December 21, 2023 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: Breaking down Princeton, Columbia and the Ivy League battles ahead

With so many newcomers on the league's top teams, who will emerge at the top of the standings in 2024?

Highly anticipated regular seasons are just around the corner for women’s college basketball conferences, and the Ivy League is no exception. On today’s Locked On Women’s Basketball, Ivy League beat reporter Jenn Hatfield joins host Howard Megdal to preview the upcoming games, from head-to-head heavyweights to underrated matchups and potential upsets.

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Hatfield and Megdal first discussed the Princeton Tigers, who are currently tied for first in the conference and have racked up wins against Oklahoma, Middle Tennessee, Villanova and Seton Hall, among others. Though a decent start on paper, the two discussed how the Tigers have adapted after losing five seniors to graduation.

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“I’ve had the chance to see Princeton in person, I [was], as always, impressed,” Megdal said. “I was impressed in a way that [head coach Carla Berube] was not. She was upset about the way in which Princeton was playing defensively. And again, if you look at it, their opposing points per 100 possessions are 161st in the country right now. Now, part of that is the schedule that they’re playing … But how much of this is a question of, once they get into Ivy play and a lot of the newcomers especially get used to [Berube’s] defensive schemes, that’s going to change, and how much of it is, this Princeton team, which has a lot of strengths and can really score, maybe is not at the same level defensively as what we’re used to from the Tigers in the past?”

The two also discussed how sophomore Madison St. Rose has continued to grow after her breakout freshman year, especially as she steps into bigger leadership role. Hatfield also spoke about her recent feature story on St. Rose, including the mindset shift the guard has had going into her second year.

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“Last year she was playing off the ball, obviously, because [senior guard Kaitlyn Chen] is such an outstanding point guard. [St. Rose] wasn’t necessarily used to that, and so she wasn’t always in rhythm because she didn’t have the ball in her hands,” Hatfield explained. “A point guard often will get into rhythm by dribbling the ball and [get] herself going that way … and then she also had these seniors around her and sometimes fell into the freshman trap of, ‘I’m just a freshman, maybe I should pass to these seniors.’ And so she didn’t always have the full confidence to take the big shot. This year, she’s got a year under her belt. She’s teaching the freshmen, which is reinforcing things for her, she said, and she just knows that they’re counting on her to score, that they need her to score.”

As for the Tigers’ most direct competition, the two then discussed the Columbia Lions and how they’re handling their own set of newcomers and transfers alongside star guard Abbey Hsu. “Columbia is a really young team,” Hatfield said. “Megan Griffith has told us, they might not be as good as last year’s team right now, but by March she expects them to be, and that’s pretty high praise for a team that has six freshmen and two transfers.”

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“Seven seniors departed off the last year’s team; [Hsu] remains and she is filling a lot of this void. As [Griffith] has said, [Hsu] has the space now to do more … She’s diversified her shot selection tremendously and that’s something she had worked on in previous years. It’s not like she hadn’t been working on that, but she’s taken it to a whole new level. Her defense is better, her communication is better … she’s playing like a senior,” Hatfield continued.

They also discussed how star guard Harmoni Turner‘s absence will impact the Crimson, the best arenas in the Ivy League, tried out some hot takes and plenty more. Make sure to subscribe to Locked On Women’s Basketball, where we have new shows every weekday and our scouting and player deep dives show on Saturdays. For more insight into the Ivy League from beat reporter Jenn Hatfield, visit her author page and look out for more coverage of the Ancient Eight.

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