Harvard Outlasts Big Green

The Crimson defended its home court against Dartmouth's upset bid to kick off the 2012 Ivy season.

Harvard-Dartmouth will go down in the books as a 16-point Crimson victory, but for the first 30 minutes Saturday’s game did not have the look or feel of a blowout. The Big Green was every bit Harvard’s equal for much of the Ivy-opening contest.

Dartmouth borrowed from Fordham’s playbook on the defensive end by showing the Crimson a 2-3 zone for the majority of the first half. Once again this approach gave Harvard trouble finding its big men, as forwards Keith Wright and Kyle Casey combined to attempt just four shots in the opening frame. The Crimson settled for three-pointers, taking 10 of its first 18 field goal attempts beyond the arc and hitting just three. At the other end of the floor, the Big Green crushed the offensive boards, grabbing eight in the opening period to overcome nine-of-26 shooting from the field.

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IHO Power Poll: January 9, 2012 (Full Poll)

Harvard remains on top in IHO's Power Poll despite the Crimson's loss at Fordham and struggles at home against a young Dartmouth squad. (Photo Credit: chron.com)

Welcome to the second IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/08/12). 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 (13-2), (1-0)- Harvard is still the class of the league, even though the Crimson have cooled off a bit since the rousing New Year's comeback victory over St. Joe's. A loss to lowly Fordham and 32 minutes of uninspiring ball against Dartmouth has brought this squad back to the pack a bit. A willingness to rely on the three when Casey and Wright are denied the ball in a zone has proved dangerous for the Cantabs, who surely will be confronted with more of the same going forward. The Fordham loss could be good for Harvard though, as any expectations of running through the league unscathed are a bit far-fetched. The league is deeper than ESPN and other major media sources have been letting on and with the Friday-Saturday grind of the season, players will inevitably get dinged up and legs will get tired. Harvard should still win the league, but chances are they'll be doing it with two or three losses in a conference where everyone is gunning for them.

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Game 1: Dartmouth at Harvard

Keith Wright and company are riding a 21-game win streak at home and a four-game win streak against Dartmouth heading into this Saturday's contest versus the Big Green. (Photo credit: thecrimson.com)

The rain has started to fall on Harvard’s parade, and it’s just in time for the 14-Game Tournament, which begins this Saturday when Dartmouth comes to Cambridge. The 60-54 loss to Fordham on Tuesday will bump the Crimson from the Top 25, likely for the remainder of the season, and will also certainly raise some second thoughts about a team that many had penciled in for a perfect Ivy record.

The Rams made it look relatively easy. They packed in a zone against the Crimson, and for some reason the No. 21/22 team in the nation could not adjust. Harvard forwards Keith Wright and Kyle Casey combined to attempt just seven shots, and the offense gravitated towards the perimeter where the Crimson launched 30 threes. Harvard managed to hit just eight of those attempts despite frequent open looks, with sharpshooters Laurent Rivard, Christian Webster, and Corbin Miller the greatest offenders, hitting one-of-eight, zero-of-five, and zero-of-three, respectively.

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College Park Comeback Falls Short, but Cornell Improves

Coach Bill Courtney made some important in-game adjustments against Maryland, but the comeback fell short as Cornell lost to yet another major conference foe. (Photo Credit: testudotimes.com)

“At the under-12 [media timeout], #Terps hold a 26-5 lead [over Cornell]. Trying to figure out how much of this is #Maryland looking great and [how much of this is] #Cornell being awful.”

Those following Tuesday night’s Cornell vs Maryland matchup may recall reading the above Tweet after about eight minutes of basketball had been played. The author is someone who most likely had not watched more than eight minutes of Cornell Basketball to that point all season. However, he may be on to something. What was it? Maryland playing amazing? Cornell “being awful”? After the first ten minutes of game action, Maryland led Cornell 30-8.

Cornell is not a team that shy away from big time competition. Before Tuesday night’s matchup with Maryland, Cornell had played five BCS road-games under Bill Courtney. In each match-up, Cornell’s play in the opening ten minutes has dictated the tone of the game.

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A View from Antiquity: Quaker Fans, Consider the Tiger

The following essay appeared in the IHO Mailbox yesterday. The author of this piece is not affiliated with Ivy Hoops Online, but we always welcome and encourage outside contributors and readers to share their opinions and thoughts. 

What could drive a Penn fan to pull for their hated rivals? Harvard, it seems. (Photo Credit: penngazettesports.com)

By The Ancient Quaker

Ladies and gentleman of Pennsylvania do not hate me. I am as loyal and grateful a Quaker as any of you. I donate generously to the annual giving, married a woman with more Penn degrees than Amy Guttmann, and even named one of my sons Benjamin after our great founder. (We didn’t really name him after Big Ben but you catch my drift.) So why would I ever root for the hated and haughty Tigers and their Mickey Mouse Halloween colors?

Allow me to explain.

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Crimson Clip Hawks in Comeback Win

Kyle Casey scored 20 second half points to help Harvard overcome a double-digit halftime deficit against St. Joe's. (Photo credit: thecrimson.com)

After Saturday’s 74-69 win over St. Joes, Harvard assistant coach Yanni Hufnagel tweeted, “Best win I’ve been a part of. Period.” That statement—surprising as it is coming from a coach who’s helped engineer 56 wins for the Crimson—conveyed how richly satisfying the comeback against the Hawks was.

In a game reminiscent of last year’s 24-point comeback against Brown, Harvard withstood an unreal shooting display in the first half (19 of 24 from the floor, six of nine from deep). St. Joe’s guards Carl Jones and Langston Galloway and forward CJ Aiken had their way with the Crimson defense early on. Many of the buckets were the result of good offense (it seemed like the Hawks had success with post ups and kick outs in their four-out, one-in sets that dragged Keith Wright out on the perimeter), but more than a few just had me shaking my head in disbelief (long, turnaround jumpers from Jones were particularly crushing).

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Department of Redundancy: Harvard Beats BC

Laurent Rivard led the way with 18 points, as the Crimson picked up a road win at Boston College for the fourth straight year. (Photo credit: thecrimson.com)

Everyone was surprised that Conte Forum sold out. Generally, the only traveling acts that fill the stands at BC are UNC and Duke. But curiosity got the best of the Eagle faithful, and they came out in droves to see their surprisingly capable neighbors from Cambridge take the court.

It made for a weird atmosphere. The Eagles are a bad basketball team; a kick to the teeth is just too inevitable for fans to muster much enthusiasm. Still, a 14-3 run to start the game brought some life to the crowd. I left for a few minutes with BC leading 20-11 to give a ticket a friend, and when I got back to my seat, the score was tied.

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Common Opponents Analysis (Updated 1/4/12)

The transitive property is not the most reliable method for comparing teams, so despite what Elon says, we're not ready to put Dartmouth ahead of Princeton in our Power Poll.

With about six weeks of play in the books, we thought it was time to look back at the league”s common opponents to see if we could glean any knowledge from what”s happened on the court so far. Everyone knows that the transitive property carries limited weight in sports, but it”s still interesting to see how a team fares against multiple conference foes. Without further ado…

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Reconciling a Moral Victory: Penn State 74, Cornell 67

Cornell lost another close game to a Big Ten opponent, but we learned a lot about the Big Red's depth going forward. (Photo Credit: centredaily.com)

Let me preface this by saying, I’m tired of moral victories. I can deal with them to a point, but after that line is crossed, it’s just an excuse for not finishing games. Illinois and Penn State are not your typical opponent on an Ivy League schedule, I get that. However, once the ball is tipped, it doesn’t matter what name is on the front of the jersey. What I saw was two winnable basketball games.

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Tweet of the Week

In this series, we examine the wisest, most insightful, and profound Twitter musings of our favorite Ivy scholars who also happen to play basketball.

The line between a brilliant idea and an obvious one is tenuous. You can chase a supposedly smart thought around your brain only to look up and realize that

somewhere you crossed the line into stupidity. It happens all the time, and this week it happened to Harvard freshman Wes Saunders.

The nature of language has long fascinated scholars like Wes: how does air manipulated by our mouths into sound waves transform into meaning? How is this the case in every corner of the word? Linguistics, which served as a launching point for the careers of such luminaries as Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker, brushes up against every discipline from philosophy to sociology. It is so fundamental to our lives that we hardly ever think about it. Thankfully, we have Wes to remind us of language’s awesome power. 

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