Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ECAC December Power Rankings

As the winter break begins for the ECAC, it is time for WHRB’s December Power Rankings. Seven teams are ranked in USCHO.com’s Top 20 nationwide, while three points separate 2nd and 9th place in the conference standings. We’ll have a midseason review of the Crimson between their December 28th showdown against Northeastern and the restart of conference action on January 4th.

1. Quinnipiac      8-0-0, 16 Pts                     (12-3-2)            November: 5th

After an unimpressive month of non-conference play, No. 9 Quinnipiac has run away with the ECAC lead, earning 100% of the points from eight games. The Bobcats have impressive wins over both Cornell and Union, and are allowing 1.12 goals per game against conference opponents while scoring almost four goals per game.

2. Union             3-2-3, 9 Pts                        (8-3-4)             November: 2nd

The Dutchmen, ranked at No. 13 in the nation, weathered injuries to standouts Troy Grosenick and Mat Bodie well, but are winless in their last four games as the defense has not been as airtight as usual. They have too much talent not to turn it around, however, and are still third in the conference despite the recent slide.

3. Dartmouth      4-1-1, 9 Pts                        (7-2-2)             November: 1st

Once the last undefeated team in the nation, No. 10 Dartmouth gained one point from Cornell and Colgate before a pair of easy non-conference wins. It is highly doubtful that their penalty kill percentage, first in the nation at 96%, is sustainable.

4. Cornell           3-3-2, 8 Pts                        (6-3-2)              November: 3rd

The No. 11 Big Red earned two points from five games in the first three weeks of November. Memories of that stretch are gone, as Cornell has responded with big wins over Michigan, Clarkson, and St. Lawrence. Andy Iles has saved 87 of 91 shots over the last four.

5. Colgate          3-4-1, 7 Pts                        (9-7-2)               November: 11th

The middle of the ECAC standings are a mess, and wins over Harvard, Dartmouth, and Clarkson earn the No. 20 earn the Raiders the fifth spot in our rankings as they’ve won 11 points from the last seven games. The freshman Spink twins have combined for 28 points.

6. Yale               3-3-1, 7 Pts                        (7-3-2)               November: 4th

What to make of the No. 15 Bulldogs? They tied Union, lost to Clarkson by a goal, were spanked by contender Dartmouth and bottom-feeder RPI. A number of quality non-conference wins suggest that this team is better than their seven conference points.

7. Clarkson        3-3-1, 7 Pts                        (4-8-5)                November: 8th

Outside of a 1-0 win over Yale, Clarkson has no impressive wins. Tied for fifth in the standings currently, this team doesn’t feel like a contender for an ECAC bye, and yet the Golden Knights beat Princeton 7-2 and have played much better than anyone trailing them in the standings. Clarkson has yet to play Dartmouth or Union.

8. Princeton        2-3-3, 7 Pts                        (3-6-3)               November: 9th

Two losses to Quinnipiac by a combined tally of 6-1 have dulled an otherwise impressive start. Upcoming matchups against Dartmouth and Harvard will show how good the Tigers really are. It isn’t unreasonable to see them claw their way to a finish in the top half of the conference.

9. Harvard          3-3, 6 Pts                        (4-4-1)                  November: 6th

Since winning against the Big Red in Ithaca, the Crimson has been mediocre at best, though a strange three-week rest may be partially to blame. With the loss of Patrick McNally and Max Everson, however, Harvard is suddenly short on defensive depth. Currently tied with Colgate for No. 20 in the national rankings, the Crimson will have to fight hard to stay in the picture for a bye.

10. St. Lawrence         1-4-2, 4 Pts            (7-8-2)                  November: 7th

A promising season has taken a turn for the worse for the Saints. Losers of five of their last six, St. Lawrence is giving up too many goals 5-on-5 and on the penalty kill to compete with the cream of the conference. Outside of the dynamic due of Kyle Flanagan and Greg Carey, no one is scoring either.            

11. Brown         0-3-4, 4 Pts                      (3-5-4)                  November: 10th

The Bears are the only winless team in the conference, but they get the nod over the Engineers thanks to gutsy performances against Harvard, Yale, and Union. Only one skater, Matt Lorito, has recorded double-digit points, but Brown is sixth in the conference in goals allowed.

12. RPI              1-5-2, 4 Pts                      (4-6-4)                 November 12th

Even after a 6-1 shocking of Yale, the Engineers are last in the conference in goals scored and 10th in goals allowed. A long season will only grow longer, as the Engineers face seven nationally ranked teams from now through February 2nd.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Men's Hockey November Review

Where We Are Now
The first month of the 2012-2013 campaign has brought both promise and worry to Crimson nation. After easily defeating McGill and Bentley at home, the Crimson struggled to a win over Brown before losing to Union and Yale by a combined score of 11-3. A shutout of bottom-dwellers RPI momentarily stopped the bleeding, but Harvard faces a big test this weekend as they go on the road for the first time to visit Cornell and Colgate. The Crimson are tied for fifth in the ECAC with a conference record of 2-2. Princeton and Quinnipiac also have four points each, but only through two games. Regardless, if Harvard is going to continue to struggle against better-skating teams with multiple scoring lines, they need to get every possible point from this weekend.

The Good Through Five Games
Harvard’s top-ranked recruiting class has been phenomenal. It is no exaggeration that Jimmy Vesey and Kyle Criscuolo have been the team’s best forwards so far. Vesey leads the team in scoring with five goals and Criscuolo has stood out defensively while also finding the net twice. Not to be outdone, second round pick Brian Hart has picked up three points and been the most physical Crimson skater so far. Finally, Coach Donato moved Desmond Bergin up to the second pairing across from Patrick McNally this past weekend, as the freshman has demonstrated good patience and decision-making in all three zones.

Speaking of McNally, he and Tommy O’Regan have spearheaded a sophomore class that continues to build on solid seasons last year. The flashes of creative brilliance we saw last year have become a game-by-game occurrence from both players, who have come into the year with an infectious confidence to match their talent. Colin Blackwell has also been among Harvard’s best forwards, although a head injury has kept him out of the last two games as a precaution.

Finally, and most importantly, Raphael Girard’s play in goal is a welcome sign for Harvard fans after last year’s inconsistencies. The vast majority of the ten goals scored by Union and Yale were not the fault of number 30, without whom both games would’ve been much more lopsided. In his first two career shutouts against Bentley and RPI, Girard made several all-world saves. The Crimson have found their goaltender.

The Bad Through Five Games
The breakout looked nonfunctional against Yale and Union. Pinned in their own zone for shifts on end, the Crimson could not gain the puck on their sticks in neutral ice, either losing it along the boards or wasting clearing attempts. The few times that Danny Biega or McNally got fed up and brought the puck up themselves, their rushes were closed off at center and the cycle would begin again. Harvard needs to find a solution against those teams that have experienced defensemen and several lines of capable forecheckers. Part of the problem is inexperience. With so few upperclassman forwards, it’s been difficult for Coach Donato to find reliable line combinations for all situations. As a result, Biega and Dan Ford have been on the ice protecting the net way too much for their own good, only compounding the problem.

More surprisingly, the powerplay is at a pitiful 10 percent for the year and only 1-18 in conference play. Even more dumbfounding, the Crimson return four of five players from last year’s first unit, and Alex Killorn has been replaced by Jimmy Vesey. Opponents have been content to play conservatively and simply take away the front of the net from the Crimson, and the one-timers from the perimeter have not been on target. Fortunately, the poor conversion rate is also a matter of luck, as the Crimson have seen some fantastic saves made on otherwise strong possessions. This team has too much talent for these numbers to continue.

MVP So Far
Jimmy Vesey. There isn’t even a debate. He’s been the most consistent and most prolific player in a Crimson sweater bar none. 

Cornell is a huge test for the Crimson. Ranked No. 10 nationally, the Big Red are always a tough opponent on the road, but they play a much slower and less skilled game than Union or Yale do. If Harvard can exploit its offensive advantage, the Crimson will pick up their first marquee win of the year.

In the long run, the play of Girard and a powerplay that has the laws of probability on its side bode well for the Crimson in terms of a top-4 finish, provided that Blackwell returns soon and the other skilled forwards stay healthy. If the Crimson want to compete for the conference title, however, they’re going to have to rapidly improve their defensive and neutral zone play against aggressive and skilled teams. Whether this maturation can occur over the course of a single season with so many fresh faces getting big minutes is an open question.

ECAC November Power Rankings

An early-season review of the Crimson will be posted later today, but for now, we have our first ECAC Power Rankings of the year. The hockey-inclined members of WHRB dislike preseason rankings, but with a month of hockey behind us, it’s high time to make some controversial assertions.

1. Dartmouth                         4-0-0 (5-0-1)

The winners of the Ivy Showcase have shot to No. 12 in the national rankings after a convincing triumph over Yale and a close victory over Union. The last undefeated team nationally, Dartmouth is killing 96% of penalties, thanks in large part to the fantastic play of Cab Morris in net. Sophomore Tyler Sikura has emerged as one of the most dangerous forwards in the conference with 11 points through six games.

2. Union                         3-1-0 (6-2-1)

Outside of the loss to Dartmouth, no blemishes on the schedule so far for the defending champs. The Dutchmen destroyed Harvard and are ranked No. 7 in the country. Most importantly, an MRI this Monday revealed no serious damage to the leg of Hobey Baker finalist Troy Grosenick, who has plenty of time to return to his goaltending duties as the team does not play this weekend.

3. Cornell                        1-2-1 (3-2-1)

The poor conference record is a surprise for the Big Red, who’ve lost to Quinnipiac and Princeton. A 76% penalty kill might be to blame, especially given Cornell’s low-scoring style. Two wins over No. 14 Colorado College and a national ranking of their own at No. 10 keep Harvard’s top rivals high in these rankings for now.

4. Yale                                    2-2 (3-2-1)

The Bulldogs looked quite good against Harvard and St. Lawrence but were trounced by the Big Green and shut out by Clarkson at home. One thing is for sure – the talent is there to earn a conference bye. The upperclassmen forwards, led by Antoine Laganiere and Andrew Miller, are having stellar seasons, and Jeff Malcolm continues to hold down the starting job in net.

5. Quinnipiac                         2-0 (5-3-1)

The Bobcats garnered 22 votes in the national rankings this week after a win over Cornell and three points from two games against Ohio State. Scoring has not come easy, but that doesn’t matter much when Eric Hartzell has a 1.65 GAA in eight starts. A weekend at Clarkson and St. Lawrence provides a good opportunity to separate from the pack early in the season.

6. Harvard                        2-2 (3-2-0)

A hard team to judge so far, the No. 17 Crimson have looked great against bad teams and vice versa. The freshman forwards, led by Jimmy Vesey, are as spectacular as advertised, but a faltering powerplay and sloppy work in the defensive zone prevented Harvard from competing with Yale and Union. Raphael Girard has shushed any talk of a goalie controversy left over from last year.

7. St. Lawrence            0-1-1 (5-2-1)

Despite only one point in conference play so far, the No. 16 Saints stay in the middle of this ranking thanks to impressive out-of-conference play, including a win over No. 9 Western Michigan. Kyle Flanagan is averaging two points per game as St. Lawrence has converted a fourth of their powerplays, rendering an 0-7 night in a loss to Yale all the more confusing.

8. Clarkson                        1-0-1 (1-4-4)

The Golden Knights lost their first four games. They tied the next three, entering the ECAC season winless, before suddenly taking three points from Yale and Brown. This strange team has defied analysis so far, but they’re going to need to score more goals to be competitive.

9. Princeton                         2-0 (2-2)

The Tigers scored three goals in the last five minutes to steal a game from Cornell, then shut out Colgate 4-0. They did not look good in the Ivy Showcase or their exhibitions, however, and it remains to be seen whether this team will exceed its low expectations. Princeton was ranked 11th in both the media and coaches preseason polls.

10. Brown                         0-2-2 (1-3-2)

The Bears came out with ties against St. Lawrence and Clarkson, and kept Harvard close till late in the third of a 3-2 loss. The team lacks scoring depth and life for Marco de Filippo in net has been difficult, as he is averaging over 30 shots against per game. So far, he’s performed admirably, and the Bears are once again displaying the never-say-die attitude that has become familiar to ECAC fans.

11. Colgate                        0-3-1 (4-6-1)

The Raiders tied Cornell and took Quinnipiac to overtime two weeks after beating the Bobcats in Cape Cod. The 4-0 loss to Princeton, however, might be more indicative of Colgate’s ability. They’ve been below average on special teams and neither Eric Mihalik nor freshman Spencer Finney look like viable answers in net to the ECAC’s best offenses.

12. RPI                        0-4-0 (1-5-2)

The Engineers have suffered from a difficult schedule, with their four losses coming to Harvard, Dartmouth, and Union twice. Unfortunately, easier opponents won’t necessarily improve RPI’s record, as the team has looked entirely lifeless in those games and ranks 10th or worse in the conference in every major statistic.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekend Preview - Harvard vs. Dartmouth

This week, The Harvard Crimson face-off against The Dartmouth Big Green in what is sure to be a memorable game. Both teams stand 2-1 in league play, and so a victory here is crucial to remain in contention for the Ivy League Championship Title.

When Harvard and Dartmouth faced each other last, The Crimson pulled off a decisively one-sided victory over The Big Green, 41-10. With blizzard-like conditions around them, Harvard had three different players rush for more than 100 yards and 2 touchdowns each.

Last week for Dartmouth, The Big Green faced The Columbia Lions, with a come-from behind victory in the 4th quarter with only a 1:09 remaining on the clock. QB Alex Park lead a mammoth 91 yard drive; completing three straight passes to Ryan McManus, ran for 13 yards himself, and then hit McManus again for the first down to put the Big Green at the Lions 15yard line. A series of penalties to both teams would follow a few short passes, but nonetheless Park was able to find TE Dean Bakes for the winning touchdown.

Last week for Harvard, The Crimson were upset as they lost 39-34 to Princeton Tigers. Despite Harvard leading 34-10 going into the Fourth Quarter, The Tigers pulled off a massive 29 point run to which The Crimson had no answer. Harvard was plagued all game by a series of both offensive and defensive mistakes, such as a blocked extra point attempt and punt, as well as a fumble, interception, and blocked FG attempt during Princeton's 4 back-to-back touchdowns. 

Be sure to tune-in into what is sure to be a great game, as Harvard seeks to make-up for its loss last week while Dartmouth looks to maintain momentum coming off their victory.

Attention Harvard Hockey Fans!!

This Saturday, 10/27, due to a conflicting schedule between the Harvard Football Game at Dartmouth and the Harvard Men's Hockey Game at Home, the first portion of the hockey game will air over our low-band web-stream over at www.whrb.org. The football game will play in its entirety over regularly scheduled radio air. Upon completion of the football game, we will likewise switch broadcast of the hockey game over to our regularly scheduled radio air. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope you tune in!

WHRB Men's Hockey Season Preview: Hit 'Em Where It Hurts

The Harvard Crimson men’s hockey team enters the 2012-2013 campaign with high hopes. Last year, the Crimson set a school record for ties on their way to a 13-10-11 overall record and a third place finish in the conference. They extended this surprise run to the ECAC Championship game, where they lost a third period lead to Union. The new season finds the Crimson ranked 3rd in the conference in the ECAC Hockey Media Association Preseason Poll and 17th in the nation in the USCHO.com rankings. The men won an exhibition last Friday against McGill by the score of 5-1 and open the regular season in earnest this Saturday against Bentley at home.


Last year’s offense was prolific, leading the nation at almost 3.5 goals per game for the first half of the season before cooling off slightly and finishing at a clip of 3.12 goals per game and 27% conversion on the power play. The Crimson lose star forward Alex Killorn, who led the team with 23 goals and 46 points, to graduation. Also gone is Eric Kroshus, sixth on the team with 19 points, and David Valek, whose late-season scoring spree was critical in helping Harvard reach the ECAC finals.

However, the Crimson still return 58% of their goal-scoring. Marshall Everson, who finished second to Killorn among forwards in goals and points after a spectacular second half, will again play on the top line with Alex Fallstrom, whose health is always a question but whose talent never is. The team’s top returning center, Luke Greiner, had a breakout junior year with 9 goals. Colin Blackwell and Tommy O’Regan head the sophomore class.

If Harvard is to score as often as it did last year, however, it will need strong contributions from its freshmen. If the exhibition game against McGill is any indication, this will not be a problem. The Crimson’s top-rated recruiting class is headlined by Brian Hart and Jimmy Vesey, 2nd and 3rd round NHL draft picks respectively. Vesey set a scoring record in the EJHL with 91 points last year in 45 games and dominated the exhibition against McGill. Hart brings both size and speed to the ice and was the USHR prep player of the year as a senior at Philips Exeter, scoring 68 points in 29 games. The forwards are rounded out by Kyle Criscuolo, Greg Gozzo, and Brayden Jaw, all of whom should expect fourth line playing time at the least.


The Crimson look to be much improved on defense after a frustrating season that saw them allow 2.8 goals per game and only kill 79% of penalties. Danny Biega returns for his senior year as Harvard 120th captain, replacing Ryan Grimshaw. Biega was second on the team with 35 points and earned numerous season honors as Harvard’s best all around blue-liner, also leading the team with a plus/minus of +14. He will begin the season paired with junior Dan Ford, who contributed 15 points of his own last year but is more than capable of playing the stay-at-home role if needed.

Offensive wonder Patrick McNally returns after one of the best rookie seasons in all of Divison I last year, as does Max Everson, who also played every game as a freshman and led Harvard in blocked shots. Brendan Rempel and Danny Fick, who split the season almost equally after Rempel went down with an injury, are also returning. Mark Luzar, who missed all of his freshman year due to injury, looks to log his first minutes in a Harvard uniform. The Crimson have one freshman defenseman, Desmond Bergin, who appears to be as offensively-minded as McNally was last year and who should see third-pairing minutes.


At this time last year, Raphael Girard and Steve Michalek had one career start between them. Now with good experience under their belts, both goalies look to improve on what was an inconsistent but promising 2011-2012 season. Michalek won the job as a freshman before conference play began, but a combination of spotty defense and soft goals led to a 7-7-8 record, 3.19 goals against average and .895 save percentage that belie his athleticism and resilience in net. Girard reclaimed the starting role at the end of the season and was spectacular, stopping 129 of 136 shots from Yale in the conference quarterfinals and only allowing two goals against Union in the final when the Dutchmen could easily have had six. He finished the season with a 6-3-3 record, 2.14 goals against average and  .933 save percentage, leading all ECAC goaltenders in the playoffs with a .947 save percentage and 1.81 goals against average.

This year, Girard will most likely begin the season as the starter, but head coach Ted Donato has been eager to platoon his goaltenders depending on who is playing well. The seventh and final Crimson freshman, Peter Traber, is unlikely to see any time behind two goaltenders trying to build on last season and secure the starting job.


Harvard has all the talent required to finish in the top half of the ECAC and competing for a first round bye for the second straight year. Marshall Everson and Alex Fallstrom are outstanding forwards and will produce goals all season long, but if the freshman are as good as advertised, Harvard will roll four dangerous lines in addition to three skillful and aggressive defensemen. Should the injury bug strike or the underclassmen underperform, the Crimson will be weakest up the middle of the ice and Donato might have to spread his scorers out to prevent Harvard from becoming a two-line team. Four of the five skaters from Harvard’s top power-play unit last year return, and Vesey looked comfortable playing Killorn’s spot on the halfboards against McGill.

Defensively, the Crimson are as deep as they’ve been in recent memory and have an ideal mix between puck-moving and responsible defensemen. Harvard also returns some top penalty-killing forwards in Greiner and Blackwell. Bergin and four of the freshman forwards weigh in at over 190 pounds, meaning this team could also be the hardest-hitting to take the ice at the Bright Center in some time. Finally, after last year’s frequent frustration and occasional brilliance, both goaltenders expect to be more consistent in net. WHRB Sports thinks that both Union and Cornell are better at this point, to be discussed in more depth in our upcoming all-ECAC preview. Nevertheless, given the experience gained during the final months of last year and the hype surrounding the incoming players, it should shock no one if Harvard makes another run at the conference title. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Football: Ivy League Week 4 Preview

Dartmouth (2-1) at Yale (1-2)
The Big Green fell 28-21 to Penn last week.  Dartmouth probably deserved to lose the game, being modestly out-gained and out-first-downed.  Much of the difference was a result of Penn sacking Alex Park four times.  Park had an otherwise strong game, throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns on 72% passing.  Dartmouth had a chance to get the ball back late, but the Quakers killed the final 3:33 (and three timeouts) by picking up a pair of rushing first downs.  Meanwhile, good old Eli  again had his defense torn to shreds, this time at the hands of Colgate.  Though terrible, Yale's defense was at least balanced, allowing 275 yards through the air and 267 more on the ground.  Raider QB Gavin McCarney threw for two touchdowns and rushed for four more.  Neither Dartmouth nor Yale could slow the run last week, and this game features two good backs in Dominick Pierre (350 yards on the season) and Tyler Varga (319).  Dartmouth's O-Line has allowed 11 sacks through three games; Yale's D has only recorded three.  Neither team is much better on the other side of the ball either.  This figures to come down to the fact that Yale can't stop the pass, and that Park (two INTs) takes better care of the ball than Yale freshman Eric Williams (eight).

Columbia (1-2) at Lehigh (5-0)
Lehigh comes in ranked 10th in the country.  A skeptic might point out that their last three wins have been by eight points combined.  Which, true, maybe Lehigh isn't the tenth-best outfit in the FCS.  But Columbia lost by 27 to Princeton last weekend.  This shouldn't be close.

Brown (2-1) at Rhode Island (0-4)
Rhody is terrible this year.  Their closest loss was a 31-10 filling-in at the hands of Villanova.  They've been out-gained by 300 yards per game.  At the risk of overusing italics, they've averaged 2.2 yards per carry.  They're awful.  Bruno is coming in off a 37-10 shellacking of Georgetown.  Patrick Donnelly (62% completions, 7 TD to 2 INTs) has been an efficient replacement for the graduated Kyle Newhall-Caballero, and Spiro Theodhosi is now up near 350 yards on the season.  Brown should win their third Governor's Cup in four years.

William & Mary (1-4) at Pennsylvania (1-2)
Penn's victory over Dartmouth was their first of the season.  The Quakers also recorded their first (four) sack(s) of the season.  Billy Ragone was his usual shifty self in the run game, and had his best day passing on the season (only 165 yards, but on just 18 attempts and with no interceptions).  Although they let Dartmouth back in the game (they held a 20-0 lead at one point), it was overall a solid road win.  W&M also got their season's first win last week by crushing Sun Belt Conference-bound Georgia State.  Three of their losses earlier this year were by three, three, and one (at Maryland, no less!) point.  Jerome Couplin and Brian Thompson give the Tribe a pair of extremely active safeties; I expect them to force an error or two on Ragone's part.

Princeton (1-2) at Lafayette (3-1)
The Tigers got in the win column last week, but it was against Columbia so I'm not sure it counts.  The Lions were held to 1.3 yards per carry.  The game could have been even more lopsided, as of Princeton's nine drives that got inside the Columbia 30, only three ended in touchdowns (four more ended in short field goals and two in turnovers).  Leaving that many potential points on the field probably won't work against a solid Lafayette team.  The Leopards lost for the first time last week, coming up three points short at Robert Morris.  Lafayette is not a particularly strong team offensively, but on defense they've already picked off 11 passes.  If Connor Michelsen, who has been generally a non-factor so far this year, can keep the ball out of Lafayette's secondary's hands, the Tigers have a shot.

Picks About Which I Am Extremely Confident
Dartmouth 31 - 20 Yale
Lehigh 34 - 10 Columbia
Brown 24 - 10 Rhode Island
William & Mary 23 - 17 Penn
Lafayette 24 - Princeton 20

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Weekend Preview - Harvard vs. Cornell

This week the Harvard Crimson face-off against the Cornell Big Red in what's sure to be a high-scoring, slug-fest of a match. This game pits the offensive prowess of Harvard, who have this weeks Ive League Offensive Player of the Week, quarterback Colton Chapple, as well as running back Trevor Scales, who was the back-to-back Ive League Offensive Player of the Week two weeks prior, against Cornell's Jeff Matthews, who was last years Ive League Offensive Player of the Year.

Last week, The Crimson had a massive victory over the Holy Cross Crusaders, overpowering them 52-3. Chapple threw 13-18 for 260 yards and 4 touchdowns, in addition to running one in himself. This game set the school record for most points in a half , with 49 of the 52 points coming in the first half. Not to be outdone, The Big Red had a 15-10 victory over the Bucknell Bisons, with Matthews throwing for 278 yards and running in a touchdown of his own.

Be sure to tune-in folks, it's sure to be one of the most memorable games of the season.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Football: Ivy League Week 3 Preview

Pennsylvania (0-2) at Dartmouth (2-0)
Following the graduation of all-time great running back Nick Schwieger (as well as 15 other starters) expectations for Dartmouth this year were tempered.  Despite that, the Big Green have started their season 2-0, blasting Butler 35-7 before squeaking by Holy Cross 13-10 on the road last week.  Dominick Pierre has picked up where Schwieger left off, running for 255 yards and three touchdowns so far.  Penn, meanwhile, has started 0-2 for the fifth time in six years.  Quarterback Billy Ragone, who was first-team All-Ivy as a sophomore, is not obviously the Quakers' starter at this point; fellow senior Andrew Holland has attempted 60% of the team's passes so far (with only two interceptions to Ragone's five(!)).

Colgate (1-3) at Yale (1-1)
The Raiders' only win this year came two weeks ago against the terrible Sacred Heart Crusaders.  Jordan McCord leads a strong ground attack, averaging better than 136 yards/game so far.  Colgate's rush defense is as porous as their offense is potent, having been gashed for 230 yards/game so far.  There might be room to run for Bulldog freshman back Tyler Varga, who has almost 200 yards in his first two games.  The young Elis have generally been good at moving the ball, but have been killed on turnovers--they've surrendered the ball nine times already.  The Raiders' Gavin McCarney might not torch Yale like Cornell's Jeff Mathews did last week, but he should hold onto the ball better than his freshman counterpart Eric Williams.

Princeton (0-2) at Columbia (1-1)
Princeton used a fumbled punt to pull close to 13th-ranked Lehigh two weeks ago, but couldn't complete the comeback, losing 17-14.  Last week things were even closer, as they lost 21-20 on a last-minute Georgetown field goal.  They may have found an answer at running back in freshman Di Andre Atwater, who accumulated 92 yards on just 15 carries.  That said, the Tigers have been outgained in both games, and need Conner Michelson to be something more than a warm body at quarterback.  The Lions, meanwhile, have opened with a 10-9 win over Marist and a 20-13 loss at the hands of Fordham.  Apart from Marcorus Garrett's 140 yards/game on the ground, I'm not sure Columbia is all that good at anything.  Still, the Tigers are in the same boat, and the game is in Manhattan.

Brown (1-1) at Georgetown (3-1)
Following a 24-21 win over Holy Cross in their opener, Bruno couldn't keep up with the Crimson last week,  falling 45-31.  Spiro Theodhosi has rushed for at least 85 yards in both games so far, and senior quarterback Patrick Donnelly has been extremely efficient.  Georgetown, meanwhile, is already on their third Ivy League opponent of the year, including a 24-21 loss to Yale and the aforementioned win over Princeton.  The Hoyas are powered by a tough ground game on both sides of the ball, having more than doubled their opponents' rushing output so far (845 yards to 406).  Expect a big day from Donnelly, but a bigger one from the Hoyas.

Cornell (1-1) at Bucknell (1-2)
The Ivy nightcap features a Cornell team that flexed its muscles--specifically those involved with throwing a football--last week against Yale.  Jeff Mathews hit on 29-of-39 for 340 yards and three touchdowns in the 45-6 evisceration.  Cornell did lose their opener to Fordham, but that may not provide a blueprint for Bucknell to follow: Cornell only put up seven point in the first half due to a missed 26-yard field goal and two Big Red punts from the Fordham 38.  For the Bison to have a chance, they will likely need dual-threat quarterback Brandon Wesley to avoid turning the ball over.

Predictions About Which I Am Supremely Confident
Penn 27 - 23 Dartmouth
Colgate 23 - 20 Yale
Columbia 17 - 13 Princeton
Georgetown 31 - 27 Brown
Cornell 31 - 20 Bucknell

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Trevor Scales Named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week

Following his stellar performance in The Crimson's first game this past Saturday vs. The San Diego Toreros, senior running back Trevor Scales has been named the Ivy League Offensive player of the week. The Crimson won big with a 28-13 victory, in large part to Scales, who ran 19 times for 173 yards and two touchdowns on the day, averaging 9.1 ypc. His biggest play of the day a humongous 66-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory for the Crimson, as well as Scales' place as an offensive powerhouse in the Ivy League this season.

Crimson Scales Past San Deigo

This past Saturday saw The Harvard Crimson open up their football season with a big, 28-13, win over the San Diego Toreros. With this victory, The Crimson looks to replicate its stellar 2011 season where they went undefeated in Ivy League play, and 9-1 overall.

Harvard entered the fourth quarter down 7-13, but was able to score three touchdowns to pull away
from San Diego and seal their 10th straight victory. This win came with some major help by Harvard's running game, who rushed a total of 195yds. vs San Diego's paltry 2yds. In the air, San Diego was a bit more dominant, the Toreros throwing for 354yds. vs the Crimsons 209yds. But in spite of this, the Crimson defensive line proved too wily, recording 7 sacks and 10 tackles, as well as stopping a key San Diego play late in the fourth that would have tied the game at 20.

Players of the game include Colton Chapple, who threw 16-of-29 pass attempts for a total of 209 yards and two touchdowns in the air, and Trevor Scales, who had a phenomenal game, rushing for 173 yards in 19 carries, averaging an astonishing 9.1ypc, and leaving the game with two touchdowns. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

WHRB Sports Spring Orgy: Monday, May 7, 3pm EDT

Monday, May 7, starting at 3pm Eastern, WHRB Sports will be broadcasting our annual Spring "Orgy" as part of WHRB's Orgy Season.

The 2012 version of the Sports Spring Orgy will include season reviews for all 41 varsity athletic programs at Harvard.  It will also feature our yearly award show; a new episode of our renowned football halftime show Kicking a Touchdown; and farewells to WHRB Sports' prolific and dashing members of the Class of 2012.

Join us Monday at 95.3FM in the greater Boston area, or online at WHRB.org.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thoughts and notes from Albuquerque - March 14th

by Scott Reed
WHRB Sports

Here are some notes and thoughts following a day of press conferences and open practices here at The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

-Harvard is here to win. The players seem very focused. Senior Co-captain Oliver McNally had this quote: "we're not just happy to be here and win our first solo Ivy title and just throw in the towel. We're here to win, and that's what we're we're expecting to do."

-Vanderbilt is very, very good - they just beat #1 overall seed Kentucky for the SEC title, after all- and seems intent on not being upset in the first round again. They are likely the strongest of the 5-seeds in the 2012 tournament. The others? Wichita State, Temple, and New Mexico. John Jenkins and Jeffrey Taylor on the offensive end will be difficult to stop.

-The size and power of the Commodore front court is an advantage for Vanderbilt. Taylor stands at 6-7 and averages sixteen points and six rebounds a game. Together with six-foot-eleven Festus Ezeli, he represent sa match-up issue for Harvard interior players Keith Wright and Kyle Casey.

-The homecoming of Taylor, who graduated from nearby Hobbs High School, is a big story for the local media here in Albuquerque. Around half of all questions directed to the Vanderbilt players this afternoon dealt with Taylor's return.

-The altitude may play a factor tomorrow. During the open practice today, Harvard players were visibly straining to get through the workout. The Crimson seemed like they still had to acclimate to the altitude, which at Albuquerque is about 5,300 feet above sea level. Vanderbilt, course, will face the same issue. It was difficult to see whether the Commodores were affected today, as their open practice was more of an informal shootaround.

-The games may not sell out -there are reportedly a few thousand tickets available for the games tomorrow and Saturday. That both New Mexico State and New Mexico play tomorrow in Portland at the same time would be a contributing factor - not that it matters to the Crimson of course, appearing in their first NCAA tournament since 1946.

-Baylor, who is competing in the South Regional here in Albuquerque, seems very athletic in person. Vanderbilt and especially Wisconsin, whom the Crimson could face in the Round of 32, are better draws for Harvard athletically.

-Colorado, also in the South Regional, is fighting for some respect, for themselves and the much-maligned Pac-12. Buffalo coach Tad Boyle: "We've got work to do though on a national scale in terms of respectability. We've got an opportunity tomorrow night to start on that journey." Colorado plays UNLV in the opening round.

-Tomorrow will be exciting. Tune in to 95.3FM in the Boston area to hear WHRB's coverage of Harvard-Vanderbilt. The game will tip at 4:40 eastern, with coverage beginning at 4:00.

Vanderbilt Quoteboard

Quotes on Harvard from Vanderbilt players Jeff Taylor, John Jenkins, Festus Ezeli, and Head Coach Kevin Stallings in Albuquerque on Wednesday, March 14th.

On Harvard's man-to-man defense:

Jenkins: "We're going to have to work for our baskets and have good screening and moving around the ball very well. We've played good defensive teams the whole year, so it's just another team we;ve got to be ready for."

Taylor: "I know certain guys will probably get more attention from their defense than others. But we'll be ready for it. Our offense has been pretty good all year, so we're not too worried about it."

On Harvard's frontcourt:

Ezeli: "They're very talented. Both guys, i think... the five man was the "Player of the Year" last year. They're really talented. It's like I said, its going to be another game with tough match-ups. They're good defensively too So we're just going to have to fight the whole game."

First thoughts on learning about their matchup with Harvard:

Jenkins: "I haven;t seen them play much this year. I saw them play once against Princeton, and I was very impressed with how well they moved the ball on offense and how patient they were. I didn't think we'd ever be playing them but it's going to be a good game."

Stallings: "I think, first of all, the thing that stands out is they;re very very well-coached. They have a definite plan on offense. They play extremely well together on both ends of the floor. Their team defense is exceptional as is their willingness to share the ball and move the ball and get it to the best option on that particular possession. So I think that that's the first thing that I see is just the chemistry that their team plays with on both ends and just how well set-up they are and how well-coached they are."

On Harvard's disciplined style:

Stallings: "But I think with Harvard, I think its just, like our team, they've got a team that they've grown up. They've grown this team up. They're juniors and seniors, for the most part. They've played a lot of basketball together. They;re used to each other, I think that as much as anything else that really helps because there is an inherent chemistry with teams like that, and it seems like they certainly have that."

On Amaker's recruiting:

Stallings: "Tommy's done a great job... He has to get players that can do the academic work at Harvard Monday through Friday and then he's got to try to beat Boston College on Saturday, That;s what they say about us. They want us to be Harvard Monday through Friday and beat Alabama on Saturday. And he's obviously doing a great job. His record the last couple years, hes starting to maybe separate himself a little bit and separate his program a little bit from a lot of people in that league. That's the sign of obviously a job well done. Very, very well done, actually."

Amaker NCAA Quoteboard

Quotes from Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker in Albuquerque on Wednesday, March 14th.

On competing with schools like Vanderbilt in recruiting:

"Certainly its a challenge for us to put ourselves in those categories with some of the great institutions with playing in the larger conferences. When you think of Vandy and the SEC and Stanford and the Pac-10, Pac-12, many other schools around the country, Northwestern and the Big Ten. Thats kind of a goal of ours, to see if we can get involved in those circles.
We've been able to do it. Our staff has worked incredibly hard to identify those prospects and try to build relationships with those kids and the various individuals around them. Certainly having some success here with our program, I think, has allowed us to gain some traction and a foot hold to make our way and to identify kids that fit the profile for Harvard.
That's a neat thing for us to be in those circles with Vandy, and Northwestern, and Stanford and those schools with the kids that we're trying to compete for."

On selling Harvard to recruits:

"There are other great places and great alums and son on and so forth, but we think we have a niche here, and we wanted to present that as an option for the kids that we thought would be viable candidates for our campus. I was just excited to have the opportunity to represent Harvard and still am, and hopeful that we can continue to do what we've started and the journey that we've been on. Its been a lot of fun. We've been able to kind of take it in a direction that we have a lot of traction about it. We're hopeful that the momentum will continue to grow."

On his reaction to learning that Vanderbilt would be the opponent:

"Very honestly, I thought right away how tough its going to be. I've had a chance to peek on different games that Vandy has played throughout this season, and certainly I think the marquee game was just played in terms of their upset of Kentucky.
But I knew right a way of a veteran team, a team that can score. Very athletic, more athletic than people give them credit for being in the SEC with incredible athletic teams that have been known throughout the years in that league.
I think Vandy matches up with all those teams. So I knew right away how challenging this match-up would be because of their coach, Coach Stallings. I've known him for a number of years and have a great deal of respect for what he's done and accomplished in his career.

This team, I think this team has been built, in my opnion from the outside looking in. You can imagine this team being built for an opportunity to make a deep run with their experience, the veterans, their balance and their athleticism.So it didn’t surprise me they were able to make that run through the SEC tournament. Were just hopeful that we can match their intensity. I think they’re focused. They’ll be a team that having come off a few early round losses in the past, will be very motivated and very focused. I’m hopeful that we can match those things."

On the athleticism of Lance Goulbourne:

"Well, you've characterized it very well. He's very athletic, 6'8'', an older player, veteran player and very experienced player. I think he's from what I've been able to watch and see thus far is he's very comfortable and has embraced who he is and what his role is. That says a lot about a low of players if you can do that. It's easier said than done.

But he has appeared that he really relishes his role in being that, as you mentioned, setting screens, getting offensive rebounds, keeping balls alive, sprinting the floor, blocking shots, doing a lot of things that maybe most people, unless you're an astute basketball person or coach are sometimes overlooked. I think he's a big piece of the puzzle for their ballclub."

On the Vision Amaker had for Harvard

We’re very excited about having the opportunity to represent Harvard and thinking of this as the possibilities and potential associated with our great name, we just felt were enormous. We just felt if there was somehow to bring some energy and excitement, present this option to a few kids that could see this as an incredible challenge and opportunity. I just thought that the vision could provide something that we're seeing right now. Harvard basketball being relevant, being national, playing in big games, winning championships, getting to the NCAA tournament.

On Vanderbilt’s Size:

“They are, obviously, athletic and big, Ezili in the middle. I don’t know if I mentioned or not but another thing is they’re balanced. That’s something we talk about our ball club a lot is having great balance. Well’, they’re incredibly balanced with front line, strength, athleticism, scoring and incredible perimeter shooting.

There are no holes with this basketball team. There is no question about it. I think as many people are starting to talk around the country with teams that have a chance to make deep runs in this tournament, I think Vanderbilt is one of those teams that are at the forefront of everybody’s mind.

On who might step up:

“I don’t think we have any one person. That’s been the beauty of our team all year. When we speak of our balance, that’s the key for us. I like ot think the game of basketball should be played in a way that the go-to guy is the open guy. We’ve adopted that in a lot of ways.”

On John Jenkins

“He’s as good of a shooter that we’ll face in our tenure at Harvard. Certainly he leads the SEC in scoring. He he has deep range. It’s been talk about his quick release. They do a number of things to get him shots, get him open. He has good size.He’s a terrific basketball player. You don’t lead the SEC in scoring and win the conference tournament without being an outstanding player and one of the top players in the country. We’re hopeful that we can make it difficult for him as we’ve talked about having awareness and trying to make it incredibly difficult for him to get easy shots.”