If you missed the Ivy League’s own men’s All-Ivy awards, you can find them here. As selected by Ivy Hoops Online’s contributors, here are the IHO 2017-18 Men’s All-Ivy Awards:
Seeing it through
Brown notched an outstanding 67-63 win at Jadwin Gym, hanging on after nearly surrendering a 60-47 lead with 2:17 left. Brandon Anderson was the best player on the floor off the bench, posting 21 points and three steals in just 28 minutes, his trips to the foul line and jumpers setting back the Tigers any time they got even a modicum of momentum. Brown’s defense shut Princeton down early and often, holding the Tigers to 0.79 points per possession and collecting a whopping 25 turnovers from the hosts.
A depleted and dispirited Tiger squad faced off with an amped up Brown Bear quintet last night at Jadwin. The Bears came in with a chance to play themselves into next week’s Ivy Madness. Their 67-63 wire-to-wire smackdown of Princeton sends them to The Palestra with their tourney aspirations very much alive. The winner of tonight’s Brown-Penn meeting will be in the tournament. Their wins on Friday night against teams already in the field eliminated Cornell, an ironic end for Brian Earl’s dreams on the night his Big Red defeated Harvard, the probable No. 1 seed.
Eight thoughts on the men’s side:
1. Penn’s defense finds its stride
Penn held Cornell to 18 points in the second half and 0.78 points per possession for the night, an inspired defensive performance marking the latest glimpse of how high Penn’s ceiling can be when the defense is fully locked in. Matt Morgan’s usage rate was lower than usual, and Penn did a good job zeroing in on the second-all-time leading scorer in Ivy history. Morgan and company actually had a decent outing from beyond the arc (8-for-22, 36.4 percent), but it didn’t matter because everything else was effectively taken away. The Big Red typically thrive at the foul line, but Penn’s characteristically disciplined defense (the Quakers rank best in the Ivy League in defensive free throw rate) didn’t feed into that. Instead, Penn preserved its outside shot at an Ivy League Tournament berth, a feat only as realistic as its defense is strong down the stretch.
The Brown men’s basketball team finds itself ranked No. 179 at KenPom, which is its highest ranking since it was at No. 170 heading into a Nov. 17, 2015 matchup at Northwestern. With two games over the next four days against No. 29 Butler and No. 171 Stony Brook, the Bears are looking to continue their early season success as they enter into their finals break.
At 6-3, Bruno is having its best start since the team had the identical record in the beginning of the 2013-14 season, coach Mike Martin’s second year at his alma mater. With the return of all five starters and its top six scorers (93.5 percent of all points), as well as a fifth-place spot in the preseason Ivy media poll, Brown’s expectations were high heading into the start of the season. With Harvard’s top two players facing unknown return dates, Penn’s second team All-Ivy guard out for the season following an injury on opening night, a Princeton team that was without its heralded first-year four-star point guard and a Cornell team with its second-best player deciding to become a graduate transfer, it was not shocking for the Bears faithful to think that this might be the year when the team finally returns to the upper division for the first time since 2012-13, Martin’s first season at the helm. A two-point loss at No. 280 LIU-Brooklyn and a three-point defeat at No. 208 NJIT in their opening weekend quickly seemed to put the breaks on those thoughts.
In the final game of the Brown Bears Tip-Off Classic, the Army Black Knights went ice-cold from the field and Brown benefited, winning, 86-66. Brown improved to 3-2 with the win, and Army dropped to 1-4. Brown won all three games it played in the tournament, beating UMass-Lowell on Friday, 82-74, and Sacred Heart on Saturday, 82-77.
A balanced attack for the Bears saw five scorers in double digits, those being Brandon Anderson who had 16 points (4-of-8), Desmond Cambridge’s 13 (5-of-12), 12 each from Zach Hunsaker (4-of-7) and Tamenang Choh (3-of-7), and Obi Okolie’s 10 points as well (2-of-6). Tamenang Choh hauled in 10 rebounds to complete the double-double, and Joshua Howard was just two points short of a double-double as he also had 10 rebounds. Brown controlled the backboard, outrebounding the Knights, 49-33.
Another college basketball season is upon us. So what can we expect from the Ancient Eight this season coming off a down year for the league overall?
With so much returning talent across the conference, anticipate higher quality of play from both the Ivies who make the conference tournament and those who don’t.
The Crimson missed their two highest-usage players on offense down the stretch of the Ivy League Tournament final versus Penn at the Palestra: Bryce Aiken, who suffered a knee injury and missed 18 of the final 22 games of the season, and Seth Towns, who suffered a knee injury with around eight minutes left and did not return. Of course, Penn edged out Harvard in the end, the Crimson coming up just short in the face of the Red and Blue’s home-court advantage even without the 2017-18 Ivy Player of the Year (Towns) and 2016-17 Rookie of the Year (Aiken).
Harvard would have likely punched a NCAA Tournament ticket if it had those two standouts in tow, and they’ll probably do the same if they have them in tow this season.
After losing eight players from the 2016-2017 season (13-17 overall, 4-10 Ivy), including first team All-Ivy Steven Spieth, four-year starting point guard Tavon Blackmon, and three-point specialist JR Hobbie, the Brown men’s basketball team was picked last in the 2017-18 Ivy League preseason media poll. With underclassmen filling out almost 64 percent of the roster and playing 74 percent of the team’s minutes, the Bears finished last year at 11-16 with a second straight 4-10 mark in the Ancient Eight. While the record was not impressive, Brown did take Providence to overtime, defeat Princeton on the road for the first time since 2010, and have a third place 4-4 record halfway through the conference schedule. After gaining a year of experience leading the program, the talented young core will attempt to move Brown beyond four straight seventh-place league finishes and make a push for a first-ever spot in the Ivy Tournament.
As selected by Ivy Hoops Online’s contributors, here are the IHO 2017-18 All-Ivy Awards:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
AJ Brodeur, Penn (So., F – Northborough, Mass.)
In Penn coach Steve Donahue’s system of interchangeable parts, Brodeur has proven he can do it all.
Donahue moved Brodeur from center to power forward to make way for Max Rothschild at the five this season, and in nonconference play, Brodeur wasn’t really the focal point of the offense and excelled by not forcing shots outside of Penn’s ensemble offensive system. Instead, Brodeur helped power Penn to a 9-5 record before January in other ways, cleaning the defensive boards, aggressively fortifying a surprisingly strong defense through blocks and steals, and deft passing in the paint and on the perimeter (notching seven assists in Penn’s 78-70 win at Dayton).
What a wild and crazy Ivy season the 2017-18 campaign turned out to be.
The Ivy League finished first among all 32 Division I conferences with a whopping 39.3 percent of conference games being decided by four points or less or in overtime, a record for any conference in the KenPom era dating back to 2001-02, per Kevin Whitaker of NYC Buckets.
Every Ivy squad played in at least one league game that went to overtime, and the extra periods helped define at least two squads’ seasons in-conference: Harvard went 3-0 in such contests en route to a shared Ivy League championship, while Princeton went 1-4 to seal its first finish outside the league’s top four in 10 years.
Ivies went 39-17 at home in conference play, tops in Division I a season after they went just 28-28, worst in Division I in 2017.