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.
Let’s start with that Miye Oni dunk. If you’re reading this, you’ve almost surely seen it already, but you’ll click below to watch it again, because it was that good. Giving credit for the circumstances — 1:30 left in a one-possession game, national TV on Championship Week, and a chance to play for an NCAA tournament bid on the line — I’d wager that it was the biggest dunk in Ivy League history. Continue reading →
Harvard and Yale have a lot of similarities. Both are among the nation’s least experienced teams, looking nothing like the squads that played in the last Palestra playoff two years ago. Both rely on athletic, highly touted underclassmen, and their best days are still ahead of them. But as they enter the first Ivy League Tournament, the rivals are going in very different directions. Continue reading →
Devin Cannady’s minutes increased this season, as happens with many players who move from freshmen to sophomores in college basketball. His numbers have not, however. Last season, he torched opponents by shooting 45.6% on three-pointers (48.3% in Ivy League play) and 48.5% overall.
This season, although Cannady moved up from 11.6 to 12.6 points per game, he was shooting 37.9% from behind the arc and 41.0% overall. Amazingly, Princeton was winning anyway, 11 straight heading into Friday night’s game at Yale, which included a game two weeks ago at Harvard in which he was shutout on 0-8 shooting, and a 6-point performance at Penn three days later. In the first meeting against the Bulldogs, Cannady had seven points on 2-11 from the field as Yale nearly stole it before falling 66-58.
Offense isn’t everything, of course, and Cannady has helped the Tigers grab a two-game Ivy League lead in other ways, but there is one conference game that leaps off his stat page: the opener against Brown, where Cannady shredded the Bears for 29 points on 10-14 from the field, 7-9 from three. The result was a 97-66 bludgeoning for Princeton that set the tone for what it has done since.
If you looked closely at Lee Amphitheater Saturday night, you could see into the future. And you didn’t even need a Delorean to do it.
Harvard ended Yale’s 22-game, two-year long home winning streak in impressive fashion, 75-67, before a sellout crowd that was into the game from the opening tip. The Crimson (14-7, 6-2, identical to Yale) were led by freshman Bryce Aiken with a career-high 27 points. Like most freshmen, Aiken has had some growing pains this season, but Saturday his full array of talent that ACC and Big East schools wanted was on display: shooting, getting to the rim, putting opponents on skates (as the kids say these days), even a four-point play from the corner that was huge in the Harvard victory.
Aiken, of course, is just one piece of a freshman class that includes Chris Lewis, Justin Bassey, and Seth Towns (who all started Saturday while Aiken did not). Sophomore Corey Johnson added 12 points for Harvard as well.
Some tend to confuse playing slowly with automatically being poor offensively in basketball circles, but there are many, many teams (looking at you TCU, Virginia, and Saint Mary’s) who play deliberately, but are among the most effective offenses in the country. You can’t really put Yale in that category, but while most of the attention went to their defense (33rd and 70th the last two seasons), they have been a very solid offensive team the last three seasons.
Friday against Dartmouth, they again showed why. With the Big Green taking away the perimeter, Yale went to the basket, making 24-of-40 on two-point shots. While senior captain Anthony Dallier was held to 5 points (and only 3 shots), Alex Copeland stepped up with 14 points on 7-12 shooting. With Miye Oni held to 9, Trey Phills stepped up with 10.