With teams a few short weeks away from actual games, here is a collection of off-season stories to catch up on before the start of the 2018-2019 season.
The Harvard women’s basketball team (18-11 overall, 10-4 Ivy) used a 12-0 record at the renovated Lavietes Pavilion, including a late season sweep of Penn and Princeton, to claim third place in the Ivy League. In addition to attending the Ivy Tournament for the second time, the Crimson completed the season with its 15th straight year in the league’s top three and its 14th postseason appearance.
Harvard was led by sophomore guard Katie Benzan, who was selected to the All-Ivy first team for the second time and was the only player chosen unanimously. Benzan was eighth in the conference with 13.5 points and fifth with 3.5 assists per game. Her 3.41 made threes per contest and three point shooting rate of 45.0 percent not only led the Ancient Eight, but were 12th and sixth in the nation, respectively. Jeannie Boehm, a sophomore forward, was named second-team All-Ivy after averaging 9.5 points (on 50.4 percent shooting), 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game.
No. 4 Yale
15-12 Overall (7-5 Home; 8-5 Away; 0-2 Neutral)
8-6 Ivy (5-2 Home; 3-4 Away)
2-4 vs Ivy Tournament Teams (1-1 vs Princeton; 0-2 vs Penn; 1-1 vs Harvard)
RPI #125; Sagarin #135
Preseason Rank: #5
Projected Starters: Jen Berkowitz (Sr, C), Megan Gorman (So, F), Ellen Margaret Andrews (1st Yr, F/G), Tamara Simpson (Sr, G), Roxy Barahman (So, G)
1. Princeton (3-2)
Win – at Davidson, 63-57
Loss – vs. No. 24 Villanova, 62-59
The Tigers traveled down to North Carolina, on Saturday, and earned a six-point win over Davidson. With the score tied at 48 after three quarters, Bella Alarie scored eight of the team’s next 10 points as Princeton opened up an eight-point lead with over five minutes to play. The Wildcats were twice able to get within three points in the last 75 seconds, but could not get any closer. Alarie pitched in 21 points and 11 rebounds for her third double-double in a row, while rookies Carlie Littlefield and Abby Meyers combined for 24 points (6-for-10 from three) and six steals. For her effort, Meyers was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week. But Princeton couldn’t quite avenge its WNIT loss last season to Villanova on Wednesday, falling to the Wildcats again despite a career-high 29 points from Alarie and an 11-4 run to start the game.
Next Game: 12/2 vs Delaware
1. Princeton (2-1)
Win – at Seton Hall, 85-83
Loss – vs Georgia Tech, 67-56
Bella Alarie had double-doubles in both games, this week, and is leading the Tigers with 15.3 points and 10.3 boards a game. Tia Weledji is averaging 14.7 points a contest and had her first career double-double against the Pirates. Carlie Littlefield has been named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week for the first two weeks of the season. Starting wing Sydney Jordan left the Seton Hall game after four minutes with an injury and did not play against Georgia Tech. Her absence from the lineup will, most likely, increase the playing time for the highly rated first-year, Abby Meyers.
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.
Harvard women’s basketball tries to keep upper division streak alive
The Harvard women’s basketball team released its 2017-18 schedule and hopes to build on its post-season Ivy Tournament appearance and first-round WNIT victory in 2016-17. This will be the 36th season for legendary head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, who is the only coach to ever guide a No. 16 seed in a victory over a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Smith’s teams have been in the Ivy upper division for 32 of her 35 seasons at Harvard, while placing in the top three each of the last 14 years. With the continuation of the postseason Ivy Tournament, the odds look strong for the Crimson to return to the Palestra in early March.
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.
Everybody can take away from the inaugural Ivy League Tournament semifinals what they wish. Anti-tournament folks can point to the folly of a team that finished 6-8 in league play essentially hosting a squad that went 14-0. Pro-Palestra Ivy observers can point to what was a rollicking atmosphere with a mostly full arena during the first men’s semifinal. Pro-tournament, anti-Palestra fans can look to the dip in attendance following Penn-Princeton to make the case for a tourney at a neutral location more geographically equidistant for all the Ivies.
Prior to the Ivy League Tournament, Ivy Hoops Online will recap the seasons of each of the four women’s seeds. Next up is No. 3 seed Harvard. Yesterday, we covered No. 4 Brown.