Coming into the weekend, Cornell and Princeton were arguably the hottest Ivy League teams. Both teams entered Friday night looking to capture its longest winning streak of the season after collectively dismissing arguably the two best teams in the conference, Harvard and Yale. Friday night, Princeton surged in the second half to top Columbia while Cornell faltered late and fell at the Palestra. Princeton, who has probably been the most inconsistent team in the league this season will have to put together a complete effort if it doesn’t want to find itself being swept by Cornell for the second time in the last three seasons.
Player of the Year
1. Zack Rosen
It was not the best week for Penn’s point guard. On Friday, the Quakers lost a crucial game at home to the Crimson, 56-50, and Rosen’s six-for-21 shooting performance left Penn fans feeling a little cold. The senior was off the next night as well, hitting just five of 13 shots against the Big Green. But despite his struggles, Rosen still showed up when it mattered most. He scored 10 points in the final 10 minutes against Harvard’s lockdown defense to bring the Quakers within a bucket of tying the game, and he nailed a game-winning three
from the wing to send Dartmouth packing on Saturday. Those late heroics were enough to keep the senior ahead of the competition for Player of the Year for at least another week.
2. Greg Mangano
Yale’s big man also had an up-and-down weekend. In Ithaca on Friday night, Mangano was mired in foul trouble, picking up his fourth with over eight minutes left in regulation. The senior, who finished with 14 points and only five rebounds, attempted just two shots from that point forward, as Cornell went on to win in overtime, 85-84. The next night Mangano struggled out of the gate, missing his first six shots, and Yale found itself in a 22-point hole six minutes into the second half. Of course, the Elis pulled off a comeback for the ages, and Mangano was no small part of that. Although he would finish with only 11 points (his second lowest scoring output since late November), his eight points down the stretch were crucial to keeping the Bulldogs” Ivy League hopes alive.
Before this past weekend, Cornell had been coasting under the radar, going about its business without many outside of Ithaca taking notice. These days, it’s hard to get attention in the Ivy League if you’ve never had Harvard printed across your chest. A Top 25 ranking and an alumnus starting for the New York Knicks makes for a pretty compelling story. Whatever room was left on the back pages has gone to the only two teams thought to be contenders for the crown: Penn and Yale. It’s hard to blame the casual fan for not paying Cornell much attention. As I’ve been saying for a few weeks, the Big Red has been about what everyone expected this season. No points too high, no points too low. A split against Columbia. One of two at home against the Ps. A loss at Harvard. A win at Dartmouth. A 3-3 conference record. Sounds about right. No real story in that.
This week though, Cornell is deserving of a little pub, a little recognition. It’s not only that Cornell managed a sweep of Yale and Brown, it’s how it was done. Early Friday night, all of Cornell’s nightmares were coming true. To say Yale started hot and Cornell started cold would have been a serious understatement. The Bulldogs came out dominating this game, utilizing every strength and exploiting every Cornell weakness. The front court duo of Greg Mangano and Jeremiah Kreisberg accounted for 9 of the game’s first 14 points. Yale was out-rebounding the Big Red 16-5 (with seven of those boards coming on the offensive glass) and Cornell was shooting the ball poorly from the outside. For a while, it felt as though Yale was one play away from breaking the game open and waltzing to its fourth consecutive victory and eighth in nine attempts.
Welcome to the seventh IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/13/12). 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 (7-1), (21-3)- Harvard had the Ivy League all but wrapped up after winning at the Palestra on Friday. Then Saturday happened, and now it’s game on once again. The Crimson’s performance at Jadwin was very uncharacteristic. The Tigers torched Harvard’s vaunted defense for 1.11 points per possession, time after time finding easy buckets on backdoor cuts. Not only that, the Crimson’s normally reliable free-throw shooting allowed the game to slip away, as Kyle Casey missed four of five from the stripe (including the front end of a one-and-one) to watch a tie game turn into a five point deficit. Harvard will have a chance to regroup with its next four games at home, but, thanks to its 23rd straight loss at Princeton, the Crimson is no longer the only team that controls its own destiny. -C. River Banks
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 may not come into Ithaca with the fanfare and national following that
will surround Harvard’s visit in three weeks, but James Jones’ squad is quietly getting things done. The Bulldogs have not won even a share of the Ivy League title since the 2001-2002 season, but are one of three remaining legitimate contenders to this year’s crown. The Bulldogs come into Newman Arena Friday night as hot as any Ivy team. Yale, winner of seven of its last eight, enters the weekend straight off its first sweep of Penn and Princeton since the 2006-07 season. Cornell on the other hand is right about where we expected. The Big Red sits at 3-3 in the league play, a half game up on Princeton for 4th in the Ivy standings. A solid showing at home against Yale and Brown will keep the Big Red in the upper half of the league, where Bill Courtney believes his squad belongs.
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.