As COVID-19 numbers increase from early summer lows and masking recommendations return for the start of another pandemic academic calendar, the Ivy League gave fans a bit of positive news on Thursday with the release of the 2022 conference schedule. After skipping the entire 2020-21 season due to safety concerns, the Ancient Eight curtain is set to rise on January 2 with eight games – a mere 666 days after the last league games on March 7, 2020.
Former Ivy standouts’ Olympic exploits
Olympic action in Tokyo featured an Ivy-on-Ivy matchup Wednesday when Maodo Lo helped lead Germany to a 99-92 victory over Miye Oni’s Nigerian squad in Group B play at Saitama Super Arena. The 2016 Columbia graduate and the Lions men’s third-all-time leading scorer led the Germans with nine assists and added 13 points in 28 minutes.
Cornell senior guard Kate Sramac has committed to William & Mary for her upcoming graduate year.
Sramac told Ivy Hoops Online she is headed for Williamsburg to finish her collegiate career after leading the Big Red in assists, steals and three-point shooting percentage as a junior in 2019-20.
“I chose William and Mary because the combination of great basketball, a beautiful campus, and a graduate program that I am really excited about and fit me well,” said Sramac, who will be pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree.
A quiet Saturday on the college basketball front was upended just after three o’clock with Adam Zagoria’s tweet:
Sources: Two Ivy League schools are highly unlikely to play men’s hoops this year and it’s possible the whole league won’t play at all.
“I have a feeling it would be the whole league isn’t going to play,” one Ivy League asst coach.
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) October 17, 2020
With most regular seasons and championships for fall sports postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, college athletes and fans have been anxiously awaiting word on the winter sports schedule. They received good news on September 16, when the NCAA Division I Council, chaired by Penn athletic director Grace Calhoun, announced that the men’s and women’s basketball seasons could begin on November 25.
“The new season start date near the Thanksgiving holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season,” NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said to ESPN. “It is a grand compromise of sorts and a unified approach that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes competing towards the 2021 Division I basketball championships.”
While basketball enthusiasts around the nation rejoiced with the news that meaningful games would soon be returning to the hardwood, fans of the Ancient Eight were left wondering if the league would move from its July 8 decision that teams could not participate in intercollegiate athletics competition prior to the end of the fall semester.
The short answer is no.
“There are no changes at this time,” responded Ivy League associate executive director, strategic communications & external relations Matt Panto to a request from Ivy Hoops Online. “The decision we have made is it (hold on competition) goes through the (end of the) fall term.”
With a growing number of colleges cancelling in-person plans as well as fall sports in response to COVID-19, questions will soon shift to the status of winter sports. Since experts believe there will be a significant increase in cases and deaths as flu season arrives and activities moving indoors amid colder weather, it is difficult to image a return to a normal world, much less a normal sports world, by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.
If there is no large-scale vaccine available or significant improvement in testing as previewed by Yale’s SalivaDirect COVID-19 test, winter teams, including men’s and women’s basketball, will not be permitted to play their traditional 4 1/2 month schedules (or 2 1/2 months in the Ivy League’s case).
Could something shorter and less traditional be done to allow college hoops to be played this winter?
Back on the Jazz
Miye Oni returned to the Utah Jazz official 17-man roster for the Jazz’s NBA season reopening win over the New Orleans Pelicans in Orlando on TNT Thursday evening, the NBA’s first action since March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Oni did not play but did join the other players in kneeling for the national anthem. Oni wore Power to the People on the back of his jersey, as all of his teammates opted to replace their last names on their jerseys with a message of social justice.
Oni briefly got playing time toward the end of the Jazz’s second game Saturday, a 110-94 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Orlando. In his sixth NBA game, Oni pitched in three points, two rebounds, a steal and a block in just under six minutes of action.
Dartmouth men announce Class of 2024
Dartmouth men’s basketball recently announced its Class of 2024 on Twitter:
The Ivy League on Friday announced an initiative including all 16 men’s and women’s basketball programs expressing commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Called “Ivy Promise,” the initiative comes with a message from the 16 women’s and men’s basketball head coaches:
We have heard our student-athletes’ and communities’ call to action. The anger, disappointment and hurt felt across our country in recent weeks has been eye-opening and inspired important conversations in our communities. This is how we will stand together to proceed forward on the path of making progress for humanity. This is our promise.The Ivy Promise represents the Ivy League basketball coaches’ commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement. While individually our platforms are influential, combined our platforms can be a catalyst for change. We are committed to achieving reform. We will stand against inequality and discrimination until all people are afforded the same opportunities in wages, healthcare, housing, education, and criminal justice. Together we will stand for justice, educate the people, and support our communities.Our initial action items as a league are as follows:
- As the Head Coaches of Ivy League Basketball, we will use our status and privilege to be vocal advocates for equality for all.
- When possible, our programs will buy from local black and minority owned businesses to help uplift our communities economically and decrease the wealth gap.
- Our coaches and student-athletes will not only participate in All Vote No Play on November 3, but also use our voting power in local and state elections because that is where topics like criminal justice reform begin.
- We will use our games on MLK Day and during Black History Month in February to avidly celebrate Black history and Black excellence.
- Each Ivy League basketball team will donate to and volunteer with the local organizations that are working to address the specific needs of our community.
This is just the beginning.
Nearly a month after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis officer while three other officers stood by, the Ivy hoops community has continued to speak out against racial injustice and in support of people of color.
Another introspective from Nat Graham
Penn men’s associate head coach and 1997 graduate Nat Graham, who is White, on Sunday published a post on Medium thoughtfully reflecting on the structural advantages his race gave him in life and the “not so equal” separation between his Miami neighborhood and that of his Black high school teammate who Graham found out later eventually got his teeth knocked out while in prison.
As the country continues to grapple with a deadly pandemic and a growing protest movement against police brutality and centuries-old racial inequalities, Cornell women’s basketball rising junior Theresa Grace Mbanefo and her organization, Women of Color Cornell Athletics (WOCCA) are looking to make structural changes on the East Hill of Ithaca.
On June 1, WOCCA initiated the “Hear Us Now” photo campaign to “demand informed allyship from the Cornell athletic community and beyond.”
The posts of the various female and male student-athletes of color show each holding up a sign describing times when they heard the crowds cheering for them. The last shows all of the athletes holding posters with “But do you see us? #BLM”.