Taking a step back from the actual games themselves, 2017 was an exciting year for the Penn Athletics community.
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.
After playing the most minutes of any men’s basketball team in the country in November, the schedule quiets down considerably in December. After dispatching Dayton at their home court on Saturday, the Quakers won’t return to action until December 27. That is a gap of 17 days without a game.
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.
Penn football fell to Columbia, 34-31 in overtime. The Lions (5-0, 2-0 Ivy) crawled back from a 21-7 deficit by scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter before walking off in overtime on a 24-yard touchdown to wide receiver Josh Wainwright.
Injuries proved too much for Penn to overcome, as in just about every weight class of Sunday’s match, the Quakers were stymied by No. 5 Lehigh and fell by a score of 41-6. Although the Red and Blue (3-2) briefly held the lead at 6-5 after two bouts, Lehigh (5-1) scored 36 unanswered points to close out the match.
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.
In the last game before a two-week break, Penn men’s basketball overpowered Dayton on the road in an emphatic 78-70 win. The Quakers (8-4) outshot the Flyers (4-5) from every area of the court, most notably from beyond the arc.
Penn men’s basketball capped off its 8-game stretch away from home with a 78-70 victory over Dayton. The Quakers outplayed the Flyers for most of the contest, as Dayton led for only one minute and 55 seconds throughout the entire game.
The last time Penn men’s basketball started a season with a 7-4 record from its first 11 games, the team went 14-0 in the Ivy League and made it to the NCAA Tournament. That was 15 years ago.
Playing away from the Palestra for the seventh straight game, Penn survived a streaky shooting night to defeat Lafayette 73-68 and earn its second victory in three nights.
Another top-five team is set to enter the Palestra, and the Quakers are ready.
This Sunday at 1 P.M., Penn wrestling will host No. 5 Lehigh, a match that will test how well the Red and Blue can perform against a top-notch team, both on the individual and team level.
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 used an absolutely dominant stretch at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half to erase a slow start and build an insurmountable lead en route to an 81-68 victory over Howard.