Kobe Bryant’s impact on the game of basketball and the people who have a passion for it has been incalculable, and his sudden death at 41 following a helicopter crash that killed his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others near Los Angeles Sunday put into perspective just how much Bryant mattered to those who have been Ivy League hoopsters.
In the latest episode of Inside Ivy Hoops, Ivy Hoops Online editor Mike Tony is joined by Harvard basketball ’18 alum Chris Egi and IHO writer Richard Kent.
Mike and Richard analyze last weekend’s Yale-Brown men’s and women’s matchups, make sense of the Penn men’s ebb and flow, preview this weekend’s tilts and more:
Chris Egi explains the No More Names 10,000 Voices campaign, reflects on how coach Tommy Amaker makes Harvard a socially conscious basketball program, weighs in on Bryce Aiken’s work ethic and much more:
Mike wraps up with why this past week in Ivy hoops was an example of appreciating what you have while you have it:
With teams a few short weeks away from actual games, here is a collection of off-season stories to catch up on before the start of the 2018-2019 season.
Despite having ups and downs during its non-conference schedule, the Harvard men’s basketball team (18-14 overall, 12-2 Ivy) played consistently great defense (Adjusted Efficiency of 98.3; 55th in the nation). In conference action, the team was able to solidify its rotation, improve its outside shooting (three-point percentage increased from 30.0 to 42.2 percent), and weather a major injury to its leading player to win a share of the regular season title and claim the league’s top seed heading into the Ivy Tournament. A road game with co-champion Penn and an injury to the Ivy Player of the Year late in the second half may have been the only things keeping the Crimson from winning Ivy Madness. With a healthier 2018-19, Harvard will look to stay on top of the Ancient Eight and return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.
Last season, Harvard lost to Yale in heartbreaking fashion in the first round of the inaugural Ivy League Tournament. The Crimson graduated Siyani Chambers and Zena Edosomwan, both of whom made indelible impacts on the program. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a successful Harvard season without Siyani Chambers. And yet, the Crimson comes into the 2017-18 season as the preseason favorite, according to the Ivy Preseason Media Poll. While the poll predicted an incredibly close race between Harvard and familiar foes Yale and Princeton, the sentiment of the voters is clear: No one expects Harvard to take a step back this year. Here are the details on how Harvard hopes to turn high expectations on paper into actual success on the court:
Marketing hoops in China
Sophomore forward Erika Steeves was named one of five Brown student-athletes who earned a Royce Fellowship, which will support Steeves as she works with the NBA, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), and Chinese sport officials to study the growing market for amateur and professional basketball in China.
Columbia women to go south of the border in November
The Columbia women’s basketball team has been invited to participate in the 2017 Cancun Challenge at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula. In the 10-team tournament, they will be in the 4 team Mayan Division along with Arizona State, Green Bay and 2016 national runner-up Mississippi State. Each of these teams had 20-plus victories in their 2016-17 seasons. While the schedule for the November 23-25 Challenge does not come out until June, the four teams in last year’s Mayan Division played three games in three days against each of the teams in the group. So, the Lions should get their chance to beat the team that ended UConn’s 111-game winning streak.
When Harvard lost six out of its first seven games against Division I opponents last season, you could hear them. When Harvard started out Ivy play 2-7, you could hear them. When Harvard finished the season 14-16 with a 6-8 record in the Ivy League, you could really hear them.
Maybe you even started hearing them last August when it was announced that Siyani Chambers had torn his ACL, and that he would miss the entire 2015-16 season. Or maybe they became audible on Jan. 18, 2015, when Harvard landed Chris Lewis, the first of seven recruits who, on paper, comprise the best recruiting class on paper in Ivy League history. Or maybe they started five years ago when current Harvard senior Zena Edosomwan became the first ever top-100 recruit to commit to an Ivy League school.
Columbia 77, Brown 73
The Lions absolutely needed to have this game to hold serve in the Ivy title chase, and they got it thanks to Grant Mullins. The unsung senior guard turned it on with Brown keying in on Maodo Lo and Alex Rosenberg, notching 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting, including 6-for-9 from long range. The Bears held the lead as late as the 3:18 mark but couldn’t quite crack it, led by Steven Spieth, who has averaged 20 points per game since Brown was swept by Yale last month.
Boston College 69, Harvard 56
Free throws. They’re important. The Crimson attempted 23 and missed 14. Harvard lost by 13. You do the math.
Okay, that’s an overly simplistic numbers comparison, but this can’t keep up. Junior center Zena Edosomwan and sophomore forward Chris Egi combined to shoot 5-for-15 from the charity stripe by themselves. Come on. Harvard’s a defense-oriented team that wants to grind it out with some freshman backcourt threes thrown in. If you’re going to play that way, you better make the most of your foul line trips.
Sorry, rest of the Ivy League. Harvard’s still Harvard.
Laurent Rivard, Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey may be gone, but Harvard’s ranked No. 25 in the nation and appears to be locked in cruise control en route to a fourth straight NCAA appearance, even in a loaded Ivy League. But let’s start with the negatives. Where is the perimeter depth now? 2013-14 Ivy Player of the Year Wesley Saunders is back and so is Siyani Chambers, who we’ll get to below. Agunwa Okolie, two-year Mormon church mission hiatus-taker Corbin Miller and rookie Andre Chatfield will all be stepping up to provide that depth. The frontcourt boasts the return of shot-blocking phenom Kenyatta Smith as well as the very well-rounded Steve Moundou-Missi. If the Crimson can find a potent three-point shooting wing who can complement Saunders and Chambers, they’ll be just as good as last year. Even if they don’t, they’ll win the Ivy League anyway.