Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
Team Offense: Harvard is a top-10 team in offense so far this season, averaging 3.50 goals per game. That's good for first in the ECAC (Union averages 3.35 GPG for second) and 2nd in Boston (behind BC's 3.53 GPG). Harvard's played less games than everyone, but it's still good company to be in. Digging deeper, of Harvard's 35 goals, 17 have come on the power play. While the Crimson have done a good job drawing penalties at even strength (5.3 power plays per game) the scoring has not come at evens. In conference, these numbers look slightly less impressive. Harvard averages 3 goals per game in ECAC play, 5th in the league. Of their 24 goals, 14 have come on the power play. Harvard draws 5.375 power plays per game, but only 10 even strength goals in 8 games played is a little worrying. Grade: B+
Team Defense: Defensively, Harvard is a bottom-10 team, certainly not what anyone predicted for them this season. They've given up 34 goals this season, or 3.4 goals against per game, 51st in the nation and last in the ECAC. Opposing teams have scored 11 goals on the penalty kill, meaning Harvard has given up 23 goals per game at even strength. Harvard is thus at a -.50 goal differential per game at even strength, giving up 5 more goals than they've scored at evens. The in conference numbers are (slightly) less troubling. Harvard has given up 24 goals in 8 league games, good for the 8th best scoring defense in the league - tied with cellar dwelling RPI but ahead of Dartmouth, Brown, and Princeton. Of those 24 goals, 10 have come down a man, meaning Harvard has given up 14 goals at evens in the ECAC. They are again being outscored by half a goal per game at even strength looking at only conference play. That number needs to become a positive and quickly if Harvard wants to remain in the hunt for a bye. Grade: B-
Special Teams: The power play is the best in the nation (17/53, 32.1%) ahead of Yale at 28%, though Yale has a slightly better conference power play at 33.3% to Harvard's 32.6%. Yale, though, only has 8 power play goals and only 24 attempts, compared to Harvard's 14 PPGs on 43 attempts. As highlighted in the offense section, Harvard's power play accounts for over half their goals in league play (and just about half overall). Harvard might have more difficulty in the second half- some teams began adjusting to Harvard's main play after giving up a few goals within a game to start keeping Harvard off the board. Now having seen the PP once and having video of it, teams might start taking away Harvard's looks. On the opposite side of the coin, Harvard fans can only hope that the long break meant the penalty kill got a new look. It's worst in the nation (24 for 35, 68.6%) and worst in the conference (21 for 31, 67.7%). On the bright side, despite giving up 14.5 PIM per game, Harvard only gives up 3.5 power plays per game. If Harvard can cut down on the majors and misconducts inflating the first number, they have a better shot at minimizing the dangers of their penalty kill. Grade: A- for the PP, gentleman's C- for the PK
Some Quick Thoughts:
Harvard's road does not get much easier any time soon. Two games await with Union and Yale, they still have road games at Cornell and Colgate ahead, as well as a road game at Quinnipiac, where Harvard has had little success historically. Non-conference, they still have (a slightly weaker now) BU and the Beanpot (BU and then BC/NU) after this North Dakota swing.
Part of Harvard's success on the power play has been that Patrick McNally has been a big time player on the blue line from the start of the season. Playing well above expectations for a freshman, McNally gives the Crimson two offensive threats on the point, forcing opposing boxes to spread wider, giving more room to players like Killorn to be a threat down low.
Another part of Harvard's success on the power play is that the second unit looks completely different from Harvard's first unit. The 2nd PP line likes to dump and chase, hit the defenders to cause turnovers, and then work the puck down low. Two of Harvard's PP goals have come from Eric Kroshus doing exactly that, than skating out of the corner to score.
In ECAC play, it's a giant jumble in the middle. Cornell and Colgate pace the league, and RPI is definitively bringing up the rear, but 3rd and 11th are separated by just 3 points. There's still a lot of games left in the league, so expect a lot more volatility in the standings.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
Sportsmas begins tomorrow! Excitement is in the air!
The First Day of Sportsmas
What: Harvard women's basketball @ New Hampshire
When: Tuesday, December 6th, 7pm, coverage begins at 6:45
Coverage: 95.3FM in the Greater Boston Area (those not in the metro area that have in their heart the true meaning of Sportsmas can log on to whrb.org to listen)
And now, here's that WHRB original classic, The Night Before Sportsmas
Sunday, November 20, 2011
It was all over, as a day, a game, and a season stamped with greatness came to a close - the Harvard Crimson had finished 2011 with a 45-7 drubbing of archrival Yale. If the season was the Crimson's body of work, this was its magnum opus, its greatest performance, the final mark on the page to end its almost-perfect story. After picked by many to finish out of the Ivy League's top spot, Harvard, league title already in hand, left no doubt that it was the best the Ancient Eight had to offer.
Harvard came to New Haven looking for something intangible, something abstract. It had already clinched the Ivy trophy with a 37-20 win over Penn; hardware would not be won at the Yale Bowl. What the Crimson sought was a sense of fulfillment and completion. And of course, a chance to validate its newly-won championship, something head coach Tim Murphy alluded to in a pregame interview: "They may give me an Ivy ring," he said, "but I won't wear it unless we beat Yale." Such is the case with a rivalry.
The rivalry turned into a coronation on Saturday, however, as Harvard would not only beat Yale but would do so convincingly, handing the Bulldogs their worst loss in The Game in 30 years (the Crimson beat Yale by the same score in 1982). It was truly a complete win: Murphy called it the "best balanced, coordinated effort," that he had seen in many years. Offensively, the best scoring unit in the Ivy League delivered, recording 38 points (the final seven came on linebacker Alex Gedeon's interception return for a touchdown). The special teams unit put in its best game of the season - kicker David Mothander scored on a fake field goal, a Yale field goal was blocked, and Jacob Dombrowski punted for a 44 yard average. And the defense, which allowed an early Yale score, responded by shutting out the Bulldogs over the final 52 minutes and even recording a score for themselves on Gedeon's big play.
"Perfection" was how Murphy described the touchdown by Harvard's captain Gedeon, on what would be his final collegiate snap. It was the indeed the perfect way to end 2011, with the team's emotional leader providing an exclamation point to the game and the season.
Perfection also refers to, of course, Harvard's Ivy League record, as the Crimson went 7-0 in conference play for the first time since 2007, and, in this writer's opinion, cemented themselves at the best Harvard team since the undefeated 2004 led by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Unlike that 2004 team, it took some time to become apparent: the opening loss to Holy Cross was cause for concern, and Harvard had to deal with the temporary loss of its starting quarterback, senior Collier Winters. Yet, something about this team stamped it as great. After that Holy Cross loss, Harvard never seemed to be really challenged - its average margin of victory was 23 points, and all of its wins were by double digits. It was a team that appeared unstoppable at times. Perhaps it was the offense, a unit that scored more points than any Crimson team had in the modern era. Harvard scored at least 30 points in each of its final eight games, and at least 40 in five of those eight. Perhaps it was the defense that was simply impenetrable against the run, led by a two of the best defenders in the Ivy league, Gedeon and defensive lineman Josue Ortiz. Perhaps it was the way this team won, often with few turnovers or mental mistakes; being, as Murphy said, "the type of team that doesn't beat themselves."
Whatever it was, this team stamped itself as among the greatest in recent Harvard history. Saturday in New Haven provided the final opportunity for the 2011 Crimson to make its case, and it did so in a way that will last far beyond the fading Connecticut autumn.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Our pregame coverage begins at 11am and features:
A History of "The Game"
An interview with Harvard alum and Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
An interview with Harvard football coach Tim Murphy
and interviews with the Harvard and Yale captains, plus much more.
Kickoff is at approximate 12 noon.
Tune in for the final game of the 2011 season on 95.3FM and whrb.org.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
|Danny Biega scored the game winning goal on the power play last season to defeat Cornell at Lynah Rink 4-3. Photo courtesy of Harvard Athletic Dept. Communications.|
Key Storylines: For Harvard, it is all about the power play tonight. The Crimson are on a small streak of having scored at least one PPG in their last 6 games, including 13 PPGs in the last 8 ECAC contests, including the 3 scored in Ithaca last season to propel Harvard to the win. No surprises that Harvard's win streak last year came when the PP started clicking. Cornell is 9 of 13 on the PK.
For Cornell, the key is if they will find their defense or not tonight. While they limited Yale to only two goals, they are, on average, giving up 4 goals a game, thanks to giving up 5 goals each to Mercyhurst and Brown. Probably small comfort for the Crimson though as Cornell's also averaging 4.67 goals per game. Not exactly the definition of Cornell hockey but only results matter.
The particulars: You can tune into the game on 95.3 FM WHRB as well as WHRB.org. There's also video with WHRB's audio at GoCrimson.com. The usuals have the call. Game time is at 7pm and pregame coverage begins at 6:45 p.m.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
|Despite two goals from Alex Killorn, the Crimson fell 4-3 last night to Princeton. Photo courtesy of Harvard Athletic Dept. of Communications.|
Key Storyline: For Harvard, it has to be the penalty kill. Giving up 3 power play goals is bad but doing so in only four opportunities is far worse. The Crimson need to do a much better job blocking the slot and clearing out rebounds, particularly when down a man. Also, don't look now, but Quinnipiac went 2 for 2 with the man advantage last night and are 12 for 58 on the season.
For Quinnipiac, one storyline to watch is whether freshman Matthew Peca can continue his school-record point streak. He's tallied a point in nine-straight games, the most ever by a Bobcat freshman. Bryan "Not that One" Leitch previously had the record at 8 games back in 2006-07.
The particulars: Brendan Roche and Raafi Alidina will have the call from a top the Bright Hockey Center at 6:45pm on 95.3 FM WHRB, WHRB.org and GoCrimson.com. Drop of the puck is at 7pm.
Last Night's Scoreboard:
Harvard (0-1, 0-1) 3 vs. Princeton (1-2-1, 1-1) 4
Dartmouth (2-1, 1-0) 5 vs. Quinnipiac (7-3, 1-1) 4
Brown (1-2, 0-1) 3 vs. Colgate (5-2-1, 1-0) 5
Yale (1-1-1, 0-1) 2 vs. Cornell (1-1, 1-0) 6
Clarkson (6-1-2, 1-0) 4 vs. RPI (1-7, 0-1) 1
St. Lawrence (0-5, 0-1) 0 vs. Union (4-1-3, 1-0) 2
Yale is staring down the barrel of mediocrity. In fact the world came tantalizingly close to a hilarious result in NYC last week, as Columbia had the ball down only three points late in the fourth quarter (Yale effectively ended the game with a pick). That said, I’m willing to give the Bulldogs some benefit of the doubt, as the game was played in a snowstorm and the Lions were thoroughly out-gained. Brown, meanwhile, used the same ugly weather to hold Penn’s Billy Ragone to 6-of-15 for 32 yards and 3 INTs in a 6-0 shutout. Despite not being obviously good at any one thing, Brown hasn’t lost in over a month.
Harvard (6-1) at Columbia (0-7)
Harvard’s offence has been all sorts of unstoppable in the past month, and I mean that more or less literally: Opponent’s offence keeping them in the game? Collier Winters can throw for 400! Collier Winters injured? Colton Chapple can throw for five touchdowns! Minor blizzard making it hard to throw a ball? Run for 400! A skeptic might point out that this has come against teams who are 7-11 against other opponents, to which I say: Yes, but Columbia’s on the docket this week.
Princeton (1-6) at Penn (4-3)
Five of Princeton’s six losses have been by double digits, and their win is over Columbia. And yet the Tigers have "only" been out-gained by 23 yards/game. The real problem has been turnovers: Princeton is -12 in turnover margin. Penn has now been out-scored by four points, cumulatively, on the season. Both these teams are quite good on the ground, each out-rushing opponents by over 60 yards/game. If Princeton can get Billy Ragone to screw up more than their own Tommy Wornham (both QBs have thrown 8 picks this season), they could actually keep it close.
Cornell (3-4) at Dartmouth (2-5)
Two of the Ivy League’s most valuable players will take the field in Hanover on Saturday. Cornell’s ground game is awful, so they put the ball in sophomore Jeff Mathews’s hands 34 times (for almost 300 yards) per game. Meanwhile, Nick Schwieger continues to be Dartmouth’s offence, as the Big Green have only averaged 120 yards/game passing. The defense hasn’t been great either; the cumulative effect is that Dartmouth has been out-gained by almost 110 yards/game. The winner of this game takes a death grip on 5th place in the Ancient Eight.
Picks to bet your Coop Rebate on
Yale over Brown, Harvard over Columbia, Penn over Princeton, Cornell over Dartmouth.
Friday, November 4, 2011
|Photo courtesy Harvard Dept. of Athletic Communications|
Last Time Out: Officially for the Crimson, it was back in 2010-11 when they fell 4-3 to Dartmouth in the ECAC Quarterfinals Game 3 but unofficially, it was a 7-4 win over Western Ontario with goals from Marshall Everson, Alex Killorn (2), Luke Greiner (2) and Conor Morrison (2). For Princeton, they moved to 0-2-1 and 0-1 in the league after being beaten by Quinnipiac 5-2 in their home opener. MacDonald and Meland had the goals for the Tigers.
Storyline: New faces in important places - For the Crimson, the early storyline is going to be the inexperience in net. Girard looked good in his half versus the Mustangs while freshman Michalek had some first game jitters. For Princeton, the new face is behind the bench as Bob Prier looks his first win as the Tigers' bench boss.
The Particulars: Listen live at 7pm on 95.3 FM WHRB, WHRB.org and at GoCrimson.com. Pregame coverage begins at 6:45pm. Brendan Roche and Raafi Alidina return for their second season together in the booth.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Harvard Crimson running back Zach Boden has been honored as Co-Ivy League Rookie of the Week for his performance against the Dartmouth Big Green. Despite decidedly unfriendly weather conditions, the Atlanta native gained 7.5 yards per carry and netted 116 total yards along with 2 touchdowns. Boden, who plays a physical style of football, at times looked virtually unstoppable—in one instance, he ploughed ahead for an extra ten yards after Dartmouth linebacker Michael Runger (6’2, 215) latched firmly onto his shoulders. This is the second time that Boden has been named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week.
Along with Boden, Crimson QB Collier Winters and RB Treavor Scales were named to the honor roll for their 100+ yard rushing efforts. Scales had 139 yards on 18 carries (7.8 ypc) while Winters had 126 yards on 15 attempts (8.4 ypc). The Crimson finished with a total of 395 rushing yards, one more than their total at Princeton last season.
Yale junior running back Mordecai Cargill received Ivy League Offensive Player of the week for his 230 yard, 2 TD effort against Columbia. Cargill had both of Yale’s TD’s in a 16-13 Bulldog victory. Brown linebacker Daniel Smithwick was named Defensive Player of the Week. Smithwick had 7 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception in the Bears’ 6-0 victory over Penn. Alexander Norocea, the kicker for Brown, received Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his two field goals (including the game winner) in the same contest. Boden shared Ivy League Rookie of the Week with Princeton freshman running back Chuck Dibilio.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
On a night in which each team's running game would play a large role in determining the winner, Harvard delivered perhaps its most physical beating of the year as it ran over Dartmouth 41-10. After spending most of the season relying on its superb passing game, the Harvard offense showed on Saturday that it can dominate on the ground as well, running for 395 yards, and the Crimson defense shut down the Ivy League's leading rusher, Dartmouth tailback Nick Schwieger.
As kickoff approached, it became clear that the weather conditions for Saturday's Harvard-Dartmouth matchup would not be those of a crisp autumn evening. While the impending storm was moving towards Cambridge, talk of the game began to center on how the weather would affect the contest, in particular the Harvard passing game: conventional wisdom holds that throwing the football becomes much more difficult in wet and cold conditions. What would this mean for a Harvard offense that had in many ways relied on its passing game? Quarterbacks Collier Winters and Colton Chapple had together thrown for at least 4 touchdowns in three consecutive games. Meanwhile, the Crimson's rushing attack had yet to blossom into a force that could conceivable carry the offense in times of need. been able to run the ball, .
Too, there was the question of how Harvard's run defense would fare against Darmouth, who boasted the Ivy League's leading rusher in form of Nick Schwieger. Although the Crimson defense came in at 9th in the Football Championship Subdivision in rush yards allowed, the unit had given up 267 yards on the ground the weak prior to Ivy bottom feeder Princeton, so this was cause for some concern.
All of the worry, however, would be for naught, as the Harvard defense rose to the challenge. Schwieger, who had come in as the Ivy league's leading rusher, was held to just 51 yards on 15 carries and never was a factor in the outcome. This is a testament to a defense that had been under fire after yielding 135 yards to Princeton's freshman Chuck Diblio. "Their front four were tremendous, " said Dartmouth head coach Buddy Tevens of the team of Josue Ortiz, Grant Sickle, Nnamdi Obukwelu, and John Lyon. Indeed, the four would clog the middle and force the hard-nosed Schwieger to the outside, where he would be met by a speedy linebacking corps and secondary.
On the offensive side of things, the Harvard juggernaut was forced away from its weapon of choice, the forward pass, but kept rolling anyway, putting up over 40 points for the fourth straight week while rushing for almost 400 yards. The Crimson had three 100-yard rushers for the first time in its history, as the trio of Treavor Scales, Collier Winters, and Zach Boden each passed the century mark.
The performances of Scales, a junior, and Boden, a freshman, in particular are good news for Harvard. Scales has been the Crimson's feature back but had only run for 100 yards once this season before Saturday, an 129 yard performance back on September 23rd against Brown. In the Dartmouth game, Scales was borderline-unstoppable, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. He was at times replaced by the hard-running Boden, who would churn for a career-high 112 yards, most of which were after contact, in a breakout game of his own.
To be fair, Dartmouth entered Saturday's game with the Ivy League's worst rushing defense, but Harvard's performance on the ground sends a warning shot at Yale, and of course Penn, who had lost earlier in the day to give Harvard sole possesoin of first place in the league. With three games remaining between the Crimson and its fourteenth Ivy Championship, the emergence of a running game to complement its great passing attack gives Harvard a little more spring in its step.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
1. Raph Girard looked sharp in net for the Crimson, giving up 1 goal on 16 shots in 31 minutes of play. It was a slightly tougher day at the office for Steve Michalek who gave up 3 goals in quick succession on entering the second period. The first was a poorly directed rebound by him and the second was one that trickled through his five hole and got slammed home before he could reach back and find it. Tough to see, although ideally someone is tying up those forwards crashing the net. Third goal was a beauty by the Mustangs and it was impressive that Michalek almost got a glove on the one-timer. Harvard can't allow that pass through the slot, especially on the PK. Not too worried about Michalek though - it's always tough to come in halfway through a game and tougher still when it's your first collegiate action. He settled down nicely in the third period, though he had less to do.
2. Defensively, saw some good things all around. I was particularly impressed with the poise Patrick McNally showed on the point, especially on the power play. It's always good to see a freshman come in and play well and McNally was able to tally two assists from the point on the PP and get a few shots off, plus he looked comfortable defensively. That said, three goals from Harvard were on rebounds and another was a pass through the slot leading to a one-timer - Harvard needs the D-men to help out better there.
3. This offense certainly came alive last night. Obviously these types of comparisons are tough but Notre Dame scored only 4 on Western and Michigan State put up only 6 (though defensively, they gave up a goose egg and 1 respectively). Seven goals from the Crimson, 4 of which were PPGs. I think the ECAC has better goaltenders than Harvard faced last night but it was good to see a new emphasis on the cycle from Harvard and it was good to see them get shots on net and pucks in it. Tommy O'Regan grabbed a few assists tonight, again, something good to see from a freshman. Colin Blackwell dominated the face-off dot and also displayed a lot of wheels. He had a great chance on the breakaway that he just put wide on the backhand but he's going to score some goals for the Crimson.
4. Hopefully the Crimson were able to avoid the injury bug last night. Ryan Grimshaw got hit into the end boards pretty hard last night and looked slow to get up but after getting some helmet repairs was able to return to the game. There was also the CTH-elbowing major by Western on either McNally or O'Regan that shook the freshman up but he looked no worse for wear after it. The fact that both players returned after the big collisions, plus having two weeks until the first official game, hopefully means they'll be fine going into the start of the season.
Harvard travels to Brown tonight for a scrimmage. Any information we get (we usually don't get much) will get put up on twitter.com/whrbsports. Western plays Dartmouth today at 4pm.
Eli dropped a game in Lafayette last weekend. Apparently the Bulldogs tried an onside kick down two points with about 13 minutes left in the fourth. It didn’t work, and the Leopards scored an insurance touchdown. Good hustle, though, boys. Penn had an exciting comeback win over, uh, Columbia. I have no idea what to make of Penn; they’ve outgained opponents by 73 ypg, but have needed two last-minute touchdowns to take down Dartmouth and Columbia. One of these teams is going to emerge 3-0 in the Ivy.
Brown (4-1) at Cornell (2-3)
The Bears remain undefeated against non-Harvard teams, having pounded Princeton 34-0 last weekend. They held Tigers QB Tommy Wornham to a hilarious 11-of-27 for 75 yards. While we’re on the topic of stingy pass defense, Cornell allowed 3-of-10 for 52 yards with two interceptions last weekend against Colgate. The Big Red lost anyway. It’s a beautiful world we live in.
Princeton (1-4) at Harvard (4-1)
Last week Colton Chapple completed a modest 13 passes against Bucknell—it’s just that five were for touchdowns. A 223-to-(-5)-yard rushing edge and four opponent interceptions will do that for a guy. Princeton’s trip to Providence was an all-purpose pantsing. The Tigers gave up twice as many yards as they earned and threw an interception to boot. Even with that loss, though, Princeton has only been outgained by 32 ypg; they should be a tougher out for Harvard than the records would indicate.
Columbia (0-5) at Dartmouth (1-4)
WHRB Sports’ 8-time Defending Ivy League Sleeper Pick has now dropped four in a row. Last week’s not-that-close loss at Holy Cross saw Dartmouth outgained by nearly 300 yards. Which: Oh boy. Nick Schwieger’s 110 ypg rushing accounts for about 42% of the Big Green’s total offence on the year. Meanwhile, Columbia is bad.
Picks to bet your Felipe’s Super Carnitas Burrito on
Penn over Yale; Cornell over Brown; Harvard over Princeton; Nick Schwieger over Columbia.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
All three Princeton losses have come against non-conference opponents, including a 28-23 loss last weekend against Hampton. The Tigers are out-gaining their opponents by 72 yards/g on the ground, but giving most of that back through the air. The Brown Bears have taken Princeton’s record and flipped it, going 3-0 out-of-conference. Look, we get it, Brown. You’re different. And I mean that’s great. But it sorta feels like you’re trying too hard, y’know?
Cornell (2-2) at Colgate (3-3)
Big Red vs Big…what is that, Magenta? Wikipedia claims it’s a Maroon. Whatever. Colgate RB Nate Eachus has 628 rushing yards in only four games. The Red (it’s more brown than red, but I guess you know best) Raiders have won two straight with Eachus back from injury. Cornell’s last outing saw them give up 530 yards of offense to your Harvard Crimson. Sophomore QB Jeff Mathews (155.2 efficiency rating) has built on last year’s strong freshman campaign.
Bucknell (4-2) at Harvard (3-1)
The Bison run defense has been very good this year, allowing only 62 yards/g. Their pass defense has been less good, giving up closer to 244. Bucknell’s +13 turnover margin on the year helps explain their winning record; Senior DB Bryce Robertson has five picks already. Harvard, meanwhile, goes for their fourth straight win after last week’s offensive explosion at Cornell. Come on guys, you’re not going to lose on Drew Faust’s 375th birthday, are you?
Dartmouth (1-3) at Holy Cross (2-3)
After two close losses, Dartmouth had a more Dartmouth-y 30-0 loss to Yale last weekend. Senior RB Nick Schwieger’s 39 yards was enough to move him into first on Dartmouth’s all-time rushing list. Holy Cross could also use a win, having dropped consecutive seven-point games to Brown and New Hampshire. The Crusaders are only 11-for-15 on extra point attempts, somehow.
Pennsylvania (2-2) at Columbia (0-4)
Oatmeal has won two straight, including last week’s 35-20 victory over Fordham. Billy Ragone has looked more like himself lately, completing 68% of his passes with no picks in those two wins. Meanwhile, Columbia is bad.
Yale (3-1) at Lafayette (1-4)
The Bulldogs have won games by 10, 20, and 30 points this year, and lost one by 30. I’m just going to assume this means Yale doesn’t have the constitution to keep games close and exciting. Boooo Yale. You’re boring all these nice people! Lafayette hasn’t played since losing to Harvard two weeks ago. The Leopards’ have been doubled-up on the ground so far this year.
Picks to bet your BoardPlus on
Princeton over Brown; Colgate over Cornell; Cornell joins the 300-team New Mountain West Conference; Harvard over Bucknell; Holy Cross over Dartmouth; Columbia over Columbia (to Penn’s benefit); Lafayette over Yale by 40.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The October day in Ithaca was sunny and warm, a backup quarterback set records, and a movie star was in attendance - it was an odd, surreal game at Schoellkopf Field. Everything about the afternoon seemed atypical - everything except, of course, the outcome, as Harvard beat Cornell for the 10th time in their last eleven meetings.
The Ithaca day dawned radiant and, dare we say, almost hot, in a region known for its harsh winters and crisp autumns (This writer chooses to avoid upstate New York for this very reason). This pleasant surprise of a day was the backdrop for an unusually competitive Harvard-Cornell game and the best statistical performance by a Harvard quarterback in nine years.
The game was more competitive than Harvard-Cornell matchups of recent memory - the Crimson had won the last four games between the two with ease and had beaten the Big Red in nine of their past ten games. Saturday, however, Harvard found itself on the ropes for three quarters, as the Big Red offense, behind sophomore quarterback Jeff Matthews, kept pace with the Crimson every step of the way. Cornell set the tone early as they took the opening kickoff and drove 70 yards on three passing plays for the first score of the day. Matthews easily and quickly picked apart the Harvard secondary in a manner reminiscent of Holy Cross's Ryan Taggert in the Crimson's season opening loss. "It was an eye-opener that this was going to be a tough game," Harvard head coach Tim Murphy would say afterward of the drive. Although the Harvard offense would respond, Cornell would regain the lead 17-10 in the second quarter and 24-20 late in the third. It was not the kind of matchup between the two programs that Ivy League fans were used to seeing: the Crimson had romped by more than two touchdowns in each of their last four games with Cornell.
Of course, this team is not the Cornell of the last four years either, as the Big Red came in with a record of 2-1 and leading the league in total offense and total defense. That Cornell would challenge Harvard was not a surprise to the Crimson themselves, or at least to the coaching staff - a special meeting was called the Thursday before the game to address the importance of not looking past them. Saying that a team will take a game seriously is one thing, however, while doing it is another, and early on Harvard was surprised and given all it could handle.
Surprises occurred off the field as well on Saturday, as actor Bill Murray was spotted in attendance; Murray was shown several instances on the video board at Schoellkopf field and could be seen at times conversing with the Harvard band.
The most surprising storyline of the afternoon, however, and without a doubt the biggest story of the game, was the day recorded by Colton Chapple, Harvard's backup quarterback filling in for the injured Collier Winters for the third straight game. Chapple, a career second-stringer, ended the day with an eye-popping 414 yards through the air. That was the most passing yards recorded by a Harvard quarterback since Neil Rose threw for 443 at Dartmouth back in 2002. The nine year stretch between then and Saturday included the entire quarterbacking tenures of Ryan Fitzpatrick (now the starter for the Buffalo Bills) and Chris Pizzotti, two of the best signalcallers in Crimson history.
Could Chapple be better than those two? The opinion here is that he isn't anything close to Fiztpatrick or Rose in terms of raw talent, but that shouldn't take away from the outstanding day he had, a day that will go down in the Harvard history books. After the game, Chapple was quick to credit his wide receivers "We've got a lot of playmakers, and I was just trying to get the ball to them." Harvard does indeed have talent on the outside, and was bolstered by 100-yard receiving days from seniors Alex Sarkisian and Chris Lorditch. There were clear height mismatches that the Crimson were able to exploit, as Harvard's receivers often had six or eight inches of height on the Cornell cornerbacks. Yet, mismatches and talented wide receivers alone cannot account for Harvard's brilliant passing performance: there was something simply special about Chapple on Saturday.
In the end, though, a day full of surprises ended in a predictable final result, as Harvard continued its winning tendencies over Cornell. That Harvard was able to weather the storm from the Big Red and respond with 21 unanswered points is a testament not only to Chapple and the offense but to the coaching staff as well. And with the Crimson win, Harvard, which started 0-1 and now sits at 3-1 with two good options at the quarterback position, moves ahead to a future that looks much brighter than it did four weeks ago.
Scott Reed is the play-by-play announcer for Harvard football and men's basketball on WHRB.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
While that's all well and good for Hockey East, the biggest concern on this blog is the future of the ECAC's team. If RPI or Quinnipiac leave, it's now the ECAC that has to find a 12th team, again. So let's go through the candidates.
Rochester Institute of Technology (Atlantic Hockey) - InsideHockey.com's Jason Klump told us RIT is the "blatantly obvious" choice for the potential 12th spot in the conference. They certainly fit the profile, especially if RPI is the team that jumps. Strong academics, Division III team in Liberty League, like most of the ECAC, doesn't offer athletic scholarships, etc. Here's the one problem - they are in Rochester. I don't mean to say this to denigrate the fine city of Rochester itself but to point out that Rochester's location doesn't quite fit the ECAC blueprint. RIT's closest team would be Cornell, a good 2 hour drive away. RIT would thus likely become Cornell's travel partner, while Colgate, about an hour and a half from Ithaca and the Big Red's geographic rival, would probably get paired with Union, over two hours away. If it's Quinnipiac that leaves (and judging by the value they've been placing in athletics, as evidenced by their big and shiny new sports complex, you have to imagine President Lahey is outside Joe Bertagna's office with a boombox blaring power ballads), then the same thing probably happens, with RPI becoming Harvard's travel partner, Brown and Dartmouth pairing together, and Yale and Princeton becoming an item. While Rochester wouldn't be the furthest trip in the league, with that distinction belonging to the Princeton-North Country swing, it is still a long trip (7 hours from Cambridge, though blissfully as a broadcaster, almost all highway driving.)
Army (Atlantic Hockey) In some ways I think Army makes the most sense of any team to add for the ECAC. A Division-I school, does not offer scholarships, Patriot League ties with Colgate, strong academics, great location that it could easily become either Union or Princeton's travel partner depending on who leaves and that is also close to New Haven. Plus they were an ECAC team two decades ago. The problem is that Army is not going to leave fellow military academy Air Force behind, and those West Point to Colorado Springs Friday-Saturday trips don't seem too appealing. It's just not going to happen.
Holy Cross (Atlantic Hockey) I admit, this is probably the most appealing option to me in terms of adding teams. Again, a Division I institution that does not offer scholarships, it has Patriot League ties with Colgate and a Bay State rivalry with Harvard in other sports (they are the tradition season opener in football and typically on the basketball schedule as well.) There's no denying that the Ivy League and Patriot League get along together so it would be a great fit in that regard. Worcester could also be an easy pairing with either Union if RPI leaves, or with some reshuffling, Harvard if Quinnipiac leaves. On the other hand, there's a reason Holy Cross did not get brought on board when Vermont left in 2004 and that isn't changing.
Connecticut (Atlantic Hockey) First, let me make the pitch for Hockey East to leave the ECAC alone and go after UConn. The Huskies are traditional rivals with Notre Dame in Big East basketball. They were once rivals with Boston College and want to head to the ACC in other sports to be reunited with Boston College. They are a large state school and fit the profile of many of the Hockey East teams. Plus they are already playing women's hockey in your conference. Alright, that being done with, here are the problems for UConn and Hockey East, though not necessarily problems for UConn and the ECAC. Not a great rink, can't offer men's scholarships thanks to Title IX (so come to a conference where over half the league doesn't offer scholarships, is my thinking). That said, UConn doesn't really "feel" like an ECAC school but frankly, their big name, even if not in hockey, should be a plus for the ECAC, feelings aside. Also, if Quinnipiac leaves, this is sort of a slam dunk in terms of geography.
Other Atlantic Hockey Schools/Alabama-Hunstville Geographically, probably not close enough. Sorry.
Penn/Columbia/MIT/Other Schools Without Hockey Teams Unless Terry Pagula accidentally leaves out the "State" when sending his giant check to the "Penn State Hockey Team," Penn's not getting a hockey team in time to be the 12th team. Same with anyone else that would fit the academic and/or geographic profile.
Callup from Division III If the ECAC is trying to get Tufts or UMass-Boston or any other school to make the jump (not to pick on those schools, they were just first to come to mind), the ECAC is probably in trouble.
Alright, looking at all that, geography aside I think RIT is probably the best choice for the league, but I like Holy Cross or UConn more personally. That said, I think there's another solution that everyone is missing and after thinking it through, it is the solution I'm most in favor of. What is it and why have I grown to like it? Find out after the jump.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
When the deadline for ECAC selections was coming up in early September, I was truly in the depths of confusion. It's hard enough to pick this league, but with wholesale changes going on, it seemed like the league would be even closer than last year. In the end, I came up with a quick system of how I was going to evaluate teams.
1. Amount of points returning last year - According to College Hockey, Inc., 18 of the 21 scorers in the NCAA last year were upperclassmen. While I didn't know that when I made this my first criterion, it reinforces the point- experience helps. Therefore, I looked at what teams had the most points returning from last season.
2. Who is back on the blue line - If there's anything an admirer of Ken Daneyko's style of play can tell you, it's that what good defensemen do doesn't always show up in the points statistics. Here I just looked at who was returning.
3. Goaltenders - A lot of the league is going to have new goaltenders, which are big question marks. The rest of the league has returning goaltenders. Some are good, some not so much. This is a pretty important part of the equation.
4. Status Trends Toward Quo - Meaning I try not to move teams too much from where they finished last year, unless they really deserve it. I probably broke this rule a lot more this year than last year though.
5. Gut Feeling - It's not all just numbers here. Sometimes when teams are close, you just have to go with your gut and always remember the mantra "You're probably going to be very wrong anyway, so why worry?"
What's Not Evaluated:
1. Incoming Freshmen - It's not that freshmen can't or don't have an impact. It's just that they are complete wildcards. Further, I don't know all the freshmen coming into the league equally, creating a huge artifact. So I just tend to ignore what freshmen are coming in.
A Note on My All-Conference Team: I tend to select players that did well statisically or stood out in my mind from the previous season. I also try to limit how many players from each team I pick. I also tweeted a 2nd team all-conference after my ballot went in. That's not something the media submits but I decided I would do it anyway.
With that, here was my media ballot for the 2011-12 ECAC Season. Full explanation is below the jump.
1. Union 2. Yale 3. Dartmouth 4. Cornell 5. Quinnipiac 6. Harvard 7. Princeton 8. Brown 9. RPI 10. St. Lawrence 11. Colgate 12. Clarkson
Preseason All-Conference Team: G: James Mello (Dartmouth); D: Danny Biega (Harvard) and Nick Bailen (RPI); F: Kelly Zajac (Union), Brian O'Neill (Yale) and Andrew Calof (Princeton)
Preseason All-Conference 2nd Team: G: Eric Hartzell (Quinnipiac); D: Connor Goggin (Dartmouth) and Braden Birch (Cornell); F: Andrew Miller (Yale), Greg Carey (St. Lawrence) and Jack Maclellan (Brown).
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
We also have the audio of head coach Ted Donato's 10 minutes with the media. Hear what he had to say about the media's picks, some of the impact freshmen to watch, the goaltending situation, and his thoughts on last season.
Coaches' Preseason All Conference Team
Media Preseason All-Conferene Team and Media Poll
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Harvard's 24-7 win over Brown last Friday night was a redemption on many levels for the Crimson: its new quarterback, its defense, and the entire team felt the sting of prior failures, yet they were able to redeem themselves against the Bears, making the win especially sweet.
The most intruiging storyline heading into Friday's game was who would start at quarterback: the rumor that began to percolate across Cambridge as the week wore on was that senior starter Collier Winters would be out against the Bears. A crowd of 18,537 saw this confirmed when junior backup Colton Chapple ran out to take the first snap in Harvard Stadium. For those fans who followed Harvard's 2010 campaign, the sight of Chapple under center wasn't particularly welcome, as he struggled in three starts last year replacing both Winters and Andrew Hatch when they were out with injuries. Although Chapple led Harvard to wins in two of his three starts, he did not impress - he completed under 50% of his passes and threw more interceptions than touchdowns. The expectations for Chapple in 2011 were not high, with many hoping Winters would be able to take the vast majority of snaps under center. All of this had to be on Chapple's mind as he ran out to the huddle for the first play, but to his credit, he came through on a night when Harvard needed him to. The junior threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns, the second a 56-yard beauty to Adam Chrissis to put the game out of reach. After the game, Chapple reflected on the progress he has made: "Last year, as a sophomore, it was different...I didn't really know the offense like I know it now." This progress was evident Friday to all those in attendance, and Crimson fans feel a lot better about the quarterback situation whether or not Collier Winters can play next Saturday at Lafayette.
On the other side of the ball, the Harvard defense entered the game on its heels after being shredded by the Holy Cross passing attack the week before. Many had predicted a similar occurrence when Brown came to Cambridge led by 1st-team preseason all-Ivy quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero. Yet Newhall-Caballero was held in check, completing only 28 of 51 passes and throwing 2 interceptions, and Brown was held to a single touchdown. Granted, two Bear red-zone turnovers (including a fumble at the goal line) mean Brown could have easily hung more numbers on the scoreboard, but the Crimson defense stepped up and made plays when it mattered. Holding arguably the Ivy League's best passing attack to seven points was an excellent way for the maligned unit to redeem itself and is a good sign for the rest of the season, in a conference stacked with quarterback talent.
And of course, there was the opponent on Friday: the Crimson still felt the sting of the loss in Providence a year ago, when Brown won convincingly, 29-14. Harvard was able to exact some revenge this time around, and in doing so might have discovered something about itself: head coach Tim Murphy alluded to it after the game, saying, "Tonight we developed an identity...we're a tough, physical team." After an ugly loss a week ago, this was a win and a step in the right direction. For a player, a unit, and a team looking for redemption, that was enough.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Ivy League Week 2
by Zak Kline
Friday, September 23, 2011
Brown (1-0) at Harvard (0-1)
Harvard opens its home schedule with a Friday night game. The Crimson are 4-0 under the lights since installing them in 2007. The Crimson’s season started with a sloppy 30-22 loss at Holy Cross last Saturday. The Brown Bears opened their 2011 season with a 21-20 win over Stony Brook. Stony Brook had a 55-yard FG attempt come up short in the last minute. Senior QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero hit on 22 of 37 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns. For his efforts, he won the weekly New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Gold Helmet Award, which decision was in turn nominated for the WHRB Longest Combined Name of Award Giver and Recipient Award.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Cornell (1-0) at Yale (1-0)
Yale started 2011 with a 37-27 win over Georgetown, as Patrick Witt threw for 280 yards and Mordecai Cargill ran for 92 yards on just 15 carries. Cornell also opened with a victory, beating Bucknell on the strength of 323 yards from QB Jeff Mathews and a stingy 1.8 yards/carry allowed on defense. But really, can anything be called a victory if you have to go home to Ithaca or New Haven afterwards?
Albany (0-2) at Columbia (0-1)
The Great Danes haven’t stopped anyone through two games, allowing almost 480 yards rushing and another 410 through the air. Sean Brackett, named to the All-Ivy first team last year, did not have his best day for the Lions against Fordham, completing fewer than 50% of his passes with two touchdowns and two picks. That line will probably improve this week.
Dartmouth (1-0) at Sacred Heart (0-2)
Sacred Heart’s offense has accumulated 13 points through two games. Their only touchdown came after a Marist muffed punt gave the Pioneers a red zone opportunity in Week 1. They’re not very good. Dartmouth, meanwhile, opened with a lopsided win over Colgate. All-Everything running back Nick Schwieger got his Ivy League MVP reelection campaign off to a good start, notching 175 yards on 8.8 per rush.
Bucknell (2-1) at Princeton (0-1)
The Bison get another crack at an Ivy opponent after being downed by Cornell. Bucknell’s most notable feature is that my computer’s spell-checker doesn’t recognize the word “Bucknell”. Princeton lost by twelve to Lehigh, letting Mountain Hawk QB Chris Lum throw for 384 yards and 4 TDs. The Tigers were able to grind out 180 yards rushing, which success they’ll need to duplicate if their secondary takes another day off.
Penn (0-1) at Villanova (0-3)
Villanova has long been mentioned as a possible football addition to the Big East, where most of the Wildcats’ other programs already play. The football Wildcats have been demonstrating they could be competitive in a “BCS Conference” by losing to Temple (by 35), Towson (by 21) and Monmouth (NJ) (by 11). The Quakers, meanwhile, started the year by getting slapped around by Lafayette, 37-12. Reigning co-Ivy first-team QB Billy Ragone had an awful day, finishing 8-for-23 with 91 yards and two interceptions. He will have to be better if Penn wants to beat Villanova for the first time in 100 years.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
What a wild opening week it was for the Ivy League, with unexpected stars willing their teams to wins and startling upsets rocking the preseason favorites. As always, predicting the season outlook for teams based on the first game requires an phD in extrapolation and good faith. I have a good feeling that the Quakers will not go 0-10. Conference play starts this week, and with more on the line, expect teams to adjust from their Week 1 performances and play with renewed intensity.
Penn (0-1, 0-0)
In a rather uncharacteristic fashion, the Quakers were blown away at home, allowing a mediocre Lafayette team to defile Franklin Field. Turnovers, special teams miscues, and penalties marked a sloppy showing where three different quarterbacks were used, and Penn failed to find the scoreboard the entire second half. With a visit to Villanova looming, Penn QB Billy Ragone will have to make plays for his team, and the vaunted defense that stonewalled the Ivy League last year needs to make a statement.
Dartmouth (1-0, 0-0)
As my favorite saying goes, “Nick Schwieger ran over Hanover.” The reigning Ivy League MVP showed no rust from the offseason with a monster, 175 yards and 2 touchdown performance. His defensive counterpart, Shawn Abuhoff, blocked a kick and QB Connor Kempe played a controlled, well-managed game for an easy victory. This is the year the Big Green loses its dark horse candidacy and join the Ivy League elite.
Brown (1-0, 0-0)
What a thrilling win over the Stony Brook and a triumphant return of QB Newhall-Caballero. As exemplified by his track record the last several years, at his best, Newhall-Caballero is the best QB in the Ivy League, and with the help of his go-to receiver Tounkara-Kone and Lundevall, he leads a imposing passing offense. With a confused Harvard secondary, expect this trio to have another big game. Moreover, perhaps Tounkara-Kone and Newhall-Caballero should open a law firm together.
Harvard (0-1, 0-0)
It’s hard to point the fingers toward a single player in last week’s uninspired loss to crosstown rival Holy Cross. Winters faced pressure all night and made some avoidable errors; the defense looked sluggish and the secondary had no answer to Ryan Taggert; the backfield could not find holes to get the running game established. There’s a lot of questions that Coach Tim Murphy will have to answer, but there is no question that Coach Murphy can get the team back on track: Harvard hasn’t lost consecutive games since 2006.
Yale (1-0, 0-0)
In an unexpected shootout, the Bulldogs had a dogfight with the Hoyas with Patrick Witt establishing his presence as a premier QB of the Ivy League. He threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns, only marred by a careless interception. What’s more impressive is the resurgence of Yale’s running game: Mordecai Cargill had 92 yards on just 16 carries for the day. Expect another inspiring performance by Witt as the Bulldogs takes on the Big Red.
Columbia (0-1, 0-0)
Sean Brackett once again produced a powerhouse performance for the Lions, accounting for all but 52 yards of Columbia’s offensive output. Even though they came out with the loss, it was the Lions defense that turned heads last Saturday, which held Fordham scoreless on two red zone possessions and created turnovers. If the Lions want to play with the big boys of the Ivy League, they have to move away from the one-dimensional play of Brackett and create plays designed for the talented but underutilized TB Garrett.
Cornell (1-0, 0-0)
Year 2 of Kent Austin’s reign at Cornell got off to an auspicious start as the Big Red toppled unbeaten Bucknell with surprising efficiency. Second year starter Jeff Matthews continued his development with a crisp showing on the air, with an 87 yard touchdown to Kurt Ondash and a 64 yarder to Shane Savage. The offense didn’t allow a single sack and the defense limited the usually consistent Bucknell offense with DL pressure and blanket coverage. Things are looking up!
Princeton (0-1, 0-0)
The Tigers fell behind early and quickly, trailing by 27-9 in the 4th quarter. Even with a string of great plays - KO Returned for TD by Sr. Ivan Charbonneau, recovered onside kick, 26 yard TD by Tommy Wornham – Princeton could not punch it home for the win. Regardless, there offense gained more than 400 yards and the defense kept it close enough to make the game exciting.
Till next week...
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Well, this wasn't the start to the season many Crimson had hoped for and expected, as Harvard opened 2011 with a 30-22 loss at Holy Cross. The Crimson looked like it still had some kinks to work out, recording -3 on the turnover differential and looking lost at times on pass defense. All had started well for Harvard, and it look like it would be smooth sailing after the Crimson grabbed a 14-3 lead, scoring on its two opening drives of the season - but that would prove to be the high point, as Holy Cross scored 27 straight points.
Following their first drive of the second quarter, which gave them that eleven point advantage, Harvard looked like a different team, surrendering over 300 yards through the air and struggling to move the ball on offense with the same consistency.
Still, there were some positives to take away for Crimson fans. The run defense was solid, allowing only 3.1 yards per carry, and junior quarterback Collier Winters, despite making a couple of costly mistakes (the 97 yard interception returned for a touchdown was a back-breaker), passed for 265 yards and completed more than 50% of his passes. And most importantly, there's this to be proud of for Harvard: the Crimson weren't truly out of the game until Winters threw the final interception with 15 seconds left on the clock. This team could have easily folded after Holy Cross went ahead 30-14, capping that run of 27 unanswered points, yet they battled back after scoring a touchdown of their own and getting the ball at the end with a chance to tie.
And things might certainly improve: we should not put too much stock in a season opener (remember last year's 34-6 shellacking of the Crusaders and the subsequent loss at Brown?), especially one where the opponent is playing its third game of the season. Junior sensation Treavor Scales will almost certainly improve at running back - eventual Ivy co-player of the year Gino Gordon only had 62 yards rushing against Holy Cross last year, albeit on 11 carries. And the pass defense will have to get better.
Yet all of that does not mean Harvard should feel rosy inside. "It's not a league game," head coach Tim Murphy deadpanned when asked for a positive from yesterday's game. Indeed, the loss will not count in Ivy standings. But, the truth is that Harvard cannot compete for an Ivy League title if it plays like this - more talented teams will be coming down the road in the form of the Brown Bears, the Penn Quakers, and the Yale Bulldogs. And perhaps as little as can be taken from this opening game, a lot will be revealed this coming weekend when Harvard hosts Brown. The Bears should be better than Holy Cross and almost certainly have a better player under center in the form of Kyle Newhall-Caballero. Brown, and the rest of the Ivy League, will provide ample test to these Crimson. Let us hope that by the end of the year the game yesterday will be seen as nothing more than a bumpy start on the way to a successful season.
Scott Reed is the play-by-play commentator for Harvard football and mens' basketball.