IHO 2014-15 All-Ivy Awards

Ivy Hoops Online founder Ian Halpern, On the Vine host Peter Andrews and I combined to determine the 2014-15 All-IHO selections:

IHO PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Justin Sears, Yale (Jr., F – Plainfield, N.J.)

Sears snared IHO POY honors for his yeoman’s work in the Yale frontcourt, registering 14.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, pushing the Bulldogs just short of their first NCAA tournament berth in 53 years. Sears eclipsed 25 points in four Ivy contests and anchored a stout Yale defense all season long. (For the record, I voted for Wesley Saunders for POY based on his second-half heroics in the Ivy playoff game, but I was outvoted 2-1. It’s a good problem to have several legitimate POY candidates, though, that’s for sure.)

IHO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Kyle Castlin, Columbia (Fr., G – Marietta, Ga.)

Castlin made an immediate impact in the Lions’ dynamic backcourt, posting 18 points in 30 minutes in just his second collegiate game and displaying levels of body control and offensive awareness that most players in this league never attain. He scored in double figures in 14 of 28 games and was one of the few constants in a Columbia offense that struggled to find options beyond Maodo Lo.

IHO DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Shonn Miller, Cornell (Sr., F – Euclid, Ohio)

Miller anchored Cornell’s gritty and physically large defense, posting 1.8 blocks and 1.3 steals per game while notching a 28 percent defensive rebound rate that was good for seventh in the country. Cornell doesn’t beat Harvard late in the season without Miller’s defensive chops, and it certainly doesn’t finish third in the league in scoring defense without him either.

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Penn to hire Steve Donahue as next head coach

Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News reported this afternoon that Steve Donahue will become the next head basketball coach at Penn, replacing Jerome Allen, who Donahue coached at Penn as an assistant, a position he held from 1990-2000.

The Springfield, Pa. native was an assistant coach at Monsignor Bonner High School near Philadelphia under current Lafayette head coach (and fellow former Penn assistant) Fran O’Hanlon from 1987 to 1988 before serving as an assistant at Philadelphia University from 1988 to 1990. Donahue’s Ivy and Philly ties stretch way back.

But of course, Donahue is best known throughout the Ivy League for head coaching Cornell from 2000 to 2010, making the NCAA tournament in his final three seasons in Ithaca, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2010. Donahue finished 146-138 (.514) at Cornell, which did not finish with a winning record in Ivy play until Donahue’s fifth season.

Donahue moved on to Boston College in 2010 but struggled mightily with recruiting in Chestnut Hill, going just 54-76 (.415) in four seasons as head coach there before getting fired in 2014.

Donahue’s teams are known for motion offense, which worked with great success toward the end of hs run at Cornell and even at BC, where Donahue’s defenses repeatedly failed him.

The move was perhaps the easiest for Penn Athletic Director Grace Calhoun to make because current Penn assistant coach Nat Graham also served under Donahue at Boston College and Cornell in that same capacity.

Calhoun used Fogler Consulting to assist with the head coaching search.

The news comes just nine days after it was reported that former Penn coach Jerome Allen would be fired after five and a half seasons at the helm, and just six days after Penn’s 2014-15 season finale.

Yale gets snubbed by NIT, won’t (can’t) participate in postseason

Proving further that there is little justice in how NCAA basketball teams are evaluated, especially mid-major squads, Yale was left out of the NIT Sunday evening despite a No. 74 KenPom  ranking, No. 63 RPI and  22-10 record that finished with a gut-wrenching loss to Harvard in Saturday’s Ivy playoff game at the Palestra.

Yale’s losing out on a NIT bid so late prevented the Bulldogs from grabbing a spot in the CBI or CIT, which filled quickly. The Elis will not be one of 148 teams involved in this year’s postseason.

“It was a great year. One of the best years Yale has had,” Yale coach James Jones told Chris Hunn of the New Haven Register. “If we can’t get in this year, I don’t know how we can get in. It’s disheartening.”

It is disheartening, but the NIT has done this to the Ivy League before. In 2011, Harvard garnered only a 6 seed despite beating Colorado, Boston College and George Washington before finishing with a 12-2 conference record and a 63-62 loss in the Ivy playoff game to Princeton.

With Princeton declining a postseason bid, the number of Ivies in the postseason has dwindled to two: Harvard in the NCAA tournament and Dartmouth in the CIT. The Ivies appeared to be loaded preseason and did provide one of the most outstanding conference slates in league history. For many reasons, in Yale’s case chiefly a bias against mid-major teams and comparatively low Ivy visibility, the Ancient Eight postseason won’t reflect those efforts.

No. 13 Harvard to play No. 4 UNC in NCAA first round

No. 13 Harvard (22-7, 11-3 Ivy)  will play No. 4 North Carolina (24-11, 11-7 ACC) in the West Region in Jacksonville Thursday in the Crimson’s fourth straight NCAA appearance. The game will tip off at 7:20 p.m. Thursday on TNT.

The Crimson clinched their NCAA bid Saturday with a 53-51 win over Yale in the Ivy playoff game at the Palestra. Harvard defeated Cincinnati as a 12 seed last season before losing to then-No. 4 Michigan State. In 2013, Harvard defeated New Mexico as a 14 seed before losing to then-No. 6 Arizona.

The matchup interestingly pits Harvard coach and Duke grad Tommy Amaker against the Tar Heels, which made best online casino the round of 32 last season as a 6 seed before losing to then-No. 9 Iowa State. North Carolina has never lost its first game in the NCAA tournament under coach Roy Williams, who took over at UNC in 2003, and Williams has never lost an opening-round game in 24 NCAA tourney appearances at UNC and Kansas.

The last time UNC played an Ivy League team in the NCAA tournament was 2001, when No. 2 North Carolina defeated No. 15 Princeton, 70-48. No. 1 North Carolina also defeated No. 16 Penn in 1987, 113-82, eight years after losing to the No. 9 Quakers as a 1 seed in 1979, as Penn went on to a Final Four appearance.

Harvard defeats Yale, 53-51, clinches fourth straight NCAA tourney berth

Four in a row.

The Harvard Crimson locked up their fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance with a 53-51 win over Yale at the Palestra in the league’s playoff game. The game-winning perimeter shot came from senior forward Steve Moundou-Missi, who finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. The assist, fittingly, came from senior guard Wesley Saunders, who posted 22 points, 18 of them in the second half. A floater off a drive from Yale senior guard Javier Duren rolled out as time expired, sealing the Crimson win.

Harvard led 46-37 with 6:22 left and went into conservative mode, dribbling possessions down and trying to hang onto the lead. Yale responded with a 12-2 run in the next 4:36, capped by a jumper from freshman guard Makai Mason, who was elbowed earlier in the half without a foul call being called, resulting in a gash on his head that rattled the Bulldogs in the early part of the half. Nevertheless, the Crimson were lifted not by that but by a 9-0 run from Saunders alone a quarter of the way through the second stanza.

Harvard also opened the game on an 8-0 run before Yale responded with a 14-3 run in the next 5:45, and the Elis led 27-23 at halftime. Ivy Player of the Year and Yale junior forward Justin Sears finished with 13 points, five rebounds and three steals, while Yale senior guard Javier Duren notched 12 points and six rebounds on 2-for-10 shooting.

In Harvard’s loss to Yale at Lavietes Pavilion last weekend, the Crimson shot just 1-for-13 from three-point range, losing by 10, 62-52. In Harvard’s win Saturday, it shot 5-for-14, collecting 12 more points from beyond the arc and winning by two.

Harvard’s opponent in the NCAA tournament will be determined Sunday. The Crimson have won their first game in the tournament in each of the past two seasons. Harvard and Yale were slated for the playoff game after finishing with identical 11-3 records in league play. The Crimson’s previous playoff game appearance was a 63-62 loss to Princeton at Yale’s Payne Whitney Gym in 2011, decided at the buzzer.

Yale leads Harvard at halftime, 27-23

Yale leads Harvard at halftime of the Ivy League playoff game to determine the conference’s NCAA tournament representative, 27-23.

In front of a Palestra crowd that seems to be leaning Crimson, Harvard raced to an 8-0 lead but the Bulldogs reeled off a 14-3 run in the next 5:45, led by senior forward (and Newton, Mass. native) Greg Kelley’s eight points and two three-pointers off the bench.

Kelley also registered a block of Harvard senior forward Steve Moundou-Missi, who posted seven points and six rebounds, almost on par with his team-leading 21 points and 10 rebounds in a 62-52 loss to Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion last weekend.

The Crimson are shooting just 9-for-22 from the field and an even worse 2-for-7 from the free throw line. Meanwhile, three Elis have committed two fouls – junior forward Justin Sears, senior guard Armani Cotton and senior guard Javier Duren, who sat much of the half with those fouls.

As expected, this game is on pace to finish with neither team scoring more than 54 points, a capstone edition of Ivy uglyball. It’s a beautiful thing, and there are 20 minutes left.

Who could/should be Penn’s next head coach?

My big board for Penn’s vacant head coaching position, a mixture of what I think Penn Athletic Director Grace Calhoun’s current ranking is and what the ranking should be:

10. Louis Orr (Siena head coach 2000-01, Seton Hall head coach 2001-06, Bowling Green head coach 2007-14)

Lifetime record: 201-201 (.500)

Wanna succeed against Tommy Amaker? Hire Tommy Amaker’s successor. Louis Orr, one half of the “Bouie & Louie Show” at Syracuse in the late ‘70s, took over for Amaker at Seton Hall in 2001 when the latter left for Michigan. Orr was actually the more successful coach for the Pirates, making one NIT appearance and two NCAA appearances in five years. In 2006, he was inexplicably fired after taking the Pirates to the NCAA tournament, and they’ve never made it back since. Then again, neither has Orr, who finished 101-121 in seven years at Bowling Green. The 58-year-old Cincinnati native has no Ivy or City 6 experience, but he’s got loads of experience and would provide instant credibility on the recruiting trail, especially in New Jersey, a frequent target area for Penn recruiting. Still, he’s an outsider on nobody’s radar.

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Ivy League announces All-Ivy honors

Even with a playoff game between Harvard and Yale remaining, the Ivy League has released its 2014-15 All-Ivy selections as chosen by the league’s eight head coaches.

Yale junior forward Justin Sears was named Player of the Year, Dartmouth freshman guard Miles Wright was interestingly named Rookie of the Year and Harvard senior forward Steve Moundou-Missi was selected Defensive Player of the Year. Snagging the first ever Coach of the Year honor was Yale head coach James Jones.

All five first-team All-Ivy players were chosen unanimously to receive that honor, while the number of second-team All-Ivies ballooned to seven due to ties in voting. That second tier is rightly jumbled based on the high level of talent in the league this season. Wesley Saunders easily could have been POY, Kyle Castlin or Antonio Woods easily could have been Ivy ROY and Paul Cormier easily could have been Ivy COY. IHO will have its All-Ivy selections out following Saturday afternoon’s Harvard-Yale playoff. For now, enjoy matching up my four 2014-15 preseason predictions to reality (I got the first two right!) and reacting to the league’s selections:

Read moreIvy League announces All-Ivy honors

On the Vine – March 9

Check out our archive of the latest On the Vine podcast, in which IHO founder Ian Halpern and Steven Tydings of the Daily Pennsylvanian join Peter Andrews & Mike Tony to cover the latest Ivy action. Segments include reflections on what went wrong for Yale at Dartmouth after the Elis trumped Harvard, Jerome Allen and Penn’s future, who will prevail at the Palestra Saturday to earn a NCAA tourney berth and more. Listen by clicking the magic “On the Vine” circle and clicking ” 15 showreel items” on our Mixlr page:

On The Vine is on Mixlr

Ivy Saturday Roundup

Princeton 85, Columbia 83

An 11-0 run in the final 2:08 gave Princeton the series sweep over the Lions, now losers of four straight in spite of junior guard Maodo Lo shooting a stunning 11-for-15 from beyond the arc for 37 points. Princeton junior forward Hans Brase exploded for 23 points and made the game-winning layup with 15 seconds remaining. The Tigers will finish third in the conference.

Harvard 72, Brown 62

Harvard did what it needed to do to online casino one-game playoff” href=”http://ivyhoopsonline.com/2015/03/07/yale-loses-late-at-dartmouth-triggers-one-game-playoff/” target=”_blank”>(successfully) stay in the Ivy title hunt thanks to junior guard Siyani Chambers” 15-point performance and in spite of Brown junior forward Cedric Kuakumensah”s  23 points and seven boards.

Penn 79, Cornell 72

Just hours after news broke that Penn coach Jerome Allen will not be retained at season”s end, the Quakers destroyed Cornell in a game more lopsided than the final score indicated. Six Quakers scored in double figures to easily offset Cornell senior forward Shonn Miller”s 23 points and eight boards in his final game with the Big Red.