Best Upset: Princeton. The Tigers made sure that there would be no undefeated champion of the Ivy League this year, defending Jadwin from the Crimson for the 23rd consecutive year, 70-62. This may have been the most unlikely of those 23 home victories, as the jubilant Princeton crowd rushed the court at the buzzer. It was a back-and-forth affair the whole way as Harvard led by five at the half before Princeton finally pulled away in the final four minutes. The Tigers had five players in double figures, led by Ian Hummer”s 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Point guard TJ Bray had 12 points, while big man Brendan Connolly pitched in with 11 points and 6 rebounds. Denton Koon didn”t miss a shot, adding 10 points in 18 minutes (4-4 FG, 2-2 FT), and Mack Darrow rounded out the double-digit scoring with 10 to go with 5 boards. Princeton only missed one field goal and had one turnover in the game”s final five minutes. For Harvard, Keith Wright provided much of the offense, scoring 16 on 7-11 shooting, while Brandyn Curry had 15. Harvard yielded 70 points to an opponent for only the second time this season (Seattle scored 70 in a 80-70 Crimson victory back in early December).
Best Road Warrior: Harvard. It's not always pretty, but the Crimson continue to find a way to get it done behind great defense again. Wright, Rivard and Curry combined to go 1-15, but Harvard's depth saved them as Corbin Miller contributed 17 points in just 18 minutes. Kyle Casey dropped 15 points, while Wright was a vacuum on the glass, grabbing 13 rebounds. Penn didn't receive any of the home cooking that some expected from a raucous night at the Palestra as the Quakers were whistled for 23 fouls, while Harvard was only whistled for 12 fouls. After the game, Rosen delivered this quote: “Usually, I'm a 'we' guy. We win. We lose. I
felt like I was totally to blame. I didn't hit the shots that I hit in my sleep, the shots I take day after day.” Of course, Rosen is bound to be hard on himself, but the Penn star did not deliver on this night, scoring 16 points on 21 shots. Cartwright pitched in with 12 points, while Bernardini was held to 2 points on 0-5 shooting. Harvard's grip on the Ivy title tightens after this one, and a sweep tonight at Princeton would all but end the race with three weekends to go.
Yale vs. Columbia usually provides fans with a good show. Sometimes the games are meaningful, other times they are for nothing more than bragging rights among two teams separated by a 15 dollar Metro-North ticket which usually leads to a good crowd. This one does mean something. Despite the overtime loss in Ithaca, the Bulldogs are within two games of first place with Harvard still on the schedule one more time.
Columbia comes into this matchup with some positive momentum after splitting last weekend's northern jaunt up to Hanover and Allston. The more impressive performance for the Lions came in the loss to Harvard, a game Columbia trailed by two with only minutes remaining. Barbour continues his impressive run through the league as the conference's leading scorer and Cisco is right on Mangano's heels as one of the league's top rebounders. When the Lions get solid production from a third player, usually Lyles or Rosenberg, they are a dangerous team.
Brown, on the other hand, continues to struggle. The Bears looked promising through their first four Ivy games, getting a victory at home against Dartmouth, and keeping things interesting against Yale and Harvard. Last weekend was a big step back though, as the Bears' roster was depleted due to injury. Princeton came into the Pizz and pulled away early, never looking back in a double-digit victory, and an angry Penn team came in the next night and did the same thing. At 1-5, things look like they may be unraveling quickly for a Brown team with some very tough road trips still on the schedule.
At the suggestion of commenter BrianEarl4Prez, now that we are nearly halfway through
the Ivy season, we are going to be monitoring the Ivy League Player of the Year/Rookie of the Year race via this weekly feature.
Player of the Year
1. Zack Rosen- Penn”s point guard has been superb so far for the Quakers. Logging the most minutes in the league and still managing to put up the most efficient offensive rating among go-to players says everything you need to know about this guy. Rosen”s passing ability is unmatched in a league full of impressive point guards this season, but the senior is also shooting 41% from deep and 48% from the field. Against rival Princeton, Rosen put up a performance for the ages, scoring 28 points and dishing out five assists with only two turnovers in 39 minutes. This is not a most valuable player award, but think about where Penn would be without Rosen? Certainly not in the thick of a title chase halfway through the season.
Welcome to the sixth IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/06/12). Please note that these rankings are based off of our best guesses of how the Ivy League picture will sort itself out. We always love to hear your gripes and whines in the comments below.
1. Harvard (6-0), (20-2)- The Crimson protected its home court over the weekend to remain undefeated in league play. Harvard showed little sign of weakness against Cornell on Friday night, building a 14-point lead at the break and affording its starters some rest in the second half (the bench saw 40 percent of the court time). The light load proved useful the following night, as the Crimson had to grind out a 57-52 victory over Columbia. Despite 11 missed free throws, Harvard built an 8-point lead with a little over five minutes remaining, but two threes and a three-point play from the Lions left the Crimson clinging to a 2-point lead with 2:39 to go. But Harvard executed down the stretch, getting a pair of stops and hitting five of its final six free throws (the Crimson took 32 on the night compared to just eight for Columbia) to ice the victory. The home sweep carried Harvard to the top of the Ivy League standings and sets up a huge showdown with Penn at the Palestra this Friday. -C. River Banks
Quick thoughts from Saturday night”s results
Best Team: Yale. Yale gets the rare P”s sweep by taking down Princeton 58-54 at home. Reggie Willhite was the star, dropping 20 points, including a second-half highlight reel dunk, while grabbing 9 rebounds. Greg Mangano had another dominant performance as well, getting 20 points of his own (on 17 shots, though) to go with 12 rebounds, for yet another double-double. The Yale backcourt didn”t shoot well–Grace was 0-4, Morgan was 1-9–but they finally ended their turnover woes, limiting giveaways to 10. Princeton was coming off of a very hot shooting night against Brown, but the Tigers were held to 33% from the field (and an ice cold 19% from deep), with Ian Hummer”s 18 points leading the way. Princeton falls out of the title chase with their third loss of the season.
Quick hitters from Friday night”s games
Best win: Yale. Tonight”s biggest victory has to go to the Yale Bulldogs. Penn had a lot of momentum late in this game, and the Bulldogs could have let it all slip away when they started to get sloppy with the ball in the second half. Yale”s guards turned it around though and Mangano decided that the Elis weren”t losing this one, grabbing two offensive rebounds off missed free throws (one was his own) in the final minute to seal the win. Turnovers continue to trouble this team as Reggie Willhite, Austin Morgan, and Mike Grace combined for 13 giveaways, but besides those lapses in judgement (which need to be corrected soon), the Yale guards were impressive. Morgan hit three critical three pointers under pressure; Willhite showed his typical hustle on both ends, grabbing key rebounds and knocking down a huge late-game jumper; and Mike Grace had his best game of the season. The North Carolina native was 5-6 from the field with four assists, showing a propensity for the bank shot and looking more dangerous than he has all year. Mangano was pissed off at the referees all game, but he stopped whining and took the game into his own hands down the stretch, denying Rosen the chance at a game-tying three by getting those monster rebounds. The big man showed great touch around the rim all day, finishing with 23 points on 8-13 shooting and 10 rebounds. If this was Round One of the Player of the Year battle between Mangano and Rosen, the Bulldog came out on top.
Welcome to the fifth IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/30/12). Please note that these rankings are based off of our best guesses of how the Ivy League picture will sort itself out. We always love to hear your gripes and whines in the comments below.
1. Harvard (4-0), (18-2)- Harvard settled the score from last season in a shockingly decisive victory over Yale on Friday night. The Crimson’s suffocating defense (and numerous unforced errors on the Elis’ part) limited the Bulldogs to just 35 points, the lowest scoring output for an Ivy team since December 2007 (Princeton at Evansville). Harvard followed up that performance with a wire-to-wire victory at Brown to complete the road sweep and move to 4-0 in conference play. Offensively, the Crimson found production from a variety of places over the weekend. Sharpshooter Laurent Rivard went off for 18 points on Friday, and the next evening Kyle Casey led the way with 20 points. Freshman Steve Moundou-Missi, who continues to be a rock off the bench, chipped in 10 points and five rebounds against Yale and six points and 10 rebounds
against Brown en route to winning his first Ivy League Rookie of the Week award (the third different freshman to win the honor for Harvard). The title race is now decidedly stacked in the Crimson’s favor. Harvard has six of its next eight games in the friendly confines of Lavietes Pavilion, where it’s currently riding a 23-game winning streak, while attrition among the challengers begins in earnest next week when Princeton and Penn visit Yale. -C. River Banks
The first thought Columbia’s second year head coach, Kyle Smith, expressed after defeating Cornell, 61-56 Saturday night was how true to form the play was of a typical Ivy League game. The biannual matchup between Cornell and Columbia takes the classic Ivy League mold Coach Smith was referring to and brings it to the next level. Every season for two weeks, Bill Courtney and Kyle Smith have nothing to worry about except game planning against its travel partner. There is so much film and so much time, that by game day, it’s nearly impossible to surprise or sneak up on the other. So was it really a surprise that round one of the Cornell-Columbia series ended up being a three point game with just twelve seconds to play? To Kyle Smith, not at all.