Women's Basketball: Crimson to be Tigers' toughest foe
The women’s basketball team starts its 2012-13 season on Sunday, kicking off a quest for a fourth straight Ivy League championship. Who is most likely to deny the Tigers their fourth ring and another NCAA tournament appearance? We break it down here. (Teams listed in order of finish in the preseason media poll.)
1. Princeton: The Tigers lost two key contributors from last year's championship team — guard Lauren Edwards ’12 and center Devona Allgood ’12 — but they return the Ivy League Player of the Year, senior forward Niveen Rasheed, and the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, senior point guard Lauren Polansky. With a new offensive system to go with its high-octane defense, Princeton is the favorite to make it four consecutive titles.
2. Harvard: For four straight seasons, Harvard has finished in second place in the Ivy League — and a fifth could be right around the corner. Its hopes of knocking off the Tigers rest with Temi Fagbenle, a 6-foot-4-inch star who played for Britain at the London Olympics but was declared ineligible by the NCAA last season. With Fagbenle in the lineup this year alongside top returning scorer Christine Clark, the Crimson will be potent.
3. Yale: The Bulldogs bring back almost all their contributors from a team that went 8-6 last season and took third in the league. They will likely continue to play an up-tempo style of basketball that features aggressive defense — Yale forced more than 20 turnovers per game last year, the most in the league — but leaves the team out of position when other teams can handle the pressure; opponents shot a league-high 42.5 percent against the Bulldogs last year.
4. Penn: After a hair-raising 2011-12 season in which half of their games were decided by two possessions or less, the Quakers will look to improve on last year's fifth-place finish. Alyssa Baron, the 2010-11 Rookie of the Year, scored 16.9 points per game last season — but she needed a lot of tries to get there, making only 36 percent of her shots from the floor and posting more turnovers than assists.
5. Brown: The Bears actually gave Princeton its toughest Ivy League game of the 2011-12 season, a 57-45 loss at Jadwin Gymnasium, and finished with the conference's second-best average scoring margin at plus-2.5 despite a fourth-place finish. Leading scorer and rebounder Sheila Dixon will return to lead Brown in her senior season.
6. Cornell: After winning a total of five conference games in two years, Cornell took a big step forward by winning six last season. With most of their key players returning — including Allyson DiMango and Courtney Bradford, two of the top four rebounders in the league — the Big Red can dream of making another leap into the top half of the league.
7. Dartmouth: Once the league's preeminent team, the Big Green has fallen on hard times lately, finishing seventh in each of the last two seasons. Dartmouth was outscored by 12 points per game in 2011-12, well below the top six. Leading scorer Faziah Steen will return for her senior year; she was a reasonably efficient shooter but needs to improve her handle, as she had nearly twice as many turnovers as assists.
8. Columbia: Not much in 2011-12 went right for the Lions, who finished with a 3-25 record and placed last in the Ivy League in almost every major statistical category. Columbia — which did not win a single game on the road last year — will rely on its frontcourt, including top scorer Tyler Simpson, as not a single Lion made even 30 percent of her three-point attempts.
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