Cornell men’s basketball 2018-19 season recap

With Stone Gettings transferring from Cornell, expectations went from a possible contender to a team that may not even get 10 wins. But despite not getting into the Ivy League Tournament, the Big Red had a pretty solid season and they far surpassed their expectations. Matt Morgan was still Matt Morgan, but forwards Jimmy Boeheim and Josh Warren stepped it up and each had big roles as secondary scorers while seniors Steven Julian and Joel Davis anchored the defense. The team played some great games, including almost-upsets over Yale and Syracuse and a sweep of Harvard.

A lot of Cornell’s problem throughout the season was poor rebounding. The Big Red could hold teams to 35-45 percent from the field most nights, yet still lose. For context, they were 352nd out of 353 Division I teams in offensive rebound percentage.

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Interview with Yale’s James Jones

Yale's James Jones has led the Bulldogs to 15 consecutive top-half Ivy finishes. This past season's 9-5 team will return most of the rotation and may be Harvard's biggest competition once again.
Yale’s James Jones has led the Bulldogs to 14 consecutive top-half Ivy finishes. This past season’s 9-5 team will return most of the rotation and may be Harvard’s biggest competition once again. (Photo credit: yalebulldogs.com)

Friend of IHO and author Richard Kent– whose basketball work includes Big East Confidential and Lady Vols and UConn: The Greatest Rivalry— sat down this week with Yale head coach James Jones to chat about next season for the Bulldogs. Some of the highlights from their conversation are below.

Richard Kent: The Ivy will be tough next year. Can you envision two NCAA bids?

James Jones: That will be tough, but could happen if two teams tie and have a playoff. We will certainly have some strong teams who will be in the postseason.

RK: Any defections or losses from this year’s team next season?

JJ: Well, Brandon Sherrod is taking a year off to sing and travel with the Whiffenpoofs. He will be back after that.

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Yale’s Season Ends with a Hard-Fought Defeat in CIT Finals

Murray State 65, Yale 57. Without Justin Sears, the Bulldogs battled hard, dominating the boards as usual. But cold shooting was too much to make up for as the Racers claimed the CIT title at home.
Murray State 65, Yale 57. Without Justin Sears, the Bulldogs battled hard, dominating the boards as usual. But cold shooting was too much to make up for as the Racers claimed the CIT title at home.

Yale put forth a valiant effort with high-usage star forward Justin Sears sidelined with a hand injury, but the Bulldogs were unable to create enough offense to keep up with the Murray State Racers, falling 65-57 on the road in the CIT championship.

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Behind Physicality and Poise, Yale Advances to CIT Championship

Yale 75, VMI 62. The Bulldogs lost Justin Sears to a scary injury in the second half, but managed to hold on to advance to the CIT Final.
Yale 75, VMI 62. The Bulldogs lost Justin Sears to a scary injury in the second half, but managed to hold on to advance to the CIT Final.

The way this postseason has gone, the Yale Bulldogs probably wish they could play into the month of May. After winning the program’s first ever game in April on Tuesday, the Elis will play for a postseason trophy on Thursday at Murray State in the championship of the CIT.

Javier Duren was masterful again, taking the reins for the Bulldogs in the game’s nervous final minutes. With Justin Sears back in the locker room nursing a right hand injury suffered during a violent mid-air collision, the depth of the Bulldogs paid off again, as the poised squad held on despite the full-court pressure of the Keydets and the noise of their supporters.

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A Long Road Ahead for Penn

There's no sugar coating the state of the Penn program here, but The AQ supports the Quakers through thick and thin.
There’s no sugar coating the dire state of the Penn program here, but The AQ supports the Quakers through thick and thin.

“You don’t want to lose to a team that doesn’t play well, that isn’t well coached, that doesn’t play with class…..Penn plays hard, is well coached, and they play with class.”  -Princeton’s Basketball Coach, 2014.

Unfortunately, the above quote was referring to Penn’s 2014 Ivy Champion women’s basketball team. In the span of four short years, Mike McLaughlin has remarkably turned the women’s basketball program from worst (2-26) to first– in almost the same time frame that Jerome Allen has managed to coach the men’s team into the Ivy cellar.

In my opinion, none of the attributes quoted above can be used to describe the Quaker men. Even watching the NCAA Tournament, it looks like other teams are playing 21st Century hoops while Penn is now mired somewhere in the Mesozoic Era. The turnovers, the fouls, the loss of poise, and the lack of hustle and awareness have made them impossible to watch. Just as disturbing is the complete lack of growth, discipline, and maturity, particularly among the second and third year players. Here is a brief laundry list of recent events.

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The Shoe Fits Again! Harvard 61, Cincinnati 57

Harvard 61, Cincinnati 57, Final. If you didn't have it in your bracket-- shame on you!
Harvard 61, Cincinnati 57, Final. If you didn’t have it in your bracket– shame on you!

Behind the usual balanced attack, Harvard outplayed Cincinnati for 40 minutes, making clutch shots down the stretch and limiting Sean Kilpatrick’s impact in a 61-57 Round of 64 victory in Spokane.

The Crimson will face Michigan State on Saturday for the right to advance to the Sweet 16.

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Weekend's Winners

Harvard swept its home weekend in dominant fashion, clinching a share of its fourth straight crown. Princeton got an impressive sweep of its own as the Tigers surge towards the top half.
Harvard swept its home weekend in dominant fashion, clinching a share of its fourth straight crown. Princeton got an impressive sweep of its own as the Tigers surge towards the top half.

After the Yale loss and the Columbia 2OT game, Harvard seemed like a squad bound to falter at least once more this season. The Crimson wasn’t playing like the infallible Ivy dream team that they had been hyped up to be. Ancient Eight fans from outside Cambridge felt the hopeful possibility that someone would be able to dethrone the defending champs.

But since then, Harvard has buckled down and blown out their last five opponents with margins of 23, 20, 12, 25, and 33. Those two widest margins came this weekend as Yale fell at Princeton, putting Harvard on the verge of its third straight solo title and a return to the Big Dance. On to the weekend’s big winners…

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Ivy Postseason Possibilities

Five Ivy teams have a shot at postseason basketball. Who's going to land where and who's going to get left out in the cold?
Five Ivy teams have a shot at postseason basketball. Who’s going to land in which tournament and who’s going to get left out in the cold?

With two weekends remaining, a record five Ivy teams have a shot at reaching the postseason. Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Brown, and Princeton all look like they’ll finish the season with a winning overall record. I’ve done some initial research to see what kind of chance each team has at securing a bid to a March tournament based on the CBI and CIT teams selected in the past two years. Let’s break it down.

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Princeton Dominance over Crimson Ends as Tigers Go Cold Late

Five losses-- two in overtime-- by a total of 20 points have left a talented Princeton squad on the outside of the title chase looking in.
Princeton handled its business on Friday night, but on Saturday, the Tigers fell at home to Harvard for the first time since 1989 and dropped to 3-6 in Ivy play.

Princeton’s up-and-down season continued its enigmatic pattern with another split at home, beginning with a lackluster 67-57 win over Dartmouth, followed by an historic loss at the hands of the Harvard Crimson, 59-47.

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