Ivy Hoops Online contributor Steve Silverman caught up with first-year Dartmouth women’s basketball coach Linda Cimino Monday to discuss her key influences on the path to taking over in Hanover, plans to strengthen the program, takeaways from her team’s home loss to Siena Sunday, first-year guard Nina Minicozzi’s strong work ethic, how she’d define a successful first season as coach and much more:
After a historic season for Columbia women’s basketball in which the Lions earned their first ever Ivy League regular season championship and WNIT Final appearance, coach Megan Griffith has signed a five-year extension that will keep her in Morningside Heights through the 2027-28 season.
Griffith, a King of Prussia, Pa. native, played point guard for Columbia from 2003 to 2007 and captained the team for her last three years. Over that time, she twice earned All-Ivy and Academic All-Ivy accolades. Following three years of professional basketball in Europe, she joined Courtney Banghart’s staff at Princeton, where she was director of basketball operations, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
When Columbia athletic director Peter Pilling tabbed the then-30-year-old to be the team’s head coach in March 2016, the Lions had just finished a five-year period in which they went 34-107 (.241) overall and 10-60 (.142) in the Ivy League.
“This is my home and I can’t thank Peter Pilling enough for taking a chance on me seven years ago. The buy-in and investment from our administration are unmatched in the history of our program and the Ivy League in general,” the coach told Columbia Athletics. “We’ve created something special for our community, our campus, our alumni and our fans, and I know we will continue to build on that.”
Ivy League Tournament V officially started on Thursday afternoon, with the four women’s teams taking part in press conferences and shootarounds for “Live from Ivy Madness.”
This year’s edition, the first-ever tournament to take place in a suburban setting, takes place at Jadwin Gymnasium on the campus of Princeton University. While the campus is incredibly picturesque, and the athletic complex has a lot of beautiful modern buildings that fit in well with each other, the basketball arena continues to be its own unique entity.
The previous locations at Penn, Yale and Harvard had much more intimate environments, whether in the press conference room or the actual arena. This year, everything feels much larger and more spacious. I’m sure most people would see that as a positive, but I liked it more when the reporters and fans were closer to the coaches and players.
As usual, the Ivy League staff and their partners at ESPN are doing a great job getting everything organized. The campus staff are also incredibly helpful.
I can’t explain why, but there seems to be a greater security presence inside the arena than past years. There were several guards going through the media room and arena, even though there was an incredibly small crowd this afternoon. Officials have also limited access to the stairwells and have rotating staff members operating the elevator for everyone. Feels a bit odd that we aren’t allowed to press our own buttons, but I’m sure they have good reasons for doing this.
Some other observations from the day:
Our George “Toothless Tiger” Clark previews a key Monday Ivy clash between the Penn and Princeton women at Jadwin Gym:
Coming off its first Ivy loss of the Carla Berube era, the Princeton women (8-4, 0-1 Ivy) hope to bounce back at Jadwin Gym against a Columbia squad (12-2, 1-0) looking to prove it has surpassed the Tigers. Our George “Toothless Tiger” Clark previews the marquee matchup slated for Friday at 7 p.m. on ESPNU in this audio report:
That’s how long it had been since Princeton women’s basketball lost a game to an Ivy opponent.
But Harvard snapped the Tigers’ winning streak spanning 42 games, three Ivy League championships and two head coaches at Lavietes Pavilion Saturday afternoon in the Ivy opener for both teams.
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 Dalila Eshe era has begun in New Haven.
Yale Athletics named Eshe head coach of Yale women’s basketball Monday, 17 days after Loyola Chicago announced that Allison Guth was leaving Yale to take over there.
Eshe comes from Princeton, where she was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for three seasons under Carla Berube.
Eshe will be introduced at a press conference Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., inside John J. Lee Amphitheater, Yale Athletics announced.
Guth had won 99 games in six seasons, during which the Bulldogs set the single-season program win record twice during her tenure at Yale.
Now it’s up to Eshe, a former WNBA Draft pick, to build on that success.