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.
Harvard junior forward Seth Towns declared himself out for the rest of the season due to injury on his Instagram page Thursday night, ending speculation as to whether Towns would return to game action for the first time since last season’s Ivy League Tournament final.
Towns said on Instagram, “I never would have imagined an injury stripping me of an entire season. It’s something you think happens to everyone else, until it happens to you. Nonetheless, I’m so incredibly grateful for the growth that has come along with it. It has tested my durability, taught me different ways to contribute to my team’s success, and most of all, helped me find peace in the midst of life’s turbulence. Though I will not be returning this season, I am so grateful to be a part of this team and excited to see how the year unfolds.
Saturday’s contest between Harvard and Cornell was the exact opposite of Friday’s games for both teams, in the sense that offense would come at a premium.
After the Crimson dropped 98 points Friday in triple overtime, they were held to just 61 points on Saturday as Cornell stormed back to erase a 15-point second-half deficit to win the game, 67-61. Despite struggling to get shots all game, Matt Morgan had 15 points, good enough to move into second-place in conference history in career points (2,162), a night after meeting Jim Barton, the man he just surpassed.
Great to meet an Ivy League legend last night at his alma mater! Jim Barton was a great player and an even better role model for us as players! Thank you for the words of wisdom! Hope to see you again soon! pic.twitter.com/D5PwRQKgpr
— Matt Morgan (@TheRealMM10) February 10, 2019
Cornell moved up to 12-10 (4-2 Ivy) and Harvard dropped to 11-8 (4-2). Cornell has already met last season’s win total, with eight games remaining on the schedule.
Minutes before game time at Howard University on Monday afternoon, Harvard Basketball tweeted out the day’s second most important announcement from the D.C. campus – for the first time in 348 days, junior guard Bryce Aiken would be on the court for the Crimson.
The Harvard men arrived for their league-opening match with Dartmouth as a five-point favorite, according to KenPom. They also had former first team All-Ivy guard Bryce Aiken in uniform for the first time this season. Neither of those things mattered, in the end (and Aiken didn’t play anyway), as the Big Green used a sizzling 68 percent shooting performance to beat the Crimson, 81-63, for their first Ivy opening victory in 12 years.
Princeton did not expect its second straight contest against an A-10 foe to go as well as the first. St. Joseph’s, picked preseason number 2 in the conference and winner of three straight versus the Tigers, promised much stiffer competition than the 13th-ranked George Washington Colonials.
Princeton’s expectations were fulfilled.
Phil Martelli’s club, behind Lamarr Kimble’s 22-point second-half explosion, raced past the Tigers, 92-82, Wednesday in an intensely fought and entertaining battle.
Harvard took the floor on Saturday night with an immediate disadvantage: already 8.5-point underdogs on the road against the Gaels, the Crimson had arguably their three best players donning street clothes. On the far right side of their bench sat Bryce Aiken, Seth Towns, and, to the surprise of many, Chris Lewis, Harvard’s leading scorer.
After earning Ivy Rookie of the Year honors in his freshman campaign, Aiken battled knee ailments all of last year and missed an extended amount of time. When he did play, it was clear that he wasn’t at full strength. The former top-100 recruit underwent surgery this past offseason, and was expected to be healthy by the start of this year. However, Aiken has yet to see action in the 2018-19 season.
It’s been an eerily similar journey for Towns, whose breakout sophomore season earned him the 2017-18 Ivy League Men’s Player of the Year award. The lanky sharpshooter scored just under 23 points per 40 minutes last year, shooting more than 44 percent from deep. His impact on Harvard’s offense was especially noticeable late in the shot clock; when the Crimson had no open looks and the clock was nearing zero, Towns would often create shots on his own via isolation play.