Author Archives: Ray Curren

Harvard Wins In OT, But Can Crimson Get Offense Going?

Even with Bryce Aiken out injured, the Harvard basketball team is chock-full of recruits that the Ivy League likely wouldn’t have gotten a decade ago. Tommy Amaker has raised the bar, and went to where no Crimson team had gone before, four straight NCAA Tournament appearances and two NCAA victories (and a near Sweet 16 visit).

In many ways, Amaker and Harvard have dragged other Ivy League competitors, particularly Yale and Princeton, with them (Yale also grabbed an NCAA Tournament victory, while the Tigers lost by two to Notre Dame last season).

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Success Makes It Hard For Vermont, Yale To Fill Schedules

Vermont and Yale have had the same problem the last couple of seasons. They have become too successful to fill a non-conference schedule without a whole lot of work.

So on Saturday afternoon, they were happy to see each other, even if for Yale, it meant a first home non-conference loss in nearly three years (Dec. 20, 2014 to Albany) as the experienced Catamounts continued to add to their resume with a 79-73 victory at Lee Amphitheater.

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Revolving Door Shut, Niagara Might Be MAAC Contender

As a freshman or sophomore, Matt Scott could have chalked up Niagara’s 101-76 blowout loss to UMass Sunday afternoon to growing pains for a young team. But the revolving door that had plagued Chris Casey’s first few seasons in greater Buffalo has been closed for the time being.

(The extensive list here is only partial, believe it or not.)

If you count Kahlil Dukes’ transfer year from USC, everyone that started for Niagara Sunday has been with the program for at least three seasons. The time of Joe Mihalich winning the MAAC regular season and then taking Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley with him to Hofstra was five years ago. Since then, Casey – playing with a different hand every year – has gone 33-97 at Niagara. Even with sympathy points for starting in a tough spot and having seemingly everyone transfer his first two seasons, there is some pressure to succeed.

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Dartmouth Moves On Without Boudreaux

David McLaughlin and Dartmouth had some optimism heading into the 2017-18 season, his second in Hanover. The Big Green were only 4-10 in the Ivy (and 7-20 overall), but improved as the season progressed and were on the fringes of the Ivy Tournament race until the final weekend of the season.

They would have to replace a lot of interior size in Wesley Dickinson and point guard Mike Fleming, but they were otherwise young.

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(photo courtesy: Steph Crandall)

Albany 80, Yale 72: Three Thoughts

Yale freshman Paul Atkinson picked up his second foul five minutes into Friday night’s game in Albany, and as per James Jones’ custom, Atkinson was immediately banished to the bench for the rest of the half.

Except who to replace him with? What would have been the starting center – sophomore Jordan Bruner – is out for the year with a knee injury. Fellow sophomore Austin Williams, who played sparingly last season but is it at least 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, is out as well. Replacing the likes of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod is obviously darn near impossible, but recent history has shown that last year’s No. 5 Sam Downey was also extremely underappreciated.

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NJIT Health And Wellness Center Open For Business

The looks on the NJIT students’ faces as they entered the brand new Health and Wellness Center told you all you needed to know Saturday night.

A mixture of “Wow”, “This is ours?”, “Unbelievable”, and good-old silent mouths agape were heard and seen as nearly 3,000 entered, approximately a third of those students. To understand the present (and future) of why the $110-million facility is so staggering and important for NJIT, you have to start in the past.

Disrespecting the deceased is never a good look, but now that it’s gone I think we can all say that NJIT’s Fleisher Center was, well, inadequate for a Division I team. Or possibly your local varsity high school squad. 

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Holy Cross 69, Sacred Heart 64: Three Thoughts

Good news: Sacred Heart was able to secure a home game for its opener Friday night.

Bad news: It was against Bill Carmody and Holy Cross, a veritable nightmare to prepare for in the first hurdle out of the gate, especially on the offensive end, where the Pioneers were sure to see a seemingly indefatigable variation of purple jerseys in front of them, changing with each possession.

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Princeton Figures Out How To Win Inaugural Ivy League Championship

On Nov. 20, Princeton went to Lehigh and muddled its way through a mediocre performance, eventually getting nipped at the wire by a seemingly more motivated Lehigh team, 76-67. There were plenty of excuses to be had: the Tigers had just flown back from Utah and a season-opening loss to BYU, they had a poor shooting night, they were trying to figure some things out. Continue reading

Narrow March Margins Evident In Ivy League

Historians like to talk about the moments that changed the world, the ripple effect of small pieces of time and seemingly small twists of fate that eventually led to something much larger.

Sports are a microcosm of life, at least sometimes. So consider this: with 2:33 left in Saturday’s first Ivy League Tournament (ever) semifinal, a red-hot Ryan Betley lined up for an open three-pointer. At the time, he was 7-9 from the field, 2-3 from behind the arc, and the shot looked good from the time it left his hand.

Already leading 57-53 and with The Palestra crowd ready to explode, it might have been the fatal blow to the game and Princeton’s NCAA Tournament hopes, despite a 17-game win streak and a perfect 14-0 conference regular season record. It have turned the heat up on an already ready to boil debate about the merits of the Ivy Tournament and the now kinetic rather than potential inequities that lie within it.

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Ivy Tournament Not Just About Princeton-Penn

(Please read Kevin Whitaker’s excellent previews on Penn-Princeton and Yale-Harvard before proceeding:)

Wide-eyed and full of smiles, the Brown women’s basketball team arrived at The Palestra with their phones in hand to take in everything about their experience at the inaugural Ivy League Tournament Friday.

The Ivy League tried to make their tournament a bit unique by setting up The Palestra for open practices (like the NCAA Tournament does) the day before the controversial proceedings begin tomorrow. As you’d expect, most of the attention has gone to the men’s side of the draw, mostly the 237th all-time meeting between Penn and Princeton Saturday afternoon, which should have a near full house for one of the most storied college basketball rivalries in America.

What can be wrong with that? Well, depends on your perspective. In any other year, undefeated (in Ivy play) Princeton would be sitting around waiting for Sunday night to see where (likely as a No. 12 or No. 13 seed) they would try to continue the Ivy’s run of NCAA Tournament upsets next week. Now, they face a sometimes dangerous Penn team on its home floor, and if they get past that, possibly an in-form Harvard team that the Tigers barely defeated twice this season.

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