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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ivy League Basketball

Why is Ivy League basketball so down?

Or is it?

Dana O'Neil of (in an "Insider" chat that I can't link to) in a very short comment expressed the belief that the Patriot League has the upper hand over the Ivies because Patriot League schools scholarships. I ruminated over this over two years ago, and I, for one, believed then, and now, that it will be hard for the Ivies to compete against the Patriot League schools. Click here for my thoughts on the topic.

So, dauntless defenders of the Ivies and those who study it closely and crunch the numbers, are the Ivies down? On the negative side, Penn suffered two key graduation losses last year (Mark Zoller and Ibby Jaaber), two key injuries at the season's outset (Darren Smith and Tommy McMahon), and has had three key players banged up. The Princeton program is at an all-time low. Yes, Cornell came within 14 of an excellent Duke team and Brown is playing reasonably well. In addition, Tommy Amaker of Harvard is reported to be enjoyed a top-30 recruiting class (including a top-75 center from Maryland and a bunch of other big guys). How good are Cornell, Brown and Yale?

And how do the Patriot League schools fit into the mix? Are they taking away players from the Ivies? Good players? Or, are they simply attracting better players than they have historically and, at that, better players than the top Ivy players, whether or not they're actually in competition with the Ivies for the same players?

The comment board is open. I'd love to hear from you.


Anonymous longwinded quakerguy said...

While I can't speak to the Patriot League's recruiting, I can tell you that Penn hauled an excellent group of recruits for this season. Freshman wing Tyler Bernardini dropped 26 on UNC. Remy Cofield may be one of the most athletic players in the Ivy League and has tremendous upside (and scored 20 when UVa visited earlier this season). Coach Miller expects huge things from PG Harrison Gaines, and while you can see his athletic ability now, he's still got a little way to go. Freshman PF Jack Eggleston has been a big surprise and led the team in minutes up until very recently, and started his first game as a Quaker. Penn is also getting good contributions from freshman Connor Turley.

So, there was a point to giving you the rundown on all Penn's freshmen, is that the Quakers are still capable of hauling good recruits. Bernardini, in particular, might set some scoring records at the school. Next seasons recruits look solid too: a PG who picked Penn over Seton Hall, Gonzaga, VaTech and Iowa St, a SG who picked Penn over Southern Illinois, a C/PF who was being recruited by Delaware and UMass, a shooting PF recruited by all the Patriot schools (a decommit from Lehigh)... Penn is doing alright despite its chief academic/athletic other-league rivals having scholarships.

Additionally, Harvard and Penn recently just increased their financial aid packages, making the Ivy education more affordable. This helps recruiting too - only being faced with a $10k contribution rather than a $50k makes a huge difference for a middle class basketball recruit who wants to go Ivy but maybe couldn't afford it in the past.

This year is a down year in the Ivy league for sure- that's indisputable: Penn is struggling, Princeton is abominable, Columbia, Yale and even league favorite Cornell are all underachieving, Harvard beat Michigan but lost to UC-Santa Barbara, UC-Irvine, Sacred Heart, and most impressively: Long Island. Dartmouth might even be underachieving, and they're probably presumed to be the worst team in the league. The only team consistently playing decent basketball right now is Brown, and they aren't that good.

In conclusion: the Ivies are down this year, but with financial aid going up, recruitment is not suffering. Penn and Harvard have excellent classes lined up for next season. Expect the other schools to follow suit.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous tim said...

I'd have to say that a team with such a history as Penn being trounced by a D-I newcomer like FCGU (as good as the Eagles are) is a sign of a very down year for the Ivy as a whole.

And maybe the scholarship issue is part of it, but at the very least Princeton should have an upper hand, no? I thought Princeton had announced their endowment was large enough that they would no longer be charging tuition?

hahha. Sorry. No. They simply didn't RAISE their tuition. It's still the same exorbitant amount it always was. Boy, do I feel stupid.

Long story short, an Ivy League good in basketball is a good thing for all basketball fans.

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