Here’s the week that was for Ivy hoops, featuring updated power rankings and thoughts on Cornell’s advances and blown chances, Princeton’s shocking defeat against a team still getting used to Division I and much more:
PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Yale forward Justin Sears – IHO’s preseason pick for Ivy Player of the Year gets the nod here because his team reeled off four victories this past week, in no small part due to Sears’s performance. He did little against Newbury Monday but led all scorers in a win over Illinois-Chicago and turned in 17 points, 11 boards, four assists and two blocks the following night in a win over Illinois State. Sears was part of a winning ensemble performance at Kent State on Sunday as well.
ROOKIE OF THE WEEK – Penn forward Mike Auger – No Quaker logged more minutes against Rider than Auger, who notched 10 points and eight rebounds on 5-for-7 shooting from the field in just his second game at the collegiate level. He only got better against Lafayette Saturday night, posting 18 points and nine rebounds on 7-for-10 shooting in just 14 minutes. What the numbers don’t show is the chemistry Auger has already established with Tony Hicks.
SURPRISE OF THE WEEK – Incarnate Word? Really?
Princeton’s loss to the San Antonio-based Southland Conference member school was surprising but not out of nowhere. Incarnate Word did win 20 games last season, its first in Division I. Still, the Cardinals’ previous two wins over the likes of Huston-Tillotson and Texas-Tyler didn’t foreshadow the 17-point lead they built over Princeton in the first half, that’s for sure. Why was Incarnate Word on Princeton’s schedule in the first place? Here’s hoping Princeton schedules Southwestern Assemblies of God University (Waxahachie, TX) and University of Texas of the Permian Basin (Odessa, TX) next season. The Tigers would probably split that pair.
FACEPALM OF THE WEEK – Let’s get this straight – Cornell should have beaten Penn State Friday night. With Penn State trailing 71-70 with 4.7 seconds remaining, a Nittany Lion called for a timeout that the team didn’t have. That’s a technical foul that would have pretty much guaranteed the Big Red the victory.
Thing is, Cornell looked like it had a victory in hand anyway. The only reason Penn State was in position to call a timeout was that the Big Red simply blew it. All Cornell had to do was inbound the ball, get fouled and hold onto the win. Instead, Shonn Miller lobbed his inbound pass across halfcourt essentially to two Penn State defenders, giving the Nittany Lions a chance to win that they made good on. Ugh.
8. Penn – Terrible against Rider but promising against Lafayette. Hicks posted 13 assists and just two turnovers against the Leopards and freshman Antonio Woods notched 11 points, a solid rookie performance to go along with Auger’s. Penn’s overall performance against Lafayette was the best the Quakers looked since beating Columbia last February. Penn’s still a work in progress, but now we’re seeing that there is indeed progress in store. Give credit to Jerome Allen for knowing he had to revitalize his roster with rookies he could plug in and play, and for getting those freshmen in place.
7. Dartmouth – Not a very busy November for the Big Green, is it? Just one game for Dartmouth this week, a 53-48 loss to Hartford. The turnovers need to come down, though.
6. Princeton – Pete Miller turned in a solid 14-point performance at Lafayette but the Leopards’ 58.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc was too much for the Tigers. Steven Cook was visible again against Incarnate Word and Amir Bell only had four fouls instead of five! Still, the Tigers are searching for their offensive identity and defensive fortitude in this early stage of the season.
5. Cornell – Down 23-6 to Colgate, Cornell came back in grand fashion to win. Most importantly, it did so while not completely relying on Shonn Miller. Instead, Devin Cherry gave a career performance of 21 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Cornell couldn’t beat South Carolina in Charleston two days later, but that’s a very tall order anyway. As mentioned earlier, the Big Red should have beaten Penn State and the fact that they had four players in double figures is very encouraging.
But then Cornell blew a 14-point lead in a loss to Drexel, and now we have a trend of the Big Red blowing leads after the team blew a 17-point lead earlier this season. This is not the Shonn Miller show by any stretch, but the Big Red have to start finishing games or else this will become a season full of choke jobs.
4. Brown – The Bears gave up a 39-25 rebounding edge to Northwestern, this season’s exhibit A that Rafa Maia can’t be the only player hitting the boards for Brown. The Bears then turned in 23 turnovers against Holy Cross, but Harvard registered 24, so don’t flush Brown down just yet. Leland King remains a pleasure to watch, and his 25 rebounds, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block performance proved that he really can do it all.
3. Columbia – The Lions had five players in double figures in a win over Wagner, including Kyle Castlin, whose 18 points in 30 minutes has him in the mix with Penn’s Mike Auger for Rookie of the Year honors. More importantly, Columbia got it done against Lehigh too, with Jeff Coby posting 16 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, a very promising statement for the sophomore forward.
2. Yale – The Bulldogs are rolling with four straight wins, three at the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic, in which Yale played standout defense game after game. Over its four-game winning streak, Yale allowed just 53.5 points and 35.1 percent shooting from the field. Most impressive was Yale’s victory against the Golden Flashes on Kent State’s floor, as the Bulldogs overcame an eight-point halftime deficit to win. The Bulldogs had five players in double figures at Kent State, early signs of a well-rounded squad.
1. Harvard – The Crimson beat Florida Atlantic, 71-49, no thanks to Tommy Amaker getting cute with the starting lineup, which resulted in the Owls jumping out to an 11-4 lead to start the game.