8. Dartmouth Big Green (‘16-’17 record: 8-19 overall, 3-11 Ivy; tied for seventh)
Coach Belle Koclanes (fifth season)
Captains: Andi Norman (senior forward) and Emily Slagle (senior guard)
Key Returning Players:
Kate Letkewicz (senior guard) – 23 starts, 34.6 mpg, 11.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 51 three-pointers made
Isalys Quinones (junior forward) – 21 starts, 27.2 mpg, 9.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.6 steals per game
Fannie Szabo (guard/forward) – 20 starts, 29.9 mpg, 10.6 ppg, 2.0 apg
Amber Mixon (point guard) – 21 starts, 21.5 mpg, 2.0 apg
Anna Luce (forward) – AP Washington State Co-POY; 1,700-plus career points
Elle Louie (guard) – 1,000 + points, 700 rebounds, 400 steals, 300 assists and 100 blocks in career
IHO Dartmouth schedule breakdown here
The Big Green return three players who started 20-plus games last season (Letkewicz, Quinones, Olivia Smith), and one who started 13 games (Norman). Letkewicz was an Honorable Mention All-Ivy selection the last two seasons. She was top 15 in the league for points and total rebounds, while being in the top five for three-point field-goal percentage (41 percent), three-pointers made, and defensive rebounds (6.1 per game). Quinones, who played for the Puerto Rican national team this summer, was top 15 in the conference in total rebounds, offensive rebounds, steals, free throw percentage and field goal percentage. Norman was in the top 10 for three-point field-goal percentage and three-pointers made.
Dartmouth was at or near the bottom of the league in many offensive and defensive metrics. The team, though, was in the top five for three-point field-goal percentage (34 percent; fourth), three-pointers made (6.1; fifth), three-point attempts (18), free-throw percentage (69.1 percent; third), and blocks (3.1; fourth). The replacements for the wing and point, in addition to the returning rotation players, will need to put up much better numbers this season if the Big Green wants to move up in the standings. Although a spot in the Ivy Tournament seems unlikely, growth from the underclass players will bring hope for the future in Hanover.
7. Columbia Lions (‘16-’17 record: 13-14, 3-11 Ivy; tied for seventh)
Coach: Megan Griffith (second season)
Captains: Jillian Borreson (senior center), Paige Tippet (senior guard), Camille Zimmerman (senior guard/forward)
Key Returning Players:
Zimmerman – 27 starts, 37.4 mpg, 22.5 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 spg
Josie Little (junior forward) – 12 starts, 19.8 mpg, 5.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg
Tori Oliver (forward) – 27 starts, 29.3 mpg, 10.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.1 apg
Paulina Koerner (point guard) – 25 starts, 32.3 mpg, 7.9 ppg, 2.5 apg, 88.0% FT%
Andrea McCormick (Guard) – No. 74 Ranked Point Guard by ESPN Hoopgurlz
Madison Pack (F/C) – Averaged 10.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 1.6 bpg for career; No. 84-ranked forward by ESPN Hoopgurlz
IHO Columbia schedule breakdown here
The Lions return two players who started more than 25 games last year (Zimmerman, Tippet). They also will have one player (Little) who started 12 of the 13 nonconference games before an injury ended her ‘16-’17 season. Zimmerman, who led the Ivy League in scoring and ranked 10th in the nation, also was first in total rebounds and minutes played. She was also in the top 10 for field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, assists, steals, blocks, offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds.
Offensively, Columbia excelled at two-pointers (18/game; 42.4 percent), rebounding (35.1 percent), and free throws (18.4 attempts; 14 made). However, the team struggled with three pointers (5.4 made; 29.7 percent) and assists (12) and turnovers (17.5). Defensively, the Lions did well at rebounding (76.5 percent) and limiting three pointers (5.2 made; 32.1 percent). They had difficulty with steals (5.7), blocks (2.3), forced turnovers (13.1) and two-point shooting (17.7 made; 42.8 percent).
Columbia has lost 55 percent of its non-team rebounds, 55 percent of its assists, 50 percent of its points and 50 percent of its three-pointers. The return of Little will certainly help out with rebounding, but the team will need to find another strong frontcourt player, a reliable floor general, and more offensive options than Zimmerman to continue to move the program forward.
6. Cornell Big Red (‘16-’17 record: 16-11, 7-7 Ivy; tied for fourth)
Coach: Dayna Smith (16th season)
Captains: not yet elected
Key Returning Players:
Samantha Widmann (sophomore guard) – 26 games played, 16 mpg, 5.7 ppg, 45.3 percent field-goal percentage
Janee Dennis (senior guard) – 19 games played, 6.8 mpg, 2.7 ppg, 43.9 percent field-goal percentage, 39.3 percent three-point field-goal percentage
Nia Marshall (forward) – 27 starts, 32.2 mpg, 15.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.7 spg
Megan LeDuc (guard) – 27 starts, 34.9 mpg, 12.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apg, 54 total three-pointers
Halley Miklos (forward) – Colorado Class 3A POY in ‘16-’17 (22.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg,4.4 spg, 2.5 apg)
Ariana Abdulmassih (guard/forward) – No. 65-ranked forward by ESPN Hoopgurlz; Scouts Grade of 88
IHO Cornell schedule breakdown here
Widmann was one of three non-seniors, and the only returning player, to average double-digit minutes last season. She was twice named Ivy League Rookie of the Week.
With the loss of seven of the top eight players from last year, including the five winningest players in program history, Cornell is missing 83 percent of its minutes, 82 percent of its points, 82 percent of its non-team rebounds, 93 percent of its assists, and 76 percent of its made three-pointers. Of the present Cornellians, two starters, Christine Ehland and Danielle Jorgenson missed significant time, last year, with injuries. As a result, this season will be a bit of a mystery as coach Smith finds a new group of athletes to rebuild her program.
5. Yale Bulldogs (‘16-’17 record: 15-12, 6-8 Ivy; sixth)
Coach: Allison Guth (third Season)
Captains: Mary Ann Santucci (senior guard)
Key Returning Players:
Jen Berkowitz (senior forward) – 27 starts, 28.2 mpg, 13.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 50.8 percent field-goal percentage
Tamara Simpson (senior guard) – 20 starts, 27.0 mpg, 9.6 ppg, 2.9 spg
Lena Munzer (guard) – 27 starts, 34.6 mpg, 12.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 52 made three-pointers
Meghan McIntyre (guard) – 8 starts, 23.9 mpg, 6.6 ppg, 47 made three-pointers
Ellen Margaret Andrews (forward) – 1,000-plus career points; Texas Assoc. of Basketball Coaches Large Private POY
Ale Aguirre (guard) – seventh in nation and second in California for career made three-pointers
IHO Yale schedule breakdown here
Berkowitz, an Honorable Mention All-Ivy player, led the Ivy League in field-goal percentage and was second in offensive rebounding (three per game). She was in the top 10 in total rebounds, blocks, free-throw percentage, and points. Simpson was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year on the strength of her 79 steals. She led the league in steals and was 21st in the nation. In the ‘15-’16 season, her three steals per game and 90 total were 11th-best, nationally.
Coach Guth likes her team to run up tempo on both sides of the ball. Yale will look to to continue to feed off on Simpson’s on-ball skills defensively. The coach believes in a “three or key” philosophy with last year’s team focused much more on the three (first with 22.1 attempts per game; second with 6.8 baskets) than the key (eighth with 35.9 attempts per game; eighth with 15 made two-pointers a game). Due to being at or near the bottom of the conference in assists (10.7), field-goal percentage (37.5 percent) and three-point field-goal percentage (30.7 percent), the Bulldogs were seventh in the Ivies with 61.1 points per game. Yale was around the middle of most defensive statistics, though, the team was tied for second in defensive rebounding percentage (72 percent).
With the graduation of Munzer and McIntyre, Yale loses its strongest defensive rebounder, as well as 34 percent of its assists and 54 percent of its made three-pointers. The team, however, will return four of its five main starters from last season (Berkowitz, Megan Gorman, Simpson and Santucci). Even though Santucci had 60 assists, Yale will need to find additional ball handlers to at least double that number. More importantly, if the Bulldogs want to break into the league’s top four, they will need to improve their three-point efficiency and offensive rebounding while freeing up more attempts for their frontcourt shooters.