Now’s the time of year that an Ivy League hoops slate would be revving up, and since there’s no Ivy hoops action to come this spring, here’s an IHO contributors’ roundtable pondering what might have happened in the 2020-21 Ivy season on the men’s and or women’s sides if there had been one instead of an exodus of much of the league’s top talent via the transfer portal. Behold the one-year Ivy hoops universes we created:
Yale women’s incoming class announced
Yale women’s basketball announced its three-member Class of 2024 Monday. The class consists of:
- Brenna McDonald, a 6-foot-2 forward from Natick, Mass. who was named to the Boston Globe Dream Team her senior year
- Haley Sabol, a 6-foot-2 forward from Pittsburgh who was a first-team all-state selection her junior and senior years for Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va.
- Elles van der Maas, a 6-foot-2 guard from Sydney who made the 2018 All-Australian team
It’s been a long month.
But since this is STILL March, as Jon Rothstein has noted – one without a NCAA Tournament – now’s as good a time as ever for Ivy Hoops Online’s contributors to reflect back on our favorite moments for Ivies in the Big Dance.
Years ago, back in the black and white, pre-digital ether, I attended my first Penn basketball game on a chilly, late fall evening. The Cathedral, an edifice I didn’t even know existed until I was nestled wide-eyed within its cavernous nave, was steamy and the burgeoning Big 5 crowd, restless, loud and profane. In my hand was a game program with Penn’s All Time Leaders featured prominently across its center portion.
Naturally, my eyes drifted to the sexiest stat of all: all-time scoring leader. It was Ernie Beck, 1951-1953, 1,827 points. “Ernie Beck.” That name sounded old. It conjured up mental images of the colorless, antediluvian days of a two-handed set shot sailing through the air before orderly rows of spectators wearing suits and ties. As my attention quickly returned to the spectacle before me, I recall thinking, “That record may never be broken.” I was right — until now.
AJ Brodeur will most likely be remembered for finally eclipsing this lofty personal milestone for a school with a long and proud basketball tradition, but what he really did over his four years wearing the Red & Blue was something much greater — he saved the program.
Penn senior forward AJ Brodeur set three program records in his final game at the Palestra as the Quakers easily dispatched Columbia, 85-65, on a historic night at the Palestra to earn the No. 4 seed in the Ivy League Tournament.
The Red & Blue (16-11, 8-6 Ivy) nabbed their fourth straight Ivy League Tournament berth, knocking Brown (also 8-6 in Ivy play) on the strength of a Brodeur triple-double: 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Penn split the season series with Brown but held the second tiebreaker, a better record against league top seed Yale.
Brodeur’s triple-double was the first in program history, a feat that followed two more records from the Northborough, Mass. native.
With the game well in hand in the second half, the focus became whether Brodeur would pass Ernie Beck ’53 to become the all-time leading scorer.
One could say I was born into it. My grandpa was one of the first professors at Brown’s Medical School and as a result of his medical discoveries, Brown awarded him with an honorary doctorate. He was a huge Brown sports fan and as a faculty member, he received four tickets to every Brown home sporting event and attended even if there was snow or ice. When my dad was a young child, the family beagle ran away from home and found his way onto the Brown Stadium football field during a game and started eating the Brown bear’s dog food. This was when there was an actual bear on the sidelines.
As I was growing up, we lived close to Brown and my grandma, who we were always visiting, lived one block away from Brown Stadium. My grandpa passed away four years before I was born but school spirit for Brown stayed alive in our family. One of my earliest memories is when I was about five years old walking home from synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. My dad bought me a Brown football pennant from the souvenir stand outside the stadium. It was my reward for being good and sitting through services. This pennant made me just as happy as a new Barbie doll would. Brown football was something really special and I was proud to show my spirit.
Penn nearly gave the game away several times down the stretch against Harvard Friday evening at the Palestra. But it held on for a 75-72 win in overtime that it needed to avoid a fourth 0-3 start to Ivy League play in five seasons.
Penn seemed to be on the verge of victory when an inbounds turnover gave Harvard possession down 58-56 late. With 1.7 seconds on the clock, Noah Kirkwood hit a fadeaway jumper over the outstretched hand of AJ Brodeur to force an overtime period in which Penn again built an early lead, eventually getting to a 68-63 advantage off a Devon Goodman basket with 77 seconds remaining and making hay on multiple trips to the free throw line to gain a 75-69 edge.