With that being said, I do want to raise one quick issue about the Ivy League Tournament. I will still gripe that it should be just three teams, but if that had been the case going into tonight, we would have been robbed of a pretty fantastic moment.
After Brown’s victory at Dartmouth on February 12, the Bears were in fourth place with a 5-3 record and a two-game lead on fifth-place Cornell. With four games in a row at home, things looked positive for Brown to hold onto fourth and claim a spot in the Ivy League Tournament.
The Tigers dispatched the Brown Bears in Providence last night with a workman-like 66-51 effort to run their Ivy record to 10-0. The most noteworthy factor in this one was the reemergence of Pete Miller as a force at both ends of the court. The 6’10” senior saw his playing time decline precipitously in early February to single-digit minutes. Against the Bears, Miller was in the floor for 29 minutes while contributing 10 points and four rebounds.
That familiar feeling was back again.
Like when Yale came back from 21 down in the second half against the Lions in 2012, the “Cannady Collapse” against Princeton last year, the entire 2013 Ivy run, and in half of the Lions’ home Ivy games already this year, a great first half was being wasted by a second-half meltdown. But like last Saturday night’s win over Harvard, the Lions steadied their nerve down the stretch and move solidly into third as their schedule turns from friendly confines to other, above-ground Ivy gyms.
Our Ivy weekend roundup features a raucous rematch, some Red and Crimson splitting, a No. 4 stepping to the fore and late-game strategy deja vu.
With the first-ever Ivy League Postseason Tournament, the regular season has focused on which teams would make it into the top four. In the preseason and the first two months of the campaign, Princeton, Yale and Harvard appeared certain to get to the Palestra for the second week of March. The first two weekends of conference play has confirmed those ideas. For most of the nonconference season, Penn seemed to take control of that fourth spot. While losing to Princeton at Jadwin Gym on the opening night of the league schedule, the Quakers showed enough on the offensive and defensive sides to justify those predictions. However, the Quakers’ two home losses this weekend showed that their path to the Palestra is uncertain and opened the fourth spot for all five lower division squads. After Saturday’s action in Philadelphia and Ithaca, Brown and Columbia took strong steps towards claiming the last spot in the top tier.
After winning on the road against Central Connecticut this Saturday, Brown basketball finds itself as the only Ivy League team with a winning record (5-4) heading into the first week of December. The Bears’ 75-58 victory was its best road victory since back-to-back wins against Providence and Central Connecticut State in December 2014. With its yearly rematch with the Friars scheduled for this Tuesday, it is worth spending time reviewing the first month of the Brown season before looking to the future.
What happened last year: (8-20, 3-11 Ivy) The Bears’ 2015-16 season was underwhelming overall. Brown tied for last in the conference despite being projected to finish fifth in the preseason media poll with two-time Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Cedric Kuakumensah still in tow and an unusual level of offensive depth. But a five-game skid in league play in February followed back-to-back 24-point losses to Yale and Princeton in the Bears’ second and third conference matchups, a tough slog for Brown.
What’s new: Kuakumensah is gone after leading the league in blocks and three-point percentage as well as ranking second in rebounding last season. Say howdy to freshmen forwards Joshua Howard and David Erebor as well as rookie center Brandon Charnov and frosh guard Brandon Anderson, who selected Brown over Columbia. Most of Brown’s offensive playmakers return, but the Bears were projected to finish last in the conference in this year’s preseason media poll, probably because of Brown’s distinct lack of defensive fortitude last season.
As reported last week by Sky Sport Austria, Cedric Kuakumensah has signed on to play professionally in the Austrian League with the Redwell Oberwart Gunners of the Austria-A Bundesliga League, which the Gunners won last season.
Kuakumensah became the Ivy League’s all-time leader in blocks as a senior this past season, and he was expected to arrive last week in Oberwart in time for training camp, per Brown Athletics.
The Tigers’ weekend sweep of Yale and Brown at Jadwin gave them control of their destiny in the hectic Ivy race and tied them with the Bulldogs in the all-important loss column.
The largest Jadwin crowd in the Mitch Henderson era, bolstered by a beer-soaked cadre of undergraduates and Garden State chief executive Chris Christie, Delaware ’84, was on hand for Friday’s matchup with Justin Sears and company. Yale controlled the backboards and the game in the early going, taking an 11-6 lead after six minutes. Two Sam Downey free throws gave the Bulldogs their largest lead of the game, 19-13, with nine minutes to go in the first period. The key statistic was Yale’s six offensive rebounds while shutting the Tigers out in that category. At the five-minute mark the margin remained six, 27-21.