PHILADELPHIA - For the first time since 2000-01, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team found itself atop the Ivy League preseason poll, tied with Princeton in the first-ever, first-place tie since the inception of the poll in 1999-2000.
The Quakers and Tigers each earned 123 points in the poll, which features a select panel of 17 Ivy media representatives. Princeton earned nine of the 17 first-place votes to the Quakers’ seven. Also receiving a first-place vote was Harvard, who garnered an additional 106 points for third place.
This marks the second straight year those three schools combined to take all 17 first-place votes. Following that trio was Yale (90 points), Cornell (61), Columbia (38), Dartmouth (38), and Brown (33).
This is the third time Penn has been picked atop the Ivy preseason poll. The Quakers were selected to finish first in each of the poll's first two seasons where they eventually finished second in 1999-2000 and won the program's first-ever Ivy championship in 2000-01. Last year, Penn was picked to finish third with 98 points but ended up taking the Ivy title home at season’s end.
Under sixth-year head coach Mike McLaughlin, the Quakers return 10 letterwinners from the title-winning squad — including Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Sydney Stipanovich and second-team All-Ivy recipient Kara Bonenberger — and bring in five new members. Penn returns three starters from last year, but will also have to replace the reigning Ivy League and Big 5 Player of the Year and the program’s second all-time leading scorer, Alyssa Baron.
The Quakers’ 22 wins matched the highest total in program history and their 12 Ivy victories tied the program’s second-highest total. The team's 10 non-league wins broke the school record of nine, set in 1999-00. In the last two years, Penn has logged 40 wins, tied for the best two-year total in the program’s history with the 1999-2001 campaigns.
Just four years ago, Penn was picked to finish last, but has improved its win total each season under McLaughlin.
The Quakers will kick off the 2014-15 season on Friday, Nov. 14 against Tennessee in Knoxville. The Lady Vols are expected to be ranked in the Top 5 when the two teams tip off at 7 p.m.
Penn will take the court at The Palestra for the first time on Wednesday, Nov. 19 against La Salle in the team’s home and Big 5 opener. The Quakers will also unveil the 2013-14 Ivy League championship banner prior to the game.
Ivy League play for the Quakers begins Jan. 10 against Princeton.
2014-15 Ivy Preseason Poll
1. Princeton (9) 123
1. Penn (7) 123
3. Harvard (1) 106
4. Yale 90
5. Cornell 61
6. Columbia 38
6. Dartmouth 38
8. Brown 33