Cornell Deserves Some Love

Johnathan Gray has been a great addition to Bill Courtney's arsenal of backcourt weapons, leading the Big Red to a sweep of Yale and Brown last weekend. (Photo Credit: Connor Archard, cornellsun.com)

Before this past weekend, Cornell had been coasting under the radar, going about its business without many outside of Ithaca taking notice. These days, it’s hard to get attention in the Ivy League if you’ve never had Harvard printed across your chest. A Top 25 ranking and an alumnus starting for the New York Knicks makes for a pretty compelling story. Whatever room was left on the back pages has gone to the only two teams thought to be contenders for the crown: Penn and Yale. It’s hard to blame the casual fan for not paying Cornell much attention. As I’ve been saying for a few weeks, the Big Red has been about what everyone expected this season. No points too high, no points too low. A split against Columbia. One of two at home against the Ps. A loss at Harvard. A win at Dartmouth. A 3-3 conference record. Sounds about right. No real story in that.

This week though, Cornell is deserving of a little pub, a little recognition. It’s not only that Cornell managed a sweep of Yale and Brown, it’s how it was done. Early Friday night, all of Cornell’s nightmares were coming true. To say Yale started hot and Cornell started cold would have been a serious understatement. The Bulldogs came out dominating this game, utilizing every strength and exploiting every Cornell weakness. The front court duo of Greg Mangano and Jeremiah Kreisberg accounted for 9 of the game’s first 14 points. Yale was out-rebounding the Big Red 16-5 (with seven of those boards coming on the offensive glass) and Cornell was shooting the ball poorly from the outside. For a while, it felt as though Yale was one play away from breaking the game open and waltzing to its fourth consecutive victory and eighth in nine attempts.

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In an Up and Down Season, a Statement Victory

Now that they've cleared the crowd off of Carril Court, what can we make of Saturday night's big victory for the Tigers? (Photo Credit: goprincetontigers.com)

At first, there was only euphoria. Sheer, blinding, unadulterated joy. There wasn’t room for anything else. Princeton beat Harvard on Carril Court as the legendary coach watched, besweatered as always, from the raucous stands. Mitch Henderson, the man who played for Carril and now carries on his legacy, had his first signature Ivy League win. The Tigers handed the Crimson its first Ivy League loss of the season Saturday night, knocking off a Top-25 team at home for the first time since the late “70s.

Who could blame the Princeton faithful for storming the court once the final buzzer sounded? Christmas came early for Tiger fans, after an Ivy League season that at times promised little more than a lump of coal. The win over Harvard, without a doubt, represented the zenith of Princeton’s season.

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IHO Power Poll: February 13, 2012

Fans stormed the floor at Jadwin Gymnasium Saturday night as Princeton knocked off previously unbeaten Harvard, keeping the league race interesting for at least one more weekend. (Photo Credit: dailyprincetonian.com)

Welcome to the seventh IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/13/12). 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 (7-1), (21-3)- Harvard had the Ivy League all but wrapped up after winning at the Palestra on Friday. Then Saturday happened, and now it’s game on once again. The Crimson’s performance at Jadwin was very uncharacteristic. The Tigers torched Harvard’s vaunted defense for 1.11 points per possession, time after time finding easy buckets on backdoor cuts. Not only that, the Crimson’s normally reliable free-throw shooting allowed the game to slip away, as Kyle Casey missed four of five from the stripe (including the front end of a one-and-one) to watch a tie game turn into a five point deficit. Harvard will have a chance to regroup with its next four games at home, but, thanks to its 23rd straight loss at Princeton, the Crimson is no longer the only team that controls its own destiny. -C. River Banks

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Saturday's Best

Best Upset: Princeton. The Tigers made sure that there would be no undefeated champion of the Ivy League this year, defending Jadwin from the Crimson for the 23rd consecutive year,  70-62. This may have been the most unlikely of those 23 home victories, as the jubilant Princeton crowd rushed the court at the buzzer. It was a back-and-forth affair the whole way as Harvard led by five at the half before Princeton finally pulled away in the final four minutes. The Tigers had five players in double figures, led by Ian Hummer”s 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Point guard TJ Bray had 12 points, while big man Brendan Connolly pitched in with 11 points and 6 rebounds. Denton Koon didn”t miss a shot, adding 10 points in 18 minutes (4-4 FG, 2-2 FT), and Mack Darrow rounded out the double-digit scoring with 10 to go with 5 boards. Princeton only missed one field goal and had one turnover in the game”s final five minutes. For Harvard, Keith Wright provided much of the offense, scoring 16 on 7-11 shooting, while Brandyn Curry had 15. Harvard yielded 70 points to an opponent for only the second time this season (Seattle scored 70 in a 80-70 Crimson victory back in early December).

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Game Preview: Dartmouth at Penn

Jvonte Brooks has been on a tear for the Big Green, but it has yet to translate into victories for the winless squad that heads to the Palestra tonight. (Photo Credit: dartmouthsports.com)

The Big Green visit the Palestra tonight after losing yet another second half lead last night at Princeton. The freshmen continue to produce and get valuable court time, but the experience has yet to translate into victories for 0-7 Dartmouth. On the other hand, a frustrated Penn team held Harvard's most potent weapons to 1-15 shooting from the field last night and still lost 56-50. Zack Rosen took the blame for the loss, having shot 6-21 from the field. Penn will look to get back on the right foot tonight, while being in the uncomfortable position of having to root for rivals Princeton against Harvard. If the Tigers can pull the upset at Jadwin, all is not lost for Penn, as the Quakers would still control their own destiny, though it would of course necessitate winning at Harvard.

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Friday's Best

Kyle Casey and Harvard won an ugly game at the Palestra to take full control of the Ivy League title chase. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

Best Road Warrior: Harvard. It's not always pretty, but the Crimson continue to find a way to get it done behind great defense again. Wright, Rivard and Curry combined to go 1-15, but Harvard's depth saved them as Corbin Miller contributed 17 points in just 18 minutes. Kyle Casey dropped 15 points, while Wright was a vacuum on the glass, grabbing 13 rebounds. Penn didn't receive any of the home cooking that some expected from a raucous night at the Palestra as the Quakers were whistled for 23 fouls, while Harvard was only whistled for 12 fouls. After the game, Rosen delivered this quote: “Usually, I'm a 'we' guy. We win. We lose. I

felt like I was totally to blame. I didn't hit the shots that I hit in my sleep, the shots I take day after day.” Of course, Rosen is bound to be hard on himself, but the Penn star did not deliver on this night, scoring 16 points on 21 shots. Cartwright pitched in with 12 points, while Bernardini was held to 2 points on 0-5 shooting. Harvard's grip on the Ivy title tightens after this one, and a sweep tonight at Princeton would all but end the race with three weekends to go.

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Game Preview: Brown at Cornell

Johnathan Gray droppe

d a career high of 29 on Yale last night. Can Cornell keep it going against the struggling Bears? (Photo Credit: cornellsun.com)

It’s tough to believe that teams not named Harvard are playing basketball in the Ancient Eight these days (see #Top 25, #Linsanity, etc.) but in the “also competing” category on Saturday night Brown travels to Ithaca to take on the over-.500 Big Red. At 4-3 in the league, Cornell seems solidly in the top half, while Brown, traveling without standout guard Sean McGonagill, continues to compete with Dartmouth for the bottom spot in conference.

From Friday Night

It’s never easy to find a bright spot in a 28-point loss, especially when your top producer in points, assists, and thefts stays home with an injury. Andrew McCarthy and Stephen Albrecht, the next two leading scorers for the Bears, combined for just 3 points on 1-14 shooting. With that stat line, a blowout defeat is no surprise.

On East Hill, Cornell shot a

season best 46% from deep, getting a career-high 29 from Johnny Gray and a near triple double from the re-emerged Chris Wroblewski. A win over the Elis Friday night gives Cornell a second solid league win and a legitimate claim at the top half.

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Game Preview: Yale at Columbia

Meiko Lyles was en fuego Friday night at Levien. He'll look to continue the hot streak Saturday against Yale. (Photo Credit: gocolumbialions.com)

Yale vs. Columbia usually provides fans with a good show. Sometimes the games are meaningful, other times they are for nothing more than bragging rights among two teams separated by a 15 dollar Metro-North ticket which usually leads to a good crowd. This one does mean something. Despite the overtime loss in Ithaca, the Bulldogs are within two games of first place with Harvard still on the schedule one more time.

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Game Preview: Harvard at Princeton

Douglas Davis is looking to spoil another Harvard title run tonight at Jadwin where the Crimson has not won since 1989. (Photo credit: goprincetontigers.com)

Tonight’s contest at Jadwin is ostensibly a revenge game, but it doesn’t feel like it. The Tigers simply are not the same team anymore. Dan Mavraides, Kareem Maddox, and Sidney Johnson have hit the bricks, Princeton is looking on from the outside of the title race, and the sad truth is that nothing, certainly not a mid-February matchup, will avenge the Crimson’s playoff loss a year ago. Still, tonight’s matchup is one of the best battles that the Ivy League has to offer.

First, the facts: Harvard has not won at Jadwin Gymnasium since 1989; it has not swept the Killer P’s on the road since the 1984-85 season; and it has never started 8-0 in league play. Even at 11-10, a good argument can be made that the Tigers are the second best team in the conference. Its wins over Buffalo, Florida St., and Rutgers are three of the best results on the Ivy League’s collective non-conference resume, and, despite sitting in fifth place, Princeton can easily climb the ranks with six of its final eight games at home.

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Game Preview: Harvard at Penn

Zack Rosen knows that his last chance at an Ivy title may hang in the balance Friday night against Harvard. (Photo Credit: cbssports.com)

On Friday, Harvard heads down to Philadelphia for another one of those games, the exceptional few that shape the title race. Penn, although a half-game behind Yale in the standings after last week’s loss in New Haven, is actually in the best position to catch the Crimson because it hasn’t yet conceded a home defeat to the league leaders. What we have in effect, then, is another No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup, this time staged in one of basketball’s most hallowed gymnasiums.

If this year’s game is even half as good as last year’s, it will

be a memorable night (at the very least, it’s virtually guaranteed to eclipse the 30-point drubbing that Harvard laid on the Elis two weeks ago). In 2011, it took two overtimes to determine the outcome, an 83-82 Crimson victory, and that was not without a fair share of controversy (punctuated by Steve Bilksy wagging his finger in the face of Reggie Greenwood).

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