Taking a step back from the actual games themselves, 2017 was an exciting year for the Penn Athletics community.
Sometimes, the numbers don't tell everything. With a little more than a month gone in the season, Penn women's basketball currently sits at 3-4. The small number of games played by the Red and Blue has led to a small sample size of stats and observations, but there are several overarching trends from the team as it approaches Ivy play.
After earning his first Ivy League Player of the Week award of the season two weeks ago by putting in a 55-minute effort at Monmouth, the sophomore guard won his second this week after totaling 41 points across three games.
Considering the sheer competitiveness and ubiquity of Penn’s club culture, it seems only fitting that the Year in the Review issue takes into account the successes of Penn's club sports in 2017.
For many teams at Penn, there is one event that stands out over the others: The Ivy League Championship.
Both Penn men’s basketball and women’s basketball saw their seasons end in agonizing fashions last March, but neither of those final games should take away from thrilling 2017s for both teams.
The wire-to-wire domination that Penn women’s basketball displayed en route to its third conference title in four years was impressive, but that wasn’t the only Penn team to bring home Ivy League glory in 2017. A pair of Penn programs continued the elite play they’ve shown in recent years, as both Penn men’s fencing and Penn women’s lacrosse took home shares of the Ivy League title.
While multiple former Quakers have been bouncing around preseason and practice squads for the past few years, the past year represented the program’s best chance in decades to land skill players in high-profile spots.
At 8-4, Penn is off to its best start since the 2002-03 season, when the Fran Dunphy-led Quakers finished undefeated in Ivy League play. That’s notable in itself, but what’s even more impressive is that the Red and Blue have been doing nearly all of their damage away from the Palestra.
With various teams engaging in some instant classic battles, the Quakers have given fans a wild range of emotions throughout the calendar year, with the lone constant being thorough entertainment across the board.
All athletic directors have their own hiring methods, and all coaches interact with their respective teams differently, but both within Penn itself and the entire NCAA, team sports tend to have female coaches at a very high rate, while sports more individual in nature have been hiring male coaches in increasing numbers — and this is no coincidence.
Perhaps what was most impressive about Jones’ play, though, was just how efficient his scoring was. Jones finished the week with almost as many points (27) as minutes (31), and in each of Penn’s last two games, his scoring total exceeded his total minutes played.
You could call them the Superior Six.
Seniors May Bethea, Joe Heyob, Marc Mastropietro, Frank Mattiace, Joe Oliva, and Joe Velliquette might not look like the most uniform group of guys. Their weights vary from 140 to 200 pounds and everywhere in between — and yet their uniformly strong leadership elevates them above the rest.
Coach Roger Reina has continuously spoken highly of the freshmen members of the team and their development throughout the early stages of the season and sees the potential for greatness in the upcoming years.
But in the study, the Ivy League was the lone exception, earning the only “passing” score out of eight studied conferences, with 55 percent of its women’s varsity teams having female head coaches.
Because of these new wrestlers, as well as the returners from last year, the roster is filled with talent, as evidenced by the team’s three wins in the Hofstra Duals. While this plezthora of strong wrestlers is clearly a plus for Penn, it also means that difficult decisions must be made regarding the team’s starting personnel, as only one wrestler per weight class can compete in each dual.
Roger Reina, Penn wrestling’s winningest coach, returned to the program this season after a 12-year hiatus. Before stepping down as head coach in 2005, Reina spent 25 consecutive years with the program as a wrestler, assistant coach and head coach. In fact, he was named head coach only two years after graduating from Penn, making him the youngest coach in Division I wrestling at the time.
Penn men's basketball sits at No. 92 in the latest national Rating Percentage Index (RPI) rankings, which came out on Monday. RPI seeks to compare the nation's many teams by taking into account the massive variety in strength of schedule when looking at wins and losses.
Instead, the offensive award went to senior Princeton quarterback Chad Kanoff, while Yale’s senior linebacker Matthew Oplinger won Defensive Player of the Year.
Most major basketball programs play somewhere between 28 and 31 games. Historically, Penn and the rest of the Ivy League play fewer to allow the players time off for winter break and finals. This year, Penn will play 30 games, which means they have to fit the same amount of games as major programs in a smaller amount of time. The result: a packed first month before the break.