IHO 2016-17 All-Ivy Awards

The voting for this year’s IHO All-Ivy Awards was more varied and wide open than ever, as well as substantially different from the Ivy League’s awards announced Wednesday. Here’s what the site’s writers combined to come up with …

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

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

The most productive player on the most productive Ivy, Cook’s winning this award marks the first time in three seasons someone other than Justin Sears is our POY. While Ivy League voters very understandably went with Spencer Weisz, we went with Cook because we were particularly attracted to his clutch play in big moments. Cook was KenPom’s game MVP in both of Princeton’s narrow wins over Harvard, scoring the game-winning tip-in to give the Tigers a rare victory at Lavietes Pavilion and registering 30 points on just 13 shots from the field in his team’s 73-69 eking past Harvard last weekend.

Cook is a strong defender on a team full of those, leading the league in steals. At the other end of the floor, Cook ranks third in the league in three-point field-goal percentage, playing a pivotal role in Princeton’s modus operandi of taking and making a lot of threes. He ranks seventh in the conference in scoring as well.

Most importantly, Cook performed good works away from basketball, fundraising for a hospital in Sudan and helping an anti-poverty organization in his native Chicago.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

AJ Brodeur, Penn (Fr., C – Northborough, Ma.) 

Simply put, no rookie meant more to his team over the course of the entire season than Brodeur did to Penn. Brodeur reestablished Penn’s identity at both ends of the floor, ranking sixth in the league in scoring, fourth in rebounding, third in field-goal percentage and first in blocks, setting the all-time Penn record for shots blocked in a season. Penn’s adjusted defensive efficiency ranked 133rd in the nation, Penn’s best ranking among Division I teams since 2007 and the highest ranking ever for a Steve Donahue-coached team. As the team’s defensive anchor, Brodeur has had a lot to do with that.

Brodeur hit the ground running with a 23-point, 11-rebound performance at Robert Morris and notched dominant showings at home versus Lafayette and Fairfield. In a 56-49 win at KenPom No. 65 UCF, Brodeur hitting crucial shots in the paint around or through 7-foot-6 Golden Knights center Tacko Fall, and exploding in Penn’s first Big 5 road win since 2007, posting a season-high 35 points in 34 minutes.

Brodeur was double- and even triple-teamed at times early in conference play, freeing his teammates up even when his own stats suffered. Penn, an inside-out squad on both offense and defense, revolves around Brodeur arguably more than any Ivy leans on any other individual player. Meriting that kind of reliance has earned Brodeur IHO’s Ivy Rookie of the Year honors, despite the formidable competition.

Honorable Mention: Bryce Aiken, Harvard (Fr., G – Randolph, N.J.)

Aiken took this category in the official league tally, and he deserves an honorable mention from us because of his well-rounded game and a level of clutch play reminiscent of Harvard’s previous Rookie of the Year, Siyani Chambers (more on him later).

The New Jersey native scored 13 of the Crimson’s final points in their win at Houston, the best nonconference win for any Ivy this regular season, and was the KenPom game MVP in both of Harvard’s wins over Yale, which certainly count for a little extra in Cambridge. Like Brodeur, Aiken was a major contributor from the beginning, notching 21 points in his first collegiate game versus Stanford in Shanghai.

Aiken ranked second in the league in free-throw percentage, a refreshing skill set for a school that placed next to last in the nation a season ago in that category. He finished fifth in both scoring and made three-pointers per game, a threat from anywhere on the floor.

Honorable Mention: Miye Oni, Yale (Fr., F – Porter Ranch, Calif.)

Make that three freshmen who shot out of the gate. Oni poured 24 points on Washington in Seattle in his collegiate debut, resulting in a stunning 98-90 Elis win.

And Oni can do it all, finishing 10th in scoring and assists, fifth in rebounding, 11th in free-throw percentage, ninth in three-point field goal percentage, sixth in three-pointers made, fifth in blocks and second in defensive rebounds. Oni posted seven double-doubles, including four in league play.

Oni’s perimeter defense and outside shooting are some of the Ivy’s best, and he took the game over at Brown, setting shop on the left wing and drilling four threes that allowed the Bulldogs to pull out a 75-74 victory at the Pizzitola Sports Center. His best Ivy game was perhaps at Columbia on February 17, where he contributed 22 points, five assists and three steals in a win that firmly ensconced Yale as the No. 3 seed in the conference.

Honorable Mention: Mike Smith, Columbia (Fr., G – Burr Ridge, Ill.)

Smith did not start out with a bang as did the previous three frosh, but he ultimately led all freshmen in minutes played, as the Lions increasingly relied on him from December on. Smith finished third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio, the only rookie in the top seven players in that category, remarkably producing more turnovers than assists in just four games all season, with two of those occurrences coming in his first two collegiate games.

Smith misses a lot of shots but that’s because he takes a lot of shots as both the focal point and conduit for Columbia’s offense. He may have scored in single digits in four of his first six games, but by the end of the season, no team depended on a rookie more than the Lions did on Smith. When Smith was held scoreless in the first half at Brown in the final weekend of the season, the Lions found no successful alternative.

The stepback three Smith made that clinched Columbia’s thrilling win over Penn at Levien Gym encapsulated what Smith can do, as he scored 11 of the Lions’ final 24 points in that high-stakes game. It was also Smith who led the Lions’ near-comeback at Princeton, leading the Light Blue with 21 points (out of Columbia’s 59 total) and six rebounds.

Honorable Mention: Seth Towns, Harvard (Fr., F – Columbus, Ohio)

Towns is an excellent outside shooter, a solid shot blocker and efficient at getting to the foul line, where he’s effective as well. His 26 points and eight rebounds at Princeton doubtlessly make Tigers fans nervous going into the Ivy League Tournament, and the best is clearly yet to come from this rookie with a sky-high ceiling.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Myles Stephens, Princeton (So., G – Lawrenceville, N.J.)

Stephens’ length and strength on the perimeter and superior positioning has been the linchpin of a Princeton’s defense that surprisingly became the team’s strong suit in Ivy play, and the Tigers’ defense tightened up once Stephens’ minutes increased following senior Henry Caruso’s season-ending injury.

Stephens ranks sixth in the league in blocks and recorded multiple steals in five Ivy games, including crucial victories at Harvard and Yale. But individual stats can’t capture how much Stephens has meant to the Tigers, whose defense has been the best of the six-season Mitch Henderson era principally because of him, at least from an individual perspective.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Myles Stephens, Princeton (So., G – Lawrenceville, N.J.)

Sometimes, the most improved player is one who was never bad to begin with. Stephens’ pedigree on defense was evident last season, even as he rarely eclipsed 20 minutes of play per game.

But Stephens’ place as the Tigers’ most consistent scorer was not assured, not even when Caruso and Hans Brase suffered season-ending injuries early in the season. Stephens hit double figures in 16 of his final 20 games this season after doing so in just three of his 36 previous collegiate games, inserting himself as an efficient, productive scorer inside and outside from mid-December on.

Perhaps it wasn’t Stephens who improved significantly, but his opportunity. Regardless, Stephens took the reins, hitting 50 percent or above from the floor in 13 of 17 games during Princeton’s winning streak dating back to December 22.  Stephens is solid at drawing fouls, extending defenses with his shooting and making big shots, as his 16.5 points per game in two wins over Harvard will attest. Stephens’ offense isn’t as reliant on outside shooting as Cook’s or Devin Cannady’s, so he’s very likely to get his 12 to 18 points against any opponent.

Sometimes the stars align and it’s your moment. The stars aligned for Princeton when Stephens stepped up on offense.

Honorable Mention: Alex Copeland, Yale (So., G – Los Angeles)

Copeland is another backcourt standout who shone after the spotlight was forced on him by injury. When Makai Mason went down to injury preseason, Copeland was an unlikely answer to the question of how to move on post-MM, but he was an authoritative answer nonetheless. Copeland was the star of Yale’s overtime win at Lehigh in the second game of the season following 20 points and six assists, a statement game for a player who played in only 13 games as a freshman, notching at least 10 minutes of playing time in only one of them – versus Division III Daniel Webster.

It was Copeland who stopped the bleeding following two four-game losing streaks for Yale this season – once with 15 points in just 20 minutes in a very solid win over Albany (earning him KenPom game MVP honors) and 23 points and three steals in just 26 minutes in an important second leg of a back-to-back win at Dartmouth. It was Copeland who led Yale in scoring in both games versus archrival Harvard, posting 20 points in each game with 16-for-29 combined shooting from the floor. Indeed, Copeland ranked third among Ivy guards in field goal percentage (behind Myles Stephens and Penn’s Matt Howard) and ninth overall.

And it was Copeland who scored 21 of Yale’s 58 points in a losing effort at Princeton, notching three assists versus zero turnovers against a top-notch defense.

Copeland has risen to the occasion for Yale in most of its biggest games this season, and he’s risen to the occasion of not only being a factor but one of the league’s most efficient offensive players, both in terms of field-goal percentage and points per minute.

Honorable Mention: Stone Gettings, Cornell (So., F – Malibu, Calif.)

Gettings never scored in double figures and frequently didn’t crack 10 minutes of playing time in Ivy play as a rookie. But he led the entire conference in percentage of possessions used during league play, indicating a leap in importance and reliance that few players matched this season. Gettings struggled with turnovers all season, particularly early in league play, but his 83 points over a four-game stretch in nonconference play versus formidable competition (including Wyoming, USC and Troy) showed what he can do at that end of the floor, as did a 28-point burst versus Yale.

In addition to having the coolest name in the league (it’s either Gettings or Mike Smith), Gettings shone on defense too, ranking sixth in blocks and eighth in defensive rebounds. Gettings also proved to be an accomplished passer, placing eighth in assists, including second among non-guards.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Mitch Henderson, Princeton

This vote was pretty easy. Henderson achieved the first 14-0 Ivy record since current Penn coach Steve Donahue did it at Cornell in 2008, and he did it despite losing two of his opening day starters to injury and overseeing a significant improvement in the team’s defensive acumen as the season progressed. Henderson is one of the team’s best in-game coaches, whether it’s setting Amir Bell with a favorable one-on-one matchup to beat Harvard or making especially sure his players keyed on Penn’s sharpshooters.

Henderson scored victories at Lavietes Pavilion and John J. Lee Amphitheater for the first time in his six seasons as head coach. He also deserves credit for building the program up to this point through recruiting, overseeing the luring of  and, in unrelated business, setting up a grueling nonconference schedule that tested the team’s mettle early on.

FIRST-TEAM ALL-IVY

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

Cook is also a good offensive rebounder on a team that often struggles in that department, posting at least two offensive boards in 12 this games this season, including eight Ivy contests.

Steven Spieth, Brown (Sr., F – Dallas)

Spieth did it all as a senior, easily finishing first in minutes played, and in the top three in scoring, free throw percentage and steals. He led the conference in league play in fouls drawn per 40 minutes played and finished seventh over the course of the season in both rebounding and assists. He also finished eighth in three-point percentage.

There was no place on the floor Spieth couldn’t gouge you in Brown’s uptempo offense, and the senior finished on top, at least individually, with back-to-back KenPom game MVP honors in the final Ivy weekend of his career, including 31 points and eight rebounds in a loss to Cornell. Spieth met or exceeded 20 points 14 times this season, including nine times in league play.

Spieth was one of the Ivy League’s most exciting players, and we’ll be sorry to see him go.

Myles Stephens, Princeton (So., G – Lawrenceville, N.J.)

Just think, Penn fans – Myles Stephens could have won Red and Blue. By the way, Stephens embodies the old-school, defense-first mindset that veteran Tigers fans have enjoyed for decades. He simply wins by attrition.

Evan Boudreaux, Dartmouth (So., F – Lake Forest, Ill.)

For the second straight year, Boudreaux makes IHO’s’ All-Ivy first team without making the Ivy League’s All-Ivy first team. I’m glad he did, because he deserves it, as do players throughout the league who are able to put up gaudy numbers on lesser teams despite being the focal point of opposing defenses night after night.

And Boudreaux’s numbers are gaudy, again. He placed first in the league in rebounding and second in scoring and minutes played. Boudreaux was the Ivy’s most consistent scorer along with Cornell’s Matt Morgan, getting to double figures in every game but one (seven points in Dartmouth’s first win of the season on December 18 at LIU Brooklyn). Boudreaux is wily on defense, as evidenced by his number one ranking in defensive rebounds and his excellent body positioning when defending AJ Brodeur in the Big Green’s win at the Palestra last weekend.

Boudreaux is plenty capable of punishing defenses from deep, and his late trey versus Columbia helped the Big Green push past the Lions.

There probably isn’t anybody in the league more valuable to his team than Boudreaux. He’s been a first-team All-Ivy talent from his very first collegiate game.

Spencer Weisz, Princeton (Sr., G – Florham Park, N.J.)

Weisz is a coach on the floor, a conduit for Princeton’s precision-based offense and the Ivy League’s 2016-17 Player of the Year. He’s not our POY, but he’s deserving because does so much.

Weisz’s floor vision is outstanding, and he’s an equally strong defender, ranking third in the league in assists and second in steals and assist-to-turnover ratio. He doesn’t have to score in double figures to be one of the most valuable players on the floor, but he can heat up in big moments, like when he went 6-for-10 from three-point range at the Palestra to pour 22 points on Penn in a 64-49 win there last month. His 7:1 assist-to-turnover ratio helped clinch the Ivy League regular season championship for Princeton versus Harvard last weekend.

The former Ivy Rookie of the Year has not disappointed, three years later.

SECOND-TEAM ALL-IVY

AJ Brodeur, Penn (Fr., C – Northborough, Ma.)

Brodeur is also really good at pointing Penn’s way to indicate possession any time the ball goes out of bounds off someone. And he’s justifiably confident in his Twitter game.

Matt Morgan, Cornell (So., G – Concord, N.C.)

Morgan deserves kudos for adjusting to a new offensive system under first-year Cornell coach Brian Earl and still leading the league in scoring for a second straight year.

He may have led the conference in three-pointers, but he does a lot more than hoist treys, enjoying substantial increases in three-point and especially two-point field-goal percentage from last year. Morgan is attacking teams from closer range, and he continues to be a stellar passer and an excellent free-throw shooter. He’s really a first-team All-Ivy talent, frankly, and I predict he’ll be recognized as such both here and by the Ivy League next season.

Luke Petrasek, Columbia (Sr., F – East Northport, N.Y.)

Petrasek proved to be one of the Ivy’s most versatile players as a senior, blocking a lot of shots, nabbing a lot of steals, making a lot of three-pointers and finishing fourth in scoring. He was the KenPom game MVP of Columbia’s late-season win over Penn and Columbia’s exciting overtime win over Colgate in November. His 31 points and six boards carried the Lions past Cornell for their only Ivy road win.

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

Chambers’ clutchness and floor vision aren’t captured by stats and aren’t appreciable by those who think scoring is everything, but his leading the league in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio by a wide margin should say a great deal. Chambers also ranks fifth in free throw percentage and sixth in steals.

Remarkably, Chambers hasn’t registered more turnovers than assists in a single game this season, and the last time he did so was in a 69-46 win over Penn on Feb. 20, 2015. A true team leader, Chambers missed last season due to injury, and his comeback this season has been one of the best things that could have happened to Ivy hoops.

Bryce Aiken, Harvard (Fr., G – Randolph, N.J.)

Aiken made the Ivy League’s first team but barely made IHO’s second team, perhaps because he shares a backcourt with one of the conference’s best floor generals and plays in an offense full of players who can create opportunities off the dribble.

Still, Aiken dazzled with his ability to draw fouls, attempting at least six free throws in eight games this season, including a 15-for-16 clip in back-to-back wins over Brown and Yale last month. Aiken’s future is bright, and the future is now.

HONORABLE MENTION ALL-IVY

Miye Oni, Yale (Fr., F – Porter Ranch, Calif.)

Oni just missed second-team All-Ivy honors, but if anyone has the potential to have an impact on the inaugural Ivy League Tournament that people may not be expecting, it’s him.

Devin Cannady, Princeton (So., G – Mishawaka, Ind.)

Cannady seemed to get less attention than his teammates above, but he still proved he’s one of the most vaunted shooters in the league, scoring at least 26 points in four different games this season while finishing eighth in scoring and first in free throw percentage. Cannady was no less accomplished of a scorer than Cook this season, and his 7-for-8 shooting from deep at Yale showed what he can do even against bigger defenses.

Mike Smith, Columbia (Fr., G – Burr Ridge, Ill.)

Smith deserves credit simply for playing 84 minutes on Columbia’s Harvard-Dartmouth road trip. Smith played all 40 minutes in a 78-72 loss to Harvard and 44 of 45 minutes in an 80-79 loss in Hanover in overtime. Any freshman that maxes out on playing time like that has the full trust of his coach and program.

 

2 thoughts on “IHO 2016-17 All-Ivy Awards

Leave a Comment