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.
The Cornell men opened the 2018-2019 preseason with their annual Red & White scrimmage a week ago Friday, followed by an exhibition against their Division III neighbors from Ithaca College on Tuesday. The Red team, led by assistant coach Donovan Williams, came away with the 74-63 victory in the intrasquad matchup, and the Big Red defeated the Bombers, 98-61.
In past years, the Ivy League office organized a teleconference call for the men’s basketball coaches, a few days after the preseason media poll. At those events, the coaches would talk about their teams, as well as answer questions from the Ivy League moderator and a small number of reporters. In addition, Reggie Greenwood, the league’s Coordinator of Officials, would discuss any rule changes for the upcoming season. This year, the league decided to do away with the call in favor of having roundtable conversations with the men’s and women’s coaches.
The two 30-minute videos, which were shot in New Haven on Sept. 5 (women’s coaches) and Sept. 12 (men’s coaches), focused on the general improved state of Ivy recruiting, the difficulties in scheduling nonconference games as an improved mid-major conference, the unique challenges in playing back-to-back Ivy weekends, the importance of the Ivy Tournament for late-season competitiveness, and the significance of the league’s partnership with ESPN. What fans did not hear was anything related to the specific teams and players.
Coach David McLaughlin and his Dartmouth men’s basketball team were one day away from the start of the 2017-18 season when news broke that would drastically change their year. Star junior forward Evan Boudreaux, the 2015-16 Ivy Rookie of the Year and two time second team All-Ivy, announced that he was leaving the program so he could graduate early and retain his last two years of eligibility as a graduate transfer. If that wasn’t enough, the second leading scorer in 2016-17, junior guard Guilien Smith, was lost to a season-ending injury after the third game of the year. Less than two weeks into the season, the second-year head coach had to get his team to accept their adversity and find a way to build upon the previous year’s 7-20 overall and 4-10 Ivy records. After completing last season with another 7-20 record and an eighth-place 3-11 league finish, the coach and the team need to take a step forward in 2018-19.
Noah Kirkwood, a three-star recruit from the Ottawa area, committed on Tuesday to Harvard for the fall of 2018. The 6′ 7″ shooting guard recently graduated from nearby Ashbury College High School, and will spend a year at Northfield Mount Hermon School (Mass.) prep school before heading to Cambridge. 247Sports noted that Kirkwood had offers at Wichita State, Virginia, Texas, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Tulane, GW, and St. Bonaventure. Verbal Commits listed additional offers at Villanova, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and USC.
Oni impresses at Nike Skills Academy
Yale’s Miye Oni was one of 21 college players selected to compete at the prestigious Nike Skills Academy in late August. Among the attendees were Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval and Marques Bolden from Duke, Nick Ward and Jaren Jackson from Michigan State, Tony Carr from Penn State, and Amir Coffey of Minnesota. The sophomore guard, who was named a second team All-Ivy in 2016-17, certainly impressed those in attendance. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted, “One college player who has stood out to NBA guys at the Nike Camp has been sophomore Miye Oni. Guys love his ability to score.”
Ivy women excel in international hoops
Princeton sophomore Bella Alarie and Harvard sophomore Jeannie Boehm helped USA Basketball secure a silver medal at the recent FIBA U-19 World Cup. Alarie, who was a late addition to the team’s tryout roster, earned a starting spot and finished the tournament averaging 7.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 21.2 minutes a game. Boehm averaged 3.2 rebounds and 8.8 minutes per game. Team USA dominated the group stage and the quarterfinals. In the semifinals against Japan, USA was up 22 at the end of the third quarter and appeared to hit a wall, allowing its opponents to get the lead down to seven by the end of the contest. In the finals, the Americans were up six at halftime, but could not contain Russia’s two frontcourt starts, World Cup MVP Maria Vadeeva and Raisa Musina. With the 86-82 defeat, the U.S. missed its chance to secure its seventh straight title.