What do you remember from the Ivy Tournament Championship last year?
Darnell Foreman’s iconic three pointer that capped off a first half where he willed the Quakers into the lead comes to mind first. Caleb Wood’s and-one three pointer at the last TV timeout sticks out as well. As does AJ Brodeur’s dominant start to the second half.
What doesn’t stick out, and what is surprising every time you look at the box score, is that Ryan Betley finished second on the team with 17 points.
17 points? Really? When did he score those?
Those questions capture precisely how Betley operates as one of the top scorers on the team and in the Ivy League. He’s the quiet assassin, the sharpshooter who slowly but surely racks up points while staying under the radar.
A lot of that just has to do with the nature of Betley’s game as a perimeter shooter. When he gets hot, he scores in droves.
“I think I tend to score in bunches, so I’ll go on a three-minute run where I’ll hit three threes, and then I won’t score for a little while," Betley said. "Over the course of the game, you can forget about that type of stuff.”
The Downington, Pa. native also gets to the free throw line more than the typical perimeter guard. He finished second on the team last year with 113 free throw attempts, and made them at a team-high .773 clip. And that fits into a common theme of his game: threes and free throws scattered about throughout the game leading to points adding up but not a lot of attention.
The second regular season matchup between the Quakers and Harvard describes that situation perfectly. In a four-minute span at the beginning of the game, Betley knocked down three treys and added a free throw to score 10 of Penn’s first 17 points. But then he made just one other basket and a trio of free throws the rest of the game.
He finished the day with 16 points, second-most on the team. But because his scoring was concentrated in a short spurt towards the beginning of the game, it didn’t stick in memories after it.
“I don’t find it surprising when he has like a quiet 25,” senior guard Antonio Woods said. “He’s going to take so much attention off of everyone else. He takes it and makes a lot of shots.”
There were plenty of other games like that last season. In the quadruple-overtime epic against Monmouth, Eddie Scott’s perfect 8 for 8 shooting and 21 points were the story, despite the fact that Betley led all players with 26 points. Against Columbia, Betley dropped 20 points, including 15 in the second half to close out the game. But AJ Brodeur dominated the postgame headlines after scoring 30 points.
That's not to say that Betley never scores loudly. His first half in the Ivy League opener last season against Princeton, when he scored 19 points on 7 of 9 from the field, including 3 for 3 from beyond the arc, comes to mind.
But those occasions are the exception rather than the rule, and they even support this point. As teams shift their focus to guarding Betley’s hot hand, the floor opens up for his teammates to take charge.
“When all the attention is on you, you can set your teammates up,” Betley said.
“There’s a lot of times where he can get into those spurts, where he makes a lot of shots, and he can also — he might not be scoring the ball — but he’ll do the small things like get a big rebound or get an extra pass and get a three out of it,” Woods added.
Betley is a model of consistency for the Quakers. He finished between 10 and 20 points in 21 of the 32 games last season, and made at least one three pointer in all but one game. But because he’s so consistent and because of the way he scores, he doesn’t garner the same attention that some of his teammates do when they go off.
So when he puts up 20 points in a game this season, keep an eye out for it. It's not the first time he's done it, and it definitely won’t be the last.
For more about the upcoming season, check out the project page for the 2018-2019 Penn basketball preview.
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