2017-18 Ivy Men’s Basketball Preseason Media Poll released, teleconference highlights

The Ivy men’s basketball preseason media poll was released Tuesday, confirming that the top of the league appears to be a three-way scrum between Harvard, Yale and Princeton at this point. Yale received the most first-place votes (eight) but Harvard garnered the most points overall, awarding the Crimson their first perch atop the media poll standings since the 2014-15 season, which was also the last time Tommy Amaker’s club was Ivy League champion. Princeton received three first-place votes, finishing just behind Yale overall.

Penn is projected to have the league’s middle tier all to itself, coming in 28 points below third-place Princeton but 31 points ahead of fifth-place Columbia. Rounding out the league in order are Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown, which also comprised the conference’s bottom half a year ago, missing the inaugural men’s Ivy League Tournament.

  1. Harvard 121 (6)
  2. Yale 118 (8)
  3. Princeton 114 (3)
  4. Penn 86
  5. Columbia 55
  6. Cornell 48
  7. Dartmouth 39
  8. Brown 31

Some highlights from Wednesday’s Ivy men’s coaches’ teleconference:

Indeed. Harvard has lost to Vermont each of the past two seasons, and its last win over the Catamounts came in double overtime in Dec. 2014. Harvard also lost to GW last season. How much better is this still comparatively young Harvard squad than it was a season ago? These matchups should tell the tale.

It doesn’t sound like Okolie will be missing too much time at the start of this season, but even so, Brown is counting on Okolie for shooting and defense on the wing, and this is something to keep an eye on.

Dartmouth’s defense was noticeably less aggressive in David McLaughlin’s first year as head coach in 2016-17. Its interior defense didn’t appear promising heading into the McLaughlin era, but the Big Green’s percentage of defensive possessions resulting in a turnover plummeted from 30th in the nation in Paul Cormier’s final season as coach in 2015-16 to 318th nationally last year. This roster isn’t teeming with rim protectors, so more defensive aggression around the perimeter might be the way to go this season, even if it results in more fouls.

Much has been made this offseason about AJ Brodeur’s moving to the four and ability to stretch defenses with outside shooting. He did, after all, can eight of 19 three-point attempts a season ago. But Brodeur’s move to the four means Max Rothschild will have to step up as a conduit of coach Steve Donahue’s motion offense, feeding the open man on the perimeter whenever he’s not in a position to take a high-percentage shot in the paint himself.

Princeton coach Mitch Henderson asked for Rutgers’ phone number during the teleconference, per Kyle Franko of the Trentonian, expressing a desire to renew annual competition against the Scarlet Knights, who the Tigers last played (and beat) in 2013. The upper-tier Ivies have struggled in recent years to keep intrastate rivalries going as the Ancient Eight’s quality of play has improved, exposing how the NCAA landscape is tilted against mid-majors who then get penalized come postseason time for soft scheduling that they did their due diligence to avoid. Princeton is playing Butler, Miami, USC and Middle Tennessee State, so the Tigers continue to hide from no one under Henderson.

5 thoughts on “2017-18 Ivy Men’s Basketball Preseason Media Poll released, teleconference highlights

  1. Having “saved” the Ivy tourney in its initial entry, the Tigers will be grateful for the chance to grab the bid this year. I must say, however, our league may have three “dance-worthy” squads this season.

  2. IvyHoopsOnline.com is one of the best things to happen to Ivy basketball since, I don’t know, forever.

    Thank you to the editors for this offering to Ivy hoops fans everywhere, the gift that keeps on giving.

    However, in all the several years that IHO has been covering the conference, one unanswered question hangs over intra-Ivy competition: Does Harvard cheat?

    Perhaps the better way of asking the question is the following: On the continuum between outright cheating and simply aggressive pushing of rules, where on the scale is Harvard?

    No media outlet anywhere can answer this question better than IHO. And if the Crimson are guilty of nothing other than a heightened level of energy and ambition, they deserve to be cleared of the cloud which hangs over the program. IHO, why don’t you look into this question?

    The NCAA says that Harvard cheats. What does IHO say?

    • Thanks for the kind words, Long-Time Fan. Harvard pushed the envelope a little too far early in Amaker’s tenure, including cutting players they shouldn’t have cut (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28/sports/ncaabasketball/28harvard.html and Harvard reported an unintentional secondary violation to the NCAA in connection with the Kenny Blakeney incident (explanation here: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/3/7/the-rise-harvard-basketball/) and self-imposed recruiting limitations for the 2010-11 season. But Harvard’s high academic standards have remained in place throughout the Amaker era. I’m sure Harvard scrapes its Academic Index floor, but the program’s success has been quite legitimate, it would seem.

      • Mike, you do realize specifically how Harvard came to “report an unintentional secondary violation to the NCAA,” don’t you?

        That particular outcome was the result of a negotiation between Harvard and the NCAA after the latter completed a months-long investigation into the Kenny Blakeney’s recruiting behavior. It was essentially the NCAA equivalent of Harvard being allowed to plead nolo contendre to a lesser charge after the prosecutor reveals to the defendant that he believes he has the evidence to obtain a conviction. There was no element of “self-reporting” to the Harvard settlement, in the literal sense of the term. It was a plea deal between prosecutor and defendant.

        Does that enhanced understanding of the NCAA situation change your view of the Harvard situation? Your initial response to my question seems to reduce to the following, “When Amaker first arrived, he cheated. But I don’t think he’s cheating now.” Is that a fair paraphrasing of your opinion?

        • Long-Time Fan,

          Yes, Harvard accepted that Blakeney provided improper recruiting assistance to Harvard. “Cheat” is a word that implies intentional dishonesty or unfairness. Rather than assign ill intent or lack thereof to the principals involved on the topic of recruiting, I think it best to judge a program strictly by how many violations it is charged with over time. Harvard has improved in that regard since 2010.

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