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Penn, Tigers prepare for all-out war

(11/03/95 10:00am)

Penn receiver Miles Macik remembers Nov. 6, 1993, vividly. It was a windy, overcast Homecoming afternoon. Hated Princeton was in town. Over 35,000 fans jammed Franklin Field. The Ivy League title was at stake as the two best teams in the Ancient Eight squared off. Now, two years later, Macik is just thankful he and the rest of the Quakers get to do it all over again. "Everything that could possibly hype this game up is there," Macik said. "All the pieces are in place. This is the big one." Penn won that 1993 clash, 30-14, on its way to a perfect 10-0 season and its first Ivy title since 1988. But even though it is Homecoming again, and the weather should be blustery again, and the Tigers are back in town, and Franklin Field should be packed, and Princeton and Penn are on top of the Ivies another time -- even with all that, times have changed going into tomorrow's 1:30 p.m. game. Two years ago, Princeton was the defending league champion trying to stave off the young and hungry Quakers. Penn came in with momentum on its side, having demolished Yale 48-7 in New Haven, Conn. This time around it is Penn (5-2, 3-1 Ivy League) which is the defending Ivy kingpin, and Princeton fighting to get to where the Quakers are. Last week the Tigers (7-0, 4-0) enjoyed a 44-14 thrashing of Columbia, the team that halted the Quakers' 24-game winning streak earlier this season. While the Tigers were mauling the Lions, the Quakers were struggling through a sloppy affair in a rain-drenched Yale Bowl, beating the Elis 16-6. Ugly or not, the win kept Penn in the race -- though this year's game will not feature two undefeated teams, as the 1993 meeting did. "[The Yale win] kind of set the stage to this week where now we have an opportunity to control our own destiny," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "If we can win our last three games starting with Princeton and then Harvard and then Cornell, we have a shot to at least share the Ivy League title." If the Quakers are to navigate their way past step one of Bagnoli's plan, they must contend with a Tigers team that has been strong all year -- dominant at times -- on both sides of the ball. Perhaps the most telling aspect of Princeton's overall performance thus far this year is its nation-leading turnover ratio. "They're at a plus-three average per game, which is phenomenal," Bagnoli said. The Tigers' turnover ratio was helped immensely in their rout of Columbia last week. Princeton picked off Columbia quarterback Mike Cavanaugh on each of the Lions' first five series. While Penn quarterback Mark DeRosa has gone without an interception the past two weeks, he did throw 13 in the first five games of the season. So keeping the ball away from Princeton's potent secondary is a concern -- but not an overwhelming one. "It's a concern of ours because they have some great athletes," Macik said. "We've seen some good corners this year, and they're probably some of the best. They're very disciplined. They disguise their coverages very, very well. "At the same time, we're going to stick with it, see how it goes, and I think we'll be okay. I think the passing game, pretty much all year long, has been the strength of our offense when it's working." Certainly part of that strength has been Macik, who will break the all-time Ivy League record for pass receptions with his first catch tomorrow. Macik is currently tied with former Princeton receiver Derek Graham at 122 career catches. He is also two away from the league record for all-time touchdown receptions. "It's in the back of my mind, I think, but even if and when the [receptions] record gets broken, it's not something that I'm going to look at until the season's over anyway," Macik said. Princeton linebacker Dave Patterson also has a chance to break a major record tomorrow, albeit a team one. Patterson is six tackles away from tying the all-time Princeton record of 309. He and Macik are currently the front-runners for the Ivy League player of the year award. Like Macik, Patterson doesn't want to think about records or awards tomorrow. He's more worried about what the Tigers have to do to stop Penn. "It's easy to say we have to take away Macik," Patterson said. "But there's also [wide receivers Felix] Rouse and [Mark] Fabish. Even if we can take Macik out of his game, there are other weapons. There's no one person we can shut down to shut down the whole team." Penn could say the same thing about Princeton's offense, particularly at quarterback. Signal callers Harry Nakielny and Brock Harvey have split time virtually down the middle all season in the same manner as Penn running backs Aman Abye, Jasen Scott and Dion Camp, and figure to do so again tomorrow. "I told them that we'll put it on a series-to-series rotation," Princeton coach Steve Tosches said. "They just will have to be prepared and ready and step in that huddle and make plays. Fortunately they've been doing it, and they certainly have handled it very, very well." A Penn defense that has looked consistently solid despite its inexperience will have to cope with this two-headed passing attack, as well as the running of star back Marc Washington. Patterson and company will see if they can fend off a Penn offense that shredded Brown for 58 points two weeks ago. The Ivy League title race will reach a climax. And Penn will try to make the 87th chapter of this bitter and historic rivalry as glorious as the 85th was.

Allen makes NBA's Timberwolves

(11/03/95 10:00am)

Jerome Allen, the '95 Penn grad and two-time Ivy League Player of the Year, survived final cuts and made the Minnesota Timberwolves' 12-man regular season roster, the team announced yesterday. Allen is the first Ivy League player to reach the NBA since Dartmouth center Walter Palmer in 1990. Allen, the 49th overall pick in this past June's draft, signed a one-year contract with Minnesota for the minimum rookie salary of $200,000 at the beginning of training camp. The 6-foot-4 Allen should be the Timberwolves' fifth guard. Michael Williams and Isaiah Rider are the likely starters, with veteran Terry Porter the probable first guard off the bench. Both Allen and Timberwolves player personnel representatives were unavailable for comment last night. A source in Minnesota's media relations department called it "pretty much a foregone conclusion" going into the final round of cuts that Allen would make the roster. "It wasn't like he was really on the bubble. He was a second round pick and looked good at the start of training camp," the source said. Penn coach Fran Dunphy was happy forone of the best players he has ever coached. "It's great news. I'm real happy for him and his family," Dunphy said. "I think it's a great culmination to a lifelong dream." Allen and the rest of the Timberwolves open the 82-game regular season tonight at Sacramento. The TImberwolves make their only visit of the year to Philadelphia, Allen's home city, March 6 against the 76ers.

Maloney waived by Warriors, Allen waits

(11/02/95 10:00am)

As Jerome Allen moved a step closer to making his NBA roster, Matt Maloney, Allen's counterpart in last year's starting Penn backcourt, was waived by the Golden State Warriors last night. Maloney was one of three players battling for the fourth guard spot on the Warriors roster. With the regular season set to begin tomorrow night. Maloney and guard Phil Handy were both released last night, leaving former Boston Celtic and Milwaukee Buck Jon Barry with the final guard spot. Maloney saw limited playing time in the preseason and shot just three for 12 (.250) with two assists. He was not drafted in June, but was brought into training camp by the Warriors and survived the first round of cuts in October. When Penn coach Fran Dunphy last talked with Maloney a few days ago, last season's Ivy League Player of the Year seemed upbeat about his performance with the Warriors. "He thought he had played real well," Dunphy said. "He sounded like he knew that was the only thing he could control." Maloney's pro prospects are still very much alive, Dunphy said last night. The CBA's Grand Rapids (Mich.) team drafted him in the second round, and if he plays in the CBA there is the possibility that he could get called up by an NBA team in midseason to replace an injured or cut player. Allen, the 1993 and 1994 Ivy League Player of the Year, was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 49th overall pick in June. He has looked solid in his point guard role in the preseason. Allen's prospects were helped significantly last night when the Timberwolves released guard Darrick Martin, meaning there are now only five guards on the roster. "If they decide to keep five guards, he's in good shape," Dunphy said. Allen signed a one-year contract with the Timberwolves for the rookie minimum of $200,000. Dunphy said last night he was not sure if the money was guaranteed as of now -- if it were guaranteed, the Timberwolves would have to pay Allen even if they cut him. "The guaranteed portion of the contract hasn't necessarily kicked in," Dunphy said. "When it will, I don't know." One sure way for Allen to earn his salary is to make the team. In the preseason he looked solid in his point guard role. His shooting -- he was 12 of 32 from the floor in the preseason, good for 37.5 percent -- could use some work, but he did dish out 22 assists, good for 3.1 per game and second on the team.

Penn, Princeton both win; showdown set

(10/30/95 10:00am)

Quakers prevail at sloppy Yale Bowl It was ugly, but ugly often gets the job done -- especially when the opponent is a mediocre team with neither a running game nor any kind of established quarterback. And so the Penn football team, thanks to a stifling defense and an offense that did an effective job of controlling the ball if nothing else, left sloppy, rain-drenched New Haven, Conn., with a 16-6 victory over Yale. The Quakers' second consecutive win keeps them solidly in the Ivy League race, which should take greater shape next Saturday when Penn plays host to league-leading Princeton. While the Tigers dazzled Ivy watchers all over with their 44-14 dismantling of Columbia Saturday, Penn (5-2, 3-1 Ivy League) was not as spectacular in moving toward its 19th win in its last 20 Ivy contests. Quarterback Mark DeRosa turned in a shaky 11-for-24 performance featuring several misfires. DeRosa did go without an interception for the second consecutive week after throwing 13 through five games, and Penn racked up 205 yards on the ground. Another positive offensively was Miles Macik's sixth and final reception of the day, which gave him 122 career Ivy League catches. That mark ties him with Princeton's Derek Graham, who played from 1981 to 1984, for the all-time Ivy record. Macik will break the record with his first catch next week against the Tigers. Penn's offensive performance aside, the bottom line in this game was the Quakers' dominance on defensive. The Yale offense has been out of sync since quarterback Chris Hetherington was sidelined with a rotator cuff injury three games ago, and things got so bad Saturday that Elis coach Carm Cozza decided he had to play musical quarterbacks. Backups Kevin Mayer, Kris Barber and Blake Kendall all saw action, combining to go 13 for 33 for a paltry 183 yards. None of the three was helped by the performance of Yale's running backs, who as a group accounted for just 97 yards on the ground. Before a long scamper down the sidelines by Kena Heffernan with six minutes remaining in the game, the Elis had racked up a mere 45 yards rushing. Leading 3-0, the Quakers picked their performance up a notch in the third quarter. While Yale was going four possessions without a single first down, Penn started to take control of the tempo and -- eventually -- the scoreboard. When Mayer wasn't being harassed by Penn's swarming defensive line, he was missing receivers or having passes dropped, or else silly Yale penalties were negating big gains. "The third quarter was as good a quarter as we've played in a long time defensively," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "The game plan was accurate as far as what Yale was trying to do. The kids did a good job digesting what we were telling them. All the credit goes to [defensive coordinator] Mike Toop and his staff." Meanwhile, the Quakers finished two medium-range drives with Greathouse field goals to push their lead to 9-0. "We bogged down in the red zone," Bagnoli said. "We would have liked to have scored more touchdowns." When the Elis finally did start moving the ball at the start of the fourth quarter, Penn's defense stepped up at just the right time to start the key sequence of the game. After being benched a second time, Mayer came back to lead Yale on a 63-yard drive to the Penn 17. But on second-and-10, Mayer tried to throw under heavy pressure and was intercepted by Quakers linebacker Joey Allen. The pick capped off an impressive afternoon for Allen, who may have enjoyed his best day as a Quaker. He had six tackles and a quarterback sack in addition to the interception, the first of the senior's career. "I got helped by lots of pressure from my cohort [and fellow linebacker] Tim Gage," Allen said. "I just happened to be there. I was lucky to make the pick." On the very next play, DeRosa hit wide receiver Felix Rouse over the middle for a 76-yard touchdown strike and a 16-0 advantage with just under eight minutes to play. "They were playing lots of robber coverage, which pulls the safeties up and leaves the middle open," Bagnoli said. "We were looking to go over the middle." There was still time for the Penn defense to have one more chance to shine. Keyed by Heffernan's 52-yard burst, the desperate Elis had four shots at the end zone from two yards out. But two runs by Heffernan and one by Mayer went nowhere. On fourth down, Heffernan took a pitch but was met head on in the backfield by defensive end Mike Soyster. The Quakers had held. Yale did score a touchdown with 14 seconds remaining on a two-yard pass from Kendall, but when the Elis failed the two-point conversion, the issue was completely decided. Penn now has its sights on the biggest game of the season. "It's a chance to get back to where we expected to be," Allen said of next weekend. "Princeton is the top dog right now. I'm looking for an all-out war."

1995 IVY LEAGUE FOOTBALL STANDINGS: Bison invade Franklin Field trying to end streak

(09/29/95 9:00am)

Al Bagnoli is nothing if not realistic. The Penn coach knows Lafayette and Bucknell are not exactly the most glamorous teams on the Quakers' 1995 schedule. He knows his team, riding a nation-best 23-game winning streak, could be excused for relaxing just a bit going into the second of those two games tomorrow against Bucknell (1:30 p.m., Franklin Field). Especially given the way the Quakers easily disposed of the Leopards last weekend in Easton, Pa. So maybe Bagnoli found a silver lining in the storm clouds surrounding him in the press conference following the Lafayette game. The source of his discontent then was the Quakers' sloppy second-half performance, in which they were outscored 8-0 and committed four turnovers. As awesome as the Quakers (2-0) looked in the first half, Bagnoli said, they looked nearly that sluggish in the second stanza. The Penn coaches took that message back to the players. The players heard. They saw the films. And that's why the Quakers figure to be fired up for what on paper looks like a meaningless non-league game against the Bison (2-1). "We're still looking for 60 minutes of consistency," Bagnoli said. "The kids are focused on the game at hand. They've seen we have a long way to go to get to where we want to be." An area in which Penn especially wants to improve is the running game. Thus far the three-headed monster of Jasen Scott, Aman Abye and Dion Camp has done a less-than-splendid job of replacing the graduated Terrance Stokes, who averaged well over 100 yards a game and earned first-team all-Ivy honors last season. Scott, Abye and Camp combined for a respectable 125 yards in week one against Dartmouth, but last week, with Abye out with a leg injury, Penn netted only 65 yards on the ground. That's a far cry from the 162 yards per game the Quakers averaged last season, or from the 150 yards per game the Bison have grounded out in the first three contests of 1995. But this may not be the week the running game returns to its former glory. Last week it was Abye who was hampered by injury; now it's both Scott and Camp. Scott popped a bursar sack in his knee early in the week and is the bigger question mark going into the game, according to Bagnoli. Camp is suffering from a strained hamstring. Despite these obstacles, Bagnoli would like to see some improvement emanating from the backfield. Against the Leopards, the lack of a running game in the second half forced the Quakers into the air, with noticeably poor results. After throwing for three touchdowns in the first half, quarterback Mark DeRosa tossed three interceptions in half two. Penn had just 57 yards of offense in the second stanza. "We have a chance to be a pretty consistent football team," Bagnoli said. "But we've got to do a better job running the football. That's the way to protect the ball and keep the other team off the field." Lafayette had an eight-minute time-of-possession advantage over the Quakers. Against a more explosive offense than the Leopards, that could be troublesome. While Penn's running game has had a tough time getting going, Bucknell's has shone -- at least until a week ago. Bison Rich Lemon, the preseason Patriot League Player of the Year, gained 314 yards in two games as Bucknell defeated Southern Connecticut and Fordham. But last week in Princeton the Tigers smothered Lemon, limiting him to 15 yards. Bucknell lost 20-3. It is apparent that as Lemon goes, so go the Bison. "This offense will test us," Bagnoli said. "They'll run their West Coast-style offense right at us, and they've got a very legitimate back in Lemon." The West Coast offense, which involves quick drops and passes, should provide an intriguing test for the Quakers, who excel at getting to the quarterback given the slightest opportunity. Penn's front five will have to be quicker than ever if it is to match last week's five-sack effort against Lafayette. · NOTES: The last time the two teams met, in 1993, Penn broke open a close game with three fourth-quarter touchdowns to win 42-12 in Lewisburg, Pa.?In the last meeting at Franklin Field, back in 1989, the Quakers eked out a 25-24 thriller when Bucknell missed a 46-yard field goal with 20 seconds remaining.?The last time the Bison beat the Quakers was in 1987, when Bucknell won 32-24 in Lewisburg.

Rutgers wins Hodgson sweepstakes

(09/28/95 9:00am)

The question of whether Rob Hodgson could still enroll at Penn if he so desired became a moot one yesterday, when the Indiana basketball transfer signed scholarship papers to attend Rutgers and play basketball for coach Bob Wenzel. Only a week ago today, Hodgson -- a 6-foot-7, 220-pound Long Island, N.Y., native -- arrived on the Penn campus apparently set to enroll in classes here. He registered at the High Rise East desk and received his room keys. In the latest bizarre twist in a recruiting saga that dates back to last winter, however, Hodgson packed up his bags and headed home in the middle of the night less than 12 hours after arriving. "People are focusing on that instance because it happened so late in the process," Hodgson said from Rutgers yesterday. "But I've been registered for classes and had my schedule in hand at other schools, and ended up returning home." Such was life in the odyssey that was the Rob Hodgson recruiting campaign. It was a rollercoaster affair for fans and coaches alike at each school that had a shot at the third all-time leading scorer in New York state high school history. As early as June the Penn coaches thought they might be hearing from him at any minute. The Hodgson family has been saying virtually every night for the last month that a decision would be forthcoming immediately. Even on the day he came to Penn last week, Hodgson said he reached Penn Station in New York not sure whether he would get on a train to Penn, to Rutgers or to Fordham. "When I transferred from Indiana, I had a second chance. But I knew I didn't have any more second chances," Hodgson said. "I had one more shot. It was like, 'God, I don't want to waste this one.' "What a lot of people don't realize is the decision-making process didn't start for me right after I transferred from Indiana. My primary focus was on getting my Associate's degree [at Suffolk Community College], which I would need to go anywhere except an Ivy League or Patriot League school. It was only around June or July that we really started focusing in on my top choices. Everything before that was basically fact finding." The fact that ultimately tipped the scale toward Rutgers, Hodgson said, was its membership in the Big East conference. This will be the first season of Big East basketball for the Scarlet Knights. "There's an aura of excitement surrounding the Big East," he said. "I was definitely drawn to that." Penn coach Fran Dunphy said last night he was happy Hodgson was finally able to reach a decision. "I don't think there was anything we could have done differently as far as the recruiting process?.I have no regrets," Dunphy said. "I'm grateful for the patience the entire [Penn] community has shown," Dunphy added. "Let's just give the young man the benefit of the doubt. We don't always have the answers to all the questions." The schools' respective conferences were but one factor in a decision process fraught with multiple decisions and retreats from those decisions. Hodgson said he felt uncomfortable having his parents pay the cost of tuition at Penn, especially when the alternative was a full scholarship at Rutgers. "My parents, quite frankly, would have been happy no matter which school I chose," Hodgson said. "But I didn't feel as comfortable with the situation [at Penn]." Also coming into play was the relationship between Hodgson's father, Bob Hodgson, and Rutgers coach Wenzel. The two men have known each other since they played on the same high school basketball team in New York. "We are very appreciative of Bob Wenzel," the elder Hodgson said in a statement. "He showed a great deal of patience throughout the entire process. There are a lot of coaches who would have moved on to another player who could have given them a quicker answer." Rob Hodgson said he would have enjoyed playing for Dunphy as well: "Coach Dunphy is a real good person and runs a class program. Coach Wenzel and us go way back. I'll be real comfortable playing for him." As a result of his transferring, Hodgson, who could see time at shooting guard in addition to small forward, will have to miss Rutgers' first four games. He will be eligible to play Dec. 16 against Wagner and is likely to start almost immediately. The epilogue to the whole saga on the Quakers' side is somewhat less clear. How much of an impact Hodgson would have had on a Penn team that is losing five senior starters will now never be known. Dunphy wants to put the whole affair behind him and concentrate on the 1995-96 season. "I'm happy that now we have the chance to focus in and work with the guys we have to get ready for the upcoming season," Dunphy said.

Wavering Hodgson narrows his choice to either Penn or Rutgers

(09/07/95 9:00am)

It has all come down to Penn and Rutgers, but Indiana-transfer Rob Hodgson still has not made up his mind where he wants to attend school and play basketball this year. Hodgson last year transferred from Indiana when Hoosiers coach Bob Knight informed him he would be redshirted for his rookie season there. He attended Suffolk Community College last semester. Up until recently he had also been thinking of going to St. John's and Fordham, but he dropped them from consideration last week, his father, Bob Hodgson, said last night. A native of Mastic Beach, N.Y., Rob Hodgson is the third all-time leading scorer in New York state high school history. Hodgson's mother had indicated a decision would be made yesterday, but Bob Hodgson said last night he did not know when his son would decide. "He's waffled quite a few times," Bob Hodgson. "He'll think he's reached a decision, and then he'll turn right around and say, 'Well, I really don't know.' It's at the point now where if he's confident about one school for any kind of extended period of time, that's where he'll decide to go." Bob Hodgson did say the fact that his son has taken so long making a choice is a positive for coach Fran Dunphy and the Penn basketball program. "Earlier Rutgers was out in front, so in that sense things are looking up for Penn. It's 50-50 right now," Bob Hodgson said. Rob Hodgson has had to take numerous factors -- athletic, academic and financial -- into account in making his decision, his father said. In each of those areas, Penn and Rutgers, which will be in its first season competing in the Big East Conference in 1995-96, are profoundly different schools. "It's not like deciding between Syracuse, St. John's and Georgetown," the elder Hodgson said. "Those are all scholarship schools with similar situations and programs. Penn and Rutgers are very, very different. It's not so much deciding between the schools in this case as it is a philosophical struggle he has going on inside himself. What kind of path does he want to take?" It all comes down to the respective strengths of the Big East and the Ivy League. Rutgers can give Hodgson a scholarship and the opportunity to be on television 17 times in 1995-96, as opposed to three TV appearances for the Quakers. But Penn "has a rich basketball tradition," Bob Hodgson said. "It doesn't have to take a backseat to anybody." While Bob Hodgson played basketball with Rutgers coach Bob Wenzel in high school, he called Dunphy "a great person. His achievements at Penn speak for themselves." Rob Hodgson has also met Penn co-captains Ira Bowman and Tim Krug, his father said. Academically, Bob Hodgson said, Penn and the Wharton School have an advantage. However, Hodgson should graduate in three years and wants to spend his fourth and final year of eligibility pursuing a master's degree. Ivy League rules prohibit graduate students from competing in athletics, Bob Hodgson said. That could be a point in Rutgers' favor. A scholarship to Rutgers might seem inviting when compared with the cost of tuition at Penn, which does not offer scholarships in accordance with Ivy League restrictions. But Bob Hodgson insists the schools' respective price tags will not be a factor. "We really don't want financial considerations to enter the picture," he said. "If he wants to go to Penn, we'll find a way to make that work." Because he transferred from Indiana before any games were played, Rob Hodgson will have to miss just four games rather than a full season. But Hodgson is filing an appeal in the hopes of getting himself declared eligible for the start of the season.

Football squad ready to defend

(09/01/95 9:00am)

Preseason camp is history for the Penn football team, as the Quakers get set for probably the most challenging season of the Al Bagnoli era. In 1993, Bagnoli's second season as the Penn coach, the young and hungry Quakers steamrolled the Ivy League and finished with a perfect record for the sixth time in school history. Last season was a different story. No longer so young and hungry, the Quakers had to deal with the fact that a win over them would have made any opponent's season. The thing was, Penn simply had too much talent and too much experience for any opponent, no matter how motivated, to stand much of a chance. The Quakers finished perfect again, upping their winning streak, which dates back to the penultimate game of 1992, to 21 games. That is the longest current streak in college football and an all-time Division I-AA record. In 1995, the two-time defending champions will still be highlighted on the schedules of each of their opponents. A win over Penn will still make any team's season. The problem for the Quakers is they are not as overwhelmingly talented as they were last season. Now a team that comes out on an emotional high could very conceivably rise to the level needed to stop the Quakers and their winning streak in their tracks. That's where preseason camp, which ran from Aug. 24 through yesterday, came in. Penn is likely the best team in the Ivies, but there is a lot of work to be done if the Quakers want to match the achievements of the previous two seasons. Football camp Bagnoli-style is one week of two-a-day practices in Lawrenceville, N.J., designed to begin honing skills and sorting out the starters from the reserves and the benchwarmers. A lot of information is fed to the team in a hurry, with good reason. When the Quakers broke camp yesterday, the Sep. 16 opener at home against Dartmouth was just 16 days away. Penn has key returnees at just about every position. But question marks exist -- most notably at running back and on the defensive front seven, where only senior defensive end Tom McGarrity returns. Bagnoli hoped Lawrenceville would be the first step in finding some answers. The new-look starting lineup is one big question. Not as many jobs are locked down heading into the season as in the past two years. Last year the Penn roster abounded with two-year first-stringers who had a starting spot nailed down before they ever stepped onto the practice field. Not nearly as many guys can say the same thing this time around. "Every spot is technically open," Bagnoli said. "Some are more open than others. The positions where we're losing a starter, those are wide open. There are an awful lot of positions like that." Players unfamiliar to many Quakers fans -- running backs Jasen Scott and Aman Abye, linebackers Joey Allen and Tim Gage, and a host of inexperienced D-linemen -- were in line for starting roles or significant playing time for the first time in their collegiate careers in Lawrenceville. The competition for some jobs could go right down to the wire, Bagnoli said. · The reduction in the experience of the roster at-large means the incoming freshman class might be called upon to contribute some in games. The word on paper is the Class of '99 could eventually have a huge impact, but according to Bagnoli, it will be "a year down the road" before Quakers fans discover just how good -- or disappointing -- the spring harvest of gridiron recruits really is. "I thought it was a very solid class, but then again, it's not an exact science," Bagnoli said. "We think we have some quality and we're very excited about some of the kids." The University has officially enrolled 38 football student-athletes in the Class of 1999, slightly above the annual average of 35. Of the recruits, 21 are projected to play on defensive side of the ball, from which seven starters have been lost to graduation. "We went out and really needed to do a good job recruiting on defense and I think we did that," Bagnoli said. "We recruited some size, especially on the defensive line." Nevertheless, all ye Quakers faithful should not necessarily strain your eyes searching for many freshman faces in the starting lineup at the opener against Dartmouth. "Usually it's only the exceptional freshman who can step in and adapt to football, academics, and the whole jump from high school to Division I-AA," Bagnoli said. "You get here and everything is so different -- there's a natural transition time." · In addition to losing half of last year's starting 22 to graduation, Bagnoli will have to cope with the departures of several of his assistant coaches, all of whom accepted job offers during the offseason. Four offensive assistants left for assistant coach positions at other schools. A fifth assistant, linebackers and defensive ends coach Jim Wilcon, accepted a teaching position at another school. Bagnoli spent much of the offseason poring over replacement possibilities for the vacancies, some of which drew over 100 applications. In August the Quakers announced wide receivers coach Larry Woods had been moved to quarterbacks coach and secondary coach Mark Chmielinski had moved over to the running backs position. They also announced the hiring of five new assistant coaches: Tight ends coach Ed Foley, linebackers coach Clay Moran, defensive backs coach Louis Brunelli, wide receivers coach Rick Urlich and defensive assistant Bob DePippi. Foley returns to the Quakers after a one-year stint at Williams. He was the tight ends coach at Penn in 1992 and 1993 and is the brother of NFL quarterback Glenn Foley. DePippi, hired as a defensive assistant just over a week ago, brings with him assistant coaching experience from Princeton, Temple and the World Football League. Could the large turnover in the coaching staff hurt the Quakers' continuity? Bagnoli is not too concerned. "The core coaches are back. I suspect it won't be too much of a problem," he said. "Ed Foley is a welcome addition since he was with us a couple of years ago. The full-time [staff] situation remains strong, especially with the addition of Bob DePippi. It's not a major concern going in." · For a while this summer it looked like Terrence Stokes, the '95 grad who finished his career second on Penn's all-time rushing yardage list, would be brought onto the coaching staff as an offensive assistant. But in early August Stokes was hired by "Mentor," a program in Trenton, N.J., that involves working with inner-city kids. "It's a very good job, a great opportunity for him," Bagnoli said. Jeff Wieland of The Daily Pennsylvanian contributed to this story.

Trice, Moore sign to play in Europe

(09/01/95 9:00am)

Penn stars happy to extend playing days Eric Moore headed off to live in Beauvois, France, back on Aug. 2 with absolutely zero experience speaking the native language. "I have my 'Introduction to French' book and I'm just going to keep it with me at all times," said Moore, the '95 grad who spent the last three years starting at center for the Penn men's basketball team. Just how long he'll spend crashing the boards and muscling inside for points in Beauvois is uncertain right now. All Moore knows is he is thrilled to have the chance to continue playing basketball, albeit in completely foreign surroundings. "I'm real excited," he said. "I'm also pretty nervous." Inner-city Detroit native Shawn Trice -- who started with Moore in the Penn frontcourt for three seasons -- has never come close to speaking a word of Swedish. But he is well-versed in the game of basketball, and that is all a team called Kvarnby in Gsteburg, Sweden, needed to know. Trice signed with Kvarnby in mid-August and went over Aug. 20. Today, more than ever, Europe wants basketball. But today, as much as ever, basketball is America's game and is played best by Americans. It follows, then, that Europe wants Americans to play the game for it. That's where good-but-not-NBA-caliber college players like Trice and Moore come in. The money is somewhat better than the starting salaries they could expect from a standard nine-to-five desk job, and the opportunity to see exotic new places is another compelling reason. Above all, Penn coach Fran Dunphy said, is "the desire to not stop playing. The opportunity is there to keep doing something they love. Why not take it?" Scouting is not nearly as sophisticated across the Atlantic as it is in the NBA. Teams in most European leagues adhere to a "call us, we won't call you" policy in getting acquainted with foreign players. That meant some work for Trice and Moore as far as letting European teams know there were a couple of University of Pennsylvania graduates out there who might want to play for them. Their first step was putting together videotapes of themselves following Penn's 1994-95 season. Then they contacted agents whose specific line of work is finding spots for American players on European teams. Those agents delivered tapes of Trice and Moore to numerous clubs, and the two Quakers were seen on tape by teams in national leagues throughout the continent. For a while, Trice and Moore, who are close friends, had visions of playing together overseas. "We worked out together during the summer [at Penn], exchanged tapes and just talked about the situation almost every day," Moore said. "It looked like we might be able to play together in Sweden, but then that fell through for me." Moore chose France over a standing offer from a team in England and one from a team in Cyprus. "It was the first offer I got that I really liked," he said. "It has good enough money and you get good exposure to other countries with more prestigious leagues" -- namely Italy, Greece and Spain, where most of the NBA-caliber players can be found in Europe. The opportunity to advance up the ladder in Europe is attractive to Moore. He has a far better chance to grab the attention of a team in a country such as Italy, Greece or Spain while playing in France than he does to turn the head of an NBA club while playing in the CBA or the USBL here in the States. Plus most of the cities to which he'll be traveling in France have a certain appeal that, say, Jersey City of the USBL or Albany, N.Y., of the CBA do not. Trice chose Kvarnby over offers from teams based in London and Luxembourg. Kvarnby (Trice didn't bother trying to pronounce the word) competes in Sweden's top basketball division. That was about all Trice knew as far as what to expect in Sweden. He did not mention buying an "Introduction to Swedish" book. "The whole thing should be quite an experience," he said. "But I hear there are a lot of people over there who know English, so hopefully I won't have too hard a time." The money is good. Nothing close to the legendary multimillion dollar contracts given to players such as Toni Kukoc in Europe will be coming the way of either Quaker any time soon, however. Trice called his probable starting salary "a decent amount for someone starting out. It's only a few guys who have been in the NBA and play in Italy and Greece who get the huge amounts." Moore indicated his annual salary will be under six figures but added he was "very happy" with his financial situation. Trice doesn't want to pursue a full-length playing career in Europe. "I don't think I want to be there that long," he said. His long-term goal, he has said, is to teach elementary school in his home city. He simply isn't ready to stop playing basketball just yet. Moore isn't sure what the future holds for him. "I'd like to just get over there and take it a year at a time," he said. "I don't know how much I'll enjoy it or how much I'll miss my family and girlfriend. To be honest, I have no idea at all what it's going to be like. I can't wait to go find out, though."

A FRONT ROW VIEW: Penn finds roles reversed in Stabler Arena

(11/29/94 10:00am)

BETHLEHEM -- Flash back eight months to a brisk March evening on Long Island. The Penn men's basketball team is going for its first NCAA tournament win in 15 years against Big Eight champion Nebraska. The Quakers quickly build a large lead. The crowd sits back, waiting for Nebraska to make a run. It just never happens. Jerome Allen hits a three-pointer. So does Matt Maloney. Scott Kegler and Eric Moore connect from downtown. Even Donald Moxley nails a trifecta. Penn blows past the Cornhuskers for a 90-80 victory in what may have been the single most impressive offensive performance of the entire tournament. For more than three quarters of last night's game against Lehigh, the Quakers were the Cornhuskers. No longer an innocent, overachieving group of Ivy Leaguers, they were the top 25-caliber team. A victory for Lehigh would have meant as much to the Engineers as Penn's NCAA win meant to it. The small but raucous Lehigh crowd wanted so desperately to see the Quakers go down. And it almost happened. The Engineers built a lead and then, in a fashion eerily reminiscent of Penn's own NCAA performance, simply refused to let the Quakers back into the game. Alan Campbell, a 6-foot-7 forward who shot as though he were 6-1, hit three three-pointers with Penn players right in his face to pace Lehigh to a 36-29 halftime lead. He got help in the second half. Lehigh was up 44-37 before center Jason Fichter knocked in a three. With the shot clock about to expire on Lehigh's next possession, Diallo Daniels hit a potentially backbreaking three from beyond area-code range. The Quakers trailed by 12. The carnage didn't stop. Silky smooth Rashawne Glenn hit a short jumper and a three to put the Engineers up 55-40. You have to think back to Jan. 25, 1993 against St. Joseph's to remember the last time Penn was down by so much when the outcome was still in doubt. And this was Lehigh. "They're a good team, a well-coached team that was absolutely ready to play us," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. Down, and on the verge of being out, Penn needed to find some way to relight the fire. This sort of spark always seems to come from an unexpected source. No unsung hero stepped up for Nebraska in Nassau Coliseum last March. Last night, the Quakers got their spark. It didn't come from Allen or Maloney, or any of the other starters. It came from Tim Krug, the junior backup center who missed several days of practice last week because of back problems. Penn had clawed its way back to within 57-48 when Krug got the ball at the top of the arc and, falling backward, let the ball fly. Swish. Lehigh hit two foul shots. Krug hit from the baseline to bring the Quakers back within six. Seconds later, a mammoth Krug block, his second of three in the final 20 minutes, led to a layup by Allen. The Engineers suddenly found themselves up only four. "He changed the game a lot," Dunphy said. "He really made it difficult for them to get shots off?.I thought his three-pointer was huge." After the backup center had provided the spark, it was time for Penn's Old Reliables, the backcourt players, to use it to burn the Engineers. Maloney and Kegler each hit a pair of threes as the Quakers tied the score at 69. Then Allen took over. All along he had known it was only a matter of time before he and his team got back on track. "I thought for 45 minutes it was our game, even if the score didn't reflect that," he said. "We practice so hard, we feel as though we should win every game." Allen swished two free throws to put Penn up 71-70 with 35 seconds remaining. But Lehigh still had its shooting touch, and Glenn came back with a three. Everything came down to the Quakers' next possession. Allen passed up a three and drove down the right baseline. He pulled up for a seven-foot jumper that hit nothing but net and sent the game into overtime. He proceeded to dominate the extra stanza, penetrating right through the Engineers like they weren't even there. He scored six of the Quakers' first seven points on drives and pull-up jumpers in the paint, staking Penn to a four-point lead it would never relinquish. "Jerome took the game over at the end," Lehigh coach Dave Duke said. For the past two years, the Quakers have been chomping at the bit for the opportunity to duel with the nation's elite. Now they are the hunted, a uniquely difficult situation to which they must adapt. Penn could not have picked a better year to feature five seniors who have seen and done just about everything. They have what it takes to keep Penn from becoming some other team's Nebraska. Experience. Confidence. The belief that, as Allen said, they should win every time out. After a heartbreaking opening-night loss to Canisius 13 days ago, Bethlehem was a good place to start making that belief a reality. "Down the stretch we made some big shots and that's what good players do," Dunphy said. "These guys have been through a lot, so there should be a certain sense of poise. It's a very, very good win for us, no question about it." Nicholas Hut is a College junior from Chevy Chase, Md., and a sports writer for The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Times have changed in Philly's Big 5

(04/20/94 9:00am)

College basketball's most historic arena was a time warp for most of last night's Penn-Temple game. As a Penn basketball fan, you could not have asked for anything more. Until the end. The 40th anniversary celebration of the Big 5 was a gala affair. For one night, the Palestra was filled with the same frenzied atmosphere that regularly gripped the entire city of Philadelphia back in the 1960s and 70s. The vendor outside the Palestra was hawking "old-fashioned Big 5 pretzels." It was a bitterly cold night, as it should have been. That was how it always was during the heyday of the Big 5. You almost froze to death on the way to the arena, but it was worth it because it was so hot inside. The electricity of a City Series doubleheader always generated as much heat as anyone could stand. The tension inside last night was so palpable a knife could not have cut it. It would have required a buzzsaw. You could practically smell the ghosts roaming around the 68-year-old building. You could see them, in fact. They were standing at center court at halftime -- seven of the greatest players in Big 5 history. Half of them looked like they could have suited up and played on the spot. The crowd was in an absolute frenzy. Temple brought a sizeable contingent, but it was no match for the thousands of Penn fans. One side or the other was constantly going bezerk, and every foul call drew deafening groans and catcalls. It was typical Big 5, complete with battles of the bands and of the cheerleaders. But none of it compared to the war on the court. There was never any doubt this one was going down to the wire. Blowouts simply do not happen in the Big 5. The players and coaches know each other too well, and no team is ever road-weary when it arrives for a game. It was only fitting for the game celebrating the 40th anniversary to be as tight and as tense as any ever. For most of the crowd, the euphoria of the evening dissipated in the final minutes when it became apparent Penn was utterly incapable of holding onto its lead. I, for one, couldn't help but think of Corky Calhoun, who was Penn's lone representative on the all-time Big 5 team. He played three seasons from 1969 to 1972. His teams had a combined record of 11-1 against Big 5 foes and ranked in the nation's Top 10 every year. That era was truly big-time. With a nationally prominent team and a complete set of Big 5 games each year, 33rd Street was the place to be if you were a college hoops fan. Last night was a joyous affair, but it was also a reminder of how much things have changed. Now there is but one official Big 5 game in the Palestra each year. And this year's version of the Quakers, as great as it is, obviously can't come close to comparing with Corky Calhoun's squads. The Quakers' five seniors have done so much for Penn basketball. But when you get down to it, Penn is an extraordinary Ivy League team. Not much more. The Quakers journey to Villanova February 22 to face what will probably be a Top 10 team. A loss there will give Jerome Allen and company a career Big 5 record of 6-8. That's a far cry from 11-1. A really far cry.