The Ivy League held its preseason media conference call this afternoon, and also released its preseason media poll. In case you haven't seen the results yet, Princeton was picked as No. 1, gaining 12 of the 17 first-place votes cast. Harvard was second, followed by Cornell, then Penn:
1. Princeton, 128 points (12 first-place votes)
2. Harvard, 120 points (4 first-place votes)
3. Cornell, 96 points (1 first-place vote)
4. Penn, 89 points
5. Yale, 57 points
6. Brown, 55 points
7. Columbia, 48 points
8. Dartmouth, 19 points
Each of the eight teams in the league had two representatives from its local media, plus one national representative. I was one of the two Penn representatives. My ballot was as follows: 1. Princeton, 2. Harvard, 3. Cornell, 4. Penn, 5. Brown, 6. Columbia, 7. Yale, 8. Dartmouth.
I don't know who all the voters were, but I do know that Brian Delaney of the Ithaca Journal posted his ballot on Twitter.
Here's my take on how the voting turned out. Harvard has a lot of talent, and an equal amount of hype as the Crimson try to win the Ivy League for the first time in program history. But as we saw last year, Princeton has plenty of talent of its own, and plays especially strong defense.
To me and many others around the league, Princeton has enough cohesion in its squad to make up for having less individual talent than Harvard. So I wasn't surprised to see the Tigers get voted as the preseason title favorite.
Now for some highlights from the conference call. You can listen to the whole thing in the audio player below.
- Penn coach Jerome Allen talked about the roster cuts that he's made this offseason, which have resulted in there not being any sophomores on the squad. He was diplomatic, to say
I guess the nature of the beast is that this is the business that we're in. I think I got this opportunity, or we got this opportunity as a staff, to try to get back to the brand of basketball that so many people are used to seeing here at the University of Pennsylvania. So having said that, for lack of a better way of saying it, there are some individuals that may be left off the final roster.
- I asked Allen if there are players on the roster who he thinks will play well that haven't really been in the spotlight yet. We all know about Zack Rosen, Jack Eggleston and Tyler Bernardini, but what about the rest of the team? Allen's answer was rather amusing.
We're not really sure - you never really know how she is until you marry her. We've been dating for a while, we're only two weeks or so - maybe less than that - into our relationship. So who can we really count on to be present and constant contributors to this team? I'm not really sure. We have some guys coming back that we're counting on, but I hope that we're surprised by several others.
- Princeton coach Sydney Johnson discussed the other top teams in the league before saying so much as a word about his own. Johnson had some especially kind words to say about his team's eternal rivals, Penn.
I think they will right the ship immediately... I think Pennsylvania fans should be very excited about the direction that the program's going in. Their fans, their alumni, they care about basketball, as do a lot of the teams in our league, but Pennsylvania, they've really made some major strides.
- Harvard coach Tommy Amaker had perhaps the best quote of the day when I asked him what it would take to turn all of his team's talent into a cohesive unit.
"I'm not sure that we have the most talent," Amaker said. "Sometimes you get labeled as such, or in certain ways, that I'm not sure are accurate. I certainly wouldn't predict it that way."
If you insist, coach.
- The league's director of officials, Reggie Greenwood, noted that the NCAA is aiming to crack down on players flopping after contact under the basket. That contact (or lack thereof) will be called as a blocking foul. Greenwood was candid about the fact that making the right call on a foul in the paint has been a challenge for a long time.
"Rough play in post play been anemphasis for 14 years," Greenwood said. "Obviously, that means that in 14 years we have not gotten it right."
It's always nice to hear that this stuff is being focused on, but it would be even better if a flop was officially assessed as a dive the way it is in soccer. I know it will never happen, but it would still be nice to classify the foul that way for the purpose of embarassing the player.
Greenwood also said he has discussed with officials in multiple leagues ways to incorporate video review of plays at games that are not televised. Greenwood said he believes the technology involved in webcasting games has improved to the point where a computer monitor showing an online feed can be used to review a play.
It would be great to see the Ivy League, which televises very few of its games, be a pioneer in that. Although the conference's teams don't spend enormous amounts of money on athletics, I've covered the Ancient Eight for plenty long enough to believe the money is there if the league office wants it to be.
Surely there are companies out there with Ivy League alumni in their upper ranks that would be interested in helping to sponsor a league-wide broadcasting platform. Look at the Horizon League as an example of a mid-major conference that has created a quality online video product.
I know there are a lot of Penn fans who read this blog. How do you think the season will play out?