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Former Penn basketball great Zack Rosen never won an Ivy title, but he did resurrect the program, leading the Quakers to 11 Ivy wins in his senior season.

The third installment of our “Remembering Penn basketball” series features former DP sports editor Brian Kotloff (C’12).

When I think of covering Penn basketball, I think of Zack Rosen and Jerome Allen sitting at a table in the bowels of the Palestra, staring at a score sheet, dejected. This is not fair to either of them — they did come one game short of forcing an Ivy League tiebreaker game with Harvard during my senior year — but the reality is, the era of Penn basketball I witnessed (2008-12) was defined by the painful process of rebuilding the program. The payoff for all the pent-up frustration and countless hours of preparation never came; “the process,” as coach Allen liked to reference, remained a perpetual climb until I — and Rosen — left campus. And every time it seemed like they were ready for the next step, a gut punch always lurked around the corner.

There was Dec. 8, 2010, when they could have beaten No. 12 Villanova … if Corey Stokes hadn’t scored 34 points on 11 for 15 from the floor. Then Jan. 12, 2011, when they made an out-of-nowhere 17-4 run in the final 3:30 to force overtime at La Salle … only to get blown away in OT. Then Feb. 8, 2011, when the best inbounds play I’ve ever seen allowed Tyler Bernardini to tie the game on a three-pointer in the last three seconds … yet only led to more heartbreak after more excruciating overtime mistakes. And the best (or worst) of them all: Nov. 14, 2011 against Temple, when Rosen made seven threes from what seemed like every spot in the gym, but a blown call in (of course) overtime robbed the game of the ending it deserved.

They all ended with two of the most stubborn men I’ve ever encountered telling a room full of outsiders that they don’t care about the opponent or the score — just the result. On second thought, maybe it is fair to remember the bad over the good; that’s the standard coach Allen set, and everything I saw told me he won’t stop until it’s reached.


Remembering Penn basketball: former DP sports editor Jeff Shafer

Remembering Penn basketball: former DP sportswriter Andrew Todres

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