Although the Ivy League schedule includes 56 games, only a handful of those matchups end up deciding the title. Friday”s contest between Harvard and Yale is one of those games this year. The Elis entered the season as perhaps the top challenger to the Crimson, and, sitting at 2-0 (with the next four games at home), Yale is in perfect position to make its run. Harvard, meanwhile, can gain some separation from the other Ivy contenders if it can avenge last season’s loss at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. All eyes (especially those from Philly) will be on New Haven Friday night to see what shakes out in what amounts to the first chapter of the Ancient Eight championship race.
I thought the league did a poor job with the Weekly Awards this week, so I'm going to try to quickly resolve the injustice.
Harvard-Dartmouth will go down in the books as a 16-point Crimson victory, but for the first 30 minutes Saturday’s game did not have the look or feel of a blowout. The Big Green was every bit Harvard’s equal for much of the Ivy-opening contest.
Dartmouth borrowed from Fordham’s playbook on the defensive end by showing the Crimson a 2-3 zone for the majority of the first half. Once again this approach gave Harvard trouble finding its big men, as forwards Keith Wright and Kyle Casey combined to attempt just four shots in the opening frame. The Crimson settled for three-pointers, taking 10 of its first 18 field goal attempts beyond the arc and hitting just three. At the other end of the floor, the Big Green crushed the offensive boards, grabbing eight in the opening period to overcome nine-of-26 shooting from the field.
Welcome to the second IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/08/12). Please note that these rankings are based off of our best guesses of how the Ivy League picture will sort itself out. We always love to hear your gripes and whines in the comments below.
1. Harvard (13-2), (1-0)- Harvard is still the class of the league, even though the Crimson have cooled off a bit since the rousing New Year's comeback victory over St. Joe's. A loss to lowly Fordham and 32 minutes of uninspiring ball against Dartmouth has brought this squad back to the pack a bit. A willingness to rely on the three when Casey and Wright are denied the ball in a zone has proved dangerous for the Cantabs, who surely will be confronted with more of the same going forward. The Fordham loss could be good for Harvard though, as any expectations of running through the league unscathed are a bit far-fetched. The league is deeper than ESPN and other major media sources have been letting on and with the Friday-Saturday grind of the season, players will inevitably get dinged up and legs will get tired. Harvard should still win the league, but chances are they'll be doing it with two or three losses in a conference where everyone is gunning for them.
The following essay appeared in the IHO Mailbox yesterday. The author of this piece is not affiliated with Ivy Hoops Online, but we always welcome and encourage outside contributors and readers to share their opinions and thoughts.
By The Ancient Quaker
Ladies and gentleman of Pennsylvania do not hate me. I am as loyal and grateful a Quaker as any of you. I donate generously to the annual giving, married a woman with more Penn degrees than Amy Guttmann, and even named one of my sons Benjamin after our great founder. (We didn’t really name him after Big Ben but you catch my drift.) So why would I ever root for the hated and haughty Tigers and their Mickey Mouse Halloween colors?
Allow me to explain.
After Saturday’s 74-69 win over St. Joes, Harvard assistant coach Yanni Hufnagel tweeted, “Best win I’ve been a part of. Period.” That statement—surprising as it is coming from a coach who’s helped engineer 56 wins for the Crimson—conveyed how richly satisfying the comeback against the Hawks was.
In a game reminiscent of last year’s 24-point comeback against Brown, Harvard withstood an unreal shooting display in the first half (19 of 24 from the floor, six of nine from deep). St. Joe’s guards Carl Jones and Langston Galloway and forward CJ Aiken had their way with the Crimson defense early on. Many of the buckets were the result of good offense (it seemed like the Hawks had success with post ups and kick outs in their four-out, one-in sets that dragged Keith Wright out on the perimeter), but more than a few just had me shaking my head in disbelief (long, turnaround jumpers from Jones were particularly crushing).
Everyone was surprised that Conte Forum sold out. Generally, the only traveling acts that fill the stands at BC are UNC and Duke. But curiosity got the best of the Eagle faithful, and they came out in droves to see their surprisingly capable neighbors from Cambridge take the court.
It made for a weird atmosphere. The Eagles are a bad basketball team; a kick to the teeth is just too inevitable for fans to muster much enthusiasm. Still, a 14-3 run to start the game brought some life to the crowd. I left for a few minutes with BC leading 20-11 to give a ticket a friend, and when I got back to my seat, the score was tied.
With about six weeks of play in the books, we thought it was time to look back at the league”s common opponents to see if we could glean any knowledge from what”s happened on the court so far. Everyone knows that the transitive property carries limited weight in sports, but it”s still interesting to see how a team fares against multiple conference foes. Without further ado…
The second-place finish of the Dartmouth Aires on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” will likely be the competitive highpoint of the winter for the Big Green. Women’s basketball, women’s hockey, and men’s hockey are already craning their necks to view the top of their respective standings (non-conference and conference alike). Not surprisingly, men’s basketball is in the same boat.
The problems are familiar for this Dartmouth squad. The team is posting an offensive rating of just 89.0 (322nd out of 345 teams), which, incredibly, is a slight improvement over last season. The defense is vastly better but still below average, with a rating of 102.0 (a 6.3 point improvement over last season).
Tucker Halpern, Brown's leading scorer and All-Ivy Honorable Mention selection in 2010-11, will not play this season according to sources within the program. Halpern, who has been sidelined with a debilitating bout of mono since the preseason, is in the process of applying to retain a year of eligibility, meaning he would return in 2012-13 as a junior with two years of eligibility remaining.
While relatively rare in cheap clomid the Ivy League, medical redshirts have been obtained by a few active Ivy players who experienced similar illness or injury. Penn's Tyler Bernardini successfully retained a year of eligibility after he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot after the Quakers' second game of his junior year. Cornell's Dwight Tarwater missed his freshman season last year due to mono, but retained four years of eligibility, as did the Big Red's Dominic Scelfo due to a knee injury last season.
In the short-term, this is more bad news for the Bears. Earlier in the season, freshman Rafael Maia was declared ineligible by the NCAA for the 2011-12 season.
Brown takes on Providence College tonight at 7:00 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.