Twenty years ago, I was a senior at the University of Pennsylvania and Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. During that time, I traveled to campuses such as Penn State, Temple and Villanova to watch our men’s basketball team play games before large community crowds. These teams often wore licensed merchandise, played games on commercial television, and participated in post-game media press conferences.
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Coach Demer Holleran snuck stars into the country, according to the INS. [NOTE: This article appeared in the annual joke issue.] Demer Holleran's house of cards has come tumbling down. According to documents acquired by The Daily Pennsylvanian, the national championship-winning Penn women's squash team and its wunderkind of a head coach have attracted unwanted attention from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. It seems as if Holleran, in her maniacal search for a national crown, has violated nearly every immigration law on the books. "It looks as if we have two clear-cut cases of fraud on Holleran's part," INS spokesman Jim Morlock said. The substance of the allegations consists in the role Holleran played in the immigration of star players junior Helen Bamber, who came to Penn by way of Zimbabwe, and junior Rina Borromeo, a native of the Philippines. The INS alleges that Holleran, who apparently has established connections with unscrupulous customs agents, was able to smuggle Bamber and Borromeo into the country, provide them with fraudulent visas and keep all of this a secret while her Red and Blue squad managed to secure a title. "I love Demer Holleran," Bamber said. "I'd like to see you lightweights make it in Zimbabwe a single day. Look at our national heroes. Nick Price, for instance, he's got skin like leather. He's a mean brother. It's a terrible life down there. Demer took me away from all that, and I will be thankful for her until the day I die. They should make her a saint." Holleran could not be reached for comment. When a DP reporter arrived at her Wynnewood, Pa., home, Holleran refused to come outdoors. The reporter was then scared away by Holleran's loyal army of illegal-immigrant gardeners and endangered Komodo Dragons. "I'll let you in on a little secret," Penn men's squash coach Craig Thorpe-Clark said. "If I had half the balls that Demer did, I would do the exact same thing. Squash requires years of determination, something you Americans don't know. Fine, condemn squash coaches for doing what they do. But deep down in places you don't like to talk about at parties, you want us on that wall." If the allegations coming from the INS prove true, the ramifications for Holleran will be dire. She could face no less than 10 years of jail time, and the program that she built to prominence would be devastated. "What are you talking about?" Penn Athletic Director Steve Bilsky said when asked for comment. "I don't hear you. Steve's in his happy place, doesn't want to hear this. Negativity no good for AD." Holleran came to Penn eight years ago by way of Princeton. While at Old Nassau, she won national titles and earned All-America honors in 1989, her senior year. Her college boyfriend, former Princeton basketball center Kit Mueller, paints an intriguing picture of the budding coach. "Demer used to always push me around," said Mueller, who is now an attendant at the Penn parking garage on the corner of 38th and Walnut Streets. "She would always tell me what to do. Kit, go get me a hot water bottle. Kit, bring me my bunion eraser. Blah, blah, blah. She never loved me," Mueller said. "All she ever loved was winning."
When Lou Gehrig retired from baseball in the summer of 1939, he gave one of the game's most memorable speeches. "Today," Gehrig said, "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this Earth." For almost two decades, the Iron Horse lived his dream -- playing first base for the New York Yankees. It was everything the once-scrawny school boy wanted in life and the slugger was grateful for his time of glory. For 3 1/2 years I lived a dream, and I too am thankful. Over 99 percent of Penn athletes never play pro ball. For each Matt Maloney, Doug Glanville and Jim Finn, there are 99 Mike Sullivans, Russ Farschts and Joe Pielas -- solid college performers who will not see the next ranks. The same is true among sports reporters. Ninety-nine out of 100 reporters' careers end in college. For each Alan Schwartz (College '90, current Baseball America columnist), there are 99 students like me -- college writers who choose not to pursue the next ranks. During my college career, I touched one of my dreams -- writing a back-page sports column for a well-read publication. Sports reporting was not only the role I played in the Penn community but it also indubitably helped shape me as a person. Indeed, there were moments that I felt like an outsider with a notebook and pen. For example, when Penn baseball reserve infielder Oliver Hahl refused an interview, I questioned my worth as a reporter. As a then-young writer, getting negged from an interview with a peer was like getting turned down for a date by the girl next door. But there were so many more moments when my phone would ring and on the other end was someone beyond my wildest imagination. I will always remember my roommate Adam Cohen's reaction when he once answered our phone and Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Doug Glanville was on the other end. In addition to playing centerfield and batting leadoff for the Phillies, Glanville -- a 1991 Engineering School graduate -- laid a set of plans for a 30th Street baseball stadium. During our interview, Doug told me that he once missed a college game to study for a systems engineering exam. As a result, a Cincinnati Reds scout refused to draft him. But I respect Doug's decision. As students, we all must balance academics with extracurriculars. Even as a star athlete, Doug knew his priorities and I find that admirable. During my time reporting, I especially enjoyed interacting with three coaches in particular: legendary Yale coach Carm Cozza, former Atlanta Hawks forward and current Columbia basketball coach Armond Hill and Princeton hoops coach Bill Carmody (who legitimately is an OK Princetonian). On Penn's campus, many athletes and coaches also provided me with memorable experiences. Women's basketball players Chelsea Hathaway and Sue Van Stone, women's fencers Meredith Galto, Liz Cornfield and Sarah Johns and field hockey players Sarah Dunn and Audrey Heinel always reached out to me with funny stories when I called them at 2 a.m., struggling well past deadline. In each sport there are always a handful of colorful characters that emerge as the ideal "quote machines." As a reporter, it is not always the captain or star player who I turn to when writing. Sometimes, it is the last reserve on the bench if this is the person who will talk candidly. Former Penn basketball guard Chelsea Hathaway was unquestionably my best "quote machine." Former Penn women's basketball coach Julie Soriero often criticized Chelsea for speaking her mind. Chelsea certainly had a little arrogance. After one of my DP colleagues criticized her five-turnover game, Chelsea faxed a three-page statistical argument supporting her own performance. However, it was that same "I will say what I am thinking" attitude that made Chelsea a pleasure to work with. Hathaway always told me what was on her mind -- bluntly, to say the least. Consequently, I was able to write about her team from interesting angles -- perspectives that our readership appreciated. Among my favorite Penn coaches is fencing's Dave Micahnik. He was the first coach I worked with and he treated me like a member of the team. Penn sports needs more Dave Micahniks and more coaches like track's Charlie Powell and baseball's Bob Seddon, coaches who build relationships with reporters instead of brushing them away. Penn basketball coach Fran Dunphy is another of my favorites, simply because he knows his Xs and Os better than anyone in the game. Sometimes building relationships with coaches and players can make it difficult to write objectively. A good columnist needs to sometimes criticize failure. Otherwise, praise becomes meaningless. My most frequent target of criticism was Penn women's basketball coach Julie Soriero, someone I respected as a person but not as a coaching decision maker. I remember once debating if I should run a column criticizing Soriero after many of her players quit. After much deliberation, I decided to run the piece. However, I had wanted to include this disclaimer: these feelings toward the women's basketball coach are not indicative of my feelings toward her as a person. Obviously, I did not. Writing the football and men's fencing beats similarly presented me with the challenge of maintaining both objectivity and friendships. Football players Mike Pikiel, Jesse Simonian and Brent Stiles and fencers Jeff Allen, Andro Nodarse and John Wright were among those I wished not to alienate. Sometimes, this meant stepping down from an assignment to allow a more objective reporter to fill my shoes. Within the sports office, each reporter draws his own line on what is fair criticism and what is degrading to an athlete. As sports editor in 1998, my co-editors Josh Callahan and Kent Malmros had contrasting perspectives. Josh was always "on-the-edge" and the athletes resented him. But his stories were interesting. Then, there was Kent Malmros, a hardened believer in the school of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Athletes loved Kent and always made themselves available for interviews. His approach was probably better when teams were winning but I wondered what his articles would look like if he had to cover a loser. I respect both perspectives and appreciate the opportunity to work with both extremes. I think my mentality lies somewhere between the two. While ethics have been part of my influence, my writing style was also shaped by those who preceded me. I will always respect my first editors -- Eric Goldstein, Jeff Wieland, Mike Hasday, Scott Miller and Jordan Smith. I believe the most important quality is making the office a fun place. Eric, Jeff, Mike, Scott and Jordan achieved this but they also taught me how to ask the hard questions in an interview and how to stand my ground as a reporter. I also look highly upon our current sports editors, Eric Moskowitz and Rick Haggerty, who each possess an admirable work ethic. Each set of editors sets different standards but with the same goal in mind -- perfection. I hope to have impacted Eric, Rick, former editor Dan Tenenblatt and the remaining staff of reporters in even a fraction of the way my predecessors aided me. Away from the DP, it is a different group that has kept me going. From camping out for Penn basketball season tickets with the crew -- Adam Cohen, Jeff Cohen, Ben Cohen, Andy Rhim, Matt Greenberger, Tom Gourley, Josh Levy, Ted Mann, Gary Trief and Brian Hindo -- to throwing goal posts in the river with Mike Malvey, Marty Hrivnak, Dan Fraidstern, Mark DiRado, Julie Herman, Brad Bernstein, Andrew Cooper, Jason Auerbach and Kevin Burkhart, my experience has been filled with fond Quakers memories, both as a reporter and as a fan. Penn athletics captures student camaraderie like little else on campus. I will always remember the goal posts landing in the Schuylkill River, thrice charging the Palestra court and once taking over the house at Jadwin. Only storming the quad on Hey Day and watching Mask and Wig's Spring Fling ritual has chilled my spine like Penn sports. A select few classes were also memorable to me. My academic highlight was International Legal Studies with Professor Thomas Dunfee this semester, when I fused my management and sports interests -- writing a term paper on the ethics of Baltimore Orioles management sending its players to Cuba for an exhibition game. As I say goodbye to Penn, I also must thank my three greatest teachers -- my mom and dad and brother David. If not for them, I would never have had the opportunity to spend four years at Penn, and sports reporting would have remained at best a distant dream. For all the good and bad times, struggles and triumphs, I'd like to thank all who I had the opportunity to meet at Penn -- both those mentioned above and those who have not been mentioned above. Thank you for the memories. Like Gehrig's Yankee Stadium friends, you have made me lucky. Sincerely, Marc 'The Mawk' Edelman
Only Princeton stands between the Penn men's basketball team and the Ivy League crown. Tonight at 7:30 p.m., all cries favoring an Ivy League postseason tournament will forever cease. While most college basketball conferences manufacture late-season excitement with seeded tourneys, the Ivy script naturally sets the stage for a 40-minute, Oscar-winning drama. Three weeks after losing a 50-49 heartbreaker at home to Princeton, the Penn men's basketball team (20-5, 12-1 Ivy League) travels to Jadwin Gymnasium, hoping to avenge the loss to the Tigers (20-6, 11-2 Ivies) with an outright conference title. "For Jed [Ryan] and Paul [Romanczuk], it's their last shot," Penn junior guard Michael Jordan said. "[We] want it really bad." To achieve this, the Quakers must improve upon three facets of the game that failed them in the earlier meeting -- free-throw shooting, guarding the Brian Earl three-pointer and breaking the Princeton press. Penn has worked hard, for obvious reasons, at improving these skills in recent weeks. When the two teams met at the Palestra earlier this season, Penn let a 27-point lead slip away. Penn led Princeton 29-3 with five minutes to go in the first half and 33-9 at halftime. The Tigers fell as far behind as 40-13 with 15 minutes to play before pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in college basketball history. After the halftime break, Princeton coach Bill Carmody turned on the full-court press and his team blew away Penn by surprise. Earl and Mason Rocca led a Tigers offensive charge with a combination of second-half layups and three-pointers. Then, with 2:14 left, freshman Chris Young hit what proved to be the game-winning hook shot, putting the boys from Old Nassau ahead to stay, 50-49. "[A comeback like that] is one of those things in college basketball that happens only once every two or three years," Ryan said. "Here was our opportunity and we let it slip by," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "I was a little more on the shocked side than anything else. I was going to throw the [game] tape away." That tape never did find its way to the garbage, though, as Princeton lost a shocker to Yale, 60-58 in double-overtime the following Friday night. The Tigers then faltered for a second time on the road eight days later against Harvard in overtime, 87-79. The two Princeton losses, combined with the Quakers' 6-0 record since then, have given Penn a one-game lead in the Ivies and control of its post-season destiny. All Penn now needs to do is defeat Princeton -- either tonight at Jadwin or in a conference tie-breaker on Friday at Lehigh's Stabler Arena -- and the Quakers are in the NCAA Tournament. Princeton, however, must win tonight at home or pray for a tournament selection committee that takes a liking to the idea of allocating two bids to the Ivies. "I'm looking back on it and wishing we didn't lose those two games," Earl said, reflecting on the potential significance of his team's two Ivy road defeats. But after letting that big lead slide away three weeks ago, Penn understands that only having to win one of two doesn't make its task a sure bet. "We have this opportunity that we're in now, so we've got to take advantage of it," Romanczuk said. "For us it's a one-game series and for Princeton it's a two-game series. But, we'd like to wrap it up in one and go about our business." One game, one win against a team that lost this season to the Elis and the Crimson sounds plausible. But this is also the team that has defeated the Quakers in six straight, dating back to the 63-56 overtime Princeton win in the 1995-96 Ivy tiebreaker. It is also the team with a 25-game Ivy League home winning streak. The Tigers last loss at home was a 57-55 Quakers win in January 1996. "Princeton -- in the past three years -- they don't slip up," Romanczuk said. Given the expectation that Carmody's Tigers will play near flawless basketball, Penn will need to step up its foul shooting and review that ugly second-half game tape that Dunphy almost discarded. With 16 turnovers in the first meeting, Ryan and Romanczuk must put the ball on the floor when trapped rather than throw lofty passes. Last game, these lob-passes led to a plethora of Princeton second-half steals. And it was these steals that fueled quick Tigers transition points. The Quakers must also find an answer for Earl, who lit-up Jordan for 20 points -- five above his season average. At the same time, Penn must concern itself with freshman Ahmed El-Nokali, who at 6'4" is a three inches taller shooting guard than C.J. Chapman. El-Nokali recently replaced Chapman in the starting lineup and has responded well to the additional minutes. Each area of weakness looms so large for the Red and Blue because this time only a limited number of fans will be behind them at Jadwin. "We have them at home this time, so hopefully, we'll come out at the beginning a little stronger," said Earl, who almost transferred from Princeton to Penn after his freshman season. Although not as historic as the Palestra, the Tigers' gymnasium manages to rattle many Ivy League opponents. The past few seasons, Princeton fans have taken a liking to imitating the Penn faithful's tradition of viciously taunting opponents. "I'm sure the crowd is going to have a lot of stuff to say," Ryan said. "When they came here, our crowd was very animated for the first 20-25 minutes. I'm sure they're going to remember -- it's going to be a hostile environment." But as a veteran team, the Quakers should be well-prepared. With small forward Frank Brown -- who shot 3-of-5 from the field in Saturday's 83-81 win over Cornell, again seeing playing time -- Dunphy's nine-man rotation now contains four seniors. Princeton only has two seniors in its rotation -- Earl and forward Gabe Lewullis. Even more telling is that Carmody is now starting three freshmen -- Young at center, El-Nokali at guard and Chris Krug at forward. Of the three, Young is by far the most important to the Tigers. As expected, he will have to face the 6'11" Owens, who hopes to redeem himself for missing the pair of free throws in the closing minute of the earlier meeting. The junior has elevated himself from a solid Ivy League center to the Quakers' heart -- opting this weekend to take the court with his fractured jaw wired shut. Both literally and figuratively, many expect this contest will come down to the wire. If the Penn men's basketball team can put together 40 minutes of solid foul shooting, contain the Tigers' backcourt and consistently break the press, this time it could be the Red and Blue who steal a victory on the road. And with one more 'W,' the Penn men's basketball team would head to a bigger postseason tournament than any single conference could ever offer -- the NCAA Tournament.
Admitting one's team to be the underdog is often regarded as heresy in the athlete's unwritten guide to pre-meet comments. But Thursday, Penn men's swimming team co-captain Paul Poggi said that "our focus on Saturday is beating Dartmouth and racing Yale." The wording itself is almost a full-fledged admission that the Penn swimming team did not expect to challenge the Elis point-for-point. And as expected, Yale won both the men's and women's meets -- by counts of 164-73 and 191-95, respectively -- moving one step closer to winning Easterns in four weeks. Penn's head-to-head results against Yale, however, by no means indicate that the Quakers did not stay afloat under the bright lights of Yale's relic Kiphuth Exhibition Pool. Rather, both the men and women gave their best effort against the tough Elis, competing in a pool that is a two-floor elevator ride from the practice facility -- a facility regarded by Penn men's co-captain Graham Rigby as having "a lot of history." "But, it should be just that -- history," Rigby explained. Penn coach Kathy Lawlor-Gilbert witnessed her men's team (8-7) make good on Poggi's Thursday prophesy, despite the adverse conditions. The Penn men's swimming team soundly defeated Dartmouth 157-83 in what Lawlor-Gilbert called "a very solid meet." "Yale's really good," said Penn senior Kelly James, a stand-out on the women's team. "They have individuals that score with Easterns' top teams." Penn sophomore Matt Dicker dominated for the men, placing first in the freestyle and backstroke -- ahead of opponents from both Yale and Dartmouth. Penn's Jonathan Maslow also excelled at the Ex, placing second in the 100- and 50-meter free. His stellar performance came in spite of his missing the early part of the season, when he took a transient leave-of-absence from the program. On the diving board, it was a freshman, Matt Cornell, that added to the Red and Blue scoring with a fourth-place finish. "Besides beating Dartmouth, we didn't roll over to Yale," Rigby said. "That's going to serve us well in the next two meets and for the team that goes to Easterns in March." In the women's meet, the Penn women's swimming team (2-7) -- anchored by strong performances from freshmen Devin McGlynn and Christine Page -- had its moments against Yale. But the Quakers swam neck-and-neck with Dartmouth most of the way before falling to the Big Green by a respectable 183-115 margin. McGlynn, who anchored both the 200-meter medley and the 400-meter freestyle, helped the Quakers edge Dartmouth in the 400-meter with what James described as "the fastest split in the 400-meter freestyle in a couple of years." "Page swam pretty well, even though the actual places may not have reflected it," James said.
The Nittany Lions stifled Penn's offense by holding Jordan to four points on 1-of-11 shooting from the field. STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Maybe it was Saturday's pre-game rendition of Star Wars that made Michael Jordan think he could "skywalk." Entering the game, the Penn junior guard was doing just fine with lift-off, averaging a team-high 18.0 points per contest. But Saturday's showdown at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Arena proved a stark contrast to the Quakers' (2-2) first three games. In a 15,000-seat Big-10 arena that looked like the anti-Palestra, Penn proved that it was "not Penn State," and Michael Jordan was not Michael Jordan. Razzled by a superior Penn State defense, Jordan at times tried to do too much. As a result, he was well below his usual performance level. Dressed in his red-and-black Air Jordan sneakers and traditional No. 23 jersey, the Quakers point guard mustered just four points against the Nittany Lions (6-2) on 1-of-11 field goal shooting. Jordan's inability to penetrate the defense proved a decisive factor in Penn State's 71-55 victory. "Our game plan was to keep [Jordan] in front [of our defense]," Penn State coach Jerry Dunn said. "We watched [game] tape, where he really hurt people with his ability to get in the lane and make everyone else better." By staying in front of the Quakers point guard, Penn State's rotating defenders -- Titus Ivory, Joe Crispin and Dan Earl -- offered Philadelphia's finest a shot selection that was not to his liking. But that didn't stop Jordan from trying to shoot his team back into the game. Unable to penetrate, the Penn co-captain was held to one lonely field goal with 42 seconds left in the first half. The field goal came with backcourt-mate Matt Langel bringing up the ball instead of Jordan. Penn co-captain Paul Romanczuk fed Jordan with a pass just inside the foul line, which he knocked down with a short jumper. It was Jordan's best look at the basket all day. "Michael didn't make shots [from further out]," Langel said. With Penn trailing 30-26 at the break, Jordan tried to elevate his team and make amends for his first-half outside shooting woes by taking more shots. The strategy backfired. Forcing the offense, Jordan proved even less in the way of scoring -- connecting on 0-of-6 shots from the field after the break. As the Penn State defense reduced Jordan to shooting fade-away jumpers, the Quakers' primary scoring threat lost the focus of distributing the basketball to his low-post players. In the second half, Jordan dished out just one assist. Penn's ultimate offensive break-down came with 8:11 left, trailing 55-39. With Penn State on an 18-6 run, Jordan took the ball to the hole on a solo-mission. Jordan never saw Big Ten all-time leading shot-blocker Calvin Booth planted under the basket. The 6'11" senior sent the basketball back to Earth faster than a Scud missile's decent. On the other end, Jordan's man, Joe Crispin, buried a three-point bucket and lifted his arms to the home crowd as if to say "it's over." "We challenged [Booth] unintelligently a number of times during that second-half stretch," Dunphy said. "You can't do that against a good team and a good player like Booth." In addition to the ubiquitous presence of Booth, Ivory's catalytic pressure also forced Jordan to be more conservative, especially on his patented spin move. Aside from his one driving layup that was thunderously rejected, Jordan's errant second-half shooting included five fade-aways -- two from the right base-line, one from the left elbow and two from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Jordan's other offensive options similarly faded, as Penn front-line scorers Geoff Owens, Jed Ryan and Romanczuk were all held in check from the inside by the Penn State defense. "In order to win the game here today, we have to have at least five guys playing very, very well," Dunphy said. "And we didn't get that kind of effort today. I don't think we had anybody play spectacularly on both ends of the floor." With reserve point guard Lamar Plummer still recovering from retina surgery, Dunphy has relied on Jordan alone to lead the offense. Saturday Penn State shut him down, and with his decline went the rest of the Penn offense. Exposed in the process was Dunn's brilliantly simple strategy -- "stay between the point guard and the basket." Following the first defensive lesson any young basketball player is supposed to learn, Penn State brought Jordan, and the red-hot Quakers, back down to Earth.
Players such as Anthony DeSale made big plays on Saturday for the Penn football team. ITHACA, N.Y. -- After Saturday's post-game press conference, reporters swarmed Penn tailback Jim Finn in adulation. The senior co-captain had run the ball for 188 yards against Cornell (4-6, 1-6 Ivy League). His most revered carry, a three-yard sweep-left in the first quarter, propelled him past 1990 graduate Bryan Keys as Penn's single-season rushing leader. "That's just gravy," said Finn of his personal accomplishment. Just gravy compared to the Ivy championship he was celebrating -- the one he eyed since Labor Day. Just gravy on the championship his teammates served to him like a freshly-carved turkey on Thanksgiving. Gravy in the grand scheme of football. The conference title is the meat. That was the ultimate goal. For the first nine weeks of 1998, the Penn football team (8-2, 6-1 Ivy League) rode on Finn's shoulders atop the Ivy League. They were riders on a storm, contributors but merely his supporting cast in a search for the title. But when Finn fumbled the football on his own 22-yard line of a scoreless game Saturday, the players that lay beneath his shadow came out roaring to his rescue. "When I fumble, it doesn't really faze me afterwards," Finn said. "It just happens. It's something that's part of the game." Before the Ivy's leading rusher made it as far as the Gatorade jug, Penn junior defensive back Anthony DeSalle ran in front of Cornell quarterback Mike Hood's 1st-and-10 pass. The rarely-used junior sprinted 83 yards down the right sideline for a gut-wrenching, momentum-shifting, game-breaking touchdown. He handed the ball to the Quakers special teams with a 6-0 lead -- Finn's error eradicated. "When [DeSalle] returned it, it was just like I scored," Finn said. "We went ahead and that's what we are supposed to do, keep going." But the junior defensive back was an unlikely candidate to run an 83-yard dash into the Schoellkopf Field endzone. DeSalle, who never started a football game in college, was not even supposed to be in the lineup. The former reserve wide receiver was pressed into action at defensive back by Penn coach Al Bagnoli when corner Hasani White's shoulder stiffened last minute. Cornell coach Pete Mangurian wanted Hood to try exploiting the reserve's inexperience, guessing he would crumble like a weak link. Champions, however, don't have weak links -- just less renowned ones. And DeSalle proved he wouldn't crack. "Obviously, it's really great to have big plays, especially because the offense was struggling a little bit early," Penn co-captain Joe Piela said. "They got the ball deep in the zone on that one before Anthony picked it off. Those are the kind of plays that you need." In fitting Quakers style, the Cornell golden opportunity that wasn't was followed by the extra-point that didn't happen. On the ensuing play, Penn senior Mike Pikiel snapped the football low to holder Jason Battung, who could not scoop it. But what looked like a botched play turned into a beauty as Pikiel held-off the Big Red defense long enough for Battung -- the Quakers' fourth-string quarterback -- to scramble first right, then left, and then loft a pass to career-special teams senior T.J. Trapp down the left sideline, at about the one-foot mark. The reserve fullback then powered his way over a Cornell defender into the endzone for a two-point conversion -- the first points of his career. Penn led 8-0 after the first quarter. "There wasn't very many normal series," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. The Quakers struck again less than two minutes into the second quarter, again with the Penn offense on the sidelines. After Cornell's Charles Watson boomed a punt to Penn's 17-yard line, Piela hauled it in, stepped back, spun off a series of tried tackles and like a greased monkey chased by park rangers, charged 83-yards downfield to the endzone opposite DeSalle's first-quarter score. Add kicker Jason Feinberg's extra-point and pair of field-goals, and the Quakers led 21-0 at halftime, before Finn and the Penn offense even began its charge. "It was a weird offensive game early on," Bagnoli said. "All of a sudden we look up and we've got a couple touchdowns and probably hadn't more than two first downs. It's always the kicking game and big defensive plays. We had a little bit of everything? we were very fortunate." Throw in a completed pass to long-snapper Clint Burhorn and a tackle by kickoff specialist Kendall Hochman, a touchdown by David O'Neill and an interception by Justin Gallagher. Everyone in the lineup was contributing, picking up the slack, until Finn finally broke free from his struggle in the fourth quarter for a 71-yard run. From a simple perspective, it was a huge game for the role player and an early struggle for Finn until he broke out late. But looking over a longer duration, it simply shows the chemistry that dates back to training camp. "I've been here for four years and this is definitely the tightest team that I've been on," Finn said in September. "Everyone is working together and that is the only way we are going to win. We can't have everybody going their own way; we have to work as a team. We believe in ourselves which makes me think that we'll come through when it counts." Championships aren't built by individuals. Ask Penn's 1996 rushing leader Jasen Scott. He ran for 1,193 yards but the Quakers finished just 5-5. Championships are built by entire teams. Saturday afternoon, Finn proved worthy of the admiration he received at the press conference. But it wasn't just his 1,450 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns that earned the respect. Rather, it was the leadership displayed by him and by Piela throughout the season. By downplaying personal achievements and accentuating team chemistry, Finn helped build a team environment. It was an aura stronger than any single player, greater than even a pair of captains. It was one of those things where on any given play, Finn could have stumbled without falling. Because even the most likely of candidates proved fully capable of picking him back up.
The performance of Frank Brown, who is finally healthy again, was key for the Quakers. Kansas men's basketball coach Roy Williams wanted his team to experience the Palestra. He was willing to sacrifice travel time and strength-of-schedule to make the excursion possible. However, he hadn't anticipated sacrificing the No. 8 national ranking, much less his sanity. With 6:15 left in the first-half and the Jayhawks (2-0) trailing Penn 16-13, a mixture of questionable calls and 7,852 screaming, partisan fans got beneath the skin of a usually mellow coach. Williams released his wrath on the closest zebra, official Dick Paparo. The result -- just his seventh technical foul in his 11-year coaching career. With Penn junior Matt Langel hitting the ensuing shots from the charity stripe, the Quakers (0-1) built a five-point lead, 18-13, as even the Kansas players bore facial a expression that implied this game wasn't quite as easy as their victory over Gonzaga. The Jayhawks seemed almost wishing that a double-click of their Nikes would return them to Kansas, where a 61-game home winning streak remained safely intact. "Seven technicals in 11 years of coaching," Williams shouted at the referee. "And that was the cheapest one I ever had." Welcome to the Palestra -- college basketball's most historic arena. As blood rushed through the Kansas head honcho's skull and a newly beat-red face emerged as a perfect complement to his bright-yellow tie, front-row fans, alternating between red-and-blue face paint and guerrilla costumes, celebrated in euphoria. At halftime, Penn was leading 26-19 --Ea margin just three points greater than the mid-contest differential that Kansas faced against Gonzaga in the Jayhawks' season-opener. But with just a 25.9 percent field goal percentage against an Ivy opponent, confidence was clearly knocked down an octave. Thanks to a pair of thunderous Geoff Owens blocks, incredible loose-ball hustle and two clutch Frank Brown jump-shots off-the-bench, the Quakers made the Big-12 Jayhawks look tentative on the offense and troubled defensively. "I was very disappointed at the half," Williams said. "I didn't think we were very aggressive. I felt they were doing more on the offensive boards than we were. Ryan Robertson had two fouls boxing out -- that's the only time I remember us boxing out." But Williams had a method to his madness, sending his troops to West Philadelphia. One can only imagine what the former Dean Smith assistant said to his Jayhawks at halftime because Kansas returned the floor appearing to have learned from the first twenty minutes. After intermission, the Quakers returned equally as aggressive and the fans proved no less rowdy. But the Jayhawks -- a team that shot so poorly from the floor in the first half -- returned to the Palestra hardwood en fuego, lighting it up on 15-of-20 shots from the field. "In the second half, we were far more aggressive offensively, getting the ball into Eric Chenowith," Williams said. "Kenny Gregory was bakin' in the second half. He hadn't done much of anything in the first half. "There was the tale of two cities, this was the tale of two halves." As the Quakers front-court of Paul Romanczuk, Jed Ryan and Owens each picked up their fourth personal fourth personal foul in the latter twenty minutes -- and then Romanczuk fouled out with 3:06 remaining -- foul trouble again took its toll on Penn against a No. 8-ranked opponent. When the Red and Blue last hit the hardwood eight months ago, foul trouble likewise proved the difference again then No. 8 Princeton. But beyond the Penn's foul trouble and a couple debatable no-calls against Kansas in the closing minute, the Jayhawks executed the things they needed in the closing minutes to maintain their ranking. Leading by one, 57-56, Chenowith mustered a steal on Owens and passed to Terry Nooner who dribbled up-court and dished to Gregory for two. Strong defense again on the other end then forced Penn to settle for a falling-down Jed Ryan three-point prayer, as he hoped for a foul call with 1.9 seconds left. The Quakers fouled the pursuing in-bounds pass and the freshman Jeff Boschee maturely stroked both from the line. "We wanted to have one of our three-point shooters, in this case Jed, get himself in the gap and spotted-up,"Dunphy said. Kansas just didn't let it happen. With the game concluded, one wonders if Penn entered the nailbiter as underrated or if Kansas entered overrated. The truth remains unclear, likely lying somewhere in between. One thing is certain, however. Even if their ranking falls, the Jayhawks are a better team now when they entered the Palestra. Applaud Penn for a solid effort, but the Roy Williams gamble payed-off.
The Penn men's basketball team went into the half ahead of No. 8 Kansas by a score of 26-19. Kansas men's basketball coach Roy Williams wanted his team to experience the Palestra. He was willing to sacrifice travel time and strength-of-schedule to make the excursion possible. However, he hadn't anticipated sacrificing the No. 8 national ranking, much less his sanity. With 6:15 left in the first-half and the Jayhawks (2-0) trailing Penn 16-13, a mixture of questionable calls and 7,852 screaming, partisan fans got beneath the skin of a usually mellow coach. Williams released his wrath on the closest zebra, official Dick Paparo. The result -- just his seventh technical foul in his 11-year coaching career. With Penn junior Matt Langel hitting the ensuing shots from the charity stripe, the Quakers (0-1) built a five-point lead, 18-13, as even the Kansas players bore facial a expression that implied this game wasn't quite as easy as their victory over Gonzaga. The Jayhawks seemed almost wishing that a double-click of their Nikes would return them to Kansas, where a 61-game home winning streak remained safely intact. "Seven technicals in 11 years of coaching," Williams shouted at the referee. "And that was the cheapest one I ever had." Welcome to the Palestra -- college basketball's most historic arena. As blood rushed through the Kansas head honcho's skull and a newly beat-red face emerged as a perfect complement to his bright-yellow tie, front-row fans, alternating between red-and-blue face paint and guerrilla costumes, celebrated in euphoria. At halftime, Penn was leading 26-19 --Ea margin just three points greater than the mid-contest differential that Kansas faced against Gonzaga in the Jayhawks' season-opener. But with just a 25.9 percent field goal percentage against an Ivy opponent, confidence was clearly knocked down an octave. Thanks to a pair of thunderous Geoff Owens blocks, incredible loose-ball hustle and two clutch Frank Brown jump-shots off-the-bench, the Quakers made the Big-12 Jayhawks look tentative on the offense and troubled defensively. "I was very disappointed at the half," Williams said. "I didn't think we were very aggressive. I felt they were doing more on the offensive boards than we were. Ryan Robertson had two fouls boxing out -- that's the only time I remember us boxing out." But Williams had a method to his madness, sending his troops to West Philadelphia. One can only imagine what the former Dean Smith assistant said to his Jayhawks at halftime because Kansas returned the floor appearing to have learned from the first twenty minutes. After intermission, the Quakers returned equally as aggressive and the fans proved no less rowdy. But the Jayhawks -- a team that shot so poorly from the floor in the first half -- returned to the Palestra hardwood en fuego, lighting it up on 15-of-20 shots from the field. "In the second half, we were far more aggressive offensively, getting the ball into Eric Chenowith," Williams said. "Kenny Gregory was bakin' in the second half. He hadn't done much of anything in the first half. "There was the tale of two cities, this was the tale of two halves." As the Quakers front-court of Paul Romanczuk, Jed Ryan and Owens each picked up their fourth personal fourth personal foul in the latter twenty minutes -- and then Romanczuk fouled out with 3:06 remaining -- foul trouble again took its toll on Penn against a No. 8-ranked opponent. When the Red and Blue last hit the hardwood eight months ago, foul trouble likewise proved the difference again then No. 8 Princeton. But beyond the Penn's foul trouble and a couple debatable no-calls against Kansas in the closing minute, the Jayhawks executed the things they needed in the closing minutes to maintain their ranking. Leading by one, 57-56, Chenowith mustered a steal on Owens and passed to Terry Nooner who dribbled up-court and dished to Gregory for two. Strong defense again on the other end then forced Penn to settle for a falling-down Jed Ryan three-point prayer, as he hoped for a foul call with 1.9 seconds left. The Quakers fouled the pursuing in-bounds pass and the freshman Jeff Boschee maturely stroked both from the line. "We wanted to have one of our three-point shooters, in this case Jed, get himself in the gap and spotted-up,"Dunphy said. Kansas just didn't let it happen. With the game concluded, one wonders if Penn entered the nailbiter as underrated or if Kansas entered overrated. The truth remains unclear, likely lying somewhere in between. One thing is certain, however. Even if their ranking falls, the Jayhawks are a better team now when they entered the Palestra. Applaud Penn for a solid effort, but the Roy Williams gamble payed-off.
Owens' return gives Penn size advantage The chant 'Ivy champs' reverberates from the goal post submerged in the Schuylkill, across the South Street Bridge and to Franklin Field's 50-yard line. Sports magic is back, alive and well on Penn's campus. When the Penn basketball team meets nationally ranked No. 8 Kansas (1-0) at the Palestra this evening (8 p.m. tip-off), it marks the start of a second Quakers' journey to launch an Ivy title homeward. "I think our chances of winning the Ivy are pretty damn good this year," Penn junior co-captain Michael Jordan said. ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale agrees, selecting the Quakers (0-0) to emerge atop the Ancient Eight for the first time since Matt Maloney and Jerome Allen wore Red and Blue jerseys. But even with the Quakers favored in a showdown with Princeton -- an old-Buick style team with slow-and- steady, executing parts -- tonight's opponent, Kansas, plays the game in reverse style. Appearing more like a speedy Porsche 944-turbo than that old reliable Buick, the Jayhawks spent yesterday's practice running fast-break weaves up-and-down the court. While not all the team proved able to put the ball on the floor, each ran the court crisply. Even the 7'0", 235-pound, Kansas center Eric Chenowith showed the foot-speed of an Ivy guard. This is not out-of-character for a Roy Williams team. "The film that we watched -- the couple exhibition games and the game against Gonzaga -- show their transition game," Penn junior shooting guard Matt Langel said. "They like to run the ball and get some easy baskets. We have to get back defensively." For success tonight, the Quakers must slow Kansas into a half-court offense -- one that makes the Jayhawks focus on jump-shooting rather than exploiting brawn and athleticism. Penn coach Fran Dunphy has prepared his troops with an 8 p.m. practice last night that featured his bench players dressed in blue and simulating the Kansas playbook for the core seven's benefit. In the evening practice -- Jordan, Langel, Jed Ryan, Paul Romanczuk, Geoff Owens, Mike Sullivan and Josh Sanger rotated defensively on the Kansas impostors, who made their best attempt to learn the Jayhawks' screens. "We have to prepare for what they do best," Jordan said. "That's what we're practicing." Last season, Kansas beat Penn 89-71, using size as a primary advantage, averaging over four-inches on Penn defenders at each starting position. This season, however, the Quakers turn the tables, providing a rare case when the Ivy underdog stands taller than its Big 12 opponent. In the middle, the 6'11" Owens will have the duty of containing Chenowith, who is just one inch taller. This is a tremendous shift from last season when Romanczuk yielded a full five inches to then-Kansas center Raef LaFrenz. "Our chances have improved with the addition of Owens," Jordan said. "They have a seven-footer and we can guard him at 6'11"." In addition to restoring a true center to the line-up, the 'big man' also provides Penn with a critical three-inch growth-spurt over last season at each position. With 6'1" guard Garett Kreitz graduated and the Penn center back, the Quakers' four returning starters each move down one position. An undersized center, the 6'7" Romanczuk instead reemerge this season as the prototypical big-school power forward. With height to give on Kansas' 6'6" Nick Bradford, the Penn senior co-captain can play post-up basketball. Ryan, in turn, moves down to the three-spot, where he will match with Jayhawks' small forward Kenny Gregory. Gregory, a 6'5" sophomore, led Kansas with 18 points against Gonzaga. A year ago, Ryan's defensive match was the 6'8" T.J. Pugh, who is expected to sit out tonight, recovering from an ankle stress fracture. In the backcourt, the 6'0" Jordan and 6'5" Langel match equally to Kansas' 6'5" senior Ryan Robinson and 6'1" freshman Jeff Boschee. "Being able to play the two instead of the three makes a difference," Langel said. "I can guard a guard. Instead of guarding Pierce like I did last year." In the backcourt, however, one new obstacle the Quakers face this season is simply the lack of faces. About three weeks ago, sophomore guard Lamar Plummer was poked in the eye, and upon medical review learned of a congenital condition in both his retina. While surgery fully repaired both his retina, the estimated recovery-time will keep him off the hardwood for at least another four weeks. With Kreitz graduated, that leaves Langel as Penn's only other option to run the point, with 6'5" forward Frank Brown and the 6'6" Sullivan likely to fill time at the two. "I play basketball all year round, so if coach needs me to play forty [minutes], I can play forty," Jordan said. Given the likelihood of foul trouble always present in a season-opener, Jordan may have to go the distance. Depth aside, the Quakers' deck stacks surprisingly well against the Jayhawks. Unlike last season's meeting in the MCI Center, Penn enters the contest favored both in size and fan support. Given the magic still surrounding Penn's campus, maybe the veteran Quakers can hold solid footing against this young Kansas team.
Penn ended its disappointing season with a win over arch-rival Princeton. Both Callaghan twins scored goals. and Daniel Tenenblatt As the referee's whistle blew at the end of Saturday's Penn women's soccer game, the Quakers (11-5, 1-5-1 Ivy League) charged the Lourie-Love Field in jubilation after a 2-0 road victory over arch-rival Princeton (9-8, 3-4) for their first Ivy League victory of the year. Unfortunately, it was also Penn's last game of the season, and the two goals almost doubled its previous Ivy League output of three. Despite Saturday's impressive win in Old Nassau, Penn finished the season with unfulfilled expectations. It is difficult to gather how much of the team's post-game field storming was based on the satisfaction of victory, and how much was relief after finally winning an Ivy game. Penn junior goalie Ann Kleutmeierwas perfect in net, earning the shutout. The Callaghan twins -- Jill and Andrea -- each netted a second-half goal en route to victory. "It was a very competitive [game]," Princeton coach Julie Shackford said. "I think that they were definitely more dynamic up front, and we had talked about that previously. I think that was the difference in the game." The loss denied the Tigers their second straight 10-win season, as they went 10-6-1 in 1997. It was also the sixth straight loss for Princeton, and their third straight in the Ivies. But Penn had been expected to meet this performance level all season, after several members of the Red and Blue viewed themselves as Ivy favorites. "As the game ended, [my feelings] were mixed," Penn coach Patrick Baker said. "I was happy we finally won, that we beat Princeton, for our four seniors, and that we won at an Ivy sight. "But at the same time, there was disappointment because looking at who Princeton beat, we think we could have beat those teams too." After Princeton sophomore Amee Reyes missed a break-away wide left in the first half, the game became a midfield battle, and the teams went into halftime with bagels on the scoreboard. Penn junior Jill Callaghan broke the scoring drought at the 76:15 mark when she dribbled down the left wing and fired a shot past Princeton goalie Jonna Iacona. The other twin sensation, Andrea, finished the scoring when she stole the ball from the Tigers' sweeper and smashed one past Iacona with two seconds remaining on the clock. "The second half, they definitely exposed us a little bit wide with [Angela] Konstantaras, who played wide on the left midfield," Shackford said. "Between her and the two Callaghans, I think they definitely got the better of us in the second half, but it was a competitive game."
The Penn field hockey seniors bid farewell to Franklin Field tonight. The Penn field hockey team was turning heads in the Ivy League this season, emerging as a darkhorse contender to steal the Ivy crown from Princeton. Then, in last Wednesday's 6-0 loss to nationally ranked No. 7 Penn State, Penn junior co-captain Maureen Flynn tore her ACL -- an injury that not only stripped the Quakers (7-8) of a corner offense, but also eliminated any chance at an Ancient Eight title. In Penn's first game without Flynn, the team was mathematically eliminated from an Ivy championship with a 4-2 home loss to Yale. In the process, this Friday's much-anticipated road trip to Princeton lost its significance. Today, the Flynn-less Quakers return to the turf of Franklin Field at 7 p.m., in what figures to be a difficult contest. Their opponent is West Chester University (9-10), which went 15-4 last season en route to an Atlantic-10 title. But a secondary force afflicting Penn is internal, as the Red and Blue must keep intensity high despite Saturday's disappointing end to a hard-fought chase. A win today would be special to the team's seniors, as its their final home game. Plus, a 'W' against the Ivy champion Princeton is unlikely, so today may prove to be the last chance for a win. "It's very important to [the seniors] that they win," Penn sophomore Bess Freedlander said. But the Golden Rams aren't about to get pushed around without doing some battering. 1997 Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year Kathy Krannebitter leads West Chester into Franklin Field, with boiling, Xando-coffee hot freshman Joelle Maguire in the Golden Rams' net. After a 2-9 start, Krannebitter pulled senior Beth Steck in favor of Maguire. The move made all the difference, as the frosh has led West Chester to a 7-1 record behind her 0.81 Goals Allowed Average and her .875 save percentage. Included in Maguire's win total was a five-game win streak, which extended from October 11 until October 28, and included a 3-0 victory against Brown. "Their season is on the upswing," Freedlander said. "[Today's game] is going to prove a very challenging one to win." While the Golden Rams, as a team, did not look at any game film of Penn, Maguire acquired background on her opponents by surfing the net. The first player that grabbed her eye was Flynn, who at the time she expected to prove her arch nemesis. "When I looked on the website, [Flynn] was the first player I noticed," Maguire said. "But it still doesn't mean anything. We still have to play the team as if she was in there." Penn faces a different task -- playing knowing full-well that Flynn is absent -- looking to other players to fill the goal-scoring void. One Quaker whom Penn coach Val Cloud will rely on heavily is sophomore attack Bess Freedlander, who already has netted seven goals this season. "Definitely, it needs to come from the attack to shoulder some of that," Freedlander said. "But I also feel that everyone needs to step up." If history repeats itself, tomorrow should bode well for Penn. Last season, the Quakers made the trip to West Chester, Pa., and came away with a stunning 1-0 overtime win against the then-ranked No. 14 Goldern Rams. But the opposing argument is that last time around, Flynn was the one wreaking havoc, breaking down the Golden Rams' attack, and then-senior Emily Hansel finally put it in the net. With Hansel graduated, the Sarah Dunn, Audrey Heinel and Flynn combo emerged as the stabilizing force all season. Breaking up the triumvirate disturbed the order, as the play against Yale went from enthalpy to entropy. For Penn to win this evening, a new consistency must first emerge. Defeating West Chester is less glamorous than an Ivy crown. But for the seniors, it would prove one last memory to cornerstone a solid season. Given all that the Quakers have faced this week -- and a win tonight is still no Ivy title -- beating the Golden Rams will end Penn's home season in style and provide Flynn with a showing that will make her proud.
Before Yale's season opener, Elis transfer Rashad Bartholomew huddled with the offensive linemen on the grass of Brown Stadium. The tailback offered a prayer with his protectors, asking that the bond forged between him and the offensive line would prove strong enough to break Yale's losing ways. Bartholomew had recently freed himself from a trying, two-year experience at the Air Force academy, and like a jovial newlywed on his second honeymoon, vowed this time to make things work. The message was a simple quid pro quo -- if the linemen blocked for him, he promised to run the Elis out of the cellar. Six weeks into the season, Bartholomew has been a man of his words as Yale sits in a four-way tie for the Ivy League lead at 2-1. · In Bartholomew's September 19 debut, the Elis broke a 13-game Ivy League losing streak. Since then, Yale has also snapped streaks of two straight winless seasons at home and of four consecutive losses to Columbia. At 3-3 overall, the team owes much thanks to Bartholomew and the offensive line. "It is one of the closest relationships I've seen between positions," said Yale sophomore lineman Eric Lee, who also blocked for Bartholomew at Peninsula High School in southern California. Upon arriving in New Haven, Conn., this September as a last-minute transfer, Bartholomew was introduced by Lee to the offensive linemen and they quickly accepted him as an their leader on and off the field. He's been a total, turnaround player for a team that had become mocked as the East Coast's Prairie View. Second-year coach Jack Siedlecki made a gutsy move naming Bartholomew the starting tailback despite not joining the team until September, but it has proved an ingenious vote of confidence for the transfer, as Bartholomew ran for 140 yards against Brown -- even without knowing many plays in the book. "I guess we're dealing with the new Yale," Bears coach Phil Estes said after the game, alluding to the difference from last season when Siedlecki called on wide receiver Derek Bentley to play tailback, and 1995-96, when Carm Cozza played the ineffective Jabbar Craigwell. Possessing the Ivy's best average yards per carry among backs at 5.13, and on a pace to break 1,000yards rushing, Bartholomew uses his blazing speed (4.49 40-yard dash), extraordinary power and a Terrell Davis-sized vertical leap to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. "He's got the best leaping ability I've seen," Siedlecki said. · The turf warrior, however, had childhood dreams of leading air raids -- not a ground attack. Rashad's father, Ronald, has served in the United States Air Force for over 20 years and is currently ranked a colonel and stationed in San Antonio, Texas. When Rashad was a high school senior, his father encouraged him to accept free tuition to the Air Force Academy, since it was an affordable option and Rashad had an interest in flying. "At the time, it was the logical choice," Rashad said. It didn't work out. "When he went to [Air Force], he hoped and dreamed to be a pilot," said Brava Bartholomew, Rashad's mom. "But he washed out before he even left the ground -- he didn't qualify." With a sub-par score on his flight aptitude test, Rashad found himself prohibited from flight. He felt alone on the Colorado campus, unable to partake in the activity that prompted him to attend Air Force. A damper on his dream drained him emotionally, as building new friendships in the intense environment proved difficult. "Going to Air Force required a lot of commitment," Bartholomew said. "I wanted to have a little more happiness." As far as football, Rashad had been a high school star at both schools he attended -- O'Fallon and Peninsula. Air Force coach Fisher DeBarry, in addition to others, heavily recruited him. But Bartholomew struggled to gain yards for the Falcons against Western Athletic Conference defenses, and was quickly moved to the bench. He watched from the sidelines as then-Falcons junior Jemal Singleton emerged as the ball carrier out of the halfback and freshman Qualario Brown played occasionally as two-deep. "He wasn't too happy at Air Force," Lee said. "He's a very sociable kid, but going to Air Force depressed him." · If Bartholomew stayed in school for a third year, he would have been obliged to serve in the military upon graduation -- a task that two years at the academy led him to dread. While he went through the motions of studying for his sophomore courses and improving his football game in spring practice, Bartholomew devoted most of his energy to filling out transfer applications. He received quick acceptances from Division I-A football schools Virginia and Northwestern and the Ivy League's Penn and Yale. This was the start to a new beginning. Once completing his sophomore year at Air Force, Bartholomew finally confronted his father about the decision he was prepared to make. "He kind of expected it," Rashad said. "After two years, I realized things were not going the way I wanted. He was a little taken at first but he accepted it." While Bartholomew liked the Quakers because of their strong Ivy League football reputation, he was most interested in Yale because Lee often raved about the Elis' new head coach, Jack Siedlecki. "We talked through the school year," Lee said. "He asked how school was for me and I said I loved it." Bartholomew went that June to visit Yale and meet with Siedlecki -- a visit that proved decisive in his joining the Elis. Not only did he reunite face-to-face with Lee, but he also had a pleasant conversation with the Yale second-year coach. Unlike at Penn, where coach Al Bagnoli indicated a commitment to start Jim Finn at tailback, Siedlecki made it clear that a starting position was available. He even gave the Palos Verdes, Ca., native reason to believe the program was going to rebound from its collapse in the mid-1990s. "He's very talented and came in at a position where we had tremendous need," Siedlecki said. "Our defensive back, Josh Phillips, came out of spring practice as our No. 1 [running back], and we really needed to find someone who would make a difference." Since accepting admission to Yale, things have changed for the political science major. · "We've been making things work. But from the economic point of view, it has been a [big] transition," Bartholomew's mom said, noting the family now must pay for him to attend school. Even his depressed social life has turned around, as roommate David Smith said, "everyone around here -- even outside football -- seems to know who he is," and according to Lee, "he can finally have fun and talk to girls again." With his spirits raised, Bartholomew's football game has taken off at Yale like the proverbial jet. After he was tackled by the last Brown defensive back to deny him a touchdown on his first play from scrimmage, Bartholomew continued to run for a marathon of yards in week one -- carrying the football 31 times for 140 yards, including a nine-yard, third-quarter touchdown. His teammate, quarterback Joe Walland, earned Ivy League Player of the Week for his performance. But with his rushing totals, Bartholomew couldn't have been far behind in the voting. Over the next few weeks, Yale beat Holy Cross for its first home win since 1996 and then fell to Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., 22-19. Defenses began focusing on Bartholomew, and it appeared the magic was wearing thin. Last week, however, the former Falcon made a 180-degree reversal, rushing the football 17 times for 192 yards -- an incredible 11.3 yards per carry -- against Columbia. Until then, the Lions had the best rush-defense in the Ivy League. What made Bartholomew's performance so impressive was that Columbia's eight-man front succeeded at limiting Finn, the Ivy's leading rushing, to 77 yards on 27 carries. Bartholomew more than doubled Finn's totals, with 36 percent of the yards coming on a fourth-quarter playbreaker. On that play, he ran through the Lions defensive line and beat the Columbia right cornerback into the endzone 70-yards downfield. "Ivy League competition compared to Division I-A teams is more lumpy," Bartholomew said. "It's not spread evenly. So, a team might have one good guard and not another to go with it." The Columbia game was the first time Bartholomew really concentrated on attacking the weakness, rather than just running at holes. The approach proved effective, as he showed that even with leading defenses focusing on him, he would find open holes. · Excited to play for the first time since high school, the most important task down the home stretch of Bartholomew's first Ivy season is to remain focused. Even as a two-year veteran of Air Force, however, that may prove difficult this weekend. Penn's homecoming is also a homecoming of sorts for the Bartholomew family, as Ronald flies from San Antonio, Texas, to his new home in West Virginia on Friday night, and will then drive with Rashad's mom to Penn for the game. In addition, Bartholomew will also have friends in the opposing stands, as for the first time, his compatriots can travel from school to school to watch him play. "People say it takes a lot of discipline to make it through Air Force," Bartholomew said. "But here it's much tougher to manage my time. Before, it was choosing between things I disliked. Now, there are things I like to do -- fun distractions." When Bartholomew kneels down with the offensive line in prayer -- which has become the Elis' routine before game time -- he has reason give thanks, beyond just Yale's 2-1 conference record. While he may never fly in a combat mission, Yale has returned football, friends and fun to Bartholomew's daily routine. Even if Siedlecki's crew falls to Penn on Franklin Field -- and the odds predict they will -- an element of smile will remain on the junior tailback's face. Once again, he's playing ball and having fun.
Penn quarterback Matt Rader returned from injury to throw for 169 yards and a touchdown. Few would have questioned Penn quarterback Matt Rader if he watched his team battle Columbia from the sideline. A golf-ball sized wound in the senior's forearm served as a gruesome reminder of an injury he suffered last Saturday at Fordham -- one that caused him to miss all of last week's practice. With doctor's approval, however, Rader bandaged up the old cannon and took to the battlefield. His decision to play -- even with the rust from a week without practice -- proved a decisive factor in Penn's 20-0 win over the Lions Saturday at Franklin Field. "There was no hesitation once he got clearance from the doctors," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "We were really fortunate that the cut didn't get into the muscle, so we didn't have to worry about atrophy." Without the concern of injuring his muscles by throwing a football, Rader spent Saturday targeting passes over the shoulder of his favorite receiver, Doug O'Neill, and playing a little throw-and-catch with halfback Jim Finn. If anything was different on Saturday, the second-year transfer from Duke looked rejuvenated from the time away from practice. Not only did Rader complete 17-of-25 passes for 169 yards, but his ability to hit receivers downfield also caused the Lions defense to reduce its focus on Finn as a runner. The result -- a balanced offensive attack. Finn rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown against Division I-AA's best run defense, while the Penn offense threw the football for 211 yards; Rader had 169 of them, while Finn was 2-for-2, for 42 yards, on the halfback option pass. "We really thought that we'd need to have a balanced offensive attack," Bagnoli said. "It's very difficult to beat a team just throwing or just running the football." After connecting with O'Neill on an 11-yard roll-out pass in Penn's first offensive set, Rader threw the football just eight time in the Quakers' next 24 offensive calls. Then, with Columbia's eight-man defensive front breathing down Finn's throat, Penn offensive coordinator Chuck Priore resorted to a halfback option pass -- the same play the Quakers botched on their first drive last season against Harvard. Rader perfectly executed the hand-off to Finn and ran toward Columbia's secondary coverage, leaving O'Neill wide open in the endzone to catch a Finn touchdown strike. "Obviously, we were a little surprised because we had 11 guys playing the run," Columbia coach Ray Tellier said. "But when you play defense in a certain way, you have to secure that last player." Finn, however, expected the Lions to miscue since the Columbia defense usually converges on the ball carrier. "We knew they were going to bite up the corners and the safeties," Finn said. "I kept running playside and [the Columbia left cornerback] bit up, so I lofted the ball over his head." After Finn's touchdown pass, Rader settled in, completing his final four passes of the half and 12 of his last 16. While the offense executed a gimmick play to crack its first seven onto the scoreboard, Rader, Finn and O'Neill ran the game plan smooth as silk after Columbia middle linebacker Jeremy Taylor went down with a third quarter injury. The trio served as interchangeable parts in Penn's tailored offensive scheme. "They ran a little bit of everything," Tellier said. One minute into the fourth quarter with the Quakers still leading 7-0 and setting up first-and-19 from the Columbia 37-yard line, Priore again called for the halfback option-right. On the play's second run, Columbia free safety Chris Tillotson dropped back on O'Neill, and Finn lofted the ball across the field. A jumping Rader hauled it away from the Lions' defensive back for a 19 yard gain. Three plays later, Rader hit Penn back-up tight end Benjamin Zagorski with a two-yard strike in the endzone. "It's kind of something me and Finn had been talking about, throwing it back to me on the toss," Rader said. "The second time, he threw me a spiral -- a half-spiral maybe -- and I jumped toward the corner and caught the ball." Not only did he use his high school secondary skills to grab Finn's pass, but Rader even scrambled three times for 15 yards, including a 14-yard run on a second-and-seven early in the Quakers' second scoring drive. With Tellier continuing to employ an eight-man front, Rader took special advantage of O'Neill, who faced one-on-one defensive coverage. The sophomore posted another defining game, catching nine passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, O'Neill beat his man down the right sideline and Rader threw a perfect pass leading him toward the endzone for what was almost O'Neill's second touchdown. Hearing footsteps, however, the sophomore receiver tried to catch the ball and cross the endzone in one motion, and he ended up dropping the football altogether. "I think I can read the coverage a little better [this season]," O'Neill said. "Again, Matt did a great job of getting me the ball." The Rader, Finn and O'Neill trio was responsible on Saturday for 303 of the Quakers' 320 total offensive yards, with at least two members of the triumvirate credited for positive yardage on 39 of Penn's 52 completed plays from scrimmage. "It was our biggest game all season," Finn said, his comments clearly an understatement. With the win, Penn remains in control of its own destiny, tied with Princeton atop the Ivies at 2-0. While Columbia entered the contest with the best rush defense in Division I-AA football and the most returning starters in the Ivies, the trio of Rader, Finn and O'Neill befuddled the Lions' eight-man front just enough to squeak out a victory. Could Penn have won on Saturday if Rader were in street clothes? That's one question that the Quakers are content they need not answer.
Penn's women's soccer team faces Dartmouth in search of an Ivy win. Both teams speak with elite bravado, casting a guise of repeat success. Dartmouth calls its loss at Rhodes Field last season a "horrible day," while many Penn players continue to refer to the Quakers as the Ivy team to beat. But for both the Penn and Dartmouth women's soccer teams, an Ivy League championship remains elusive. Harvard has run away with the past three championships en route to national prominence, leaving the Quakers (7-1-1, 0-1-1 Ivy League) and Big Green (6-1-1, 2-0) fighting for second fiddle in an elite orchestra tomorrow in Hanover. For nationally No. 10-ranked Dartmouth, tomorrow's game in New Hampshire provides a chance to rise above the pack. A win would improve them to 3-0 in the Ivies, enhancing the plot for the Big Green's October 31 showdown with Harvard. "Right now with our ranking, we're not too concerned about making NCAAs," Dartmouth goalie Kristin Luckenbill said. "We just now want to win the Ivies." For Luckenbill and the Big Green to control their own destiny, they must beat Penn. The Quakers, however, see Saturday as of at least equal significance. A loss would drop Penn to 0-2-1 in the Ivies -- making even an NCAA bid questionable. With 48 teams earning a trip to the NCAA tourney, second-place would earn them plane tickets; third should not. With identical 5-2 records in the Ivies last season, Penn heads to Dartmouth for what should be a down-to-the-wire contest. Penn had the upper hand last season, beating the Big Green 2-1 at Rhodes Field. The Quakers this season arrive at Dartmouth with the same potent offense in front of Annie Kluetmeier, who has emerged as the Ivy's best goaltender, averaging a league-low 0.46 goals per game. The only blemishes on Kluetmeier's record have come in the last two games. Seton Hall scored twice on the junior, while Harvard also netted a deuce. Before the game with the Crimson, Kluetmeier had accumulated 660 consecutive scoreless minutes. But Dartmouth rides in on the tail of a 6-1 annihilation of Brown, which saw sophomore Jen Murray score a hat trick for the second week in a row. The Big Green have the league's one-two scoring punch in senior Melissa Roth and Murray, who have seven and six points respectively. In addition, Big Green forward Jessica Prairie is ranked fifth in Ivy scoring, with four points in two games. At least one member of the Big Green writes off last season's Red and Blue victory as a fluke. "We at the time played absolutely horribly," Luckenbill said. "We hadn't gotten into our groove." While on paper Dartmouth's offensive attack is a three-woman show, first-year Big Green coach Kelly Blasius-Knudson doesn't see her strength in just the trio. "One of our main things is depth," Blasius-Knudson said. "We're not a team if we only have strong athletes at every position on the field. We also have a strong bench." Dartmouth already has 11 goal scorers and 13 players contributing points this season. In addition, Blasius-Knudson has allowed backup goalie Annie Eckstein to occasionally spell Luckenbill in net. The reserve has made the most of her time, only allowing three goals. But with the importance of tomorrow's game, it is unlikely the reserves will make it across the sideline. At 2:30 p.m., a pair of teams that both believe themselves the better will see if last season's results replicate. The result will determine which of the two has a more legitimate claim on bragging rights.
As ridiculous as it sounds, Quakers fans can circle October 24 as the day on their calendar to find out. His chance appears legit because the 24th is the day that the Penn football team travels to Providence, RI to face Brown. In the preseason many experts placed Brown atop the Ivies. Now, the Bears' run defense is so decimated that even stopping a tackling dummy from sprouting legs and prancing into the endzone would show marked improvement. In three weeks of play, Brown has allowed 712 rushing yards, an average of 237.3 per week. Making matters worse, the yardage given up increased 33.6 percent last week -- just days after Brown defensive coordinator David Duggan wrote off weeks one and two as a fluke. This rate of increase looks proportionate to Brazilian inflation during the early 1980s. And like then, there's no sign of powerful Bears re-emerging. "We are always trying to stop the run, and it's our real weak point," Brown first-year coach Phil Estes said. "But we can't manufacture bigger and stronger players. We expect coaches, if they're smart, to try to run the ball against us." Opposing backs have averaged just 168.2 yards per game against other opponents, reducing any argument that Brown has faced an unusual sample set of talented backs. Asked last week if he was concerned by the Bears' defensive breakdown against Yale's Rashaad Bartholomew, Brown defensive coordinator Dave Duggan discounted the question. But after four rushing touchdowns by Rhode Island halfback James Jenkins during Brown's 44-16 loss to the Rams in Saturday's Governor's Cup, the Bears' coaching staff is now singing a different tune, and it sounds like a sob song. In Brown's season opener, Bartholomew stormed into Providence, running for 140-yards and a touchdown en route to the Elis' first Ivy win in almost two years. In the Bears' week two win, a trifecta of Lafayette backs combined for 214 rushing yards and three touchdowns, including a Tom Williams' first-quarter, 49-yard TD run. Doesn't sound like the 'D' of a team picked for the Ivy crown. "We're just going back to fundamentals," Estes said. "We are going to need to know how to tackle and how to rap people up, being more aggressive." Making matters worse is that Estes' only first-team All-Ivy players, the combo of James Perry and Sean Morey, can't help because they are on the other side of the ball. Morey, who is a senior, sees his last chance at that Ivy title fading away. Maybe Morey's best bet is to pull a Jim Finn in reverse, and begin practicing as a defensive back. At this juncture, an All-Ivy receiver turned cornerback doesn't seem in the cards. Instead, Estes will go against better Ivy football judgment and try winning with his offense. "It all depends on the team," Estes said. "Our defense is struggling so our offense has to control the ballgames and keep the defense off the field." While this strategy may prove the best the Bears have to offer -- and they did manage a Week No. 2 win -- Brown has allowed 97 points in three games. At this pace, the Bears will give up 323 points this season. (This is without even readjusting to account for strength of schedule, as Brown's opponents are a combined 0-8 in their other contests). The last Ivy team to allow 300 points was the 1992 edition of the Bears. They went 0-10. Before that was Columbia in 1987, also 0-10 and in the midst of college football's then-longest losing streak. In fact, the best an Ivy team has ever done when giving up 300 points is 1-9. Brown already has its one win. So even though they are only 0-1 in the Ivies, a Brown championship is looking slim. Finn's chance of breaking Terrance Stokes' Ancient Eight record 272-yards rushing against Brown, however, is alive and well.
The field hockey team will have a tough time avenging last season's 1-0 loss against national power Delaware. On October 6, 1997, Delaware's Megan Fortunato was dancing around Franklin Field in glory. And the Penn field hockey team couldn't bear to watch. Throughout regulation, Penn goaltender Sarah Dunn was like a mirror in net, deflecting shots at all angles. But in the seven-on-seven overtime, Fortunato broke away with a loose ball and fired a shot with vertex beyond Dunn's reach. The goal shattered into the net, as Delaware marched away 1-0 victors. According to Penn coach Val Cloud, it was the best game her team had played all season. The Quakers took a season-high 17 shots on goal. Sadly, Blue Hens' goalie Kelly Adams vacuumed up all 17. "With a goalie of that ability we need to have our forwards in the right position to tip in the goals, drawing the corners in," Penn co-captain Audrey Heinel said. "At that level, we need to be in the right position to capitalize." A year to the day later, Penn (3-3, 2-1 Ivy League) travels to Delaware's David Nelson Athletic Complex, seeking vengeance on the Blue Hens (10-1). A win, however, won't prove easy --EDelaware has emerged as the No. 6 ranked team in the nation. Even though Fortunato, the sophomore midfielder who scored that overtime goal, has silenced into her team's 13th leading scorer, Blue Hens coach Carol Miller has seen others emerge as deadly threats. Case in point: Delaware senior Jodi Byrd leads her team with 10 goals. While, Penn -- as a team -- has just 10. Blue Hens' senior Kelly Cawley has 12 assists, more than the Quakers' aggregate sum. And Delaware's Rachel Barger has eight goals and four assists in 11 games. Plus, all 13 active Blue Hens have scored a goal this season. These statistics indicate only one thing -- Delaware is simply good. In addition to emerging as an offensive machine, Adams has done her part, saving 90.7 percent of shots on goal. The Blue Hens have not only defeated their opponents but gone a step further and beat up on them -- winning 8-0 against Lehigh, 6-0 over Ursinus, 5-0 versus Hofstra and Temple, and 4-0 against Vermont. Almost makes the Red and Blue's 3-0 shutout of Ursinus look like child's play. But Penn is an Ivy League school; Dunn and company have long-term memories. "Delaware is always a game we get up for, " Heinel said. "Especially this year." Even if disappointment from Fortunato's seven-on-seven goal has waned, Saturday's 2-1 overtime loss against Harvard refreshed the taste of a near-victory, slipped out of reach. A year later, the Quakers finally have a chance for redemption. The scene has been set. But the Blue Hens wait on the opposite side, armed in hand with names like Adams, Barger, Byrd and Cawley. And a Trump card in the No.6 national ranking.
The sports fan's perception is often a little fuzzy. One big play and you're a hero. One folly and you're a perennial goat. If you're an active veteran, the question is "what have you done for me lately?" And if you're a neophyte coach with a winless first season, the general consensus -- get out of town, no questions asked. Yale football's season-opening win, a 30-28 thriller over the Bears at Brown Stadium, proved more important than the average "W." It was a win that took a year-old monkey off second-year Yale coach Jack Siedlecki's back. It quieted alumni whispers begging for legendary coach Carm Cozza to return. And even if it didn't fully erase memories of an 0-7 1997, it surely quelled the mocking of a pitiful 52-14 debut against the Bears last season. Yale's win was proved not only a lift to Elis football, but also to the coach himself. And based upon Siedlecki's status, the victory elevated Ivy football by a couple angstrom. In his first press conference after becoming head honcho, Siedlecki said, "I have spent my entire career trying to get this job. I've wanted to be with the best student-athletes, because it's fun to coach guys who have that kind of intellect." Press conferences are the place for that politically correct, high-spirited mumbo-jumbo. But Siedlecki's comments were nevertheless refreshing, because his resume stands behind his words. A versatile football strategist who coached linebackers, defensive line and offensive line -- serving as both an offensive and defensive coordinator and then as the turn-around coach at Worcester Polytechnical Institute -- Siedlecki bypassed many Division I-AA coaching vacancies to spend 1993-96 turning around an 0-8 Amherst football team and making them into 7-1 champions. Maybe a quick resume check would have brought him the respect from the Yale football faithful that he deserved. Maybe a little less nostalgia and a small dose of reality would have saved Siedlecki from needing an Ivy win to earn 10 yards of respect. However, Carm Cozza, the Ivy League football "legend," is remembered as a great who amassed 179 wins and nine Ivy titles in a stellar 32 seasons of work. As soon as he retired, Cozza's 10-25 record in his final five seasons was erased from memory. As was his steady decline over the years. A recruiting program that went from respectable to invisible was masked behind the guise of a brilliant persona. Cozza didn't leave Yale football on top, as he left -- he abandoned a sinking ship. Siedlecki came in with a life raft of recruits, ready for rescue. But it was inevitable -- Yale football in 1997 would go the way of the titanic, no matter who paced the sidelines. The players Siedlecki bequeathed last season simply didn't stand him a chance. With now 60 percent of the squad personal recruits, Siedlecki's shown auspicious signs in 1998 of morse coding an answer to the S-O-S cry. The most notable reply is in the form of junior tailback Rashad Bartholomew, who transferred out of Air Force. Leaving behind a seven-year armed forces service commitment, Bartholomew has accepted a two-year commitment as general of the Yale ground attack. With 210 combined rushing yards in his first two games, he is only slightly off pace to rage war on former Yale tailback Rich Diana's school-record 1,442 rushing yards in 1981. According the Brown defensive coordinator Dave Duggan, Bartholomew's is nothing special physically, but he knew how to take advantage of opponents' mistakes, a skill equally valuable. "I guess he is a good runner but I wasn't surprised," the defensive coordinator said. "It wasn't so much what they did as what we did. We shot ourselves in the foot, missing tackles. But he capitalized on it." And a surprising Siedlecki savior has emerged in junior quarterback Joe Walland. Fifth-string on Cozza's depth-chart as a freshman, Siedlecki thrust Walland in as a starter for seven-of-10 games last season. He completed just 70-of-167 passes for 767 yards. But this year, Walland has stepped-up, completing 39-of-62 passes for 438 yards and three touchdowns in his first two games. But Yale is still far from good football team, as Saturday's 63-21 slaughter to Connecticut showed. When losing by 42-points, glaring weaknesses are magnified. On Saturday, the Elis secondary was as empty as the Miami beaches when Hurricane Georges struck. And Yale's linebackers almost appeared chained to the Connecticut offensive line. Nevertheless, one thing is now clear -- Siedlecki can win on the Ivy level, he's proven it. Even if that one win against Brown is all he has to show for 1998, the sophomore coach earned a big one. He has earned the right to have the time to turn the program around. And with Bartholomew, Walland and two recruiting classes beside him, time could make difference. If Yale rises from the Ivy League's worst back to glory anytime soon, one thing is certain -- Jack Siedlecki will be captaining in ship. And those once-doubters will jump along for the ride.
Analysis of the the past four Ivy League championship teams elucidates a striking trend -- the past four teams to win the Ancient Eight all returned the most defensive starters from the season before. The 1995 edition of the Princeton Tigers' defense featured 11 players that had started games on the defensive side of the ball in '94. The result was an Ivy League championship for Old Nassau, as Princeton finished atop the Ivy standings at 5-1-1. When Dartmouth returned a league-high nine defensive starters in 1996 -- including the dominant tandem of linebacker Zack Walz and cornerback Lloyd Lee -- it wasn't a surprise that the Big Green went on to win the Ivies undefeated, allowing a league-low 10.9 points per game. Last season, Harvard won its first Ivy League title in 11 years, dominating the conference with a perfect 7-0 record. The Crimson defense sparked the turnaround, returning all 11 defensive starters from its 2-5 1996 season. Harvard, which allowed 16.4 points per game in 1996, surrendered opposing Ivy offenses a feeble 6.42 points in its championship season -- the fewest since defensive tackle Barry Brink and Dartmouth's Big Green wall defense allowed just 4.00 points per game in 1970. "I don't think its any different, anywhere," Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. "In any conference, in any league, you have to have top defensive starters coming back." Au contraire, coach Murphy; while the premise makes sense, evidence shows otherwise. This trend of returning defensive starters as the cornerstone on which championship seasons are built does not exist in many other conferences. Out of a sample set of four college football conferences -- the Ivy League, Big 10, ACC, and Big East -- the Ivy League was the only one where more than two of its past four champions had returned the most defensive starters. So, could this imply the past four years of Ivy football is a statistical abberation? It's possible. But probably not. There are intrinsic differences in Ivy League football regulations that differentiates it from the rest of the Division I game. Rules forbidding scholarships and locking in nine of 10 games against Ivy and Patriot League teams deter the nation's top recruits from landing at Ivy League schools. Since the nation's top high school football prospects choose to play elsewhere, the Ivy League doesn't have freshmen with dominant, raw talent. Even players emerging as Ivy League superstars didn't come in as dominant freshmen. Former Penn linebacker Mitch Marrow, an Ivy League superstar and a National Football League third-round draft pick, could not control the game as a frosh in 1994 -- totaling just two tackles in a full season. Also, Ivy League teams have greater parity in talent pool. Without scholarships and marquee coaches, the difference between playing football for a top team like Penn or a perennial cellar-dweller like Columbia does not carry the same weight as whether one plays for Michigan or Indiana in the Big 10 (or between Miami and Rutgers in the Big East). With teams starting at levels closer to one another, incoming talent level matters less -- making experience worth more. Further, it is returning defensive starters that matter as opposed to the offense, because defensive prowess is more a team effort while offensive explosions are sometimes built on a few, key skill players. Each of the past four years, defensive experience has made the difference in crunchtime. Ivy coaches know this is the side of the ball to build around. "In my first year, when I finished last in the Ivy League in defense, I knew that we'd have to build our offense first and our defense second," said Murphy last season after his defense shut down Penn, 33-0 So, what does this mean for the Ivy League this season? Columbia returns nine on defense, the most in the Ivies. Dartmouth returns the fewest, five. Will the Lions win the Ivies? Will Dartmouth go winless? Probably not with either scenario. The Lions' defense couldn't stop anybody last year. And the Big Green is bringing back some players from a potent 6-1 team last season. But Columbia will be much improved from last year. And the Big Green will take a big step down. The Lions may cross the .500 mark; Dartmouth will likely drop below. For a team to win in any level, it must have talent on both sides of the ball. In the Ivies, however, experience on defense is the difference between a good team and one that goes over the top.
Penn freshmen Meghan Curran, Susie Cook and Kerry Saladino were among the Quakers' top five. Before Saturday, Penn freshman distance runner Susie Cook, a soccer player throughout high school, had never run a cross-country race. But on Saturday Cook took her place as one the 131 runners on the starting line. She finished 18th overall with a time of 19:42 and third among Penn runners. The Hattenfield, N.J., native's performance was indicative of the Penn cross-country's overall showing -- surprising, if not shocking. Penn finished fourth in an 11 team field with 109 points behind national powerhouse Villanova (58 points) and Ivy League rivals Princeton (73) and Columbia (92). The finish order was nothing unusual, since Penn assistant coach Tony Tenisci expected to place third, and the Quakers were just one spot worse. How the Quakers tallied their points, however, was completely unexpected. Captain Rita Garber was the only experienced Penn entrant to finish in the top 50. Among the other four Quakers' scorers, Meghan Curran (17th place), Cook (18th) and Kerry Saladino (48th) are freshman, while sophomore Meredith Rossner (25th) sat out most of her rookie season injured. "It was the first time I had run cross-country," Cook said. "I was really looking forward to 3.1 [miles] on grass and hills because I'm used to running on a track. I ran 5-K races before so I took the approach that I might as well try it." With experienced runners striving to peak late in the season, however, a strong start doesn't guarantee late-season success. "One meet isn't indicative of what all our upperclassmen can do," Garber said. "The freshman did really well. They were where they should be. But things are fickle. A day is just a day." One factor that may have contributed to the outcomes was Penn's limited practice schedule. Time conflicts prevented the Quakers from practicing speed and climbing drills in practice. Tenisci considered this a major factor since Metzgar Fields, the site of Saturday's meet, was an especially hilly course. "No one had the opportunity to really focus in before the meet," Tenisici said. "With the freshman commitments, they've been going to this meet and that. When you're in the first week of school, nobody sleeps. Everybody yacks away. You party all hours. If you wanted to sleep, you couldn't sleep. There is so much going on." Even after arriving at the Fields, focus was difficult. Villanova, which Tenisci coins as the team of the decade, was lined up at the same starting line -- even though they ran the course at a different speed. Heralded Wildcats senior Kristen Nicolini, freshman Sarah Vance Goodman and junior Carmen Douma finished one-two-three with times of 17:57, 18:02 and 18:18, respectively. "When I was young, Villanova runners were my idols," Cook said. "You think it's really neat running on the collegiate level with them. But I couldn't be too much in awe because I was running against them." Behind Villanova's trio, Columbia's Kara Kerr ran neck-to-neck with Garber, beating her by one second, with a time of 18:39. "Strategically, I raced pretty well," Garber said. "I wish I had gotten that Columbia girl, but other than that I was pleased." Although Penn missed a top three finish, the Quakers finished decisively ahead of the other seven teams. Moravian placed fifth with 152 points, 43 points behind Penn -- the biggest gap between overall places. "Considering it was our first meet, I think we had a good showing," Garber said. "It was a good starting point but we have a lot to be improved." With move-in and orientations now complete, Tenisci plans to add team and speed drills to the daily practice routine. He hopes to bridge to gap between the Penn's fourth-place finish on Saturday and the type of performance level Garber believes the team is capable of giving.