Princeton reloads in quest for second straight Ivy League championship

If Tiger fans are reluctant to turn the page after last year’s historic run through the Ivy season and the first-ever Ivy Tournament, we can readily understand. After a so-so 4-6 start and the loss of two All-Ivy caliber starters, Princeton went on a 19-0 tear, including 16-0 in the Ivies, culminating in a championship and a berth in the NCAA’s March Madness. A close loss in the Big Dance to Notre Dame hardly diminished the accomplishments of a truly phenomenal season.

Tiger skipper Mitch Henderson has clearly come into his own, joining James Jones and Tommy Amaker as elite coaches, not only in the League, but in Division I. Having more than survived the loss of Hans Brase and Henry Caruso, the Tigers must figure out how to replace POY Spencer Weisz and fellow first team All-Ivy selection Steven Cook. It won’t be easy, and most handicappers pick the Tigers to finish no better than third behind Yale and Harvard in the coming campaign. Among Henderson’s strengths is his ability to recruit players who buy into his scheme right away. His teams are usually much more than the sum of their individual parts. As a result, the cupboard is hardly bare heading into the new season.

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2017-18 Ivy Men’s Basketball Preseason Media Poll released, teleconference highlights

The Ivy men’s basketball preseason media poll was released Tuesday, confirming that the top of the league appears to be a three-way scrum between Harvard, Yale and Princeton at this point. Yale received the most first-place votes (eight) but Harvard garnered the most points overall, awarding the Crimson their first perch atop the media poll standings since the 2014-15 season, which was also the last time Tommy Amaker’s club was Ivy League champion. Princeton received three first-place votes, finishing just behind Yale overall.

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Another Ivy League men’s basketball 2018 recruiting update

Harvard

Mason Forbes, a two-star recruit from Folsom (CA) High School, chose to attend Harvard on Tuesday night, becoming the Crimson’s fourth member for the class of 2018.  The 6’8” 195 pound center/power forward averaged 15.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 3.6 blocks a game in the 2016-17 season.  According to Verbal Commits, he chose Harvard over Mt. St. Mary’s, San Diego State, San Jose State, and Cal Poly.

Forbes comes from a basketball rich family.  His grandfather, Sterling Forbes, Sr., played for Pepperdine, was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, and joined the Harlem Globetrotters.  His father, Sterling “Smooth” Forbes, Jr., played for Southwest Texas State before playing with the Globetrotters.  His younger sister, McKenzie Forbes, is a senior at Folsom High School and an ESPN Top 40 prospect who will be attending Cal-Berkeley in the fall of 2018.  ‘

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Ivy League men’s basketball 2018 recruiting update

Harvard

Noah Kirkwood, a three-star recruit from the Ottawa area, committed on Tuesday to Harvard for the fall of 2018.  The 6′ 7″ shooting guard recently graduated from nearby Ashbury College High School, and will spend a year at Northfield Mount Hermon School (Mass.) prep school before heading to Cambridge.  247Sports noted that Kirkwood had offers at Wichita State, Virginia, Texas, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Tulane, GW, and St. Bonaventure.  Verbal Commits listed additional offers at Villanova, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and USC.

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Brown men’s basketball revamps its roster for a challenging 2017-18 season

Last season, the Brown men’s basketball team went 9-7 in nonconference action.  The nine wins tied the program’s record for non-league victories with the 2001-02 and 2014-15 teams.  The Bears’ 8-0 start at home was the best beginning since the 1934-35 squad. In league play, Brown appeared to get a boost of confidence from its nonconference schedule, dominating Penn and Cornell on the road and losing by one at home to Yale. With a 2-3 start in Ivy competition, the Bears were looking good for the fourth spot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament.  

Unfortunately, Brown lost its next five matches, derailing its hopes for an upper division finish. Despite beating Dartmouth on the road to start the next to last weekend of the season, the loss to Harvard the following evening eliminated the Bears from postseason play.  The team did bounce back in its penultimate game, beating Columbia by 20 and damaging the Lions’ hope for the league’s final four. A Senior Night loss to Cornell left the Bears with a 4-10 record (13-17 overall), tied for sixth in the Ancient Eight.

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Princeton women’s basketball targets a return trip to the Big Dance

After a historic 2015-16 season that saw the Princeton women’s basketball team become the first Ivy League team to secure at at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, the team graduated four of its top rebounders, as well as 71 percent of its offense.  Despite those huge losses, the Tigers were still projected for second place in the preseason Ivy media poll.  With four new starters, including a first-year and a sophomore, as well as a schedule that had the squad facing 10 2017 postseason participants, the Orange and Black ended the year second in the conference’s regular season, runner-up in the Ivy Tournament and selected to the NIT Tournament.  With another challenging schedule on tap for 2017-18, Princeton aims to improve upon its various records (16-14 overall, 9-5 Ivy, 6-7 nonconference and 5-10 vs postseason teams) to secure a return ticket to March Madness.

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Yale women’s basketball hopes to build on late-season momentum for ‘17-’18

After loses to Harvard and Princeton, the Yale women’s basketball team found itself at 2-7 in league play, one game ahead of last place.  With upcoming games against undefeated Penn and third-place Harvard, it would have been easy to give up and play out the season.  

But the Elis won four of their last five games, including back-to-back victories over the Quakers and Crimson, to end up one game out of the Ivy Tournament.  The Bulldogs will look to build on this late-season success to move into the conference’s upper division for 2017-18.

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Can Penn women’s basketball three-peat in 2017-18?

With 8:59 to go in the fourth quarter of its first-round NCAA Tournament game against fifth-seeded Texas A&M, the Penn women’s basketball team found itself up 21 points, heading for its first-ever March Madness victory and a second-round matchup with UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.  

What happened next was the biggest collapse in NCAA Tournament history, as the Quakers succumbed to the Aggies’ full-court pressure, were outscored 26-3 and lost the game 63-61.  With the Hollywood heartache fresh in their minds, the two-time defending Ivy champs will attempt to to claim their third straight title, second straight postseason Ivy Tournament championship and fourth appearance in five years in the NCAA Tournament.

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Columbia women’s basketball looks to create a strong foundation in ‘17-’18

Former Columbia star and Princeton assistant coach Megan Griffith was hired in March 2016 to rebuild the Lions women’s basketball program.  In her first season, the team opened up the season with a school record winning percentage in nonconference play (10-3, .769) and a program first-ever victory over a Big East opponent (66-64 in overtime over Providence).  Ivy League play, though, was not as kind to the Lions, as they ended up losing eight of their last nine and finished tied for seventh place with a 3-11 conference record.  As the new season approaches, Griffith has unveiled an ambitious schedule that seeks to toughen the team for league action.

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