Quick Hitters: Top 5 Ivy Wins This Season and More

Brown”s stirring victory over Providence clocks in at #2 on our list of the Top 5 Ivy wins this season.

Some quick hitters around the league as the week between conference openers drags along:

Top 5 Wins for the Ivy League this Year

The Ivy non-conference slate ended up producing some memorable moments. Though there are still a couple big non-conference games remaining (Harvard at Memphis, Penn vs St. Joe”s and Temple, etc.), here is a list of the league”s best wins by Pomeroy rating:

  1. Princeton 79, (42) Bucknell 67- A turning point for the Tigers as Hummer”s supporting cast showed up to take down Muscala and the Bison.
  2. Brown 69, (67) Providence 68- Style points for the thrilling finish, the national TV audience, and the local rivalry.
  3. Harvard 67, (70) California 62- Statement game on the road for the Crimson. Saunders, Rivard, Chambers.
  4. Columbia 75, (87) Villanova 57- Shocking scoreline on the road. Lions showed depth as Rosenberg, Frankoski, and Mullins led the way.
  5. Princeton 62, (119) Kent State 50- Big road win as Bray started to shake off his slump and the Tigers held the Golden Flashes to 0.78 points per possession.

Fifty Shades of Bray

  • TJ Bray has had a pretty remarkable turnaround shooting the basketball for Princeton. After starting the season 1-19 from three point range (5%), Bray was still only shooting 7-37 (19%) through the Tigers” first nine games. Credit to Mitch Henderson for sticking with his junior point guard through the struggles as he”s gone 12-25 (48%) over the last five games from deep, including a 23-point career high performance against Penn that earned Bray Player of the Week honors.

A Freshman POY Candidate

  • No freshman has ever won Player of the Year in the Ivy League since the award was first handed out at the conclusion of the 1974-75 season. The way Siyani Chambers has commanded the Harvard offense through the first half of the season, he has to be considered a legitimate candidate. He certainly didn”t hurt his cause in a 22-point, six-assist performance on Saturday against Dartmouth, leading the Crimson back from down five with less than nine minutes to go. As the only true ball handler on that Harvard roster, Chambers (along with Ian Hummer) may be one of the two most valuable players in the league.

Twin Towers

  • One of the biggest year-to-year improvements for the Brown Bears has been rebounding, and nearly all of the board crashing can be attributed to rookies Cedric Kuakumensah and Rafael Maia. The advanced metric that addresses individual rebounding measures the number of boards pulled down divided by the number of total available rebounds on each end (then pro-rated based on the percentage of minutes played). Kuakumensah has the highest rate in the Ivy league, the 2nd highest rate in the nation for a freshman, and the 18th highest overall defensive rebounding rate in the country, pulling down 26.6% of defensive rebounds when he”s on the floor. As ex-Bear Mark MacDonald tweeted earlier this season, “Cedric will be one of the best rebounders in school

    history. Great timing, great nose for the ball.”

  • As for Maia, he”s putting up similarly impressive numbers on the offensive end. Maia is 2nd in the Ivy League (behind Justin Sears) and 31st in the country in offensive rebounding rate, grabbing 15.4% of offensive boards. This kind of dominance allowed Brown to outrebound Providence 37-30 and outrebound MAAC leader Niagara 49-39 in upset victories.

Unraveling the Mystery of Morningside Heights

  • In the process of trying to figure out just what exactly is holding the Columbia Lions back from being better, I dug into the data to see what I could find.
  • Pros: The Lions are the best in the nation when it comes to taking care of the ball. Only 5.7% of their possessions result in steals for their opponent. The next closest Ivy is Harvard at 123rd; the Crimson gets the ball picked 9.4% of the time. Shooting the ball, Columbia is locked in from deep (24th in the country, 38.7%) and from the line (7th in the country, 77.6%).
  • Cons: Offensive troubles seem to be a result of poor finishing from the big guys. The Lions are shooting just 43% on 2-pt FGs, which puts them in the bottom 50 teams in the nation in that category. They”re also not creating many second chances, grabbing just 25.8% of offensive boards as a team, ranking in the bottom 25 in the nation. There”s only so much a team can do about three point defense, as many statisticians have concluded that it is heavily dependent on factors out of a team”s control (“luck”), but Columbia hasn”t been helping itself in defending the perimeter. Nearly all the positives gained from the Lions shooting the 3 at such a high percentage

    have been lost as their opponents also

    shoot the 3 better than 38%, far above the national average of 33.6%.

  • Under-the-radar Performance: Grant Mullins. The Canadian sensation is putting together a remarkable freshman campaign. Mullins is shooting lights out from distance (26-54, 48.1%) and is nearly perfect from the stripe (26-27, 96%).

5 thoughts on “Quick Hitters: Top 5 Ivy Wins This Season and More”

  1. I hope we see more of this reporting and analysis now that the 14 Game Tournament is underway. Henderson deserves a lot of credit for the Tigers’ turnaround after the Fordham Fiasco, but not for “sticking with” Bray. If Bray never scores he’s nearly as valuable as Hummer. The Tigers can win without much scoring from the point. He has a history of starting slow, but finding his stroke at least by the Ivy season. This year he is recovering from some injury problems which bothered him early. The crucial decision for Henderson was benching his senior three year starter at center in favor of the freshman Hans Brase. More than anything else, this move established the Henderson regime in Princeton after the unexpected departure of…what’s his name. Brase brings a fluidity to the offense, as opposed to the plodding style we were forced to employ. Tigers are far harder to defend when the energy is there.
    That Chambers could lead the Crimson back from a late deficit is not at all surprising…He’s a remarkable talent. What is surprising is the fact of a late deficit in Hanover.

    • Re: Brase, completely agree. Saw him for the first time in the Fordham loss and even in the midst of that eventual disaster, you could tell that he brought a different dynamic to the offense. Henderson deserves a lot of credit for finding the combination that seems to be working, especially since it wasn’t the safe move of playing an established veteran.

  2. This season feels like it’s got Harvard-Princeton 2011 written all over it. I hope that the League is making tentative arrangements for a potential playoff; we don’t want to get forced into John J. Lee again, although the small venue did create a great atmosphere. I think that, if another playoff does occur this year, the attendance could fill a bigger place. Maybe not Harbor Yard Arena if the novelty of Harvard winning a share of the title has worn off.

    Chambers could win the POY if the Crimson wins the NCAA bid but the voting coaches might think, “Hey this guy could win it the next three years if he continues any kind of upward trajectory. There’s no hurry to give him the award this season if others are worthy.”

  3. Yes, a playoff could probably fill a 5k venue for a playoff, but is it really worth it to play at Quinnipiac in that godawful arena or at Fairfield or Hartford? Bridgeport can hold 9k, which I don’t think would fill up, and if they closed off some sections to make it seem like a sell out, that would hurt the atmosphere IMO. Call me a hoops elitist but I think the Ivy playoff should be played in an Ivy gym and if it’s Harvard and Princeton playing, that means it has to be John J. Lee or Levien (or the Pizz!). That’s a matchup John J. Lee is going to win 10 times out of 10.

    Also, the small gym playoff atmosphere was AWESOME in 2011. Love seeing people scalping Ivy tickets outside Payne Whitney. That’s how you knew we had arrived. A Top 10 basketball experience for me and I don’t root particularly hard for either of those teams.

    • I agree that John J. Lee in 2011 was terrific, a real showcase event for the League. But in part that was because we got lucky. While the filled venue was a great backdrop, what pushed the event over the top was the game itself, especially in the context of the long-time (but only recently recovered) powerhouse fending off the upstart challenger.

      It’s rather poetic that arguably the greatest game ever played in John J. Lee involved Harvard and Princeton.

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