From the notebook of IHO writer Richard Kent on the scene at Ivy Madness:
— Penn Men’s Basketball (@PennMBB) February 20, 2022
Even before the last-minute dramatics that resulted in a stunning road 88-87 win for the Red & Blue, everything about Saturday night’s game between Penn (12-13, 9-3 Ivy) and Brown (12-15, 4-8) was set up to made it a classic Ivy League showdown.
Both Tiger squads punched tickets to the Ivy League tournament on Friday evening with blowout wins against the Brown Bears. Carla Berube’s women’s team, encountering a surprisingly spunky Bears quintet still smarting from a thorough pasting in Providence last month, was shocked in the first quarter, sharing the lead at 14 points apiece after 10 minutes. No Ivy team had such a start against the Tigers this season.
Brown coach Mike Martin was 6-2 against Yale and coach James Jones during his storied playing career for the Bears, but the tables have been turned in head-to-head coaching.
Penn broadcaster Vince Curran said he and Penn coach Steve Donahue reviewed the starting lineups for the team’s Ivy opening day game against Brown 20 minutes before tip-off. Shortly afterwards, Donahue inserted first-year guard George Smith into the starting five and it turned out to be the be the smartest move of the afternoon. The Salem, N.H. native had a day to remember, scoring a career-high 23 points to give the Quakers a huge 77-73 victory over the Bears.
Playing in front of a raucous but often times stunned crowd at the Dean Smith Center, Brown almost pulled off the biggest shocker of the young NCAA season against No. 19 UNC.
Mike Martin’s squad went toe-to-toe against Hubert Davis’ Tar Heels but ultimately could not overcome injuries, foul trouble and the late-game heroics of RJ Davis. Despite huge nights from Dan Friday and first-year Nana Owusu-Anane, the Bears fell, 94-87.
Things did not look good for the Bears (1-1) as they arrived for their first game against a Division I opponent in 616 days. The team’s leader and 2020 second team All-Ivy forward Tamenang Choh was sitting on the bench in street clothes. Choh has a hip injury and is scheduled for an MRI on Monday, according to ACC Network analyst and Columbia hoops alum Dalen Cuff. With Choh out and 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Jaylan Gainey still not at 100% following a preseason injury and a bout with mononucleosis, Bruno would need others to step up if they had any hope of tackling the Tar Heels (2-0).
With the deepest and most talented roster in his ten years in charge at Brown, expectations are high for Mike Martin’s team as they opened the season against Division III Salve Regina on Tuesday night. The Bears did not disappoint, as they ran past their in-state rivals, 89-59.
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.
After a year-plus hiatus, it looks like Ivy League basketball is ready to return!
The Brown men’s basketball team released its 2021-22 schedule on Wednesday with an early-season trip to Chapel Hill and a visit to the Spring Break capital of the northeast before New Year’s Eve. Bruno will also head to the Virgin Islands before Thanksgiving to compete in the 2021 Paradise Jam. (Hopefully, the Bears have a better travel experience than the Quakers did back in 2018.)
“This is probably the most challenging nonconference schedule our program has faced in my time as head coach and I think it is well timed,” head coach Mike Martin told Brown Athletics. “I believe that the roster we have in place will be prepared to take on every challenge and grow through the experiences as we ready ourselves for the Ivy League schedule.”