Throw out the transitive property; toss your scribbled notes in the air; step on your calculator. This year”s conference play continues to confound as Yale, left for dead last Saturday and ranked last in our most recent Power Poll, rose from the ashes and swept Penn and Princeton on the road, the rarest of Ivy feats. Hats off to the Bulldogs who got it done, 69-65, behind a balanced attack and backcourt discipline against the usually disruptive and lengthy Tigers” defense. Yale guards, who have been maligned in this space for their turnover troubles, did a great job on Saturday, committing just six turnovers (the whole team had a total of 13 compared to Princeton”s 16). The trio of Javier Duren, Austin Morgan, and Sam Martin led the way in scoring, dropping 13, 11, and 11, respectively. Duren got it done by getting to the rim and hitting all five of his free throws, while Morgan (3-6 from 3) and Martin (3-3 from 3) impacted the game with the deep ball. Yale”s defense really bothered Ian Hummer, who did manage to go 6-10 from the field, but also committed seven costly turnovers. My personal favorite anecdote from the game was a tweet from The Trentonian”s Nick Peruffo, who talked to Justin Sears after the game and found out that Sears calmed himself at the free throw line by “thinking about watching Entourage.” Can”t question it if it works!
On a snowy northeastern night, the 2013 Ivy League title race was, for all intents and purposes, officially narrowed down to two teams.
Princeton 63, Brown 47. Princeton looked like a deserving contender, thoroughly dominating a hot Brown team at Jadwin behind a trio of remarkable individual offensive displays. Ian Hummer plowed past two more names, into 4th, on the Princeton scoring list; Denton Koon confirmed that last weekend’s 22-point outburst was no fluke; and TJ Bray continued to prove that his early season shooting woes were, in fact, a fluke. The three combined for 46 points, the exact total that the entire Brown team managed to score in a game that was never truly in question after halftime.
Hans Brase was active on both ends too, registering three blocks and consistently putting himself in the right spots.
For the Bears, Rafael Maia had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Bears, but it took him 17 shots and 11 free throws to get there. He struggled to finish particularly when he received the ball with his back to the basket due to the Tigers’ length inside. Brown went with a more structured series of set plays in the half-court, hellbent on getting the ball inside. It didn”t seem to work,
as Maia was undone by Princeton”s length and Brown”s sharpshooting guards and wings were largely marginalized.
There”s a new squad at the top of our rankings (and a new one at the bottom). In between, the Ivy”s surprise team is two possessions away from being undefeated and the league”s dark horse is already out of contention. One league favorite has underperformed shockingly and somehow still finds itself at the top of the standings, while the Ancient Eight”s doormat benched its captain and ran away with a comfortable victory. Just when we think we”ve got this league figured out, another back-to-back weekend kicks off and provides us with a shocking result, so please indulge us as we engage once again in this biweekly exercise of inevitable futility. This week, all five IHO writers submitted polls and the results are below.
1. Princeton (3-0) (5 first place votes, 40 points)– Princeton handled the C”s with relative ease, dispatching of Cornell behind a career high 22 points from Denton Koon. Ian Hummer also had 22 points on Friday and added nine rebounds in a game the Tigers ran away with early in the second half behind a 15-0 run. A desperate Columbia came to Jadwin on Saturday, eager to get a much-needed victory after losing to hapless Penn. Princeton allowed this one to stay close until the end, but Hummer”s wingman on this night, TJ Bray, hit a huge three with 2:55 to play to give the Tigers a five point lead, and after a beautiful Brendan Connolly retro hook shot, Princeton made sure that five point margin would not be breached again, winning 72-66. Through three games, Princeton has the most efficient offense and defense in the Ivy, and the best player in Hummer. Things are looking up for the coasting Tigers, who get Brown and Yale at Jadwin this weekend before finally leaving the friendly confines of Central Jersey for Dartmouth and Harvard in two weeks. –Bruno March
The start of back-to-back Ivy weekends did not disappoint as we
were treated to some thrilling contests last night. Storylines abound at all levels of the league, so let”s just jump right in.
- The biggest story of the weekend was Columbia crashing out of the title race after getting swept by the Ps, just like old times. The Lions put forth a valiant effort on national TV against Princeton, but couldn”t convert late and went down 72-66 at Jadwin, falling to 1-3 on the young season. Despite a career night from Maodo Lo (16 pts) and only three team turnovers, the Lions couldn”t stop a hot shooting Tigers squad. Princeton shot 51% from the field and a scorching 73% (8-11) from three. Hummer was just 2-8 from the field, but made his impact in other ways, getting to the stripe and knocking down 12-14, and dishing out seven assists to go with seven rebounds. TJ Bray had another great performance, hitting 6-10 including 3-3 from deep and committing zero turnovers. Brendon Connolly, who has seen his minutes dwindle as of late, knocked down a pretty running hooking shot to put the game away late. Princeton continues its perfect homestand and moves to 3-0. Brown and Yale visit Jadwin next weekend.
Ian Hummer– The Princeton star is a large favorite to win this award. The Tigers” offense is heavily dependent on his production and ability to slice through the lane. Hummer is probably the toughest guy to defend in the league because even if you can keep him from scoring, he”ll find his teammates for open looks, as he currently leads the league in assist rate, chalking up dimes on over 36% of his teammates” field goals when he”s in the game. If Princeton wins the league, it”s hard to see a scenario in which Hummer doesn”t win this award.
Stats: 2nd in PPG,
4th in APG, 4th in RPG, 9th in SPG, 6th in BPG. He”s scored in double figures in 13 of 15 games, and has had 25 in three games (high of 28 at Lafayette and at Elon).
Wesley Saunders- Harvard”s leader plays nearly 90% of his team”s minutes and is very efficient from the field. Saunders” ability to score and draw fouls is essentially unmatched in the league, and he”s even shooting 50% from deep right now (7-14). If Harvard wins the title and Hummer”s stats don”t blow everyone else out of the water, it”s probably Saunders” trophy to lose.
Stats: 1st in PPG, 5th in APG, 16th in RPG, 1st in SPG, 15th in BPG. Has scored in double figures in all 16 games, and has had a season-high 21 twice (vs. Vermont and vs. Rice).
Recently, I came across one of my old undergraduate notebooks. It was from a rather derivative course in Philosophical Anthropology, The Death Ritual in Ancient Civilizations: Meaning and Myth. As I flipped through the tattered, yellowed pages, I perused the notes on the practices of the Aztecs during the Feast of Toxcatl.
For one year, a flawless youth was selected by the Ancient Mexicans to live among the tribe as a God. The young man was perfection personified: the avatar of beauty and health. He was given lavish clothes, eight servants and four virgins to attend to his every wish. However, at the end of the year when the feast began, The Chosen One climbed the stairs of the great temple where priests cut his heart out and offered it, still beating, to the sun.*
*Full disclosure: There was never any course in “Philosophical Anthropology.” I’m not even sure such a discipline even exists. I simply lifted the preceding material from an article on Megan Fox in the February edition of Esquire Magazine. The actress’ sultry eyes, dangerous curves, and tattooed skin served as a necessary distraction to keep my eyes averted from the television as the St. Joe’s Hawks opened a “can o’ whup ass” on the Quakers.
Harvard, Yale, and Cornell got the Ws, emerging victorious from three wild finishes in a wacky weekend in the Ivy League.
If there was any doubt about the anyone-can-beat-anyone nature of this year”s Ivy League, this past weekend should have erased it. The league”s lowest rated team went on the road to the league”s highest rated team and led by 10 with 90 seconds left before Harvard”s furious comeback resulted in another Big Green heartbreak in overtime. The upstart Brown Bears went into New Haven and took the eternally upper half Bulldogs to the brink of a sweep before running out of gas in another overtime game. A struggling Cornell team showed up in New York City and outplayed dark horse title contender Columbia, holding on at the buzzer for the close victory. Let”s dive in and relive a bit of the madness.
With the first round of the 14-Game Tournament in the books, we may be finally starting to see the slightest bit of separation in the middle of the league. The top three favorites all held serve in their openers and the Brown Bears, winners of three in a row, have come on strong to make a push for the top half in this edition of the Power Poll. The bottom four teams all look pretty flawed after picking up losses, but Yale and Cornell narrowly earn the 5th and 6th slots based on their slightly more efficient offenses and having at least one Top 200 win. Without further ado, let”s get to the poll:
1. Harvard (1-0), (9-6)- Harvard”s 60-50 loss at Memphis felt something like a win after the Crimson came all the way back from a 20-point deficit, even taking a brief lead with just over 6 minutes remaining. Of course, a 16-4 Tiger run to close out the game sent Harvard packing with an L, but there”s reason to be optimistic if you”re a Crimson fan. Saturday marked the sixth straight game that either Steve Moundou-Missi or Jonah Travis posted an offensive rating above 100. The two undersized big men have been sneakily effective against some pretty stiff competition since mid-December. If Moundou-Missi and Travis can stay out
of foul trouble (the duo averages 10 fouls per 40 minutes), this resurgence bodes well for a Harvard offense that faces five of the six worst Ivy defenses over the next three weeks. -C. River Banks
Saturday”s league contests had Ivy fans expecting two very close games between traveling partners. Instead, we got
two pretty decisive victories from Columbia and Brown. The Lions” victory provided more evidence that Columbia is a real contender this year. If they want to compete for the title, this was a road game they needed to have. Meanwhile the day”s biggest statement came from Brown. The Bears” victory wasn”t necessarily unexpected, but the way they routed Yale was certainly a surprise. For such a balanced team with many different ways to put the ball in the bucket, it”s worth noting that the Bears now boast the third-best defense in the league, yielding fewer than 1 point per possession. With Albrecht back now, perhaps we have to raise the ceiling for the quickly-improving Bears: reaching the top half seems to be within the realm of possibilities.
Cornell and Yale will have to go back to the drawing board to figure out a way to salvage a split with their traveling partners after disappointing opening weekends–Cornell with an eye on fixing the defense, and for Yale, the offense.
In some of the season”s final non-conference action, Harvard had a stirring comeback that fell short in Memphis and Penn was dismantled by St. Joe”s in a Big 5 matchup. Let”s take a look at this weekend”s top performers:
To be successful in this league you have to play consistent basketball: 40 minutes, 14 games at the same high level. Emerging from a long weekend 0-2 could be the difference in two-to-three spots in the final standings. High highs and low lows just don’t work in a league without a conference tournament.
Consistency will be of foremost importance for Cornell because the Red have been everything but over
its 17 non-conference games. This team’s failure to string together 40 consistent minutes and struggles against fellow mid-majors have led some to re-evaluate it from a dark horse title contender to a bottom half finisher.
While certainly a fair assessment based on the non-conference eye-test, it’s hard to count out the Red just yet. Cornell is certainly offensively challenged. What the Red have going for itself is its style of play. At times, Cornell looked too fast for its own good, but the positives of successfully playing fast in the Ivy League cannot be ignored. Bill Courtney’s up tempo, run for 40-minutes style of basketball is different from just about everyone else in the league. Cornell manufactures almost 3% more possessions per game than Penn, the second fastest tempo in the league, and over 7% more possessions per game than the Ivy League average. Defensively, Cornell has the size, speed, and athleticism to force teams who like to play 60-65 possessions per game to shoot up above 70. Opponents will try to slow Cornell down and force the Red to execute a half court offense, but I’m of the mindset that it’s easier to speed a team up than slow it down. Rushed basketball leads to bad shots and forced turnovers, especially on the second night of a back-to-back Ivy weekend.