Heading into Saturday’s game at Draddy Gym, Manhattan’s path to victory seemed to run through its vaunted press. Its opponent, Harvard, was only 42 hours removed from an ugly 23-turnover performance in a loss at Holy Cross, leaving the Jaspers’ defense with an opportunity to feast.
Instead, the Crimson committed just 13 turnovers, only a handful of which were attributed to Manhattan’s pressure. The hosts committed 18 miscues of their own, and they blew a 17-point lead in the second half. Yet they won anyway, getting enough stops and hitting enough tough shots to eke out a 73-69 win. Continue reading →
This is a pretty depressing week to have an Ivy League Weekly Roundup column. We entered the preseason with hopes of a multi-team title race, star power throughout the conference, and realistic chances for quality wins. But on the first day of basketball, the league lost three potential All-Ivy candidates — one indefinitely, one for the season, and one for good. That set the stage for a weekend in which the Ancient Eight nearly went winless in D-I play, an inauspicious start to the season.
The Ivy League isn’t alone. Friday’s top games nationally were Texas A&M-West Virginia, which had two key players suspended, and Georgia Tech-UCLA, which was overshadowed by alleged NCAA violations, LaVar Ball and Louis Vuitton. The biggest college basketball story throughout the season will be an FBI investigation. Sports are never just about actual sports, but it feels especially so right now. Continue reading →
Some time ago, my friend Martin Kessler came to me with what he called a “crazy theory”: Pickup games in New York City are notoriously rough, featuring physical drives and slick dribbling rather than outside shooting. (At certain courts, the three-point line is even disregarded, and scoring is kept with ones only.) What if, he wondered, that permanently affects basketball skills? Are NYC-born players more likely to be bad shooters, due to the style they grew up playing?
Martin works for WBUR’s Only A Game, and this weekend he aired his story about the Big Apple playing style. Along with anecdotes from Sundiata Gaines and pickup lifers, he asked me to run the numbers on how they play at higher levels. And I found that his crazy theory wasn’t so crazy: New Yorkers indeed shoot worse and take fewer threes, and they earn more free throws instead. The differences aren’t huge, but they are consistent across the NBA and NCAA. Continue reading →
Inside the preseason: The media poll showed little agreement as to the top contender, but it separated the Ivy League into familiar tiers. Departing seniors — even those with little hardware — got big grad transfer opportunities. Coaches gave injury updates and a few funny lines at the preseason teleconference. Continue reading →
Teams are protecting their home court less and less these days. In conference games last season, home teams won 59.0 percent of the time. That continues a trend that has existed for at least the last 15 seasons. And I can only say ‘at least’ because I am unaware of a detailed study that goes back further. However, it’s highly likely that last season was the worst year for home teams in the history of the game.