Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Notebook: Ivies Jump Out To Hot Start

It's rare that an Ivy team finds itself in a must-win situation against a BCS school, but that's where Princeton was on Friday night, needing a home victory over a fringe top 150 Rutgers squad to prove that it and the league wasn't going to take a big step back in the absence of a dominant Cornell team.

The Tigers looked like they would run away with the game early on, scoring 37 points in 15 minutes to grab a 14 point lead. A 15-7 run into the halftime break and a 7-0 run just after the midway point of the second half gave the Scarlet Knights their first lead of the contest, 58-57 with 6:24 to play. After Rutgers pushed that lead to 63-59 with 4:49 to go, the characteristically strong Princeton defense finally clamped down, holding the Scarlet Knights to one field goal for the rest of regulation.

Princeton didn't find much offense in the second half, but scraped together enough to force overtime and scored enough early points in the extra frame to salt the game away with a 6-for-6 effort from the line en route to a 78-73 win.

The Tigers did a good job of controlling pace (roughly 62 possessions before OT), but won this game with a strong first half offensive showing. That's not Princeton's calling card, and it will need to re-discover that defensive intensity, if it plans to have success this season.


The old problems reared their ugly head for the Bears, but luckily the Rams were shooting poorly enough that it didn't matter.

Fordham grabbed 18 offensive rebounds (43%) on the evening and only turned the ball over 10 times on 70 possessions (14%). At those rates, Brown should have certainly come up short, but the Rams posted a woeful 39 eFG%, keeping the extra attempts from meaning very little.

The Bears got some good news in the return of SF Peter Sullivan, who missed much of the preseason with injury. Sullivan didn't play extremely well, but salvaged a poor shooting night by closing out the game for Brown at the line.

Brown led 40-27 at halftime, but a 16-4 Fordham run and a later 10-0 spurt gave the Rams a 59-58 lead with 4:48 to play. Bears PF Tucker Halpern drilled a crucial three to push the lead back to four, and Fordham only made two field goals over the final five minutes as Brown held on 69-65.


It wasn't always pretty, but the Big Red scratched out a 65-61 win at Albany last night. Cornell's offensive attack looked scattered and hectic at times, but strong shooting performances from Max Groebe and former walk-on Johnathan Gray, an efficient interior scoring presence in Aaron Osgood and a near rebound-assist double-double from Adam Wire was enough to push the Big Red to the victory.

Cornell also managed to grab the win without All-Ivy point guard Chris Wroblewski, who has a sprained ankle. The Big Red will certainly need him healthy for tomorrow's meeting with Seton Hall, as the Pirates will provide a much stiffer test than the Great Danes.

The only Ivy team not to leave last night victorious was Columbia. The Lions played well at times against LaSalle, getting to the line and converting with great frequency and locking down the defensive boards.

Columbia played at too quick a pace (75 possessions), and it caught up with the Lions down the stretch, as Columbia watched a 56-44 lead with just over 15 minutes to play become a 70-67 deficit with four to go. LaSalle closed the game on a 22-6 run to claim an 82-71 victory, but the Lions shouldn't forget the positive things they did to build a 12-point second-half lead on an A-10 opponent on the road.


G Noruwa Agho (64% eFG, 7 AST)
G Dan Mavraides (79% eFG, 7 REB, 4 AST)
F Ian Hummer (80% eFG, 3 REB, 2 AST)
F Adam Wire (11 REB, 8 AST)
C Aaron Osgood (86% eFG, 5 REB)

Top Rookie
G Sean McGonagill (58% eFG, 5 REB, 6 AST)


Harvard kicks off today's action at George Mason at 4 p.m. The Patriots are roughly six to eight point favorites, as the Crimson will be without All-Ivy PF Kyle Casey.

Penn hosts Davidson tonight at 7 p.m. The Wildcats are favored by one to three points over the potentially resurgent Quakers.

Dartmouth visits Providence tonight at 7 p.m. at The Dunk. The Friars are 20-24 point favorites. The Big Green returns just eight veterans and will likely be looking for key contributions from its six-man recruiting class.

Finally, Yale takes on Quinnipiac at 8 p.m. at Mohegan Sun as part of the Connecticut 6 event. Estimations of this one vary wildly with the Bulldogs three- to 12-point underdogs in some circles.

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