While there were no head coaching changes in the Ivy League for the second straight year, there was plenty of action among the conference’s assistants and directors of basketball operations. Here are some of the highlights:
After losing eight players from the 2016-2017 season (13-17 overall, 4-10 Ivy), including first team All-Ivy Steven Spieth, four-year starting point guard Tavon Blackmon, and three-point specialist JR Hobbie, the Brown men’s basketball team was picked last in the 2017-18 Ivy League preseason media poll. With underclassmen filling out almost 64 percent of the roster and playing 74 percent of the team’s minutes, the Bears finished last year at 11-16 with a second straight 4-10 mark in the Ancient Eight. While the record was not impressive, Brown did take Providence to overtime, defeat Princeton on the road for the first time since 2010, and have a third place 4-4 record halfway through the conference schedule. After gaining a year of experience leading the program, the talented young core will attempt to move Brown beyond four straight seventh-place league finishes and make a push for a first-ever spot in the Ivy Tournament.
On Friday afternoon, the Providence Journal reported that Brown women’s basketball head coach Sarah Behn was charged with domestic assault following an incident with her husband that occurred at a home in Foxboro, Mass. last weekend. The coach’s spouse, Timothy McGahan, accused his wife of pushing him over a wooden chair, causing him to fall to the floor, the Journal noted, adding that when he stood back up, she then allegedly pinned him against a wall.
With a fourth place finish, an appearance in the inaugural Ivy Tournament, and a postseason win in the first round of the 2017 Women’s Basketball Invitational, things looked bright for the Brown women’s team heading into 2017-2018. The Bears, which did not lose a single member of the previous year’s squad, were picked fourth in the league’s preseason poll and there was talk among Ivy fans that this group could be the first since 2011-2012 to break the Harvard-Penn-Princeton stranglehold on the conference’s top three spots.
A 9-1 start, including Tournament titles at the University of Pacific and the Ocean State Tip-Off, added to the program’s confidence as it returned from finals to visit Boston University on December 22nd. Up 28 points with 3:22 remaining in the third quarter, starting three-guard Taylor Will came off the court with a knee injury and did not return to action for the rest of the year. While Brown defeated the Terriers, Howard University and Johnson & Wales to complete its non-conference scheduled with a program-best 12-1 record, the Bears aura of invincibility had been shattered.
Brett Franklin and Jill Glessner return as hosts of Inside Ivy Hoops this week to talk with Brown men’s coach Mike Martin and Penn women’s coach Mike McLaughlin and break down a slate of crazy results so far on both the men’s and women’s sides.
Brett and Jill recap an Ivy Friday night to remember on the men’s side, explain why Matt Morgan is more than a gunslinger, and much more:
Jill and Brett detail why and how Princeton is the deepest team in conference on the women’s side, focus on Cornell’s “shocking” win over Brown, Yale’s first weekend road sweep in five years, the vital presence of Leslie Robinson for the Tigers, looming Ivy League Tournament tiebreakers, two potentially significant injuries on the women’s side and more:
Mike Martin reflects on Brown’s multiple game-winning shots this Ivy season, what went wrong Friday night versus Cornell, Desmond Cambridge’s progress following an injury sustained Saturday night, the dynamic duo of Matt Morgan and Stone Gettings, keys to besting Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion, his Espresso awakening and much more:
Mike McLaughlin talks about the Philadelphia Eagles ‘ Super Bowl parade, Penn’s win over Villanova and the void Eleah Parker helped fill while also reflecting on the program’s rise from his two-win first season in 2009-10, what makes Princeton so tough, his time with the Washington Generals and more:
Going Inside Ivy Hoops with Brett Franklin and Jill Glessner this week are Ivy Hoops Online writer Richard Kent, Brown women’s basketball assistant coach Tyler Patch and Columbia men’s head coach Jim Engles.
On the women’s side, Jill and Brett highlight Harvard’s home cooking, Penn winning the Big 5, Ivy back-to-backs creeping up on Dartmouth and the intrigue of contrasting styles with Friday’s Penn at Brown matchup. On the men’s side, they consider how many bitterly close losses Dartmouth can continue to swallow, Penn’s formidable frontcourt and more:
IHO’s Yale beat writer Richard Kent joins Brett and Jill on the expert hotline about when he expects Makai Mason to return for Yale, Trey Phills’s standout season, why the Yale men have a better shot at beating Princeton than Penn this weekend, whether the Yale women can claim an Ivy League Tournament berth this season and how Bella Alarie flew under Duke’s recruiting radar:
Tyler Patch discusses his path to becoming an assistant at Brown, the recruiting and execution that created Brown’s high-octane uptempo offense, lessons learned from the Bears’ back-to-back Ivy nail-biter losses last weekend and more.
Jim Engles reflects on his unique time at NJIT, Columbia starting this season with seven road games and Mike Smith’s relationship with NBA player Jimmy Butler while looking ahead to the Lions hosting Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend:
Yale 77 vs Brown 63
Yale (8-6; 1-0 Ivy) opened up its march to Ivy Madness with a double digit victory over Brown (12-2; 0-1 Ivy) in a Friday matinee contest at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. After a poor shooting first quarter from both teams, Yale entered the second frame up 3 and stretched it to six at halftime. The Bears came out hot at the beginning of the third quarter, going on an 8-0 run over the first 1:36 to take a 39-37 lead. From there, the teams stayed close and were tied at 58 with 6:54 left in the fourth quarter. Two Tamara Simpson steals and layups in nine seconds sparked Yale to a 10-0 run that put the game out of reach.
Record: 7-6 Overall and 0-0 Ivy (5-1 Home; 2-5 Away)
Rankings: KenPom #239, Bart Torvik #235, TeamRankings #246
Defensive Improvement and Guard Play
The Bears are again playing an up-tempo game (Top 60 nationally), putting up lots of points (78.2; 2nd in Ivy), and getting to the free throw line at an elite level (25.0 attempts/game, 19.3 made/game, 76.1 percent shooting, and 23.8 percent of total point production). However, this year’s team has been showing growth on the defensive side of the ball, most noticeably in holding opponents to 33.6 percent from three (minus-3.8 percent from ‘16-’17) and securing a 73.4 percent defensive rebounding rate (plus-2.1 percent from ‘16-’17). This effort has led to a 5.0 percent decline in opponent’s effective field goal shooting and a 7.8 point improvement in adjusted defensive efficiency.
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.
Prior to the 2016-17 season, the Brown women’s basketball team was picked seventh in the Ivy League media poll. Despite three league wins in 2015-16 and a youthful roster that did not have any seniors, the Bears ended up with a 17-13 record (7-7 Ivy), a fourth-place tie in the conference, a slot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament, and a first-ever postseason victory with a win over UMBC in the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) Tournament. With the loss of only one player, Brown will look to establish itself as a first-division team, challenge the Big Three for conference dominance, and achieve greater post-season success.