Inside this week: Highlight-reel dunks, the new-look old-look Bears, and the four-overtime game that broke ESPN.
1. Penn and Monmouth are probably still playing now. The Quakers and Hawks went deep into Saturday night, needing four overtimes to decide a 101-96 Penn victory. This was just the 18th 4OT game nationally since 2010, and like any such contest, there was drama: Monmouth’s Austin Tilghman beating the buzzer at the end of regulation; Eddie Scott’s put-back dunk to tie late in the second overtime; Tilghman hitting a trey to force a fourth extra period. There was also ancillary fun: the ESPN3 stream cutting off around OT #3 or so, part of an arena-wide Internet outage, and one hell of a win probability chart. “I don’t even remember everything — I don’t know how you could,” Steve Donahue said per the Daily Pennsylvanian
If not for a Penn collapse, none of the extra 20 minutes would have been necessary. The Quakers led by 12 points midway through the second half, but the Hawks (without star Micah Seaborn) went on an 18-5 run to take the lead late. The Quakers made only two field goals in the final 14:30 of regulation, missed four of their final six free throws, and gave up two points on a Jackson Donahue technical foul in the last minute. Penn even trailed by five points in the final overtime period, but heroics from Scott and Antonio Woods turned a sour collapse into a thrilling victory.
Monmouth was also the opponent for perhaps the best Ivy non-conference game of last season, a 96-90 barnburner against Princeton. Keep an eye out when the Hawks visit Princeton (Dec. 12) and Yale (Dec. 22) next month.
2. Despite new personnel, this is the same old Brown. The Bears lost nearly half of last season’s minutes, but their style is almost identical this year. They still play at the league’s fastest pace, including a blistering 87-possession game against LIU Brooklyn on Saturday. They still attack the basket relentlessly, leading the Ancient Eight by a large margin in share of points scored at the rim and in free-throw rate. And they’re still prone to giving up points in bunches, such as a 16-4 Blackbirds run over less than two and a half minutes that erased a double-digit first-half lead
The Bears’ defense might be marginally better, but it’s hard to say much until it faces decent competition. There are a couple new worries on offense as well. One is three-point shooting, which should be a transitory concern: After a bad slump to start the season, Zach Hunsaker, Brandon Anderson and Desmond Cambridge combined for 10 treys on Sunday; they should be capable shooters, if not outstanding, going forward. The other concern is ballhandling — the Bears were rattled by LIU Brooklyn’s pressure, just as they struggled against St. Francis Brooklyn a week earlier.
3. Block off some extra time in your calendars this winter. That Penn-Monmouth game took two hours and 20 minutes in regulation alone; with overtimes included it lasted more than three and a half hours, featuring 79 fouls (and seven foul-outs) in total. Brown’s game against LIU Brooklyn was two hours and eight minutes of stop-and-go basketball, marred by 59 fouls and 69 free throws. Penn (in foul rate) and Brown (in fouls drawn) are Ivy outliers so far, but throw in video reviews and television, and we could see more games push outside the two-hour window this year.
And-ones: The Athletic on the Ivy League’s rise. Dartmouth’s women are 4-0, already one win shy of matching their non-conference win total of the last two seasons. Bella Alarie has three straight double-doubles for surging Princeton. 3-on-5 major-conference basketball in Brooklyn. An ode to “the Fyre Festival of holiday tournaments.”
Player of the Week: Devin Cannady, Princeton — Cannady’s line at Fairleigh Dickinson looks like a computer error — how do you score 22 points on only nine shots and two free throws? By shooting 6-6 from three-point range, upping his season rate to a blistering 21-34 (62%). He’s scoring 18.4 ppg for the young season with an offensive rating of 132, making him a leading Player of the Year contender.
Rookie of the Week: Eddie Scott, Penn — Scott is a critical piece for Penn, bringing a combination of length and agility on the wing that no other Quaker can match. But he’d been a non-factor for most of November, totaling six points in six D-I games. That all changed on Saturday night: The freshman shot 8-8 from the field en route to 21 points and 13 rebounds, padding both totals with a put-back dunk at the end of the second overtime that forced more basketball. But that was nothing compared to this jam earlier in the period:
Can't believe nobody posted the Eddie Scott dunk yet (from last night, via ESPN3) pic.twitter.com/5z4UtYXiTM
— Kevin Whitaker (@whitakk) November 27, 2017
Play of the Week: This isn’t the first time Miye Oni has made me gasp out loud while watching a Yale game:
— Yale_Basketball (@Yale_Basketball) November 25, 2017
The Week Ahead: Saturday is the biggest single day of non-conference play, with seven teams in action headlined by three power-conference tests: Harvard at No. 8 Kentucky (ESPN, 3:30pm), Princeton at No. 11 Miami (ESPNU, 8pm), and Yale at TCU. All three teams are significant underdogs, but KenPom pegs the odds of one upset across the three games at nearly 25%. Penn visits Villanova on Wednesday (FS2, 7pm), at the same time as Columbia visits familiar foe David Onourah and UConn (SNY, 7pm).
- Harvard — With Seth Towns and Corey Johnson sidelined due to food poisoning, the Crimson beat St. Joseph’s in a mild upset at the Wooden Legacy tournament behind 21 points each from Bryce Aiken and Chris Lewis. But Aiken and Lewis spent crunch time on the bench Sunday night as the Crimson fell to Cal St. Fullerton. It’s hard to get a great read on Harvard until its core rotation plays more together, but we might not see that until Ivy play draws closer.
- Princeton — Get ready for four years of Sebastian Much puns. The highly touted rookie made his first real impact this week, scoring 10 efficient points against Lafayette and nine more at Fairleigh Dickinson. He led a charge from Princeton’s role players, who stepped up to cover for subpar games by Amir Bell and Myles Stephens against Lafayette and for poor defense at FDU.
- Yale — With three minutes left in a two-possession game against Vermont, James Jones sent out a lineup that included Eric Monroe, Azar Swain and Noah Yates. Suffice to say that a month ago, when Jordan Bruner and Makai Mason were expected to be in uniform, I didn’t expect that trio to be playing crunch-time minutes together. Yale’s bench played gamely on Saturday, keeping the Bulldogs competitive with their starters in foul trouble, but they simply don’t have enough size to deal with players like the Catamounts’ Anthonly Lamb.
- Penn — Not only were the Quakers all over the place throughout the Monmouth game, they were similarly erratic in the Gulf Coast Showcase — beating Northern Illinois in a shootout behind 13 treys, losing a tight game to a strong Towson team, and then edging UMKC despite turnovers in a defensive slugfest.
- Columbia — The Lions’ seven-game road trip comes to a merciful end after this week, when they visit top-100 foes UConn and Albany. When they return, they’ll need to improve their defense, which leaked 1.16 points per possession to Army and Colgate in losses this week.
- Cornell — Stone Gettings returned to the starting lineup on Friday, and he looked like his old self, scoring 21 points with a team-high five assists against one turnover. A full dose of Gettings will give the Big Red’s offense a boost, but their bigger issues lie on the other end.
- Brown — After missing most of the first three games with a foot injury, Obi Okolie returned this week, starting Saturday’s game against LIU Brooklyn. Okolie played less than half of each game, but he should re-establish himself as another rim-attacking wing for Brown’s roster.
- Dartmouth — The Big Green always back-loads its schedule; its three games through 15 days are tied for second-fewest in the nation, and the only victory came against D-III Emerson.