The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

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

Penn guard Tim Begley has emerged as one of the Quakers' top outside shooters. The freshman is shooting 43 percent from behind the arc. [Andrew Margolies/DP File Photo]

He's the only freshman in the starting lineup, the fifth threat on a team with quite a few go-to-guys. He's not the guy who will take the last shot nor the guy who will make the big defensive stop.

He'll tell you his biggest strength is the chest pass, and if you ask him what he needs to improve on, his answer will be "everything."

He's six-foot-five, but you couldn't slide a slice of bread under his foot when he jumps. He dunked the ball last weekend against Brown, maybe the first and last time he has ever jumped that high. "A complete fluke," says teammate Andrew Toole. "He's the furthest thing from a leaper on our team."

He isn't the most athletic player on the team, and you won't find him running track in the offseason.

Tim Begley will tell you all of this. What you won't hear from him, though, is how he is an invaluable asset to the 2001-02 Penn men's basketball team.

Begley, in fact, has a great basketball IQ, a sweet stroke from behind the arc and an uncanny knack for the finding the open man. He taps out offensive rebounds with the best of them and almost never makes a poor decision -- all qualities that have enabled him to crack the starting five in his first season at Penn.

"He is the most unselfish player I've ever seen play," says his father, Neil Begley. This might be looked at as a biased source, but the old man's assessment is universal.

"He knows how to play the game," says Toole, who, like Begley, went to Christian Brothers Academy. "He is mature beyond his years on the basketball court."

You won't hear it from Begley himself, but the new kid is a superb player right now.

He is also the future.


It's nearing 9 p.m. and Begley is at the back end of a long day of class, practice and two weightlifting sessions.

He's surely tired, but you wouldn't be able to tell from his glowing smile and friendly demeanor.

He still has his tiptop sense of humor, his dry sarcastic wit that could make even the straightest of edges crack a smile.

"He doesn't have a serious bone in his body," says Toole, often the subject of Begley's scintillating remarks. "Sometimes you just have to let him go with his jokes. There's not much stopping him when he gets on a roll."

For instance, Begs -- as his teammates affectionately call him -- refers to Toole as a "seventh-year junior", alluding to the fact that Toole is a senior disguised as a junior (Toole sat out last year due to transferring requirements).

Begley's got a loving wisecrack for most players on the squad.

On Pat Lang: "He's a tough guy, at least he thinks so," Begs says about his fellow freshman. "Patty the Enforcer, we'll call him."

On Jan Fikiel and Conor Tolan: "I think people should pay money just to listen to Jan and Conor have a conversation," Begley says of Penn's two foreign seven-footers. "Those two, they're too much for each other."

The Quakers definitely have a few clowns on the team, and Begley certainly ranks high on the list.

"I'm trying not to say I can't take anything seriously," the Quakers' guard says with a grin. "But yeah, I like to have a good time. I love fooling around on the court, which probably shouldn't happen too often. Before games, I can't sit down half the time -- I'm bouncing around, having a good time, telling jokes and stuff. I think the coaches want me to be a little bit more serious during the game."

But while his teammates and friends will most likely call him a goofball, Begley's parents have quite a different insight.

"He is probably one of the most competitive, sensitive people I know," Neil Begley says. "He makes people comfortable by making them laugh."

His mom agrees: "For his age, he has a great gift of keeping things in perspective," Lynn Begley says. "His first concern is people's feelings. The biggest joy I get as a mother is how many times people come up to me and say 'what a nice son you've got.'"

Don't let his teammates get a hold of this or he'll be the subject of some wisecracks.


The second game Tim Begley ever saw at the Palestra was last year's Penn-Princeton clash on Feb. 13, the first of two defeats the Tigers handed the Quakers last season.

For a while, Begley was deciding between Penn and Princeton, but by that time he was pretty sure he'd be making the move to Philly.

So after the game, he understandably felt a little awkward. His future school had just been beaten by his No. 2 choice. How should he react?

So when Jerry Toole, father of the Penn point guard, came up to him and said, "I guess it's obvious now," Begley was perplexed.

"And then Mr. Toole said, 'well, we need you more than they do.'" Begley remembers. "That's one way to look at it."

Penn certainly did need Begley, and the coaching staff went after him pretty hard.

He was no Dajuan Wagner, but Begley was quite the top commodity coming out of high school.

His high school team was not only one of the best teams in New Jersey, but also one of the best teams in the nation.

As a junior and senior at CBA, Begley led his team to an astounding 52-2 record, racking up tons of accolades along the way. All-New York Daily News/MSG Network Tri-State Area first team, Associated Press first-team, All State, All-Shore, All-County, All-A-North rank high on the list.

Begley had such a remarkable high school career that he was recruited by some major conference teams. But when Northwestern, N.C. State and Rutgers came calling, Begley politely declined.

"I didn't want to go to a regular, old college, get a normal education and play basketball just so I can say I'm on scholarship and play basketball," Begley says. "What have I played basketball for so long for? If I can get into a school where the education is awesome and there is still top-notch basketball, why would I ever pass that up?"

And so the Ivy League it was. And when it came down to the big "P's" of the Ancient Eight, that also wasn't much of a contest.

His high school actually played a Princeton-style offense, but Begley didn't much like the idea of going to a school 20 minutes from home. And ever since his first visit to Penn, Begley fell in love.

"I think it's been a perfect fit for him," Tim's father says. "We couldn't be happier."

Now the wide-eyed freshman is drooling at the thought of a possible trip to the NCAA tournament. Begley has taped "One Shining Moment" -- the cheeseball highlight segment at the end of every NCAA tournament -- for as long as he can remember.

"It doesn't get any better than that," Begley says. "March Madness, that's a dream. Hopefully it will all become reality."

A slow-footed white kid with no vertical in the Big Dance? Now there's something Begley would joke about.

Comments powered by Disqus

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