While the Ivy League has many big name players, some who have even attracted the attention of the NBA and USA Basketball, there are other important athletes who will play key roles for their respective teams throughout the 2016-17 campaign. Most IHO readers are familiar with the most notable players from A(iken) to Z(immerman). With a few games in the book, IHO wanted to highlight a few of the the league’s under the radar players. Some will be helpful in the push for a spot in the Ivy Tournament, while others will be laying the foundation for future glory. All, hopefully, will make a special contribution to this season.
4. Brown Bears (‘16-’17 record: 17-13, 7-7 Ivy; tied for fourth; Ivy Tournament semifinalist; lost in second Round of WBI)
Coach Sarah Behn (fourth season; 19th season overall)
Captains: Megan Reilly (senior guard) and Erika Steeves (junior forward)
Key Returning Players:
Justine Gaziano (sophomore guard) – 22 starts, 16.5 ppg, 47.5 percent field-goal percentage, 80 percent free-throw percentage, 35 made three-pointers
Shayna Mehta (junior guard) – 30 starts, 15.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 39.2 percent three-point percentage, 62 made three-pointers, 58 steals
Abby O’Keefe (Guard) – five starts, 17.7 mpg, 4.6 ppg, 19 made three-pointers
McKenna Dale (guard) – Connecticut Gatorade POY; 1,792 points, 747 rebounds, 264 steals, 162 blocks in career
Dominique Leonidas (Guard) – first team all-state (Ga.); 1,000-plus career points
IHO Brown schedule breakdown here
Gaziano and Mehta were both in the top five in scoring and named members of the All-Ivy second team. In her rookie season, Gaziano was in the top 10 of five offensive categories, while Mehta, the 2015-16 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, was in the top 15 for eight offensive and defensive statistics. Steeves, the league’s top total rebounder, was in the conference’s top 15 for six offensive and defensive categories. Will was in the top 10 for five statistics.
Oni impresses at Nike Skills Academy
Yale’s Miye Oni was one of 21 college players selected to compete at the prestigious Nike Skills Academy in late August. Among the attendees were Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval and Marques Bolden from Duke, Nick Ward and Jaren Jackson from Michigan State, Tony Carr from Penn State, and Amir Coffey of Minnesota. The sophomore guard, who was named a second team All-Ivy in 2016-17, certainly impressed those in attendance. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted, “One college player who has stood out to NBA guys at the Nike Camp has been sophomore Miye Oni. Guys love his ability to score.”
Ivy women excel in international hoops
Princeton sophomore Bella Alarie and Harvard sophomore Jeannie Boehm helped USA Basketball secure a silver medal at the recent FIBA U-19 World Cup. Alarie, who was a late addition to the team’s tryout roster, earned a starting spot and finished the tournament averaging 7.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 21.2 minutes a game. Boehm averaged 3.2 rebounds and 8.8 minutes per game. Team USA dominated the group stage and the quarterfinals. In the semifinals against Japan, USA was up 22 at the end of the third quarter and appeared to hit a wall, allowing its opponents to get the lead down to seven by the end of the contest. In the finals, the Americans were up six at halftime, but could not contain Russia’s two frontcourt starts, World Cup MVP Maria Vadeeva and Raisa Musina. With the 86-82 defeat, the U.S. missed its chance to secure its seventh straight title.
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.
Another Ivy graduate transfer
According to a March 28 tweet from Coach Shop, Cole Harrison, a 6’11” center, will graduate Dartmouth this May and seek a graduate transfer for his final season of athletic eligibility. Harrison missed the entire 2016-17 season due to injury. The Brentwood, Tenn. native notched 1.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 5.5 minutes a game over his three seasons in Hanover.
Marketing hoops in China
Sophomore forward Erika Steeves was named one of five Brown student-athletes who earned a Royce Fellowship, which will support Steeves as she works with the NBA, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), and Chinese sport officials to study the growing market for amateur and professional basketball in China.
Columbia women to go south of the border in November
The Columbia women’s basketball team has been invited to participate in the 2017 Cancun Challenge at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula. In the 10-team tournament, they will be in the 4 team Mayan Division along with Arizona State, Green Bay and 2016 national runner-up Mississippi State. Each of these teams had 20-plus victories in their 2016-17 seasons. While the schedule for the November 23-25 Challenge does not come out until June, the four teams in last year’s Mayan Division played three games in three days against each of the teams in the group. So, the Lions should get their chance to beat the team that ended UConn’s 111-game winning streak.
Prior to the Ivy League Tournament, Ivy Hoops Online will recap the seasons of each of the four women’s seeds. First up is No. 4 seed Brown.
Record: 16-11 Overall, 7-7 Ivy (Tie – 4th Place)
Ivy Tournament Seed: No. 4 (earned spot due to 2-0 season series record against Cornell)
Home 8-6, Away 8-5, Neutral 0-0
Present Streak: 2 Wins; Last 8: 3-5
After Brown’s victory at Dartmouth on February 12, the Bears were in fourth place with a 5-3 record and a two-game lead on fifth-place Cornell. With four games in a row at home, things looked positive for Brown to hold onto fourth and claim a spot in the Ivy League Tournament.
On Friday night, Penn clinched a berth in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament with a 47-34 victory over Cornell at the Palestra. The Red battled back from Penn’s initial 7-0 start, but could not counter the Quakers’ 11-0 run at the start of the second quarter. Both teams shot poorly (Cornell 24 percent overall and 18 percent from three; Penn 37 percent overall and 29 percent from three), but Penn’s more dominant inside game proved to be the difference.
Penn came into the weekend with a 7-0 record and was fortunate to escape with a split. On Friday, Brown used a 12-0 run to take a 15-point lead after the first quarter. Penn chipped away and took a two-point advantage into the fourth quarter. The Bears then went on a 15-6 run to take a seven-point lead with 4:16 to go. Penn tied it at 66 with 1:05 on the clock. Following a Brown bucket, the Quakers got an old fashioned three-point play to take the lead and two free throws to ice the 71-68 victory.