Ancient Eight to watch

While the Ivy League has many big name players, some who have even attracted the attention of the NBA and USA Basketball, there are other important athletes who will play key roles for their respective teams throughout the 2016-17 campaign.  Most IHO readers are familiar with the most notable players from A(iken) to Z(immerman).  With a few games in the book, IHO wanted to highlight a few of the the league’s under the radar players.  Some will be helpful in the push for a spot in the Ivy Tournament, while others will be laying the foundation for future glory.  All, hopefully, will make a special contribution to this season.

Quinton Adlesh (Columbia)

Starting the year as the backup to the returning Kyle Castlin at the shooting guard position, Quinton Adlesh’s role has grown this season as Castlin injured his elbow late in the opening night game at Villanova.  The 6’ 0” junior, whose 2016-17 backup role was expanded due to a season ending injury to Castlin, played in 27 games last year, averaging 5.7 points and 2.3 assists in 20 minutes a game.  With his move up the depth chart this year, he is the conference’s leading three point shooter with 10 total and a 3.3 per game average.  He is also the team’s second leading scorer with 14.0 points per game. With Castlin showing himself to be a chronic injury, Adlesh will be counted on to provide added outside offense for Jim Engles’s crew.   

Riley Casey (Columbia)
Ending last season at, or near, the bottom of the Ivy League in three-point shooting and assists, coach Megan Griffith has turned to first-year Riley Casey to help improve Columbia’s offensive production.  According to the Columbia Athletics site, Casey chose the Lions over Penn, Princeton, Brown, Yale and Cornell.  The 5’ 8” guard from the Franklin Road Academy, hit 111 triples last year and was named to three straight All-Tennessee teams by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association.  Named as the program’s starting two guards, she has responded as the team’s second leading scorer with 12.6 points a game, while leading the team with 36.0 minutes per game, 8 made three pointers, 10 assists and an assists/turnover ratio of 2.0.

Chris Knight (Dartmouth)

With the early graduation of center Cole Harrison and the sudden departure of two-time second team All-Ivy forward Evan Boudreaux, Dartmouth was left with a big hole in its frontcourt.  Chris Knight has seized the opportunity and given hope to the Big Green faithful.  In the team’s first two games, the 6’ 7” first year has come off the bench to average 12.5 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks in 17 minutes.  Knight, who has shown an ability to hit from the outside, is comfortable in half court and transition offense.  Over the last two years, Dartmouth has obviously centered its offense around its talented traditional big man.  Without Boudreaux, coach David McLaughlin may have found himself a big man who will help give some variety to the offense and take advantage of the team’s faster guards.

Carlie Littlefield (Princeton)

The graduation of Taylor Brown left Princeton in need of a starting point guard.  Instead of a veteran or a more highly rated recruit to lead a team challenging for the Ivy title, coach Courtney Banghart gave the job to Carlie Littlefield, a first year from Waukee High School.  She was first team All-Iowa, as selected by the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association, and the #347 recruit in the nation, according to Bret McCormick of All Star Girls Report (ASGR).  Being the floor general for team that includes All-Ivy stars Bella Alarie and Leslie Robinson has not intimated Littlefield, who has averaged 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3 assists in 38 minutes against George Washington and Seton Hall.

Cy Lippold (Dartmouth)

In a July interview with the Chicago Tribune, coach Belle Koclanes hinted at looking for a point guard who plays well in the open floor, pushes tempo, draws defenders, reads multiple lines of defense, makes open reads, and handles pressure against stronger opponents. If that wasn’t enough, she also wanted one who could consistently hit from three.  She may just have found the right one in junior Cy Lippold.  The 5’ 2” guard has not been hesitant about upping the tempo and driving the lane against people a foot taller.  After averaging 2.1 points in 7.9 minutes a game last year, she is presently scoring 18.0 points a game, shooting 83% from three, 88% at the charity stripe and 57% overall.  She is also averaging 2 steals, assists and rebounds a game.  Most importantly, she has been instrumental in setting a more aggressive offensive and defensive tone for the Big Green, who beat Vermont for the first time since 2013 and Boston College for the first time ever.

Noah Yates (Yale)

With Yale’s recent history of a short rotation, Noah Yates did not look to get much playing time behind starters Jordan Bruner and Blake Reynolds.  With Bruner’s season ending knee injury, Yates appears primed to be another successful member of coach James Jones’ “next man up” club.  The 6’ 5” Jersey Shore senior wasn’t even on the team in its historic 2015-16 season, spending his first two years in New Haven with the football program.  In his rookie 2016-17 campaign, he appeared in 11 games, totaling 60 minutes, 21 points and 10 rebounds, while earning the team’s Josh Hill Dedication Award.  Thrust into a larger role this season, he has come off the bench to shoot 68% from two and 58% from three, while averaging 8.8 points, 4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 18.5 minutes a game.

Janie White (Brown)

Following last season’s appearance in the Ivy Tournament and Women’s Basketball Invitational, there is a lot of hope around the Brown program for even greater conference and postseason success this year.  With the formidable frontcourts of Penn, Princeton and Harvard, the offense-focused Bears will need added strength up top to break into the league’s top three.  Senior Janie White has reclaimed a starting spot to join Erika Steeves in improving the team’s interior presence.  In 2015-16, she started 21 games, averaging 6.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.  Following a semester abroad in the fall of 2016, she came off the bench to average 6.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks a game.  This year, she has gotten off to a strong start, averaging 7.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and a league leading 4 blocks in blowout victories against Bryant and Central Connecticut State.

Caleb Wood (Penn)

With the arrival of Ivy Madness in the spring of 2017, Penn’s Steve Donahue knew it was vitally important for his host program to be in the four-team tournament.  With a young lineup, the coach felt that he needed to get some maturity onto the roster.  Caleb Wood’s transfer from Lassen Community College, where he averaged 23.2 points in 2015-16, was supposed to provide experience and dependable outside offense.  Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan.  Wood began last year out of position as the starting point guard.  While he put up points in a few contests, he had a large number of turnovers and generally appeared overwhelmed by Division I basketball.  By the end of the season, the Nevada native had played himself out of the rotation and was a fixture on the end of the bench.  After an offseason getting mentally and physically stronger, Wood has earned a second chance and appears to be delivering on his potential. Moved back to his natural shooting guard position, he has been one of the bright spots for three-centric Penn team that has struggled from the outside.  In the team’s first three games, Wood has shot 60% from three, making 9 or 15, while averaging 10.3 points a game.

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