IHO 2014-15 All-Ivy Awards

Ivy Hoops Online founder Ian Halpern, On the Vine host Peter Andrews and I combined to determine the 2014-15 All-IHO selections:

IHO PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Justin Sears, Yale (Jr., F – Plainfield, N.J.)

Sears snared IHO POY honors for his yeoman’s work in the Yale frontcourt, registering 14.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, pushing the Bulldogs just short of their first NCAA tournament berth in 53 years. Sears eclipsed 25 points in four Ivy contests and anchored a stout Yale defense all season long. (For the record, I voted for Wesley Saunders for POY based on his second-half heroics in the Ivy playoff game, but I was outvoted 2-1. It’s a good problem to have several legitimate POY candidates, though, that’s for sure.)

IHO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Kyle Castlin, Columbia (Fr., G – Marietta, Ga.)

Castlin made an immediate impact in the Lions’ dynamic backcourt, posting 18 points in 30 minutes in just his second collegiate game and displaying levels of body control and offensive awareness that most players in this league never attain. He scored in double figures in 14 of 28 games and was one of the few constants in a Columbia offense that struggled to find options beyond Maodo Lo.

IHO DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Shonn Miller, Cornell (Sr., F – Euclid, Ohio)

Miller anchored Cornell’s gritty and physically large defense, posting 1.8 blocks and 1.3 steals per game while notching a 28 percent defensive rebound rate that was good for seventh in the country. Cornell doesn’t beat Harvard late in the season without Miller’s defensive chops, and it certainly doesn’t finish third in the league in scoring defense without him either.

IHO MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Steven Cook, Princeton (So., F – Winnetka, Ill.)

Cook’s stat line took a huge jump as a sophomore, chiefly in points scored (chiefly from 4.5 points to 10.4 per game) while also playing 12.1 more minutes per contest. Cook made the most of that time, finishing second in the league in steals, ninth in three-point percentage and 14th in scoring. Most importantly, he stepped up down the stretch, scoring in double figures in eight of Princeton’s final 13 games. In many ways, he was one of Princeton’s most consistent players for the Ivy slate, when it what it needed most was consistency.

IHO COACH OF THE YEAR

Paul Cormier, Dartmouth

First postseason appearance for Dartmouth since John Foster Dulles was Secretary of State (1959). Throw in a 5-0 regular-season finish and the fact that the Big Green were the only squad to beat both Harvard and Yale, and that’s all that really needs to be said here.

FIRST TEAM ALL-IHO

Justin Sears, Yale (Jr., F – Plainfield, N.J.)

Not many players in the league willed his team to victory as many times as Sears did this season.  He did just that against Princeton twice and was the key difference in victories over Brown, Columbia and Cornell.

Wesley Saunders, Harvard (Sr., G/F – Los Angeles)

Unfortunately for Yale, the only team that willed his team to more victories than Sears was this guy. Saunders lifted Harvard past Yale in the Ivy playoff game, shutting down Javier Duren as a defender and posting a 9-0 run by himself that changed the complexion of the game for good. He led the league in steals, finished second in assists and eighth in rebounding. There’s nothing Saunders can’t do, and he’s the biggest reason why Harvard is 4-for-4 in the Ivy title department in his time with the Crimson.

Maodo Lo, Columbia (Jr., G – Berlin)

One more time: Yo, Lo. The spotlight faded on Lo as Columbia did the same, but Lo really turned it on late in the season, eclipsing 33 points three times in his final six games. His on-the-ball defense was also stellar, but Lo’s hot scoring finish bodes especially well for Columbia next season.

Javier Duren, Yale (Sr., G – St. Louis)

Duren pushed Yale past Harvard in the second half of what at the time looked like it could have been the de facto Ivy title game at Lavietes Pavilion last weekend. That championship for Yale was not to be, but Duren was the linchpin for Yale’s title run and was probably the most consistent player in the league offensively aside from Saunders. Bravo, Javier.

Shonn Miller, Cornell (Sr., F – Euclid, Ohio)

The stats tell the tale for Miller. He finished second in the league in scoring, rebounding and free-throw percentage, and he single-handedly turned around a program that went 2-26 last year to a more respectable fifth-place Ivy finish in 2015.

SECOND TEAM ALL-IHO

Steve Moundou-Missi, Harvard (Sr., F – Yaounde, Cameroon)

In stark contrast to Miller, the stats don’t tell the whole tale for Moundou-Missi. He was the best player on the court for much of the latter two Harvard-Yale matchups this season, hitting the game and NCAA tournament-winning jumper Saturday. He’s the glue guy for the Ivy champion, the highest praise possible.

Gabas Maldunas, Dartmouth (Sr., C – Panevezys, Lithuania)

Maldunas just kept right on ticking, averaging just over 11 points per game for the third straight season. Maldunas made Dartmouth’s most successful season in more than half a century possible with his abundant rebounding, steals and blocks. Maldunas has been quietly versatile his entire career, and he easily deserves the recognition here.

Siyani Chambers, Harvard (Jr., G – Golden Valley, Minn.)

What a streaky season, but Chambers got going when Harvard’s going got tough. Chambers notched 10.9 points per Ivy game, leading the conference in assists, finishing fourth in steals and nailing a game-winning jumper against Columbia that helped Harvard stay in the running for the Ivy crown. Chambers definitely got it together after a rough start. Good for him.

Alex Mitola, Dartmouth (Jr., G – Florham Park, N.J.)

Mitola anchored Dartmouth’s run to the postseason, leading the league in minutes played and free-throw percentage, finishing second in assist-to-turnover ratio, second in three-pointers per game and seventh in scoring. Not too many Ivy basketballers can do everything Mitola can, and he’s still got another year left to show us what else he’s got.

Hans Brase, Princeton (Jr., F – Clover, S.C.)

We had a tie between Brase and Weisz for the final second-team selection, so both Tigers are included. Like every Tiger this season, Brase had a habit of inexplicably disappearing from games, but he finished strong with 55 points in the team’s final three games, all wins, including a season-high 23 in a thrilling victory over Columbia. Although Brase struggled in the middle of the league slate, he’ll be back for one more go-round in 2016, when Princeton should have as good a shot as any at an Ivy championship.

Spencer Weisz, Princeton (So., F – Florham Park, N.J.)

The true bellwether for Princeton success or failure in 2015, Weisz was up and down, and thus so were the Tigers. The Tigers were 8-0 in Ivy play when Weisz scored in double figures, and 1-5 when he did not. Maybe if he scores at least 10 in every conference game next year, the Tigers can emulate their women counterparts and run the Ivy table. Well, probably not, but Princeton’s fate in 2016 won’t improve unless Weisz’s consistency does. Fortunately, his versatility was still on display for much of this campaign as well.

HONORABLE MENTION ALL-IHO

Rafael Maia, Brown (Sr., F – Sao Paulo)

Maia received votes, just not enough to get him on the second-team list. Still, he’s more than worthy of an honorable mention, leading the league in rebounding and field-goal percentage while providing the Bears a formidable post presence.

4 thoughts on “IHO 2014-15 All-Ivy Awards

  1. You make good cases for almost all your selections. In my view, however, the Ivy playoff settled more than the league’s NCAA representative. Saunders was head and shoulders above everybody else on that floor, including Justin Sears. I know this was a 2-1 vote, and I know that Sears is a very special player. Oh well, as the Supreme Court is not final because it’s right; it’s right because it’s final. I am glad you recognized Steve Cook’s progress but he actually played in the Ivy schedule last year to pretty much the same standard as this year. Last year he just did not play much early. Total of 40 minutes in first 17 games; 25 minutes per after that.

  2. I think you nailed it w 1st and 2nd team and honorable mention. I disagree w Sears as POY. There are the stats, course, but who would you fear more if they were on the other team: Sears or Saunders? For me, it would be Saunders. He will either beat you with his own shot or dish to the open man who will beat you (I believe he led the Ivies in assists during league okay). Plus his intangibles simply add up. Sears was great. Saunders was greater. (But certainly a fun topic to debate.)

  3. If you’re going to wait until after the one-game playoff to name your IHO all-stars, you might as well incorporate what you learned at the end of the season.

    Sears’ body of work over the course of 13.99 games was excellent, but his mental mistake at the end of the Dartmouth game ended up, when the dust settled, costing Yale the outright championship and NCAA bid.

    Should that be held against a player? Well, if any player made an extremely heads-up play to win a championship, you’d give him credit for that, right? Think Derek Jeter flicking the ball backhand from foul territory to throw out a runner at home plate. Along that line of thinking, Sears made a split-second decision to reach out and touch that pass, a decision which ended up costing Yale a trip to the Big Dance as surely as Jeter’s throw contributed to a World Series ring.

  4. FWIW, my picks that I posted last week before the weekend playoff

    POY: Wesley Saunders (Sears 2nd; Lo 3rd)
    MVP: Shonn Miller (team had an 11 win turnaround this year; not all due to him, but he was a major reason); Spencer Weisz (if he scores more than 10 pts, the team wins)
    DPOY: Shonn Miller (Moundou-Missi 2nd; Kuakumensah 3rd)
    ROY: Kyle Castlin (Woods 2nd; Wright 3rd; Bell 4th)
    Coach of Year: Paul Cormier (James Jones 2nd)
    Team of the Year: Dartmouth (Yale 2nd) – probably have to amend that one after Saturday’s game

    1st Team:
    Saunders, Duren, Lo, Sears, Miller

    2nd Team: (I’ll keep it to 5 picks)
    Chambers, Mitola, Brase, Maia, Maldunas
    (May have to switch SMM and Maia after the last two Harvard/Yale games)

    Honorable Mention:
    Kuakumensah, Weisz, Moundou-Missi, Hicks, Cancer

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