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.
- While most of the nation’s attention was focused on Election Night coverage, seven of the 16 Ivy teams opened the 2018-19 season. When the evening was over, the four men’s and three women’s teams were victorious and there was no need for any recounts. After noting the highs and lows for the Penn men, below are summaries for the other six squads.
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.
Some unexpected contributors carried their teams on their backs this weekend, yielding varied results.
In Harvard’s 66-51 win over Princeton Friday night, the Crimson offense flowed through sophomore guard Christian Juzang, who posted 20 points – 12 more than his career high up to that point – on 6-for-10 shooting alongside four assists. Columbia rookie guard Gabe Stefanini notched a career-high 20 points in just 27 minutes in the Lions’ wild overtime loss at Brown Saturday night, 17 of them coming in the second half or extra period. After scoring just 26 points in the previous five games, Yale freshman guard Azar Swain registered 25 this weekend, his 7-for-12 (58.3 percent) clip from deep lifting an Elis squad that had been hurting from three-point range.
1. Penn (13-6, 3-0 Ivy)
After Penn let Temple slip away at the Palestra last weekend, it got Big 5 revenge Saturday with a 67-56 win over St. Joseph’s, displaying a stout defense that had Steve Donahue singing its praises after the game.
“The story of our team, and our season, is our defense,” Donahue said according to The Daily Pennsylvanian. “Playing two bigs, with the defensive numbers we have right now … we’re way different than last year, and way ahead.”
Record: 4-7 (3-1 Home; 1-6 Away)
Rankings: KenPom No. 292 and TeamRankings No. 277
Underclass Success, Team Shooting and Improved Blocks
Brendan Barry earned the starting point guard spot this season and leads the team in minutes (34.5), points (12.3), three pointers (28), assists (43) and assists/turnover (2.0). He is shooting 47 percent overall, 44 percent from beyond the arc and 83 percent from the charity stripe. First-year forward Chris Knight is averaging only 20 minutes a game, but he is leading the team in made field goals (52) and shooting (59 percent), while third in scoring (11.4 points), rebounds (3.6) and blocks (0.8). He may not have broken into the starting lineup, but his game has helped the Big Green and their fans begin to move beyond the loss of All-Ivy junior Evan Boudreaux.
What happened last year: (10-18, 4-10 Ivy): Dartmouth was expected to take a step back after notching its first postseason appearance since 1959 in 2015, particularly after Gabas Maldunas’ graduation and Alex Mitola’s transfer. And the Big Green did, via a five-game skid in late January and early February, followed back-to-back overtime losses at Brown and Yale. After the season, Dartmouth Athletic Director Harry Sheehy dismissed coach Paul Cormier, who was six years into his second stint in Hanover. Cormier had gone 54-116 (.318) overall and 23-61 (.274) in his second stint in Hanover. The Big Green had gradually improved during his tenure, but Sheehy told the Dartmouth in an outstanding piece by Alexander Agadjanian that he wanted to see greater player development and recruiting, prompting him to choose a different direction for the program.