PHILADELPHIA--The Ivy League office announced the women's basketball preseason media poll, Wednesday. Penn was picked fifth with 52 points. Last year's Ivy champs were dubbed the favorite with 127 points.
The Harvard Crimson had a slow start last season before catching fire to win 13 of 14 Ivy League games to take the conference title and advance to the NCAA Tournament against defending champion Maryland.
And now the media is looking for the Crimson to repeat as the squad returns its top four scorers from last season. Sixteen media members from the eight Ivy areas voted and 15 placed Harvard atop the poll with 127 points, followed by a tight race between Cornell and Princeton (94 each) and Dartmouth (92).
Cornell emerged as one of the leaders of a tight pack that the media expects to battle for second. The Big Red posted a winning record in Ivy play and returns four starters, including one of the most gifted post players the program has ever had. All-Ivy Jeomi Maduka, a star trackster as well, led Cornell in scoring (13.4), rebounding (7.9) and steals (2.0).
Princeton tied Cornell in the voting, and have a player in the paint to rival Maduka. Senior Meagan Cowher was the League's top scorer last season and will be looking to lead the team back to the Ivy title like she did as a sophomore. The Tigers are under new management with Head Coach Courtney Banghart at the helm. She helped Dartmouth win titles both as a player and assistant coach.
In addition to facing the season without Coach Banghart, Dartmouth will also need to adjust to the loss of Ivy League Player of the Year Ashley Taylor. This means that double-double threat Sydney Scott will be counted upon for points, rebounds and leadership.
The rest of the League race shaped up like this: Penn (52), Yale (48), Columbia (38) and Brown (31).
Penn broke even in League play a year ago, but lost most of its points to graduation. Kelly Scott, who came off the bench to average 4.7 points last season, is the team's top returning scorer. Sophomore transfer Sarah Bucar will make her debut with the Quakers and is expected to make an impact right off the bat.
In sixth-place in the rankings, Yale lost its anchors in the paint including Erica Davis' 15.6 points and 8.8 rebounds. Coach Chris Gobrecht's backcourt will be tough to defend with Stephanie Marciano, Jamie Van Horne and Melissa Colborne back.
Columbia could be a sleeper with the return of the nation's No. 1 three-point shooter Brittney Carfora and last season's all-rookie inside-out duo of Chelsea Frazier and Danielle Browne.
Rounding out the list, a young Brown roster will look to prove the pollsters wrong under the leadership of the team's lone senior, Annesley O'Neal, who is the top returning scorer at 7.2 points per game.
All eight Ivy League teams get started this weekend, with five games on Friday, four on Saturday and two Sunday.
Penn tips off the season on the road at Elon in the ISES Cancer Awareness Tip-off in Elon, N.C. Game time is set for 7 p.m. Friday.
2007-08 Ivy Preseason Women's Basketball Poll
1. Harvard (15), 127
2. Cornell, 94
Princeton (1), 94
4. Dartmouth, 92
5. Penn, 52
6. Yale, 48
7. Columbia, 38
8. Brown, 31