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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Women's ECAC: If the Playoffs Started Today 2

We also ran this column for the women's side of the ECAC back in December, and we'll be running a new one of these after every weekend of ECAC play as the playoffs begin to loom.

8. Yale at 1. Clarkson
7. St. Lawrence at 2. Cornell
6. Quinnipiac at 3. Harvard
5. RPI at 4. Princeton

Missing the Cut:
Colgate, Dartmouth, Brown, Union

The 4/5 game would be a rematch of the opening round last year, as RPI traveled to Hobey Baker Rink and knocked off the Tigers to make it to the ECAC Final Four.

With Yale, Colgate, and Dartmouth all within 1 point of each other for that final playoff spot, there'll be plenty of exciting hockey for the ECAC in February.

ECAC: If the Playoffs Started Today 2

With a month left in the regular season, we take a look at what the playoffs would look like if they started today. We this back in December, and now we'll bring it out every week with the playoff races getting closer and growing in importance.

First Round Byes:
1. Cornell
2. Yale
3. Union
4. St. Lawrence

First Round Matchups
5. Colgate vs. 12. Clarkson
6. RPI vs. 11. Dartmouth
7. Quinnipiac vs. 10. Princeton
8. Harvard vs. 9. Brown

Last month, I noted that because of the tie-breakers, Harvard would end up being a lower seed traveling to St. Lawrence rather than to Providence, perhaps to the relief of Crimson fans because of Brown's form against Harvard. Now the seeding has changed completely, and Harvard is a home team, but they would get the matchup with Bruno that causes bad flashbacks of last year's sweep at home to Brown. Crimson fans can take hope knowing that if the seedings changed this much since the last month, they'll likely be different a month later as well.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Breaking Down the ECAC: Week 9

It's the weekly power ranking column for the ECAC here. We rank the teams, recap their weekends, pick some key performances, and look at what games to watch next week. We've also got the relevant national poll information too. So let's just jump right into it.

1. St. Lawrence (13-8-4, 7-3-2) Last Ranking: 4th
In The Polls- USCHO: Also Receiving Votes, USA Today: Also Receiving Votes, PWR: 24th
Last Time Out: The Saints picked up the home sweep as they defeated Brown 5-2 before knocking off Yale 4-2. It was the first four point weekend of the season for the North Country team, and they have collected 7 of 8 points in their 2010 ECAC contests so far.
Key Player: Travis Vermeulen put up 6 points, including 2 goals, this weekend, earning a point on 2/3 of St. Lawrence's scoring for the weekend.
Next Time Out: St. Lawrence takes to the road for a battle of upstate New York, as they head to Ithaca on Friday night to face Cornell, and then they play Colgate on Saturday night in Hamilton.

2. Cornell (10-5-3, 7-2-2) Last Ranking: 3rd
In The Polls- USCHO: 8th, USA Today: 8th, PWR: 14th
Last Time Out: The Cornell Big Red welcomed a rare WCHA team to Lynah Rink as the nationally ranked North Dakota Fighting Sioux came out to play a two game series versus the Ithacan Ivy. On the first night, the Big Red grabbed a 1-0 shutout behind a 28 save performance by Ben Scrivens, which some called possibly the best game in his career. North Dakota rebounded the next night to defeat Cornell 3-1.
Key Player: Who are we to argue with the folks at INCH? If Scrivens played the best game of his career for the win, we'll give it the Scrivens.
Next Time Out: The Lynah Faithful will be welcoming some fellow up-staters when St. Lawrence comes to town on Friday night looking for a key two points, and on Saturday when Clarkson follows suit.

3. Harvard (5-10-3, 5-5-3) Last Ranking: 5th
Last Time Out: The Crimson continued on a hot streak in ECAC play, starting with a 4-1 win on the road against a Union team that had not lost a conference game all season. The Crimson faced 48 shots, but Ryan Carroll made 47 saves, including a couple of game savers, to help the Crimson maintain a 2-1 lead that became 4-1 thanks to a pair of special teams' empty netters. The next afternoon, the Crimson earned a point with RPI despite a slow start and a goaltending change in the 3rd period, after Louis Leblanc tied the game at 3-3 with 2.3 seconds left in regulation.
Key Player: Ryan Carroll, for his career high 47 save performance against Union. He had a tougher outing the next night, but that can probably be chalked up to the fatigue of having to come up big the night before for the Crimson.
Next Time Out: The Crimson have only one ECAC game this weekend, a Friday tilt versus fellow Ivy Princeton, and are then back in action on Monday in the early game of the 2010 Beanpot as they face the Boston College Eagles, a team the Crimson have met and lost to in the final round of the Beanpot the last two years.

4. RPI (13-11-2, 6-5-1) Last Ranking: 6th
Last Time Out: RPI was able to grab three points at the Houston Field House as they overcame a slow start to defeat Dartmouth on Friday night 2-1, before a 2-0 lead going into the third evaporated into a 3-3 tie with Harvard on Saturday afternoon. The Engineers have lost only one game in 2010, a 3-1 loss to Union.
Key Player: Paul Kerrins had a goal each night, both similar goals from the top of the faceoff circle, to help RPI to its three point weekend.
Next Time Out: RPI travels down to face two more Ivy League teams, this time Brown and Yale on Friday night and Saturday night respectively.

5. Yale (11-5-3, 7-3-2) Last Ranking: 2nd
In The Polls- USCHO: 6th, USA Today: 7th, PWR: 16th
Last Time Out: It was a tough trip to the North Country for the Bulldogs, as the Elis had a close win over Clarkson 3-2 before falling to St. Lawrence 4-2 the next night.
Key Player: Broc Little had a goal and an assist in Yale's win over the Golden Knights.
Next Time Out: Yale will welcome #18 Union to the Yale Whale in a battle of ranked ECAC opponents before turning their attention to RPI on Saturday night.

6. Union (13-6-5, 7-2-3) Last Ranking: 1st
In The Polls- USCHO: 18th, USA Today: Also Receiving Votes. PWR: 19th
Last Time Out: Coming into this weekend, the Union Dutchmen were the only team to not lose a conference game, but despite a barrage of shots, the Dutchmen were no longer able to claim that after this past weekend, losing both of their home games. On Friday night, Union fell to Harvard 4-1 and then fell the next night to Dartmouth 3-1.
Key Player: Jason Walters had a PP goal on Friday night and added an assist on the consolation goal on Saturday in Union's two losses.
Next Time Out: Union will look to keep their ECAC lead and get back to their winning ways as they travel to face the Yale Bulldogs on Friday night and then face Brown on Saturday.

After the jump, teams 7-12, our three stars, and our three games to watch.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Broadcast Schedule: 1/29 - 2/2

It's a busy next few days for WHRB Sports. After the jump is our schedule of broadcasts for the next five days, which highlights men's basketball and men's and women's hockey.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Breaking Down the ECAC: Week 8

Every team in the league now has played 10 or 11 ECAC games so it's a great time to release our power rankings, the first of 2010 no less. Same rules as always, and same content, plus any relevant rankings. Also, since there were so many holiday tournaments, while we do point out when teams win or lose in the shootout, we, like the NCAA, treat any game that goes to a shootout as a tie for these purposes.

Just like the standings, the top and bottom are clear cut and the rest, not so much. But that's the best part of the ECAC. With that in mind, here we go:

1. Union (13-4-5, 7-0-3) Last Ranking: 1st
In the Polls- Pairwise: 7th, USCHO: 13th, USA Today: 13th
Last Time Out: The Dutchmen have still not lost a conference game all season, and now they are the only team out of the 58 Division I hockey teams that can make that claim. Back in 2009, Union lost only its second game in regulation all year, falling 4-3 to UMass in Storrs, CT, but they rebounded in a big way, to the tune of 7-0 over the host Huskies in the consolation round. Union then picked up three big league wins, beating Princeton 7-3, Quinnipiac 2-1 in OT, both on the road, before a home win against RPI, 3-1. The Dutchmen are now 3-1 against their Capital District Rivals.
Key Player: Jason Walters is on a team leading 13 game point scoring streak for the Dutchmen.
Next Time Out: The Dutchmen are at home this weekend in ECAC play, as they welcome the Harvard Crimson on Friday night and then Dartmouth on Saturday night.

2. Yale (10-4-3, 6-2-2) Last Ranking: 4th
In the Polls- Pairwise: 15th USCHO: 6th USA Today: 5th
Last Time Out: Yale entered 2010 looking to cement their place as one of the top teams in the country, and they did so quickly, beating Ferris State 6-1 out in Madison, WI to reach the finals, where they tied the host Wisconsin Badgers 2-2 only to lose in the shootout for the title. An impressive non-conference weekend gave way to ECAC and Ivy League play. Yale started out on the road with a 4-2 win over Dartmouth before a Tuesday road game against arch-rival Harvard, which saw Yale skate away with a 3-2 loss in a physical game. The Elis were soon back to their winning ways, as they honored the re-dedication of the Yale Whale with an 8-5 win over travel partner Brown.
Key Player: Mark Arcobello's two goals led the way for Yale over the Big Green.
Next Time Out: Yale gets to take the long trip up to the North Country, where they will face the Clarkson Golden Knights on Friday before a Saturday afternoon game against St. Lawrence.

3. Cornell (9-4-3, 7-2-2) Last Ranking: 2nd
In the Polls- Pairwise: 17th, USCHO: 9th, USA Today: 7th
Last Time Out: The Big Red ended 2009 on a sour note down at the Florida College Classic. After falling 4-2 to a very tough Colorado College team, the Big Red then met a familiar foe, ECAC and Ivy rival Princeton in the consolation round, and once again, Tigers got the better of the Big Red, as this time the cats from Jersey defeated Cornell 3-2. 2010 saw the Big Red remain on the road, and the team out of Ithaca dominated New Hampshire 5-2 in an ESPNU game, before picking up three points on the North Country circuit after a 3-1 win over Clarkson and a 1-1 tie with SLU.
Key Player: Sean Collins has two goals in the last three games for the Big Red.
Next Time Out: The Big Red have their first 2010 games at Lynah, and the faithful will get to welcome the North Dakota Fighting Sioux for a two game series.

4. St. Lawrence (11-8-4, 5-3-2) Last Ranking: 7th
Last Time Out: Quite the turnaround for the Saints from the last rankings, where we talked about their shellacking at the hands of Maine. Now the Saints are unbeaten in conference since November 21 and are 2-1-2 in 2010. SLU beat Boston College 5-2 out in Denver before tying Nebraska-Omaha 2-2 in the second round of that game. They then split a road weekend with Niagara, winning 7-2 before losing 4-3. SLU went back to conference play, grabbing a 4-0 win over Colgate and then a 1-1 tie with Cornell, also at home.
Key Player: Travis Vermeulen grabbed two goals and an assist this weekend to lead the Saints to three points.
Next Time Out: Saint Lawrence welcomes a couple of Ivies to Canton as they face Brown on Friday before a Saturday matinee with Yale.

5. Harvard (4-10-2, 4-5-2) Last Ranking: 12th
Last Time Out: Harvard wins this week's most improved award, moving from the bottom of the pack all the way to the top half in the rankings. The Crimson are perhaps making their usual post-exam break run (now earlier with the new Harvard calendar), which started with a win over what was a top ten team in Quinnipiac, 3-1 at home. Then it was off on the road for the first time since mid-November (a stretch of 7 games) to face Minnesota. Unfortunately for the Crimson, while the memories of 1989 were in Minneapolis, the magic was not, and they were swept by a (possibly) resurgent Minnesota team. The Crimson were not shaken by the loss, bouncing back from the Friday-Saturday road trip for a Tuesday home win over rival Yale, 3-2, and then a 4-2 Monday matinee victory over the Dartmouth Big Green. The win over Yale was Harvard's first win over a team in the top five in the polls since November of 2006 when Harvard beat a BC team ranked 3rd.
Key Player: Rookie Louis Leblanc has four goals in the last two games for the Crimson, wins over Yale and Dartmouth.
Next Time Out: It's off to the Capital District for the Crimson as they face the Union Dutchmen Friday night and then RPI on Saturday afternoon.

6. RPI (12-11-1, 5-5) Last Ranking: 8th
Last Time Out: The Engineers finished 2009 at the Great Lakes Invitational, where they beat one local team, Michigan, 4-3, before a 6-1 loss to another local, Michigan State in the championship. Returning from Joe Lewis Arena, RPI picked up two road conference wins over Quinnipiac and Princeton with identical 4-1 scorelines. Then they faced Capital District rival Union at Union and fell 3-1, giving the regular season series to the Dutchmen.
Key Player: Marty O'Grady was big on special teams against Quinnipiac and Princeton, grabbing a shorthanded goal and one with the extra man.
Next Time Out: The 'Tute welcome the Big Green of Dartmouth on Friday night before taking on Harvard in a Saturday afternoon clash at the Houston Field House in Troy.

After the jump, we'll look at the second half of the ECAC, including a team still on the fringe of one of the major polls.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Marking the midway point: Harvard Men's Hockey looks to finish strong

Harvard Men's Hockey has now skated just over half of their schedule (15 of 29 regular season games), so let's take a look at the team now that we're halfway through the season. After the jump, we've got your three stars of the first half of the season, and five thoughts on the first 15 games for the Crimson, along with some NHL Draft news and notes.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

WHRB Sports Blog Exclusive: Our Interview with Basketball Prospectus's Kevin Pelton

Harvard basketball just cruised to an easy victory over a Dartmouth team that is, to put it mildly, in disarray. They are now 1-0 in the Ivy League in what is essentially a 14-game tournament for the conference's lone NCAA bid. They have two more Ivy games before they head out to Ithaca for their huge match-up against Cornell.

In the meantime, we present an interview we recently recorded with Basketball Prospectus's Kevin Pelton. A spin-off of Baseball Prospectus, the site brings a great mix of insightful commentary and statistical analysis to both the professional and collegiate games. Although Kevin usually covers the NBA for the site, he is based in the Seattle area and so had an opportunity to watch the recent Harvard-Seattle game, which led to this article.

He very graciously agreed to talk to us about his thoughts on the Crimson. You can download the interview here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"The Jeremy Lin Show" - Harvard Vs. Santa Clara


Walking into the Leavey Center of Santa Clara University, it was obvious this was not a home game for the Broncos. The majority of the 4,700 seats were filled with Harvard fans, or to be more accurate, fans of Jeremy Lin, the Palo Alto High School alumni. Black shirts flooded the stands with "The Jeremy Lin Show" etched on the back. And then, of course, there were some crazy Harvard undergraduate fans in attendance as well.

The game did not disappoint. Although Lin scored only six points, his nine assists and three steals made him an absolute pleasure to watch. However, the true excitement came from the Crimson freshmen scoring 53 (yes, 53) of Harvard's 74 points. Ridiculous. As one of the crazy fans, Kyle Casey made me jump out of my seat, losing my cowboy hat, countless times. For lack of a more eloquent phrase, Casey is the man.

With the Ivy League on the horizon, this game brought me hope as well as a little worry for the Harvard squad. Here are the top 5 things I noticed about the team.

1) Raw Talent - The freshmen and maturing sophomores are the obvious heart of our team. And they are good. Putting up 89% of Harvard's points vs. Santa Clara shows that they are going to have to continue to perform if the Crimson want to keep winning. Consistency will be key.

2) Raw Talent (2) - The freshmen and sophomores are, by definition, young. An ugly first half was riddled with silly turnovers like a half-court violation and a handful of "carrying the ball" calls. Although the turnovers were meaningless in this game, mistakes from the inexperienced players could be detrimental in league play.

3) Jeremy Lin's Selflessness - The man can see the court as well as any player in the NBA. His ability to find an open passing lane and thread the needle to the open man is incredible. However, Lin is overusing this gift. In the Santa Clara games, he chose to try for the extra pass numerous times, when he had a much better driving/shooting opportunity in front of him. A balance between the 30 points/game and the 6 points/game Jeremy Lin is a necessity.

4) Chemistry of Lin and McNally - These two are fun to watch together. In their second season as teammates, their chemistry on the court is developing and benefiting the Crimson in every game. Look for this relationship to play a key role in the big league games this season.

5) Coach Amaker - What a leader. I've hardly talked to him and I would still follow him into battle. It is his job to make the freshmen grow up as quick as possible this year and so far, he is doing a fine job. This trend must continue if Harvard wants to make it into the Dance this year.

Kicking a Touchdown Now Online

The first season of "Kicking a Touchdown," WHRB's football halftime show, has now been uploaded online so you can listen to it for free. Hosted this season by senior K Patrick Long of the Harvard Crimson, and Kara Hollis of WHRB, "Kicking a Touchdown" brought Harvard players off the field and into the studio. The show gives an inside glance to the minds of football players on a variety of topics both football and not-football related.

Check out http://kickinatouchdown.podbean.com/ for all the episodes of WHRB's newest show featuring Harvard athletes.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Year in Harvard Athletics: Top Five Performances

As the first semester of the 2009-10 school year has come to an end, we're going to look back at the year in Harvard Athletics beginning with our list of the top five individual performances of the first semester, listed in chronological order. Following this list will be the top five Harvard games of the semester and the top five athletes in the first half of the year. After the jump, find our picks for the top five performances so far this year!