Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Value of Returning Possessions

The praise has been lavish.

Some have gone so far as to make the 2011-12 edition of the Crimson a pre-season Top 50 team, while almost all have made Harvard the prohibitive favorite in the Ivy League.

What is it, exactly, that separates the Crimson from Princeton, with which it shared last year's Ivy title and the latter of which secured the league's automatic bid?

The simple answer is returnees. In this case, Harvard returns everybody from the last campaign, while the Tigers lost two of their top four players off of a team that was already among the shallowest benches in Division I basketball. While that simplistic response is, in and of itself, correct, it hardly quantifies the impact of retaining and losing players. It is that task which we will undertake in this analysis.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Worst All-Ivy First Teamer (UPDATED)

In a proper ordering of the thoughts conveyed in this piece, it is important to stress that being the worst All-Ivy First Team member is akin to being the dumbest member of Mensa.

Any criticisms of either need to be placed within the context that the achievement in question is one of extremely high quality, and doubting whether a candidate cleared the necessary bar is hardly analogous to taking the negative side of a binary good-bad argument.

Noruwa Agho is a 6'3 shooting guard who just completed his junior season at Columbia. He led the Ivies in points per game, which was enough to get many, but not all, league coaches to vote him to the Ivy League's First Team.

In so doing, however, Agho became one of the worst First Teamers of the past 15 years, joining a group that includes Yale's Emerson Whitley, Cornell's Ka'Ron Barnes, Dartmouth's Shaun Gee and Harvard's Dan Clemente (twice).

While the casual Ivy observer will recognize some of those names, it's a lot to expect that all but the most fervent supporters will remember each of their individual league campaigns, and for that reason, we'll focus on Agho, who was by almost every aggregate metric the worst All-Ivy First Team member of at least the past five years.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Top Freshman Campaigns Last 15 Years

They get imaginary minutes before ever stepping on the court. They often represent the hope of a fanbase looking to rise from the league's depths. They are the great unknown from whom so much is expected.

And yet, they're just freshmen.

With the explosion of twitter and recruiting sites, college basketball fans have been brought closer to the window, looking in on one of the most intense battles waged in sports as coaches jockey for the nation's top talent. Even in the Ivy League, which more often than not gets second choice among a pool that's artificially small to begin with, fans watch intently as their school locks down high schoolers from across the country.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bests, Worsts of Last 15 Years & What It Means For Future

The 2010 Cornell team that buried three after three en route to the Sweet 16. The 1998 Princeton squad that snagged the league's highest seed (5) in the 64-team era. Or how about the 2003 Penn group led by the dynamic Ugonna Onyekwe?

Which team was truly the Ivy's best over the past 15 years? Which squads had the most potent offensive attacks and played the stingiest defense? Which were the years were the best for the league, and which were the worst? And most importantly, what can the past tell us about the future?