IHO Power Poll: November 30, 2012

 

The first IHO Power Poll of the season has arrived! Harvard (barely) lays claim to the top spot for now, but things

are far from stable in the league.

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.

Read moreIHO Power Poll: November 30, 2012

Checking in on Cornell

Turnovers are hurting the Big Red right now, but Cornell has some time to turn things around.

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.

Read moreChecking in on Cornell

Season Preview: Princeton Tigers

Princeton”s had a slow start to the season, but with Harvard losing its captains to the academic scandal, the Tigers still may be the league favorites.

(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.

Read moreSeason Preview: Princeton Tigers

Checking in on Penn

The Ancient Quaker checks in with Penn, breaking down the growing pains of a young and inexperienced squad, but remaining optimistic about the Quakers” future.

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.

Read moreChecking in on Penn

Game Preview: Princeton at Syracuse

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.

Tell us about your site.

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.

Read moreGame Preview: Princeton at Syracuse

Season Preview: Columbia Lions

Columbia, led by the Madman of Morningside Heights, will try to prove that it is a contender and not a pretender this year.

 

In 2011-12: 15-15, 4-10, 6th place

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.

Read moreSeason Preview: Columbia Lions

Season Preview: Brown Bears

Several question marks surround this Bears team in Mike Martin”s first year at the helm in Providence.

In 2011-12: 8-23, 2-12, 7th place

A Look Back:

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.

Read moreSeason Preview: Brown Bears

Season Preview: Penn Quakers

Penn will look to its underclassmen to help replace the scoring of Rosen and Bernardini this season.

In 2011-12: 20-13, 11-3, 2nd place.

A Look Back: Two words: Zack Rosen. Not much else needs to be said (but I”ll say it anyway). Quaker fans were led on a roller coaster ride last season thanks to one of the greatest individual performances in recent Ivy League history. But let”s first recall that most people did not expect too much from Penn last year. Rosen, Bernardini, and Cartwright were talented guards, but this team had no size and Jerome Allen was in just his second full season as head coach.

Flash forward to February when the Cardiac Quakers were officially born. Rosen kicked off a magical month by nailing a dagger three pointer in the waning seconds to defeat a pesky Dartmouth squad at the Palestra. The next weekend, the Quakers handled Cornell behind 25 from Rosen and followed that up with an overtime to knock off Columbia.

Read moreSeason Preview: Penn Quakers

Weekend's Best: 11/10

The opening two nights of the college basketball season gave Ivy hoops fans a lot to celebrate. On Friday night, Harvard got the kinks out against a solid D-III squad in MIT and Penn mounted the greatest comeback in program history (!) to knock off UMBC at the Palestra.

On Saturday, the League kept rolling, as Cornell got great production from their guards, beating Western Michigan 80-75, and Princeton won a tight one on the road thanks to some late-game heroics, 57-53 over Buffalo. Yale came out firing against Sacred Heart in a late-afternoon matinee in West Hartford, and looked like they would

cruise to an early victory, but the Pioneers stormed back to force OT and dealt the Bulldogs a painful defeat, 85-82.

In the nightcap, Dartmouth won their first season opener since 2005, slowly pulling away from Maine in the second half at Leede Arena, 67-54, while

Columbia annihilated Furman in South Carolina, 68-47, behind a backcourt barrage. Here are the weekend”s best performances:

Read moreWeekend's Best: 11/10

Season Preview: Dartmouth Big Green

A young Dartmouth squad showed flashes of progress last year. They’ll try to take another step forward by moving out of the basement this season.

In 2011-12: 5-25, 1-13, 8th place

A Look Back: Dartmouth has been treading water for a while now, and the last three seasons have been eerily similar: a few non-conference wins, an Ivy home win towards the middle of the season and a whole lot of defeats. The Big Green has won just five games in each of the past three seasons and hasn’t won an Ivy road contest since February 21, 2009, when Ivy Player of the Year Alex Barnett led Dartmouth to victory at Princeton.

Dartmouth opened 1-2 before heading across the continent for the Great Alaska Shootout, falling to San Francisco and

Central Michigan but nabbing a win over DII Alaska-Anchorage. Wins against Elon and Longwood were the only other highlights from a losing non-conference season that mostly featured games against local competition – a 65-47 loss at Notre Dame on Dec. 10 being the notable exception.

Read moreSeason Preview: Dartmouth Big Green