Freshman guard Antonio Woods will get his first taste of an Ivy League doubleheader this weekend, as Penn basketball looks for its first Ivy win of the season while facing Dartmouth and Harvard. -
1. What should expectations be going into the opening weekend of Ivy League play for Penn men's basketball?
Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: It's hard to figure out what to expect from Penn basketball. One night they're keeping things close late in the game with Villanova, and the next they're losing to Monmouth. The win against St. Joseph's was encouraging, but Harvard and Dartmouth are both intimidating foes for the Quakers.
Sports Editor Laine Higgins: If history is the best indicator of what’s to come for Penn basketball this weekend, I expect Penn to split the weekend with a victory over Dartmouth and a loss to Harvard. The Quakers are 8-2 in their past 10 games against the Big Green, but only 2-8 over the same stretch against the Crimson. Those records speak for themselves.
Senior Staff Writer Steven Tydings: I second Holden’s idea that you never know what to expect from this Penn men’s hoops squad but expectations need to be high right now. Add a win over rival St. Joseph’s to matchups with beatable Dartmouth and Harvard squads and Penn has a chance to sweep at home. If Penn is going to take down the Crimson this season, now’s the time.
2. With Penn women's basketball finished with its nonconference slate, which player has surprised you the most with their performance?
HM: Senior co-captain Kathleen Roche has stepped up as the team's primary outside scorer and raised her scoring average by 3.0 points per game in her final campaign. Roche — an on-and-off court leader for the Quakers — has embraced the scoring void on the wing and her shooting will be key to the team's Ivy success.
LH: I’ve been most surprised with senior forward Kara Bonenberger thus far this season. The starter has recorded the second most minutes on the court this season and has been good for 8.3 points per game, third highest for the Quakers. She has progressed leaps and bounds from when she first stepped on the court for Penn four years ago and is a definitive physical presence in the paint.
ST: While Roche has been pretty darn impressive, I’d have to pick senior co-captain Renee Busch. Busch didn’t start a single game during her sophomore or junior season, but she still brought the most intensity in practice of almost any player. Her work ethic has led to her taking over a spot in the starting lineup while adding some clutch heroics in Penn’s Big 5 win over Temple earlier this month.
3. With three Ivy League matches on the horizon, what would wins this weekend mean for the momentum of both Penn squash teams?
HM: The implications of these matches are very different for the two programs. The women’s team lost a bit of momentum with a loss to Trinity, and wins over top-five Yale and Princeton would help them reassert themselves as one of the very top teams in the nation. For the men's team, upset wins over Ivy foes would certainly help them pick up the pace.
LH: Yale, Princeton and Brown will keep Penn women’s squash on their toes, no doubt, and wins over both teams would allow Penn to enter CSA championships in dominant fashion next month. On the men’s side, all three opponents provide formidable challenges. In order to pull off wins, the Quakers must look to standout freshmen Derek Hsue and Marwan Mahmoud.
ST: Momentum is key in everything you do and this weekend is especially crucial as both Penn squash teams head down the stretch in their respective seasons. The women’s team is trying to hang on to its spot near the top of the CSA rankings, while the men’s squads needs some wins in the next five days to crack the top-eight of those very same rankings. It's an exciting time for both programs, to say the least.
Senior defense Matt McMahon was one of two current Penn seniors to be drafted into the MLL. -
Over the weekend, seniors Matt McMahon and Joe McCallion of Penn lacrosse were drafted by Major League Lacrosse.
McMahon — a defenseman — was drafted 35th overall in the fifth round by the Ohio Machine, while McCallion — a midfielder — was drafted 52nd overall in the seventh round by the Denver Outlaws.
Both players have enjoyed outstanding careers thus far with the Red and Blue.
McMahon has been a defensive stalwart for the Quakers, starting every game over the past two years and getting named honorable mention Preseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse for the upcoming year. Meanwhile, McCallion has contributed greatly as a versatile midfielder, stuffing the stat sheet in various categories.
McMahon and McCallion will follow their former teammate Zack Losco — who was drafted last year — into the MLL.
Being that the Red and Blue have yet to start this season’s competitive play, both players retain eligibility for their senior campaigns and will finish off their collegiate careers before officially going pro.
Princeton basketball is currently second in the Ivy League. -
Record: 13-6 (2-0 Ivy) (t-1st)
What they’ve done: The Bulldogs are owners of the Ancient Eight’s most impressive nonconference victory to date, as they took down defending national champion UConn on Dec. 7. The Elis have dipped into league play in their last two games, both victories over last-place Brown.
What’s Next: Though it’s strange to see a squad besides Harvard at the top of the Ivy standings, the Bulldogs have looked very strong through the first half of their season. Look for leadership from senior guard Javier Duren and junior forward Justin Sears as Yale enters the thick of its conference schedule.
Record: 8-9 (1-0 Ivy) (2nd)
What they’ve done: Despite the lofty place in the standings, the Tigers have looked decidedly average in the early going. The squad has failed to register any impressive nonconference victories and was gifted its only league victory thus far at home when Penn struggled mightily down the stretch.
What’s Next: Despite the lackluster start to the season, Princeton still boasts a perfect Ivy record. Look for junior forward Hans Brase (12.2 points, 7.4 rebounds per game) to be the team’s leader as the Tigers head into a critical matchup with Harvard at home on Friday.
Record: 11-5 (1-1 Ivy) (t-3rd)
What they’ve done: The class of the Ancient Eight in recent years, Harvard has looked uncharacteristically beatable over the first half of the season. After entering the season nationally ranked at no. 25, the Crimson have suffered ugly defeats to Holy Cross, Virginia and Dartmouth.
What’s Next: Although the Crimson have looked unworthy on their preseason national attention in the early going, the firepower of guards Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers should allow Harvard fans to rest easier down the stretch. Tommy Amaker’s squad is still the favorites to win their fifth consecutive Ivy title.
Record: 9-7 (1-1 Ivy) (t-3rd)
What they’ve done: Despite the preseason loss of 2013-14 leading scorer Alex Rosenberg, the Lions have been able to tread water thus far this year, even coming close to a massive upset of No. 1 Kentucky on Dec. 10. The Lions have split their conference games, both versus Cornell.
What’s Next: Junior guard Maodo Lo will look to build on his team-leading 15.8 PPG as the Lions face a major test against Ivy leader Yale this Friday.
Record: 9-9 (1-1 Ivy) (t-3rd)
What they’ve done: The team from Ithaca has had mixed results in the first half of the season, dropping a disappointing home game to St. Peter’s on Dec. 28 before notching a solid road victory over Columbia on Jan. 24.
What’s Next: After last season’s 2-26 debacle, Cornell will likely be pleased with this season’s return to respectability thanks to the return of senior forward Shonn Miller, who missed last season with a shoulder injury. Look for the Big Red to hang around the middle of the Ivy standings as the season progresses.
Record: 8-8 (1-1 Ivy) (t-3rd)
What they’ve done: In the midst of an otherwise middling season, the Big Green pulled off the Ivy League’s most impressive in-conference victory to date, taking down Harvard on the road last Saturday.
What’s Next: That victory in Cambridge proved that Dartmouth can hang with anyone in the Ancient Eight. Look for junior guard Alex Mitola and his team-high 14.3 PPG to continue to catalyze the Big Green offense.
Record: 9-10 (0-2 Ivy) (8th)
What they’ve done: Despite a relatively weak nonconference schedule, the Bears have collected some impressive wins, including a 77-67 win at Providence on Dec. 8.
What’s Next: Two early losses to first-place Yale have put Brown in an early conference hole, but sophomore forward Leland King’s 14.6 PPG should help the Bears claw back to the middle of the Ivy pack. Although the sophomore missed the team’s second matchup against Yale, the Bears still fought to a four-point loss.
Join us as we cover Penn basketball in its final Big 5 matchup tonight against St. Joes
Harvard men's basketball was upset at home by Dartmouth on Saturday, 70-61, falling to 1-1 in Ivy play this season.
The Crimson were the overwhelming favorites to win the conference going into the year but had struggled on offense for much of the nonconference season, highlighted by a blowout defeat at now-No. 2 Virginia. However, Harvard had easily handled Dartmouth a week earlier in Hanover and took a 43-29 lead in the early second half against the Big Green on Saturday.
But the wheels came out as the Crimson committed 18 turnovers, including 11 by their starting backcourt, and had their 11-game winning streak vs. Dartmouth snapped. Big Green junior guard Alex Mitola scored 12 points, 10 on free throws, in the final 4:09 of the game, sealing the upset win and moving Dartmouth to 1-1 in the Ancient Eight.
Meanwhile, in New Haven, Yale narrowly avoided an upset of its own, beating Brown, 69-65, on a late jumper by guard Javier Duren (Video of the play below).
For the moment, the Bulldogs take the Ivy League lead with a 2-0 record while Brown falls to 0-2.
Columbia had the chance to tie Yale atop the Ancient Eight but the Lions couldn't pull off a second straight win over Cornell, losing at home as both teams are now 1-1 in Ivy play.
Penn and Princeton play nonconference games this weekend against St. Joseph's and Division III Rowan, respectively, before resuming Ivy play next week against Harvard and Dartmouth.
After giving then-No. 5 Villanova a scare, can Penn basketball capitalize on its effort and earn a win against Monmouth? Join Sports Editor Emeritus Ian Wenik as he gives you all the action:
After last week's performance, Sydney Stipanovich has racked up two Ivy League player of the week honors for the 2014-2015 season. -
As Penn students made their way back to campus this week, some highly impressive hardcourt performances awaited them at the Palestra.
Women’s basketball’s Sydney Stipanovich was named Ivy League Player of the Week after an utterly dominant 19-point, 13-rebound performance in a 49-47 win over Richmond on Wednesday. The performance was the sophomore’s fifth double-double and second Player of the Week nod of the season.
Stipanovich sparked a comeback for the Quakers with four minutes to go with the team trailing the Spiders by four. The sophomore poured in six straight points and assisted on Anna Ross’ game-winning three-pointer.
The men’s squad was also a beneficiary of a similarly dominant individual performance. Guard Antonio Woods was named Ivy Rookie of the Week after a breakout performance in Saturday’s close defeat to No. 5 Villanova in which he paced the team with 18 points. The freshman also chipped in seven points and four rebounds in Tuesday’s road win over Niagara.
Adding to the Quakers accolades, junior guard Tony Hicks was named to the Ivy Weekly Honor Roll after racking up 18 points at Niagara and adding eight against Villanova.
It isn’t every year that Penn women’s basketball wins the Big 5 Title. In fact, it’s never happened before in the 36-year history of the Big 5.
That all changed over winter break as a Renee Busch three-pointer sealed a win over Temple for the Quakers with 25.1 seconds left.
With the 52-50 victory, the Quakers set six school records — including their first 3-0 start in Big 5 play, first four-game Big 5 winning streak, and their most Big 5 wins in a season.
As always, it started and ended with the stifling Penn defense that has been a defining characteristic in wins this season. The Quakers held the Owls (7-10, 1-3 Big 5) to 26.8 percent shooting from the field, making up for their 17 turnovers.
It was just the most recent achievement in the Mike McLaughlin era, but given his propensity to bring in top-tier talent year after year and continually build off of past years, it isn’t too surprising.
Last season saw the Quakers win two Big 5 games for just the second time in program history. For a program that’s struggled for so many years against the Big 5 — even Ivy League title teams had failed to secure multiple Big 5 wins — starting 3-0 is impressive.
Penn’s final Big 5 game comes later this month against a Villanova team that is currently on a six-game winning streak.
Apart from Penn and Villanova, most of the Big 5 has struggled uncharacteristically this season.
While La Salle has posted a 10-6 record, they’ve struggled against conference and Big 5 opponents. Saint Joseph’s has struggled in the early going, posting a 5-10 record, just one year removed from a 23-10 season that included an NCAA Tourney win and a Big 5 sweep.
While Penn might not be able to repeat on their Ivy League Championship — No. 22 Princeton might just be the best Ivy League women’s team in history — but earning their first ever Big 5 title is an incredible achievement for the team.
Are you ready for some Ivy League basketball? Penn and Princeton kick off the annual 14-game tournament at Jadwin Gym this evening. Follow myself, Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings and Senior Sports Editor-Elect Riley Steele for all the play-by-play action and analysis as the Quakers take on the Tigers: