Penn women's lacrosse dominates year end awards

For the past decade, the athletes of Penn women’s lacrosse have collectively been the stars of the Ivy League. So it should come as no surprise that this year, the Quakers’ two biggest leaders got officially recognized as such.

This week, Penn seniors Tory Bensen and Meg Markham were named Ivy League Attacker and Defender of the Year, respectively.

Coming off of a breakout campaign last season, Bensen has stepped up her game even further throughout the 2015 campaign.

Bensen has been a dominant force with her scoring all season, leading the Quakers with 46 goals. That mark is 20 more than that of the next closest Penn goal scorer, junior Iris Williamson. And she has done it efficiently, notching goals on an impressive 51.1 percent of her total shots.

It is the first time in the program’s history that a Penn attacker has taken home the year-end honor.

While it was Bensen’s first time receiving such high recognition, it was the second consecutive year that Markham took home Defender of the Year honors.

Markham led Penn’s traditionally dominant defensive unit throughout the season, leading the Ancient Eight in turnovers with 40 (more than double the second-best total of 19). She has also provided a strong presence with her ability to and win draws.

Bensen and Markham join teammates Lucy Ferguson, Nina Corcoran, Lely DeSimone and Taylor Foussadier as Penn’s All-Ivy selections for the year.

Despite the Penn’s impressive depth of talent, the Quakers’ road to another Ivy tournament title will not be an easy one. Having already lost to No. 1-seed Princeton, the Quakers enter the tourney as a No. 2-seed despite their copious year end Ivy awards.

The Quakers will likely get their chance to avenge their loss to the Tigers at the tournament, which starts this Friday.

Roundtable: Which Penn team has the best shot at an Ivy title?

As most Penn students celebrate the final day of classes, the majority of people on campus remain aware of the fact that something (read: finals) lurks on the horizon. For five of Penn Athletics’ teams, in addition to dealing with exams, the quest for an Ivy League title remains alive over the course of the next few weeks. As the baseball, softball, men’s and women’s track and field and women’s lacrosse squads attempt to survive and advance, our editors debate which team has the best shot at securing the Quakers’ third Ivy championship this year.

Senior Sports Editor Riley Steele: No matter what anyone says about the baseball and softball teams, there is one right answer here. I would be an idiot to wager for anyone that isn’t Karen Corbett and women’s lacrosse.

While the Quakers’ streak of eight consecutive regular season Ivy League titles came to an end by virtue of their loss against Princeton, Penn has no bad loss on its resume this year. The Red and Blue only fell to teams ranked 11th, sixth and first in the nation in 2015. That’s it.

The Quakers need two wins to capture the Ivy League Tournament title. Penn has already taken down two of the three teams in the field, including its first round opponent, Cornell. Assuming the Red and Blue can make it past the Big Red for a second straight weekend, there’s no reason to doubt the team in a Princeton rematch. With seniors like Tory Bensen, Meg Markham and Lucy Ferguson on the roster, I’d bet any sum of money on Penn women’s lacrosse.

Associate Sports Editor Thomas Munson: If you had asked me which team had the best chance to take an Ivy title in February, I would have said women’s lacrosse without a doubt. But after the Princeton loss and the narrow win over Cornell last weekend, I have to go with baseball.

The Quakers came up just short last season and I can’t envision a scenario in which coach Yurkow doesn’t come back from New York with a division crown this Saturday. If he can do that, there is no doubt that the Quakers claim the overall league title as well. Connor Cuff could get the start on Saturday in the Big Apple, and he has the experience, poise and talent to come away with another big win to extend his career.

That’s not to say that I don’t think the women won’t pull off yet another Ivy title. In fact, I expect them to do so and I would be surprised if the star-filled senior class doesn't hoist another trophy. Still, I feel like baseball is a surer bet.

Associate Sports Editor Tommy Rothman: Baseball and women's lacrosse are solid choices. But there's only one team that can lose its next game and still bring home the title: softball.

Baseball is done if it loses at Columbia, and women's lacrosse can't afford a loss either. But Penn softball is already in the finals, so they have the benefit of getting to play a series. There isn't much margin for error, but there is some.

If the Quakers can take one of two in their series against Dartmouth (two straight wins might be a bit much to ask), anything can happen in the rubber match. All these teams are good, but so are their opponents. Give me the team with the fewest obstacles in its path. You could argue the other teams are more likely to bring home the title, but let's see them get to the finals first. 

Roundtable: Who has been Penn's best coach of 2015?

As Penn Athletics begins to wind down its spring season, several teams — including the baseball, softball and lacrosse squads — remain in contention for Ivy titles and postseason play. Others have played their final contests of the campaign or can see the end of their seasons on the horizon. With a few marquee events still to come, there will be plenty to discuss over the next several days. But as summer approaches, our sports editors debate: Who has had the best coaching performance so far this calendar year?

Senior Sports Editor Riley Steele: Because this discussion includes the entirety of 2015, I am tempted to refer back to the impressive job Penn women’s basketball coach Mike McLaughlin did with his squad this season (even if he hasn’t managed to get on the squash court recently). However, it’s another Mike patrolling the sidelines for the Red and Blue that is most deserving of the Coach of the Year award, at least right now.

After the men’s lacrosse team won the program’s first Ivy title in 2014, coach Mike Murphy was tasked with finding a competent goalkeeper to replace the departed Brian Feeney, as well as retooling the squad’s defense. There certainly have been hiccups this year, especially considering that the Quakers have given up double digit goals in nine of their 12 games and dropped four crucial games in a row mid-season. But three consecutive wins have Penn in position to potentially make the Ivy League Tournament once again, a feat that seemed unimaginable less than a month ago.

Sports Editor Colin Henderson: Well, Riley, while I certainly respect what Murphy has done from the sideline, I think you should have stuck with your first intuition.

This year, McLaughlin had to overcome some lofty obstacles, having lost possibly the program’s most important player of the past decade — Alyssa Baron — and another key defensive stalwart — Meghan McCullough — to graduation. As a result, his young squad saw some struggles early in the season.

However, McLaughlin kept his cool and trusted the process, continuing to trust in up-and-comers like Michelle Nwokedi and Anna Ross. The end result was not a repeat Ivy championship, but it was still impressive: a second place Ancient Eight finish behind only Princeton, which spent most of the season undefeated. While several Penn coaches have enjoyed winning seasons this year, there are very few that can be said to have done a better job of creating a winning culture.

Associate Sports Editor Tom Nowlan: Baseball’s John Yurkow. Last year, Yurkow’s first season as Quaker head coach ended in crushing fashion, as the Quakers dropped a one-game playoff to Columbia to decide the Lou Gehrig division. Yurkow admitted before the season that the loss had bugged him all offseason, and he has motivated his squad to come back much stronger this year.

The Quakers have rolled to a 14-2 Ivy record so far this season — once again, tied with the Lions — and have dominated in all facets of the game, from the pitching of Connor Cuff to the offensive dominance of Austin Bossart and Mitch Montaldo. Yurkow has been unafraid to reward his team’s hot hands — preseason afterthought Connor Betbeze has moved into and excelled in the leadoff spot — while still sticking with veterans who have gone through rough stretches, such as senior infielder Jeff McGarry.

As the Quakers head into this weekend’s winner-take-all four-game set with Columbia, Penn fans can’t help but feel confident with Yurkow’s steady presence at the helm of the team.

Penn lacrosse dominates Ivy weekly awards

When Penn men’s lacrosse walked away from a road victory in Providence, R.I. over No. 10 Brown, the whole Ivy League took notice.

The Quakers used a team effort to take down their highly-ranked rivals, but junior goalie Jimmy Sestilio and freshman midfield Kevin McGeary caught the eyes of the media with their stellar individual performances.

Sestilio and McGeary were named Ivy League Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week respectively, the first time either has received a weekly award in their careers at Penn.

The men’s squad wasn’t the only one to take home Ivy weekly honors. Senior defender Meg Markham of Penn women’s lacrosse took home Defensive Player of the Week honors in the Ancient Eight.

While Saturday’s game started slow for Sestilio in net, he was a brick wall for the entirety of the second half. His 17 saves were a career high and were crucial in holding off a Brown attack that was averaging over 16 goals per game heading into last weekend’s contest.

A big part of Sestilio‘s success came from a team-wide defensive effort to shut down defending Ivy Player of the Week Larken Kemp. The Brown long stick midfield is considered one of the nation’s best at his position, but was limited to zero shots throughout the course of the match.

On the offensive end, McGeary added two goals on eight shots. His second goal was especially key, cutting the Brown lead to one with 32 seconds remaining in the first half. The rookie’s strong play in the opening period kept Penn in the game and put it in position to mount its successful comeback.

Markham’s consistent play led an impressive defensive unit that had opponents in a stranglehold all week, as the Quakers limited Columbia and Northwestern to a combined 10 goals.

Against the Lions, the defense allowed only one goal for an Ivy League-leading second time this season.

While the Red and Blue eventually came up short against the No. 6 Wildcats in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, the defense held true. The Quakers limited Northwestern to less than 10 goals for only the fourth time all year.

Selena Lasota — Northwestern’s leading scorer with 40 goals entering the game — struggled against Markham, only tallying one goal under the senior’s watch and just two on the game.

Markham — who won her second Defensive Player of the Week award of the season and fifth of her career — added to what is now a long tally of impressive games for the Quakers. She is averaging 3.0 caused turnovers per game this year, good enough for first and second in the league and nation respectively in the statistic.

Additionally, Markham has now taken home the Red and Blue’s fourth Defensive Player of the Week award of their 2015 campaign. In addition to her two, sophomore defender Megan Kelly and senior goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson each have an award to their name.

Next up for the men’s team is a date with Harvard on Saturday as the squad tries to keep its Ivy postseason hopes alive. The women’s team also plays the Crimson on Saturday.

Roundtable: Who has been Penn's best spring athlete?

Midway through Penn Athletics’ spring season, an intriguing combination of players have left an indelible mark on their respective teams’ successes in 2015. In recent weeks, Penn baseball has surged ahead, winning seven of eight Ivy games in dominating fashion, yet with no single person responsible for the hot streak. The women’s lacrosse and softball teams are humming along as well, with their usual cast of stars setting the tone for the Quakers.

As these teams and others prepare for a stretch run to the postseason, our editors answer one simple question: Which spring athlete has been the most impressive for the Red and Blue?

Sports Editor Colin Henderson: I have to go with Tory Bensen, Penn women’s lacrosse’s star senior attack.

Bensen’s numbers alone are probably impressive enough to give her the title. She has 37 goals on the season, more than twice as many as everyone on the team except fellow attack Iris Williamson. She is on pace to break her personal record of 41 goals in a season, which was good for tops on the team last year.

Aside from the sheer volume of goals she has scored, her efficiency has also been off the charts. She has put over 85 percent of her shots on goal and ultimately scored on over 53 percent of them.

But the numbers only paint part of the picture for Bensen. The Red and Blue have won eight consecutive Ivy championships, but they have always been known primarily for their stifling defense. Meanwhile, their offense has been seen as preventing the team from breaking through nationally — especially in recent years.

This year, the Quakers are changing that perception, featuring a dynamic, balanced and consistent attack, and Bensen is leading the way.

And on top of all this, she’s simply the best player on Penn’s most dominant athletic program. That needs to count for something.

Associate Sports Editor Tom Nowlan: Connor Cuff. The senior righty has been the ace of Penn baseball’s staff all season, helping the Quakers burst out of the conference gate with a 7-1 Ivy record.

Cuff’s statistics speak for themselves. His 1.78 earned run average is tops on the team and third-best in the Ivy League, while his three wins (and two complete games) tie him with fellow senior Ronnie Glenn for the most on the squad. Cuff has given up more than one earned run in a start only once, and that was in a March 29 complete-game victory over Red Rolfe Division-leading Dartmouth.

Coming into the season, Penn’s offense was a known entity — senior catcher Austin Bossart and senior infielder Jeff McGarry were expected to tear the cover off the ball, which they have. Combined with Mitch Montaldo’s Ivy-leading six home runs and Connor Betbeze's .356 batting average, the Red and Blue sport the most powerful offense in the Ancient Eight. However, the dominance of Glenn and Cuff — and Cuff in particular — has validated Penn’s preseason hype as the Ivy League favorite.

As the conventional wisdom goes, postseason success comes down to pitching and defense. With Cuff at the top of the rotation, the Quakers can be confident putting its late-season fortunes in his right hand.

Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: Another year, another star freshman for Penn softball. Last year, outfielder Leah Allen took the Ivy League by storm, earning unanimous first team All-Ivy and Rookie of the Year honors. Allen set single-season records for home runs (13) and RBI (43), while batting .383.

This year, it’s freshman catcher Jurie Joyner. The McDonough, Ga., native leads the team with a .439 batting average and ranks second on the team with 21 RBI. While the team hasn’t had the greatest season so far — currently sitting in second place in the South Division with a 4-4 conference record — Joyner has been a noteworthy bright spot.

The Quakers are currently second in the Ivies in runs scored per game with 4.77, due in large part to the continued growth of an offense that only lost two key contributors from last year’s starting lineup. While a tough early season schedule and inconsistent play in conference outings has limited the team to a .500 record, the team’s young trend sets them up for a strong future.

Turn back the clock: Penn basketball's last NCAA tournament

Nowadays, it seems like the closest Penn students come to “March Madness” (besides spring break, of course) is filling out brackets or watching the Big Dance on TV.

But it wasn’t long ago that Penn consistently had the opportunity to experience the real thing on a consistent basis. In fact, in the early to mid 2000s, Penn men’s basketball was a bona fide Ivy League powerhouse, regularly finishing atop the Ancient Eight.

Given the recent struggles of the program — the team finished dead last in the Ivies this year — it may be hard to envision the team dominating the league, but Penn’s storied basketball history is actually not that far in the past. So let’s use the Final Four festivities coming up this weekend as an excuse to turn back the clock to 2007, the last time the Quakers made it to the NCAA Tournament.

Heading into the 2006-07 season, besting the Ivy League had become commonplace for the Red and Blue — they were two time defending champions and had won the league in four of the previous five years.

But something drastic had changed for the program. Legendary coach Fran Dunphy had left after the 2005-06 season to take the Temple head coaching job, leaving the program in the hands of veteran coach Glenn Miller.

The Quakers overcame the coaching turnover — led by seniors Ibrahim Jaaber, Mark Zoller and Steven Danley — and were able to accrue a 13-1 Ivy record and win the Ivies by a three-game margin, earning them an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. They were given a 14-seed and sent to the South region of the bracket, matched up against three-seed Texas A&M.

Despite their relative ease getting through the Ivy regular season, the Quakers experienced adversity from the get-go.

In front of a pro-Penn (and anti-A&M) Rupp Arena crowd, the Quakers were unable to score until more than five minutes into the game — with Danley hampered by a back injury, the Quakers struggled to get going offensively.

“When you play against such a good team … you have to knock down a reasonable amount of shot,” Miller said. “We dug ourselves a hole.”

Meanwhile, the Aggies — led by All-American and future first-round NBA draft pick Acie Law — would take control of the game.

The Quakers fought back. With Danley essentially a non-factor, Jaaber and Zoller carried the load offensively for Penn. Within the first nine minutes of the second half, the Quakers went on a 19-3 run to take their first lead of the game, 39-37, much to the approval of the crowd.

“They did a great job of converting those plays, and we did a bad job of finishing them,” Law said of the Quakers’ run.

However, it would ultimately turn out to also be Penn’s last lead of the game.

With just under 12 minutes remaining, A&M forward Joseph Jones tip-slammed a Law miss to tie the game. On the very next possession, the same thing happened: Law missed and Jones slammed it home.

The Aggies would not relinquish the lead, overwhelming the Quakers for the rest of the game and taking home a 68-52 victory.

“Getting taken out of the game, just knowing that there’s not a tomorrow, it kind of hit me there a little bit,” Jaaber said of his last collegiate game.

The Aggies would go on to lose in the Sweet 16. Meanwhile, the Red and Blue are still searching for their first Tourney win since 1994, a search that has no clear end in sight.

Penn baseball's Ronnie Glenn, softball's Jurie Joyner earn Ivy honors

The Quakers earned a couple of pieces of hardware on the diamond last week.

Penn baseball ace Ronnie Glenn was named Ivy League Pitcher of the Week after leading the Red and Blue to a pair of victories in as many starts. The senior southpaw allowed two runs in five innings against St Joseph's and just one run in nine innings en route to a complete-game, extra-inning win over Harvard (the teams were scheduled for seven innings). Glenn also racked up 13 strikeouts, helping him bring in his first Ivy League weekly award.

Penn softball joined in on the award-winning fun, with catcher Jurie Joyner slugging her way to Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors. Joyner hit .643 in five games, bringing her season average up to .422, good for fourth in the league. The freshman also drove in nine runs, giving her the league's sixth-highest total (11). Of Joyner's nine hits on the week, seven went for extra bases, and one of them cleared the wall for her first collegiate home run. The Georgia native shared the award with Brown pitcher Katie Orona.

In addition to the two awards, both teams landed a player on the weekly honor roll. Baseball senior Connor Betbeze hit .571 to earn a spot, and softball junior captain Lauren Li joined him after hitting .743.

Glenn will likely make his next start this weekend against Yale or Brown. Joyner will look to continue her hot streak when Penn and Lafayette play two on Wednesday.

Both teams started their Ivy campaigns with three wins in four games, thanks in no small part to the award-winning efforts of Glenn and Joyner. Baseball enters the week at 7-9 overall, while softball stands at 11-9.

Former-Penn basketball recruit Jule Brown decommits

It’s always painful to go through a breakup.

Penn men's basketball recruit and Lower Merion High School senior Jule Brown announced Monday that he has decommitted from the Quakers and will not be a part of the program next season.

Brown made the announcement via Twitter Monday afternoon.

“After careful deliberation with my family and coach, I have decided to look for better options,” Brown said in the statement on social media. “I look forward to going through the recruiting process again. Again, a huge thank you to the University of Pennsylvania.”

It is unclear if Brown’s decision is a result of former coach Jerome Allen’s firing.

“I thought I had a great connection with [Allen], along with the other coaches. But I’m shocked. That’s all I can say,” Brown said in an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian immediately following the news of Allen’s firing on March 7.

However, at the time, Brown made it sound as if he had no plans to leave the program.

“Penn’s a great school, great basketball team,” Brown said. “I’d be foolish not to stick with them.”

However, it is clear that Brown’s sentiments have changed over the past three weeks. After having received offers from Columbia, Lafayette and Hartford in his initial recruitment last year, Brown will reopen his recruitment.

Despite Brown’s decommitment, Penn will still have a very solid class arriving on campus next fall. Cherry Hill, N.J. native and guard Jake Silpe will headline the Quakers’ class of 2019, which will also include center Collin McManus and sharpshooter Jackson Donahue, both of whom attend Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.).

“The generosity and camaraderie I have experienced over the last year has been a blessing,” Brown wrote in the letter. “[The Quakers] are a special group of players and there is no doubt in my mind they will be making noise in the Ivy League in the upcoming year and beyond.” 

President Obama cheers Princeton women's basketball to NCAA win

Ivy League champion Princeton played its first game of the NCAA Tournament yesterday and the Tigers had a pretty big fan in their corner.

President Barack Obama was in the stands in College Park, Md., cheering for the Tigers, who feature his niece, freshman forward Leslie Robinson. Michelle Obama, a Princeton grad, was in Japan and was unable to attend the game.

Princeton, which was surprisingly put as an eight seed despite a 30-0 record going into the Tournament, picked up an 80-70 victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay, moving to 31-0. The Tigers will face the host in the region, Maryland, on Monday in a battle to make the Sweet 16. 

The win was the first in Princeton women's basketball NCAA Tournament history and just the second ever by an Ivy team. Penn led Texas at the half last year in its NCAA matchup (also played at College Park) but could not come away with a win.

Liveblog: Penn women's basketball takes on Hofstra in the WNIT

Penn women's basketball hosts Hofstra in the first round of the WNIT. Follow along with our liveblog here.

Live Blog Penn women's basketball vs. Hofstra - NIT Round 1

Bagnoli announces Columbia football staff

Once the dust cleared and Al Bagnoli was Columbia football's head coach, the next question became: Who would be on his staff? Would he take anyone from Penn's current staff?

Well, Bagnoli did raid Ray Priore's staff for one particular coach: Wide receivers coach Mark Fabish. Fabish will coach receivers and will be an associate head coach under Bagnoli at Columbia, leaving a spot to fill for Priore at Penn.

"Mark was the other coach I “recruited” from Penn," Bagnoli said in a release. "Mark served as our wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator as well as a member of my offensive staff, which produced three outright championships. He is a former great player at Penn and part of my first recruiting class. Mark will be a great fit as he is a North Jersey native who played at Bergen Catholic."

Other familiar faces: Jon McLaughlin was let go by Penn after the most recent season as offensive line and offensive coordinator and he will be Bagnoli's offensive line coach. Joseph D'Orazio, who was an All-Ivy offensive lineman for Penn as recently has four years ago, will coach tight ends for Columbia.

Here's the full staff in bullet point form:

  • Offensive coordinator and QB coach: Michael Faragalli
  • Offensive Line coach: Jon McLaughlin
  • Wide receivers coach: Mark Fabish
  • Tight ends coach: Joseph D'Orazio
  • Running backs coach: Todd Gilcrist
  • Defensive coordinator: Paul Ferraro
  • Defensive line coach: Darin Edwards
  • Linebackers coach and special teams coordinator: Justin Stovall
  • Secondary coach and recruiting coordinator: Jon Poppe 

3-on-3: Comparing the two Penn hoops squads

Even though their regular seasons have wound down, both Penn men’s and women’s basketball have been in the news of late. As Steve Donahue prepares to take over the men’s team while Mike McLaughlin’s unit enters postseason play once again, our 3-on-3 writers compare the two squads.

1. Who was better in 2014-15: Antonio Woods for the men’s team or Michelle Nwokedi for the women’s side?

Associate Sports Editor Tom Nowlan: Nwokedi. Yes, Woods was certainly a bright spot for the men’s squad, but what Nwokedi was able to do this season was simply stunning. Despite playing relatively few minutes early in the year, the Texas native got better as the season progressed, winning six Ivy League Rookie of the Week nods and establishing herself as a starter. Despite averaging only 18.2 minutes per contest, Nwokedi was able to finish second on the team with 7.1 rebounds per game and scored the Quakers’ third-most points per game with 8.9.

Associate Sports Editor Tommy Rothman: Nwokedi, easily. She averaged nine points per game (slightly more than Woods) in 19 minutes per game (far fewer than Woods). Nwokedi was also a force on the boards, notching seven rebounds per game  also finishing second in the league with 2.3 blocks per contest. It's tough to compare a guard to a forward, but Woods didn't do enough "guard stuff" (passing, steals, hitting threes) to beat out Nwokedi. Penn Rookie of the Year isn't a thing, so Nwokedi will have to be content with the Ivy Rookie of the Year she was awarded last week.

Associate Sports Editor Thomas Munson: I'm leaning towards Nwokedi on this one.  We were spoiled by Stipanovich double-doubles late last season, but Nwokedi was Penn’s leading rebounder over the final four games. Her 6-foot-3 frame made her nearly unstoppable in a relatively vertically challenged Ivy League; yet she can make plays with the ball in space and drain shots like a guard. Woods impressed, but Nwokedi was a driving force behind a winning team and was often a difference maker.

2. Which team’s backcourt is in better shape moving forward?

Nowlan: The men. And it’s all because of one guy: Antonio Woods. Sure, freshman Anna Ross was a valuable cog in the Quakers’ offense this season, but no guard on the women’s squad has the sheer transcendent talent of Woods. He can score in bunches while still effectively operating the point, something that will be really fun to watch for the next three years. Things will get even better for Woods when Tony Hicks graduates and his touches increase even more.

Rothman: The men's team. Anna Ross had a strong season and Beth Brzozowski had some good games, but with Kathleen Roche and Renee Busch both and Keiera Ray a question mark due to injury, I have to give the men their tenth win of the season here. Antonio Woods and Tony Hicks form a dynamic duo in the backcourt, and they'll be joined by incoming freshmen Jake Silpe and Jackson Donahue (no relation to Steve). Matt Howard provides depth, and Jamal Lewis could be a factor, although he, like Ray, must get back on the court first.

Munson: While it's hard not to choose a backcourt led by the dynamic Anna Ross, I definitely have to take the men on this one. Antonio Woods and Matt Howard both have superstar potential for the Red and Blue. What stood out to me most about this season as a whole was Woods' progression. By the final game against Princeton the offense ran through him and he looked more than comfortable taking the reins and running the point. Sure, Hicks will be back next season but I think the last few games proved that there's been a changing of the guard as the team’s core gets younger and deeper. Finding minutes for Hicks, Howard, Woods and Darnell Foreman will be a tough task for Donahue next year.

3. Penn women’s basketball will play in its third consecutive postseason beginning on Thursday. What are the chances that both basketball squads receive postseason bids in 2015-16?

Nowlan: 15 percent. Yes, the women are a lock to finish in one of the Ivy League's top two spots next year and earn a postseason berth, but the men's team has a long way to go to get back to the top of the Ancient Eight. Sure, sophomores-to-be Woods and Mike Auger — along with returning veterans Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry — will bring plenty of talent to the table, but a worst-to-first jump, especially with a new head coach factored in, isn’t that easy.

Rothman: So, how likely is it that the men's team is decent? Why didn't you just ask? Anyway, I'd say 35 percent. The Red and Blue had their moments this past season, especially down the stretch. Steve Donahue is an impressive new hire, the recruiting class is solid, and Penn isn't losing all that much to graduation. But overall, the men's team was very bad this year, so even if they improve, they could still be pretty bad. They won't be playing in the NCAA tournament and the NIT is almost certainly out of the question as well. Could they finish a hair over .500 and get into one of the lesser tournaments? Maybe.

Munson: I might sound crazy, but I'm gonna say 75 percent. The women may be losing a few key seniors but that shouldn't stop them winning their share of league games. For the men's team, I'm incautiously optimistic about the future. They have an excellent young core and an incoming recruiting class that looks strong (assuming it stays intact). Wesley Saunders is graduating from Harvard and there are some depth concerns for Tommy Amaker’s squad. The biggest question mark for Penn is whether any big men not named Mike Auger can play consistent basketball. You can't teach height but you also can't just be tall if you want to win games. Without Greg Louis the Quakers might get challenged a little more on the defensive end, but I have full faith in the Red and Blue’s ability to finish in the top three of the Ancient Eight.

Cornell coach Bill Courtney weighs in on Donahue hiring

Steve Donahue made his mark on the national stage up in Ithaca in his 10-year tenure, leading Cornell to three straight Ivy League titles and a Sweet 16 berth. While Donahue left Cornell for Boston College, his impact is still felt by the Big Red. Now, with Donahue taking the head coaching job at Penn, he’ll face his former squad twice a year. ESPN Ithaca interviewed current Cornell coach Bill Courtney, who took over from Donahue, and asked him about the news.

ESPN: What do you think about the news?

Bill Courtney: It was incredible news today and we had heard a little bit about it the last week or so. Obviously, with the University of the Pennsylvania, you look at Steve: He’s an incredible candidate and obviously the job he did here at Cornell, a legendary job in what he was able accomplish here. He’s a great coach. He’s a great guy. He’s been so supportive of us here at Cornell and I think they did a great job by going out and getting it done to be able to get Steve to come to Penn. It’s a place he’s familiar with, a place he’s [coached] at for close to 10 years, a place in Philadelphia where he grew up.

ESPN: Do you think he’s a good fit then?

BC: "Absolutely," Courtney responded to the question. "I don't know that if you're Penn if you [can] go out and find a better guy than Steve Donahue. Obviously this league has become extremely, extremely difficult and there are quality coaches at every institution and lots of very good players who play in this league now.

"So when you out and get a guy like Steve who you know is a very good coach, I think that speaks well about your program."

ESPN: Bill, after the rough season two years ago … a rough season not just for your Cornell squad with two wins but a tough one for [Boston College]. Steve Donahue let go there and spent this year as an analyst for ESPN. With him being unemployed as a coach entering this season, there were certainly some folks here in this community that said, ‘Hmm… I wonder if Steve could come back.’ You turned this Cornell program around with a 13-win season this year. Now Steve’s out of the mix. Does it feel like things are starting to settle the way it works out for everyone right now?

BC: The way you do it when you have one of these jobs and you’re trying to rebuild your program, you can worry about other things. You can’t worry about things that are going on around you that people talk about. You kind of have to focus on your job and your players and making sure they’re doing the right things on and off the floor.

And we had an idea that we’d be a lot better this year and we’d have a chance to compete in our league and we were able to do that. We’d have liked to have won some more games but we knew we’d be able to compete and we certainly feel that our program is heading in the right direction and we’re on our way up.

Again, Steve’s a great coach and I have tremendous respect for him and I wish him all the best at Penn except for two dates out of the year when we play them. It’s one of those things where the Ivy League was a tough league and I think it got a little bit tougher.

Listen to the rest of the interview here, as Courtney discusses Harvard and his NCAA Tournament picks. 

Women's lacrosse seniors earns pair of weekly awards

Penn women’s lacrosse has certainly picked up where it left off last year.  The No. 14 Quakers are undefeated through their first six games, and after two dominant wins over Saint Joseph’s and Georgetown, seniors Tory Bensen and Meg Markham have been named Ivy League co-Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week respectively.

Bensen notched a combined eight goals in the two games, most notably five goals in a 15-8 win over the Hoyas.  The award is the second of the season for Bensen and third of her career.

The senior leads the Ivy League with 24 goals on the season and is tied for third in the nation in goals per game at 4.0.  Bensen led the Quakers last season with 43 goals, and is well on her way to approaching that mark with 24 in this young season.

Markham — a pre-season All-American — had strong defensive performances as the Quakers held their opponents to a combined nine goals in two games.  The senior had five ground balls, six draw controls and eight caused turnovers during the week to earn her fourth career weekly honor.

The Red and Blue will look to maintain perfection as they take on No. 1 Maryland on Wednesday in College Park in their toughest matchup of the year.

Five Penn wrestlers qualify for 2015 NCAA Championships

Five Penn wrestlers punched their ticket to St. Louis on Wednesday, as the NCAA announced the final list of qualifiers for the 2015 National Tournament.

For three Quakers, the announcement confirmed what they had already known, as junior Lorenzo Thomas, senior Canaan Bethea and senior Brooks Martino earned automatic bids with stellar performances at EIWA Championships on March 6-7.

Thomas, the No. 10 seed entering the upcoming tournament, is no stranger to the national stage. Last year, the then-sophomore went 5-3 in at 184-pound to earn All American honors. Although Bethea missed qualifying for NCAA’s in 2014, he competed in the 184-pound class in 2013, finishing 0-2. Martino, on the other hand, is a first-time qualifier for NCAA’s – the Quakers only first-timer to qualify for the 2015 tournament. Both seniors are unseeded entering the 2015 tournament.

After earning at large bids, sophomore Caleb Richardson and senior C.J. Cobb will join Penn’s trio of automatic-bid earners in St. Louis. Although this will be Richardson’s second trip to NCAA’s, it is his first at 133 pounds. Despite a respectable 25-9 overall season record, the sophomore grappler enters St. Louis without a seed. Cobb, however, earned a No. 13 seed at 149 pounds. Cobb’s last appearance at nationals came in 2013 at 141 pounds, where he finished 2-2.

Tony Hicks named Honorable Mention All-Ivy

The Ivy League announced its All-Ivy selections and Tony Hicks was the lone Quakers player to receive recognition.

Hicks was named Honorable Mention All-Ivy after a strong junior season for the Red and Blue captain. Hicks put up 13.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for the 9-19 Quakers this season. 

His highest scoring game was in Penn's first game of the year against Delaware State, when he put up 31 points in a loss. Two games later, he put up a career-high 13 assists against Lafayette.

Penn was the only Ivy squad to not place a player on the All-Ivy first or second team. Yale junior forward Justin Sears won Ivy League Player of the Year while his head coach, James Jones, took home Coach of the Year honors. Despite Jerome Allen vouching for Penn freshman Antonio Woods, Dartmouth guard Miles Wright was named Ivy Rookie of the Year.

Harvard senior forward Steve Moundou-Missi won Ivy Defensive Player of the Year. For the entire All-Ivy press release, click here.

Liveblog: Jerome Allen's final game vs. Princeton

Jerome Allen is coaching his final game in his old varsity sweater, taking on Princeton at the Palestra. Can the Quakers give Allen a third straight win to go out on? Follow our liveblog to find out.

Live Blog Liveblog: Penn basketball vs. Princeton in Jerome Allen's final game

Liveblog: Penn women's basketball vs. 29-0 Princeton

Penn women's basketball takes on undefeated Princeton in a regular season ending matchup at the Palestra. 29-0 Princeton looks to take down Penn to go undefeated into the NCAA Tournament while Penn looks to add a signature win to its resume.

Live Blog Liveblog: Penn women's basketball vs. undefeated Princeton

Bensen and Woods earn weekly honors

After this weekend's games, women's lacrosse senior attack Tory Bensen and men's basketball freshman guard Antonio Woods received Ivy League offensive player of the week and Ivy League rookie of the week honors respectively.

Woods finished the weekend — which featured wins against Columbia and Cornell — averaging 11.0 points and 7.5 assists.  This is the third consecutive week in which Woods has been honored and the fifth time this season.

In the wake of the announcement of coach Jerome Allen's firing on Saturday, the team put together a strong performance in a win over Cornell that saw Woods post his first career double-double with 15 points and 11 assists.

Bensen earned her first award of the season with strong outings against Rutgers and Brown.  The senior averaged 5.0 points per game over the two contest and currently leads the Quakers with 16 goals on the season.

Bensen's mark of 4.0 goals per game ranks second in the nation as the Darien, Conn., native has been off to a fast start this year.  Penn is 4-0 on the season thanks in part to an offense that has scored 11.75 goals per game.

Yale-Harvard playoff game TV and tickets

Here's the ticket and TV info for the Harvard-Yale one-game playoff on Saturday at the Palestra:

  • The game will be at 4 p.m. and will be televised on the American Sports Network as well as ESPN3.
  • Tickets can be purchased through Penn, Harvard or Yale's ticket office. The number for Penn's ticket office is 215-898-6151.
  • Tickets will cost $25 for adults and $5 for students and children under 12. They will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Tuesday March 10. 
  • The game will be the ninth playoff in Ivy League men's basketball history and the first since 2011 when Princeton defeated Harvard at Yale, 63-62. 

The Daily Pennsylvanian will be covering the game live so be sure to follow us as the Ivy championship is decided on Saturday.

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