The biggest story of the off-season was Miye Oni being selected in June’s NBA Draft. The Yale junior and reigning Ivy Player of the Year decided to leave school early and leave his name in the draft. Despite falling to the late second round, a perilous spot to making an NBA roster, Oni impressed in the Summer League and earned a guaranteed contract with the Utah Jazz. He is playing just as well in the pre-season and looks to be a real steal for the Jazz.
Although Penn Athletics released the men’s basketball home schedule on August 14, the complete slate was announced Wednesday, three weeks later. While the schedule is light on home games, coach Steve Donahue has crafted a strong 13 game nonconference schedule that will see the Quakers facing three Top-35 teams and anywhere from four to six top-90 squads.
Former Penn and Temple coach Fran Dunphy was honored for the impact he made throughout his coaching career during a ceremony at City Hall in Philadelphia Monday, four days after he received an honorary degree as Temple University graduated its 132nd class last week.
Mickey Crowley, long-time NCAA basketball referee and former Ivy League Coordinator of Officials for men’s basketball, died on May 5 at the age of 85. Crowley played for the All-Army baseball team from 1954-1957 and the Yankees minor league system in the early 1960s before turning his attention to basketball. He was the assistant executive director of officiating for high school athletics for more than 20 years in Nassau County (Long Island) before becoming an NCAA referee. He officiated in 21 straight NCAA Tournaments, including the 1989 and 1991 championships. Crowley eventually became the head of officiating for the Ivy, Patriot and A-10 Leagues, retiring from the Ancient Eight in 2009.
“Mickey was a well-respected fixture in college basketball officiating thanks to his engaging personality, devotion to the integrity of the game and knowledge of the rules,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris said. “The Ivy League is deeply saddened to hear of his passing and we extends our sympathies to his wife Pat and entire family.”
Another week full of Ivy news, with none bigger than Courtney Banghart’s move from Princeton to North Carolina. The former Big Green All-Ivy guard and Tigers head coach signed a five-year contract to take over a Tar Heels program that needs a new start. Per Jeff Gravely of WRAL in Raleigh, Banghart’s contract starts at $650,000 in 2019-2020 and increases to $730,000 in 2024-2025. Athletic and academic bonuses are included that can increase the yearly salary by $10,000 to $470,000.
Tommy Amaker summed things up simply when he stepped into today’s postgame press conference: “We had to do everything we could to make winning plays to win the game.”
But they did.
Harvard took Penn’s best punches in each of the two halves but proved to be too strong and too deep for a Quakers team that has been depleted by injuries all season long. Bryce Aiken, a two-time first-team All-Ivy guard, epitomized this for the Crimson as he scored 17 of his team-high 19 points in the last eight minutes of each half.
The game started out well for Penn, which used a 7-0 run to jump out to a 14-4 lead at the 13:21 mark of the first half. Harvard chipped away and eventually took its first lead of the game, 31-28, after a Noah Kirkwood three with 3:56 left in the first half. The Crimson held on and went to the locker room, up 36-34.
Seeing it through
Brown notched an outstanding 67-63 win at Jadwin Gym, hanging on after nearly surrendering a 60-47 lead with 2:17 left. Brandon Anderson was the best player on the floor off the bench, posting 21 points and three steals in just 28 minutes, his trips to the foul line and jumpers setting back the Tigers any time they got even a modicum of momentum. Brown’s defense shut Princeton down early and often, holding the Tigers to 0.79 points per possession and collecting a whopping 25 turnovers from the hosts.
As Ivy Hoops coverage dwindles across the digital world like Princeton’s winning percentage, I have returned to the dismay of many and the delight of few for yet another year of Penn Basketball coverage for IHO. Therefore, I will now channel another Philly hero, Sylvester Stallone, and pick up exactly where the team left off last season.
Following an 0-6 start to Ivy play in 2017, the Penn men’s basketball team went 6-2 through the remainder of the conference schedule to claim the final spot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament. Despite having home court advantage and never trailing to undefeated Princeton during regulation, the Quakers could not find a way to close out the game and lost in the semifinals. Heading into 2017-2018, the expectations were that Penn, while not ready to challenge for the top of the conference, would build upon their immediate success and have a much more comfortable time at securing the four seed. The preseason media poll reflected this idea, with the Red & Blue being picked fourth with 88 points, 28 points behind third ranked Princeton and 31 points ahead of fifth place Columbia.
The Quakers entered the Ivy schedule at 9-5 with highlight wins on the road at Monmouth (in 4 OT) and Dayton. However, Penn’s 85-72 home loss to Toledo (KenPom #113) on December 29th was a troubling way to enter the January 9th conference opener against the Tigers. Penn put any concerns to rest, snapping an eight-game losing streak to Princeton on its way to a 7-0 start to the league schedule. Following a loss at Harvard, the Quakers won its next four, including a three point home win against the Crimson. A controversial last second 80-79 loss at Yale left Penn tied with Harvard going into the regular season finale. A 99-93 over Brown gave the Red & Blue (24-9 overall, 12-2 Ivy, 1-3 Big Five) a share of the Ivy title, its 26th overall championship and first since 2007.
This is part 1 of IHO’s 2017-18 Ivy League team-by-team season preview. Read part 2 here.
The rise of the Ivy League is projected to continue.
The Ancient Eight is slated by KenPom as the 13th-best conference in Division I this season, just seven years after it placed 26th. That’s a quantum leap, a product of the league’s bolstered recruiting in that time frame. The Ivy hoops status quo now consists of top-25 recruiting classes, Nike Skills Academy members and expectations of NCAA Tournament success.
There’s a three-way cluster between Harvard, Princeton and Yale projected to top the league. In the Ivy Preseason Media Poll, Yale received the most first-place votes (eight) but Harvard garnered the most points overall. Without a clear conference favorite, it’s quite likely that the regular season champion will not also be the conference tournament winner, with Bart Torvik’s Ivy Tourney Simulator tabbing Penn as the favorite in an Ivy tourney as a No. 4 seed.
The leaves remain unnaturally green, the air temperature dips into the upper 70s and the Quaker football team uncharacteristically turns Franklin Field into a house of horrors. All of this can only mean one thing: the upcoming Ivy hoops season cannot be far behind. (And, of course, the Earth is going to burn like a cinder in space.) And once again it is I, The AQ, bringing you another year of outstanding Penn basketball coverage as I faithfully have for IHO since 1947.