Let’s make sure we understand the quality of the Ivy League — Columbia talks big win at Princeton — Must-click women’s basketball links
The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, Jan. 11, 2022
Happy Basketball Wednesday! It isn’t as if I am a newcomer to the greatness of Ivy League basketball — the glory of Blake Dietrick’s shooting, the all-world capabilities of Bella Alarie. Even so: the level of athleticism on display from Abbey Hsu of Columbia I witnessed during Friday night’s Columbia-Princeton game stood out to me.
Hsu is an elite three-point shooter, 5’10, but it is how she gets open that makes her so dangerous. She needs so little space because of a reach that clearly outpaces her height. She jukes defenders with small movements, allowing for just enough room to pop open and get her looks.
And notably, that didn’t stop, not from the start of the game to the finish, despite Hsu playing every last second of the overtime win over Princeton, 58-55. Head coach Meg Griffith made it clear she wasn’t going to take Hsu out for a moment.
But it isn’t just Hsu — Kitty Henderson, a precocious point guard, played all 45 minutes as well. Columbia is a run-and-gun team. Princeton smothers you.
And neither one of them leads the Ivy League, not with Penn off to a 3-0 start after defeating Columbia.
My colleague at The Next, Jenn Hatfield, does an incredible job covering the Ivy, and there’s a whole podcast she did with Isabel Rodrigues and Natalie Heavren on the chaos of the league.
But within her fantastic piece, there’s this chart. And it worries me, honestly.
Essentially, the four teams in the top 100 NET rating have all proven they can play with one another. And having seen Columbia and Princeton live, they are each, obviously, NCAA Tournament-quality teams. But will the combination of four strong teams, combined with the still-lacking OOC slates played by many teams in this league, keep us from #TwoBidIvy?
That is my fear. But what you must not do, in the meantime, is miss an opportunity to watch any of these four teams, before we even get into the intriguing Yale squad or improving Brown group.
And if you wondered whether there should be some penalty assigned to how you evaluate Ivy League numbers — something I heard at the WNBA level during Bella Alarie’s evaluations, and even as Abby Meyers considered her next landing spot in high-level D1, well, look at Meyers’ numbers at Maryland. They are virtually identical across the board.
My favorite? eFG% for her last season at Princeton was 53%. So far at Maryland this season? 53.1%.
This is not a fluke, a one-off, a league to be trifled with. The respect needs to follow. (And some Ivy teams — I won’t name names, you can look up the schedules and see — need to stop facing nothing but sub-200 NET teams in November and December.)
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