Ivy League tournament puts less emphasis on regular season


For the past few years Princeton coach Courtney Banghart was nervous before the Penn game.  

The Ivy League championship had come down to those two teams and losing the first one of their two meetings in early January would leave little margin of error for the rest of the 14-game conference season. Now with the league holding its first-ever postseason tournament, losing the opener to Penn on Saturday isn't as bad as it used to be. Well of course except for losing to your rival that is.  

"You got two chances and they knock you out once, you're playing behind the whole rest of the year and someone knocks them off and all that crap," Banghart said after the 62-57 loss to their rival. "I said before the game to Mike (McLaughlin) I haven't been so unnervous for an Ivy League basketball game in 20 years."  

Both coaches love the idea of the postseason tournament, which will be held at the historic Palestra in March with the top four teams playing in it. Even though Saturday's game may not have had the postseason implications of previous years, the rivalry is still flourishing.  

"It's just different, but I don't think it makes it any less special than it is," Penn coach McLaughlin said. "This was a really important game — it's been for both of us — I think it took away the onus of this is something you have to get, this is important, her and I did talk about that, but every conference is like that, they have playoffs, but that doesn't take away what's important."  

The postseason tournament also gives hope to all the teams in the league. One bad weekend won't destroy postseason aspirations.  

"The tournament allows a little room for error early," first-year Columbia coach Megan Griffith said. "It allows teams that are maturing the chance to do that. You hope you're playing your best basketball in March and this allows you to have potentially one bad weekend early on."  

Griffith played at Columbia and also was an assistant at Princeton for the last few years when they dominated the league. She doesn't see this year's Ivy League being a one-team race.  

"I don't think .500 would be a terrible record in our league this season," she said. "Nobody's going to be perfect. I think honestly this season a team that goes .500 has a chance to be fourth place or tied for it."  

Penn has the best shot at running through the league as the Quakers return all five starters from last season's championship team. Yet, they will face potential challenges from Princeton and Harvard, which went 11-1 in the non-conference season and is led by two stellar freshmen.  

The Crimson won their first league game by five points over rival Dartmouth.  

The rest of the Ivy League gets underway next weekend.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

New Yank gets No. 29, and lesson in protocol
New Yank gets No. 29, and lesson in protocol

The symmetry was too hard for Todd Frazier, the grown-up freckle-faced kid from Toms River, New Jersey, to ignore. When Frazier was called up by the Cincinnati Reds in 2011, he was given the uniform No. 21 — the same number worn by Paul O’Neill, the fiery outfielder who helped the Reds win the 1990 World Series before he was traded to the...
Round Rock Express rally falls short in Fresno

Despite scoring five runs in the final three innings, the Round Rock Express fell for the second straight game against the Fresno Grizzlies, 8-7, in California on Saturday. The Express (45-55) scored two runs in the ninth to pull within a run, but three straight strike outs by Jordan Jankowski ended the game. It was Jankowski’s eighth save of...
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield: No Perine, Mixon or Westbrook? No problem
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield: No Perine, Mixon or Westbrook? No problem

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield quickly was checking off the names as if he were giving a presentation to a group of investors. Yes, he’ll have plenty of help at wide receiver. Forget the fact that Dede Westbrook, a fellow Heisman finalist last fall, is gone. There is a bevy of receivers to take his place. “I think we have multiple...
Commitment 101: 2019 four-star quarterback Roschon Johnson
Commitment 101: 2019 four-star quarterback Roschon Johnson

A recruiting class doesn’t start until a quarterback is in the fold. Tom Herman decided to start his 2019 class with a commitment from a quarterback when Port Neches-Groves signal-caller Roschon Johnson pledged to the Longhorns at the Stars at Night camp Friday on campus. Johnson is a four-star dual-threat quarterback ranked No. 14 on The Next...
Commitment 101: Jalen Green, cornerback
Commitment 101: Jalen Green, cornerback

The Texas recruiting class grew to 13 members Friday night when four-star cornerback Jalen Green pledged to the Longhorns. Green, a product of Houston Heights High School, is the first cornerback in the 2018 cycle to commit to Tom Herman’s program. Let’s take a closer look at the No. 9 player on the Fabulous 55, and the newest member of...
More Stories