Tiger head coach Mitch Henderson met with fans, friends and alumni Friday at Robertson Hall during Princeton’s recent annual Reunions celebration. The freewheeling Q&A session touched on a number of timely topics which may be of interest to IHO readers. Henderson introduced a new member of his staff, Donovan Williams, who spent the past five seasons learning his craft as a member of Fran O’Hanlon’s Lafayette staff. Williams fills the spot vacated by Marcus Jenkins, who rejoins Tiger alum Chris Mooney at Richmond.
The past five years have been incredible for the Ivy League. Two forever memorable Ivy playoff games, two NCAA Tournament wins, nine top 100 KenPom finishes and a clear uptick in athleticism throughout the conference.
But who have been the greatest players in the league in that timespan? A countdown, with the caveat that only players who played at least two seasons from 2010-15 were considered.
In a shocking move, the Ivy League has announced it is considering expansion in basketball only.
“It’s time for the league to broaden our horizons,” Ivy League executive director Robin Harris said. “We want to make #2bidivy happen, and this is how we do it.”
I wanted to thank all the readers, writers and guests who made this such a fantastic and truly enjoyable season for IHO. Also, please feel free to share what you enjoyed most about IHO’s coverage and writing this season and what you’d like to see more (or less) of at this site, either by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments below.
On another note, we will continue to feature coverage here throughout the offseason. Thanks again for a great season, and cheers!
The end of the season is finally upon us and almost all of the postseason awards have been handed out, both by the league and, far more importantly, on this website. The Player of the Year and All-IHO first and second-teams have received their due, but what about those who have contributed in other ways, meaning those who have specifically contributed 140 characters at a time?
Yes, it is finally time to reveal the Ivy League Tweets of the Year. The format chosen by our esteemed panel of judges (myself, Mike Tony and Peter Andrews) is one tweet by a player or about each team, then superlatives at the end. Without any further ado, let’s get to the tweets!
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.
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.
The 10th Ivy League playoff in history is set to tip off in a few hours, and it will not be broadcasted nationally. The Ivy League’s hands are tied. And the sad thing is, the league pushed itself to that point.
In the Ivy League, tradition is spelled a-r-c-h-a-i-c. It’s that traditional (read: old) thought process that led to Saturday’s Ivy League playoff between Harvard and Yale being broadcast only on the American Sports Network, which essentially means that it’ll air on various local affiliates across the nation, and ESPN3, an online channel for the World Wide Leader that will air almost any sport as long as the customer is willing to pay a fee.
For sports like cricket and ultimate frisbee – fringe sports that are trying to gain popularity in America – what ESPN3 has to provide is enough. For arena football or lacrosse, a local affiliate station is good enough. But for the Ivy League, a basketball conference that provides just as much excitement as any, it shouldn’t be.
This is the Ivy League.
It is not the ACC, nor is it the Big East, or even the WCC. This is the Ivy League, and consequently, the level of play is, let’s say, different than it is in other more visible college basketball leagues. Because the Ivy League does not give athletic scholarships, and because of the long history of exclusion that is entrenched in the DNA of the Ivy League, watching a rivalry game between Princeton and Penn is drastically different between watching one between Duke and North Carolina — though the intensity and passion from a fan’s perspective may be comparable. This would be more or less fine — you know, if you’re comfortable with divisions of large swaths of people based on a system of elitism — but every year come March, one of the Ancient Eight schools gets thrown into a bigger pond with bigger fish.
With the impending Harvard/Yale playoff on Saturday at the Palestra, we are bound to hear even more in the coming days about how the Ivy League is the one conference that stands alone in lacking a conference tournament. Proponents of the current system argue that it guarantees that the best team represents the league following the double-round robin, while proponents of a playoff argue that it will better position the league to get an elusive second team into the big dance (#2bidivy!) and allow teams to fight their way into the tournament despite not being one of the best.
The problems facing the implementation of a playoff are numerous, most notably the staunch opposition of many on the administrative side as well as fans who believe in the league’s tradition as the most virtuous of all virtues.