Here we go again.
After a season of ups and downs, Penn men’s basketball finds itself preparing for the Ivy League Tournament once again. The defending League champions are the underdogs this time around, barely sneaking into Ivy Madness as the No. 4 seed.
First up for the Quakers (19-11, 7-7 Ivy) is Harvard (17-10, 10-4), which beat Penn in both games this season. The Red and Blue seemed right on the cusp of victory in each contest, taking the Crimson to overtime at the Palestra and only falling by six points in Cambridge, Mass.
“I thought we played them tough," senior guard Jake Silpe said. "Both times, we definitely outworked them. We didn’t close out those games very well.”
If the Quakers hope to end up with a different result on Saturday, they’ll need production outside of their main contributors. Juniors AJ Brodeur and Devon Goodman, who were both named to All-Ivy teams on Monday, combined for 84 points in the games against Harvard. The rest of the team scored just 37.
“We’re not a team that relies on [Brodeur and Goodman]," coach Steve Donahue said. "However we do obviously go through them in different ways."
During the Quakers’ three-game winning streak that propelled them into the tournament, the Red and Blue turned to veteran leadership to take some of the load off their stars. A trio of senior guards in Silpe, Antonio Woods, and Jackson Donahue stepped up in a big way.
In the postseason, experience goes a long way toward success, so this same cast of characters, who have won big games late in the year in the past, will be featured again this weekend.
“If we do end up winning this whole thing, [veteran leadership] is going to be one of the main reasons why,” Brodeur said. “You always see more experienced teams come out on top.”
The other semifinal matchup is between Yale (20-7, 10-4) and Princeton (16-11, 8-6). The Red and Blue have had a similar lack of success against these teams, dropping both games to Princeton and splitting with Yale.
However, the Quakers are a much different team than the one that began conference play with two losses to the Tigers, and they carry arguably the most momentum coming into Ivy Madness out of all four teams. A win against Harvard would bring even more momentum going into the championship game.
“With the momentum we have, we’re the type of team that none of the other three teams want to play,” Brodeur said.
While this isn’t the same group that went 12-2 in conference play and advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season, the Quakers did what they needed to do to just get into Ivy Madness. Now it’s time to replicate that stellar playoff performance from a year ago.
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