Ivy Hoops Online’s writing staff voted on where all eight Ivy men’s and women’s basketball teams would end up for the 2019-20 season. Our projected order of finish for the men (and the women’s rankings here):
- Princeton’s Bella Alarie completed her last 3×3 tournaments with USA Basketball with a silver medal effort in Edmonton this past weekend and a bronze medal showing in Montreal in early September. Overall, her team came in seventh place in the 28-team field.
The two-time Ivy Player of the Year, who also picked up a silver medal with USA Basketball at this summer’s Pan American Games, continues to improve her stock as she heads into her final year for the Tigers. Michelle Williams of the WNBA listed Alarie as one of the 12 potential first-round picks in next years’s Draft, while Howard Megdal of High Post Hoops had her as the number five pick for the Minnesota Lynx.
- Harvard men’s coach Tommy Amaker told Jon Rothstein that 2018 men’s Ivy League Player of the Year, Seth Towns, has been cleared for non-contact work. Towns, a co-captain of this year’s Crimson team, missed all of last year due to a knee injury sustained in the 2018 Ivy Tournament final against Penn.
Earlier this month, the senior from Columbus, Ohio, was one of 16 players attending the NCAA Elite Student-Athlete Symposium for Men’s Basketball in Indianapolis.
The Harvard men announced a challenging 2019-2020 schedule, on Tuesday afternoon, which the Crimson faithful hope will prepare the team not only for its third straight regular season title, but its first Ivy Tournament championship and first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015.
The 15 game nonconference schedule features the usual contests against in-state rivals, as well as trips to Toronto, Florida, D.C. and California. The early part of the schedule will see the Crimson facing anywhere from four-to-five top-100 teams.
- The Dartmouth men have completed its staff for the 2019-2020 season with the hiring of Steve Ongley as an assistant coach. Ongley spent last year on Jim Engles’ staff at Columbia, where he worked with the front court players. Prior to that, he was an assistant for four years at Colby College, the alma mater of Big Green head coach Dave McLaughlin.
Ongley replaces John Andrzejek, a Columbia graduate and one-time Lions student manager who joined former boss Kyle Smith’s staff at Washington State. There has been no announcement from Columbia for its replacement of Ongley.
- Princeton women’s coach Carla Berube finished the hiring of her new staff, with the announcement of Helen Tau as director of basketball operations. Tau, a 2014 graduate of the University of Texas who was a walk-on in her senior year, spent 2014-2016 as a graduate assistant for the Longhorns and then worked for Georgetown as director of video operations the last two seasons.
Tau replaces Jessica Imhof, who went to the University of North Carolina to join former Tigers coach Courtney Banghart.
Harvard men’s basketball post-season banquet:
MVP – Bryce Aiken; Defensive Player of the Year – Justin Bassey
2019-2020 Captains – Seth Towns and Henry Welsh
Harvard women’s basketball post-season banquet:
Co-MVP – Katie Benzan and Madeline Raster; Defensive Player of the Year – Nani Redford; Most Improved Player – Rachel Levy
Brown women’s basketball post-season banquet:
MVP – Shayna Mehta; Most Improved Player – Haley Green
Princeton women’s basketball names Bella Alarie and Taylor Baur co-captains for the 2019-2020 season. Coach Courtney Banghart discussed the two athletes, as well as their goals of another Ivy title and a Sweet 16 run, in the season-ending episode of The Court Report.
Yale coach James Jones just missed out on the St. John’s coaching job, but he did win the 2019 Ben Jobe Award, given by CollegeInsider.com to the top minority coach in Division I basketball.
Penn senior Princess Aghayere was named one of six recipients of the President’s Engagement Prize by university President Amy Gutmann. Awarded annually, the Prizes empower Penn students to design and undertake post-graduation projects that make a positive, lasting difference in the world. Each Prize-winning project will receive $100,000, as well as a $50,000 living stipend per team member. Student recipients will spend the next year implementing their projects.
Aghayere was chosen for her work with Rebound Liberia, which uses basketball as a tool to bridge the literacy gap between men and women and as a mechanism for youth to cope with the trauma and stress of daily life in post-conflict Liberia.
With Stone Gettings transferring from Cornell, expectations went from a possible contender to a team that may not even get 10 wins. But despite not getting into the Ivy League Tournament, the Big Red had a pretty solid season and they far surpassed their expectations. Matt Morgan was still Matt Morgan, but forwards Jimmy Boeheim and Josh Warren stepped it up and each had big roles as secondary scorers while seniors Steven Julian and Joel Davis anchored the defense. The team played some great games, including almost-upsets over Yale and Syracuse and a sweep of Harvard.
A lot of Cornell’s problem throughout the season was poor rebounding. The Big Red could hold teams to 35-45 percent from the field most nights, yet still lose. For context, they were 352nd out of 353 Division I teams in offensive rebound percentage.
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.
Eight thoughts on the Ivy men’s basketball, which, per KenPom, gave us the highest percentage of games decided by three or fewer points or in overtime in all of Division I for the second straight season:
Crimson are No. 1 for a reason
Harvard conquered its house of horrors, Levien Gym, 83-81, after an obligatory overtime period to claim its seventh Ivy League championship under Tommy Amaker and the No. 1 seed in the Ivy League Tournament. But is Harvard a vulnerable No. 1 seed?
Eight thoughts on the men’s side:
1. Penn’s defense finds its stride
Penn held Cornell to 18 points in the second half and 0.78 points per possession for the night, an inspired defensive performance marking the latest glimpse of how high Penn’s ceiling can be when the defense is fully locked in. Matt Morgan’s usage rate was lower than usual, and Penn did a good job zeroing in on the second-all-time leading scorer in Ivy history. Morgan and company actually had a decent outing from beyond the arc (8-for-22, 36.4 percent), but it didn’t matter because everything else was effectively taken away. The Big Red typically thrive at the foul line, but Penn’s characteristically disciplined defense (the Quakers rank best in the Ivy League in defensive free throw rate) didn’t feed into that. Instead, Penn preserved its outside shot at an Ivy League Tournament berth, a feat only as realistic as its defense is strong down the stretch.