While it may be tough to see in terms of results, especially after today”s eight point loss to New Hampshire, this young Yale Bulldogs team is making progress. So far, the biggest problem has been getting good shots and taking care of the ball. The Bulldogs rank near the bottom of Division I in shooting percentage and turnover rate. Today”s loss was a perfect example: 1-14 shooting from three (7%) and 18 turnovers.
The reason for the low shooting percentage has simply been a lack of dangerous offensive weapons. Opponents have keyed on Austin Morgan and have kept him mostly quiet. Other than Justin Sears, no one has demonstrated the ability to score. And Coach James Jones sure has given everyone a chance. Besides Morgan, there isn”t a player on this roster playing more than 60% of the team”s minutes. Yale has been going with the old 11 man rotation.
Through five games, Dartmouth is about where most observers pegged them to be record-wise. For the first time since 2004, the Big Green won its home opener, defeating Maine 67-54 on Nov. 10 before suffering a three-game losing streak, including a pair of double-digit losses to New Hampshire and Bucknell. The UNH loss was particularly demoralizing as Dartmouth shot just 16-of-60 (27%) from the floor while allowing 44 free throws at home on Nov. 13. While that loss was the low point of the young season, the last two games have hinted at the potential — both good and bad — that Dartmouth could bring to the table come Ivy League play.
After a wild and often depressing week in which the three league favorites looked downright flawed, I figured it was time to put together the first IHO Power Poll of the season and try to sort this situation out. Let”s get one thing straight: all eight teams have problems right now. If league play started tomorrow, there”s not a single result that could take place that would truly shock me. Dartmouth over Harvard? It could happen. Brown over Princeton? A hot shooting night for the Bears and it”s a wrap. I”m not trying to suggest that the league is upside-down, because it”s not. It”s just a very weak year at the top and in the middle, so we”re probably going to see some of the lower teams steal some games. As far as postseason aspirations go, that”s not a good thing, but for fans of the 14-game tournament, it should make for a lot of exciting basketball. Let”s get to the rankings:
1. Harvard (2-3)– The defending champions haven”t done much to deserve this top spot, but hey, neither has anyone else, so it belongs to the Crimson for at least another week. Vermont exposed Harvard”s defense, making the extra pass to get open looks inside and using simple screens to get open looks from deep. Over and over again. When it was all said and done, Harvard had allowed 85 points on 60% shooting. Rotations were too slow, closeouts were late, and the rest of the league received a nice blueprint for how to beat this young Crimson squad. On the plus side, Amaker still has a lot of time to get his guys ready for the games that count, and Siyani Chambers has proven himself to be a stud at point guard. Saunders has been impressive and Rivard continues to fire away from range (46%). They”re going to be okay– and this year, that might be enough.
I’m going to be blunt. Cornell is struggling. A 23-point home loss to Stony Brook will make people say that. The Seahawks’ 23-point victory marked the first 20 point defeat for Cornell at Newman Arena since falling to Georgia Tech by 21 points on November 23, 2003. Stony Brook may not be the eventual national runner-ups like Georgia Tech was in 2003-2004, but they were good enough to expose many of the Big Red”s deficiencies. This game was more than Cornell going cold from the field at the same time that Stony Brook was heating up. It was a game where statistical tendencies took over. It didn’t start like that though. From the tip, it looked like Cornell may have turned a corner. Two consecutive wins in Vegas, ten strong opening minutes against a good Stony Brook team. It was 19-19 and Cornell’s ball movement looked much improved. The Red was taking high percentage shots,
shooting 54.5% from the field. Then at the 9:48 mark in the first half, everything changed. The disparity between an efficient defense and a flawed offense became apparent. Losing by 23 at home to a team Cornell historically
has had success against should raise eyebrows, but it’s something I wouldn’t be all too concerned with.
(In the interest of completing our Season Preview series, please forgive the serious tardiness of this final entry…)
In 2011-12: 20-12, 10-4, 3rd place
A Look Back: Princeton had an up and down non-conference slate in “11-“12, falling to the likes of Morehead State, Elon, and Siena while knocking off teams like Buffalo, Rutgers, and Florida State–nipping the Seminoles in a 3OT instant classic in which Ian Hummer had a monster 25 points and 15 rebounds. By the time the Ivy season rolled around, it seemed as if Princeton was coming into form.
But the Tigers dropped three of their first five conference games (all of which were on the road): at Cornell, at Penn, and at Yale, to quickly fall out of the title race. But Hummer and Co. really got rolling over the second half of the conference season, dealing Harvard its first loss at Jadwin in February and reeling off a sweep of Columbia and Cornell at home to move to 6-3 and set up a season-saving opportunity at Lavietes. It was not to be though, as Harvard overcame a ten-point deficit to even the season series at one. Effectively eliminated, the Tigers played their best ball of the season down the stretch, winning their last four, including a convincing victory over archrival Penn to deny them a piece of the Ivy crown. Hummer recorded a double-double with 18 and 10 and the Tigers earned a berth in the CBI. Princeton hung 95 on Evansville in Round 1 behind a career-high 31 from Doug Davis on sizzling 9-11 (5-6 from three) shooting. Princeton”s season, though, ended in the Tigers” next game at Pittsburgh.
Many years ago, a young man strode confidently onto a verdant campus in West Philadelphia. His eyes sparkled, his body lithe and sinewy, his mind was sharp and able. He had grand thoughts of becoming an engineer; to create wonderful machines to better mankind or perhaps destroy it, whichever job would pay him more. But there were parties to attend, beautiful women to meet and get rejected by, as well as many other diverse forms of collegiate debauchery to engage in. Still, life was good. That is until one semester when he took thermodynamics. Ah yes, thermodynamics, a trial by fire. It really brought the heat.
The Quaker Basketball season began in terrifying fashion. Twenty minutes into a brand new Zach Rosen-less year and down 24 to UMBC (KenPom: 314), the team looked disorganized, confused, lost, and the seemingly stillborn year was spinning hopelessly counterclockwise down the can. Then just as I was about to upchuck on to the shiny Palestra floor, nothing short of a miracle happened. The defense suddenly stiffened, shots started falling, and Captain Miles Cartwright took charge, dropping in 21 points while passing the ball to his teammates with aplomb. The Quakers showed grit, character, moxie and, after finally emerging with a 80-75 win, disaster (not to mention widespread fan alienation) was averted. Never, in all my years of watching Penn Basketball, had I witnessed such a comeback. Amazing.
Then of course came the next five games against Delaware, Fairfield, Drexel, Lehigh and Fordham. Looking at the schedule, I don’t think anyone would consider any of these programs to be particularly sphincter-tightening. In fact, I can’t remember The Quakers having such a relatively easy non-conference line up. Nevertheless, they lost all five games. It was a tough week for Penn Basketball but I still think it’s all good. Here’s why.
Princeton visits Syracuse in one of the Ivy League”s most daunting non-conference matchups of the season tomorrow evening. In anticipation of this contest, we sat down with our friends over at to get the scoop on this year”s Orange squad.
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Wesley Cheng: has been around since 1992. We started as a print magazine and then took our talents to the online world in 2010. Since then, we”ve joined the SNY.tv blog network, covering Syracuse Orange men”s basketball, football and lacrosse.
What is the major storyline around Syracuse this year?
WC: The biggest thing for SU has been replacing the losses of Fab Melo, Dion Waiters and Kris Joseph, who all went to the NBA, and Scoop Jardine, who graduated. They accounted for 58 percent of the Orange”s offense last season, and a lot of teams would be in a rebuilding year. Not Syracuse, though. They”ve got a younger team, but in some ways, they may
be more talented. The starting lineup features three McDonald”s All Americans (two sophomores and a freshman), and several players who can create their own shot. The Orange played a 10-man rotation last season, and Syracuse will once again have a deep bench this season, playing as many as nine guys. Syracuse will once again be prolific in the vaunted 2-3 zone. The shortest scholarship player is 6″4″, and the Orange can trot out a lineup that features three players at 6″9″ or taller in the front court.
Harvard entered the season with a lot of questions surrounding its roster: it had a rookie starting at point guard, a defensive stopper as its new go-to scorer, an inexperienced big man holding down the post. And though two games have not provided any definitive answers, the Crimson”s season-opening win against MIT and its narrow loss at UMass began to reveal some solutions, as well as raise more questions.
Going into non-conference play, the biggest concern for Tommy Amaker”s squad was point guard play. After Brandyn Curry”s leave of absence, freshman Siyani Chambers was thrust into the starting role by virtue of being the team”s only ball handler. The rookie”s outsized responsibilities were perhaps the biggest reason for Harvard”s tempered expectations this season, but if the first two games are any indication, the Crimson is in good hands. Against the Engineers, Chambers played 36 minutes, putting up nine points alongside three assists and just two turnovers. And on national television against the Minutemen, going toe-to-toe with preseason A-10 first teamer Chaz Williams, the freshman played a full 40 minutes, dishing out seven assists, grabbing five rebounds, and scoring 14 points.
“The kid has a lot of heart,” Williams said after the game.
A Look Back: Last season, Columbia experienced one of the great examples of Bill Simmons” Ewing Theory in action when Noruwa Agho went down with a gruesome injury in the home opener of the campaign. Agho had been the Lions” leading scorer and all of the team”s offense flowed through the senior guard. In his absence, Columbia was forced to shake things up, work the inside-out game more, and put the rock in Brian Barbour”s hands more often. The result was magical. After falling to 0-4, Columbia ripped off 11 of 12 victories, and looked like a much more balanced, dynamic team. Young players like Alex Rosenberg and Cory Osetkowski saw a lot of court time and proved their worth; Mark Cisco became one of the league”s dominant big men; and Brian Barbour developed quickly into perhaps the league”s most impressive point guard.
At the start of last season, the Bears had plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Point guard Sean McGonagill was coming off a freshman season in which he was named Rookie of the Year, ranking 4th in the league with 5.4 assists per game and showing he could really fill up the stat sheet with a 39-point explosion against Columbia. Forward Tucker Halpern was primed for a breakout year, having earned an All-Ivy honorable mention as a sophomore after averaging around 12 and 5. McGonagill and Halpern were
also set to receive help in the middle from highly-touted 6-9 Brazilian newcomer Rafael Maia, who was expected to provide a much-needed defensive presence in the middle, as well as some scoring on the block.
Before the season even began, though, Brown caught some horrible breaks: Halpern went down with an illness that would keep him out all year, and Maia was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. With a decimated frontcourt, the Bears had to rely largely on McGonagill, combo guard Matt Sullivan, and sharpshooter Stephen Albrecht, a Toledo transfer, to carry the load offensively. The forward trio of Andrew McCarthy, Tyler Ponticelli, and Dockery Walker all had good stretches at times, but they couldn’t make up for the losses of Halpern and Maia, and Brown finished in second-to-last place in the Ivy League.