Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Around the Rim with Brian Delaney and the Ithaca Journal

Below, today's Ivy League profile from Brian Delaney's Around the Rim column in the Ithaca Journal...

* Want a leading candidate for the most improved Ivy League player? It would be tough to pick against Yale 6-foot-10 junior forward Greg Mangano.

Mangano was selected the league's player of the week for the third straight week (the first two, he was co-player) Monday. The Bulldogs finished off a sweep of travel partner Brown on Saturday, with Mangano posting 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks.

In the two games against the Bears, he had 40 points and 29 rebounds. On the season, he's averaging 14.8 points and 10.3 rebounds. As a sophomore, he put up 7.5 and 5.5.

* Good line from Columbia coach Kyle Smith on Saturday, when he was asked about his team's matchup this Friday night at Harvard. Both teams are 2-0.

"I haven't really seem much of them, but if you read ESPN at all, and I try not to, there's usually an article posted every week," he said with a chuckle. "I think it's Duke Northeast a little bit."

There was no malice to Smith's comment. He went on to praise Harvard's talent level and success despite graduating Jeremy Lin.

But it's not an incorrect observation that Tommy Amaker and the Crimson (13-3) have received a barrel-full of ink from national media outlets this season. Amaker, well-known nationally from his days as a Duke standout and then coaching stops at Seton Hall and Michigan, has completely changed the culture in Cambridge.

Harvard is playing a caliber of basketball usually seen in the top half of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

What's intriguing -- though I'd hesitate to use surprising -- is how little attention is being paid to Princeton beyond the Ivy League walls. Both Harvard and Princeton are top-100 teams right now, and it wasn't even five years ago when Sydney Johnson began picking up the pieces left over from Joe Scott's failed coaching tenure.

* Cornell's 4-12 start is the program's worst since the 2001-02 season's 5-22 team. That group was 3-13 through 16 games.

Friday's trip to Dartmouth is no easy win, either. The Big Green gave Harvard a scare at Lavietes Pavilion on Saturday, before losing by nine.

* It's hard to overstate how well Columbia's Brian Barbour played in two games against Cornell. He scored 21 the first game, then 23 the second while shooting high percentages both nights. He did it defensively too, chasing Drew Ferry around all those screens Saturday to limit his 3-point looks. Ferry, who scored 23 points in Game 1, was held to five in Game 2.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is no story that a sports writer likes more than a new coach turning around a long downtrodden program -- in any sport. So it's not surprising that Harvard basketball is getting a lot of attention.

As Delaney points out, the bigger surprise is why Princeton is completely off the national radar. I'm guessing it's because the Joe Scott era, as horrific as it truly was, still was brief enough that most people who are not close to the Ivy League never really appreciated how bad Princeton was at the end of Scott's reign of terror. If you're a casual fan, you see Princeton doing reasonably well this year and you think, "sure, Princeton and Penn always win the Ivy League."

If anything, the bigger surprise is that Amaker gets so much credit when the issue of his aggressive recruiting behavior is pretty much out there for general consumption. Any Ivy program could win the conference if they were unfettered by academic constraints.