Surprise Ivy team of 2014 – Cornell

(collegebasketball.ap.org)
(collegebasketball.ap.org)

Sure it was close. Dartmouth own the better record at 6-6, but Cornell sits at 6-7, after going 2-26 last year.

Who expected wins over George Mason, Canisius and Siena, a close call with Penn State and a semi-competitive battle with national power Syracuse?
Many considered that last season would be the last for coach Bill Courtney, but the athletic director saw some fire in the fifth-year head coach, recognized that Cornell had some key injuries last season and gave him another season to right the ship. And right it he has.

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Q&A with Princeton women’s hoops coach Courtney Banghart

(goprincetontigers.com)
(goprincetontigers.com)

Our Richard Kent caught up with Princeton women’s basketball coach Courtney Banghart, who has led the Tigers to the NCAA tournament in four of the last five years, making Princeton the gold standard of women’s hoops in the Ancient Eight during that stretch. While Princeton relinquished the Ivy crown to Penn last year, the Tigers are back with a vengeance so far in 2014-15, currently boasting a 15-0 record with an average margin of 25.5 points per victory. After the jump, check out what Banghart had to say about the prospect of starting up new in-state rivalries with Rutgers and Seton Hall, her team’s recent visit to the White House and much more.

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What's your Ivy team's New Year's resolution?

New YearIt’s New Year’s Eve, and that means New Year’s resolutions abound. If the Ivies could have one doable New Year’s resolution each, here’s what they would be, along with the likelihood of each team making good on that resolution (Ivy power rankings included).

8. Penn (3-7)Get the freshmen substantially more minutes

Sam Jones is averaging 6.1 points in just 15.1 minutes per game so far this season and has proven himself to be the kind of sharpshooting threat Penn has been missing for a long time, shooting an eye-popping 45.9 percent from beyond the arc. Yet Jones logged just 10 minutes at La Salle last night. He must be in coach Jerome Allen’s doghouse, but he has to play more regardless.

Meanwhile, now that Mike Auger’s back from a foot injury, he has to play more too. He’s just seventh on the team in minutes per game despite being second in rebounds and third in points per contest. Freshman guard Antonio Woods is actually logging more minutes than anybody due to junior guard Tony Hicks’ chronic foul trouble, but he’s just one of many frosh that will have to pick up the slack if Penn is to make a run at the top half of the conference.

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Breaking down why Harvard is still the class of the Ivy League

As a Harvard optimist, I was unfazed by the Crimson’s lackluster performance against Virginia on Dec. 21. I concede that Harvard is not on the Cavaliers’ level. This past Sunday, the Crimson needed a strong bounce-back performance versus a more suitable opponent, Arizona State, but once again, Harvard could not establish the upper hand in a 56-46 loss to a tough Sun Devils team. Three obvious takeaways from this game are:

  • Harvard’s defense continues to be top-notch.
  • Harvard’s offense continues to sputter.
  • Playing away from its home court at Lavietes Pavilion is tough for the Crimson.

So the real question is, can Harvard escape the Ivy League gauntlet with a stingy defense and an offense that’s weaker than last year’s? To examine this question, I decided to take a closer look at how Harvard and the other Ivy League teams have fared against “Ivy League-caliber” competition.

Read moreBreaking down why Harvard is still the class of the Ivy League

Cornell at Syracuse: Scouting report from The Juice Online

(The Juice Online)
(The Juice Online)
Last year’s season-opening Cornell-Syracuse matchup got very interesting, with the Big Red leading 36-22 in the first half and 38-32 at halftime before the Big Red faltered down the stretch to lose, 82-60. Cornell then lost 25 more games, while Syracuse started the season 25-0.
We’re lucky to have Wes Cheng, managing editor of The Juice Online, to help make sense of this year’s edition of the Big Red/Orange series:
IHO: Tell us about The Juice Online.
WC: The Juice (then called The Big Orange) was founded in 1992, one of approximately 50 independent publications devoted to the coverage of its school’s athletics programs. In 2002, it became a full-color, glossy magazine which was owned by Fox Sports. The print product ceased publication in June of 2010 and was relaunched as The Juice Online in December of 2010. In February 2012, The Juice Online partnered with SportsNet New York, the official television home of the New York Mets and New York Jets. As part of SNY.tv’s Blog Network, The Juice Online supplements SNY’s coverage of more than 125 college football and basketball games, as well as other college sports programming.
IHO: What are the major story lines with Syracuse?
WC: The last six seasons have been unprecedented successes for the program. Starting in the 2008-09 season, the Orange has averaged 29.5 wins a season, which is the best six-year stretch in program history. During that time, SU has reached the Final Four and the Elite Eight, something that has also never happened. I say all of this because Syracuse is the most vulnerable it’s been since 2008. The Orange lost its top scorer (CJ Fair), top bench player (Jerami Grant), one of its interior defenders (Baye Keita) and clutch guard (Tyler Ennis). In past years, the Orange has been able to reload on the fly, but that appears to have finally caught up to SU as they have four losses in its non-conference schedule, the most since the 2007-08 season, which is also the last time SU missed the NCAA Tournament.

Read moreCornell at Syracuse: Scouting report from The Juice Online

Whimsy: An Ivy transfer window

(thesportsquotient.com)
(thesportsquotient.com)

Much in the way that the frenzy around MLB’s winter meetings and the NBA’s star players hitting free agency captivate fans as much as or more than regular season games, so too do the machinations of the summer and winter transfer windows in soccer. As the winter transfer window opens on Thursday, I thought about an alternate reality where the NCAA also had a transfer window to deal with in between the fall and spring semesters. While English teams are roughly halfway through their round-robin season when the window opens, Ivy basketball teams have nearly completed their nonconference schedule and will have an opportunity to correct weaknesses, address injuries, or move the focus completely towards next year without worrying about getting relegated.

Along with IHO resident soccer expert Peter Andrews, I thought up moves each team could make in this hypothetical, never could, would or should happen situation. We will also be ignoring that in reality, Duke, Kansas or Kentucky would buy up all of the good players anyway.

BROWN: LOANS Kendall Jackson from Columbia and Andre Chatfield from Harvard No Bear averages more than 3.5 assists per game and no starter has an assist/turnover ratio better than 1.1. Thus, the Bears bring in two guards buried on their respective team’s depth charts in the hopes that one sticks as the ball handler of the future and a permanent transfer can be worked out after the season.

COLUMBIA: BUYS Gabas Maldunas from Dartmouth. Columbia remains weakest in the frontcourt, where Cory Osetkowski has put together an inconsistent campaign in scoring and on the glass. They”d pay a hefty transfer fee to pry Gabas Maldunas away from Dartmouth, a team going nowhere fast this year. Maldunas would instantly upgrade the post presence for Columbia. In addition to cash, the Lions would send monstrously tall center Conor Voss on a loan to Dartmouth, in the hopes that some regular playing time will reveal basketball skills.

Read moreWhimsy: An Ivy transfer window

Behind a balanced attack, Columbia tops Colgate

Columbia used a strong second half to recover from a halftime deficit and hold off Colgate, 69-64, this afternoon in Morningside Heights.

Four Lions scored in double digits — Maodo Lo (15), Cory Osetkowski (14), Steve Frankoski (13) and Kyle Castlin (12) — while Isaac Cohen contributed 10 assists. Cohen became the first Lion to post double-figure assists since Brian Barbour did it against Elon in 2012.

Check out our two-minute recap, with audio from Kyle Smith.

Colgate suffered an injury to their leading scorer on the season, Alaska native Damon Sherman-Newsome, midway through the first half, but that didn’t stop the visitors from putting a scare into Columbia. In particular, the Light Blue struggled to stop the shooting of senior center Ethan Jacobs, who posted a career-high 26 points. On the afternoon, the Raiders shot 52 percent from the field and 53 percent from long-range.

Read moreBehind a balanced attack, Columbia tops Colgate

Quick Hits: Columbia falls to UConn

The Chairman takes over America. (Getty)
The Chairman takes over America. (Getty/sport1.de)

BRIDGEPORT, CT. — Three thoughts and some awards from last night’s game between Columbia and Connecticut, won by the Huskies, 80-65.

1. The Defense Rests: Columbia was carried through the first chunk of the season by its stingy defense, which held several opponents under 40 points per game and kept Kentucky to a season-low total. The last two games, though, have seen the Light Blue surrender over 70 points twice. And the defense completely collapsed down the stretch against UConn, allowing plenty of too-open looks for three and far too many alley-oops. Every time it looked like the Lions could get back in it with a stop, the Huskies would strike again.

Is this a long-term worry? Firstly, this is the second game in three nights for Columbia, and they were both against top opposition. Fatigue seemed to be affecting the Lions down the stretch. Secondly, UConn’s offensive talent should not be ignored — it’s unlikely Columbia will face a better point guard this year than Ryan Boatright, Connecticut’s star senior. But the defensive struggles are absolutely worrisome, and will be something to keep an eye on as the Lions wrap up nonconference play.

Read moreQuick Hits: Columbia falls to UConn

The shellacking in Charlottesville: No big deal

Field goals were few and far between for Harvard at Virginia Sunday. (foxsports.com)
Field goals were few and far between for Harvard at Virginia Sunday. (foxsports.com)

There is no way to sugarcoat a 49-point loss: Harvard shot a pitiful 16 percent percent from the floor, while Virginia shot almost 60 percent. No matter how many cringe-inducing Harvard statistics are highlighted, however, this game’s story was all about Virginia’s excellence; not about Harvard’s incompetence. Over 40 minutes of play, Virginia showed us all that they really are a Final Four-caliber team. Crimson fans who delusionally believed that Harvard might be of the same caliber learned today that they’re not. For the rest of Harvard’s fan base, however, this game shouldn’t be too concerning.

First of all, in the same way that “a win is a win,” a loss is just a loss. When the dust settles from this debacle, Harvard’s players will realize that, in the big picture, nonconference regular season games against top opponents don’t matter much (unless, of course, you win). What matters most for Ivy League teams is that they perform well in the “14-game tournament.” On a day when the Crimson’s unluckiness seemed to show no bounds, Harvard is lucky that this flat performance came against a nonconference foe.

Read moreThe shellacking in Charlottesville: No big deal