IHO Power Poll: Valentine's Day Edition

Yale is the big mover this week in our Power Poll as the Bulldogs climb all the way into the top half on the wings of the 8th southern sweep in Ivy basketball since 1980.
Yale is the big mover this week in our Power Poll as the Bulldogs climb all the way into the top half on the wings of the 7th southern sweep in Ivy basketball since 1980.

We have a lot of love for all of the Ivy teams, especially on a day like Valentine”s Day. From Hummer”s smooth moves getting to the bucket, right on down to Dartmouth”s overachieving group of freshmen, there”s a storyline that warms the heart on every squad. The Big Red, the team perhaps most suited for a holiday like today, is led by Shonn Miller, who must have a fear of commitment because no one doles out rejections like him these days. Even Harvard, the ice cold Ivy villain to many, has Siyani Chambers– the heartbeat that keeps the Crimson going. Columbia”s Cupid has to be Brian Barbour, whose artfully placed arrows travel in the form of assists and currently have the Lions safely out of last-placed heartbreak in this edition of the Power Poll. But enough with all this mushy stuff, let”s get to the rankings.

1. Princeton (4-1) (5 first place votes, 40 points)– Things would have been quite different for the Tigers had Columbia not destroyed Harvard on Sunday, but here they are, still sitting in the top spot, despite the end of the 21-game Ivy home winning streak. Let”s skip over Friday”s domination of Brown (Hummer, Koon, and Bray were transcendant, Barrett was solid and Brase and Connolly were game-changers on defense) because Saturday was much more interesting. The loss to Yale was a total surprise given how efficiently the Tigers had been dominating their league opponents, winning their first four games by an average margin of 13 points. Henderson will certainly have the Tigers working all week on how to handle the pressure of an extended zone because after Yale”s successful execution of that game plan, the rest of the league is sure to borrow that strategy against the Tigers. There”s also no way a team with Princeton”s size should ever allow the league”s worst shooting team to shoot 55% from the field. Lost in Saturday night”s upset was another impressive performance from Denton Koon. Princeton”s 6″8″ sophomore continues to impress by knocking down the majority of his looks. In fact, Koon has shot at least 50% in all of his last five games and in nine of his last ten. Leaving him open to help on Hummer is no longer a valid option for opposing defenses. Princeton heads up north for Dartmouth on Friday before the biggest game of the season on Saturday night at Harvard. –Bruno March

Read moreIHO Power Poll: Valentine's Day Edition

Sunday Thoughts

This was one of those weekends where nothing seems to make sense as Yale was the only team to sweep its two contests.
This was one of those weekends where nothing seems to make

sense as Yale was the only team to sweep its two contests.

Throw out the transitive property; toss your scribbled notes in the air; step on your calculator. This year”s conference play continues to confound as Yale, left for dead last Saturday and ranked last in our most recent Power Poll, rose from the ashes and swept Penn and Princeton on the road, the rarest of Ivy feats. Hats off to the Bulldogs who got it done, 69-65, behind a balanced attack and backcourt discipline against the usually disruptive and lengthy Tigers” defense. Yale guards, who have been maligned in this space for their turnover troubles, did a great job on Saturday, committing just six turnovers (the whole team had a total of 13 compared to Princeton”s 16). The trio of Javier Duren, Austin Morgan, and Sam Martin led the way in scoring, dropping 13, 11, and 11, respectively. Duren got it done by getting to the rim and hitting all five of his free throws, while Morgan (3-6 from 3) and Martin (3-3 from 3) impacted the game with the deep ball. Yale”s defense really bothered Ian Hummer, who did manage to go 6-10 from the field, but also committed seven costly turnovers. My personal favorite anecdote from the game was a tweet from The Trentonian”s Nick Peruffo, who talked to Justin Sears after the game and found out that Sears calmed himself at the free throw line by “thinking about watching Entourage.” Can”t question it if it works!

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Saturday Thoughts

It is what we thought it would be. Princeton made it look easy Friday night and Harvard had to work for it (again), but it appears that only two teams will contend for the crown this season.
It is what we thought it would be. Princeton made it look easy Friday night and Harvard had to work for it (again), but it appears that only two teams will contend for the crown this season.

On a snowy northeastern night, the 2013 Ivy League title race was, for all intents and purposes, officially narrowed down to two teams.

Princeton 63, Brown 47. Princeton looked like a deserving contender, thoroughly dominating a hot Brown team at Jadwin behind a trio of remarkable individual offensive displays. Ian Hummer plowed past two more names, into 4th, on the Princeton scoring list; Denton Koon confirmed that last weekend’s 22-point outburst was no fluke; and TJ Bray continued to prove that his early season shooting woes were, in fact, a fluke. The three combined for 46 points, the exact total that the entire Brown team managed to score in a game that was never truly in question after halftime.

Hans Brase was active on both ends too, registering three blocks and consistently putting himself in the right spots.

For the Bears, Rafael Maia had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Bears, but it took him 17 shots and 11 free throws to get there. He struggled to finish particularly when he received the ball with his back to the basket due to the Tigers’ length inside. Brown went with a more structured series of set plays in the half-court, hellbent on getting the ball inside. It didn”t seem to work,

as Maia was undone by Princeton”s length and Brown”s sharpshooting guards and wings were largely marginalized.

Read moreSaturday Thoughts

IHO Power Poll: February 6, 2013

Princeton grabs hold of the top spot in this week
Princeton grabs hold of the top spot in this week”s Power Poll after Harvard”s struggles closing out games last weekend. Brown and Cornell round out the top half as Columbia tumbles down the rankings.

There”s a new squad at the top of our rankings (and a new one at the bottom). In between, the Ivy”s surprise team is two possessions away from being undefeated and the league”s dark horse is already out of contention. One league favorite has underperformed shockingly and somehow still finds itself at the top of the standings, while the Ancient Eight”s doormat benched its captain and ran away with a comfortable victory. Just when we think we”ve got this league figured out, another back-to-back weekend kicks off and provides us with a shocking result, so please indulge us as we engage once again in this biweekly exercise of inevitable futility. This week, all five IHO writers submitted polls and the results are below.

1. Princeton (3-0) (5 first place votes, 40 points)– Princeton handled the C”s with relative ease, dispatching of Cornell behind a career high 22 points from Denton Koon. Ian Hummer also had 22 points on Friday and added nine rebounds in a game the Tigers ran away with early in the second half behind a 15-0 run. A desperate Columbia came to Jadwin on Saturday, eager to get a much-needed victory after losing to hapless Penn. Princeton allowed this one to stay close until the end, but Hummer”s wingman on this night, TJ Bray, hit a huge three with 2:55 to play to give the Tigers a five point lead, and after a beautiful Brendan Connolly retro hook shot, Princeton made sure that five point margin would not be breached again, winning 72-66. Through three games, Princeton has the most efficient offense and defense in the Ivy, and the best player in Hummer. Things are looking up for the coasting Tigers, who get Brown and Yale at Jadwin this weekend before finally leaving the friendly confines of Central Jersey for Dartmouth and Harvard in two weeks. –Bruno March

Read moreIHO Power Poll: February 6, 2013

Weekend Recap: Feb. 1-2

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A two-team race has developed pretty quickly in this year”s 14-game tournament, though the path that Harvard has taken to get to the top has been anything but easy.

The start of back-to-back Ivy weekends did not disappoint as we

were treated to some thrilling contests last night. Storylines abound at all levels of the league, so let”s just jump right in.

  • The biggest story of the weekend was Columbia crashing out of the title race after getting swept by the Ps, just like old times. The Lions put forth a valiant effort on national TV against Princeton, but couldn”t convert late and went down 72-66 at Jadwin, falling to 1-3 on the young season. Despite a career night from Maodo Lo (16 pts) and only three team turnovers, the Lions couldn”t stop a hot shooting Tigers squad. Princeton shot 51% from the field and a scorching 73% (8-11) from three. Hummer was just 2-8 from the field, but made his impact in other ways, getting to the stripe and knocking down 12-14, and dishing out seven assists to go with seven rebounds. TJ Bray had another great performance, hitting 6-10 including 3-3 from deep and committing zero turnovers. Brendon Connolly, who has seen his minutes dwindle as of late, knocked down a pretty running hooking shot to put the game away late. Princeton continues its perfect homestand and moves to 3-0. Brown and Yale visit Jadwin next weekend.

Read moreWeekend Recap: Feb. 1-2

Wild Weekend Recap

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Harvard, Yale, and Cornell got the Ws, emerging victorious from three wild finishes in a wacky weekend in the Ivy League.

If there was any doubt about the anyone-can-beat-anyone nature of this year”s Ivy League, this past weekend should have erased it. The league”s lowest rated team went on the road to the league”s highest rated team and led by 10 with 90 seconds left before Harvard”s furious comeback resulted in another Big Green heartbreak in overtime. The upstart Brown Bears went into New Haven and took the eternally upper half Bulldogs to the brink of a sweep before running out of gas in another overtime game. A struggling Cornell team showed up in New York City and outplayed dark horse title contender Columbia, holding on at the buzzer for the close victory. Let”s dive in and relive a bit of the madness.

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IHO Power Poll: January 23, 2012

Brown hops into the top half in this week
Brown hops into the top half in this week”s Power Poll after the Bears” impressive home victory over Yale.

With the first round of the 14-Game Tournament in the books, we may be finally starting to see the slightest bit of separation in the middle of the league. The top three favorites all held serve in their openers and the Brown Bears, winners of three in a row, have come on strong to make a push for the top half in this edition of the Power Poll. The bottom four teams all look pretty flawed after picking up losses, but Yale and Cornell narrowly earn the 5th and 6th slots based on their slightly more efficient offenses and having at least one Top 200 win. Without further ado, let”s get to the poll:

1. Harvard (1-0), (9-6)- Harvard”s 60-50 loss at Memphis felt something like a win after the Crimson came all the way back from a 20-point deficit, even taking a brief lead with just over 6 minutes remaining. Of course, a 16-4 Tiger run to close out the game sent Harvard packing with an L, but there”s reason to be optimistic if you”re a Crimson fan. Saturday marked the sixth straight game that either Steve Moundou-Missi or Jonah Travis posted an offensive rating above 100. The two undersized big men have been sneakily effective against some pretty stiff competition since mid-December. If Moundou-Missi and Travis can stay out

of foul trouble (the duo averages 10 fouls per 40 minutes), this resurgence bodes well for a Harvard offense that faces five of the six worst Ivy defenses over the next three weeks. -C. River Banks

Read moreIHO Power Poll: January 23, 2012

Round 1 in the Books

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Saturday”s league contests had Ivy fans expecting two very close games between traveling partners. Instead, we got

two pretty decisive victories from Columbia and Brown. The Lions” victory provided more evidence that Columbia is a real contender this year. If they want to compete for the title, this was a road game they needed to have. Meanwhile the day”s biggest statement came from Brown. The Bears” victory wasn”t necessarily unexpected, but the way they routed Yale was certainly a surprise. For such a balanced team with many different ways to put the ball in the bucket, it”s worth noting that the Bears now boast the third-best defense in the league, yielding fewer than 1 point per possession. With Albrecht back now, perhaps we have to raise the ceiling for the quickly-improving Bears: reaching the top half seems to be within the realm of possibilities.

Cornell and Yale will have to go back to the drawing board to figure out a way to salvage a split with their traveling partners after disappointing opening weekends–Cornell with an eye on fixing the defense, and for Yale, the offense.

In some of the season”s final non-conference action, Harvard had a stirring comeback that fell short in Memphis and Penn was dismantled by St. Joe”s in a Big 5 matchup. Let”s take a look at this weekend”s top performers:

Read moreRound 1 in the Books

IHO Midseason Power Poll: January 9, 2013

The midseason IHO Power Poll has arrived just before teams dive into the dogfight that is conference play.
The midseason IHO Power Poll has arrived just as teams dive into the dogfight that is conference play. Did we shaft your team in the rankings? Let us know where you think we whiffed in the comments.

Believe it or not, the conference slate is merely three days away, and in some sense, that”s a bit of a shame because the Ivy League has really been cranking into gear over the last couple weeks, sticking it to some big conference squads. Wins over California, Bucknell, and Providence (among other impressive performances) have elevated the league all the way to 18th in the Pomeroy conference rankings and to 23rd in the conference RPI. While some had feared that in such a down year, the Ivy champ would receive a dreaded #15 or even #16 seed in the NCAA tournament, it now seems that the Ancient 8 king will earn a more palatable #13 seed, according to Joe Lunardi”s first edition of Bracketology, released January 8th. Furthermore, all eight Ivy teams have defenses ranked in the top 215

teams of Division I, but only three have offenses ranked in the top 215. With that in mind, we are going to buck convention and predict that offense wins championships as those three top 215 offenses make up our top 3 spots in this week”s Power Poll.

Read moreIHO Midseason Power Poll: January 9, 2013

Checking in on Yale

The young Bulldogs have had a tough start, but there are reasons for optimism in New Haven and they can be found in the frontcourt.

While it may be tough to see in terms of results, especially after today”s eight point loss to New Hampshire, this young Yale Bulldogs team is making progress. So far, the biggest problem has been getting good shots and taking care of the ball. The Bulldogs rank near the bottom of Division I in shooting percentage and turnover rate. Today”s loss was a perfect example: 1-14 shooting from three (7%) and 18 turnovers.

The reason for the low shooting percentage has simply been a lack of dangerous offensive weapons. Opponents have keyed on Austin Morgan and have kept him mostly quiet. Other than Justin Sears, no one has demonstrated the ability to score. And Coach James Jones sure has given everyone a chance. Besides Morgan, there isn”t a player on this roster playing more than 60% of the team”s minutes. Yale has been going with the old 11 man rotation.

Read moreChecking in on Yale