Ivy Saturday roundup

Yale 79, Princeton 75

When you’re hot, you’re hot, and Yale was just that. Yale’s starters shot 54.9 percent from the floor and 61.1 percent from three-point range, and the Elis needed pretty much all of those shots to fall to get by the Tigers, who never folded, cutting into what was a 10-point lead with 3:58 left to play to keep Bulldog fans nervous until the end. In fact, superior shooting was the only thing that separated the Elis from Princeton for much of the game. The Tigers lost despite scoring 43 points in the second half, scoring 19 points off turnovers versus Yale’s nine, outscoring the Bulldogs’ bench 24-3 and making the same number of treys as the Elis (11). Princeton’s ability to keep Yale off the offensive boards for the entire half was impressive as well.

Sometimes, though, your best players happen to play like your best players, and that was Yale’s formula here. Makai Mason went 5-for-6 from deep for 22 points, Justin Sears’ stat line featured 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and three steals, and Brandon Sherrod went 8-for-8 from the floor to come within one field goal of the NCAA record of 26 consecutive field goals made. The next time these two teams play each other, Henry Caruso is going to need more help. Despite getting what he wanted early and often matching up with Sears and ultimately posting a game-high 26 points, Caruso got little help from Spencer Weisz or Steven Cook, who went just 4-for-15 from the floor. The Tigers will need to achieve greater and more characteristic point distribution to force a split in this series Feb. 19. Or maybe all the Tigers need is Yale to succumb to Jadwin’s funky sight lines and cool off a little.

Cornell 77, Dartmouth 73

“When you’re hot, you’re hot” applies to Matt Morgan more than anyone else in the Ivy League right now. The Cornell freshman guard posted 32 points and for the second straight night simply took a game over down the stretch. Just 24 hours after Morgan notched 17 points in the final 10 minutes to steal a win for the Big Red at Harvard, Morgan helped erase a 58-46 deficit for Cornell in the final 10:14 by scoring 21 points in that span – going 16-for-19 from the foul line during that stretch. In fact, Morgan went 17-for-23 from the free-throw line on the night, meaning he attempted one more foul shot than Dartmouth’s entire team, also making the same number of shots from the charity stripe as the Big Green by himself. Who needs any frontcourt offense whatsoever when you’ve got a guy who can do that? Many freshmen would have hit a wall on the second night of a road back-to-back after carrying his team to an emotional win over the five-time defending league champion. Not Matt Morgan, who’ll get some help once Robert Hatter, the only player in the conference who surpasses Morgan in scoring average, returns from injury.

Speaking of freshmen, Dartmouth forward Evan Boudreaux registered 24 points and 16 rebounds in 36 minutes. We’ve got two legitimate potential first-team All-Ivy selections who happen to be freshmen. That’s really something. Less impressive, though, was Dartmouth’s 2-for-17 performance from beyond the arc. There will be nights that piling up rebounds and steals and banging around underneath aren’t enough for the Big Green. They need a sharpshooter, and they don’t seem to have one.

Columbia 55, Harvard 54

Our Sam Tydings has the “Alex Rosenberg revenge” angle covered, so I’ll focus on the other captivating storyline this game gave us – Columbia’s defense! Yes, the Lions have one!

With their backs against the wall after a 33-17 halftime deficit, the Lions turned to a pressure defense predicated on doubling Zena Edosomwan and not yielding any ground on the perimeter. Active hands (Maodo Lo had three steals and a block in the second half, and Mullins had two steals as well in the stanza) and strong one-on-one positioning (Chris McComber refused to let Edosomwan get in position to receive entry passes in the post) frustrated Harvard down the stretch. It certainly didn’t help Harvard that Edosomwan did not play in the final 8:04, after he suffered an ankle injury. Regardless, replicable defense and clutch play from several seniors, not fluky three-point shooting, won Columbia this game. That’s why the Lions are likely to be in the Ivy title chase till the very end, and with the highest offensive ceiling of any team in the conference still in tow, Columbia is well-positioned to win the whole enchilada. A pivotal trip to New Haven awaits now.

Meanwhile, Harvard has now lost three straight Ivy games, getting swept at home in league play for the first time in seven seasons. Someone else is going to represent the Ivy League in the NCAA Tournament this season. What Harvard fans need to look for now is some meaningful development on offense. The Crimson simply don’t have enough players who can make their own offense in the face of defensive pressure. They have too many players, specifically in the backcourt, who are only dangerous when they’re open from long range and aren’t dangerous very often because they can’t create that space for themselves. And oh yeah, free throw shooting. Nobody’s good at that, either, as evidenced by the Crimson’s 46.6 percent shooting clip from the charity stripe in league play. Harvard would be 4-0 in Ivy play instead of 1-3 if it was even middle-of-the-pack in that category.

Brown 89, Penn 83

The two worst teams in the conference engaged in a lot of chippy play in Providence, with Cedric Kuakumensah coming alive on offense after Princeton held him scoreless Friday night. The senior incredibly went 5-for-6 from beyond the arc and notched 26 points to go with eight rebounds and five blocks. Both teams were hot from deep in this one, but Brown won courtesy of attempting nine more free throws and making 10 more than Penn, which is in full freshman-by-committee mode now with Darien Nelson-Henry out with a sprained ankle. Freshmen Jackson Donahue and Max Rothschild combined for 33 points on 15-for-25 shooting, but Tavon Blackmon won the day with a 23-point, 10-assist, two-turnover performance, shooting 70 percent from the floor and facilitating a Bears offense that never slowed down. The Quakers are now the only Ivy team remaining without a league win.

17 thoughts on “Ivy Saturday roundup

  1. “Someone else [besides Harvard] is going to represent the Ivy League in the NCAA tournament this season.”

    Please. Enough with the premature pronouncements.

    Sure, it doesn’t look good right now. But it sure looks better as we speak than it did with two minutes left in last year’s Yale @ Dartmouth game. I’d rather be 1-3 at season’s start than needing several successive miracles with two minutes left in the season.

    Perhaps a better example is this year’s Princeton women’s volleyball team which started the double round robin 1-3 before righting the ship to share the Ivy title with Harvard. Princeton lost a playoff for the NCAA bid, but 1-3 can be overcome.

    As Jim Carrey’s character said in “Dumb and Dumber,” “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.” Yes, I am.

    • While Harvard still has “a chance,” do you really think they are going to win the league? They still have 5 games, including 3 road games, against Columbia, Yale, and Princeton, and they likely would need to win at least 4 of them, while winning out against the rest of the league and hoping that the top three teams all lose additional games. Per teamrankings.com, they have a 0.1% chance of winning the league (I don’t know how reliable that is, but that is one of the free prediction websites). That being said, I do expect them to play spoiler for at least one of the title contender.

      • Dan, how long have you been following sports? Furthermore, how long have you been reading English? Nowhere did I say that I think Harvard _will_ win the league. Rather, I said it’s premature to declare that it positively will _not_ happen.

        Seriously, which outcome do you consider more unlikely? Harvard playing in the 2016 NCAA tournament after a 1-3 start or Harvard getting a 2015 bid with two minutes left in last year’s Yale @ Dartmouth game, to say nothing of three seconds left. How about Princeton getting a bid with 2.8 seconds left in the 2011 playoff game? How about Alex Rosenberg making a shot as time expired that he probably couldn’t replicate once in ten tries in an empty gym? How about the Princeton women’s volleyball team winning a share of the League championship just two months ago after a 1-3 start? The human brain is hardwired to believe that unlikely events are more unlikely than they really are.

        Getting back to this year’s season, Harvard still has the chance to hang two losses on each of Yale, Columbia and Princeton. Those three each need to play each other twice. Let’s put it this way: If Harvard were to finish the season 11-3 (assign whatever low probability you want to that outcome), do I think that the Crimson would earn their way into a playoff? Yes, I do. Do I think that, in a close game, conference favorite Yale has a track record of playing poorly at crunch time? Yes, I do.

        Finally, forget about the odds that Jim Carrey’s character faced in trying to get with Lauren Holly’s character in “Dumb and Dumber.” What are the odds that a doofus like Carrey could actually marry in Holly in real life?! A few years ago, I was served by the most beautiful waitress in the world at my favorite Boston steakhouse. After dinner, I asked her if I could see her again. She replied, “I’m flying home to Seattle in a month to marry my fiance.” I picked her up at midnight after work at the steakhouse every night for the next 30 days and she left her fiance for a doofus like me. Like Carrey said, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance. . . .”

        • While they still are in it, “So you’re saying there’s a chance” is not the strongest argument for Harvard right now. They’re 3 games back of first place. And Yale is not going away. So unless someone forgets to mop the floor at the JJL and it leads to a horrific Justin Sears injury (in which case Columbia would win anyways), Harvard is dead. It’s at the point right now where the team picked eighth in the preseason media poll has a better chance than them.

          We should be talking about the 4 teams that are still in it– Yale, Columbia, Princeton and Cornell. Not the team that has a worse chance of winning the title than the Brooklyn Nets do to make the playoffs.

          • Why do some readers have a problem distinguishing between “Harvard has a chance” and “Harvard has a good chance”?

            Also, regarding your four teams which “are still in it,” I think that “Harvard has a good chance” of finishing ahead of at least one of those teams. I know that you were not arguing against that hypothesis, but I repeat that most human brains overly discount unlikely events as well as suffer from recency bias.

            Any time that any average-looking man approaches a staggeringly beautiful woman, he does not have “a good chance.” And yet we keep doing it, right? All we need to keep playing the game with enthusiasm is “a chance.”

  2. Can we draw any conclusions yet? I doubt it. Has a freshman ever made the first team All-Ivy squad without also receiving the ROY award? I doubt it, but it could happen this year with Morgan and Boudreaux. Boy, are they fun to watch!! Did you ever think the Harvard TEAM would shoot FT’s about as well as Pete Miller? I doubt it. Did you ever think Cornell would look forward to its trip to Cambridge and Hanover as a breather? I doubt it. Will Brandon Sherrod ever miss a FG attempt? I doubt it. Did you ever think Grant Mullins would blow TWO snow birds to give Rosenberg a chance for a buzzer beater? I doubt it. Will Harvard lose four straight Ivy games? Yes.

  3. Princeton probably needs a sweep next weekend to stay close to Yale, which I believe is not likely to lose more than one game to any teams other than the Tigers (barring injuries). Harvard will come into Jadwin looking to mess up the Tigers’ season and make themselves feel good again. Dartmouth probably feels that they’re better than their record, too. I expect a lot of physical play and a lot of fouls in these two games, so Princeton’s relative depth should come in handy.

    • I think the most intriguing/important games next weekend is how Yale handles Columbia and Cornell. Columbia is the second best team in the league and coming off a really uplifting win– this game could be the preview of a potential playoff and should go down to the wire. Then the next night they have to deal with an up-tempo Cornell team after their tough game the previous night, one that has the hottest player in the league right now and will be getting their leading scorer back. Could be a tough weekend for the Bulldogs.

  4. Columbia is coming! Good call by FS1 picking up this game…. Be a pleasure not to hear Recco and Licata. Gotta get some former CU players in that spot. Maybe Yasser and Romano or something?!?! Think the Lions will need the 3 ball to give them a chance in NH. Is it freaking Friday yet…. Let’s get it!

    Oh… and for the Harvard debate; the same team that played Oklahoma tough clearly has not shown up. Still think they have an outside chance though; just because the conference winner will probably have 2-3 loses and the Crimson looked so good in Hawaii.

  5. @The King is not dead: You’re arguing over semantics here. Who cares if “Harvard has a chance”, or “Harvard has a good chance”, unless you’re a Harvard alum. They’re not even in the discussion. Unless you’re talking about the CIT, and no one really cares about that in the context of the league. Save that for the Harvard Basketball Blog, or whatever site they use.

    • Well, _of_course_ I’m arguing semantics here. I’ve led every post in this thread with a sentence which essentially says, “I’d like to argue over semantics in this post.”

      But I’m also pointing out that crazy, seemingly unlikely, things happen all the time, in sports and in life. Investors, political commentators and sports fans ignor that probabilistic reality at their own peril.

      Lastly, with all due deference to Cornell’s win in the books over Harvard, Cornell is barely more in the discussion than Harvard. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss those teams which live just outside your glass house.

      • Really? Cornell is 2-2 and is red hot, having swept their last weekend and getting their leading scorer back. Harvard is ice cold, sitting at 1-3, just got swept and have collectively stunk up the joint at the foul line, which I don’t think will get better any time soon. But since they’re the defending champs, Harvard MUST be BETTER. Am I doing this right?

        • If you’ll check the transcript, I think you’ll find that nowhere did I say that Harvard must be better.

          I’ll be happy to revisit this dialogue when all fourteen games are in the books, if not an extra playoff tilt or two. The last time I checked, the difference between 2-2 and 1-3 is one. One game behind with at least ten games to go? That sounds like premature exhilaration.

          • If you had been watching Cornell the past 5 years, you would know that sweeping a road weekend is reason for exhilaration, premature or otherwise.

  6. @MillerTimeAtNewman 2/2/16 9:00 PM, fair point about the uptick in Cornell’s prospects today compared to the last five years. Fair point.

    While we’re on the subject of difficult to foresee events, what about the uptick in Cornell’s prospects today compared to the last five years? For all I could tell, Bill Courtney was in way over his head. Nice guy, the players seem to respond to him, but just couldn’t pull together the various elements of being a head coach. Now this season is a huge improvement with no apparent reason to think it was pending.

    More examples of difficult to foresee coaching developments? Which head coach came into the AI-era Ivy League with the best resume? That one is easy. Joe Scott returned to Princeton as runner-up for national coach of the year after completing a miracle at a service academy which has, get this, height restrictions. And Scott inherited a defending conference champion with all-Ivy returnees. Yet he turned out to be the worst Princeton coach since whenever. On the other side, Tommy Amaker was run out of Ann Arbor as an unmitigated disappointment. This is a guy whose career looked like it might spiral downward at the time. And yet he turned out to be a perfect match with what Harvard wanted to do. You could give a number of other good coaches more financial aid and looser academic standards, yet not see the same results. Scott and Amaker are two sides of the same coin, how seemingly fanciful, impossible things happen all the time.

    • Courtney had a lot of guys leave the program or get hurt. Holt Harmon was brought in to be a really good big man recruit and he left the program; Galal Cancer also left for a year and Galal Cancer transferred. Also, the class that Donahue brought in right before he left (the 2010-11 freshmen) was an absolute stinker. Dwight Tarwater, Jake Matthews, Dom Scelfo and Manny Sahota. (Sahota is playing in Canada currently.) Tarwater actually developed into a decent player, but they couldn’t get a four years of service from him because he got mono his freshman year and the Ivy League has their silly rules about grad students playing. Same goes for Errick Peck (ACL), Shonn Miller (shoulder) and Cancer. Can you imagine how good Cornell would look right now with Miller and Cancer, as well as Nolan Cressler, who transferred? They would be killing the rest of the league and would be something ridiculous like 17-2. Shonn is an NBA prospect at UConn, Cancer is a starter at Kent State, and Cressler’s 3 pt game is perfect for a league like the Ivies.

      The other thing that hurts Courtney is in game coaching, especially the inability of his teams to hold a lead. They were up by 10 at home against Penn with 2 minutes to go last year and lost. Granted, Penn converted two four point plays (seriously, what the hell?), but they left some of their worst FT shooters in the game and let Penn foul JoJo freaking Fallas twice when he’s a 40% shooter. Same thing happened at Brown.

      A lot of people say Bill’s teams don’t do well because he recruits too many “dumb athletes” who don’t know the game, but that’s not really the case. I don’t think he deserves an extension, but I hope they keep him around for the sake of continuity, mainly because if you bring in a guy like Izzi Metz or Zach Spiker and expect him to do something with a team that’s top 10 nationally in pace of play, it would be a disaster. Those guys play slow and run set plays.

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