While the Columbia campus is divided over global events, most are united over the performance of the school’s athletic programs.
On Sunday, the women’s soccer team faced Rutgers in front of a raucous crowd during its NCAA Tournament first-round victory. Two days later, the Lions’ faithful (and Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris) packed Levien Gymnasium as the women’s basketball team welcomed Kara Lawson and Duke, the first time a top-25 team ever visited Morningside Heights.
Megan Griffith’s Light Blue squad went toe-to-toe with the No. 22 Blue Devils the entire evening but came up short in a 66-62 defeat.
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.
Heading into the last two days of the regular season, Columbia and Princeton were tied for first, while Penn held a one-game lead over Harvard for third place. After the Lions, Tigers and Crimson each grabbed a win, the Ivy League Tournament semifinal matchups of Columbia against Harvard and Princeton versus Penn had been set. What needed to be determined was the seeding of the four teams and the timing of the two matchups.
When the updated NCAA NET rankings were posted on Sunday morning, Princeton’s convincing road victory over upper division Penn combined with Columbia’s narrow escape at home against seventh-place Cornell resulted in the Tigers overcoming an 11-position difference from last week and taking the No. 1 seed away from the Lions.
Yale won’t be making an Ivy League Tournament appearance in coach Dalila Eshe’s first season at the helm after finishing fifth in the conference, but the Bulldogs came through on Senior Day with a 63-53 victory over Brown before many program alumni Saturday at John J. Lee Amphitheater.
The only senior captain for Yale (13-14, 7-7 Ivy), Camilla Emsbo, was honored before the game. Emsbo was injured all season and will compete at Duke next year as a graduate student.
Give Felisha Legette-Jack a lot of credit. The first-year Syracuse women’s coach brought a power-conference team into John J. Lee Amphitheater to do battle with Yale.
And the Orange escaped with a 60-58 win.
Yale (4-5) dominated the first half, building a 17-8 lead by the 3:53 mark, holding Syracuse (6-2) to 3-for-16 shooting from the field and converting on three of trey attempts. Yale controlled the tempo and forced Syracuse into a slower style of play.
It’s still Princeton’s conference until another Ivy proves that it isn’t. Our contributors are united in believing that the Tigers will stay on top in 2022-23, with Megan Griffith’s ascendant Columbia program again placing second.
But there wasn’t consensus on how the rest of the top half of the league will fill out.
Penn could break back into the Ivy League Tournament after missing it for the first time last season, but we expect the Red & Blue to draw stiff competition from Harvard and Yale in their first years under new coaches.
Will #2bidivy happen in the league for only the second time in conference history? It very well could, and the bottom half of the conference is likely to be substantially stronger this season as Brown and Dartmouth return more experienced rosters under coaches that now have a year of Ivy play under their belts.
The Princeton tree continues to sprout women’s basketball coaches in the Ivy League.
Yale named Princeton assistant Dalila Eshe as the 11th head coach in program history Monday. Eshe replaces Allison Guth, now head coach at Loyola Chicago.
Former Tiger assistants are now the head coaches at Yale, Harvard (Carrie Moore) and Columbia (Megan Griffith).
And it makes sense.
The Tigers are as close to a dynasty as one might find in the corridors of the Ancient Eight. Princeton won Ivy titles in 2018, 2019 and 2022, the last three years that the title has been contested, and have gone 40-2 during that period in the Ivy.
Eshe impressed at her opening presser today at John J. Lee Amphitheater. She gave immediate kudos to Yale president Peter Salovey, an American social psychologist who Eshe could identify with as a former college psychology major. She also credited Yale athletic director Vicky Chun and deputy athletic director Ann-Marie Guglieri on a very professional search.
“It is an honor and a dream come true to accept this position,” Eshe said, adding that the Bulldogs “will pride ourselves on putting in the work to win championships.”
Eshe comes to Yale from Princeton where she spent three seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, helping Princeton to a No. 24 national ranking and a NCAA Tournament first-round win over favored Kentucky.
The Tallahassee, Fla. native was a WNBA player with the Washington Mystics and Atlanta Dream and coached at Loyola Maryland, East Carolina and La Salle before her stop at Princeton. She knows talent when she sees it, having secured La Salle’s first-ever top 100 recruit. During her recruiting tenure at Princeton, the Tigers boasted three consecutive top-40 classes.
Eshe made it clear that she is a defense-first coach who also values the significance of a top-flight post presence like 6-foot-5 Yale junior Camilla Emsbo. Eshe knows her well, having coached her twin sister Kira at Princeton. The new Yale coach values post players who “can stretch out.”
The Florida alumna noted that in her first meeting with her new team on Tuesday night, team members urged her to help with community outreach to bolster women’s basketball attendance at Yale. Eshe also recognizes that the league has been, and can be in the future, a two-bid NCAA conference. With that in mind, Eshe wants to play a challenging yet realistic out-of-conference schedule.
Yale returns Emsbo and a large part of the squad which compiled a 16-11 record and a 9-5 mark in the Ivy this past season before falling in the Ivy League Tournament to Columbia.
Allison Guth, arguably the most successful women’s basketball coach in the history of Yale’s program, is now the new head coach at Loyola Chicago.
Guth said that her decision to leave Yale was “a personal one,” as most of the Arlington Heights, Ill. native’s family resides in the greater Chicago area. Guth herself is an Illinois native and played college basketball at Illinois.