The season is only five days old, but men’s Ivy League basketball is already 12 games deep. Sitting at a collective 5-7, the Ancient Eight has seen mixed results (to be expected in non-conference play), but it’s never too early to name some winners and losers for the opening days of play.
Preseason favorite Princeton could not have started its season off on a better note last Friday, as it topped Rutgers in overtime, 78-73. Admittedly, the Scarlet Knights are expected to be a weak team this year, but any BCS win is big. The Tigers got a huge lift from senior guard Dan Mavraides who scored a career-high 26 points, including six three-pointers. As expected, Princeton fell to the reigning national champions, No. 1 Duke, on Sunday, 97-60. The Tigers did not have a realistic shot at competing but at least garnered some exposure on ESPNU.
Freshman guard Miles Cartwright made a big splash in his collegiate debut last Saturday. The highly touted rookie scored 18 points in the first half to help guide Penn to a 69-64 win over Davidson, a performance that earned Cartwright the distinction of Ivy League Rookie of the Week. The Quakers and Brown, which beat Fordham in its opener, are the only Ivies without a loss.
Junior co-captain Keith Wright had the best game of his career in Harvard’s opening loss to George Mason. The big man poured in 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the 66-53 thrashing. The defeat was no fault of Wright’s who had half of the Crimson’s field goals. His effort did not go unnoticed, as the forward was named Ivy League Player of the Week.
Yale’s two defeats to start the season—to Quinnipiac and Providence (both respectable showings)—are not even the Bulldogs biggest loss so far. That distinction would go to the departure of captain Michael Sands. Sands, an All-Ivy honorable mention a year ago and Yale’s best returning player, left the school earlier in the week for personal reasons. Bulldog coach James Jones did not know whether the senior would eventually return. With games against Boston College, No. 16 Illinois, and Army coming up, Yale is staring a 0-5 start in the face.
Surely, Harvard freshman Laurent Rivard will find his stroke, but the guard struggled mightily in his first game in Crimson. Rivard—many pundits’ preseason pick for Ivy League Rookie of the Year—went 0-11 from the floor, including 0-7 from three-point land in losing to the Patriots. Harvard as a team, without Wright’s contributions, shot 9 of 43 (20.9 percent) on field goals.