What Happened Last Week: Columbia reached a much-needed break. Princeton and Cornell hung with ACC opponents past and present, but only for about 20 minutes. Penn played a D-III game for the first time in forever, and realized why.
1. For the second straight year, Brown is losing a starter to a midseason transfer. Last year, it was leading scorer Leland King (who ultimately went to Nevada); this week, Justin Massey announced he will return to Florida Atlantic, where he played as a freshman in 2014-15. Massey, playing alongside twin brother Jason, was a productive player for the Bears, averaging 9.2 points per game as a willing long-range shooter. But Brown is very deep in guards, so it shouldn’t have too much trouble replacing his 22 minutes per game, likely sliding JR Hobbie back into the starting lineup.
2. After playing 13 games in the season’s first 32 days, Columbia finally gets a two-week respite for exams and holidays. It couldn’t come at a better time for the Lions: With Isaac Cohen already on the shelf with a knee injury, Alex Rosenberg re-injured his foot earlier this month, and Kyle Castlin was helped off the court in Monday’s victory over Robert Morris. Columbia’s break gives them time to recover, and all three are reportedly expected back for Ivy League play.
Here’s a bonus edition of our favorite segment, Maodo Lo Shot Chart Theatre. The Colonials’ seeming strategy was to cut off penetration while allowing three-pointers, which doesn’t quite seem optimal against Columbia (especially without Rosenberg). Lo made them pay with 26 points, all from long jumpers:
3. Princeton has weathered the loss of Hans Brase pretty well overall, but it has hurt them in one key area: the ability to play matchups defensively. The Tigers gave up 1.07 points per possession at home to Liberty, the nation’s 336th-ranked offense per KenPom, largely because Flames center Evan Maxwell was lethal on high pick-and-rolls (22 points on 9-13 shooting). If Princeton was fully healthy, it could have slid Brase up to the five, giving them a more mobile defender than Pete Miller or Alec Brennan. On Saturday, Princeton was outsized by the massive Terrapins; the Tigers could have used Brase at the four alongside a traditional center to add length.
Mitch Henderson was creative with his frontcourt last season, moving Brase around to match up with opponents or force them to react to his own moves. Henderson can still mix and match a little in the backcourt, but almost all of Princeton’s lineups basically feature four guards or wings around one center.
Player of the Week: Henry Caruso, Princeton — Caruso saved the Tigers against Liberty, scoring a career-high 29 points on 10-14 shooting, mostly inside the paint. Maryland took away his interior game, but the junior still led Princeton with four three-pointers and 17 points. Without Brase’s injury, Caruso might not have been a starter this season; now he’s second in the league in scoring (18.3 ppg) with an effective field goal percentage of 66%.
Rookie of the Week: Guilien Smith, Dartmouth — Last season, a freshman guard from Boston saw uneven playing time for Dartmouth early in the season, but broke out later to earn Ivy Rookie of the Year honors. It’s far too early to say that Smith will follow Miles Wright’s footsteps, but the 6-2 rookie found the spotlight this week. After scoring only three total points in the first month, Smith dropped 13 at Cal St. Bakersfield, then added a team-high 12 in Saturday’s loss at New Hampshire.
The Week Ahead: Harvard plays in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, facing BYU on Tuesday and two other opponents in the eight-team bracket. Four other teams return to action Tuesday, including Princeton (vs. Bucknell) and Penn (at Drexel). On Wednesday, Cornell hosts the famous Monmouth Bench, as well as the Hawks themselves, who are pretty decent.
Frivolous Power Rankings: Only half the Ancient Eight played a D-I game this week, so there’s not much point in updating last week’s power rankings. Instead, here are the top five spoonerisms from Ivy League rosters:
5. Harvard junior Morbin Killer
4. Cornell sophomore Bile Crown
3. Columbia sophomore Hate Nickman
2. Cornell coach Kill Bortney
1. Brown junior HR Jobbie