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Penn Relays Thursday recap

(04/27/06 9:00am)

The latest edition of track and field's marquee event got under way in earnest Thursday morning at Franklin Field, and it did not take long to start awarding medals. Miami's Dominique Darden took top honors in the college women's 400-meter hurdles. Darden has been a standout all four years she has run for the Hurricanes, collecting 10 All-America honors, the most by any Miami woman. In a thrilling finish, Villanova's women won the college distance medly relay. Penn finished fifth in the race, to the delight of coach Gwen Harris and the Quakers runners (see below for articles on the DMR and Penn's other races). Elsewhere, the South Carolina women will have the chance to defend their 4x100 relay title from a year ago, qualifying with the fifth best time in this afternoon's heats. Texas posted the best time on the track in the 4x100 at 43:84. The top eight from today will compete in the Championship of America Friday afternoon. In the high school girls 4x100, Holmwood Technical of Jamaica finished its heat with a time of 45:14, which would have been good enough to qualify for the college championship. Five of the eight qualifiers in the 4x100 are from Jamaica, while the best U.S. time came from Bethel of Virginia. Holmwood also cleaned up in the 4x400 with a screaming 3:36.09, the third fastest time ever at the relays. Four of the eight qualifiers hail from Jamaica. Eleanor Roosevelt of Maryland was the top U.S. team.

Villanova wins thrilling women's DMR

(04/27/06 9:00am)

For most of the 1980s and early 90s there was only one name anyone needed to know in the college women's distance medley relay: Villanova. Now, after eight years of being out of the top spot, the Wildcats have another plaque, their 10th, to take home. "They were perfect," said coach Gina Procaccio, who won the same event in Villanova jersey in 1987. "They could not have done any better." So is it better to win as a competitor or as a coach? Procaccio beamed as she said proudly she'd rather watch her team win from the sidelines, where she could celebrate more than just her own effort. That her team executed its plan with precision made it even sweeter. Villanova lurked just of the pace of Stanford, who led after the second and third legs. Anchor Marina Muncan, or Serbia and Montenegro, pulled even heading into the final turn of the 10th and final lap. After that, there was nothing Stanford anchor Arianna Lambie could do. Muncan's burst of speed in the final stretch was too much. It was all according to plan. "I kept telling myself to stay behind her until the last 200," Muncan said. The senior finally broke through in her fourth year anchoring the DMR for the Wildcats. "It was going to be hard for her to run down Arianna Lambie," Procaccio said. "If she would have had to make up just three seconds, she couldn't do it." Her coach said Muncan ran the best leg of her career. It helped the team to finish 10:57.03, a almost two seconds better than the Cardinal. Penn held onto the third spot through most of the race, but fell off at the end to finish fifth behind Princeton and Brown. For Villanova, which had not won a relay here since 2000, the win was just a small way of telling the world they are not just a team that used to be good, they're a good team today. Tiera Fletcher, who ran the 400-meter leg, said seeing all the plaques of past Villanova champions was what inspired her. Now she and her teammates have a plaque of their own.

Dunphy introduced as Temple coach

(04/10/06 9:00am)

Fran Dunphy was officially introduced as the next coach of Temple University's men's basketball team this afternoon at the Liacouras Center. The coach of Penn for 17 years is taking over for Hall of Fame coach John Chaney at the helm of the Owls, making him the first man to preside over two Big 5 programs. "It's an exciting time for me," Dunphy said from the same podium where Chaney announced his retirement four weeks ago. "His impact on me has been great over the past 17 years I've had a chance to coach against him." Chaney joined hundreds of members of the Temple family on hand to welcome the new coach. There were also plenty of Quakers faithful there to say goodbye including former assistant coach Steve Donahue, who left the Palestra to assume the head coaching job at Cornell in 2000. "He's been a great leader," Donahue said. "He's done a tremendous job." Dunphy compiled a record of 310-163 with the Quakers winning 10 Ivy League titles and making nine trips to the NCAA Tournament. Tomorrow's DP will have complete coverage of the transition for Dunphy and for Penn.

One last Ivy battle for Quakers

(03/06/06 10:00am)

Fran Dunphy's teams have been in this situation before: NCAA Tournament tickets in hand, and facing Princeton in the last game of the season. The Quakers coach has to like his chances tonight. Dunphy is 4-0 against Princeton when playing as the Ivy League champion. Penn (20-7, 12-1 Ivy) secured the outright Ancient Eight title over the weekend with wins at Yale and Brown. Tonight the Quakers travel to Jadwin Gym where they have won four straight to play a game that means nothing in terms of standings, but everything in terms of pride. Princeton (11-15, 9-4) is trying to avoid its 16th loss of the season which would tie the worst record in the history of the program. But the Tigers have virtually forgotten their painful 2-12 start and have won three of the last four after splitting the weekend against Brown and Yale. Second-year coach Joe Scott is still looking for his first win against the Quakers. Penn, meanwhile, is playing to impress the NCAA selection committee in hopes of coaxing a higher seed. Last season, the Quakers were in roughly the same spot heading to New Jersey and were rewarded with a 13 seed after defeating Princeton 64-56. But the records and the standings seem less important when Penn and Princeton get together. This is a rivalry as fine as any in the game, and both sides will give it their all ƒ_" that is if there is any energy left from the weekend. Penn's four mainstays -- senior Eric Osmundson and juniors Steve Danley, Ibrahim Jaaber and Mark Zoller -- averaged 38 minutes per game over the weekend as a group. Danley played 81 in total and Osmundson put together his best weekend of the season scoring 30 points in 79 minutes and turning the ball over just twice. "Because we're off of school we'll spend plenty of time preparing for Princeton," Dunphy said Saturday after defeating Brown in overtime. "We've played them already so we've got a lot of film. We'll be OK in terms of preparation, I hope." What Penn will see on that film of its 60-41 win at the Palestra is a solid performance against a zone defense which has been some trouble this season. Brown threw a 2-3 zone at the Quakers off and on Saturday night. Penn, however, put on a superb display of perimeter passing and registered 20 assists on its 24 field goals and created dribble penetration as the game wore on. Where Brown kept the Quakers off balance was in the backcourt. The Bears repeatedly employed a three-quarter court press which often kept Osmundson and Zoller behind the offense. "We're not used to playing against that so it took us some time to get used to it," Osmundson said after the game. "Toward the end of the game we were fine." Further, guards Damon Huffman and Marcus Becker repeatedly double-teamed Penn's ball handlers at midcourt preventing the Quakers from getting into an offensive flow. Princeton tinkered with some ball pressure last time out against the Red and Blue, but lacks the quickness to make it effective. Instead, the Tigers will rely on their deliberate offense to control the tempo. As a result, turnovers are a cause for concern for Princeton, which gave the ball up 39 times over the weekend. The Quakers are first in the league in turnover margin (4.78) and steals per game (10.04). Then again, when these two teams face off, the stats really don't matter. PENN at Princeton - 9 p.m. - Princeton, N.J.Radio: WXPN-FM (88.5) - TV: ESPNU The Buzz will have in-game updates beginning at 9 p.m.

Quakers escape Yale with win, Ivy title

(03/03/06 10:00am)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- We're just three days into March and there is already one team with a ticket to March Madness. Penn clinched the Ivy League title tonight with a 57-55 win over Yale, and got some help from Brown who beat second-place Princeton. That gives Penn both the outright league title and its automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. It is the second time in as many years that Penn was the first team into the Big Dance. That was the goal all along. "This being my last year its such a great feeling knowing that we've accomplished it," said senior guard Eric Osmundson. "But we want more. We're happy to be there but we're going to stay focused and hopefully keep advancing." The Quakers (19-7, 11-1 Ivy) needed a pair of foul shots from junior Steve Danley to seal the win after going scoreless for the final six minutes. Yale (15-13, 7-6) got a last-second shot from sophomore Eric Flato, but the jumper from the foul line cleared the basket by a good two feet. Penn had led by as many as 17 in the first half and took a 33-21 maring into the locker room. Yale slowly began to chip away over the final 12 minutes. As the Quakers' offense went cold, the home team was scoring on virtually every possession down the stretch. "It was a little bit of a roller coaster ride," said junior Mark Zoller. "They started to hit their shots and got the crowd back into it. It was kind of a little chaotic." It was starting to become Columbia redux, a mirror image of Penn's only Ivy loss this season. "The Yale guys really turned up the screws defensively," said Penn coach Fran Dunphy, who won his 10th league championship in 17 seasons. "We needed to be more patient. We needed to be exact in what we were doing." As the Elis drew closer, the notoriously vociferous home crowd got louder and louder. "I really don't notice by that point in the game," Osmundson said. "I try to focus on each possession. I just thought we did some stupid things down the stretch and kind of forced it a little bit." But where they needed to make plays, the Quakers made them. Penn found itself clinging to a two-point edge with 27 seconds to play when sophomore Brian Grandieri drove to the basket but missed a 5-footer in the lane. Zoller fought hard and came up with the critical rebound and kicked it out to Ibrahim Jaaber who was fouled. The next 11 seconds were the ball game. "Knowing that we were going to get fouled, what we were trying to do was get the ball to Ibby in the back court and let him run around a little bit to kill some time," Dunphy said. "After that we were just trying to set our defense and try to switch everything up to put as much pressure we could to make them spend some time in the back court." It didn't exactly go as planned. Danley received the in-bounds and was fouled. After his two free throws, Yale was able to fight through the Quakers press and get a 9-footer to fall from Ross Morin. Then Grandeiri's in-bounds pass sailed over the head of Osmundson, setting up Yale's last-second try. "I thought oh, not again," Osmundson said. "I remember my first year here was a similar situation." Yale won that game, 54-52, in January 2003. Not tonight. The pre-season favorites for the Ivy title showed why they were picked No. 1. It all came down to Penn's strong start, outscoring the Elis 31-14 over the fist 14 minutes. "It was critical for us," Dunphy said. "I thought our guys did a good job early on, but you know they are going to make a run." Yale senior Dominick Martin led all scorers with 18. Danley finished with 12 points while Zoller had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Osmundson led the team with 15 points. The Quakers needed all of them. Brown's 61-46 win over Princeton was a bonus. It knocked the Tigers out of contention, nullifying the remainder of the Ivy slate and sending Penn on the road to its 24th title. "It's a great accomplishment for this particular group of guys," Dunphy said. "I'm very happy for them just because we talk about it so much. I get ad nauseum with these guys the opportunity to sit in that room and watch on where you're going in an NCAA Tournament game; there's nothing better in this world." For a play-by-play account of the game visit. The Buzz.

Quakers grind out win over BYU-Hawaii

(12/31/05 10:00am)

LAIE, Hawaii - For once, Penn got to know what it feels like to be Duke. The Quakers are certainly familiar with the top-ranked Blue Devils having faced them as 20-point underdogs on Dec. 7. Saturday against Divison-II Brigham Young-Hawaii, the tables were turned. It was Penn expected to do the routing. In the final game played in 2005, things didn't go according to plan. Like the Quakers did in North Carolina, the red and white clad underdogs gave the favorites a game before finally succumbing, 72-62, just as the new year was rang in on the East Coast. The Quakers (5-4) opened strong jumping out to an 11-3 lead and holding BYU-Hawaii to a lone three for the first eight minutes. Then play denigrated and became more choppy as the officials got involved. Penn was charged with 17 fouls in the first half, including a technical on sophomore Brian Grandieri. Those fouls gave the Seasiders (3-5, 0-2 Pacific West) 20 free throw attempts in the first frame of which they converted 14. That was half the offensive effort, and kept BYUH within six at the break, 34-28. Then what started out as mildly ugly got plain disgusting. The fouls started to pile up, and midway through the second half, the Quakers began playing down to their opponent's level. By the time it was over, juniors Mark Zoller and Steve Danley had fouled out and the Seasiders had taken 35 free throws (26 makes). Penn attempted just 18, connecting on 12. "It was a fractured game because of all the fouling," said Penn coach Fran Dunphy. "There's not a good flow to the game, but you have to battle through it some time."