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:
Picked for sixth in the 2017-2018 Ivy League preseason poll, the Cornell men’s team (12-16 overall, 6-8 Ivy) exceeded expectations to finish the season in fourth place and secure the team’s first ever appearance in the Ivy Tournament. After starting conference play with three straight losses by a total of 71 points, the Red and their second-year head coach Brian Earl regrouped. Over the next four weeks, they went on a 4-2 run, punctuated by a 22-point second half comeback in a 107-101 triple overtime win over Princeton, to get back into the thick of the race for the upper division. After losing a thrilling double overtime at Harvard on the penultimate night of the regular season, Cornell bounced back again to defeat Dartmouth and claim the Ivy’s fourth golden ticket.
In the semifinal against Harvard, the Big Red found themselves up seven with three minutes to go in the first half, but the Crimson closed the stanza on a 16-4 run. Without any answers in the second half, their season ended with a 74-55 defeat. With the return of Matt Morgan and Stone Gettings for their senior seasons, things looked up for the Cornell faithful. In May, however, Gettings changed all of that with a surprise announcement that he would forgo his senior season, graduate in December and become a graduate transfer for 2019-20. Despite the loss of their second-team All-Ivy forward, the Big Red look to jump over the .500 mark and make it back to Ivy Madness.
The 2017-2018 season was expected to be a major rebuild for the Cornell women’s basketball team, following the graduation of all five starters, as well as seven of the top eight players, from a 2016-2017 team that came in fourth place and missed the first Ivy Tournament by a tiebreak. The Big Red’s conference record of 3-11 (7-20 overall) landed the team in sixth place, where they were predicted in the preseason poll. With a roster that has a years worth of game experience and a solid group of new players, Coach Dayna Smith is hoping for improved results in her 17th year in Ithaca and the second year of her program’s rebuild.
Statistically, Cornell has room for significant growth, since the team found itself at, or near, the bottom of the conference in nearly all offensive categories. The exception was offensive rebounding percentage, where the team was third in the league with a 35.7 percent rate. They fared better on the defensive side, as they were second in forced turnovers (17.6), second in steals (9.1) and third in fewest points allowed (63.9).
Ivy Untold is a great website, and Ivy hoops fans should be aware of it.
In case you’ve missed it, Ivy Untold was launched by then-Cornell junior forward Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof last year as a platform for minority students. Since then, it has allowed minority Cornell students to tell their stories, from an African American field hockey player recounting her experience as “that black girl on the field” to a lacrosse player’s struggle with and comeback against anxiety.
It’s also worth noting that the site’s co-founder is Cornell senior guard Troy Whiteside, with former guard Kyle Brown also contributing site design.
Earlier this month, Ivy Untold ran “Play the Game Before the Game Plays You,” a piece penned by Abdur-Ra’oof in which he candidly details the challenges and frustrations of playing for one coach his freshman and sophomore years (Bill Courtney) and another his junior and senior years (Brian Earl) as well as finishing his career at Cornell by riding the bench. It’s an honest and much-needed reminder that these Ivy League student-athletes are people who juggle life-shaping hardships, disappointments and transitions before our very eyes as they compete (or don’t). far surpassing in importance our own fandom as supporters of our respective Ivies.
On Monday, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted that Cornell’s Matt Morgan would withdraw from the upcoming NBA Draft. That same day, Raphy Gendler of the Cornell Daily Sun reported that Morgan will return to the school and the team for his senior year. Noted Morgan in a text to the school paper, “It was in my best interest to come back and play one more year and finish out not only my athletic career but also my academic career. It was great going through the process again but I’m glad to officially be back and getting ready for another run with my team.”
Morgan had tested the NBA Draft waters for the first time in the spring of 2017. During that time, he received interest from the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Washington Wizards. He took the information from that process and used it to have his strongest season at Cornell. Not only did he lead the Ivy League in scoring for the third straight season, but his career-best 22.5 points per game was the 11th highest in the nation. The Concord, N.C. shooting guard ended the 2017-2018 season with an active 51-game double-digit scoring streak, while being named a member of the All-Ivy first team and the Lou Henson All-America team. His 1,646 points are third on the Big Red’s all-time list, 17 points behind John Bajusz and 382 points behind Ryan Wittman’s record 2,028.
On Monday evening, Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweeted that Cornell junior forward Stone Gettings would graduate in December and become a graduate transfer. Gettings, a second-team All-Ivy member in 2017-2018, will sit out the 2018-2019 season in order to save his final year of eligibility. The Malibu, California native told the Cornell Daily Sun, “I decided to graduate early in December, save myself a ton of money, and have another year to play somewhere else”.
Gettings arrived in Ithaca in the fall of 2015, as a member of Bill Courtney’s last recruiting class. In his first game for the Big Red, he scored 14 points and hit 4 of 6 three pointers against Georgia Tech. For the season, he played in 28 games, averaging 2.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 9.5 minutes a contest. Following Courtney’s dismissal, arguably, no Cornell player benefited more from the hiring of Princeton’s Brian Earl than Gettings. As the team’s featured front court player, his sophomore numbers increased to 12.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 25.6 minutes per game in his 29 starts.
Going Inside Ivy Hoops with Jill Glessner and Brett Franklin this week are Cornell women’s basketball head coach Dayna Smith and Dartmouth men’s head coach David McLaughlin.
During Brett and Jill’s look at the Ivy men’s hoops scene, Jill praises the Brown men for overcoming the Inside Ivy Hoops jinx, the duo breaks down Harvard’s defensive prowess and offensive struggles, Jill explains why Harvard men should have beaten Dartmouth by double-digits, why Dartmouth is like the Philadelphia Eagles, why she’s going with Yale over Harvard and much more:
During Jill and Brett’s look at the Ivy women’s hoops scene, they note why this weekend is particularly pivotal for the #RoadToIvyMadness, Dominique Leonidas making a name for herself for Brown, Jill explains why she likes Columbia to avenge itself at Cornell, the duo the doubly uptempo matchup of Brown at Dartmouth, how Dartmouth’s guard play will fare against Yale and 2016-17 Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Tamara Simpson and much more:
The women’s and men’s basketball teams for Columbia and Cornell arrived at Levien Gymnasium on Saturday winless in conference play. While the main goal for each team was to secure its first league win, it was almost as important for the individual teams to feel good about their games as they move into the hardest stretch of their seasons.
The Columbia men had, perhaps, their best game of the season as they dismantled Cornell, 88-62. On the women’s side, the Big Red led for 36:49 of the 40-minute contest in route to an important 57-47 road win over the Lions. In dominating their respective games, the Columbia men and Cornell women have strong momentum heading into next Saturday’s rematches in Ithaca. The two losing squads and their staffs, however, were left trying to come to grips with their play and figuring out how to turn things around, for next weekend and the remainder of the year.
Princeton 75 vs Cornell 54
Cornell (4-11; 0-2 Ivy) challenged the Tigers (13-3; 3-0 Ivy) in the first half, finishing the second quarter down 36-34. Princeton came out of the break on a 17-0 run in the first five minutes, completed the quarter up 22 and coasted in the fourth stanza for a convincing 21-point victory over the Big Red.
Leslie Robinson had 16 points and Bella Alarie scored 13, while Gabrielle Rush continued her hot hand in league play with 75 percent three point shooting and 11 points. Cornell’s Samantha Widmann, from nearby Lawrenceville, led the Big Red with 17 points and seven rebounds.
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.