The Ivies: They’re not who we thought they were, but don’t let them off the hook

This was the season A two-bid Ivy. Mitch Henderson said it was possible preseason. The schedules aligned with some huge early-season games.
And the top of the Ivies were playing them, with the top as strong as ever. At least most of us thought that.
And then reality broke the glass.

Presumptive No. 1 Harvard once again had trouble with lowly MIT and won 73-64. What would a Duke-MIT score look like? Ugly, that’s what. Then the Crimson escaped at home against pedestrian UMass in overtime, 70-67, followed by another inexplicable loss to KenPom No. 252 Holy Cross, in which the Crimson had 23 turnovers to only 12 by the Crusaders. The Crimson then got bested by KenPom No. 215 Manhattan in a game in which Tommy Amaker equally inexplicably chose to start Henry Welsh, Danilo Djuricic, Reed Farley, Rio Haskett and Christian Juzang instead of 2016-17 All-Ivy first-teamer and Rookie of the Year Bryce Aiken and prime 2017-18 All-Ivy first-team candidate Seth Towns.

 No. 2 Yale can be excused. Perhaps no team in the country lost more than the Elis did this preseason, when they lost stud player Jordan Bruner to a meniscus tear and Makai Mason got hampered by a stress fracture. Yale beat Rutgers and Boston University in preseason scrimmages with Bruner. Without both, they fell badly on the road to two top 50 teams in Creighton and Wisconsin.
Princeton was finally going to win early-season out-of-conference contests, returning Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Myles Stephens, sharpshooter Devin Cannady and the versatile Amir Bell. The Tigers played lowly Big East Butler tough on the road but fell, 85-75. Then they returned to Jadwin against a BYU team which lost a lot from last season. BYU outplayed the Tigers in all phases but for rebounding and the normally placid Mitch Henderson picked up two technicals and got tossed en route to a 65-56 loss.
And Penn. Yes, the Penn team which took Princeton down to the wire in the Ivy tourney last season. Despite returning virtually their entire team sans the multi-talented Matt Howard, the Red and Blue fell to two teams it beat last season (Fairfield and La Salle), with Max Rothschild shooting 19 shots versus AJ Brodeur’s seven in Penn’s double overtime defeat hosting the Explorers.
Vastly improved Cornell lost by 32 in its annual sojourn to the Carrier Dome.
So what does all this say? For openers, only one Ivy is going to the NCAAs and will be relegated to, at best, an 11 seed. Will an Ivy smell the NIT? Maybe Yale, if Mason comes back strong.
How wrong some of us Ivy hoops zealots were, once again.

2 thoughts on “The Ivies: They’re not who we thought they were, but don’t let them off the hook

  1. Agree, but it is still early for everyone.
    Some thoughts:

    Yale: gets a pass as you say. Tremendous loss of talent that few Ivy teams could handle effectively this early.

    Harvard: Still proves that TA is a better GM or AD than he is a coach. Think about what Kyle Smith, a better coach IMO, could do with this amount of talent.

    Penn: I don’t like the Rothchild experiment but I am willing to wait a little longer to see if it is a complete disaster. I am wondering if it s better to put AJ at the 5 and use the more athletic Simmons at the 4? Good showing today by the latter against inferior talent, but he could be the answer. The team still can’t shoot Its or 3s (and that’s important in basketball). They don’t seem to have matured appreciably vis-a-vis (that’s French) since last season.

    Columbia: Looked OK, but not great against superior talent. They are who we thought they’d be so far.

    Brown, Cornell and Dartmouth: not interested.

    Princeton: hanging in against superior teams , but I would now recommend 3% Rogaine for Mitch. (It couldn’t hurt.) They’ll get it straightened out I assume in the long run as they have the most experience.

    Overall: Yes, underwhelming as a League.

    The AQ

  2. The league is not underwhelming, however, they are not strong at the top as they have been for the last many years.
    I now have U Penn, rated as the best team. Donahue commented after the Navy game, that he felt his team was “starting to get it”. They were very impressive both in the Navy and the No Ill blowout. Tough test tonight vs a very good Towson team.
    Harvard is 2nd best but likely will not stay there. Amaker gives away so much to the other coaches in the league that no amount of superior talent can overcome.
    Princeton-with 3 freshman getting some time, it might take a bit before Henderson has them rolling. I expect that will happen. It is throwback time, Penn or Princeton to win the ivies.
    Yale is struggling with good reason to overcome the huge loss to injury. Still, they are good enough to grab the 4th spot in the retarded fiasco, they call a tournament.
    Cornell looks to be the most improved. It is either them or Columbia for 5th.
    Brown also looks slightly improved but not enough to do better than 7th.
    With loss of Boudreaux and strange firing of Cormier, Dartmouth will be in the bottom. To be honest, for letting a coach go, that was making strides both on the court and in recruiting, this is what they deserve.

    As I wrote, the top of the ivies is weaker than years past, but the next 3 are stronger than years past. Dartmouth remains consistent. I think most will get better as the year goes on. With many talented young players getting minutes, it looks good for the league in the coming years.

Leave a Comment