Women’s hoops week in review: Nov. 12-18

Princeton (0-2 This week; 1-3 overall)
vs Seton Hall 66-70
at Penn State 71-79 (OT)
Even with their starting lineup absences, the Tigers just missed sweeping two major conference foes this week.  Against Seton Hall, Princeton came back from an 18 point third quarter deficit to hold a 66-59 point advantage with 2:15 left in the game.  Unfortunately, the Orange & Black went scoreless the rest of the way, as the Pirates finished on an 11-0 run.  The Tigers were also up 7 against Penn State with 2:42 left in regulation, but the Nittany Lions went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 63.  In the extra session, Princeton could only manage 1 field goal in 10 attempts as they went down to their third straight defeat.

Despite the losses, Princeton received improved play from first-year starters Grace Stone (13 points and 7 rebounds in 36 minutes vs PSU), and Kira Emsbo (6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks in 12 minutes vs PSU), a 6′ 5″ forward who missed her senior season due to a ACL tear.  A Thanksgiving tournament in Cancun against DePaul (#15), Syracuse (#18) and Kansas State should continue to give the younger Tigers more experience and make the whole team stronger by the time Bella Alarie, Taylor Baur and Qalea Ismail return from the DL.

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Harvard staves off UMass rally in win before trip to Rhode Island

After leading for most of the game, the Harvard Crimson were able to fight off a rally by the UMass Minutemen in Amherst Tuesday, winning by a score of 74-71. Harvard improved to 2-1, while UMass suffered its first loss and fell to 2-1. It was the first win for the Crimson at UMass of the Tommy Amaker era for Harvard.

Chris Lewis would lead the Crimson with 16 points off a strong 8-for-11 from the field. He would also have three blocks on the defensive end but miss some time in the game as he slowly crept his way into foul trouble, finishing with four fouls. Justin Bassey also found himself in foul trouble, picking up three fouls in the game’s first eight and a half minutes. Bassey posted seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Danilo Djuricic contributed 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting, with 10 of those points in the first half.

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Women’s Hoops Week in Review: Nov. 6-13, 2018

Princeton (1-1 This week; 1-1 Overall)
The Tigers did not miss Leslie Robinson (graduation), Bella Alarie (injury), Abby Meyers (academic suspension), and Qalea Ismail (injury) on Tuesday, beating the Broncs 89-65 at Jadwin.  The Orange & Black, led by 25 points from Gabrielle Rush, 16 from Carlie Littlefield and 10 from Taylor Baur, shot 47 percent from three and 59 percent from two.

Things were completely different at George Washington, when Princeton arrived with Baur added to the injured list.  The Tigers, who beat the Colonials by 20 one year ago, could not get anything going offensively, eventually falling by a score of 64-49.  For the afternoon, the Tigers only shot 18 percent from beyond the arc and 42 percent from two.  Sophomore McKenna Haire came off the bench to lead the Tigers with 13 points, followed by 12 from first-year starter Julia Cunningham.

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Katie Benzan and modern basketball

“She’s one of the best shooters in the country.”

This is how Kathy Delaney-Smith, who has been Harvard’s head coach since 1982, has described her star point guard in press conferences. While coaches understandably have a tendency to inflate their players, this is no exaggeration. Last season, Benzan launched 220 shots from downtown, sinking 45 percent of them. Her stroke was even more lethal in conference play, during which exactly 50 percent of her 102 threes found the net.

Benzan is symbolic of the trend that is transforming the game at all levels: in the Ivy League, in the WNBA, in the men’s leagues, and in high-school gyms, teams shoot the three-ball now more than ever. What was once perceived as a somewhat selfish play is now recognized as a staple of an effective offense.

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Ivy League coaches’ roundtables: About the brand, not the players

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.

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What should we expect from Harvard this year?

Last year’s season was a mixed bag for the Crimson. The team emerged from spotty non-conference play to dominate the Ancient Eight, going 12-2 and sharing the conference title with the Quakers. Of course, Penn would go on to defeat Harvard in the conference tournament and earn the most coveted prize: a trip to March Madness.

The Quakers undoubtedly benefited from playing the conference tourney on their home floor, a built-in advantage that executive director Robin Harris has decided is worth the trade-off of hosting the Ivy League Tournament at the largest and most historic venue that the conference has to offer. However, while Crimson fans might be apt to cry foul, there is reasonable evidence that Penn was indeed the best team in the Ivy League.

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2019 Ivy men’s and women’s recruiting update

Since Ivy recruits do not sign National Letters of Intent, the Athletic Departments of the Ancient Eight schools cannot comment on student-athletes’ commitments until after they are formally accepted and place their deposits.  As a result, the following list is a summary of committed recruits for the Class of 2023 that have been obtained from searching the internet.

If any reader has any athlete to add to the list, please send a note to tips@ivyhoopsonline.com.

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Harvard men’s and women’s basketball release ’18-’19 schedules

Harvard Athletics announced the schedules for its men’s and women’s basketball teams last Thursday.

Men’s schedule

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).

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