Celebrating Penn’s regular season title with a shower of realism

For more than half a decade, I’ve spent my Fridays and Saturdays checking Ivy basketball scores, waiting for Penn to get another Ivy title (on the men’s side at least, I’ve seen the women do it a few times!). However, on one of the more consequential weekends in that pursuit, I was struck with a bout of indifference and a twinge of disappointment.

As you surely know reading this site, Penn clinched a co-regular season championship with Harvard on Saturday, ending an 11-year drought between Ivy crowns. It’s been way too long and there’s certainly some satisfaction as a fan watching them pull it off.

The disappointment is understandable: The Quakers had blown their opportunity to win the outright title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Ivy League Tournament, which would have not only given them a chance to play a No. 4 seed they had swept in the regular season but also an automatic bid into the NIT if they didn’t win the tournament.

Read moreCelebrating Penn’s regular season title with a shower of realism

Ivy weekend roundup – Mar. 2-3, 2018

What a wild and crazy Ivy season the 2017-18 campaign turned out to be.

The Ivy League finished first among all 32 Division I conferences with a whopping 39.3 percent of conference games being decided by four points or less or in overtime, a record for any conference in the KenPom era dating back to 2001-02, per Kevin Whitaker of NYC Buckets.

Every Ivy squad played in at least one league game that went to overtime, and the extra periods helped define at least two squads’ seasons in-conference: Harvard went 3-0 in such contests en route to a shared Ivy League championship, while Princeton went 1-4 to seal its first finish outside the league’s top four in 10 years.

Ivies went 39-17 at home in conference play, tops in Division I a season after they went just 28-28, worst in Division I in 2017.

Read moreIvy weekend roundup – Mar. 2-3, 2018

Grading the inaugural Ivy League Tournament

After years of debating and voting on the efficacy of an Ivy League Tournament, the first one is in the books.

And it certainly has engendered much discussion amongst the Ivy faithful, given its prominence on the ESPN family of networks this past weekend (ESPNU for the semifinals and ESPN2 for the final).

From a national perspective, not so much, despite the fact that the venerable college basketball writer John Feinstein was one of the media members in attendance for the Saturday session. With that said, here is an attempt to grade the event in different categories:

Read moreGrading the inaugural Ivy League Tournament

On the Vine – Mar. 15, 2017

Joining hosts Peter Andrews and Mike Tony for a special Ivy League Tournament recap and NCAA Tournament preview edition of On the Vine are special guest Bobby Norell of One Foot Down (SB Nation’s Notre Dame site), and IHO writers Rob Browne and George Clark.

(Here’s Norell’s Princeton-Notre Dame preview for One Foot Down.)

The panel gets a detailed breakdown of Notre Dame’s team, season and program from Norell and then reflects extensively on the ups and downs of the inaugural Ivy League Tournament and the future of the tourney.

Myles Stephens: The silent assassin

The silent assassin strikes in one of his louder moments. (Princeton Athletics)

Just moments after his Yale Bulldogs were eliminated by the Princeton Tigers in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament, James Jones faced a contingent of media reps seeking his analysis of the tourney final.

Jones does not parse his words. He said that during a timeout in the second half, called to halt the gathering Tiger momentum, he noticed on the stat sheet that Myles Stephens, the Tiger sophomore, had scored 18 points. He turned to an assistant and asked, “How did that happen? That’s the quietest 18 points I have ever seen.” He described Stephens as “the silent assassin.”

Read moreMyles Stephens: The silent assassin

No. 12 Princeton to play No. 5 Notre Dame in NCAA Tournament Thursday

Less than four hours after Princeton defeated Yale to clinch in the Ivy League Tournament final to clinch its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011, the Tigers (23-6, 14-0 Ivy) learned they will play Notre Dame (25-9, 12-6 ACC) in the NCAA first round Thursday in Buffalo, in the West region.

The matchup will tip off at 12:15 p.m. on CBS, with Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel and Allie LaForce on the call, per Matt Norlander of CBS Sports.

The Tigers’ last NCAA Tournament victory came in 1998, when they defeated UNLV in the Big Dance as a No. 5 seed.

Princeton’s last NCAA Tournament appearance six years ago was a 59-57 first-round loss to Kentucky as a No. 13 seed.

Like Princeton, Notre Dame prefers to play a slower pace and shoot a lot of three-pointers, and the Fighting Irish rank first in the nation in free throw percentage and 16th in adjusted offensive efficiency.

Notre Dame lost to North Carolina in the Elite 8 last season at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, and the Fighting Irish also made the Elite 8 the previous season.

Notre Dame is led by junior forward Bonzie Colson, who has averaged 17.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, junior guard and Bridgewater, N.J. native Matt Farrell, who has contributed 14.2 points and 5.5 assists per game, senior forward V.J. Beachem and his 15.0 points and 4.1 rebounds, and senior guard and Medford, N.J. Steve Vasturia and his 13.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.

The Fighting Irish are 9-8 against top 60 KenPom competition and are ranked No. 25 in KenPom. Princeton is ranked No. 59 by KenPom.

Princeton defeats Yale, 71-59, clinches NCAA Tournament berth

16-0.

Princeton cemented itself as one of the Ivy League’s most impressive basketball teams ever with a 71-59 victory over Yale at the Palestra to win the inaugural league men’s basketball tournament, clinching a 16-0 record in league competition and the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011.

Read morePrinceton defeats Yale, 71-59, clinches NCAA Tournament berth

Ivy weekend roundup – Feb. 13, 2017

As IHO writer Rob Browne pointed out to me Sunday night, this was a topsy-turvy weekend for Ivy hoops. Comebacks came and went, winning and losing streaks were snapped and the race for the league tournament No. 4 seed got muddled:

Read moreIvy weekend roundup – Feb. 13, 2017

Q&A with Princeton coach Mitch Henderson

Editor’s Note: Our Toothless Tiger, George Clark, caught up with Princeton coach Mitch Henderson one-on-one at Jadwin Gym in late September for a comprehensive interview revealing what to expect from Princeton this season as the Tigers look to live up to their No. 1 Ivy preseason ranking. (Please excuse the technical difficulty separating Parts 1 and 2 – it’s presented intact because it demonstrates how gracious Henderson is and was in real time throughout the interview.)

Part 1

  • how Henderson feels about the Ivy postseason tournament and Penn’s potential for participating as host


Part 2

  • Henderson’s trust in former assistant and current Cornell head coach Brian Earl during games
  • what Kerry Kittles’ role is as a new assistant for Princeton
  • which Pete Carril quote from the 1991 Princeton media guide pertains to the 2016-17 Tigers
  • why Hans Brase is “the edge”
  • how Spencer Weisz has followed in T.J. Bray’s footsteps
  • what to look for from Princeton’s freshman class
  • what’s behind Princeton’s brutal nonconference schedule

Q&A with Yale’s Makai Mason

Makai Mason posted 31 points, six rebounds, four assists and just two turnovers in 39 minutes in Yale's NCAA first-round win over Baylor, the program's first ever NCAA victory. (Fansided)
Makai Mason posted 31 points, six rebounds, four assists and just two turnovers in 39 minutes in Yale’s NCAA first-round win over Baylor, the program’s first ever NCAA victory. (Fansided)

Our Richard Kent caught up with Yale junior guard and March Madness standout Makai Mason and talked to him about what Yale fans can expect from next year’s Bulldogs team as the program defends its 2015-16 Ivy championship and much more: 

Read moreQ&A with Yale’s Makai Mason