- While most of the nation’s attention was focused on Election Night coverage, seven of the 16 Ivy teams opened the 2018-19 season. When the evening was over, the four men’s and three women’s teams were victorious and there was no need for any recounts. After noting the highs and lows for the Penn men, below are summaries for the other six squads.
The Penn men opened up the ’18-’19 season on the road against George Mason on Tuesday night. In a gutsy second half performance, the Quakers came from behind to beat the Patriots, 72-71, for big win against a team that entered the contest ranked #116 by KenPom and #120 by Bart Torvik. Unfortunately, Ryan Betley, the Red & Blue’s leading scorer and a second team All-Ivy player in ’17-’18, was injured early in the game and appears to be lost for the season.
Around the five minute mark, Betley took an inbounds from Devon Goodman. As he was driving the baseline, his right leg went out from under him and he collapsed to the ground. After the Penn trainers spent several minutes with Betley, he was helped into the locker room without being able to put any pressure on his right leg. He later returned to the bench with a brace on his right leg.
The Cornell men opened the 2018-2019 preseason with their annual Red & White scrimmage a week ago Friday, followed by an exhibition against their Division III neighbors from Ithaca College on Tuesday. The Red team, led by assistant coach Donovan Williams, came away with the 74-63 victory in the intrasquad matchup, and the Big Red defeated the Bombers, 98-61.
On Tuesday afternoon, Penn’s Dr. M. Grace Calhoun, director of athletics and recreation, held a press conference to announce that Penn Athletics secured a sponsorship with Macquarie Investment Management. The multi-faceted agreement is highlighted by the group’s presenting sponsorship of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as naming rights to the Palestra’s famed court.
Calhoun refused to disclose the length and value of the deal but noted the partnership is for several years and is the largest such agreement in the history of Penn Athletics.
Typically, a presenting sponsor attaches its name to a product. With respect to the “Cathedral of Basketball”, the hardwood will now permanently be known as “Macquarie Court at the Palestra.” Calhoun noted, iin response to questions from Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly.com and reporters form the Daily Pennsylvanian, that having a corporate name linked directly with the fabled arena was not an option. However, she did admit that the school’s famed football stadium, Franklin Field, and the Penn Relays could be considered for a deal in the future.
In a major challenge to the Princeton women’s program, coach Courtney Banghart announced per the Trentonian during the team’s media day Thursday that Bella Alarie, the reigning Ivy Player of the Year, will miss the first part of the season due to a broken right arm sustained in an awkward fall during an early October practice. She also mentioned that Abby Meyers will have to take a year away from the team and the university due to a “misunderstanding” in her computer science class that violated university policy, the Trentonian noted.
In her sophomore season, the 6’4″ Alarie was in the league’s top ten for multiple categories, averaging 13.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.3 rebounds over 30 games. She shot 48.9 percent from the floor and 78.9 percent from the free throw line. Meyers did not start any games last year, but she averaged 17.4 minutes a game in 28 contests. In Ancient Eight action, the 6′ 0″ wing from Potomac, Md., was the team’s second leading scorer with 10.9 points per game, shooting 44.6 percent from the field, 40.7 percent from three and 87 percent from the charity stripe.
In past years, the Ivy League office organized a teleconference call for the men’s basketball coaches, a few days after the preseason media poll. At those events, the coaches would talk about their teams, as well as answer questions from the Ivy League moderator and a small number of reporters. In addition, Reggie Greenwood, the league’s Coordinator of Officials, would discuss any rule changes for the upcoming season. This year, the league decided to do away with the call in favor of having roundtable conversations with the men’s and women’s coaches.
The two 30-minute videos, which were shot in New Haven on Sept. 5 (women’s coaches) and Sept. 12 (men’s coaches), focused on the general improved state of Ivy recruiting, the difficulties in scheduling nonconference games as an improved mid-major conference, the unique challenges in playing back-to-back Ivy weekends, the importance of the Ivy Tournament for late-season competitiveness, and the significance of the league’s partnership with ESPN. What fans did not hear was anything related to the specific teams and players.
With teams a few short weeks away from actual games, here is a collection of off-season stories to catch up on before the start of the 2018-2019 season.
Following an 0-6 start to Ivy play in 2017, the Penn men’s basketball team went 6-2 through the remainder of the conference schedule to claim the final spot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament. Despite having home court advantage and never trailing to undefeated Princeton during regulation, the Quakers could not find a way to close out the game and lost in the semifinals. Heading into 2017-2018, the expectations were that Penn, while not ready to challenge for the top of the conference, would build upon their immediate success and have a much more comfortable time at securing the four seed. The preseason media poll reflected this idea, with the Red & Blue being picked fourth with 88 points, 28 points behind third ranked Princeton and 31 points ahead of fifth place Columbia.
The Quakers entered the Ivy schedule at 9-5 with highlight wins on the road at Monmouth (in 4 OT) and Dayton. However, Penn’s 85-72 home loss to Toledo (KenPom #113) on December 29th was a troubling way to enter the January 9th conference opener against the Tigers. Penn put any concerns to rest, snapping an eight-game losing streak to Princeton on its way to a 7-0 start to the league schedule. Following a loss at Harvard, the Quakers won its next four, including a three point home win against the Crimson. A controversial last second 80-79 loss at Yale left Penn tied with Harvard going into the regular season finale. A 99-93 over Brown gave the Red & Blue (24-9 overall, 12-2 Ivy, 1-3 Big Five) a share of the Ivy title, its 26th overall championship and first since 2007.
Yale athletic director Vicky Chun announced Friday that the school had signed women’s basketball coach Allison Guth to a contract extension through the 2023-24 season. This follows a season, where the Bulldogs made its first appearance in the Ivy Tournament, earned 19 wins and won the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) Tournament championship. Said Chun in the Athletic Department announcement, “Allison Guth has proven herself to be an excellent coach, recruiter and mentor. Yale women’s basketball is in great hands with her leading the way.”
In three years as Yale’s head coach, Guth has an overall record of 48-38 with a five-win improvement between years one and three. In the Ivy League, she is 19-23 with a 8-6 mark last season. She is in her second stint at Yale, where she was the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 2010-2012. “Having the support of tremendous visionaries like President (Peter) Salovey and Vicky Chun make my job especially rewarding,” said Guth in the program’s announcement. “I am incredibly grateful for the belief that our leadership at Yale has in our program’s growth, knowing that this opportunity exists because of our fantastic staff and players who have worked relentlessly to build a championship culture.”
Even though the Princeton men’s team lost Ivy Player of the Year Spencer Weisz, first team All-Ivy Steven Cook and 25 game starting center Pete Miller from the undefeated regular and postseason Ivy champions of 2016-17, last year’s team was still expected to challenge for the 2018 Ivy title. Selected third in the preseason media poll, the Tigers trailed Yale by three points and Harvard by only eight, while picking up three first-place votes. With returning first team All-Ivy and conference Defensive Player of the Year Myles Stephens, honorable mention All-Ivy Devin Cannady and a resurgent Amir Bell anchoring the back court, Princeton entered the season optimistic that the new frontcourt would develop by the start of league play to give the team a shot at a repeat.
Early-season losses to Butler, BYU, St. Joseph’s, and Miami contributed to a 2-5 start for the Tigers. They rebounded in the later part of the non-conference schedule, including a 103-93 overtime victory at USC, to pull even at 7-7 by the start of the Ivy schedule. Despite an opening game loss at the Palestra to an improved Penn, Princeton found itself at 3-1 in league play, following an overtime win against Yale. The Tigers then, unexpectedly, went 0-7 with three overtime defeats and losses to each of the previous year’s lower division teams. After two wins against Dartmouth and Brown, Princeton entered the regular season finale with a solid shot at the fourth spot in the Ivy Tournament. The Tigers got the necessary Harvard win over Columbia, but they lost by four to Yale, in their fifth overtime game of their Ivy season. In 2018-19, the Orange & Black (13-16, 5-9 Ivy) will look to put last year’s fifth-place effort behind them and show the rest of the conference that they belong in the league’s upper division.