With Palestra wins over Brown and Yale, penn can secure its second straight league crown. Michael Jordan has accomplished many things during his four years at Penn. He has been named first team All-Ivy for the past two seasons and is the heavy favorite to win this year's Ivy League Player of the Year award. He is leading the Quakers in scoring for the third straight year, and with 12 more points, he will pass Ron Haigler for third place on the all-time Penn scoring list. But there is one way in which the 6'0" point guard has never put the ball through the hoop during his Penn career. With three games remaining in his time at the Palestra, Michael Jordan would like to dunk. "If the score is well enough out of hand and I have a chance, I'll try," Jordan said. "I'm not as an accomplished dunker as Ugonna." If Jordan does successfully throw one down, it could serve as an exclamation point on what should be a very exciting weekend for the Penn men's basketball team (18-7, 11-0 Ivy League). Heading into this weekend's contests with Brown and Yale, the Quakers hold a two-game lead over Princeton in the Ivy standings. If they emerge victorious over both the Bears and the Elis, the Red and Blue will clinch the Ivy title before even stepping onto the Palestra floor to face the Tigers in Tuesday's season finale. But the Quakers are not getting ahead of themselves. "I'm quite sure that Brown and Yale this weekend are going to want to knock us off," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "It's up to us to make sure that doesn't happen by playing as hard as we can, as intelligently as we can and trying to execute our game plan as best we can." By winning the final three games on the schedule, the Quakers will finish undefeated in the Ivy League for the first time since the 1994-95 season. Last week, however, the Quakers almost faltered on their way to an unbeaten league season. Leading 62-61 with 1.9 seconds remaining in the game against Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion, Penn gave the Crimson a final chance to win. A three-point attempt by Dan Clemente, however, bounced off the rim, and the Quakers escaped with their closest win of the Ivy League season. Penn will make sure that it does not give the Bears (8-17, 4-8) a similar chance to pull off an upset tonight at the Palestra. "We're prepared for a fight both games, both nights," Quakers center Geoff Owens said. "I think if we play hard for 40 minutes, we have a good chance." To make sure they defeat the Bears, the Quakers will need to contain two freshmen stars. In fact, tonight's game could help determine the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award, as Penn forward Ugonna Onyekwe will go up against the Bears' Earl Hunt and Alaivaa Nuualiitia. Hunt is third in the league with 16.8 points per game, while Nuualiitia leads the Bears in rebounds with 6.7 boards per game and averages 14.2 points per contest. In the first meeting between the two teams on February 5 at the Pizzitola Sports Center, Hunt led the Bears with 13 points, while Nuualiitia scored eight and pulled down nine boards. Penn's star freshman, Onyekwe, only played 17 minutes in that game, as the Quakers routed the Bears, 83-48. All 14 Quakers scored against the Bears, and Matt Langel led the way with 24 points on eight three-pointers. The Red and Blue also had little trouble with the Elis (7-18, 5-7), when they met at the Lee Ampitheater in New Haven, Conn. Oggie Kapetanovic scored 12 points off the bench, and the Elis never really had a chance. Penn ran away with a 61-36 win, holding Yale to 23.7 percent shooting. Despite cruising to two easy victories when visiting these Ivy foes last month, Penn knows that it cannot feel comfortable just yet. "You can never get too comfortable, because that is when somebody sneaks up on you," Jordan said. And with three games remaining, the Quakers know there are still things they need to work on. "I think we're making a few mistakes," Owens said. "There are a couple turnovers here and there, a few needless ones. If we can [control] that, I think we'll be alright." The Quakers are currently turning the ball over 12.9 times per game, which is good for 13th best in the nation, but several turnovers last Saturday against Harvard allowed the Crimson to stay in the game. If the Quakers can keep the mistakes to a minimum and emerge with two wins this weekend, they will extend their winning streak to 15 games. Currently, Utah State, with 14 consecutive wins, is the only team in the nation with a longer streak than the Red and Blue. More importantly, though, two wins would clinch the Ivy title for Penn on Saturday night. And although Tuesday's game against the Tigers has been sold out for months, only about 4,500 people are expected for each of this weekend's games. "If we are fortunate enough to win both games, it would be nice to have as many people as we can here," Owens said. "Don't wait for Princeton to come out. You should come out to these games too." The people who do show up at the Palestra this weekend might even get a special treat if Jordan can indeed get the first dunk of his Penn career. "I've seen him dunk lots of times. This summer, he said everyday after we'd get done working out for a few hours, he'd dunk one just so he'd be ready for this year," Owens said. "If he gets an opportunity, there's no reason he can't throw down."Comments powered by Disqus
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