Maybe I was a little too hopeful the first time around.
So sure, miracles don’t happen. After winning six in a row and after a struggling Cornell upset an undefeated Penn squad, the Harvard women’s basketball team stood poised to make a run for the Ivy League title or shake things up trying.
Having watched the Crimson beat Cornell twice and take Princeton to overtime, it looked as if Harvard could at least pull off an upset heading into the last weekend of the season.
Sure enough, I was wrong. The Crimson fell to Princeton and Penn on the road the next weekend, setting up a winner take all matchup between the two Ivy League heavyweights in their last game of the season. Penn took the Ivy League crown but both got the chance to dance last weekend—and both lost in the first round. Harvard was invited to the WNIT where they dropped their first round matchup to Hofstra.
I’ll spare the details but let’s just say last weekend wasn’t the best showing for Ivy League women’s basketball.
On the surface, Harvard’s season went exactly as planned. Picked to finish in third by the Ivy League Preseason Media Poll, the Crimson did just that. To be quite honest—and I promise I’m not the only one who thought this—the preseason poll was pretty generous.
After dropping five in a row at one point and going 5-8 in their nonconference schedule, Harvard looked as if it would top of last years lackluster season with an even worse one.
Going even farther back to before the season started, co-captain Kit Metoyer hadn’t started a game until her junior season and classmate Shilpa Tummala had sat the better part of three years due to injuries. Add seven freshman to the mix and the fact that coach Kathy Delaney-Smith lost her two leading scorers to graduation and you realize just why third place looked really generous in November.
Somehow though, the preseason poll turned out to be pretty spot on when it came to Harvard. Sure it had Princeton taking the title over Penn, but a season removed from a 30-0 regular season and a win at the tournament Princeton definitely looked like the favorite.
If I can interrupt myself a bit, I’ll just say Harvard women’s basketball surprised most people in the league this year. Co-captain Annmarie Healy finished second in scoring and third in shooting percentage in the league. Metoyer and Tummala closed out the season as two of the best three-point shooters in the conference. Even with them leaving in May, Harvard has some serious freshman talent and a strong presence inside with junior Destiny Nunley.
The season was far from a disappointment and if anything it’s a shame what turned out to be one of the better senior classes in recent years left Cambridge without an Ivy League championship. Regardless, Coach Delaney-Smith has the pieces and with another big or two the Crimson will be back in contention next year.
I won’t, however, dwell on a season where Harvard finished second or third for the eighth year in a row. The Crimson’s season does, however, present an interesting twist as the league will be moving to a conference tournament next year.
But first a moment of silence for the tried and true regular season conference record champion.
Alright, I think that was more than enough.
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