Two weeks into the Ivy season, the league standings couldn't be looking any rosier for the Crimson.
Harvard (9-5, 3-0 Ivy) is all alone at the top of the standings going into a two-week layoff.
Sophomore point guard Jenn Monti was fittingly named Ivy League player of the week after leading the Crimson to victories over Yale and Brown this past weekend. Her 14 assists against Yale - a Harvard single-game record - and her 63.0 shooting percentage against the Bulldogs and the Bears this past weekend kept either of the games from being close.
Though Harvard has performed well thus far, the toughest part of its schedule is yet to come. Seven of the Crimson's remaining eleven games are on the road, and with Penn, Dartmouth, and Cornell within striking distance of Harvard, its lead is by no means secure.
The Quakers (9-5, 1-0 Ivy) appear to the toughest obstacle in Harvard's way. Penn, picked to finished first this year, features junior forward Diana Caramanico, the No. 2 scorer in the nation with a 26.3 points-per-game average. Caramanico's 41 points in an 83-73 over Lafayette tied a school record.
Senior guard Mandy West has also been a clutch performer for the Quakers this season. In Penn's first league game of the season against Princeton, West scored 30 points and dished out seven assists. In the last 1:35 of the game, West hit 9-of-10 shots from the free throw line to secure a 92-82 victory.
Despite playing a relatively difficult schedule--including games against cross-town rivals St. Joseph's and Villanova, both ranked among the top 30 in the country--Penn has maintained a solid overall record. The Quakers were terribly overmatched by the Eagles, who trounced them 76-47, but they managed to give the Wildcats a good run, before falling 85-76.
Princeton (2-12, 0-1 Ivy) had huge expectations going this season after finishing tied for the league title with Dartmouth last year. But poor shooting and ball control have plagued the Tigers en route to one of their worst starts in school history.
Though Princeton's abysmal record may be a bid exaggerated by its tough schedule, including national powers such as Vanderbilt, Hawaii, Arkansas, Northwestern, and Providence, the Tigers have not been handling their easy opponents either. Princeton lost to Navy, another 2-12 team, by a score of 67-63.
But despite the terrible start, the Ivy League season is still young, and the Tigers have every opportunity to turn their season around and contend for the title.
Dartmouth (8-6, 2-1 Ivy), the defending league champions, rebounded nicely from its Ivy-opening loss to Harvard with an 82-42 defeat of Brown and an 80-63 thrashing of Yale this past weekend.
The Big Green may have the best freshman in the league in center Katherine Hanks. Since opening her college career with a 30 point performance in an 80-77 loss against Kent, Hanks has been the Big Green's leading scorer.
Senior guard Courtney Banghart has struggled with inconsistency this season, highlighted by her near no-show in Darmouth's loss to Harvard. But she may have found her game again this weekend, scoring a total of 35 points against Brown and Yale.
In its non-conference games thus far, the Big Green struggled against nationally ranked UC-Santa Barbara and Boston College, but it managed to pull off impressive wins against New Hampshire and Northeastern, two teams that the Crimson was unable to beat.
Though Harvard posted an easy victory in its first meeting against Dartmouth, it will have to be on its guard in March when it closes its season with the rematch at Hanover.
Cornell (9-4, 1-0 Ivy) may be a surprise contender for the Ivy title. Picked to finish fifth this year, the Big Red is off to its best start in school history.
Led by junior guard Janice Arcilla, who scored 18 points, Cornell flattened league doormat Columbia by a 78-58 score last week to open its Ivy schedule. Sophomore guard Deborah Stevens has also been a key performer for the Big Red, leading the team in scoring.
Though Cornell's start has been spectacular, the Big Red has yet to be tested by any stellar competition this season. Cornell will have the opportunity to prove if it is a legitimate title contender when it plays road games at Princeton and Penn at the end of January.
Brown (5-11, 0-2 Ivy), Yale (2-11, 0-2 Ivy), and Columbia (1-11, 0-1 Ivy) were picked to be the bottom three teams in the league, and they have done little to prove themselves otherwise.
Freshman guard Barbara Maloni, who lit up the Crimson for 18 points last weekend, has given the Bears hope for its future despite their present struggles. The 25-6 Bear run against the Crimson in a 73-64 losing effort may have been Brown's most impressive performance of the season.
Yale's season also has been highlighted by the performance of a freshman. Guard Maria Smear has led the team in scoring since limited playing time early in the season. Her 20 points against the Crimson last Friday marks her best effort of the season to date.
Columbia, picked to finish last in the Ivy, has struggled early on. But the Lions scored a huge upset with a 75-74 victory over rival Manhattan (11-3) dealing the Jaspers their first loss of the season at the time.
Though Columbia likely won't contend for the Ivy title, the Lions have proven themselves capable of pulling off an upset at any time.