Toxcatl

Though the AQ
Though the AQ”s heart is being ripped out by Penn”s recent results, he still believes in Coach Allen and the young Quakers.

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.

Read more…

Wild Weekend Recap

HarvardyaleNCAAlogoCropped

2461

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.

Read more…

IHO Power Poll: January 23, 2012

Brown hops into the top half in this week
Brown hops into the top half in this week”s Power Poll after the Bears” impressive home victory over Yale.

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

Read more…

Round 1 in the Books

imgres-4imgres-3

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:

Read more…

Tempo and Depth Will Carry the Big Red

Cornell plays at a much faster pace than the rest of the league. Will their up-tempo style and their impressive depth be enough to carry them into the top half this season?
Cornell plays at a much faster pace than the rest of the league. Will their up-tempo style and their impressive depth be enough to carry them into the top half this season?

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.

Read more…

Quick Hitters: Top 5 Ivy Wins This Season and More

Brown
Brown”s stirring victory over Providence clocks in at #2 on our list of the Top 5 Ivy wins this season.

Some quick hitters around the league as the week between conference openers drags along:

Top 5 Wins for the Ivy League this Year

The Ivy non-conference slate ended up producing some memorable moments. Though there are still a couple big non-conference games remaining (Harvard at Memphis, Penn vs St. Joe”s and Temple, etc.), here is a list of the league”s best wins by Pomeroy rating:

  1. Princeton 79, (42) Bucknell 67- A turning point for the Tigers as Hummer”s supporting cast showed up to take down Muscala and the Bison.
  2. Brown 69, (67) Providence 68- Style points for the thrilling finish, the national TV audience, and the local rivalry.
  3. Harvard 67, (70) California 62- Statement game on the road for the Crimson. Saunders, Rivard, Chambers.
  4. Columbia 75, (87) Villanova 57- Shocking scoreline on the road. Lions showed depth as Rosenberg, Frankoski, and Mullins led the way.
  5. Princeton 62, (119) Kent State 50- Big road win as Bray started to shake off his slump and the Tigers held the Golden Flashes to 0.78 points per possession.

Read more…

Modest Expectations, but a Hint of Urgency in Hanover

To move the program forward, Dartmouth needs to grab more than one conference victory this season, a feat the squad hasn
To move the program forward, Dartmouth needs to grab more than one conference victory this season, a feat the squad hasn”t accomplished since 2009.

On most teams, when all but two players on the squad are freshmen or sophomores, there’s not usually a great sense of urgency. But make no mistake – there will be a sense of urgency in Hanover when Ivy League play begins on Saturday against Harvard. For the past three years, Dartmouth has stumbled to a five-win season, going 1-13 in the conference each year. And with a 3-10 record and one more non-conference game yet (a winnable January 17 tilt against D-III Colby-Sawyer), a fourth consecutive five-win season is looking like a distinct possibility.

Read more…

IHO Midseason Power Poll: January 9, 2013

The midseason IHO Power Poll has arrived just before teams dive into the dogfight that is conference play.
The midseason IHO Power Poll has arrived just as teams dive into the dogfight that is conference play. Did we shaft your team in the rankings? Let us know where you think we whiffed in the comments.

Believe it or not, the conference slate is merely three days away, and in some sense, that”s a bit of a shame because the Ivy League has really been cranking into gear over the last couple weeks, sticking it to some big conference squads. Wins over California, Bucknell, and Providence (among other impressive performances) have elevated the league all the way to 18th in the Pomeroy conference rankings and to 23rd in the conference RPI. While some had feared that in such a down year, the Ivy champ would receive a dreaded #15 or even #16 seed in the NCAA tournament, it now seems that the Ancient 8 king will earn a more palatable #13 seed, according to Joe Lunardi”s first edition of Bracketology, released January 8th. Furthermore, all eight Ivy teams have defenses ranked in the top 215

teams of Division I, but only three have offenses ranked in the top 215. With that in mind, we are going to buck convention and predict that offense wins championships as those three top 215 offenses make up our top 3 spots in this week”s Power Poll.

Read more…

RG3, Eli, and the Quakers

The Ancient Quaker comforts himself and other Penn fanatics by urging perspective and looking optimistically at the improving youth on this blundering 2-11 squad.
The Ancient Quaker comforts himself and other fanatics by urging perspective and looking optimistically at the improving youth on this blundering 2-11 squad.

I understand this is a basketball article. So what then do these three seemingly disparate entities have to do with each other? Allow me to explain.

RG3, a rookie quarterback, arrives at a formerly woeful organization and, overnight, changes the culture of his team with his confidence and preternatural talent. On the other hand, there is Eli Manning: also a tremendously gifted quarterback, but during his first few years in the Meadowlands, Eli didn’t change very much. With every pass that sailed over a receiver’s head or fluttered toward their feet, the boos rained down from the tough New York crowd. Eli at times looked lost, out of control, overwhelmed, bewildered. Occasionally though, he would have a game that showed that he indeed had great potential: a flash of brilliance amidst the chaos of his first few years. Regardless, the postscript is well known by now: RG3’s career accomplishments, no matter how well he performed this year, remain to be seen, while Eli, the formerly befuddled rookie, has two Super Bowl MVP trophies and is probably on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Read more…

The Difference a Year Makes

Harvard will only go as far as their freshman guard Siyani Chambers can take them.
With Ivy League play on the horizon, Harvard will only

go as far as their freshman guard Siyani Chambers can take them.

Dee Giger was Harvard”s hype man last season—the final person to greet the starters during player introductions. It”s a relatively new role in basketball but already commonplace.

Part motivator, part cheerleader, the hype man defines a team”s personality; he safeguards its swagger and stokes its confidence through the highs and lows of each game. Giger owned the role. Knowing he”d see little court time, he honed his arsenal of handshakes, chest bumps, and towel waves the way other players refined their jumpers. It was ridiculous, and it was fun.

With Steve Moundou-Missi taking the reins as hype man this season, the pre game ceremonies have become a joyless routine of perfunctory fist bumps. No flying hip checks. No salutes. No Bernie”s. In some ways, this one minute before the game reflects the greatest difference between last season”s Crimson squad and this season”s.

Read more…