Ivy Madness reporter’s notebook: Days 1 & 2

Ivy Madness became Ivy Gladness for Princeton women’s basketball after its 72-67 Ivy League Tournament semifinal win over Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion. (photo by Erica Denhoff)

“As we battle in the WBCA (Women’s Basketball Coaches Association), they’re always talking about “create this environment.”  Any time I talk equity with anyone, they always say there’s more pressure on a man because the gyms are full, and the bands are playing.  The opposite is true.  It’s much easier to play in a (packed) venue like this.  It’s very, very hard for women all over the country and play in empty gyms without bands, fighting their schools for support to get the bands there and to get the cheerleaders there.  There’s been huge growth at Harvard, but there’s such a long way to go.  It’s really wonderful for the athletes to play in this kind of venue and it’s fun to watch as well.” – soon-to-be retiring Harvard women’s coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, talking about the boisterous atmosphere during her team’s 72-67 loss to No. 1 seed Princeton

Some random thoughts after two great days at the 2022 Ivy League Tournament:

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Princeton men top Harvard in final seconds to clinch share of Ivy League title

Ivy Player of the Year candidate Tosan Evbuomwan hit a game-winning left-handed layup with 4.8 seconds left to clinch a share of Princeton’s second Ivy League title in 10 seasons under coach Mitch Henderson Sunday. (photo by Erica Denhoff)

The Princeton Tigers clinched a share of the Ivy League championship with a heart-stopping 74-73 victory over the Harvard Crimson at Lavietes Pavilion Sunday afternoon. The title is the second in coach Mitch Henderson’s career following the undefeated Ivy season in 2017.

 

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Princeton men notch Senior Night win versus Harvard, 74-67

Princeton senior guard Jaelin Llewellyn scored a season-high 29 points on 10-for-18 shooting and added six rebounds and three assists versus just one turnover in the Tigers’ Senior Night win over Harvard. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

Princeton-Harvard matchups in the Tommy Amaker era are usually exciting, closely fought contests, often with title or tournament implications for both teams.

For tonight’s Senior Night celebration, fans were invited back to the arena to bid fond farewell to an amazing group of players who were adversely affected by the COVID-19-imposed restrictions on their college careers: Ethan Wright, Drew Friberg, Jaelin Llewellyn, Elijah Barnes, Max Johns and Charlie Bagin.

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Yale men notch second three-point victory over Harvard in five days

Sharpshooting Yale senior guard Azar Swain (5) hit just one three-pointer in two games against Harvard the past five days. But the Bulldogs’ defense propelled them past their archrivals for three-point victories in both contests.  (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

Entering this month, Yale had gone nearly six years without beating Harvard in the regular season.

Now they’ve pulled it off twice in five days.

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Undermanned Harvard men lose at UMass, 87-77

The addition of starting forward Kale Catchings to Harvard’s already sizeable frontcourt disabled list proved too much, as UMass defeated Harvard, 87-77, at the Mullins Center on Saturday afternoon.

Facing a Minutemen squad that lives and dies at the three point line, Tommy Amaker, whose Crimson (5-4) have been without the services of forwards Mason Forbes, Justice Ajogbor and Bennett Pitcher for the first part of the season, opted to use highly touted rookie wing Louis Lesmond in place of Catchings and go with a four-guard lineup.

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Ivy League men’s basketball Media Day roundup

Two days after the Media Day for Ivy women’s hoops, the men had their turn at the virtual podium.  A day prior, the results of the preseason poll were released.  While five different teams earned top votes, the overall totals showed no changes from the last day of competition in 2020.

Yale, two-time defending Ivy champion, was again picked to come in first with 115 points and seven first-place votes.  Harvard, the 2019 co-champion, was close behind, tallying 110 points and four first-place votes.  Princeton, the 2017 title winner, closed out the top tier with 108 points and two first-place votes.

Penn, the 2018 co-champion, secured the last slot in the upper division with 93 points and two first-place selections.  Brown, which last held the title in 1986, again found itself behind the Quakers for fifth place with 79 points and a pair of title votes.

Dartmouth, which last entered the winner’s circle in 1959, was tabbed in the six slot with 43 points, four points more than Cornell, which last held the top spot in the Sweet Sixteen season of 2010.  Columbia, the 1968 champion, was projected to finish last with 25 points.

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Ivy hoops roundup – Hard roads, new hardwood and a Hamburger

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:

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Harvard returns favor versus Princeton with one-point win

Princeton and Harvard have matched up quite evenly this season. Each team has scored the same number of points as the other and, after last night’s contest at Lavietes Pavilion, each has a one point win at home. The rubber match, if it happens, will also take place at Lavietes during the Ivy League Tournament next month.

Last evening’s affair, while hardly an aesthetic success, was an intense, physical battle that was not resolved until the final buzzer sounded on a 61-60 Harvard victory.

The Tigers were minus starting forward Ryan Schwieger due to illness. His status for tonight’s game at Dartmouth is unknown. Jaelin Llewellyn picked up the scoring slack for Princeton, exploding for 14 of the first 16 points and a total of 17 for the half.

Princeton made a nice five-minute run late in the half to grab a nine-point lead. Stubbornly, the Crimson clawed back to cut the Tigers’ margin to 34-30 at the half.

Both teams ramped up the defensive pressure in the second half. Mason Forbes, in particular, stepped for the Crimson as Chris Lewis spent more than half the game on the bench. Forbes did a great job defending the paint, contributing seven rebounds and 11 points in 22 minutes.

Mason Forbes was the KenPom game MVP of Harvard’s 61-60 win over Princeton Friday night, posting 11 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and two assists. | Photo by Erica Denhoff

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What should we expect from Harvard this year?

Last year’s season was a mixed bag for the Crimson. The team emerged from spotty non-conference play to dominate the Ancient Eight, going 12-2 and sharing the conference title with the Quakers. Of course, Penn would go on to defeat Harvard in the conference tournament and earn the most coveted prize: a trip to March Madness.

The Quakers undoubtedly benefited from playing the conference tourney on their home floor, a built-in advantage that executive director Robin Harris has decided is worth the trade-off of hosting the Ivy League Tournament at the largest and most historic venue that the conference has to offer. However, while Crimson fans might be apt to cry foul, there is reasonable evidence that Penn was indeed the best team in the Ivy League.

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Harvard men’s basketball brings in another strong recruiting class

Despite having ups and downs during its non-conference schedule, the Harvard men’s basketball team (18-14 overall, 12-2 Ivy) played consistently great defense (Adjusted Efficiency of 98.3; 55th in the nation). In conference action, the team was able to solidify its rotation, improve its outside shooting (three-point percentage increased from 30.0 to 42.2 percent), and weather a major injury to its leading player to win a share of the regular season title and claim the league’s top seed heading into the Ivy Tournament. A road game with co-champion Penn and an injury to the Ivy Player of the Year late in the second half may have been the only things keeping the Crimson from winning Ivy Madness. With a healthier 2018-19, Harvard will look to stay on top of the Ancient Eight and return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.

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