The Ivy League shook off its sluggish start to the season this weekend, going 6-1 and improving to 10-13 against Division-I opponents. This weekend also saw Brown, Dartmouth, and Princeton pick up their first D-1 wins of the season, while Harvard continues to roll over inferior opponents, no matter what coast the Crimson is playing on.
The NCAA has ruled on Brown’s appeal regarding the eligibility of Rafael Maia, their heralded freshman big man from Brazil. Maia, who was considered a favorite for Ivy League Rookie of the Year, will be ineligible to play for the Bears during the 2011-2012 season, according to a source close to the team. The news comes as another blow to the Bears, who are struggling to get out of the blocks at the beginning of this season, following losses to Albany and Manhattan.
Maia’s ineligibility stems from the following NCAA rule passed in April of 2010:
“Any student‐athlete who does not initially enroll full‐time in a collegiate institution within one year or the next opportunity to enroll following the high school graduation date of the prospective student‐athlete’s class and participates in organized events after that grace year will be charged with a season of intercollegiate competition for each year of participation and must fulfill an academic year in residence at the certifying
institution before being eligible to compete.”
After graduating from high school in December of 2009 (as is the case in Brazil and most of the Southern Hemisphere), Maia went and played a PG year at Maine Central Institute. Because Maia played the entirety of his PG year at MCI, he went past the one year of post-high school graduation organized activities that the NCAA allows. Maia will be eligible to play next year, but will only have three years of eligibility remaining.
Brown is also missing co-captain and returning leading scorer Tucker Halpern, who continues to struggle with a bout of mono. The Bears return to action on November 19th, at home against Hartford.
In the Ivy League, where at-large postseason bids are pretty hard to come by, the non-conference season is often treated as a warm-up lap, a series of exhibitions dedicated to getting the kinks out and teaching players the system. When January rolls around and the league slate begins, the fourteen-game tournament brings with it a whole new level of intensity. Since that’s the way it is in our corner of the college basketball landscape, there is absolutely nothing more debilitating and frustrating than a serious injury in November or December. For Columbia, that nightmare scenario came to fruition in the late stages of a loss to the Furman Paladins.
Less than 72 hours after a tough loss at St. Bonaventure, the Big Red opens up at Newman Arena in search of its first win of the year. Friday night’s game raised more questions than it answered: Can Cornell shoot the three-ball with consistency? Who will play the 4 in Peck’s absence? Have Jake Matthews and Max Groebe gotten the short end of the stick with new freshmen arrivals in the backcourt? Will Chemerinski and Figini be able to hold their own in the post?
The Big Red hopes to begin to answer all of these questions and more as it takes the floor against Binghamton tonight.
Brown, Sean McGonagill: The Bears’ sophomore point guard picked up where he left off last season with an impressive 20 point (7-12 shooting), 10 assist performance in a 86-66 victory against D-III Johnson & Wales.
Columbia, Blaise Staab: Staab came out of nowhere to be the bright spot for Columbia on a night when Agho and Barbour couldn’t finish at the rim. Staab, who played a grand total of 70 minutes in his first three years in New York, finished with a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) and looked comfortable mixing it up with the nation’s best in Storrs, CT during the Lions’ respectable 70-57 loss.
Penn, Zack Rosen: Rosen had a monster night for the Quakers, tallying 26 points on 10-16 shooting, including 4-6 from range. The Quakers put UMBC away early in the second half behind some shutdown defense en route to a 59-45 triumph.
Yale, Greg Mangano and Reggie Willhite: The Bulldogs held off a late charge from CCSU to win their opener 73-69 behind 23 points and 13 rebounds from their senior star, Mangano. Captain Reggie Willhite also had a big night, dropping in 21 and adding six steals and six boards.
Cornell starts the 2011-2012 season in the same place Jeff Foote began his college career five seasons ago. If the Big Red want to progress in year two of the Bill Courtney era the same way Foote progressed when he traded maroon for bright red, the crew from Ithaca is going to have quite the early test. The 2011-2012 campaign kicks off in Olean, NY as St. Bonaventure boast their best squad in recent memory. The Bonnies return four starters from a team that posted its first winning season in eight years, highlighted by preseason first team A-10 pick, Andrew Nicholson. Nicholson, a rare legitimate NBA prospect out of St. Bonaventure is coming off a year in which he averaged over 20 points and 7 rebounds a game. The forward who is comfortable setting up on either block and who can finish on both sides of the rim, will provide a major challenge to Cornell’s unproven front court.
These are scenes from UConn and Columbia’s respective attempts at Midnight Madness. In front of 16,000 fans in the XL Center there’s Andre Drummond, the No. 1 recruit in the country according to ESPN.com and likely next year’s top pick in the NBA Draft, with a ridiculous windmill alley-oop off a pass off the backboard from last year’s Illinois Mr. Basketball Ryan Boatwright. In a basement on 118th street, there’s Wushu.
It’s fair to say there’s more excitement surrounding this UConn team than there is for Columbia. But here at Ivy Hoops Online, we’re most excited to see how one of our own can fare against the defending national champions. On paper, the Lions are in deep trouble. UConn is a consensus top-10 team, favored to win the Big East. They’re led by preseason All-American guard Jeremy Lamb, feature two more starters in the Naismith Watch List’s top 50 players (Alex Oriakhi and Drummond), and have one of the best recruiting classes in the country.
Here’s the case for Columbia: the Lions return most of their key players including the incumbent Ivy League scoring champion Noruwa Agho (the only player on either team on his conference’s first team last year). Four of the team’s top five scorers come back. Coach Smith’s squad will have much greater continuity from last season than Coach Calhoun’s. In the recent past, Columbia has been able to keep it respectable against the top teams in the country. Their last game against a top-10 saw the Lions within nine points of Syracuse at the half before losing 85-60 back in 2009. Before that, they lost by single digits to Notre Dame in ’05 and UCLA in ’01.
The Ivy League has a broad fan base scattered all over the country. With that in mind, we created the lists below for fans looking to catch a piece of live action this season.
The following is a composite Ivy League schedule of every basketball game involving an Ivy League team within approximately 90 minutes of NYC, Philly, Boston, Syracuse, and Los Angeles.
Without further ado, I present the official IvyHoopsOnline preseason predictions for the 2011-2012 season.
The good news for Columbia is that they return a proven backcourt duo in Noruwa Agho and Brian Barbour. The pair made for a dangerous tag-team last year, dominating foes that allowed them to get to the rim and take high percentage shots. The Lions lived and died by Agho and Barbour, as the pair accounted for 47.9 percent of Columbia’s points during the conference season. Despite this backcourt dependence, Columbia could very easily have finished last year in the top half if they had held on to late-season leads at Princeton and against Yale. In games where the Lions weren’t outmanned in the frontcourt, they performed extremely well, pulling out sweeps of Cornell and Dartmouth, and splits with Penn and Brown. It all starts with the two guards though, and there’s no reason to think that this season will be very different.
In Agho, Columbia has a true scorer. As much as some critics disparaged his efficiency numbers last year (and the All-Ivy First Team selection certainly did take his fair share of shots), Agho shouldered a bigger load than any other player in the league because the Lions lacked another consistent scoring option on the wing or down low. With little help surrounding him, Agho coasted to the conference scoring title. Meanwhile, Barbour quickly emerged as one of the league’s best point guards, posting the conference’s second-best offensive efficiency numbers behind Harvard’s Oliver McNally. First-year coach Kyle Smith leaned heavily on his young point guard, as Barbour played the third-greatest share of minutes for his team of anyone in the Ivy at 86.9 percent (Agho was fourth at 85.5 percent).