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.
While missing out on the first Ivy Tournament in 2017, the Yale women’s team completed the season on a roll, winning four of its last five games, including victories against third place Harvard and league champion Penn. Entering her third year as head coach, Allison Guth hoped to use that momentum to catapult her Bulldogs into the conference’s upper division in 2018. On the strength of its senior stars, the tenacious Elis (19-13, 8-6 Ivy) earned the fourth spot in last season’s Ivy Madness, as well as an invitation to the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) Tournament.
After strong wins in the first two rounds of the WBI, Yale defeated South Alabama in the semifinals, coming back from an 11 point deficit with two minutes remaining in regulation. A 54-50 victory at Central Arkansas gave the Bulldogs its record setting 19th win and the WBI championship, the first postseason title of any kind for an Ivy League women’s program. Coach Guth will need to find a way to replace the production and leadership from its recently graduated class, if the Elis want to get back to the postseason and secure home court advantage in the third Ivy Tournament.
In Coach Megan Griffith’s first year at her alma mater, the Lions went 13-14 and its 10-3 non-conference record was an all-time best. Columbia faced a more challenging non-conference schedule in 2017-2018, but hoped to use it to build upon the 3-11 league record in 2016-2017. As the season began, the Light Blue & White had major losses that deprived them of a significant amount of their experience, front court depth, and three point shooting. While the coach was left with one of the Ivy League’s all-time offensive talents, the inexperience of the rest of the roster made for a disappointing 8-21 (2-12 Ivy) season. A spot in the Ivy Tournament may be too much to expect in 2018-2019, but the coach will bring in a large class of newcomers to help the young returnees move the program in the right direction.
The Lions lose Camille Zimmerman, Paige Tippet, and Jillian Borreson to graduation. They will also be without the play of seniors Josie Little and Sarah Elston, who, according to Columbia Athletics, have both medically retired. Zimmerman averaged 19.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, finishing the season with her second straight selection to the All-Ivy first team. She finished her career with 1,973 points, fourth in Ivy history, as well as Columbia’s all-time leader in points, rebounds (940), field goals made (728), field goals attempted (1,707), free throw percentage (82.6), games played (113) and games started (112). Zimmerman joined the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx as a free agent, but was released at the end of the preseason. She recently signed a professional contract to play for Kouvottaret in Finland.
Harvard Athletics announced the schedules for its men’s and women’s basketball teams last Thursday.
Men’s key non-conference games:
11/9/18 vs Northeastern
The Huskies (23-10, 14-4 CAA in ’17-’18) were co-champions of the CAA last year, and lost the title game to the College of Charleston. One of its 23 wins came against Harvard, 77-61, at Matthews Arena last November. The team returns senior forward Vasa Pusica (first-team All-CAA and runner-up for Player of the Year), junior guard Shawn Occeus (Defensive Player of the Year), junior guard Bolden Brace (Sixth Man of the Year), and sophomore forward Tomas Murphy (All-Rookie team).
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.
Although missing out on a Ivy League championship three-peat, the Penn women’s team had another great year in 2017-2018. The Quakers (22-9 overall, 11-3 Ivy), which ended the season first in the Big Five, second in the Ancient Eight’s regular season and runner-up in the Ivy Tournament, finished with its fifth straight year of 20+ total wins and 11 or more league victories. While missing out on the NCAA Tournament, Penn beat Albany in the first round of the WNIT before losing 53-48 at St. John’s in the round of 32. The Red & Blue will enter the 2018-2019 season without 3/5th of its starting lineup, looking to reload as it attempts to get to the post season for the seventh straight year.
Penn had one of the top defenses in the nation, holding teams to 54.9 points a game with 35.4 percent shooting from the field and a 31.2 percent three point rate. The team averaged a conference best 5.8 blocks per game and 37.8 offensive rebounding percentage, while having the league’s second best defensive rebounding rate of 69.6 percent. The Quakers outscored its opponents by 10.6 points a game, but struggled with 38.3 percent shooting from the field (7th in the Ivy League) and 33.2 percent from three (4th in the IL). If Penn hopes to dethrone Princeton from the top spot, the team will need to maintain its traditional defensive intensity while improving its offensive efficiency.
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).
While Ivy Hoops fans were still processing the disturbing allegation against former Penn men’s coach Jerome Allen, the Columbia Spectator broke the surprising news that rising senior Lukas Meisner had signed a pro contract and would be forgoing his senior year in Morningside Heights. Columbia Athletics posted its own story detailing the move a few minutes later.
Meisner, originally from Braunschweig, inked a contract to go back home to Germany and play for Medi Bayreuth of the easyCredit Basketball Bundesliga. The team came in fourth place in the BBL in 2017-2018 and sixth in the German Cup. The 6′ 8″ forward started 24 of 25 games for the Lions in 2017-2018, averaging 27.5 minutes and 11.2 points per game. With his 50 percent overall and 41.7 percent three-point rates, he joined Princeton’s Myles Stephens as the only two Ivy Leaguers to shoot more than 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three last year. His 7.5 total rebounds and six defensive boards per contest were tops in the conference and he became the first Columbia player to lead the Ivy League in rebounds since Jim Tubridy in 1994-1995.
Following the recent nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the Yale Daily News noted that the Eli alum (’83-’87 Undergrad; ’87-’90 Law) was once a writer at the paper’s sports department. While journalists and commentators across the nation scour and highlight his voluminous legal output, we here at IHO have looked at his writings to take a (lengthy) look back at his work with the 1985-1986 Yale men’s basketball team.
The Bulldogs finished the 1984-1985 season with a 14-12 overall record and a 7-7 mark in the Ivy League. They were tied for fourth with Harvard and Princeton, three games off the pace of league champ Penn, two games behind Columbia and one game back of Cornell. Yale won five of its last seven, including a home sweep of the Empire State Ivies and a 77-75 victory over the Quakers at the Palestra. Sophomore center Chris Dudley, who averaged 12.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, was named to the All-Ivy first team.
Penn, led by first team All-Ivy junior guard Perry Bromwell and junior center Bruce Lefkowitz, was the preseason favorite to win the conference. In his November 21, 1985 season preview, Kavanaugh wrote, “Penn finished 10-4 in the Ivies last season, and their four losses were by a total of only 11 points. If they are disciplined and play as a team under new coach Tom Schneider, the Quakers should repeat as champions.” According to the coaches preseason poll, Yale was picked second, followed by Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth and Brown. Kavanaugh predicted a similar top five with Dartmouth, Brown, and Harvard in the bottom three spots.