- While most of the nation’s attention was focused on Election Night coverage, seven of the 16 Ivy teams opened the 2018-19 season. When the evening was over, the four men’s and three women’s teams were victorious and there was no need for any recounts. After noting the highs and lows for the Penn men, below are summaries for the other six squads.
In past years, the Ivy League office organized a teleconference call for the men’s basketball coaches, a few days after the preseason media poll. At those events, the coaches would talk about their teams, as well as answer questions from the Ivy League moderator and a small number of reporters. In addition, Reggie Greenwood, the league’s Coordinator of Officials, would discuss any rule changes for the upcoming season. This year, the league decided to do away with the call in favor of having roundtable conversations with the men’s and women’s coaches.
The two 30-minute videos, which were shot in New Haven on Sept. 5 (women’s coaches) and Sept. 12 (men’s coaches), focused on the general improved state of Ivy recruiting, the difficulties in scheduling nonconference games as an improved mid-major conference, the unique challenges in playing back-to-back Ivy weekends, the importance of the Ivy Tournament for late-season competitiveness, and the significance of the league’s partnership with ESPN. What fans did not hear was anything related to the specific teams and players.
Picked for sixth in the 2017-2018 Ivy League preseason poll, the Cornell men’s team (12-16 overall, 6-8 Ivy) exceeded expectations to finish the season in fourth place and secure the team’s first ever appearance in the Ivy Tournament. After starting conference play with three straight losses by a total of 71 points, the Red and their second-year head coach Brian Earl regrouped. Over the next four weeks, they went on a 4-2 run, punctuated by a 22-point second half comeback in a 107-101 triple overtime win over Princeton, to get back into the thick of the race for the upper division. After losing a thrilling double overtime at Harvard on the penultimate night of the regular season, Cornell bounced back again to defeat Dartmouth and claim the Ivy’s fourth golden ticket.
In the semifinal against Harvard, the Big Red found themselves up seven with three minutes to go in the first half, but the Crimson closed the stanza on a 16-4 run. Without any answers in the second half, their season ended with a 74-55 defeat. With the return of Matt Morgan and Stone Gettings for their senior seasons, things looked up for the Cornell faithful. In May, however, Gettings changed all of that with a surprise announcement that he would forgo his senior season, graduate in December and become a graduate transfer for 2019-20. Despite the loss of their second-team All-Ivy forward, the Big Red look to jump over the .500 mark and make it back to Ivy Madness.
Following the recent nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the Yale Daily News noted that the Eli alum (’83-’87 Undergrad; ’87-’90 Law) was once a writer at the paper’s sports department. While journalists and commentators across the nation scour and highlight his voluminous legal output, we here at IHO have looked at his writings to take a (lengthy) look back at his work with the 1985-1986 Yale men’s basketball team.
The Bulldogs finished the 1984-1985 season with a 14-12 overall record and a 7-7 mark in the Ivy League. They were tied for fourth with Harvard and Princeton, three games off the pace of league champ Penn, two games behind Columbia and one game back of Cornell. Yale won five of its last seven, including a home sweep of the Empire State Ivies and a 77-75 victory over the Quakers at the Palestra. Sophomore center Chris Dudley, who averaged 12.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, was named to the All-Ivy first team.
Penn, led by first team All-Ivy junior guard Perry Bromwell and junior center Bruce Lefkowitz, was the preseason favorite to win the conference. In his November 21, 1985 season preview, Kavanaugh wrote, “Penn finished 10-4 in the Ivies last season, and their four losses were by a total of only 11 points. If they are disciplined and play as a team under new coach Tom Schneider, the Quakers should repeat as champions.” According to the coaches preseason poll, Yale was picked second, followed by Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth and Brown. Kavanaugh predicted a similar top five with Dartmouth, Brown, and Harvard in the bottom three spots.
On Monday, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted that Cornell’s Matt Morgan would withdraw from the upcoming NBA Draft. That same day, Raphy Gendler of the Cornell Daily Sun reported that Morgan will return to the school and the team for his senior year. Noted Morgan in a text to the school paper, “It was in my best interest to come back and play one more year and finish out not only my athletic career but also my academic career. It was great going through the process again but I’m glad to officially be back and getting ready for another run with my team.”
Morgan had tested the NBA Draft waters for the first time in the spring of 2017. During that time, he received interest from the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Washington Wizards. He took the information from that process and used it to have his strongest season at Cornell. Not only did he lead the Ivy League in scoring for the third straight season, but his career-best 22.5 points per game was the 11th highest in the nation. The Concord, N.C. shooting guard ended the 2017-2018 season with an active 51-game double-digit scoring streak, while being named a member of the All-Ivy first team and the Lou Henson All-America team. His 1,646 points are third on the Big Red’s all-time list, 17 points behind John Bajusz and 382 points behind Ryan Wittman’s record 2,028.
Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order). For the next entry in our Ivy 60 for 60 series, we focus on John Bajusz, one of the greatest players in Cornell basketball history…
In the fall of September 1986, Philadelphia Inquirer writer Dan Rottenberg described his disappointment in then-first year Eagles coach Buddy Ryan, who refused to shake hands with opponents following games. When looking for the antidote to Ryan’s unprofessional behavior, Rottenberg remembered the actions of Cornell star John Bajusz.
In March 1986, the Big Red went down to the Palestra with a one game lead on Brown with two games remaining. Cornell’s star captain was blanketed by Penn defenders all evening, forcing him into extremely long outside shots. Although miraculously making nine of 12 shots and going 6-for-6 from the charity stripe, his team was down eight with a minute to go. After being removed from the game by coach Tom Miller, a disappointed Bajusz (pronounced BAY-us) refused to go to the bench until he ran to midcourt to warmly shake the hands of the three Quakers defenders and wave congratulations to the remaining two Penn players under the basket. Without a title, the 21-year-old Bajusz was more of a champion than a Super Bowl winning coach greater than twice his age.