The Penn women did what they needed to do Saturday and got what they needed to get — a resounding 79-54 win at the Palestra against Dartmouth.
The biggest obstacle to Penn’s women’s team Saturday afternoon may have been the cold at Dartmouth: The team bus wouldn’t start to take the players from their motel to Leede Arena.
In front of a Thursday matinee audience in San Marcos, the Dartmouth women entered the win column for the first time this since the last day of the 2020 Ivy League season by handily defeating Texas State, 62-39. In addition to ending a season-long 10-game losing streak, the wire-to-wire victory was the first-ever Division I win for new head coach Adrienne Shibles.
While Tuesday night was the return to action for most of the Ancient Eight in 20 months, it was the debut for the league’s two newest coaches. Brown’s Monique LeBlanc was hired after the end of the 2019-20 campaign, but the pandemic kept her off the court for an additional year. Dartmouth’s Adrienne Shibles, meanwhile, came to Hanover in May.
With few returning veterans players on either roster, both coaches face major rebuilding efforts and their teams were picked in the last two spots in the recent preseason poll.
Dartmouth welcomed Rhode Island, the No. 2 rated team in the A-10, while Brown traveled down I-95 to take on Fairfield, picked for third in the MAAC.
One day after releasing the conference’s preseason poll, the Ivy League moved one step closer to normal by hosting the 2021-22 Media Day for women’s basketball Tuesday. For the first time, the league used a Zoom format to create a stronger connection between the coaches, players and the media.
In Monday’s poll, three-time defending champion Princeton was again picked as the top team with 122 total points and 12 first-place votes. Penn, the 2019 co-champion, was selected No. 2 with three first-place votes and 108 points. The next three teams were close, with only six points separating Columbia, Yale and Harvard.
The Lions, which earned their first Ivy League Tournament berth in 2020 before the tourney was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, moved up to third with 87 points. The Bulldogs, a third-place team in 2020, dropped to fourth at 82 points. The Crimson, which finished fifth in 2020, received one first-place vote but missed the upper division by one point.
Cornell, the 2020 seventh-place squad, moved up to sixth for 2022 with 41 points. Dartmouth and Brown, two teams with new coaching staffs, ended up with the last two spots, with the Big Green’s 29 points two ahead of the Bears.
Tuesday’s Media Day revealed the four tiers apparent in the preseason poll. But there could be a slight reordering near the top.
The Ivy League conference schedules were released last month, but official releases of the Ivies’ nonconference slates have been trickling in and reveal that after the season that wasn’t, the Ancient Eight aren’t shying away from trekking throughout the country for out-of-conference competition. Meanwhile, the coaching carousel continues:
As Ivy League basketball emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, new opportunities abound for new and returning Ivy players, coaches and even windows:
After a nearly 10-week search, interim Director of Athletics Peter Roby hired Adrienne Shibles away from Bowdoin to become the fifth head coach in Dartmouth women’s basketball history. Shibles’s hiring makes her the second “Little Ivies” head coach to make the jump to the “Big Ivies” in the last three years.
(Shibles also becomes the second important Ivy League hire from Bowdoin in the last three months, after Penn selected Whitney Soule as its new Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions.)
“I’m excited to welcome Adrienne and her family to our Dartmouth community,” Roby said in a Dartmouth Athletics press release. “She is a proven winner with a commitment to empowering young women to reach their full potential in every way. She is well respected throughout college basketball and will provide our women’s basketball program with dynamic leadership for many years to come.”
Shibles leaves the Polar Bears after a highly successful 13-year tenure (2008-2021) with a record of 281-67 (80.7%) and 11 NCAA Tournament appearances. Her teams made it to the Sweet Sixteen eight times, including five of the last six competitive seasons, and the Final Four twice. The 2019-20 team looked primed for a run to its third straight Final Four, entering the NCAA Tournament with a 27-2 mark, but the tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.