ITHACA, N.Y. – Freshman Shannon Mulroy scored a career-high 27 points off of seven threes as the Big Red prevailed past the Columbia Lions at Newman Arena in overtime, 80-77, avenging their 10-point loss to Columbia last weekend.
“We were just working the ball around and whoever was open was gonna shoot it, and I just happened to be open,” said Mulroy. “Whoever’s open would knock them down.”
“We took care of the ball,” said Big Red coach Dayna Smith. “We mixed up our defenses a little more; we kept people in front of us and didn’t allow as much penetration.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Down 16 in the second half against Tom Izzo’s mighty Spartans, Harvard stormed back, capturing the lead and the nation’s attention on Saturday night before ultimately falling short in a 80-73 Round of 32 defeat.
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…
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.