One-on-one with Cy Lippold '19

by Justin Kramer | 2/16/18 1:58am

21318sportslippoldcolor_tiffanyzhai

Point guard Cy Lippold ’19 (right) has emerged as a leader for the women’s basketball team, averaging 12.8 points per game.

by Tiffany Zhai / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Cy Lippold ’19 has emerged as a key contributor this year for Dartmouth women’s basketball, leading the team with 12.8 points per game at point guard, while leading the Ivy League with 5.4 assists per game and snatching the fourth most steals per game in the league. With Amber Mixon ’18 no longer on the roster this season, the point guard position was vacant and Lippold fought her way into the starting role. Lippold has made a meteoric rise this season. Previously, Lippold scored averages of 1.1 and 2.1 points per game and averaged 6.7 and 7.9 minutes per game her first two seasons, respectively. This season, she has started all 21 games, playing 33.3 minutes per game on average, while leading the 12-9 Big Green to a successful season start and program’s first ever wins over Atlantic Coast Conference and Pacific-12 teams.

When did you first start playing basketball?

CL: I’ve been playing since I was little, and I grew up playing it but I probably didn’t take it too seriously until the summer going into my junior year of high school. That’s when I really started going to training every day, trying to get better and trying to become a college player.

Can you describe your pre-collegiate experience with basketball more once you reached that junior year level?

CL: I did four years at a regular high school at a local high school right where I live. I was on track to graduate at the age of 16, I thought I wasn’t really ready for college at that time so I did a post-graduate year at a preparatory school in New Jersey called Blair Academy. Going into my junior year I started taking training seriously, so I dedicated my summers to just working on my skills. It was basically a training session that went from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., five days a week. I would go to that every day for the next two summers after junior year. The extra year at prep school really gave me more time to develop as well.

What made you choose to come play basketball at Dartmouth and what was your recruitment process like?

CL: I knew I wanted to go to a high academic school, so I was obviously looking at the Ivy League. I actually committed on my first visit here which is funny because that usually isn’t how it works. I had a bunch of visits planned for my winter break of my post-graduate year — I actually wasn’t recruited by Dartmouth until the January before coming here, which is pretty late in the recruiting process, but it worked out well. I came here and really fell in love with the coaching staff and all the traditions and the positive talk that went on during my visit, so that really attracted me to Dartmouth. After the weekend, I sat down with head coach Belle Koclanes and told her I was coming, so I had to cancel all my visits to other schools I had planned on going to.

Can you tell me about what your first two years playing basketball at Dartmouth were like?

CL: It was different. The team that I had played for at Blair was really high level and had a lot of people go to high level schools to play basketball. We didn’t really have much of an offensive system — it was kind of just go out and play. I think that going to college, I really got to learn a lot more from the game in my first two years, not just the skill component which I came in with already. I learned a lot of fundamentals and not just relying on skill but relying on mentally outworking your opponent as well. I think those first two years really helped me mentally.

What are some of the most significant differences between last season and this season that have led you to the success you’ve had so far starting at point guard?

CL: I came in to Dartmouth with big offensive skills which is funny because usually people my height, when they get into college to play basketball, they’re usually defensive specialists. I’m kind of one, but I didn’t really take it as seriously as I took offense. I think that my first years I learned that I needed to get in better shape and take defense as seriously as offense. I made that a really huge focus this summer coming in before this year, and I think that has definitely improved my offense. The opportunity with [Mixon] leaving opened up a spot which was something that I wasn’t expecting but gave me the opportunity to get the time that I got now.

What have been some of the biggest games for you this season?

CL: The way we started off the season was great. We started off 4-0 and in the preseason we were ranked at the very bottom of the Ivy League, so I think that we made a pretty big statement at the beginning by coming in and doing what we had to do in the preseason. We had a great preseason record. I think that out of those games beating Marist College, Boston College and Colorado University were huge. Colorado was probably our biggest win — it was the first time in Dartmouth women’s basketball history that we beat a Pac-12 team, so that was a huge step forward for us. I think that it gave us a lot of confidence going into the Ivy League season, then we came out and we beat Harvard University in our first game. That was a really big statement to the Ivy League that we’re here to play and we’re not ready to be put in the bottom like the preseason poll had said we were.

What goals do you have for yourself and what additional steps do you plan to take in order to continue getting better?

CL: Since this year has been the first year I have gotten significant playing time, I consider it kind of a rookie season for me, which is funny because it’s my junior year. I’m still in that rookie state where I’m making little mistakes because I don’t really have the experience yet. I’m trying to clean up little things like turnovers individually and shot selection, so things that ensure the whole team is on the same page are the little things I’m trying to clean up over the rest of the season. The rest of the team could all improve in those areas as well, but those are the things that are going to help us win games.

Off the court, what are you focused on academically and otherwise, aside from basketball?

CL: I’m a linguistics major and hopefully minoring in African and African American studies. I’m taking Latin right now, so that’s taking up a good amount of time. Aside from basketball, it’s just studying for Latin, which is a lot of fun. I’m really into languages, so that’s where I put a lot of my non-basketball time.

What made you fall in love with the game of basketball?

CL: Honestly, it was the fact that so many people told me I couldn’t do it. I weigh 120 pounds, I’m 5 foot and 2 inches tall and I don’t have the natural body for basketball that people assume you need. Growing up, every time I would tell someone I wanted to play Division I basketball they would laugh, put me aside and say, “5 foot 2, really? That’s not going to happen.” I think that’s what made me fall in love with it over all of the other sports I played — just trying to break that stereotype of, “You must be tall to play basketball.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.