Three weeks ago, the Cornell men lost to Princeton at the buzzer after leading by 18 with 16 minutes left. Sunday against Brown, the same thing nearly happened for the Big Red.
But this time, it ended differently.
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.
Announcers and writers around the nation focused a lot of attention to the 600-plus days between games for the Ivy League. While many expected the teams to be a bit rusty out of the gates, the Ancient Eight acquitted itself quite well in the season’s first week.
Thirteen of the league’s 16 teams had at least one win, with the Princeton and Columbia women notching three victories each. The Brown men almost upset No. 19 UNC without their top player, and the Princeton men just missed out on winning the Asheville Championship.
Check out some of the highlights from a very successful and welcome week of Ivy hoops:
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.
As Ivy League basketball emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, new opportunities abound for new and returning Ivy players, coaches and even windows: