IHO Power Poll: February 6, 2013

Princeton grabs hold of the top spot in this week
Princeton grabs hold of the top spot in this week”s Power Poll after Harvard”s struggles closing out games last weekend. Brown and Cornell round out the top half as Columbia tumbles down the rankings.

There”s a new squad at the top of our rankings (and a new one at the bottom). In between, the Ivy”s surprise team is two possessions away from being undefeated and the league”s dark horse is already out of contention. One league favorite has underperformed shockingly and somehow still finds itself at the top of the standings, while the Ancient Eight”s doormat benched its captain and ran away with a comfortable victory. Just when we think we”ve got this league figured out, another back-to-back weekend kicks off and provides us with a shocking result, so please indulge us as we engage once again in this biweekly exercise of inevitable futility. This week, all five IHO writers submitted polls and the results are below.

1. Princeton (3-0) (5 first place votes, 40 points)– Princeton handled the C”s with relative ease, dispatching of Cornell behind a career high 22 points from Denton Koon. Ian Hummer also had 22 points on Friday and added nine rebounds in a game the Tigers ran away with early in the second half behind a 15-0 run. A desperate Columbia came to Jadwin on Saturday, eager to get a much-needed victory after losing to hapless Penn. Princeton allowed this one to stay close until the end, but Hummer”s wingman on this night, TJ Bray, hit a huge three with 2:55 to play to give the Tigers a five point lead, and after a beautiful Brendan Connolly retro hook shot, Princeton made sure that five point margin would not be breached again, winning 72-66. Through three games, Princeton has the most efficient offense and defense in the Ivy, and the best player in Hummer. Things are looking up for the coasting Tigers, who get Brown and Yale at Jadwin this weekend before finally leaving the friendly confines of Central Jersey for Dartmouth and Harvard in two weeks. –Bruno March

2. Harvard (4-0) (35 points)- Yikes. Harvard has made nothing easy for itself, but somehow the Crimson sits at 4-0 at the slightly-past-the-quarter-pole of the conference schedule. Over its last three games, Harvard has rallied from 10 points down with under two minutes left to win in overtime, given up a 13-point second half lead to hold on by 3, and watched a 22-point advantage disappear in a little over 12 minutes before prevailing in double overtime. The Ivy slate is proving more difficult than anyone could have imagined for the Crimson. The problems are mostly on the defensive end—Harvard is in the bottom half of the league in opponents” shooting percentage and last in defensive rebounding in Ivy play—but just as troubling is its lack of depth. Harvard can scarcely afford to rest Wes Saunders or Siyani Chambers without conceding a game-altering run to their opponent.  The only consolation from these close calls is that the Crimson has shown an ability to dominate for stretches—the last 7 minutes against Dartmouth, the first 20 minutes against Yale, the first 27 minutes against Brown. As it enters its first real test of the season with a New York road trip this weekend, Harvard will need to sustain that performance over a full game or else begin losing ground to Princeton. –C. River Banks

3. Brown (2-2) (28 points)- The Bears played some inspired road basketball last weekend. On Friday night, Brown raced out to a double-digit lead on Dartmouth and never looked back, led by big man Rafael Maia, who couldn”t miss–going 10 of 11 from the field in a 21 point effort, tying his career high. The next night, Brown fell behind by 22 against Harvard, only to battle all the way back, slowly chipping away at the lead until the Bears were within five with under a minute to play. A wild sequence in the closing seconds that mirrored Brown”s stirring comeback against Providence included a deep Sean McGonagill banked three, a Matt Sullivan inbounds steal, an offensive rebound, and a 20-foot McGonagill jumper right at the horn that tied the game and silenced a stunned Lavietes crowd. The sides traded treys in a thrilling shootout in the first extra frame, but Maia”s absence (he fouled out with a few minutes left in regulation) was felt in the second overtime period as the Bears simply ran out of gas, falling 89-82. The reality now is that Brown only has wins against maybe the league”s two worst teams in Yale and Dartmouth, but the Bears are oh-so-close to being 3-1 or even 4-0 with both road losses requiring an extra frame. In four games, Brown”s defense has yielded the second fewest points per possession in the league, trailing only Princeton, while Bruno”s offense ranks fourth. Brown continues a tough portion of the conference slate with a road weekend at the Killer Ps. A split would be a fine result. –Bruno March

4. Cornell (2-2) (24 points)- The toughest team to handicap in the Ancient Eight is on the rise, for now. Galal Cancer goes 0-3 from the field and scoreless to 19 points and heroic in the Columbia back-to-back. Errick Peck goes from 0-4 from the field and scoreless to a perfect 8-8 and a game high 20 points in the second game of the Princeton-Penn road trip. The potential is there, but is the consistency? With Columbia bowing out of the Ivy race without even a flirtatious smile, the role of dark horse to challenge Princeton and Harvard at the top is waiting to be claimed. Will Cornell”s variance be enough to make some noise, or will its “give it to the guy

with the hot hand” run out of hand warmers? In a league where we learn a little more every week, we”ll wait and see.  For now, Cornell can hang its hat on the fact that it emerged from three league road games with two wins, just enough for a top half ranking. -Gorge Newman

5. Columbia (1-3) (22 points)– The Lions have been a disappointment through four games. There”s no way around that. A home loss against Cornell could be written off as maybe a bit of a fluke, but dropping a must-win at 3-15 Penn? Inexcusable. The Lions simply aren”t shooting the basketball very well. Even on a night when Barbour scored 21, it took him 16 shots to get there. For an elite point guard in this league, he”s been wildly inefficient. Check out these shooting lines from his first four conference tilts: 5-12, 5-17, 5-16, 2-6. Columbia, as a team, has also been dreadful from deep, shooting 30% in conference play thus far, including 17% at Penn. Columbia battled against Princeton, only turning the ball over three times in the game, but ultimately they were undone by an inability to get stops. And that”s what”s been most puzzling: how crappy the defense has been, especially on the perimeter. Columbia is yielding a 41% rate from three in Ivy play, last in the league. Princeton was 8-11 from deep on Saturday. A bit unlucky? Perhaps, but the Lions have also been sending opponents to the stripe far too often, getting heavily outscored from the line in all three losses. There is some good news though: aftbonus freshman Maodo Lo has emerged as a real backcourt threat for the Lions, almost singlehandedly keeping Columbia in the game at Princeton with a career high 16 points. The young backcourt of Lo, Mullins, and Cohen has looked quite effective and does a remarkable job of taking care of the ball. Columbia looks to get back on track this weekend, hosting Dartmouth and Harvard at Levien. –Bruno March

6. Penn (1-2) (16 points)- After dispatching Columbia Friday night, the Quaker team I’d been so dysfunctionally yapping about for the last three months seemed to have finally risen to the fore. The Lions, once so full of preseason promise, fell as freshman center Darien Nelson-Henry more than held his own against the veteran Cisco. After shooting only 25% in the first half, not even Brian Barbour’s heroics could save the Light Blue. (Oh the dysphoria of being a Columbia sports fan: like a perpetual puberty with no prospect of ever attaining manhood— I digress.) Besides Miles Cartwright’s 22 points, the biggest difference in the game was the return of Doc Dougherty. Just his presence in the lineup seemed to instantly fill the Quakers’ aching leadership void. A victory over Cornell the next evening appeared, to me at least, almost a certainty… but alas no. During the first half against the Big Red, the Quakers looked smooth and composed on offense, shooting 50% from both the field and from three. Dougherty grabbed 5 rebounds in only 8 minutes. Then early in the second half, Doc injured his right arm in a fall to the hardwood and left the game, apparently taking the Quakers’ mojo along with him. With its captain being attended to in the locker room, the team immediately lost focus. They quickly reverted back to their old ways, persistently turning the ball over before ultimately giving it away on a ridiculous five second call. At the time of this writing, Fran Dougherty’s status remains a mystery (Ed. Note: CSN Philly reports that Dougherty is out for the season. Also, add Steve Rennard to the DL after he apparently tore his plantar fascia in practice on Monday. Yikes. -Bruno). Brown, a good rebounding squad, should give the Quakers plenty of trouble on Saturday night. What’s more, former assistant Mike Martin (who has either plied his team with potent hallucinogens or somehow hypnotized them into actually believing that they can indeed win the Ivy Title) is intimately familiar with Jerome Allen’s playbook. Which Penn team will emerge this weekend? I have no idea. Regardless, with or without Dougherty, I still like their chances. Stay Red and Blue my friends. –The AQ

7. Dartmouth (1-3) (9 points)- Dartmouth claimed a much-needed first Ivy League win over Yale on Saturday in Hanover, applying the brakes (temporarily, at least) to a season that threatened to spin out of control. An epic collapse at Harvard – Dartmouth was up 10 with 1:33 to play and five with 32 seconds to play before ultimately falling in overtime – coupled with a lackluster display against Brown led to an 0-3 Ivy start. Worse still, leading scorer and rebounder Gabas Maldunas (10.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and team captain Jvonte Brooks (7.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) have been at odds with head coach Paul Cormier, who benched Maldunas to start the Yale game and refused to play Brooks (who had started all 17 of the Big Green”s previous games) at all. The Big Green”s first-year players responded against the Bulldogs, however, and they”re going to be counted on to come through in the season”s second half. Connor Boehm has been the best of the bunch, shooting 50.4% from the field this season, including 7-of-11 in the loss to the Bears. Boehm has improved with every game and should serve as an inside presence –something the team has sorely lacked recently – for years to come. Fellow frosh Malik Gill has seen a jump in minutes since the beginning of Ivy play and has impressed with his speed and range, scoring 15 points on 10 shots against the Crimson and hitting 3-of-4 three-pointers against Brown. Whether Maldunas and Brooks can get back on track will determine if the Yale win was a preview of things to come or simply a blip on the radar. This weekend”s trip to Columbia and Cornell will be telling. -Jonathan Gault

8. Yale (1-3) (6 votes)– Yale finds itself in unfamiliar territory at the bottom of the poll in conference season. Coach Jones” well-documented streak of twelve straight top half finishes is in serious jeopardy after the Bulldogs dropped a stinker in Hanover on Saturday. The loss came as a bit of a surprise as the Elis had beaten a solid Brown team at home and competed until the buzzer against league-leading Harvard in their last two times out. Missing Justin Sears last weekend obviously was a game changer, and his return this weekend should be a big relief to Yale fans. What should trouble Yale fans is how bad this Bulldog offense has been. Through four games, Yale ranks dead last in the Ivy in 2-pt and 3-pt shooting, and it”s honestly not even that close. The Bulldogs are shooting a miserable 41.7% from inside the arc (Penn is 7th at 46.1%) and a pathetic

28.6% from beyond (Columbia is 7th at 30.4%). Until they can get better looks and start nailing them, Yale is going to stay buried at the bottom of the standings. Breakout sophomore Armani Cotton has also cooled off in recent games, aside from a dominant opening four minutes against Harvard, going 4-16 in the other three Ivy contests. On the bright side, Austin Morgan and Matt Townsend had solid weekends and look to carry that into what may be the toughest road trip of the season. With Penn”s injuries and Sears” return, Yale will look to steal one at the Palestra. Staying competitive at Jadwin on Saturday would be a moral victory for this struggling squad. –Bruno March

1 thought on “IHO Power Poll: February 6, 2013

  1. Thanks for the love, Power Pollers, but the only poll that matters begins February 16 in Cambridge. How’s this for a stat line for freshman sensation Siyani Chambers vs. Brown: 17 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists in 49 MINUTES!!! On a Saturday night! These back-to-backs will bother him….maybe when he’s running the show for the Celtics. The Tigers are turning out to be more than Ian Hummer and the other guys. TJ Bray, Denton Koon, Will Barrett and even the much-maligned senior Brendan Connolly, have stepped up to share the load. Connolly, the senior ignominiously benched in favor of freshman Hans Brase following a second half collapse against Fordham, emerged from the desert against Columbia, as noted above. I almost hope both teams hold serve until we get to Lavietes.

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