Ivy Power Rankings – Nov. 28, 2016

Our Ivy power rankings take the measure of the Ancient Eight’s pluses and minuses since Nov. 21. Here are last week’s power rankings.

1. Yale (2-3)

Yale very nearly stole one at Pitt, with sophomore forward Blake Reynolds, sophomore guard Alex Copeland and senior forward Sam Downey making things close in the game’s closing passage. Then at Vermont, Yale reeled off a 24-9 run in a 9:31 stretch to nab a two-point lead before Vermont scored the game’s final four points, including a game-winning layup by Ernie Duncan with one second left that handed the Catamounts a 67-65 win.

Neither constitutes a bad loss at all, and there were plenty of silver linings in each outing. Freshman forward Miye Oni continues to impress with his rebounding (19 caroms at Pitt and Vermont combined), while also hitting four three-pointers on seven attempts at Vermont. Downey continues to be a reliable offensive threat as well. Freshman forward Jordan Bruner debuted at Vermont following an injury that kept him out of the first four games, contributing a promising eight points and five rebounds (three offensive) in just 17 minutes.

The bottom line is Yale’s in excellent shape and projected by KenPom to easily win its next five games, which should serve as a confidence-boosting stretch after a trio of tough road losses. The rebounding and care with the basketball are already there, even for such a fairly youthful group.

2. Princeton (2-2)

Princeton got on board with a win at Lafayette, in which sophomore guard Devin Cannady bounced back with an 11-point, seven-rebound, five-assist performance that represented his usually stat-stuffing self. Seniors Henry Caruso and Steven Cook pitched in 14 points each and the Tigers shot 18-for-29 (62.1 percent) from two-point range, which is much more like it coming from such a veteran squad. And then they beat Rowan, 108-46, just so that’s duly noted.

We’ll learn more about Princeton in its next two matchups at VCU on Tuesday and against Cal in Hawaii on Tuesday (at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1). VCU’s strength is its defense, and the Rams are good at picking pockets, so it’ll be up to the Tigers to be efficient within their offense and attack the paint. KenPom projects Princeton to lose at VCU but eke out a win versus the Golden Bears, which will only happen if the Tigers can limit Cal’s advantage on the boards and keep Cal from gouging them at the foul line, as is the Bears’ custom. It’d be rough if Princeton were to drop both of these matchups, as Princeton’s final game against a top 100 KenPom team will be at Monmouth on Dec. 20. The Tigers ought to show they can win against challenging high and mid-majors.

3. Harvard (1-3)

This is getting a little weird. Preseason Ivy Player of the Year candidate and 2015-16 second-team All-Ivy selection Zena Edosomwan, despite his brilliance, has gotten lost in the shuffle, scoring just 14 points in the first four games combined. His most productive game was a five-point, 10-rebound performance in 21 minutes at UMass, and he logged just seven minutes at Holy Cross off the bench despite a lack of foul trouble. As Ray Curren of NYC Buckets noted, the problem isn’t Edosomwan (coach Tommy Amaker said after the loss to the Minutemen he was pleased with Edosomwan’s effort), it’s the rest of the roster.

Edosomwan is surprisingly losing a huge chunk of his minutes to freshmen Chris Lewis and Henry Welsh, the latter proving the Crimson’s most efficient player at UMass (12 points on 5-for-9 shooting). Senior guard Siyani Chambers, likewise, hasn’t been the major force on offense that we’re used to coming off of the torn ACL that caused him to miss last season, scoring just 14 combined points at Holy Cross and UMass, but he’s been plenty valuable as a conduit, averaging five assists per game so far.

Freshman guard Bryce Aiken, meanwhile, missed the Holy Cross game and went 0-for-9 from the floor at UMass with four turnovers in 23 minutes, in contrast to his impressive sharpshooting in Shanghai in the season-opening loss to Stanford. Frosh forward Seth Towns took a step forward in the UMass loss with 17 points on 6-for-15 shooting despite fouling out after 27 minutes of play.

But Amaker’s clearly still figuring out how to get the most out of his personnel. Few would have expected Harvard’s most frequent lineup so far to be Chambers-Corey Johnson-Justin Bassey-Lewis-Welsh, but that’s how it’s been so far this season.

And the going has been rough as a result. Harvard’s turnover margin is one of the worst in Division I, and the team’s been widely inefficient from all over the court (310th in effective field goal percentage, 287th in three-point percentage).

Losing to Holy Cross at home was a particularly disappointing defeat for a squad expected by many to hit the ground running en route to instant league title contention, but there’s more important things in this world than how you play the first four games of a college basketball season. That being said, the league will be a lot stronger if the Crimson can get it together, so here’s hoping they do.

4. Penn (2-2)

Penn would have gotten the nod over Harvard if it just edged out a not-so-good Navy team on the road, but it couldn’t quite pull it off, falling 70-68 after getting outscored 9-0 in the final 4:55. The good news is Penn’s still quantifiably better than last year, as our Ancient Quaker wrote Sunday. Penn’s effective field goal percentage is 5.3 percent higher than last season (boosting Penn to 60th in the nation up from 218th). The Quakers have found the real deal in transfer Caleb Wood, who is 13-for-22 (59.1 percent) from three-point range in Penn’s past three games despite also considering his six turnovers at Navy. Think about Wood, fellow transfer Matt MacDonald and sophomore guard Jackson Donahue, and it becomes obvious that Penn will go far as its three-point shooting will take it. Could be pretty far, especially if the Quakers’ long-range stuff proves better at the Palestra, where Penn has yet to play.

I think if Penn beats defending national champion Villanova at the Palestra Tuesday night that the Quakers should just be awarded the national championship right then. That’s not too crazy, right?

5. Columbia (3-2)

 

You don’t have to be from Delaware like On the Vine host Peter Andrews to appreciate junior guard Nate Hickman’s game-winning three-point shot in overtime against Colgate at Levien Gym Saturday night.

That was a good win for Columbia following a bad loss to Army in which the Lions got outscored 24-8 in the final 7:47 on their home floor. Hickman posted 30 points in 34 minutes in that game, proving definitively that he can explode at any time. Sophomore forward Lukas Meisner keeps impressing on the boards, and senior forward Luke Petrasek got the job done against Colgate with 24 points, nine rebounds and three assists, including a crucial 7-for-7 from the foul line.

Columbia’s taken a major statistical step back on offense so far, especially at the three-point line, but the Lions are still a relatively solid offensive team with a much greater amount of work to do on the other end of the floor, where they force too few turnovers and allow too many offensive rebounds.

6. Cornell (1-5)

Cornell had two tough matchups at Monmouth and Houston, putting up more of a fight in West Long Branch than at Hofheinz Pavilion. The Big Red are assisting more frequently on field goals than last season, which can probably be attributed at least somewhat to first-year Brian Earl’s approach to the offense.

But Cornell’s three-point shooting has fallen off significantly from where it was last season so far, as the Big Red went just 8-for-34 from beyond the arc at Monmouth and 6-for-28 at Houston. That’s not going to get it done, particularly when so much of the offense is invested in deep shots.

7. Brown (2-4)

Brown got a win it needed over Morgan State, with freshman forward Joshua Howard scoring 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting in 27 minutes. Howard was also key in Brown’s win over Niagara. Seems like the Bears do well when Howard does, so keep your eye on the rookie.

8. Dartmouth (0-3)

Dartmouth needs to win at Longwood Monday or else the Ls are likely to keep piling up into the second week of December.

4 thoughts on “Ivy Power Rankings – Nov. 28, 2016

  1. When the 5th ranked team in the League, in this case Columbia at 3-2, is the only squad with a winning record at this point it’s hard to make the case that the League is on the rise. With Penn obviously meshing well under SD the battle, not just for 4th but to get into the top 4, may be more fun the than 14 Game Tournament. Remember Ivy fans, every team starts 0-0 on January 1, 2017.

  2. Cornell could be in some big trouble this season. Brian Earl’s offensive system simply does not work for the team he has on the floor. It’s nice that Stone Gettings is producing more, but Gettings isn’t anywhere close to the best player on the team- those would be Darryl Smith, Robert Hatter, and Matt Morgan. Earl is strangling the team’s biggest strength- guard play- by bringing Gettings out to the three point line and clogging up the perimeter. Add that to a few injuries, a lack of depth, and alarmingly high usage rates for the fourth best player on the team, and you have a perfect recipe for disaster.

    Now, before someone comes on here and accuses me of not knowing how the Princeton offense works; I know exactly how it works, I’m saying it doesn’t work for Cornell.

    I’m firmly entrenched in the “show me” camp with regard to Brian Earl, and I’d even advocate for Cornell to slide down below Dartmouth in the power poll. The Big Green at least have the reigning Ivy League ROY, and some semblance of an offensive identity. Cornell is stuck between two offensive systems, can’t hit free throws or take care of the ball, and could be in for a really bad season if they don’t figure out that it makes no sense to run their offense through Stone Gettings.

    • Looking at Cornell’s talent level, it was realistic to think that the team would be 3-3 after six games. Binghamton and Colgate, although on the road, were certainly winnable games.

      For a team that was picked 7th in the IL, it would not be unrealistic for Coach Earl to start to implement his style of play this year. It can be frustrating for this season, but his, and the team’s short-term (not immediate) future, reside more in Matt Morgan, Stone Gettings, and Josh Warren than it does with Robert Hatter and Darryl Smith. As a result, it is not surprising that Gettings is getting as many touches, and Warren as many minutes, as they have. It would seem that the coach’s interest in three pointers is a main reason that Fallas is getting more minutes that the more accurate two point shooting Smith.

      Going forward, the team has to continue to be competitive on the boards, as well as needing to improve, greatly, in assists from its guards, three point FG% (presently, 28.4% – #323 in the nation), turnovers and defensive FG%. With regards to rebounding, the team will need to get Onuorah, Wright, and Abdur-Ra’oof back as soon as possible. Since the team has played a less aggressive defense, then it did last season, improving the defensive numbers may be difficult. Since the team has multiple players who have the potential to consistently hit three pointers, this may be the area where they can improve before heading into IL play.

  3. Hope your optimism about Yale is on target. But, loss to Bryant last night after a commanding lead causes some concern. Yale had 18 turnovers, resulting in 20 points for Bryant. This isn’t characteristic of the way Yale plays; perhaps youth and inexperience more of a factor than anticipated. Hoping Bruner returns to form quickly; still waiting to see how he handles the competition at this level.

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