IHO Power Poll: Valentine's Day Edition

Yale is the big mover this week in our Power Poll as the Bulldogs climb all the way into the top half on the wings of the 8th southern sweep in Ivy basketball since 1980.
Yale is the big mover this week in our Power Poll as the Bulldogs climb all the way into the top half on the wings of the 7th southern sweep in Ivy basketball since 1980.

We have a lot of love for all of the Ivy teams, especially on a day like Valentine”s Day. From Hummer”s smooth moves getting to the bucket, right on down to Dartmouth”s overachieving group of freshmen, there”s a storyline that warms the heart on every squad. The Big Red, the team perhaps most suited for a holiday like today, is led by Shonn Miller, who must have a fear of commitment because no one doles out rejections like him these days. Even Harvard, the ice cold Ivy villain to many, has Siyani Chambers– the heartbeat that keeps the Crimson going. Columbia”s Cupid has to be Brian Barbour, whose artfully placed arrows travel in the form of assists and currently have the Lions safely out of last-placed heartbreak in this edition of the Power Poll. But enough with all this mushy stuff, let”s get to the rankings.

1. Princeton (4-1) (5 first place votes, 40 points)– Things would have been quite different for the Tigers had Columbia not destroyed Harvard on Sunday, but here they are, still sitting in the top spot, despite the end of the 21-game Ivy home winning streak. Let”s skip over Friday”s domination of Brown (Hummer, Koon, and Bray were transcendant, Barrett was solid and Brase and Connolly were game-changers on defense) because Saturday was much more interesting. The loss to Yale was a total surprise given how efficiently the Tigers had been dominating their league opponents, winning their first four games by an average margin of 13 points. Henderson will certainly have the Tigers working all week on how to handle the pressure of an extended zone because after Yale”s successful execution of that game plan, the rest of the league is sure to borrow that strategy against the Tigers. There”s also no way a team with Princeton”s size should ever allow the league”s worst shooting team to shoot 55% from the field. Lost in Saturday night”s upset was another impressive performance from Denton Koon. Princeton”s 6″8″ sophomore continues to impress by knocking down the majority of his looks. In fact, Koon has shot at least 50% in all of his last five games and in nine of his last ten. Leaving him open to help on Hummer is no longer a valid option for opposing defenses. Princeton heads up north for Dartmouth on Friday before the biggest game of the season on Saturday night at Harvard. –Bruno March

2. Harvard (5-1) (35 points)- For less than 24 hours, Harvard was the clear frontrunner for the Ivy League crown, but after a rough performance in New York City in which Columbia torched the Crimson for 78 points, we”re right back where we were last week. The Harvard faithful have even more reason to be nervous though. On Friday night, the Crimson watched an enormous second-half lead slip away for the third straight game, as this time Cornell almost overcame a 21-point deficit before Errick Peck”s three-pointer went begging at the buzzer. Even with the Nemo-induced layoff, Harvard couldn”t recover its swagger in time to take on the Lions, and the Crimson bombed in its biggest league game to date by allowing 1.2 points per possession (only Dartmouth has played worse defense in conference play). In perhaps its worst stretch of this season—Harvard has been outscored by nearly 30 points in its last three periods—the Crimson must now face the Killer Ps. If Harvard doesn”t right the ship, particularly this Saturday night in its marquee matchup against Princeton, its championship dreams will become an afterthought. -C. River Banks

3. Cornell (3-3) (28 points)- Cornell has been all over the map in the Ivy Hoops Online power rankings. Fourth, fifth, sixth, but never third. Cornell”s nod to the highest ranking this season by the IHO brain trust is simple: Errick Peck. Peck has always been that appetizer you wished was a entrée, but now, he”s playing like a four course meal from John Thomas Steakhouse (Ithacans, you know what I”m talking about). If Peck can keep his level of play where it has been the last three games (16 pts/7.3 reb/4 ast), the Red will sport the most dynamic frontcourt in the Ancient Eight. However, as it”s always been in this league, you”re only as good as your next game”s result, and on Friday, Cornell travels to the John J. Lee Amphitheater with sole possession of third place on the line. If Cornell wants the praise to be anything but fleeting, the troops from Ithaca will have to improve on their already impressive 2-1 mark away from Newman. -Gorge Newman

4. Yale (3-3) (26 points)- What a weekend for the Bulldogs. Yale rises all the way from last place in our rankings to the top half thanks to their first road sweep of the killer Ps since the 1986-87 season when Chris Dudley was a senior for the Elis. You have to credit James Jones–the man does this ALL THE TIME. Young team with no proven talent? No problem. He”s just going to game-plan the crap out of Princeton and do his thing and eventually Yale is going to end up with seven wins and a top half finish no matter who is on his team. It”s just what the man does. Anyway, the “Dogs went into the Palestra and held on late for a 68-59 victory on Friday. Armani Cotton led the way with 15 points and 6 rebounds, but it was a balanced Yale attack with four guys in double figures that allowed the Bulldogs to walk out with a win. Yale held Cartwright to 6 points and pulled down 17 offensive rebounds. The next night, Jones” crew marched into Jadwin and shot the lights out against league leading Princeton. No single player had more than seven shot attempts, and the Bulldogs moved the ball quickly and efficiently. Yale was more aggressive on this night, getting to the stripe for 20 free throws, compared to just 7 for Princeton. A 7-12 night from three point range certainly helped the cause, as Sam Martin was perfect from deep off the bench, going 3-3. Austin Morgan didn”t force his shots and waited for his chances to come to him and was 3-6, all threes, and hit two big free throws that iced the game in the final seconds. Javier Duren earned Player of the Week honors for his work, scoring 13 points and committing only one turnover against the league”s best defense. Yale has a huge opportunity to take sole possession of third on Friday when they host Cornell. –Bruno March

5. Columbia (2-4) (21 points)- By beating Harvard on Sunday, Columbia put a halt to a four game slide in which it shot just 18-76 (24%) from behind the arc. The Lions sure aren”t cowardly about shooting the three, but they”ve proven that they must shoot well from deep to win. On Friday, Columbia shot an anemic 3-20 (15%), and let Dartmouth steal the game away after Alex Mitola recorded seven late points for the Big Green en route to a 60-57 victory. For the Sunday afternoon matinee against Harvard, Columbia was forced to start without injured (but struggling) freshman guard, Grant Mullins (7-33 FG over the four game skid). Starting in his place was Steve Frankoski–and the Polish Pistol did not disappoint. After 20 first-half points on a scorching 8-9 from the field, Frankoski ended up with a career high 27 points (5-7 from 3) in a career high 38 minutes. Although the 78-63 final wasn”t close, Columbia fought off a mighty mid-second half surge by Harvard. After the Crimson pulled within four points with nine minutes left after a Siyani Chambers layup, the Lions responded with a 17-3 run, capped by a Steve Frankoski jumper forcing Harvard to waive the white flag, and call a timeout. Ultimately, Columbia seemed more than capable without Mullins in the lineup. Fellow Freshman guard, Maodo Lo, continued his dynamite play (12.3 ppg last 3 games), and looks really comfortable and smooth handling and shooting the ball. Also, Osetkowski (10 pts, 9 rbs) took advantage of the matchup and looked like a competent low-post presence off the bench when he has that kind of size advantage. After playing to its potential and waxing Harvard by 15, Columbia has now RE-proven that they have the depth and talent to beat the Ivy”s best. –Wolfgang Evans

6. Penn (2-3) (14 points) It was a most bipolar weekend for the Quakers against Yale and Brown. First on Friday night, Penn, freshly devoid of its best player and best defender for the season due to injury, quickly reverted back to their prolific turnover prone, foul-generating ways while losing in an ugly affair against the Bulldogs. The two teams combined for 54 personals (31 for Penn) with Henry “Hatchet Man” Brooks and Tony Hicks eventually fouling out. Then, to add even more searing pain to this already lubeless round ball colonoscopy, DNH strained his MCL and was lost for most of the second half, effectively conceding the paint to the visitors. Captain Miles Cartwright looked lost, scoring only six points in 31 minutes. In the end, Yale eventually won the contest, 68-59, despite shooting only 33% for the game. During the course of a long season, every team is allowed “a stinker.” But when the stinker comes in the middle of a really stinky season, well, it really stinks. Thus the clarion calls for Jerome’s job, which had temporarily quieted after the

surprise win against Columbia and a good showing versus Cornell, resumed in force. I must admit that even for me, an Allen supporter, the team’s regression was startling. Then inexplicably, playing without three of its best players, Penn finally got what it had been desperately looking for all season: a convincing blowout win against Brown. Miles Cartwright carried the team, pouring in 28 points and once again proving that when he’s “on,” he’s practically unguardable. The problem is, as last weekend aptly demonstrated, he’s a streak shooter. Still, this most satisfying win came at a perfect time. The young Quakers must now leave The Cathedral for four games on the road. It has been often said (by me) that “the road is a cruel mistress” (I have no idea why I said this however) and the Harvard-Dartmouth weekend is traditionally the toughest journey of them all. Harvard, after losing on Sunday to Columbia, will undoubtedly come out like five, crazed lunatics in short pants with a $36 billion endowment. And Dartmouth, no longer the easy “W” that it once was, will also be a staunch test the following night in Hanover. How the corps of Penn freshmen handle the cold New England swing will largely determine how relevant the team remains in the Ivy race. A strong top half finish is by no means out of the question and may also permanently silence the Jerome haters. I think they can do it. The road may be a cruel mistress, but right now she’s the only mistress we’ve got. Stay Red and Blue, my friends. -The AQ

7. Brown (2-4) (9 points)- I have been very complimentary of the Bears in this space this season, and it”s because they”ve deserved it. After the double overtime loss at Harvard, Bruno fans were not even being that ridiculous dreaming that the Bears may be capable of pulling off the rare southern sweep. But let”s not sugarcoat it. Brown was absolutely horrible this past weekend. For a team entering the weekend with so much momentum, it was startling to see such a step backwards in every facet of the game. The game plan for Princeton was faulty. Brown tried to force the ball inside to Maia on every possession, and while the Brazilian sophomore was able to get the ball in the paint in 1-on-1 situations, he wasn”t receiving it low enough and he wasn”t able to get many good looks against the interior length of the Tigers. On the perimeter, Brown shot 1-12 from deep. On the other end, Bray and Koon got open look after open look and calmly knocked down almost everything as Princeton pulled away for a 63-46 win that wasn”t even as close as the scoreline. Things got worse the next night in Philly. After a sloppy first half for both teams, Miles Cartwright took over and Brown had no answer. Giving up 71 points to a Quakers team without Fran Dougherty, Steve Rennard, or Darien Nelson-Henry is unforgivable. Somehow, Brown continued to give up the lane without much fight and allowed kickout after kickout to reach an open shooter (usually Cartwright or PLP). Frustrating stuff. On offense, the shots simply wouldn”t fall. The Bears were 2-18 from deep in this one, leaving them with a 10% (3-30) shooting mark from outside on the weekend. Their opponents both shot over 60% from deep. Generally, the Bears have been much better at home this year than on the road, so here”s to hoping Brown gets back on track against the C”s at the Pizz this weekend. It can”t be worse than last weekend. –Bruno March

8. Dartmouth (2-4) (7 points)- It’s kind of unfair for a team to drop in the rankings after it won on the road for the first time in FOUR YEARS, but since half of the league has exactly two wins, someone has to be on the bottom, and this week, it’s the Big Green. Once again, freshmen led the way in Dartmouth’s upset of Columbia at Levien on Friday, as forward Connor

Boehm (20 pts, 7 rebounds, 9-for-14 FG) and point guard Alex Mitola (17 pts, 4-for-5 3FG, just 2 turnovers) teamed with junior Tyler Melville (15 pts, 3-for-4 3FG, 0 turnovers) to record a 60-57 Big Green win. Mitola, in particular, took control down the stretch, using a layup-steal-three-pointer sequence with just over a minute left to transform a 54-53 deficit into a 58-54 lead. It was a different story two days later in Ithaca, however, as those same three players combined to shoot 7-for-32 from the field in a 79-56 blowout loss to Cornell. Boehm’s hot streak came to

an end with a 4-point, 1-for-11 FG outing after shooting 54% in his previous 10 contests. More concerning, Dartmouth shot just 29% from the field against a Cornell defense that ranks second-to-last in the Ivy League at 100.8 points allowed per 100 possessions. With Princeton (whose defense is far and away the league’s best at just 94.2 points allowed per 100 possessions) next on the schedule at Leede Arena, the Big Green can ill afford a repeat of Sunday’s shooting performance. -Jonathan Gault

4 thoughts on “IHO Power Poll: Valentine's Day Edition

  1. Simple Ivy back-to-back road swings are hard enough. It is somewhat hard to believe that the extended weekend and the long ride in the snow between NYC and Ithaca did not have something to do with the Sunday performances by the visitors, Dartmouth and Harvard. It was an extraordinary situation.

  2. Harvard may have looked exhausted last Sunday, but it’s hard to believe that the amended schedule did anything but HELP the Crimson. The hardest road trip in the Ivies is Cornell-Columbia. Well, speaking more broadly, I guess it would be Cornell-Anything. And the single worst match-up for any team is the visiting team’s task on Saturday night after the long schlep from Ithaca. Who wouldn’t prefer an extra half-day of rest? I would much rather prefer to play on Sunday after the interminable drive through upstate New York, getting an extra rest for tired legs cramped up from being squeezed into bus seats.

    Indeed, I thought Amaker caught a lucky break when the weather forced the Harvard-Columbia game to be rescheduled, just another Sign that the man has sold his soul to the devil. But, as it turned out, goodness triumphed after all because the game was postponed to the Lord’s day.

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