Penn basketball's Nwokedi and Woods earn Rookie of the Week honors once again

Freshman Antonio Woods recently earned his third Rookie of the Week award of the season.


There’s a youth movement underway for Penn’s basketball programs.

Following standout weekends, freshmen Michelle Nwokedi and Antonio Woods notched Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards. It was Nwokedi’s fifth nod of the season and Woods’ third.

Nwokedi guided the women’s squad to a perfect weekend, averaging 12.5 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game as the Red and Blue logged a pair of home victories over Harvard and Dartmouth. Nwokedi was actually co-rookie of the week, sharing the honor with Columbia’s Camille Zimmerman.

The Texas native was particularly impressive against the Crimson on Friday, putting up 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds in a 71-61 triumph. Nwokedi now has season averages of 8.1 points and 6.3 boards per game despite starting only five games and averaging just 16.1 minutes per contest.

The Rookie of the Week honor was Nwokedi’s fourth nod in the last five weeks.

Despite a disappointing weekend for the men’s squad, Woods was a bright spot in a pair of tough losses for Penn. Given extra playing time in the absence of suspended junior guard Tony Hicks, the Cincinnati native dropped a team-high 12 points in Friday’s loss to Harvard before adding 11 points and six assists the following night in Hanover.

Woods’ play has given the men’s squad optimism for the future as the Quakers find themselves in the Ancient Eight’s cellar. Despite underwhelming seasons from established veterans such as Hicks and junior center Darien Nelson-Henry, Woods has averaged 7.6 points per game — good for fourth on the team — and has totaled a team-high 74 assists.

Both rookie sensations will be back in action this weekend, as the men travel to Brown and Yale while the women play their final home games of the season against the Bears and Bulldogs.

This week in ugly Penn basketball statistics

-The Daily Pennsylvanian

Another week, another flip through the Penn basketball fact book to see how historically bad some of the team's losses have been. Spoiler Alert: Things have only gotten worse since last week. 

Liveblog: Penn basketball at Harvard

Welcome to snowy Cambridge, Mass. as Penn basketball takes on Harvard. The Quakers come in having lost three straight games and with leading scorer Tony Hicks suspended for this weekend's games. On the liveblog will be Kenny Kasper and Tom Nowlan.

Live Blog LIVEBLOG: Penn basketball at Harvard

Roundtable: What does Penn women's lacrosse need to do to repeat (again)?

Senior attack Tory Bensen will lead the Red and Blue offense into the 2015 season.


When the men of Penn lacrosse won the Ivy League championship last year, it came as a bit of a surprise. The same cannot be said of their female counterparts.

Penn women’s lacrosse is an Ancient Eight institution — they have won the past eight consecutive Ivy League regular season championships. It has gotten to the point where it would be more of a surprise if the team didn’t finish atop the conference than if they extended their streak to nine-straight titles.

As the highest ranked team in the Ivy League (No. 14 in the coaches’ poll), the Quakers look to be prepared to come out on top once again, but with Princeton just behind at No. 15, it won’t be a cake walk. So what do the Red and Blue need to do to make it nine-in-a-row?

Sports Editor Colin Henderson: Penn has always been known for its defensive prowess, and given some of the top-tier players the squad has returning on the backline, this season should be no different. However, if the Red and Blue want to repeat, they’ll need to hold their own on the offensive side of the ball as well.

The Quakers were by no means lacking — by most definitions of the word — on the attack last year, and with star attacks Tory Bensen and Nina Corcoran returning this year, the Quakers have a solid base of leadership up front. But in order to change their perception as a defensive-minded squad, the Red and Blue will need some other complementary players to chip in.

This help could come from a pair of veteran players — junior attack McKenzie Hunt and former Ivy Midfielder of the Year Shannon Mangini — coming back from injury. Or it could come from upstart attack Iris Williamson, who has impressed in practice thus far this year. But it needs to come from somewhere.

Associate Sports Editor Tommy Rothman: What? "In order to change their perception as a defensively-minded squad?" If I had won eight championships in a row, I certainly wouldn't be looking to change anything. If defense has actually won championships without fail since 2007, then defensively-minded it is. To put that date in perspective, the last time a team other than Penn won the Ivy title, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" hadn't been released yet.

And the defense should once again be solid, led by reigning Ivy Defensive Player of the Year and preseason first-team All-American Meg Markham. Sure, it would help if the offense improved — and as Colin said, it's not like the offense was bad last year — but the onus is certainly not on the Quakers to make improvements. Penn just needs to keep up the status quo; it's the other seven teams in the Ancient Eight who need to bring about a change. If not, we should be discussing the possibility of a double-digit streak around this time next year.

Sports Editor Laine Higgins: For most of the Quakers’ roster winning is simply a habit. Not only have none of the current players on the Penn squad experienced a sub-.500 season, but none of the current players have experienced anything close to a sub-.500 conference record. Since 2012, the Red and Blue are 24-3 against Ivy foes. And with 11 players who started in 12 games or more in 2014 returning for the 2015 season, this year should be no different.

The veterans of women’s lacrosse are particularly impressive on the defensive side of the field, with Lax Magazine’s first-team All American Meg Markham leading the charge. The senior defense was unstoppable last year, taking home Ivy League defender of the year and IWLCA first-team All American honors.

Junior goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson and senior defense Taylor Foussadier have similarly impressive lists of accomplishments, each earning pre-season All American honorable mention nods by Inside Lacrosse. With such a loaded defensive lineup, Penn’s opponents should be trembling in their boots.

Penn women's basketball's Michelle Nwokedi takes home more awards

Freshman forward Michelle Nwokedi was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on Monday, the third time in the past four weeks that the freshman has received such honors.


Whaddayaknow: she did it again.

Following a pair of solid road wins for Penn women’s basketball, rookie Michelle Nwokedi notched her fourth Ivy League rookie of the week nod of the season and third since the beginning of 2015 alone.

The freshman forward — starting for only the second and third times of the season, respectively — averaged 15.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game in a pair of Red and Blue victories over Yale and Brown. Since taking over as a starter for senior guard Renee Busch, Nwokedi has scored in double digits three times, recording double-doubles each time.

The Missouri City, Texas, native has now earned the honor in three of the past four weeks. Her dominance in the paint has helped the Red in Blue win five of their seven conference games, a mark good enough for sole possession of second place in the Ancient Eight.

Nwokedi kicked off this past weekend by scoring a game-high 13 points in a comfortable 61-42 triumph over then-second-place Yale. The rookie followed that game up with a near triple-double in Providence, tallying 17 points, 10 boards and seven blocks in an 83-75 victory in against the Bears — the fifth straight contest in which she has scored over 10 points.

The freshman converted 83 percent of her free throws over the two-game stretch last weekend, a much-needed boost for a Penn squad that has converted only 66 percent of its shots from the charity stripe this season.

Now sporting an average of 7.7 points and 6.2 rebounds on the season, Nwokedi will look to stay in a groove as the Quakers welcome Harvard and Dartmouth to the Palestra this weekend.

Some ugly Penn basketball statistics

-The Daily Pennsylvanian

Spending Valentine's Day like everyone else, I took a stroll through Penn basketball's fact book. What came from that look through is not for the faint of heart. Here's some ugly looking stats coming straight from my Twitter account. 

Liveblog: Penn basketball (7-13, 2-4 Ivy) vs. Brown (10-14, 1-6)

Can Penn basketball get over its recent swoon in a Valentine's Day matchup with Brown? Join me and Senior Staff Writer Kenny Kasper as we give you all of the action and analysis:

Live Blog Penn basketball (7-13, 2-4 Ivy) vs. Brown (10-14, 1-6)

Liveblog: Penn basketball vs. Yale

Welcome back to Penn basketball as the Quakers take on first-place Yale at the Palestra in Penn's sixth conference game. The Red and Blue stand at 2-3 in conference play, coming off a split weekend where they defeated Cornell at the buzzer but fell hard to Columbia. Here's the liveblog. 

Live Blog Liveblog: Penn basketball vs. Yale

Former UNLV men' hoops coach Jerry Tarkanian dies at the age of 84

The image of Jerry Tarkanian that will remain iconic for years to come.


Everyday in Las Vegas, the nervous high rollers twitchily look on from around card tables as their livelihood hangs in limbo.

On the sidelines of UNLV’s basketball court for the last 19 seasons, the scene was not too different. Head basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian could be seen crouched on the sidelines with a towel stuffed in his mouth as he watched his Runnin’ Rebels go all in night after night.

This image of Tarkanian is iconic, but more historic are the achievements the late coach will leave behind at UNLV following his death on Wednesday at the age of 84.

With an astonishing career coaching record of 706-198, along with a national championship in 1990 and three more final four appearances, Tarkanian will go down as one of the greatest coaches in collegiate basketball history.

Tarkanian, who holds the fifth highest winning percentage all-time, was known for having an immediate impact when he was hired. He led three teams to 20-plus win seasons, and did so in his first season in each program.

But, Tarkanian wasn’t just a kickstart; he was also a pillar of continual success. His final four appearances, which span 15 seasons, were highlights in a career where 29 of his 31 seasons at the helm boasted 20 games or more.

Additionally his 1987 final four team set an NCAA record of 37 wins and his 1991 final four squad finished the regular season undefeated - an achievement that wouldn’t be matched until 2014 by the Wichita State Shockers.

A frequent critic of the NCAA, Tarkanian spent much of his life off the court embattled with the organization. Long Beach State, UNLV and Fresno State were all put under NCAA probation as a result of recruiting violations by Tarkanian. He would sue the NCAA twice, both cases reached a settlement out of court.

Tarkanian, who has battled health issues for the last couple of years, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. At the ceremony he struggled to speak a few words and relied on a walker for support.

Despite his history of questionable recruiting, there was an outpouring of sadness and remorse over his death by many high-profile members of the basketball community.

Tarkanian leaves behind an expansive legacy. But what will always stand out most, is the sweat pouring down his bald head onto the towel tightly wedged in his mouth as he anxiously waited to see if his Rebels would sink the final shot.

Roundtable: Can Penn men's lacrosse repeat?

Senior attack Chris Hupfeldt will be key for Penn men's lacrosse this season.


Although it may be hard to believe and the weather still seems a little too cold, Penn men’s lacrosse is less than three days away from its season opener. Coming off an incredibly successful season, one in which the veteran-laden squad soared to an Ivy League title, the Quakers have high expectations. Despite returning eight of their top 10 scorers from 2014, an Ivy repeat is by no means guaranteed,. With that in mind, we break down the biggest obstacle Penn will confront as it tries to return to the NCAA Tournament.

Senior Sports Editor Riley Steele: Without a doubt, Penn will once again be a force that threatens both other powers within the Ivy League and across the country. With the Red and Blue returning so many potent scorers, particularly senior attacks Isaac Bock and Chris Hupfeldt, scoring will not be a problem in remaining competitive with squads like Harvard and Cornell.

From my perspective, the biggest challenge confronting the Quakers will be getting through a rough schedule. Lacrosse Magazine currently has the Red and Blue ranked 11th entering the season, but there are plenty of games on Penn’s schedule that could determine how high they rise in the polls. Currently, No. 8 Maryland, No. 15 Penn State, No. 16 Yale, No. 12 Harvard and No. 10 Cornell are all on the docket for the Quakers, not to mention a matchup with the team ranked fifth in the ACC standings at the end of the season.

While Penn is accustomed to playing tough teams – the Quakers faced off with both Duke and Denver in nonconference play last year – things won’t come easy to the Red and Blue in 2015.

Sports Editor Laine Higgins: This year, the devil may be in the details for the Quakers. While Penn was certainly dominant in the final few games of the season, which culminated in the school’s first ever Ivy League title, the play from the Red and Blue was still not mistake-free.

Consider the Quakers’ face off win-loss percentage from last season: a middling 48.4 percent. That statistic is not bad; however, there is room for improvement. This task will fall upon the shoulders of returning midfields junior Rob Savage and senior Joe McCallion – Penn’s leading faceoff specialists from the 2013-2014 season.

Now, compare Penn’s number in that department to the highest ranked teams on the docket for the 2014-15 schedule: No. 8 Maryland and No. 10 Cornell. Last year, the Terps and the Big Red boasted faceoff win-loss percentages of 64.6 and 51.0, respectively.

Associate Sports Editor Tommy Rothman: It's hard to find big holes in this team, primarily because it's a very solid squad. But one thing that could be a cause for concern is the goalkeeper issue. Brian Feeney played all but 14 minutes last season, but he's out of the picture after graduating in May.

So what do the Quakers do now? Senior John Lopes figures to take over, assuming he doesn't get beaten out by junior Jimmy Sestilio, sophomore Ahmed Iftikhar or freshman Brian Zappala. Lopes hasn't provided us enough of a sample size for us to make a real judgment regarding his abilities — and if we did judge him on the small sample size, the conclusion wouldn't be pretty.

Feeney was one of the Ivy League's top goalies last year, so replacing him will be a tall task. Assuming the Quakers see a drop-off in goalkeeping production, the question will be whether the defense in front of the goalkeeper and the Penn offense can step up and soften the blow after Feeney's departure.

Penn wasn't among the Ivy League's top scoring teams last year, so there is room for the Quakers to improve on that end. But if they don't, they'll likely find that they can no longer rely on their excellent goalie as a safety net.

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