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.
Another day, another piece of Ancient Eight breaking news.
After Friday’s announcement of Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith’s retirement at season’s end, Monday afternoon brought surprise news of Penn’s suspension of all of the team’s juniors and seniors for violation of university policy. The specific policy was not disclosed, but the infraction will cost each of the nine upper-class students four games. Since suspending the entire group would leave the Quakers with only eight true first-years and sophomores, none with any collegiate experience, the Red & Blue have elected to spread the penalties over the team’s first eight regular-season contests.
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.
Although missing out on a Ivy League championship three-peat, the Penn women’s team had another great year in 2017-2018. The Quakers (22-9 overall, 11-3 Ivy), which ended the season first in the Big Five, second in the Ancient Eight’s regular season and runner-up in the Ivy Tournament, finished with its fifth straight year of 20+ total wins and 11 or more league victories. While missing out on the NCAA Tournament, Penn beat Albany in the first round of the WNIT before losing 53-48 at St. John’s in the round of 32. The Red & Blue will enter the 2018-2019 season without 3/5th of its starting lineup, looking to reload as it attempts to get to the post season for the seventh straight year.
Penn had one of the top defenses in the nation, holding teams to 54.9 points a game with 35.4 percent shooting from the field and a 31.2 percent three point rate. The team averaged a conference best 5.8 blocks per game and 37.8 offensive rebounding percentage, while having the league’s second best defensive rebounding rate of 69.6 percent. The Quakers outscored its opponents by 10.6 points a game, but struggled with 38.3 percent shooting from the field (7th in the Ivy League) and 33.2 percent from three (4th in the IL). If Penn hopes to dethrone Princeton from the top spot, the team will need to maintain its traditional defensive intensity while improving its offensive efficiency.