The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

During Thanksgiving weekend, the Penn men's basketball team will be focused on hitting their shots, and not the slots.

That is because the Las Vegas Invitational -- a tournament that the Quakers will be participating in that weekend -- has been moved away from the ballroom of a casino hotel, along with two other tournaments promoted by Worldwide Basketball Director Chris Spencer.

"We didn't know the venue when we first signed on," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "I don't think any of the 24 teams did who are going to be out there over the three tournaments.

"I don't think anybody thought the games were going to be in a casino."

The original location of the tournaments was to be the Paris Hotel and Casino, and was moved after continued pressure from the NCAA and several participating teams.

The NCAA has been vehemently opposed to gambling on college sports, noting that it invites corruption into the games.

The NCAA even brought a number of coaches and administrators to Washington earlier this year to lobby for the prohibition of betting on amateur sports in Nevada, the only state where the practice remains legal.

The new venue for the tournament is reported by The Washington Post as being the Cashman Center, about a mile away from any casino.

"Moving the tournament was the right thing to do, so we're fine with it right now," Dunphy said.

The Quakers are opening their 2001-2002 season with the Invitational, which will begin on November 19 with first-round games at campus sites. Penn will face Georgia Tech on that day at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, the home of the Yellow Jackets.

Each of the eight participating teams -- Eastern Illinois, Georgia Tech, Hartford, Illinois, Iowa State, Penn, St. Louis and Southern Illinois -- will then play three games in Las Vegas that holiday weekend. And because the Invitational carries exempt status, the four games will only count as one game against the team maximum of 28 regular-season games, as stipulated by the NCAA.

"[The tournament is] an opportunity for us to play three exempt games... against some quality competition in a different part of the country," Dunphy said.

The rest of Penn's winter schedule resembles last season's, with games against Drexel, Davidson, Lehigh, Florida International, Delaware and Lafayette.

The Quakers will again face the other four teams in the Big 5 -- Villanova, Temple, La Salle and St. Joseph's -- and conclude their season with double round-robin play in the Ivy League.

"I think our schedule is pretty much always the same, with very difficult beginnings," Dunphy said. "Hopefully by the time the league schedule comes around, we feel like we're poised and ready to play our best basketball."

New to this year's schedule, aside from the Las Vegas Invitational, is a game at American on December 1 and the Big 5 Basketball Classic on December 8, a tripleheader featuring six Philadelphia teams -- all five members of the Big 5, plus Drexel -- to be played at the Palestra. The Quakers will take on St. Joe's in game two.

"I think [the Classic] will promote Philadelphia basketball even more so," Dunphy said. "All six teams are welcoming the opportunity to present Philadelphia basketball in its best light, so we're very happy to be a part of it and as a university we're very happy to be hosting it."

Penn basketball will be in its best light, of course, if the Quakers are able to capture their 21st Ivy League title this winter.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.