Home » Columns »Conference Notes » Currently Reading:

2014-15 Ivy League Post-Mortem

July 16, 2015 Columns, Conference Notes No Comments

The old phrase “What a difference a year makes” normally has positive connotations. For the Ivy League following the 2014-15 season, however, the opposite would be true. At a time when the league appeared to be in a big up cycle, the rise didn’t quite continue this season.

There was very good basketball in the Ivy League, to be sure. Harvard and Yale set the pace with good non-league showings, with the Bulldogs pulling out the league’s signature victory at UConn in December. The middle of the pack was pretty good – perhaps better than one might have expected given the adversity some teams faced. But there’s no two ways about it: the league went from five postseason teams in 2013-14 to just two this time around. And while postseason bids is a very imperfect way to measure a league, it’s certainly one way to do it.

In fact, the Ivy League has had a great run of postseason play, as this was the fifth time in six years that multiple teams made it to postseason play. Getting five in postseason play last season – more than half of the league’s teams – was a feather in the league’s cap.

Perhaps no one better epitomized this change than Yale, though some of the end result was out of their control. The Bulldogs had the regular season title right there, needing only a win at Dartmouth to take it home. They had the lead for over 36 minutes, including the entire second half, until Dartmouth tied the game with 13 seconds left. Yale regained the lead on a free throw with 2.5 seconds left, then deflected a length-of-the-court pass out of bounds with 1.9 seconds left. The Big Green then converted a layup and foul, then intentionally missed the free throw to hand the Bulldogs a heart-breaking loss.

Then the Bulldogs lost in the one-game playoff and were left out of postseason play entirely, a shocking development. In part, they were a victim of timing with regard to even the CIT, as many teams accepted bids in the week leading up to the playoff and a number of matchups were set by the time the playoff game tipped. You would think the NIT would have taken them, but no such luck.

The team on the other end of the game-changing outcome, Dartmouth, was the other postseason team in the league. The Big Green have put together some good recruiting classes of late to boost their talent base, and have had fits and starts in terms of the win-loss column in Paul Cormier’s second tenure. This season, they may have made a nice step forward. Getting to postseason play for the first time since 1959 is certainly a plus, as is having the Rookie of the Year.

With the end of the season came the end of Jerome Allen’s tenure at Penn. One of the all-time great Quakers, Allen was never able to get untracked as the head coach there despite having good talent. Injuries were a constant and that never helped, but at the end of the day the Quakers were basically never better than the sum of their parts. Steve Donahue, a one-time assistant at Penn who led Cornell to three straight titles before going to Boston College, was hired to replace Allen a year after being let go in Chestnut Hill.


Final Standings

Ivy League Overall
Harvard 11-3 22-8
Yale 11-3 22-10
Princeton 9-5 16-14
Dartmouth 7-7 14-15
Columbia 5-9 13-15
Cornell 5-9 13-17
Brown 4-10 13-18
Penn 4-10 9-19


League Tournament

Normally, of course, the Ivy League does not have a tournament. But when Harvard and Yale ended up tied after 14 games, the running joke was that the Ivy League was having a tournament. Of course, it was a simple one-game playoff, the ninth in league history and the first one to not involve Princeton. This time, it was held at the Palestra the day before Selection Sunday. It was a close game for much of the afternoon, and it took a Steve Moundou-Missi jumper with 7.2 seconds left to lift Harvard to a 53-51 win over the Bulldogs to take the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.


Postseason Awards
Player of the Year: Justin Sears, Yale
Rookie of the Year: Miles Wright, Dartmouth
Coach of the Year: James Jones, Yale
Defensive Player of the Year: Steve Moundou-Missi, Harvard

All-League Team
Javier Duren, Sr. G, Yale
Maodo Lo, Jr. G, Columbia
Shonn Miller, Jr. F, Cornell
Wesley Saunders, Sr. G, Harvard
Justin Sears, Jr. F, Yale


Season Highlights

  • The league posted its best non-league record since the 2011-12 season, and had a .500 or better non-league record for the fourth time in five seasons.
  • Yale went to UConn and beat the Huskies in Storrs, an exceedingly rare occurrence.
  • Yale finished in the top four in the Ivy League for the 15th straight season – every year under James Jones.
  • Yale senior forward Matt Townsend was named a Rhodes Scholar.
  • Brown big man Cedric Kuakumensah became the program’s all-time leader in blocked shots, and will start next season just 18 shy of the league’s all-time record.

What we expected, and it happened: Harvard and Yale battled it out for the top spot. They looked like the two best teams coming into the season and lived up to it.

What we expected, and it didn’t happen: Columbia was thought to be a dark horse contender, but never quite recovered from a season-ending injury to Alex Rosenberg. Maodo Lo had a terrific season, but the Lions, who gave Kentucky all they could handle for a while, were fighting uphill all along.

What we didn’t expect, and it happened: Dartmouth was a tough team to project. They had shown both signs of progress and things to be concerned about. The Big Green played spoiler and also finished alone in fourth place at 7-7, a positive step forward.

Team(s) on the rise: Columbia. The Lions fought valiantly without Rosenberg, and they get him back to go with Lo to form what should be the best one-two punch in the league. Isaac Cohen has quietly become a steady floor leader as well, and Kyle Castlin showed promise as a freshman.

Team(s) on the decline: Harvard. Okay, this isn’t a prediction that the Crimson are about to slip back into irrelevance or even out of contention. They will probably still be most people’s favorite heading into next season. But if we’re honest, we recognize how much the seniors in the last two classes have meant to this program. Kyle Casey, Brandyn Curry, Wesley Saunders and Steve Moundou-Missi are going to be incredibly tough to replace, no matter how talented this team is as a whole. It’s time for the likes of Agunwa Okolie, Evan Cummins and Zena Edosomwan, who have patiently waited their turn and contributed as role players, to become key players.


2015-16 Ivy League Outlook

Do you pick against Harvard at this point? Despite heavy personnel losses the past two seasons, the Crimson still have the best point guard in the league in Siyani Chambers returning, and they play arguably the best kind of team basketball in the country. That, and the winning experience of this team means no matter how tempting it might be to pick someone else to win the league, you do so at your own peril. However, the Crimson will be far from prohibitive favorites if picked to win.

The same goes for Yale. All James Jones does is finish in the top half of the league and contend for a title a good amount of the time. The Bulldogs will greatly miss Javier Duren, as well as Matt Townsend and Armani Cotton, but return the reigning Player of the Year and a solid cast around him.

Elsewhere, Princeton will be Princeton, which means the Tigers should still be a team to be reckoned with. Columbia has potential with Rosenberg returning around a solid supporting cast. Brown could be the sleeper, as the Bears had a lot of growing pains this season but should have a team full of players more ready for the roles they will have to play. Losing rebounding machine Rafael Maia will hurt, so they will need someone to step up as a presence alongside Kuakumensah.

Looking further, Dartmouth already lost Gabas Maldunas to graduation and then watched Alex Mitola graduate early and transfer to George Washington, which will sting. That makes the Big Green a tougher team to project. Cornell loses Shonn Miller, and Penn could be the wild card with new head coach Steve Donahue inheriting a cast that is not lacking talent.

The Ivy League has had a good run the last few years, though going from five to two postseason teams wasn’t what the doctor ordered. Still, the league heads into next year in a good place, and with the look of a highly competitive race for the title as well.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 26, 2018

April 27, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we spend a lot of time looking at what the Commission on College Basketball came up with, as their report was just produced. We also look at the NBA Draft and transfers, which have many rosters potentially in flux for next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we break d own the national semifinals, where one game went back and forth while the other was never really a ballgame thanks to an impressive performance for the ages by the winning team.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.