The Ivy hoops fan base is a small and select group. Unlike other colleges (and I use the term extremely judiciously for most institutions located outside The Eight) there are few zealots. However, there are two who deserve a certain amount of praise. Thus I would like to dedicate this Power Poll to two of the stalwarts of our avocation, namely, Michael James (@Ivybball) and the Cornell Basketball Blog. They both add a certain dimension to the analysis of watching Ivy hoops and they couldn’t be more different. Their occasional domestic spats on social media are legendary — the cool, calculating number-cruncher versus the overly emotional and often fairly delusional Big Red fan. One, a haughty winner in the recent Ivy rooting sweepstakes and the other, a “we try harder” guy who still wishes beyond any reasonable hope that it was still 2009 and Jeff Foote was roaming the Ithaca post. In essence, these two play the Spock and McCoy respectively in Ivy hoops coverage to my omniscient, gallant, rational, and let’s be fair, womanizing, Kirk. With these two in mind, and six games into the 14-Game Tournament, here is my usual Penn-centric IHO power poll.
Steve Donahue is doing the best he can with the shitty cards that he’s been dealt. First, Tony Hicks “departed” for Louisville and the brothel that is the Cardinal basketball team. Then another Jerome gem, Antonio Woods, decided to blow off finals and was declared academically ineligible the day of the Princeton game. (Add these to the guy who went to jail, the others who were kicked off the team and that’s quite a starting five.) Regardless, Steve kept his current charges focused and nearly upset the hated Tigers in front of a nationwide TV audience. Still, there is good and bad on this Quaker squad. They play with fundamentals now (a somewhat necessary skill set for a college team) and they also play with grit, but the team still can’t shoot with consistency and they are a terrible road team. (One road win so far this year.) The upcoming week is the difficult New York state trip to the Cs. When asked about the Quakers’ chances of winning, @Ivybball just shrugged and gave me his pithy trademark “Uh no,” but quite frankly, I’m goin’ with Spock on this one. I don’t think they’re up to it yet either. After a rough night in the Big Apple, the freshman will be forced to endure their first interminable trip to the hinterlands of the Empire State. However there is a silver lining. I have gleamed that the CBB has planned a “Please Come Back Steve and make it 2010 Again” party. Sparing no expense, I even heard he sprang for Sir Paul McCartney to fly in by chopper to sing “Yesterday” before the opening tip. If that fails, he intends to switch up the teams’ locker rooms so Steve hopefully gets nostalgic and decides to remain in Ithaca.
@Ivybball blew out his 16-terabyte hard drive trying to compute Yale’s chances of losing the Ancient Eight title and was therefore unavailable for comment. I must admit, losing is looking more and more unlikely for Yale every week. Brandon Sherrod has been a massive boost to the Eli’s lineup this year even setting the NCAA record last weekend for consecutive field goals. This week they face their first road test at Harvard and Dartmouth that I believe they will win both easily. Regardless, the CBB is incredulous: “Ryan Wittman would have kicked Justin Sears’ ass. Yeah, they’re gonna win it all, but unlike the 2010 team they’ll be one and done. Sweet Sixteen Baby!
To me, the Lions just don’t pass the eye test of a champion. Sure they win, but they still look like they are underachieving for the parts that they have available. They lost to Yale and struggled in just about every other game they’ve played in conference. Part of my eye test also tells me that Maodo Lo looks tired. Although his stats are similar to last year, he just doesn’t take over the game like he used to. As the Quaker freshmen appear to miss home too much, they should beat Penn this weekend, but Princeton will be a make or break game for Kyle Smith’s team. The Tigers will be a difficult matchup for the Columbia. For the record, @Ivybball does not believe in the eye test. “Data, AQ! Show me the data.” He then told me that eyeball test is “not at all Pi predictive.” I said, “Pie, you mean like apple, cherry?” “No, you Penn moron. It’s the math “Pi” not the ‘pie’ pie.” “Oh,” I said, “I’ve never tasted a Pi pie. Is it good?” To which he just rolled his “eyes” in disgust (apparently the @Ivybball “eyeball test”) and said dismissively, “Call me after you’ve completed your first mnemonic memory circuit.”
Two weeks ago when Matt Morgan went nuts on Harvard and Dartmouth, the CBB was running around saying stuff like, “Morgan is The Man. He is one and done and will be the first pick in the NBA Draft.” In addition, he was lamenting the fact that Bill Courtney would soon be leaving after resurrecting the Red and is deciding between offers from Kansas, Duke and North Carolina. Not being a man of letters (the guy went to Cornell), the CBB probably never read that Shakespeare once said, “A weekend sweep doth not a season make.” (Of course, Shakespeare was referring to cleaning his summer cottage in Sheffield, but you get my drift.) “Thunk!” That is the sound of the Red being the Red and losing handily last weekend to Yale and Brown and the CBB’s Final Four dreams plummeting down into the gorge. This week, I look for them to get pummeled by Princeton before narrowly beating Penn’s freshman-by-committee squad.
I heard that Jordan Spieth’s brother is going to spend some of his $50 million golf earnings this year to help clone Cedric Kuakumensah. So for the foreseeable future, Mike Martin can rest easy as there will always be a Kuakumensah in Providence. It is their only hope. Brown is struggling, but they still have the ability with their record-setting shot blocker to surprise a few teams. They get Harvard and Dartmouth on the road this weekend, both winnable games for Brown. The CBB was glib of this possibility: “We shoulda kicked their ass, man. That team sucks like the Cornell 2013-14 squad.”
Evan Boudreaux will be the Ivy Rookie of the Year. The man is a “hawse.” Beyond that, no one cares in Hanover. When reached for comment, @Ivybball was brief: “Insufficient sample size.”
It wasn’t so long ago that @Ivybball was mouthing off about Harvard winning the Big 12 and if the Earth was closer to Venus then they would be the best team ever in the history of the universe or something like that. Well, it just hasn’t work out that way for them has it? Too bad. However, since @Ivybball is a Harvard guy, I thought I would write my review in binary code so he could understand what I am trying to say more accurately:
As always, I prefer the Tigers in their rightful place. I will say that this is the most un-Princeton Princeton team I can remember. They play a fast-paced brand of basketball and have deep and talented roster. At this point they appear to be Yale’s only competition. @Ivybball calculates that as long as Mitch Henderson’s bald spot circumference stays below a scalp radius of 5.75 inches, his rapidly receding chrome dome will not inadvertently blind any his players and they still have a good chance of winning. However, @Ivybball goes further to state that “once his hair reaches a critical amaurotic dimension of between 6.359 and 7.8876, the chances of causing permanent damage to the players’ optics nerves increases exponentially.” In other words, Yale should win it all.
Stay Red and Blue my friends,