Ivy basketball is back. Travel partners Cornell/Columbia and Penn/Princeton kicked off the first true Ivy League basketball weekend of the 2011-2012 season. The Big Red had its hands full as Princeton and Penn made the trek to Newman Arena. Cornell has been a dominant home team this season, but had to face the Ps with Newman Nation noticeably absent.
Cornell vs. Penn is far from the biggest rivalry in the Ivy League. Some may even argue whether the word rivalry could even be used to discuss the competition between the two teams. However, it seems that every time these two schools meet, something worth watching happens.
- 03/07/08 – Cornell 94 – Penn 92 (Palestra): A back-and-forth high scoring affair, which included two Adam Gore 4-point plays in one half. The contest didn’t end without its share of controversy as Freshman Tyler Bernardini’s missed heave at the buzzer left Quaker fans looking for a foul call that would have given Penn a chance to win it.
Penn visits Columbia on Friday night in the conference opener for both squads. Columbia enters the game having won 11 of their last 12, most recently traveling to Elon and knocking off the Phoenix 65-60. Penn comes in off of Tuesday’s 68-57 Big Five loss to La Salle. The Quakers are 4-5 in their last nine games.
Where they Stand
These two teams have just completed very different non-conference slates. Penn, at 7-9, has played a whopping eight teams in Pomeroy’s Top 100. The Quakers are 0-8 in those games, but five of the contests were decided by single-digits and Penn has largely taken care of business against opponents outside of the Top 100.
Welcome to the second IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/08/12). Please note that these rankings are based off of our best guesses of how the Ivy League picture will sort itself out. We always love to hear your gripes and whines in the comments below.
1. Harvard (13-2), (1-0)- Harvard is still the class of the league, even though the Crimson have cooled off a bit since the rousing New Year's comeback victory over St. Joe's. A loss to lowly Fordham and 32 minutes of uninspiring ball against Dartmouth has brought this squad back to the pack a bit. A willingness to rely on the three when Casey and Wright are denied the ball in a zone has proved dangerous for the Cantabs, who surely will be confronted with more of the same going forward. The Fordham loss could be good for Harvard though, as any expectations of running through the league unscathed are a bit far-fetched. The league is deeper than ESPN and other major media sources have been letting on and with the Friday-Saturday grind of the season, players will inevitably get dinged up and legs will get tired. Harvard should still win the league, but chances are they'll be doing it with two or three losses in a conference where everyone is gunning for them.
Brown, Sean McGonagill: The Bears’ sophomore point guard picked up where he left off last season with an impressive 20 point (7-12 shooting), 10 assist performance in a 86-66 victory against D-III Johnson & Wales.
Columbia, Blaise Staab: Staab came out of nowhere to be the bright spot for Columbia on a night when Agho and Barbour couldn’t finish at the rim. Staab, who played a grand total of 70 minutes in his first three years in New York, finished with a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) and looked comfortable mixing it up with the nation’s best in Storrs, CT during the Lions’ respectable 70-57 loss.
Penn, Zack Rosen: Rosen had a monster night for the Quakers, tallying 26 points on 10-16 shooting, including 4-6 from range. The Quakers put UMBC away early in the second half behind some shutdown defense en route to a 59-45 triumph.
Yale, Greg Mangano and Reggie Willhite: The Bulldogs held off a late charge from CCSU to win their opener 73-69 behind 23 points and 13 rebounds from their senior star, Mangano. Captain Reggie Willhite also had a big night, dropping in 21 and adding six steals and six boards.
A few links to take you into the weekend on Midnight Madness Day, the first official day of the season:
“The festivities, which begin at Lavietes Pavilion at 4 p.m., will include a team scrimmage and the raising of Harvard’s first-ever Ivy League championship banner.” (thecrimson.com)
“The Quakers have arguably the best backcourt in the league with the trio of Zack Rosen, Tyler Bernardini and Miles Cartwright. But their depth in the frontcourt is a major vulnerability. The key questions for Penn will be whether senior forward Mike Howlett can stay healthy, whether sophomore big men Cam Gunter and Fran Dougherty can step up to replace graduated seniors, and whether the freshmen forwards can make an immediate impact.” (thedp.com/thebuzz)
“‘We are very excited,’ Henderson said. ‘All summer we have been talking as a staff about finding our identity…Everyone is looking to get to work. We have a good schedule for us and it is challenging… We want to play a style of basketball that we can be proud of.'” (www.trentonian.com)
“The Bears have reason to be optimistic as they feature a roster that may be as talented and as deep as any the program has seen since the 2002-2003 team that won 17 games and played in the NIT.” (golocalprov.com)
Reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Keith Wright added another honor to his resume on Monday when he was included on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list. The Wooden Award is given to the nation’s most outstanding basketball player who also maintains a minimum 2.0 GPA and demonstrates strength of character both on and off the court.
Wright acknowledged the recognition in a tweet earlier today, “Truly honored & blessed to be on such a prestigious list w/ so many talented players. Wouldn’t be there without my teammates & the man above.” He was the only Ivy League player to make the list.
Looking ahead, the Preseason Top 50 list will be whittled down to 20 student-athletes by college basketball media members around midseason. Those voters will mark their ballots, and choose the Top 10, who will then be named to the Wooden All-American team during the weekend of the Elite Eight in March.