Penn claims share of first Big 5 title since 2002, is back on track

For the uninitiated, I can tell you the Big 5 is a Big Deal. The Philly City Series is as important and frequently more difficult to capture than the Ivy Crown. The teams are generally better, the crowds are bigger and the games are significantly fewer. Villanova has owned the Big 5 for more than a decade, and rightfully so. To play the national champions every year is no easy feat for anyone. Since Penn’s last title in 2002, St. Joseph’s has been ranked number one in the nation, and the John Chaney-Fran Dunphy Temple Owls as well as La Salle are almost always solid squads from deep conferences.

So when Penn, coming off a four-game losing streak, faced Temple (14-3 and coming off a four-game winning streak) Saturday, a lot was on the line. In my opinion, it was a masterful performance by the Quakers. I would argue that it was even better than the Villanova win. Of course, Penn was still without last year’s leading scorer, Ryan Betley. Max Rothschild played only a few token minutes, Michael Wang does not appear to have fully regained his soft shooting stroke and the Quakers were playing away from home, before a full house, on national television. Still, Steve Donahue’s squad maintained complete control of the game. Their four-game hiatus from victory looked like a thing of the past. (I consider the losses to Princeton just a low point in a season where low points inevitability happen.)

Read morePenn claims share of first Big 5 title since 2002, is back on track

Penn’s got a title to defend … and plenty of assets

A happy crowd. (Penn Office of the President)

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.

Read morePenn’s got a title to defend … and plenty of assets

Newcomers aim to reverse lower division trend for Brown men’s basketball

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.

Read moreNewcomers aim to reverse lower division trend for Brown men’s basketball

2017-18 Ivy League team-by-team season preview, part 1

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.

Read more2017-18 Ivy League team-by-team season preview, part 1

Why Penn can do better than fourth in the Ivy League standings in 2017-18

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.

Read moreWhy Penn can do better than fourth in the Ivy League standings in 2017-18

Penn men’s basketball strives for stability and upper-division permanence in ‘17-’18

After then-sophomore guard Jackson Donahue hit his first shot of the game with 6.3 seconds left in Penn’s regular season finale against Harvard, the Quakers earned the hard-fought 75-72 victory, completed an improbable comeback in league play and secured the final spot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament.

One week later, Penn, playing on its home court as the No. 4 seed, held a two-point lead over top-rated Princeton with 12 seconds left.  Unfortunately for the Quakers, then-senior Matt Howard missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Tigers tied the game with 5.3 seconds left, sending the contest into overtime.  Princeton dominated the extra period, ending Penn’s up-and-down, yet ultimately successful 2016-17 season.

Read morePenn men’s basketball strives for stability and upper-division permanence in ‘17-’18

Ivy news roundup – Apr. 7, 2017

They call him Mister Bibbs

Tai Bibbs of West Chicago High School committed to Columbia Friday following a visit to the school between March 26 and 28.  The Lions had previously given Bibbs and offer before he signed to Drake.  After Drake’s coach resigned, Bibbs was given his release and Columbia won out over Dartmouth, Lafayette, Fordham, Rice, Cal-Davis, Loyola, New Mexico State, Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne and Toledo.  The 6′ 3″ two-star combo guard, who was named the captain of the Chicago Daily Herald DuPage All-Area Boys Basketball Team, averaged 26.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals a game, while connecting on 74 made three-pointers and 77 percent of his free throws.  Bibbs, who follows Mike Smith to Columbia from the Land of Lincoln, is another strong addition to a Lions recruiting class that already has Jaron Faulds, Gabriele Stefanini, Randall Brumant, Myles Hanson and Jake Klores.

Aston recognized

In time for the conclusion of Women’s History Month and the Women’s NCAA Tournament, the Human Rights Campaign discussed five LGBTQ players and coaches who have courageously chosen to be open and authentic in their sexual identity.  One of these athletes is Cornell senior Nicholle Aston.  The suburban Los Angeles native ended her Big Red basketball career in the top 16 in field-goal percentage, made field goals, points, total rebounds, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, blocks, games played and games started.  More importantly, though, has been her volunteer work as Education and Advocacy Intern at Cornell’s LGBT Resource Center and President of the school’s chapter of Athlete Ally.  With the support of coaches, teammates and allies, Aston has grown into a leader on and off the court, making the entire East Hill community a stronger and more accepting place.

Read moreIvy news roundup – Apr. 7, 2017