Ivy hoops roundup – June 6, 2019

  • Following a 11-plus week paid suspension, Auburn University reinstated former Penn assistant coach Ira Bowman to his similar position on Saturday afternoon.  The 1996 Ivy League Player of the Year was suspended by Auburn just before the SEC Tournament, after former Penn coach Jerome Allen testified that Bowman was involved in a scheme resulting in bribes by Florida businessman Philip Esformes to get his son, Morris Esformes, on the basketball roster for the fall of 2015.
    Sam Blum of AL.com wrote that an Auburn athletics spokesman confirmed the news but did not have the results of the school’s investigation or information regarding the reasoning for Bowman’s reinstatement.  AL.com has filed an open records request to obtain this information.  Bowman returned to his reported $250,000 a year job, just in time to help with one of the biggest recruiting weekends in program history.
    Kevin Bonner, Penn’s senior associate athletic director, governance and administration, did not respond to an email from IHO regarding the reinstatement, the Auburn investigation or any Penn investigation of Bowman.

Read moreIvy hoops roundup – June 6, 2019

Ancient Eight thoughts – Ivy Saturday men’s edition

Eight thoughts on the Ivy men’s basketball, which, per KenPom, gave us the highest percentage of games decided by three or fewer points or in overtime in all of Division I for the second straight season:

Crimson are No. 1 for a reason 

Harvard conquered its house of horrors, Levien Gym, 83-81, after an obligatory overtime period to claim its seventh Ivy League championship under Tommy Amaker and the No. 1 seed in the Ivy League Tournament. But is Harvard a vulnerable No. 1 seed?

Read moreAncient Eight thoughts – Ivy Saturday men’s edition

A historic performance by Matt Morgan leads Cornell past Towson in nonconference finale

Matt Morgan had 38 points, Josh Warren had 18, and Jimmy Boeheim had 14 as Cornell raced past Towson, 86-74, at SECU Arena Wednesday night. Cornell had trailed in the first half by as many as eight points but got hot after Morgan hit four threes in as many minutes, seizing a 22-point lead in the second half. Cornell finishes nonconference play at 8-8, after winning three of their last four games with Columbia now looming in the distance.

Read moreA historic performance by Matt Morgan leads Cornell past Towson in nonconference finale

Report: Columbia’s Mike Smith out for season with torn meniscus

According to an Associated Press report on Columbia’s 82-73 loss at Boston College Wednesday night, Lions coach Jim Engles announced that star point guard Mike Smith has a torn meniscus and will miss the remainder of the 2018-2019 season. Smith’s injury occurred in the first half of last Friday’s game against Bryant.  The junior point guard ends his season as one of the Ivy League’s top performers with 15.8 points, 5.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game.

Read moreReport: Columbia’s Mike Smith out for season with torn meniscus

Ivies take Manhattan for MSG Holiday Festival

NEW YORK – Back in the day, the MSG Holiday Festival was a premier two day four team bracketed event that featured several of the nation’s top teams.  In addition to the classic 1964 Festival featuring Princeton (Bill Bradley), Michigan (Cazzie Russell), Syracuse (Dave Bing) and St. John’s (Coach Joe Lapchick), there were years like 1995, when Penn won the title and used it as a stepping stone to the AP Top 25; 1997, when Princeton was victorious on its way to a top 10 AP ranking; and 2009, when Cornell took the title on its way to a Sweet 16 appearance.  Over the last few years, the event has morphed into a one day double-header featuring the Johnnies and three other local mid-majors.  This year, the “worlds most famous arena” was home to a quarter of the Ancient Eight as Columbia took the subway and Princeton came up the NJ Turnpike to take part in the annual pre-Christmas tradition.

Before the Garden was cleaned up for the Knicks nightcap versus the Hornets, the Lions held off Iona  and the Tigers succumbed to the Red Storm.  While neither team was perfect and the results were spit, both teams had solid efforts and hope to use the day as a motivator as the Ivy schedule quickly approaches.

Read moreIvies take Manhattan for MSG Holiday Festival

What can Columbia build on after another tough loss?

As the great Renaissance humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam said: “Damn, Columbia just can’t buy a win.”

Columbia fell 87-86 in double overtime to Delaware Sunday at Levien Gym, leaving the Lions a frustrating 1-5 and the only team in the Ivy League under .500 and still searching for answers. The talent is there. The wins are not.

After an exceedingly comfortable win over St. Joseph’s (Brooklyn) of Division III, the Lions fought back multiple times against the 7-2 Blue Hens. Mike Smith scored five points late in regulation to force overtime. Gabe Stefanini hit a huge three to force a second overtime. Columbia earned the chance to win the game by getting a tie-up with 1.9 seconds to play. But the inbounds set remained unchanged despite a Delaware timeout; a lob to Patrick Tape, not corralled, and an off-balance Stefanini jumper, not converted, closed the books on a good start to December. Conference play, obviously, is the key, but Columbia is yet to prove a formula that might prove effective therein.

Read moreWhat can Columbia build on after another tough loss?

Not-so-classic weekend for Columbia at Fordham

Can Columbia buy a win?

More importantly, can Columbia buy a stop?

In the first 10 games of last season, Columbia allowed just three teams — not even Villanova among them — to score 80-plus points. This year’s squad has thrice conceded opponent totals of at least four score and seven years ago. Seems about right for the last time the Lions won a game.

The team dropped three consecutive games at the Johnny Bach Classic at Fordham over the weekend. Kendale Hampton scored a career-best 32 points to lead Youngstown State to a 94-83 win in Columbia’s opener. FIU rode several double-doubles to an easy 98-87 win over Columbia on Saturday despite Gabe Stefanini’s 33 points. The denouement came Sunday, when Columbia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a 70-69 heartbreaker against host Fordham.

Read moreNot-so-classic weekend for Columbia at Fordham

Columbia comes up short on the Hudson Shore

The Columbia Lions men’s basketball team started the season with more of a whimper than a roar, dropping their opening game 82-76 to Marist Saturday night in Poughkeepsie.

To take a page out of Jason Lloyd of The Athletic’s book, here are seven thoughts for Mike Smith’s seven field goals, as well as a bonus two looking ahead to Columbia’s participation in the 2018 Johnny Bach Classic …

Read moreColumbia comes up short on the Hudson Shore

2018-19 Ivy League Preseason Power Rankings

Another college basketball season is upon us. So what can we expect from the Ancient Eight this season coming off a down year for the league overall?

With so much returning talent across the conference, anticipate higher quality of play from both the Ivies who make the conference tournament and those who don’t.

1. Harvard

The Crimson missed their two highest-usage players on offense down the stretch of the Ivy League Tournament final versus Penn at the Palestra: Bryce Aiken, who suffered a knee injury and missed 18 of the final 22 games of the season, and Seth Towns, who suffered a knee injury with around eight minutes left and did not return. Of course, Penn edged out Harvard in the end, the Crimson coming up just short in the face of the Red and Blue’s home-court advantage even without the 2017-18 Ivy Player of the Year (Towns) and 2016-17 Rookie of the Year (Aiken).

Harvard would have likely punched a NCAA Tournament ticket if it had those two standouts in tow, and they’ll probably do the same if they have them in tow this season.

If.

Read more2018-19 Ivy League Preseason Power Rankings

Ivy League coaches’ roundtables: About the brand, not the players

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.

Read moreIvy League coaches’ roundtables: About the brand, not the players