Welcome to the first IHO Power Poll (based on games through 12/16/11). 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.
The second-place finish of the Dartmouth Aires on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” will likely be the competitive highpoint of the winter for the Big Green. Women’s basketball, women’s hockey, and men’s hockey are already craning their necks to view the top of their respective standings (non-conference and conference alike). Not surprisingly, men’s basketball is in the same boat.
The problems are familiar for this Dartmouth squad. The team is posting an offensive rating of just 89.0 (322nd out of 345 teams), which, incredibly, is a slight improvement over last season. The defense is vastly better but still below average, with a rating of 102.0 (a 6.3 point improvement over last season).
’Tis the season for holiday tournaments, and, in the spirit of the times, Dartmouth has left the cold woods of Hanover for the frozen wilderness of Anchorage to participate in the Great Alaska Shootout. Like turkey and stuffing, the classic tournament is a Thanksgiving fixture, as it tips off its 34th edition tonight.
The Shootout lacks some of the heavy hitters that it’s hosted in the past, but the tournament has more than made up for it with an eclectic mix of mascots, which include the Big Green, the Anteaters, the Chippewas, the Racers, and the Dons. Dartmouth squares off against the aforementioned Dons tonight (or, um, this morning) at 1:30 a.m. in a game televised on Fox College Sports and YES Network.
San Francisco—which returns all five starters from a team that went 10-4 in the WCC a year ago—has jumped out of the blocks to a 4-1 start. The undersized Big Green will have its hands full with the Dons’ duo of Angelo Caloiaro, a 6’8 senior putting up 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, and Perris Blackwell, a 6’9 junior who averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds a season ago. But the Big Green might have found something in its own frontcourt, as freshmen Jvonte Brooks and Gabas Maldunas have each grabbed co-Rookie of the Week honors in the season’s first two weeks. Both freshmen were instrumental in Dartmouth’s first win against Bryant on Saturday, combining for 20 points and 18 rebounds in the 66-62 victory.
The winner of Dartmouth-San Francisco will face the winner of Murray St.-Alaska Anchorage in the semifinal, while the losers will square off in a consolation game. The other side of the bracket pits Central Michigan against New Mexico St. and UC Irvine against Southern Mississippi. It must be said that in every iteration of the Great Alaska Shootout at least one participant has made it to the NCAA Tournament.
The Ivy League shook off its sluggish start to the season this weekend, going 6-1 and improving to 10-13 against Division-I opponents. This weekend also saw Brown, Dartmouth, and Princeton pick up their first D-1 wins of the season, while Harvard continues to roll over inferior opponents, no matter what coast the Crimson is playing on.
The last time Dartmouth beat a BCS program was Dec. 19, 1989, when the Big Green (under head coach Paul Cormier) topped Texas A&M, 64-51. Technically, the Aggies weren’t even a BCS program then, because, well, the BCS didn’t yet exist. Nor did the Big 12 for that matter. Texas A&M was a member of the now defunct Southwest Conference. So you might be forgiven if you thought Dartmouth had no shot against Rutgers in its season opener.
The Ivy League has a broad fan base scattered all over the country. With that in mind, we created the lists below for fans looking to catch a piece of live action this season.
The following is a composite Ivy League schedule of every basketball game involving an Ivy League team within approximately 90 minutes of NYC, Philly, Boston, Syracuse, and Los Angeles.
Without further ado, I present the official IvyHoopsOnline preseason predictions for the 2011-2012 season.
It was a long winter in Hanover. The 2010-11 Dartmouth men’s basketball team compiled a 5-23 record, including just one league win, to match its results from an equally forgettable 2009-10 campaign. The Big Green had some moments—opening a 28-point lead on Cornell and holding on to the win, forcing Yale into overtime on the road, dominating Penn in the first half on the last Saturday of the season—but its final record was befitting of its talent on the court. Dartmouth’s adjusted offensive efficiency was just .883 points per possession, a number that confirms the Big Green had one of the most anemic offenses in the whole country.
“We just didn’t have anyone that could score the ball,” head coach Paul Cormier succinctly noted in last week’s teleconference.
A new class of freshmen offers a glimmer of hope for the Dartmouth faithful. Cormier, now in the second year of his second tenure, has made it clear that he intends to give his recruits a lot of burn on the hardwood, even suggesting that we might see a few of them in the starting lineup. A team of freshmen can hardly be expected to compete with the top teams in a year as deep as 2011-12, but the youth movement will perhaps pay big dividends and lift the Big Green out of the Ivy cellar down the road.
The world is filled with more curiosities than we can collectively explore much less explain. But sometimes a question is so natural and obvious that, upon hearing it for the first time, you wonder why you never thought of it before. Thankfully, we have bright minds like Dartmouth’s RJ Griffin to shine a light on these dark mysteries. This week, he tries unwrapping an etymological enigma:
The first sentence could be the set up to a punch line, but the double question mark indicates that Griffin means business. And he should because, though I’ve never seen a fly without wings, he has a point. His question stems from the philosophy of objects. Do we classify objects by their physical appearance (for instance, a chair can be defined as a flat surface with four legs and a backrest)? Or do we classify them by their function (a chair can be defined as a place where people sit)? Griffin is obviously wrestling with the fact that both methods have flaws (for example, a chair can be a sack filled with beans and people can sit on a fence post just as well). He’d like to redefine the fly by its new function (“walking”), but the double question mark demonstrates the seeming incongruity of this denomination.
Griffin’s tweet might also lead you to speculate on the origin of the fly’s name. Of all the majestic airborne creatures, why did the lowly fly get dibs on “fly”? Why isn’t there a “swim” or a “wriggle” yet? I think this observation has the potential to be groundbreaking, and I hope all of the scientists following Dartmouth basketball on Twitter take Griffin’s point into consideration when naming new breeds of species.
If you took everything said in the preseason media teleconference at face value, then you’d think every team has a shot to win the Ivy League title this year. Here are a few of the best sound bites from Wednesday, taken beyond face value.
Yale head coach James Jones on the Bulldogs’ preseason No. 2 ranking: “Every year for the last I don’t know how many, we’ve always been picked lower than we’ve finished. We’re picked second; there’s only one more spot to go to, so hopefully it works out for us.”
In the middle of a vanilla interview, Jones whips out this nugget. That’s a suspiciously juicy factoid for a coach—I’m guessing the SID gave it to him. For the record, the last time Yale failed to surpass its preseason ranking was 2007-08. By the way, looking through old preseason rankings is a hoot: last year Cornell got a first place vote; in 2009-10, Penn was picked third; the 2008-09 Tigers were chosen dead last. I wonder if the previous season is a better predictor of preseason polls than the end of year rankings.
Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson on the Tigers’ scheduling difficulties: “When you’re in a position like ours—we like being in a situation like this—where teams don’t want to play you, especially this year with a good group coming back, it’s a little more difficult to get your phone calls returned.”
Humblebrag! “They hate me cuz they ain’t me,” Henderson added.
Paul Franklin, The Trenton Times: “It hasn’t been that long, obviously, since you played…or maybe it is. [Pause for laughter]. Sorry about that.”
Penn head coach Jerome Allen: “It’s OK.”
Paul Franklin of The Trenton Times stole the show on Wednesday. Reporter chumminess is an especially awkward variety of male flirting, but in the hands of a skilled veteran like Mr. Franklin, it’s borderline magical.
“1995 was like so long ago, AMIRITE?! ROFL!!!”
Jerome was unfazed, and in his chocolatey, midnight DJ voice he gave a courtesy chuckle and forgave the age crack.
Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker on 2009-10: “Jeremy made so many other people better. I think that’s always the mark of a special player, which Jeremy was for us.”
The Jeremy Lin narrative has taken a slightly disappointing turn, as he’s become one of those NBA bench players that fans cheer for ironically. Well Tommy Amaker is not going to let that spoil his legacy in Cambridge: JEREMY LIN IS THE BEST PLAYER IN HARVARD HISTORY. THAT’S THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS.
Dartmouth head coach Paul Cormier on the Big Green’s inexperience: “One good thing about having freshmen is sometimes that lack of experience doesn’t affect their confidence and they just feel that they’ve been successful at whatever level they’ve been at and hopefully that some of that success can carry over.”
What Cormier is trying to say is that freshmen don’t have the Dartmouth stink yet. The Dartmouth stink doesn’t wash off. One season in Hanover and you’re permanently stinky. It sounds like his plan is to quarantine every member of last season’s 5-23 team by keeping them on bench rest and to start anew with this freshmen class. It’s like the plot of The Walking Dead.
Paul Franklin, Trenton Times: “Playing a little devil’s advocate with you here: if I’m a hardcore Cornell fan and I start harassing you with, ‘Hey coach, when are we going back to the Sweet Sixteen?’, what’s your response?”
Cornell head coach Bill Courtney: [Laughs] “I’ll tell you what, it’s funny because you get a lot of that when I go to the grocery store or the movies or something like that… We’re working towards that and we’ll continue to work until we get back to that point.”
Franklin: “Alright, you’ve got five years then I’m coming after you.”
Courtney: [Laughs] “I hear you.”
More gold from Franklin. The question is legitimate—when will the Big Red climb back to the top of the Ivy League?—but I wonder what he means by “coming after you.” I can only assume that Mr. Franklin has some ferocious tickling in store for Courtney if he can’t lead the Big Red back to March Madness by 2016.
Columbia head coach Kyle Smith, on senior guard Noruwa Agho: “I just feel he’s one of the best all-around players in the league and one of the best all-around players I’ve ever been around… I don’t know if that will show up as much in the stats, but it’s certainly showing up with his leadership.”
The Myth of Noruwa Agho lives on, but Smith at least seems to acknowledge that Agho’s raw stats hide his inefficiency. Thankfully for Columbia, Agho might lead the league in leadership, so they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.
Brown head coach Jesse Agel: “This league is really, really good. There are no nights off. There are no more weekends where, you know, Penn and Princeton would go somewhere and say, ‘Well, we’ve just got to get through this weekend and we should win two.’ I don’t think anyone’s thinking that anywhere now.”
Franklin: “No more sightseeing, huh?”
Agel: [Laughs] “I don’t know what you could see on some of those rides. Having lived up in the deep Northeast, not much sightseeing in the winter.”
Franklin: [Laughs] “Alright, thanks.”
Franklin does it again! It might be the preseason, but Mr. Franklin is in rare form. He forced a chuckle out of Jesse Agel, who might be the most humorless coach in the Ivies. But Agel snaps back into his sour mien with a terse “sure” to close out a riveting, if hardly informative, hour and a half teleconference.