The Penn men's basketball team has lost 15 of its 24 games this season. The Penn men's basketball team is in the bottom 100 of the NCAA computer rankings, closer to Prairie View A&M; than to Stanford. The Penn men's basketball team has had one 20-point scorer in its last 10 games. The Penn men's basketball team will still win the Ivy League title. "Everybody's gonna make some noise in this league," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said before the season. Everybody has. Penn is tied with Princeton and Yale for the league lead, and only Brown has not beaten at least one of the leaders. Despite all of their struggles, the Quakers still control their own destiny and still have more weapons and more experience than the Tigers and the Elis. Four of the Quakers average over 10 points per game. Only two Yale players score in double figures, while none of the Tigers average more than Nate Walton's 9.8 per contest. Dunphy, though, has been upset with Penn's offense, labeling it the most inconsistent part of the team. He has been happy with the defense, though, and for good reason. Penn has held opponents to 42 percent shooting from the field, better even than Princeton's notoriously staunch defense. The Quakers defense is second only to stalwart Columbia in the Ivy League. The Penn frontcourt, meanwhile, leads the Ivy League with 781 rebounds and 87 blocked shots. The Quakers have put up solid numbers, and they also have experience on their side, with five players still on the team from the down-to-the-wire Ivy race of 1999. Only two players are still at Princeton who played for the 1998 Ivy winners, while no Yale player was even alive the last time the Elis won an Ivy title. But in addition to talent and experience, the Quakers have the most at stake. They are the two-time defending Ivy champions and the preseason favorite. Penn is also the only team of the current Ivy triumvirate that has not yet played its best basketball. The Quakers have not looked great in their six Ivy wins, and they have looked miserable in their three defeats, losing each time by more than 10 points. It's hard to believe, though, that the Quakers will go through this entire season without once firing on all cylinders, without once looking like the team that everybody knows they can be. They seemed to be knocking at the door against Seton Hall back on December 13 at the Meadowlands. Ugonna Onyekwe scored 26 points that night and Penn lost by two points to the then-No. 10 team in the nation. Since that game, Onyekwe has scored 20 points just once, and the Quakers have continued to struggle. Now, though, Onyekwe seems to be heading back in the right direction. He scored 15 to lead the Quakers in each of the last two games, and has made 19-of-25 free throws in the last five games after starting the season as the personification of Penn's struggles at the foul line. Point guard David Klatsky, meanwhile, has been running Penn's offense more smoothly than ever. In the last five games, Klatsky has 29 assists, dishing out at least five in each contest. If Penn can keep up this progress and if Lamar Plummer can find a way out of his recent shooting slump, then the Quakers should have few problems winning their third straight Ivy League championship. Nobody ever said that this season would be easy for the Red and Blue, and it certainly hasn't gone smoothly. But after a long struggle, Penn is still tied for the lead with five games to go. The Quakers are still the most talented team in the race, still the most experienced. And the Quakers are still the favorite to win the title.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.