It’s now or never for the Red and Blue.
With the last weekend of Ivy League play approaching, Penn men’s basketball still has it all to play for.
As it currently stands, the Quakers (17-11, 5-7 Ivy) sit just one game back of Brown in the race for the fourth and final spot in the Ivy League Tournament, with games against Yale (19-6, 9-3) and the Bears (18-10, 6-6) on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
After winning Ivy Madness last year and earning a taste of NCAA Tournament competition, the Red and Blue do not appear ready to fold on the season. Instead, they are hungry for more.
“This group, with what they’ve been through, is incredibly motivated to get back to the Ivy Tournament,” coach Steve Donahue said. “I think that we’re a good basketball team, and we’re going to have to fight this weekend to prove it.”
Despite the fact that they remain a game behind Brown, the Quakers have a fairly direct path to the top four, a path contingent on this weekend’s games.
Penn wins over both the Bulldogs and the Bears would almost guarantee the Red and Blue the coveted final spot and a chance to compete for the Ivy title, thanks in part to the tiebreaker that the Quakers would hold over Brown. In that scenario, the only outside help they would need to book their spot would be a Brown win over Princeton or a Cornell loss to either Harvard or Dartmouth.
A potential split weekend that includes a loss to Yale on Friday would complicate that scenario, as the Quakers would need at least one Cornell loss as well as a Brown loss to Princeton. However, all of these complex scenarios would go out the window if Penn were to lose to Brown, as that defeat would end the Quakers’ chances.
In summary, the Red and Blue do not control their own destiny, but that’s not something for Donahue and his team to worry about.
“I haven’t looked at any scenarios. I haven’t talked about any scenarios. Our mindset is that we have to win Friday, and then after Friday’s game, we’ll talk about Saturday,” Donahue said. “It’s pretty simple. We’re focusing on how we can beat a really good Yale team. That’s where our mindset has been the last few days, and we’ve had some really great practices.”
For the Quakers to be victorious in either game, they’ll need strong showings from junior forward AJ Brodeur and junior guard Devon Goodman.
Brodeur leads the team in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.1 points and 8.3 boards, while Goodman operates as a secondary scorer from the perimeter. Together, the pair presents a potent inside-outside threat, one that the team will rely upon heavily this weekend.
“Both have been really good all-around players,” Donahue said. “That’s what’s been amazing about both of them. They truly play all aspects of that game. Whether it’s been Devon guarding the best guards in the Ivy League or AJ facilitating our offense, those two guys have been crucial to our success. We’re really going to need both of them to play well this weekend.”
Even beyond the star players, Penn will require contributions from everybody on the roster. The season hangs in the balance, and the Quakers aren’t ready to be done just yet.
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