regardless they are learning and there are a few bright spots. Darien Nelson Henry (to whom I owe a heartfelt apology for calling him a “Stone Hands Donkey”) is turning into a force in the middle. Fran Dougherty should be back in a week, but it is unclear if he will be able to regain his prior All-Ivy form. Although opponents are exploiting Penn’s youth with devastating efficiency, when the team does succeed in playing together as they did against the Owls, they look great. However, these moments are unfortunately still too few and far between. The young Quakers remain very much a work in progress, but they may be on their way. –The A.Q.

8. Dartmouth (0-1), (4-11)- I wrote in the most recent power poll that if Dartmouth could play Harvard close at least once before January’s done, they’ll be feeling pretty good about themselves. Well, they certainly accomplished that on January 12th, giving the Crimson a scare at Leede Arena before Harvard used a 17-2 run over the final 8:43 to pull away for a 75-65 victory. We haven’t learned anything about the Big Green since then, as their only game was a blowout 80-42 win over Division III Colby-Sawyer at home. Next up is a rematch with Harvard on Saturday in Cambridge, a contest that promises to be much closer. Dartmouth did a good job limiting Harvard’s chances in the teams’ first encounter, attempting 57 field goals to the Crimson’s 43 and still out-rebounding the Crimson, but if Harvard doesn’t go 14-for-24 (58%) from the free throw line, the game probably isn’t that close. The Big Green must improve on getting back in transition; it seemed as if any time Dartmouth made a basket, Harvard immediately had an answer, stamping out any chance of momentum. More than a

few of those buckets came because the Crimson simply beat the Big Green down the court. They’ve also got to do a better job of staying with their man when the defense is set up; if you take out Christian Webster’s 0-for-5 afternoon, Harvard shot 71% from the field. Finally, Dartmouth must remember that even though they played Harvard close in Hanover, the Crimson are still the defending Ivy League champions. If the Big Green approaches the rematch as anything other than a monumental test, they’re in for a rude awakening. -J. Gault

3 thoughts on “IHO Power Poll: January 23, 2012

  1. Bad time for a Tiger fan…three weeks off in January!!! How bad, you may ask? After catching the Patriot League showdown at Lewisburg(won by a gritty Lehigh team without McCollum) I fired up the TIVO for a rerun of Tigers-Quakers. I shouldn’t have done it. Penn got far too many good looks for Henderson to enjoy the exam break. Early on, Cartwright blew a lay up, provoking the color analyst to observe:”Sometimes you can be too open.” It happened a lot more than it should have, but the Quakers couldn’t get anything to drop, until Hicks and DNH got hot after the outcome was sealed. Penn’s turnovers were ridiculous, many unforced. Bray picked a good night to make 6 threes for the Tigers. Of the 4 games reflected in this latest IHO PP, Princeton’s performance is the least impressive. The Lions and Bears had road wins, while the Crimson almost pulled off a huge upset at Memphis. An improving Quaker team, bolstered by the imminent return of Dougherty, will win a game or two no one expects. Right now it appears that the Ivy battle will be for second place.

  2. There, there Mr. Tiger allow me, a Quaker, to comfort you.

    Princeton is hopelessly flawed (both literally and figuratively) but so is everyone else. If you’re looking for the seamless flow that once characterized Tiger basketball, forget it for this year. Are they quick? No. Are they athletic? Not really. Do they defend well? Occasionally. Still they are a more than serviceable squad who can shoot and will not go down easily. Most importantly they are experienced while the Crimson (and most of the other teams for that matter) are somewhat lacking in that department. Yes, I predict the diameter of Mitch Henderson’s bald spot will enlarge even more this season,but there still is a good chance it is he who will be holding the trophy at year’s end.

    If I should be wrong however I predict you’re winning days are over for the foreseeable future as the rising team from Philadelphia will inevitability smash your chances at victory for the rest of perpetuity.

    The AQ

  3. Thank you for the comforting analysis of my hopelessly flawed quintet. If occasional defense can win a title I guess we have a shot. Interesting that the “Fire Jerome” contingent took a few moments away from their wailing to extol the Quakers’ “moral victory” against the Owls. Fascinating message boards out there if you need some humor to warm you on these January nights.

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