Now’s the time of year that an Ivy League hoops slate would be revving up, and since there’s no Ivy hoops action to come this spring, here’s an IHO contributors’ roundtable pondering what might have happened in the 2020-21 Ivy season on the men’s and or women’s sides if there had been one instead of an exodus of much of the league’s top talent via the transfer portal. Behold the one-year Ivy hoops universes we created:
After a six-game winning streak gave Harvard a fighting chance to seize the top seed in the Ivy League Tournament from arch-rival Yale, the Crimson men fell to Brown, 64-55, at home Friday night and locked themselves into a matchup with Princeton. The Bears, who are wrapping up an impressive season but failed to vault into the top tier of the league, completed a season sweep of Harvard on the strength of 20 points from Zach Hunsaker and a solid defensive effort. On Senior Night, Harvard was as usual led by Chris Lewis, who had 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting, but sorely missed the steady hand of injured guard Christian Juzang. The usually reliable Noah Kirkwood struggled from the floor, shooting only 4-for-13 with no assists, and freshman guard Idan Tretout was not able to pick up the backcourt slack after having been thrust into action.
ITHACA, N.Y. – Despite the absence of Christian Juzang due to injury, Harvard pulled out a 67-58 win over Cornell, putting the Crimson in sole possession of second place in the Ivy standings.
“They’re an impressive group,” Cornell coach Brian Earl said. “I won’t miss some of their seniors on their team. They’re grown men.”
The first half was super streaky, although relatively close. Harvard (20-7, 9-3 Ivy) opened up on a 6-0 run, followed by an 8-0 run from Bryan Knapp for the Big Red (6-19, 3-9).
“My teammates [are] looking for me,” Knapp said. “I had five, then Terrance [McBride] was like, ‘I’m getting you the ball,’ and he drove, kicked it to me.”
The Crimson kept pace with Yale and Princeton by winning against a pesky Columbia team in Manhattan Friday night. When stalwart point guard Christian Juzang went down with a serious-looking ankle injury, Rio Haskett rose to the occasion as the next man up and personally put Columbia away with a late-game scoring flurry. Mike Smith once again performed heroically, with 34 points against a stout Harvard defense, but the rest of his teammates failed to hold up their end of the bargain. Haskett was one of four Harvard players who scored in double figures, including a double-double from Justin Bassey and a 6-for-6 free throw performance from Chris Lewis. Harvard came very close to sharing the Ivy league lead with arch-rival Yale, but Penn’s late-game meltdown kept Harvard firmly in second place with Princeton.
In a game in which they were favored by 14.5 points, Harvard struggled to pull away from Columbia and barely escaped with a victory in double overtime. Mike Smith scored 38 points, more than half of Columbia’s total output, and came very close to stunning the Crimson on the road. Harvard struggled badly to generate offense, attempting most of its field goals from beyond the three-point line and making only eight of 43, and contain Smith, who took 37 shots and made 17 in 49 minutes of play. Both sides made crucial plays to extend the game. Smith drove to the basket for an open layup to tie the game at the end of regulation, and Christian Juzang scored after a crucial offensive rebound by Justin Bassey to force double overtime.
Live by the opponent’s last-second free throw, die by the opponent’s last-second free throw.
Harvard concluded a wild four-game road stretch with a 72-71 loss when Brown’s Tamenang Choh finished an “and-one” in the waning seconds, a night after Yale’s Azar Swain failed to convert a similar opportunity. On the back of Choh’s heroics and a dominant performance from Brandon Anderson, the Bears (11-8, 4-2 Ivy) picked up a crucial home win against the rival Crimson (14-7, 3-3) and proved that they can play with the best of the Ivy. The Crimson go home disappointed after four straight tight contests with surviving optimism about their ceiling but with urgent questions about their ability to finish games. The thrilling conclusion lent some excitement to a game that was otherwise difficult to watch, thanks to overzealous refereeing and occasional difficulties with clock management.
Saturday night in the Ivy League … you just never know!
The Tigers canned 13 three-pointers Saturday evening against the visiting Harvard Crimson. They needed every one of them, plus two Richmond Aririguzoh free throws with 3.9 seconds to go, to hold off the relentless Crimson, 70-69, before the largest home crowd in recent memory.
Penn nearly gave the game away several times down the stretch against Harvard Friday evening at the Palestra. But it held on for a 75-72 win in overtime that it needed to avoid a fourth 0-3 start to Ivy League play in five seasons.
Penn seemed to be on the verge of victory when an inbounds turnover gave Harvard possession down 58-56 late. With 1.7 seconds on the clock, Noah Kirkwood hit a fadeaway jumper over the outstretched hand of AJ Brodeur to force an overtime period in which Penn again built an early lead, eventually getting to a 68-63 advantage off a Devon Goodman basket with 77 seconds remaining and making hay on multiple trips to the free throw line to gain a 75-69 edge.