Silcox | Penn-ing some predictions
September 8, 2010, 2:31 am · Updated September 7, 2010, 12:00 am·
Here we are again. The start of another school year — and more importantly, the start of another year of Penn sports. The fields have been neatly mowed and chalked, helmets polished, backboards windexed, nets restrung and Jerome Allen’s pocket squares have all been cleaned and neatly folded.
But what would the beginning of another year be without some preseason predictions? Here are some of what I think will be some of the bigger storylines across Penn sports this year and make a few choice calls about how the year will unfold.
Because I like to pad my stats like a Palestra attendance taker at a women’s basketball game, I’ll start off with an easy one:
1. Football hits 800 program wins.
Settled in at 799 all-time wins, the Quakers are poised to join an elite club of teams that includes Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Nebraska, Yale and Harvard.
Will Penn win one game this year? Most definitely. Will it be their first game at home against Lafayette next week? I think so. Penn has lost its last three contests with the Leopards, but the Red and Blue have too much momentum carrying over from last year.
Okay, now something a little harder.
2. Football will repeat as Ivy champs.
Despite landing a No. 2 preseason ranking behind Harvard, Penn will take the Ivy trophy home again, or at least a share of it. The team is returning 15 of its starters — the highest number in the Ancient Eight, according to coach Al Bagnoli. Furthermore, the Red and Blue defeated the Crimson in Boston last year, and the team possesses a tremendous emotional drive after the passings of captain Owen Thomas and Penn’s biggest fan, Dan ‘Coach Lake’ Staffieri.
The Quakers did graduate some impact players on defense (notably Jake Lewko and Chris Wynn), but the offense will be much improved if QBs Keiffer Garton and Billy Ragone can stay healthy.
3. The women’s lacrosse team’s undefeated Ivy streak will come to an end.
Good news first: the women’s lacrosse team will remain atop the Ivy League. But its four-year undefeated conference streak will end this year. It’s no coincidence that the streak was concurrent with a phenomenal class of athletes.
Penn got a taste of competition from Dartmouth in last year’s Ivy Championship game, though the Quakers eventually won 9-8 in the final minutes. And this year, Dartmouth has a large contingent of rising seniors and juniors returning.
4. Basketball will finish 3rd.
Time to start the hype machine: Zack Rosen returns for his junior year as a unanimous all-Ivy selection, and this year, he should have some help in the backcourt from Miles Cartwright, a freshman with an ESPN recruiting ranking of 90.
Senior Tyler Bernardini should be back after a foot injury sidelined him nearly all of last year, and he should be joined by Andreas Schreiber and Mike Howlett, who both missed time with injuries.
These additions — and of course, the first full season under coach Jerome Allen — point toward a resurgence for Penn basketball after hitting rock bottom early in the season. The team likely won’t surpass Harvard or Princeton at the top of the League, but expect good things.
4b. Average Palestra attendance for Ivy men’s basketball games: 3,950
More wins (and an increased marketing staff) should get more fans out to the Palestra this year. Average attendance for Ivy games last year was 3,542, about one-third of capacity. According to a source within the Red & Blue Crew, student ticket prices are coming down this year, further enticing more students.
5. Watch out for women’s golf. It may have taken them 10 years to get their first championship, but the second is sure to come a little quicker.
CALDER SILCOX is a junior from Washington, D.C., and is Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.