2023-24 Ivy women’s media day recap and season preview

With the season a few weeks away, the Ivy League hosted Women’s Basketball Media Day on Monday, the first of two media availabilities this week. The event was hosted over Zoom for media members and is available on the conference’s YouTube channel.

The preseason media poll was released last Thursday with Princeton earning all 16 first-place votes. Last year’s Ivy Tournament winner and regular season co-champions are the sixth unanimous pick in league history and the first since Penn in 2016-2017.

The Tigers, who made it to the Round of 32 in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments, are looking for their sixth straight conference and fifth straight Ivy Tournament titles.

Columbia, which earned a share of the Ivy championship as well as a birth in the WNIT final against Kansas, edged out Harvard by a single vote for second place.

The Crimson tied for third place in the regular season and made it to the Ivy Tournament final. The season ended with a program best WNIT Great Eight appearance, where the Lions got revenge from Harvard’s overtime win in the Ivy Madness semifinals.

Penn, which tied for third and made it to the first round of the WNIT last year, was 25 points behind the Crimson for fourth place.

Yale, Brown, Cornell and Dartmouth were picked to match their 2023 results for fifth through eighth place, respectively.

#1 Princeton (128 votes)
2022-2023: 24-6 overall, 12-2 Ivy; Tied for 1st; Ivy Tournament Champs; Round of 32 NCAA Tournament

Top Returning Players: Kaitlyn Chen – Senior guard (Player of the Year; 1st Team All-Ivy; 16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.8 apg, 33.9 mpg), Ellie Mitchell – Senior forward (Co-Defensive Player of the Year; 5.8 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.5 spg, 30.1 mpg), Madison St. Rose – Sophomore guard (Rookie of the Year; 8.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 25.0 mpg)
Key Losses: Julia Cunningham (2nd Team All-Ivy; 10.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.1 apg, 29.5 mpg), Grace Stone (2nd Team All-Ivy; 10.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 29.5 mpg) 

The gap has narrowed between Princeton and the other top Ivy teams, but no one has been able to knock the Tigers off the top of the conference mountaintop. While the Tigers typically possess one of the nation’s top defenses and most disciplined teams, the offensive production has not been as elite. This year may be different, however, with a more experienced St. Rose and a six-person first-year class led by Top 65 recruit Fadima Tall complementing Chen.  The Orange & Black will get ready to defend its title and get ready to make a run at the NCAA’s second weekend with a typically challenging non-conference schedule featuring a road contest at UCLA and neutral site games in Fort Myers against Oklahoma and Indiana.

“We’re able to push the ball in a different way this year. It’s fun, but it’s been a little too much offense for me this October. I’m hoping things get a little bit better on the defensive end.” – Carla Berube

#2 Columbia (103 votes)
2022-2023: 28-6 overall, 12-2 Ivy; Tied for 1st; Ivy Tournament Semifinalist; WNIT Finalist
Top Returning Players: Abbey Hsu – Senior guard (1st Team All-Ivy; 17.8 ppg, 4,4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 34.3 mpg), Kitty Henderson – Junior guard (Honorable Mention All-Ivy; 9.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.3 spg, 31.7 mpg), Paige Lauder – Senior guard/forward (6.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 13.2 mpg)
Key Losses: Kaitlyn Davis (1st Team All-Ivy; 13.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 28.4 mpg), Jaida Patrick (2nd Team All-Ivy; 12.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.9 spg, 31.0 mpg), Hannah Pratt (9.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 24.1 mpg) 

It’s a testament to the strength of the program that 2023 Coach of the Year Megan Griffith has built at Columbia that the team can graduate seven seniors, most of whom were major contributors over the last two years, and still be in great shape for 2023-2024. As the final team left out of last year’s NCAA Tournament, the Lions know the margin for error is slim to earn the program’s first ever bid to the Big Dance. To reach the group’s ultimate goal, the team will rely on consistent production from Hsu, who played for the U.S. national team this summer and is two made three-pointers from the Ivy League record, and Henderson, who can successfully play both guard positions, as well as three key members of the recent rotations, Lauder, Perri Page and Noa Comesaña. With eight new players, including transfers from Maryland and Bucknell, picking up on concepts faster than the coach expected, the Lions will have a deep roster to tackle another tough nonconference schedule (Duke at home, Georgia and Florida at neutral site), and get ready to take advantage of hosting the Ivy Tournament in March.

“A season is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, but every day is a sprint in our program because we’re trying to get better, one percent better, gain some inches every day. – Megan Griffith

#3 Harvard (102 votes)
2022-2023: 20-12 overall, 9-5 Ivy; Tied for 3rd; Ivy Tournament finals; WNIT Great Eight
Top Returning Players: Harmoni Turner – Junior guard (1st Team All-Ivy; 16.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 4.5 apg, 33.8 mpg), Lola Mullaney – Senior guard (2nd Team All-Ivy; 14.3 ppg, 33.3 mpg), Elena Rodriguez – Junior forward (Honorable Mention All-Ivy; 11.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 28.9 mpg)
Key Losses: McKenzie Forbes (2nd Team All-Ivy ’22; 13.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 30.6 mpg), Maggie McCarthy (4.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 30.2 mpg)

Carrie Moore inherited a talented roster from retiring coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, but the former Princeton and Michigan assistant put her own stamp on a team that exceeded outsider’s expectations last season. The Crimson, which had been more of a four-guard team heavily focused on the three-pointer over the last few years, became a much more balanced and efficient unit, improving its Her Hoop Stats national offensive rating t0 44 from 112 to 44 and its defensive ranking to 81 from 157. While it will be a challenge to replace the talent, grit and leadership of Forbes (off to USC as a grad transfer) and McCarthy, the group’s leadership is confident that sophomore forward Katie Krupa, junior forward Mona Zaric (former transfer from Indiana), first-year forward Abigail Wright (brother of Princeton alum Ethan Wright and daughter of Tigers’ legend Ellen DeVoe) and first-year guard Karlee White have the ability to keep Harvard moving forward.

“We worked tremendously hard in year one and ultimately we wanted to let folks know who we are and what we are about. That has been accomplished and now it’s how do we respond now that we are no longer a surprise to folks.” – Carrie Moore

#4 Penn (77 votes)
2022-2023: 17-12 overall, 9-5 Ivy; Tied for 3rd place; Ivy Tournament Semifinals; WNIT First Round
Top Returning Players: Jordan Obi – Senior forward (2nd Team All-Ivy; 12.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 32.4 mpg), Floor Toonders – Senior forward (6.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 30.6 mpg), Simone Sawyer – Sophomore guard (6.8 ppg, 20.4 mpg)
Key Losses: Kayla Padilla (1st Team All-Ivy; 18 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.7 apg, 36.4 mpg), Mandy McGurk (8.1 ppg, 2.7 apg, 1.7 spg, 31.6 mpg) 

With the arrival of Padilla, the Quakers shifted to more of a guard-oriented team. With the Southern California native off to USC as a grad transfer year, head coach Mike McLaughlin will get back to an offense that is more focused on the front court or in his words a “Jordan-oriented team.” Penn consistently has one of the league’s top defenses and that will continue to be the team’s calling card. Offensively, the team will count on Obi to maintain her numbers, hope that Sawyer, who had 10 double-digit games last year, becomes more consistent and look for a hard-nosed floor general at the point. Right now, the coach and team leaders feel that first-year Mataya Gayle has the talent on both sides of the ball to fill that important role.

“Outside the league (schedule), I am rooting for every Ivy team to succeed. I want this league to be great. I want everyone to understand the challenges and the great contributions they (the athletes) give to the university and how these kids compete on a daily basis, both on the floor and in the classroom. – Mike McLaughlin

#5 Yale (68 votes)
2022-2023: 13-14 overall, 7-7 Ivy; 5th place
Top Returning Players: Jenna Clark – Senior guard (2nd Team All-Ivy; 10.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.4 apg, 35.4 ppg), Nyla McGill – Junior forward (Co-Defensive Player of the Year; 7.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.6 spg, 28.8 mpg), Kiley Capstraw – Sophomore guard (9.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 26.2 mpg)
Key Losses: Elles van der Maas (16 games; 6.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 21.4 mpg)

The Bulldogs and its first-year head coach Dalila Eshe were dealt a huge blow last preseason with the news that leading scorer and rebounder Camilla Emsbo suffered a season-ending injury. Despite the challenges of missing the team’s top player, getting to know a new coaching staff and learning a new system, Yale finished with a respectable .500 record in league play, including a thrilling overtime victory at Harvard. While the defense was solid, ranking #133 in the nation according to Her Hoop Stats, the offense was at #249. Hopefully, being more comfortable with each other and returning the top four scorers, as well as 10 players who earned double-digit minutes a year ago, will give the team the necessary boost to move back into the league’s upper division.

“We’re in an incredible space. We really trust each other; we understand each other very well in the player-coach relationship and they know my expectations. Once the foundation has been laid and they understand expectations, now we can amp it up a little bit, and that’s what we’ve been doing this year.” – Dalila Eshe

#6 Brown (42 votes)
2022-2023: 11-15 overall, 4-10 Ivy; Sixth place
Top returning players – Grace Arnolie – Junior guard (Honorable Mention All-Ivy; 11.5 ppg, 2.1 apg, 1.9 spg, 27.3 mpg), Kyla Jones – Senior guard (16.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.7 spg, 31.5 mpg), Isabella Mauricio – Junior guard (11.5 ppg, 26.6 mpg)
Key losses: none

Coach Monique LeBlanc has been methodical in her rebuilding of the Brown program, moving from six to 11 total wins and one to four conference victories in her first two competitive seasons. In addition, the offense improved its Her Hoop Stats offensive rating from #325 to 272 and its defensive ranking went from #322 to #206 (its best since #202 in 2016-2017). With the top eight scorers returning, a collective goal will be to build on the 46.7% two-point rate, while greatly improving the 29.2% three-point shooting. The biggest jump, according to the coach, will need to be on rebounding, since Bruno was #343, nationally, in total rebounding rate, #347 in defensive rebounding rate and #316 in offensive rebounding rate. No matter the head coach, defense and rebounding have been perennial concerns at Brown. Until those issues are consistently solved, it will be tough for the Bears to break into the top part of the league.

“In this league, the top four teams that represented the Ivy League in Ivy Madness were also the top four defenses in the league. For us, that has been our focus. We know that we need to be great on that end of the floor and we’ve been working really hard to continue improving there.” – Monique LeBlanc

#7 Cornell (39 votes)
2022-2023 10-17 overall, 3-11 Ivy; Seventh place
Top returning players: Emily Pape – Sophomore forward (11.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 26.1 mpg), Kaya Ingram – Senior guard (8.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, 26.9 mpg), Summer Parker-Hall – Junior forward (6.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 22.6 mpg)
Key losses: Shannon Mulroy (8.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 33.4 mpg), Ania McNicholas (11.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.5 spg, 29.2 mpg)

The Big Red have won a combined 10 conference games over the last three competitive seasons and ended up behind rebuilding Brown last season.  While the team lost three starters from last year, they will return four players who averaged between 14 and 26.9 minutes a game. Dayna Smith is also really positive about her incoming group of five first-year students, led by point guard Azareya Kilgoe, who have all been quick to adapt to the college game. Cornell traditionally plays tight defense and makes points from inside the arc. Last year’s team improved its two-point shooting from 38.2% (#341 nationally) to 42.7% (#248), but its field goal defense went from 38.7% (#106) to 43.8% (#320). If the Big Red gets back to its usual defensive standards and continue to improve the inside game, the team can be in the hunt for its first Ivy Tournament berth since 2019.

“We want to make the (Ivy) Tournament and I don’t think that’s an unrealistic goal for us, if we can play to our potential.” – Dayna Smith

#8 Dartmouth (16 votes)
2022-2023: 2-26 overall, 0-14 Ivy; Eighth place
Top returning players: Victoria Page – Junior guard (10.1 ppg, 1.8 apg, 25.9 mpg), Mekkena Boyd – Senior guard (8.3 ppg) Mia Curtis – Senior guard (7.7 ppg)
Key losses: Emma Koch (4.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 22.6 mpg)

After two seasons with a combined 5-49 record and two conference wins, the Big Green moved on from Adrienne Shibles and welcomed Linda Cimino, who has rebuilt programs at Caldwell, Binghamton and St. Francis (Brooklyn). Dartmouth’s new leader is an “old-school coach” who prefers to play an inside-out game over a guard-centered team. Fortunately, she has seen great progress from 6-foot-4 junior Doreen Ariik and 6-foot-3 sophomore Clare Meyer and feels they can open up space for her perimeter players. Knowing that the top of the conference is an incredibly high bar to reach at this stage, the team will be developing a foundation centered on fundamentals, discipline and high energy this season.

“You have to have a positive mindset and focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. That’s where we’ve been focusing as a program. We open up November 6th and that’s probably the most important game on our schedule because that’s where we need to try to learn how to win and this team has to learn how to win.” – Linda Cimino

Update (10/18/23): The post was edited to correct the spelling of Julia Cunningham’s name and Cimino’s quote.