Penn will bring two first team All-Ivy selections to the NCAA Tournament. The temperature may have been hovering above 75 degrees outside for the past two days, but the weather is definitely not the hottest thing in West Philadelphia. That distinction goes to the Penn men's basketball team. Undefeated in league play and winners of 16 consecutive games, the Quakers (21-7, 14-0 Ivy League) have been gathering considerable steam heading into the NCAA Tournament. The team's confidence was no doubt bolstered yesterday when four Penn players were named to the 1999-2000 All-Ivy teams. Penn senior guard Michael Jordan (16.3 points per game, 4.9 assists per game) was named the Ivy League Player of the Year and earned first team All-Ivy honors for the third consecutive season. Jordan was joined on the first team by classmate Matt Langel, while center Geoff Owens and forward Ugonna Onyekwe both earned second team status. Onyekwe was also named the Ivy Rookie of the Year. "It feels good to get that honor bestowed upon you, because so many other great players have achieved that honor," Jordan said. "But I'm more happy with the fact that we went 14-0 and are going back to the Tournament. That's all I'm worried about right now." And with the Tournament set to begin next week, the Quakers are excited about their situation. "We're in a pretty similar situation to last year -- I think we were on a pretty good streak then as well," said Penn center Geoff Owens, comparing last season's 21-6 squad to this season's 21-7 team. "I think we have a good shot. I was excited going into last year, but obviously it didn't turn out like we wanted it to." Penn lost, 75-61, to Florida in the first round of last year's tournament. "But having been there and having lost a game, we have that experience under our belt, and I think it's going to help us this year," Owens said. "Hopefully, we'll be more prepared for what to expect." Quakers coach Fran Dunphy, who has coached eight different first team selections in his 11 seasons at Penn, spoke highly of his talented squad. "Well, I'm happy for all those guys," Dunphy said. "Starting with Michael as the MVP, I think it's a great honor and one that is well-deserved. "And Matt Langel, to be the second choice in the league, I thought that spoke a lot of his career, as well as this year." Langel (12.0 ppg) joined Jordan and Princeton center Chris Young as the only unanimous first-team selections. Onyekwe (11.5 ppg, 46 blocks) had a sensational freshman year with Penn, and though he was rewarded with individual honors, he prefers to dwell on his team's success. "It's one of those things where it's good to be recognized and all that, but it wouldn't mean anything if we hadn't won," Onyekwe said. "So with the winning and getting the Ivy title, that's an accomplishment." Unlike last March, Owens (9.0 ppg, 50 blocks) -- the fourth of Penn's honorees -- enters the postseason injury-free. The Quakers big man suffered a broken jaw at Dartmouth last February and played his final four games -- including the loss to Florida -- with his jaw wired shut. This March, with a healthy Owens alongside Onyekwe, Penn will look to bring it inside with greater success. Individual league honorees aside, the emphasis at yesterday's practice was clearly on team execution. "We're just going to try to make sure we're crisp offensively, and we can always get better defensively," Jordan said. "Our offense has been a little stagnant lately, so we're trying to work on that." The Quakers will gather as a team at 6 p.m. on Sunday to watch the NCAA Selection Show to see where they will be heading next week. Last March, Penn was placed in the West region and played in Seattle against the Gators. That game was only the third time in the Quakers' 17 Tournament appearances that the team had been sent out of the East region, so the squad is understandably hoping for a game closer to home this season. The first-round sites for the East Region are Buffalo, N.Y., and Winston-Salem, N.C. But Jordan, ever the competitor, was more concerned with getting back on the court than with the site. "I would like to be someplace closer where we can probably get some more fans," Jordan said. "But Seattle was great, and I really don't have a preference -- I just want to get out there and play." The Quakers won't know who they'll face for two more days, but current tournament projections have Penn pegged at a 13 or 14 seed and facing a major conference team such as No. 19 St. John's or No. 13 Texas. "I have no feeling, no sense about who we'll play -- you can go prognosticate as much as you want," Dunphy said. "I'd say a 12 or 13 would be the likely guess that we would be, which would mean that we'd play a four or a five. You can look at who is prognosticated as a four or five -- let's say it might be Texas. Then, we better be ready to play Texas. "As soon as Sunday night comes, we'll get film and see what happens." Despite yesterday's uplifting award announcements, now is the time for Penn to look ahead, not back. And sometime next weekend, the Quakers will try to make a name for themselves in the NCAA Tournament. "Hopefully we can get everyone focused for our second season," Owens said. "Obviously, we're happy we won the Ivies, but we're not satisfied with our season right now -- far from it."Comments powered by Disqus
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