Thus far in non-conference play, the men’s basketball teams of the Ivy League have fallen short of the high hopes many had entering the season.
Penn (1-2), ranked No. 32 in the nation in Sports Illustrated’s preseason issue, proved they were worthy of such a ranking with a handy defeat of Penn State, but then stumbled against crosstown rival Drexel and Delaware. Princeton (2-2), who shared last season’s Ivy League title with Penn and Yale, defeated Western Michigan in the first round of the Sooner Invitational, but fell in the championship game to Oklahoma and then lost to Florida International. Brown (1-5) rebounded for a win against Navy after losing its fourth straight of the season against Wagner, but then dropped a tight game to Ohio.
Last season the Ancient Eight finished 62-53 against non-league competition and was ranked by www.strengthranking.com as the 19th best conference in the nation. Three teams, Penn, Princeton, and Yale, competed in postseason play. This season they are 10-21 against non-league opponents and 26th in the country.
The results are so surprising because most teams graduated very few players. Yale (1-2) did not lose a single player and Penn retained all of its starters. While Princeton graduated two second-team all-Ivy players, junior Spencer Gloger, who transferred to UCLA after a record-breaking freshman season at Princeton, is back in a Tiger uniform.
“I would assume that other schools are not sleeping on Ivy League teams like they did last year,” said Armond Hill, men’s basketball head coach at Columbia (0-5). “They might be preparing a little harder or better.”
Mike Burden, an assistant men’s basketball coach at Cornell (2-1), agreed.
“A lot of these schools are taking the Ivy League seriously,” Burden said. “In the past they would see an Ivy League team on their schedule and they would think that it was just an easy win. Now they prepare a lot more.”
While some fans have guessed that Ivy League teams might be scheduling higher caliber teams, Hill refutes that suggestion.
“I’ve been scheduling the same teams that I’ve been doing since I’ve been here,” said Hill. “I schedule tough teams and high profile teams because I want my guys to experience Division I basketball at the fullest. I think for the most part people are scheduling the same teams that they’ve been scheduling the last couple of years.”
As for Columbia’s difficulties, Hill was succinct.
“Last year was last year,” Hill said. “This year’s different. The team is a new team and they take on a different character — Right now we’re struggling.”
Penn 62, Penn State 37
The Quakers, who return three first-team all-Ivy players, jumped to an 8-2 lead in the first five minutes of their season as they faced the Penn State Nittany Lions. Though Penn State would even the score with five minutes remaining in the half, the Lions could not sustain that play.
Senior Ugonna Onyekwe, last season’s Ivy League Player of the Year, led his team with 15 points, but it was senior Koko Archibong who starred for the Quakers. In only 19 minutes of play, Archibong went 6-for-9 from the field, grabbed six rebounds, and recorded two steals. Onyekwe had an uncharacteristically inefficient performance, connecting on only 4-of-15 field goal attempts. He also turned the ball over six times.
Junior Jeff Schiffner and senior Andrew Toole also finished in double digits.
Drexel 71, Penn 62
Despite a stellar performance from Onyekwe, who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, Penn was surprised by their crosstown rival.
Toole finished with 13. Four Drexel players reached double digits, including center Robert Battle ’03 who netted 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Princeton 62, Western Michigan 59
The Tigers, led by the return of Gloger, advanced to the championship of the Sooner Invitational. Gloger scored 18 points in only 20 minutes of play. Sophomore Judson Wallace contributed nine points and accounted for 14 rebounds.
Oklahoma 82, Princeton 63
Oklahoma demonstrated why they are the No. 8 (AP poll) team in the nation, as senior Ebi Ere dropped 27 on the Tigers. Ere scored the Sooners’ first nine points after Princeton jumped to a 6-0 lead on two three-pointers. He finished with seven rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one blocked shot.
Princeton narrowed the deficit to 30-23 with five minutes left in the first half, but could draw no closer the rest of the way.
Junior Andre Logan led the Tigers with 16, and Gloger added 14.
Florida International 68, Princeton 65 (OT)
A 19-point performance by Gloger, including four three-pointers was not enough to counter Florida International’s balanced attack. Four players scored between 12 and 15 points for the Golden Panthers.
Sophomore Will Venable added 13 for Princeton and dished out seven assists. The Tigers were 11 of 34 from beyond the arc.
Wagner 81, Brown 69
Wagner held first-team all-Ivy forward Earl Hunt to seven points, while their leading scorer, senior Jermaine Hall, finished with 22. Wagner’s Teoine Carrol added 18.
Brown 97, Navy 92 (OT)
Brown’s Patrick Powers, who had not seen more than 20 minutes of action in any game this season, suddenly became the hot hand for the Bears in a shootout with Navy. Powers was 12 of 16 from the field, including four of six from three-point range, for a game-high 32 points.
Brown’s Jason Forte added 22 points and seven assists. Hunt missed the game with a thigh injury.
Cornell 83, Ithaca College 66
Led by junior Ka’Ron Barnes and sophomore Cody Toppert, Cornell became the only Ivy League team above .500. Barnes led all scorers with 19; Toppert finished with 17, including five of six from beyond the arc.
Though they held a slight rebounding edge over the Big Red, Ithaca, a Division III team, turned the ball over 21 times in the game.
Ohio 75, Brown 71
Another strong performance by Brown’s Patrick Powers was not enough to counter a combined 42-point performance by Ohio’s Sonny Johnson and Brandon Hunter.
Ohio led by 18 at halftime, but the Bears battled back to tie the game at 62 with just over four minutes remaining. Ohio’s Jaivon Harris put the Buckeyes ahead again with a free throw and though Brown came within one twice more, they could draw no closer.
Brown’s Jason Forte finished with 12 points and 10 assists.
Boston University 68, Harvard 61
Matt Turner and Billy Collins came through for Boston with the score tied at 55 and just under four minutes remaining.
The Terriers went on an 11-3 run, with all 11 points accounted for by Turner and Collins, who had five and six respectively. Turner finished with 24 and Collins with 12.
Sam Winter led all Crimson scorers with 16 points and Harvard’s Elliot Prasse-Freeman had eight assists.
Dartmouth 67, Binghamton 61
Steve Callahan had the half of his career, scoring 17 of his career-high 19 points in the second half, as Dartmouth topped Binghamton for their first victory of the season. Callahan scored five straight points with the game tied at 58 and less than a minute to play.
Anthony Green had 19 points and nine rebounds for Binghamton.
Princeton 60, Monmouth (N.J.) 57
Ed Persia banked an 80 foot one-handed “shot” to give Princeton the win over Monmouth.
Princeton’s Kyle Wente evened the game at 57, and Monmouth’s Chris Kenny and Kevin Owens both missed a shot at their end of the court. A jump ball was awarded to Princeton with 0.7 seconds left. Will Venable inbounded the ball to Persia, who made the desperation shot to win the game.
Spencer Gloger led the Tigers with 12 points. Monmouth’s Jason Krayl led all scorers with 15.
Delaware 60, Penn 59
Delaware overcame a five point halftime deficit with the strong play of their bench, particularly that of Maurice Sessoms who led all scorers with a career-high 19 points.
Penn’s Koko Archibong and Ugonna Onyekwe combined for 12 rebounds and 34 points, but Onyekwe was saddled with foul trouble and could only log 21 minutes for the Quakers.
Archibong and Onyekwe’s play gave Penn a 32 to 18 point advantage in the paint, but the Blue Hens’ bench outscored their counterparts 39 to 14.