The Dow Jones Industrial Average and NASDAQ were looking up at the end of last week, but more importantly, it’s a good time to be bullish about Ivy League basketball. There’s going to be an actual Ivy hoops season this year, and we’re here to herald its return together. Here’s how Ivy Hoops Online contributors feel about some of the storylines within that greater, happy story as the 2021-22 campaign approaches.
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 COVID-19 numbers increase from early summer lows and masking recommendations return for the start of another pandemic academic calendar, the Ivy League gave fans a bit of positive news on Thursday with the release of the 2022 conference schedule. After skipping the entire 2020-21 season due to safety concerns, the Ancient Eight curtain is set to rise on January 2 with eight games – a mere 666 days after the last league games on March 7, 2020.
Former Ivy standouts’ Olympic exploits
Olympic action in Tokyo featured an Ivy-on-Ivy matchup Wednesday when Maodo Lo helped lead Germany to a 99-92 victory over Miye Oni’s Nigerian squad in Group B play at Saitama Super Arena. The 2016 Columbia graduate and the Lions men’s third-all-time leading scorer led the Germans with nine assists and added 13 points in 28 minutes.
As Ivy League basketball emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, new opportunities abound for new and returning Ivy players, coaches and even windows:
After spending the last two years at Mercer University as a graduate assistant, former Dartmouth star Cy Lippold will be returning to the Ancient Eight as an assistant coach at Columbia.
The Bronx native, who was IHO’s Most Improved Player in 2017-2018 and Honorable Mention in 2018-2019, will be assisting with development of the guards as well as scouting, team strategy, recruiting operations and analytics, according to Columbia Athletics.
“We are thrilled to welcome Cy to the Columbia women’s basketball family,” coach Megan Griffith said. “Her strong background in leadership development and firsthand experience as an Ivy student-athlete are unmatched. I am confident she will make an immediate impact on our program.”
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.
After leading the Big Green for the last eight years, head coach Belle Koclanes announced she was stepping down to become president of a nonprofit organization in Delaware. While Koclanes’s last day was officially March 31, interim AD Peter Roby has actually been on the clock since the statement was released on February 24 – 68 days ago.
To put things into an Ancient Eight perspective, it took 29 days for Princeton to hire Carla Berube after Courtney Banghart left for North Carolina and 28 days for Brown to replace the departed Sarah Behn with Monique LeBlanc. Looking at this year’s national coaching carousel, the Big Green now find themselves with the longest coaching search in the nation.
Belle Koclanes is moving on.
After eight years at the helm of Dartmouth women’s basketball, Koclanes announced on Wednesday her departure from the program to become the President of Strive: How You Lead Matters, a Wilmington, Del.-based nonprofit.
“This is an extremely unique opportunity for me to continue to share my passion for leadership development with an organization that inspired me to pursue a career in coaching back in 2002,” Koclanes said in a statement posted to the Dartmouth Athletics, noting that three program alumnae who played for Koclanes, Nicola Zimmer ’14, Emily Slagle ’18 and Lakin Roland ’16 (an assistant under Koclanes since 2018) have all participated as young coaches in Strive’s foundational program, Sports Challenge.
“Leaving Dartmouth for Strive is an inside foot pivot,” Koclanes said.
Koclanes will stay on at Dartmouth until March 31 before beginning her new position. A national search for Koclanes’s successor will start immediately, the school announced.
Dartmouth went 77-117 (.396) overall and 34-64 (.347) under Koclanes starting with the 2013-14 season, when she took over for Chris Wielgus, who became the all-time winningest coach in 28 seasons across two stints leading the Big Green from 1976 to 1984 and 1993 to 2013.
The Big Green never won an Ivy League championship or made a postseason or Ivy League Tournament appearance under Koclanes, coming just short of the tourney with fifth-place conference finishes in 2018 and 2019. Still, the Big Green were typically strong defensively under Koclanes, and 11 of Koclanes’s former players are now high school or college coaches.
Dartmouth’s other assistant under Koclanes is Kelcie Rombach, who like Roland joined the staff in 2018. Past assistants under Koclanes include Princeton ’11 standout player and assistant coach Addie Micir, who is currently associate head coach at Lehigh, and Portsmouth, N.H. native Maria Williamson, who took over at Chicago last season after five years as an assistant at Loyola Chicago and saluted Koclanes in a statement Wednesday.
“Her focus on having a growth mindset, being solution-oriented, and positive motivates all around her to act in this same way,” Williamson said. It is unique, special and why Coach Belle’s impact at Dartmouth will be felt for a long time to come. I’m excited for her to lead and develop the Strive community in the same way.”
Yale head coach Allison Guth also applauded Koclanes in a statement.
“This is a bittersweet day as I congratulate someone who is most deserving of her exciting endeavor as the newest President of Strive,” Guth said. There is no doubt she will tackle this opportunity with the same passion and character as she did coaching her young women at Dartmouth.
Strive focuses on character-driven leadership by partnering with young people and adults nationwide in schools, athletic leagues and community organizations to develop leaders, according to the nonprofit’s website.
“I’d like to thank the college, athletic department and our Dartmouth women’s basketball family across every generation and roster for the opportunity to wear the Green,” Koclanes said. “It was an honor to lead our women’s basketball program these past eight seasons, and I look forward to celebrating our 18th championship in the very near future.”
As this Ivy non-season progresses, we thought it’d make sense for us to do an Ivy Hoops Online contributors’ roundtable looking ahead to next season, assuming there is one: