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Penn seniors play in Palestra finale

(03/08/01 10:00am)

For the Penn women's basketball team's five seniors, it could not have ended any sweeter. Four years ago, they joined a team that went 6-20 the previous season and finished last in the Ivy League. Yesterday, they completed a perfect Ivy League season and cut down the nets after their 78-69 victory over Princeton. "It's the saddest time and the most happy ever," Penn senior forward Diana Caramanico said, trying to hold back tears. "It's been a great four years... what makes it great is my coaches and my team. To finish on this kind of a note is just incredible." In addition to the jubilation of running the table in the Ancient Eight, it was an emotional night for the Quakers' seniors -- Caramanico, Erin Ladley, Claire Cavanaugh, Jessica Allen and Elisabeth Alexander. Their final game at the Palestra began with a ceremony, in which all five seniors were honored with their parents. A few minutes later, Cavanaugh sang the National Anthem before the opening tip-off. "I just always liked to sing. I sing around the team a lot and they kind of made me do it," Cavanaugh said. "No one on the team or the coaches would tell you that I'm shy, but I am a little reserved as far as performing. But I lost a bet, so I made good on it." Despite her successful debut behind the microphone, Cavanaugh does not plan on pursing a career in singing. In fact, she will be joining the Penn women's coaching staff next season. In honor of Senior Night, Penn coach Kelly Greenberg opted to start all five seniors, letting them play the first several minutes of the game together. Allen scored four points and grabbed one rebound, while Cavanaugh and Alexander, a Daily Pennsylvanian photographer, each registered one assist during the game's opening minutes. As usual, the Quakers' captains -- Caramanico and Ladley -- played almost the entire contest and once again helped lead the Red and Blue to victory. Caramanico led Penn with 26 points, which increased her career total to an even 2,400 points. She also did a little bit of everything else, getting eight rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal. Meanwhile, Ladley was the Quakers' biggest rebounder and playmaker. She grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out five assists. The senior guard was also instrumental in erasing Princeton's second half lead. Seventeen of Ladley's 21 points came in the second half, and the 21-point performance moved her to 10th all-time in career points for a Penn women's basketball player. While the seniors' contributions on the court are easy to quantify, their teammates and coaches feel their contribution off the court is immeasurable. "They're leaving so much more than points and rebounds," Greenberg said. "They're leaving a work ethic that hopefully has made this program rock solid." The efforts of these five athletes, along with the addition of Greenberg at the helm, have quickly turned Penn's program around from worst to first in four years. Although the players from the Class of 2001 will never compete on the Palestra hardwood again, their season is far from over. In just over a week, the Quakers will play in the NCAA Tournament.

Defensive stand keeps Penn in Ivy hunt

(03/05/01 10:00am)

NEW HAVEN, CONN. -- Following its 85-77 loss at Brown on Friday night, the Penn men's basketball team found itself in unfamiliar territory entering Saturday's contest with Yale. A Quakers' loss coupled with a Princeton win at Brown would have ended Penn's two-year reign atop the Ivy League. But with their backs to the wall, the Red and Blue turned in their best defensive performance of the year, soundly beating the Elis, 63-38. "The first half I think we really set the tone with our defense," Penn freshman Jeff Schiffner said. "We made some big shots... and I think we kind of fed off our energy on defense." The Quakers played a solid half of offensive basketball, pouring in 35 points, but it was their amazing defense that gave the Red and Blue an insurmountable lead by halftime. Penn limited the Elis to merely four first-half field goals and only 13 points -- the lowest point total for a Penn opponent in one half this season. The key for Penn was shutting down Yale's two biggest offensive threats -- sophomore guard Chris Leanza and senior center Neil Yanke -- who had averaged 13.7 and 13.0 points per game, respectively, before Saturday's date with the Quakers. Four weeks earlier, when these teams met at the Palestra, Leanza led the Elis with 10 points in their 61-51 loss. Saturday, Dunphy's game plan worked to a T, as the Quakers held the Yale shooting guard to just one point. Leanza did not convert on six field goal attempts. "We did a good job of what we call blasting of Leanza," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "He couldn't turn the corner, and he had to go east and west." After going 0-for-3 in the first half, Yale desperately needed Leanza to drain some threes in the second half for Yale to erase Penn's 22-point halftime lead. The Quakers, however, didn't give an inch, and Leanza had another 0-for-3 performance after the intermission. While Penn's backcourt took Leanza out of the game, the Quakers' frontcourt neutralized 6'11" Yanke down low. Yanke missed the first Penn-Yale matchup due to a sprained ankle, but his presence this weekend was a non-factor. "Geoff [Owens] has Yanke's kind of size, if not bigger, and he didn't go for any fakes," Dunphy said. "[He] just kind of held his ground and really changed some of Yanke's shots." The Yale center shot a measly 16.7 percent from the floor, and the team as a whole shot 31.8 percent. Moreover, the Elis shot only 21.1 percent in the first 20 minutes. "We really buckled down and forced them into making tough shots," Schiffner said. "We put them in a position where we gave them one shot and rebounded very well." Rebounding on the defensive glass was a big difference between the loss to Brown and the win at Yale. The Bears grabbed 14 boards off of the offensive glass and scored 10 second-chance points in the second half. The Quakers made a 180-degree turn the following night, when they prevented the Elis from scoring a single second-chance point and limited them to just one offensive rebound during the first half. And thanks to the defense's revitalization on Saturday, the Quakers still have a chance to retain the Ivy League crown.

Big 5 season ends with a beating

(02/07/01 10:00am)

With 4:46 remaining in last night's Big 5 contest between Penn and Villanova, almost all 12,058 people in the First Union Center were on their feet. This was not because the Wildcats (13-8, 4-0 Big 5) were leading the game by 20 points at the time, en route to an 80-51 victory over the Penn men's basketball team (7-12, 0-4). It was because Gary Buchanan was about to step to the line to make NCAA history. The Villanova sophomore guard sunk 63 consecutive free throws entering last night's contest, and he needed two more to break the NCAA Division I record for consecutive free throws made. The previous record of 64 was set by Western Illinois' Joe Dykstra in 1981-82. Penn freshman Jeff Schiffner got called for a reach-in foul in the Villanova backcourt giving Buchanan his chance at the record books. The free-throw wizard seized the opportunity and in a matter-of-fact fashion sunk both shots from the charity stripe. "It's not like those two were clangers," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "They went dead in the hoop, which is really impressive." Buchanan's perfection from the line led to more applause from the crowd and upped Villanova's lead to 71-49. "I know we were down a lot of points, and we needed for him not to make them, but I would have felt bad for him if he had not made them," Dunphy said. "I was really happy that he made those two free throws." In the big picture, those free throws had no impact on the outcome of the game, but now Buchanan owns a place in the NCAA Division I record book with 65 consecutive successful free throws and counting. "I wasn't worried about the record," Buchanan said. "I just wanted to come out and win." In addition to winning their 13th game of the season, the Wildcats won the Big 5 title and became the fourth team in Villanova history to post a perfect 4-0 record in the Big 5. For the Wildcats, their fourth Big 5 win of the season proved to be their easiest. Eight minutes into the game, Villanova already led by 13 points. The Red and Blue cut the lead to seven, but Villanova senior guard Jermaine Medley sunk a three that gave the Wildcats a double-digit lead. The Quakers would never come within 10 again. Medley finished the game with a career-high 22 points and shot an impressive 5-of-6 from behind the three-point arc. "We talked about that before the game -- Medley being a streak shooter," Dunphy said. "If he gets off a little bit, he can go for four or five threes, and that's obviously what he did tonight." In addition to the three-pointer that gave Villanova a 10-point lead early, Medley hit two timely treys in the second half. His first three after the intermission capped off an 8-0 Wildcats run to start the second session and give Villanova its first 20-point lead of the game. Less than two minutes later, he answered a three by Penn's Lamar Plummer with a 23-foot jumper of his own. Two other members of Villanova's starting five helped steer the Wildcats to victory -- sophomore forward Ricky Wright and junior center Michael Bradley. Bradley was second on the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding with 21 points. He made 7-of-9 baskets from the floor and raised his NCAA-leading field goal percentage to .698. Villanova's biggest force on the glass last night was Wright, who grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds. He also added 13 points to record the game's only double-double. Overall, rebounding was one area that the Wildcats dominated, outrebounding the Quakers, 43-27. The rebounding was most lopsided in the first half when the Quakers grabbed only 11 rebounds in 20 minutes, while the Wildcats grabbed 10 offensive boards alone in that half. Penn's woes also stemmed from its inability to score on the offensive end. Collectively, the Quakers shot 35.1 percent from the floor and a measley 28.0 percent from behind the arc. Penn point guard David Klatsky was one of the few bright spots for the Quakers, as he nailed 3-of-4 from downtown. Plummer, along with forward Ugonna Onyekwe, led Penn with 12 points each. Center Geoff Owens grabbed the most boards for the Quakers with seven, and recorded four blocks and two steals. But Owens and the Quakers were still scorched by Villanova's stellar offensive attack. The drubbing did, however, allow Dunphy to use much of the second half to give some players off the bench a chance to play against tough competition. That, in turn, indirectly made Schiffner the answer to a future NCAA trivia question: who fouled Gary Buchanan when he broke the record for consecutive free throws made in NCAA Division I history?

Quakers' tourney picture clears

(02/05/01 10:00am)

An epic battle was staged on Thursday night in one of college basketball's best rivalries, as North Carolina defeated Duke, 85-83. But there was a more significant battle taking place at the Palestra the next two days -- more significant, at least, in terms of filling out the brackets in March. "I don't want to diminish what I saw with Carolina and Duke, but they're both going to the NCAA Tournament," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "These [Ivy League] games are critical. Each game is a huge, huge event. That's why our league is so unique and so different." The Ancient Eight is unique because it is the only league in the nation that does not have a conference tournament at the end of the season. Thus, each game is vital to securing an NCAA berth. And this weekend's results helped make the Ivy League picture a little bit clearer. After only the second weekend of Ivy League play, it already looks like either Penn or Princeton will win the Ivy League Championship for the 13th consecutive season. Both the Quakers and the Tigers swept this weekend's home contests against Yale and Brown to increase their Ancient Eight records to 4-0. Moreover, the two teams increased their leads over the next best Ivy team by two games in the loss column very early into the season. Before Friday, Yale led the Ivies with a 3-0 record, but a 61-51 loss to Penn followed by a 62-49 loss at Princeton sent the Elis reeling into fourth place in the Ivy League standings. However, the Elis should not be dismissed just yet. They played without starting center Neil Yanke this weekend (he sat out with a sprained ankle). And Penn and Princeton's road to the Ivy crown still must go through New Haven, Conn. Harvard can't be counted out either. The Crimson split their weekend, beating Cornell 65-57 and losing at Columbia, 65-55. But despite that loss to the Lions, Harvard jumped one spot in the standings to third place. If recent history is any indication, Yale and Harvard cannot afford to lose another Ivy League game and still claim the league crown. The last time the Ivy League winner had three conference losses was in the 1989-90 season, when Princeton won the title at 11-3. Although the Crimson have two more losses than the undefeated Quakers and Tigers, Harvard -- along with Penn and Princeton -- still has control of its own destiny. If Harvard runs the table, it will clinch at least a share of the Ivy League Championship. The Crimson have yet to play Penn or Princeton, so they could potentially hand both teams a pair of losses. Also, Penn and Princeton still need to play each other twice, giving either one team two more losses or each team one more loss. Although the Crimson technically just need to win their last eight conference games to win a piece of the title, Penn and Princeton are clearly the frontrunners to represent the Ivy League in the NCAA Tournament given their 4-0 records. Now the question lies -- which one of the Ivy League powerhouses will take home the 2000-2001 crown? "I think Penn is a better team," Brown coach Glen Miller said. "Penn's more talented. As you well know, Princeton has a unique style of play and it requires a lot of preparation and a lot of discipline defensively." "They're tough to score on too, but I think Penn is a better team. I think Penn will improve as they go along and get their confidence back and be a terrific team down the stretch."

M. Hoops visits St. Joe's at the Palestra

(01/26/01 10:00am)

There's no need for plane, train or bus reservations if you want to attend the next Penn men's basketball road game. Penn will "travel" to St. Joseph's tomorrow night when the two teams tip off at the Palestra's familiar confines at 8 p.m. The St. Joe's contest is the last of a four-game hiatus from Ivy League play for Penn. During that stretch, the Quakers lost to Delaware but bounced back with two wins against Patriot League opponents Lafayette and Lehigh. "We're still gelling as a team, as you saw [Wednesday] night," Penn senior guard Lamar Plummer said. "We haven't completed an entire 40 minutes. If we play 40 minutes, I think we have a great chance of winning the game." In its most recent contest, Penn downed Lehigh 87-74. For a majority of the game, Penn was clearly the better team, except for the beginning of the second half when the Engineers went on a 14-0 run. Nevertheless, the Red and Blue put forth a much better performance than they did the week before in their 10-point loss at Delaware. "I think we've progressed a little bit," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "We're going to face a very difficult opponent [tomorrow]. I think St. Joe's is playing as well as anybody in the East." The Quakers (5-10, 0-2 Big 5) can ill afford a lapse of good basketball tomorrow if they are to beat the Hawks. St. Joe's (15-4, 1-1) enters this late January contest having already eclipsed last season's win total of 13. A big reason for St. Joe's turnaround has been the addition of freshman point guard Jameer Nelson. Nelson has started every game in his rookie season and is one of the Hawks' statistical leaders. He averages 11.8 points per game, 6.0 assists per game and is third on the team in defensive rebounds with 52. "If he's making jumpers on the perimeter, we're going to have a real difficult time," Dunphy said. "He can drive it to the basket and make a play. He can also pull up and make a jump shot. There's not much that Jameer doesn't have." The addition of Nelson now gives the Hawks an incredibly balanced roster that includes five players who average in double figures on the scoresheet. St. Joe's leading scorer is junior guard Marvin O'Connor, who averages 20.3 points per game. Junior forward Bill Phillips adds 11.6 points per game and grabs 9.7 boards per game -- four more rebounds than he averaged last year. Phillips is also second on the team in assists with 65. Senior guard Na'im Crenshaw and junior forward Damien Reid round out the quintet of double-figures-scoring Hawks. They average 12.9 and 10.3 points per game, respectively. The well-balanced Hawks are still in contention for a share of the Big 5 title, but they need to defeat both Penn and LaSalle to be dubbed Philadelphia's best basketball team. St. Joe's also needs the Quakers to defeat Villanova at the First Union Center on February 6 to create a tie for first place in the Big 5. "I think in the city of Philadelphia you strive to be extraordinary," St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli said. "To be the best in any one year would be a feat for any team, and it would give us a little bragging rights, and for the players, there's no question that that is a big deal." But in order for that to happen, the Hawks must first get by Penn on the Quakers' home court. Or, technically, the Hawks' home court.

Hens' defense stifles Quakers

(01/18/01 10:00am)

NEWARK, Del. -- Apparently, Delaware coach David Henderson knew exactly what it would take to hand the Penn men's basketball team its 10th loss of the season. "Coach came in and said playing good defense was the key to us winning," Delaware forward Maurice Sessoms said. "When we play good defense, I don't think anyone can beat us." Delaware's defense turned in a stellar performance both in the paint and at the perimeter in the Blue Hens' 76-66 victory last night. The Blue Hens' defense has been strong all season, as it held opponents to an average of 67.9 points per game before entering yesterday's contest. Delaware also averaged 4.6 blocks and 7.7 steals per contest. Last night against the Quakers, the Blue Hens bested all those numbers by recording nine blocks and nine steals, while limiting the Penn offense to a mere 66 points. The Blue Hens are the only team in the America East Conference that has not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 50 percent from the floor this season. They continued this trend against the Quakers, limiting Penn to a .397 shooting percentage. The Delaware defense did a particularly good job keeping Penn's three-point shooting in check. The Quakers, who were shooting 37.4 percent from behind the arc coming into the game, sunk just six of 22 attempts from downtown. Penn's three-point shooting attack is led by guard Lamar Plummer, who is successful a whopping 45.8 percent of the time from three-point range. Delaware held him to 1-for-5 from three-point land, and Plummer finished the game with only six points. "Billy [Wells is] our point man on defense, and he didn't give Plummer any open looks," Henderson said. "That's key because that kid can really shoot the basketball. He's automatic when he's open." Wells, along with forward Ajmal Basit, led the Blue Hens with three blocked shots. Wells also contributed defensively with two steals. "I thought they did a really good job pressuring our perimeter guys," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "They stole the ball twice from our point guards, which hasn't happened all year long." The first of those steals came halfway through the first half with the Quakers trailing 20-15. Delaware guard Austen Rowland swiped the ball from Penn freshman guard Charlie Copp. As Rowland headed back down the court with the ball, Copp grabbed his arm and was called for an intentional foul, giving the Blue Hens two free throw shots and possession. Penn's starting point guard David Klatsky was also victimized by Delaware's tenacious defense at the top of the key. The Blue Hens held a 62-44 advantage when Wells pickpocketed Klatsky midway through the second half. Wells cruised down the court for an uncontested layup to give Delaware its biggest lead of the entire contest. Delaware's defense did an equally efficient job down low. Penn's starting frontcourt of Ugonna Onyekwe, Koko Archibong and Geoff Owens scored a combined 24 points -- 14 points below their season average. "Our big guys inside were not allowing those guys to get good position," Henderson said. "We really wanted to double down with [our] perimeter players whenever they put the ball on the floor and take away their game in the paint." Delaware was also able to limit Onyekwe's playing time by getting him into foul trouble. Onyekwe played in only 23 of the game's 40 minutes. In part, Onyekwe's foul trouble came thanks to the Delaware defense that took a charge, giving Onyekwe his second foul of the contest.

<br>Another heartbreak for winless M. Hoops

(12/14/00 10:00am)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With only 21.7 seconds left on the Continental Airlines Arena clock, the Penn men's basketball team found itself in a rather unexpected position. By the time that clock expired, though, the Quakers (0-7) were back in familiar territory after dropping their seventh game in a row last night to No. 9 Seton Hall (6-1), 80-78. The winless Quakers were deadlocked, 78-78, with the Pirates with 21.7 seconds remaining and were preparing to inbound the ball after using their final timeout. In the huddle, Penn coach Fran Dunphy was designing a play that he hoped would put the Quakers on top. "[We wanted] David [Klatsky] coming off of Ugonna [Onyekwe], and if they switched up off of David, maybe Lamar [Plummer] would be open," Dunphy said. "But they took David out of the play and we needed to make an adjustment." The adjustment the Quakers made wasn't exactly what Dunphy had in mind. Off the inbounds pass, Onyekwe found forward Koko Archibong, who got the ball into the hands of freshman guard Charlie Copp. Copp drove the lane, but but was stripped by Pirates guard Ty Shine with just 8.1 ticks left on the clock. Seton Hall then hurried down the court, where Shine found Pirates center Sam Dalembert camped under the basket for an easy alley-oop tip-in to give the Hall its game-winning basket with 3.9 seconds remaining. "We didn't want to call timeout at the end; we talked about that in the huddle," Seton Hall coach Tommy Amaker said. "We said that if we came up with a steal or a rebound, we were going to push it up and try to see if we could get something in the open floor." Klatsky's desperation three at the buzzer was blocked by Pirates freshman forward Eddie Griffin, leaving the Quakers three points shy of pulling off the upset. The Red and Blue came out on fire, putting themselves in position to win the game in the waning seconds. Onyekwe, who finished the game with a career-high 26 points and 11 rebounds, scored the Quakers' first seven points, sparking a 26-9 Penn run to open the game. "We were hitting all of our shots, which really makes it look like you know what you're doing out there," Dunphy said. "[The Pirates] were missing a lot of shots as well, and you know they're going to tighten their act up and make the game much closer." After Penn built a 29-12 lead, the Pirates clawed their way back into the contest with a 29-10 run of their own to take a 41-39 lead with 2:22 left before intermission. Six Seton Hall players contributed to the run with Griffin leading the way. The freshman phenom contributed nine points during the 10:41 span, including a lay-up to start the run and a three-point play to end it. Griffin -- who entered the contest leading the nation in blocks and rebounds with 5.5 and 13.2 per game, respectively -- finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots for the Pirates. The Quakers cooled down considerably during this stretch as they failed to knock down a field goal for nearly eight-and-a-half minutes in the middle of the first half. After Seton Hall's first-half comeback, this barnburner saw eight lead changes, with neither team holding a lead greater than six points. "It's frustrating. We put ourselves in a position to win and couldn't get it done," Dunphy said. "We're a pretty good basketball team, but we are not sure who we are yet. We don't know how to win yet, but hopefully we'll get there."

Big Red taking shot at first outright crown in history

(11/17/00 10:00am)

It's hard to imagine that any team has had a more incredible collection of wins than Penn this season. Nevertheless, all five Cornell victories this season have resulted from fourth-quarter comebacks, and three ended with a one-point margin. "It's really a game of cardiac kids on both sides," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "We very much are a mirror image of each other, and [we] both have very, very good quarterbacks." The Big Red (5-4, 5-1 Ivy League) are led by junior quarterback Ricky Rahne, who needs 278 yards to break Bill Lazor's record of 5,697 career passing yards. The Big Red opened their Ivy League season in a heavily hyped game against Yale, the defending Ivy League co-champion. Going into the 2000 football season, Cornell and Yale were tied in the preseason media poll as the projected Ancient Eight victors. Yale led the seesaw battle 23-17 late in the fourth quarter until Rahne found senior wide receiver Joe Splendorio in the end zone with 2:16 left on the clock. After a successful extra point, Cornell took a 24-23 lead. Cornell's lead proved to be far from safe, however, as the Elis marched down the field and set up a 32-yard field goal attempt for placekicker Mike Murawczyk. The Big Red dodged a bullet -- their first of many this year -- as Murawczyk's kick sailed wide left, giving Cornell the victory. Cornell's next Ivy League contest featured the Big Red's greatest comeback. Trailing Harvard 28-0 at the half, Cornell scored 29 unanswered points in the second half to win the game 29-28. Rahne threw four touchdown passes, including a 44-yard strike to Tim Hermann, which improbably gave the Big Red the lead with 2:45 remaining in the fourth quarter. In the game's waning seconds, the 6'6" Splendorio blocked a 27-yard field goal attempt by Harvard kicker Robbie Wright to secure the win for Cornell. Yes, that's the same Harvard kicker who missed a 33-yard field goal at Franklin Field last weekend to give Penn a come-from-behind win of its own. Like Penn, Cornell also lost on October 21 in its third Ivy League contest. Brown amassed an Ivy League record 690 yards of offense in its 56-40 win over the Big Red. The following weekend, Cornell bounced back for its third Ivy League win of the season. Rahne threw a four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mike Parris to give Cornell a 25-18 lead over Princeton. The Tigers' answered with a successful two-minute drill that ended in a touchdown. The game appeared to be headed to overtime, but Princeton placekicker Taylor Northrop slipped and missed the extra point. The next two Ancient Eight wins were not as close on the scoreboard, but they also featured fourth-quarter heroics. Cornell trailed Dartmouth 31-28 late in the game but found the end zone three consecutive times, en route to a 49-31 win. Last weekend, it was junior fullback Justin Dunleavy who carried the Big Red to victory. Dunleavy scored on a one-yard run with 43 seconds remaining to give Cornell a 35-31 win over Columbia and set up tomorrow's Ivy League showdown with Penn. One distinct difference between Penn and Cornell is experience in Ivy League games with title implications. Two years ago, after a 2-1 start in the league, Penn ran the table with four consecutive victories. Meanwhile, nobody on the Cornell squad has played in an Ivy game of this magnitude, but that doesn't seem to have the Big Red intimidated. The boys from Ithaca seem eager to lay it all on the line. "This is what it is all about," Splendorio said. "It's great for the seniors on both teams to play in the final game of their careers for a championship."

Ivy League crown up for grabs

(11/17/00 10:00am)

One game. One winner. One Ivy League champion. It's that simple. Tomorrow, the Penn football team will face Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., at 1 p.m. with the chance to win its second Ivy League championship in three seasons. "You can't script it much better than this," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said of the end-of-season showdown. Penn and Cornell currently share the lead for first place in the Ancient Eight with 5-1 records. Thanks to the introduction of overtime in college football several years ago, someone will definitely be crowned the outright champion tomorrow afternoon at Cornell's Schoellkopf Field. Penn's road to this Ivy League title game started off smoothly but has recently been peppered with come-from-behind wins. The Quakers (6-3 overall, 5-1 Ivy League) cruised to an early 2-0 Ivy League record with 48-14 and 43-25 victories over Dartmouth and Columbia, respectively. But since Yale dealt Penn its only conference loss, 27-24, on October 21, the Quakers have found magical ways of winning games on the gridiron. The following week, the Red and Blue trailed Brown by 18 points with under five minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Penn junior quarterback Gavin Hoffman threw for two touchdowns and ran for another to lead the Quakers to a dramatic home victory. Seven days later, Penn trailed Princeton 24-6 before Hoffman completed a 42-yard pass to Doug O'Neill on the last play of the first half. Penn ended the game scoring 34 unanswered points, en route to a 40-24 victory over its arch-rival. The Quakers' magical ride continued last weekend when they hosted Harvard on Homecoming. Penn erased a nine-point deficit with under seven minutes left in the game and then watched Harvard placekicker Robbie Wright miss a potentially game-winning 33-yard field goal to keep Penn's title hopes alive. Although Cornell will have the home field advantage tomorrow, the weather forecast in Ithaca, N.Y., could prove favorable for the Quakers. A snow storm is headed for Ithaca this weekend, but it may not arrive until after tomorrow's Ivy League showdown. However, if there is inclement weather, that would give the slight advantage to Penn -- with big back Kris Ryan -- if it gives an advantage to anyone at all. "They have to throw the ball as much as we have to throw the ball," Bagnoli said. "It's not like we're playing against a team that's a power running attack, where they have an advantage in the wind and the cold." Thanks to the talent of Hoffman and Cornell quarterback Ricky Rahne, both teams feature a pass-happy offense. However, the Quakers have had more success running the football this year, averaging 40.1 more rushing yards per game than the Big Red. The Quakers' rushing attack is led by Ryan, who gains 4.4 yards per carry. Moreover, Cornell's rushing defense is the worst in the Ivy League, allowing 234.0 yards per contest. By way of comparison, Penn's rushing defense is third best in the Ancient Eight, yielding only 124.6 yards per contest. That's not to say that Penn cannot pass the ball in cold weather. In fact, Penn's signal caller is a native of frosty Minnesota. "[Hoffman's] seen a little bit of weather, some wind, some snow," Bagnoli said. "All of our receivers are East Coast kids. I don't think it is going to be a big deal." Rain, sleet, snow or shine, a Penn win tomorrow will translate into the Quakers' eighth outright Ivy League Championship and their second in three seasons.

Wolfpack soph boasts pedigree

(11/16/00 10:00am)

"My father said real pressures are in life, not in basketball." That's the perfect attitude for Damien Wilkins. Wilkins, a 6'6" sophomore forward at North Carolina State, has faced high expectations ever since he took the hardwood for the Wolfpack. Since Wilkins is the son of former NBA player Gerald Wilkins and the nephew of former NBA star Dominique Wilkins, Wolfpack fans naturally expected that the apple did not fall far from the tree. "I wasn't around them a lot when I was a kid because they were always traveling," Wilkins said. "Having them around now is a tremendous advantage. They taught me how to play the game, and they taught me about the businesses of the game." Wilkins certainly did not need counsel when he made his decision to attend N.C. State. After being heavily recruited by several schools, the highly touted Wilkins narrowed his choices to Georgia Tech, Kentucky and N.C. State before making his final decision. "It was a win-win situation," Wilkins said. "I always wanted to come back home, and N.C. State has great coaches." Wilkins was born about an hour and a half from Raleigh in the coastal town of Washington, N.C. He lived there with his mother until he was 14 years old. Then, Wilkins left Washington to attend high school in Orlando, Fla. There, Wilkins earned the distinction of being named a McDonald's High School All-American. This just translated into higher expectations when he started playing basketball for the Wolfpack last season. "A lot of people weren't enthused about my season, but who am I playing for? Them or myself and my team?" Wilkins said. "At times I thought I was a little passive, but I was proud of the year I had." And he should be. As a freshman, Wilkins was one of the Wolfpack's best players, and he helped lead N.C. State to its first 20-win season in nine years. He led the Wolfpack to the court where his father once played, Madison Square Garden, by taking them to the semifinals of the NIT. No Wolfpack player saw more minutes than Wilkins, who started every game last season and averaged 31.9 minutes per contest. Wilkins was also a leader in practically every statistical category for Herb Sendek's squad. With 11.4 points per game, he was second on the team in scoring behind junior guard Anthony Grundy. Wilkins grabbed more offensive boards than any of his teammates and finished second only to senior forward Damon Thornton in total rebounds with 197. Wilkins also had a successful season on defense. He finished third on the team in both blocks and steals with 21 and 41, respectively. In an exhibition game last Saturday against the California All-Stars, Wilkins picked up where he left off last season. He scored 22 points in the contest and was a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the arc, helping N.C. State to a 120-87 win. So when N.C. State tips off its season against Penn on Friday, expectations will once again be high for Damien Wilkins, as the Wolfpack's faithful hope to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991. But that's fine with Wilkins, because his father already taught him how to keep pressure on the basketball court in perspective.

Crusaders QB Hall leads after following

(10/05/00 9:00am)

For Holy Cross sophomore quarterback Brian Hall, the decision made all the sense in the world. Hall, a Dallas native, was recruited by many Ivy League and Patriot League teams, as well as other schools with similar academic reputations. Despite Hall's plethora of options, there were a few unique things Holy Cross had to offer that made it stand above the competition. First, Hall felt a sense of familiarity with the Holy Cross program, and he already knew some of the players. Hall's high school coach was a Crusaders back in the late 1980s. Moreover, senior kicker/punter Frank Traupman, senior wide receiver Clayton Lemmer and junior running back James Conroy all attended Dallas Jesuit High School with Hall. More important than having a few friends in the football program, though, was the opportunity Hall had to change Holy Cross' offense for the better. And that's exactly what Hall has done. Before Hall came to Holy Cross, the Crusaders ran a wide open offense that passed the ball around 70 percent of the time. The addition of Hall -- a mobile quarterback who both runs and throws the ball effectively -- enabled Holy Cross coach Dan Allen to add the option to the Crusaders' offensive scheme. "Being a passing offense, we would basically live or die just by the pass," Hall said. "With the addition of the option, defenses now have another factor to prepare for." Now the Crusaders offense features a greater emphasis on the ground game. In the 2000 season, almost 65 percent of Holy Cross' plays from scrimmage have been runs. "They spread you out all over the place with their running game, and then they come in and do a nice job with four and five wide receiver sets and spread you out all over the place with the pass game," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. Since Hall took over the starting quarterback position in the eighth week of the 1999 season, Holy Cross' improvement has been impressive. Before Hall won the starting job, the Crusaders scored 109 points in seven games. In the last four games of the season started by Hall, the Crusaders scored 110 points. This season, Hall's offense has picked up where it left off, and it continues to average slightly over 27 points per game. With a 3-1 record, Holy Cross is off to its best start since 1991, when the Crusaders went undefeated and won the Patriot League championship. "Brian has improved every week he has started," Allen said. "He is poised and energetic, which are some of the intangibles you look for in a quarterback." Hall's greatest asset for the Holy Cross offense is the double threat that he presents. He has completed 55.2 percent of his passes and has a quarterback efficiency rating of 102.03. Hall also leads the Crusaders' ground attack with 291 yards rushing. Hall has enjoyed plenty of success in the red zone, scoring a touchdown in each of his first seven starts at quarterback. "A lot of defenses stack the outside to stop the option and make me pitch the ball a little more," Hall said. Penn, however, plans to stick to its regular defensive scheme and focus on improving fundamentals instead. "Last year, we seemed to change with the opponent we were playing," Penn linebacker Travis Belden said. "This year we're pretty much sticking with our basics.... Everyone has got a certain thing they have to do on every play." The Quakers may not be altering their defensive scheme to fit Holy Cross' offense, but they have no option but to focus on a quarterback like Hall.

Offense hits on all cylinders in win

(09/25/00 9:00am)

There really was very little the Lafayette defense could do. Even forcing four Penn turnovers could not help the Leopards' cause. The Penn football team's 45-28 victory over Lafayette on Saturday largely resulted from the ability of Penn's offense to pick apart the Lafayette defense in every way imaginable. The Quakers' attack ran the ball 44 times and attempted 35 passes for a total of 477 yards. That offensive balance was a considerable improvement from the opener at Lehigh where only 16 of Penn's 69 plays were rushes. "I thought they certainly wanted to prove a point from a week ago that they could run the ball," Lafayette coach Frank Tavani said. "Sixteen [rushing] attempts last week is like not even trying to run the ball." In both of its first two games, Penn has had to deal with the absence of junior running back Kris Ryan, who led the Ivy League with 1,197 rushing yards last season. Ryan missed both games with a high-ankle sprain. "Thank God [Kris Ryan] is sitting there in his street clothes," Tavani said, even after his team's 17-point loss. "He's one of the greatest backs I've ever seen." Saturday, Penn senior running back Mike Verille effectively filled the void, carrying the ball 26 times. Verille accumulated 99 yards in the contest and scored three touchdowns on runs from one, five and three yards out. A majority of Verille's carries came in the first half, while sophomore running back Todd Okolovitch led Penn's ground game after the break. Okolovitch had all 13 of his carries in the second half, running for 58 yards. Despite the added emphasis on the rushing attack, junior quarterback Gavin Hoffman and his corps of receivers had another stellar game. Hoffman followed his 356 passing yard performance at Lehigh -- the third best game in Penn passing history -- with another 300-yard day. Hoffman completed 70.6 percent of his passes for exactly 300 yards. The wealth of options Hoffman has when he drops back to pass was shown by the fact that nine different Quakers caught a pass against the Leopards. Nine Quakers also caught passes at Lehigh in the opener. The way in which Penn scored its three aerial touchdowns was a microcosm of the versatility that Penn's passing game presents. Penn's first passing touchdown came midway through the third quarter when Hoffman found senior tight end Ben Zagorski in the back of the endzone to give the Quakers a 31-7 lead. Zagorski used his 6'7" frame to reach over the Lafayette defender and haul in the Hoffman throw. Hoffman's other two touchdown passes resulted from Penn's speed at wide receiver instead of its size. Senior wide receivers Doug O'Neill and John Holahan caught touchdown passes for four yards and eight yards, respectively, on very similar plays. Both plays saw the wide receiver run a quick route and then catch the ball in the flat a few yards short of the end zone. Penn's offensive prowess was also proven by its ability to adapt to the game situation. In the first half, the Quakers were looking to move the ball downfield quickly in a no-huddle offense. Of its three first-half touchdown drives Penn's longest drive took only 2:43. As the Penn lead grew to 38-7, the offense moved to a more ball control tempo. "When you get such a big lead, the no huddle offense becomes counterproductive," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "We were trying to run the 25-second clock." Lafayette battled back and cut Penn's lead to 38-28 with under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Watching its lead dwindle, the Quakers needed a time-consuming possession to break Lafayette's momentum. In the Quakers' first series of that drive they faced a third down with six yards to go on their own 24-yard line. Hoffman found Zagorski over the middle for eight yards to jump start the offense and keep the drive alive. "They blitzed, and I ended up being pretty open," Zagorski said. "It helped us get back in the game by killing the clock again, which was the most important thing." Zagorski's reception enabled Penn to march down the field to score its final touchdown, while eating a precious 6:04 off the clock.

Football hopes to surprise No. 21 Engineers

(09/15/00 9:00am)

Are you an overly analytical Penn football fan? If so, Penn's season opening game against Lehigh brings a good omen. For the first time since 1994, the Quakers will kick off their season against a team other than Dartmouth. Six years ago, Penn opened its schedule with a 27-7 victory over Lafayette. Coincidently, 1994 was the last year in which the Penn football team went undefeated in the Ivy League. History aside, opening the season against No. 21-ranked Lehigh (1-0), instead of Dartmouth, should prove to be beneficial for the Quakers. "[Penn's new schedule] works to our advantage," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "It will give us a chance to integrate some young kids in the first couple of weeks before we play Dartmouth on the 30th [of September]." Penn's inexperience is particularly apparent in its offensive line, which only returns junior guard Sam Gottesman from last year's starting line. Moreover, junior running back Kris Ryan, who led the Ivy League in rushing with 1,197 yards last season, is highly doubtful for tomorrow's game due to a high-ankle sprain. In his first season as a starter, Ryan was the only Ivy League rusher to eclipse the mark of 1,000 rushing yards, and he accomplished the feat despite missing most of the last two games with an ankle injury. "Kris Ryan is probably the best player in the Patriot or Ivy League," Lehigh coach Kevin Higgins said. Ryan's absence from tomorrow's lineup is almost definite, which is just another reason the Red and Blue should be grateful that an Ivy League foe is not lining up against them on the gridiron. "Last year, there was such a premium on that first game," Bagnoli said. "If you won that game, it put you in great shape. If you lost that game, you almost had to run the table [to win the league title], and the margin of error was almost nil." Therefore, Penn's first two out-of-conference games will basically buy the Quakers some time for the offensive line to gel and for Ryan to regain his health. Meanwhile, senior running back Mike Verille will fill Ryan's shoes. Verille averaged 3.9 yards per carry last fall, amassing 179 yards over the course of the season. Verille, who transferred to Penn from Duke before the 1999 season, was used more as a receiving threat last year. Verille caught 24 passes out of the backfield for 231 yards. Another interesting storyline about Penn's offense comes from the sidelines. Andy Coen, Penn's new offensive coordinator, joins the Quakers' coaching staff after serving on the Engineers coaching staff since the spring of 1994. "We will miss him here, and I know he'll do a great job with the offense at Penn," Higgins said. "He studies the game as much as anybody in the country, and he has tremendous leadership skills." Coen will have a challenging start to his Penn coaching career. The Lehigh defense returns eight starters from a team that gave up 14 points or less in seven games last season. On the other side of the ball, Penn will try to neutralize Lehigh's offense, which manhandled Ivy League opponents last season. In three contests against the Ancient Eight, the Engineers outscored their opponents, 124-27. Quarterback Phil Stambaugh and running back Ronald Jean are gone from last year's explosive offense, which scored over 40 points on seven different occasions. But the Engineers seem to have suitable replacements. In his debut as starting quarterback, junior Brant Hall threw for 292 yards last week in a 34-14 win over Wofford. "I've always felt that when [Brant] had the opportunity he would be an excellent quarterback," Higgins said. "There is so much room for improvement, but he did a nice job for us [last week]. I think he'll only get better as the season goes on." In addition to his aerial prowess, Hall ran the ball effectively. Between draw plays, options and scrambles, Hall gained 57 rushing yards on 15 carries. Hall was one of three Engineers to run the ball over 14 times last week. Junior running back Phil Pleasant led Lehigh with 61 yards on 16 carries. In addition, sophomore running back Derek Hewlett contributed 55 yards to Lehigh's ground attack, carrying the ball 14 times. News and Notes Hall was named the ECAC and Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week for last Saturday's performance against Wofford. Lehigh has won 12 consecutive home games dating back to 1998. Penn has a 42-12 career record against the Engineers, but the Engineers have a four-game winning streak and have won 10 of the last 12 meetings.

M. Ice Hockey Club wins DVCHC title over Temple

(03/07/00 10:00am)

The Penn men's basketball team wasn't the only team on campus winning a league title this past weekend. The Penn men's club hockey team battled back from a 1-0 deficit in the third and deciding game to defeat Temple 2-1 for the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference championship, putting the wraps on a very dramatic best-of-three series. Temple routed Penn 8-2 in the first game of the series, but Penn answered with an 8-3 drubbing the following night to set the stage for the winner-take-all third game at Lehigh. "We came out flat [in game one]," Penn sophomore Whit Matthews said. "The next night Temple didn't play worse, it was just that we came out on fire." In game three, Temple beat Penn goalie Pat Baude to open the scoring a little under seven minutes into the game. That was the only time Sunday afternoon that the Owls would solve Baude, who stopped 42 out of 43 Temple shots. Game three proved to be a goaltending duel as Temple goalie Mike Palermo was just as dominant as Baude. Palermo stopped an unbelievable 65-of-67 shots. With only 3:32 gone in the second period, the Quakers finally knotted the game at 1-1 on an unassisted goal by Matthews. Matthews tapped a face-off draw through the opposing center's legs and then beat Palermo through the five hole to put Penn on the scoreboard. The game remained deadlocked until Penn captain Joe Merrill scored what would prove to be the championship winning goal. Merrill's goal came with 12:20 left in regulation. Penn freshman Jeff Bagnoli, who is also a member of the Penn varsity sprint football team, found Merrill right on the doorstep and Merrill banged in his own rebound to give Penn its first-ever DVCHC Championship.

M. Hockey moves on to finals

(02/29/00 10:00am)

Nobody said it was going to be easy. After steamrolling through the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference regular season with a 16-1-0 record, the Penn men's club hockey team needed a come-from-behind effort to beat Kutztown, 5-3, in the conference semifinals. With its league-leading record, Penn clinched a bye in the first round of the DVCHC playoffs. Meanwhile, Kutztown disposed of Millersville, 5-3, on Friday night to earn the right to play Penn the following day. Given Penn's regular season performance, the top-seeded Quakers were the definite favorites going into their match with the fifth-seeded Golden Bears. Moreover, one week prior to Saturday's semifinal, the Quakers soundly defeated Kutztown 7-4 at the Class of 1923 rink. But Saturday's game was a little too close for comfort. The Golden Bears scored twice in the game's opening minutes to immediately put Penn behind the eight ball. "They were both fluke goals," Penn sophomore forward Whit Matthews said. "The first was a controversial goal. The second came on a slapshot from the blue line that Pat [Baude, Penn's goalie] had trouble controlling." The controversy surrounding the first goal centered on the fact that Kutztown appeared to have scored after the goal came off the moorings. Nevertheless, the play was ruled a goal, giving the Golden Bears a 1-0 lead 2:38 into the first period. After adding its second goal 54 seconds later, a third Kutztown goal could have put the game away early, but Baude kept the Quakers in the game. "One of our weaknesses was that we gave up odd-man breaks, but Pat made a lot of big saves on two-on-one [situations]," Matthews said. Penn finally got on the scoreboard with 7:51 remaining in the first period. Matthews scored a power play goal on a nice cross-ice feed from defenseman Colby Zaph that found Matthews parked in front of a wide-open goal. Zaph added a power play goal of his own to knot the score at 2-2 before the first intermission. A little past the halfway mark of the game, the Red and Blue took their first lead of the contest. Sophomore forward Ross Giambalvo scooped up a Baude rebound and took the puck coast-to-coast, en route to a breakaway goal that gave Penn a 3-2 lead. Three minutes later, the Golden Bears responded, but the 3-3 tie was short-lived. Less than a minute after Kutztown tied the game, Penn regained the lead on freshman forward Mike Sand's game-winning goal. The third period was a defensive battle. Neither team was able to score until Penn added an insurance goal when sophomore defenseman Ryan Redpath scored an empty netter for the Red and Blue with 30 seconds left in the contest. Baude finished the game with 23 saves, and Kutztown goalie Adam Spittler stopped 36 shots. "We had been outshooting them, but we weren't jumping on the rebounds," Matthews said. "[Spittler's] team needed him most in the third, and he came up with a lot of big saves." Nevertheless, Kutztown could not get the third-period goal they needed to tie the game, so the DVCHC regular season champions advanced to the finals. Penn will face off against Temple this weekend in a best-of-three series to determine the DVCHC Champion. Temple is the No. 2 seed in the tournament thanks to its 15-2-0 record during the regular season. One of the Owls' two losses came at Penn, where the Quakers beat their Philadelphia rivals, 7-4. "We beat them before, so we can beat them again," Matthews said.

M. Hoops runs streak to eight wins

(02/14/00 10:00am)

Penn did not have a pre-Princeton letdown, as the Quakers had little trouble with Harvard and Dartmouth. It was just business as usual. For the members of the Palestra faithful, there was no nail-biting, but then again, there were no free cheesesteaks either. For the third straight weekend, the Penn men's basketball team stepped onto the court and easily dispatched two Ivy League teams to the depths of the standings. With a 79-52 win over Harvard on Friday, followed by a 75-61 triumph over Dartmouth on Saturday, Penn (13-7, 6-0 Ivy League) extended its winning streak to eight games and stretched its Ivy League run to 13 consecutive victories going into tomorrow night's showdown at Princeton. It was Penn's stellar defense that paved the way to victory against Harvard (8-13, 3-5). The Crimson shot only 31 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, which helped give Penn a commanding 32-19 halftime lead. This marked the third time this season that the Quakers held an Ancient Eight opponent to less than 20 points in the first half. "Penn's defensive presence tonight was extremely strong," Harvard coach Frank Sullivan said. "That's probably as tough as we've seen in the league so far. I don't think we've seen a group of players in the league guard the basketball and guard one pass away as well as Penn did tonight." Penn did an extraordinary job of defending junior forward Dan Clemente, who had returned the previous weekend from early-season eye surgery on a detached retina. Clemente, who was averaging 21.9 points going into the weekend, scored a scant two points before fouling out with under seven minutes remaining. The story on the other side of the ball was success from the charity stripe and the hot shooting of senior forward Frank Brown. Penn sunk 20-of-22 free throws, including center Geoff Owens' surprising 8-for-9 performance. Owens' success from the line earned him standing ovations from the Penn fans, who were thrilled to see the big man shooting much better than his 48.6 percent average. While Owens was hot at the charity stripe, Frank Brown was on fire from the floor. He was perfect on three attempts from three-point territory and finished the night with 15 points, second only behind Michael Jordan's game-high 20. "[Brown] is the X-factor that can really change the course of a game," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "He's a very good jump shooter, and when he's on his game, that just helps us so much. Now it's another perimeter guy that people have to concern themselves with." Brown led the charge after halftime, hitting 4-of-5 from the floor. He scored 10 second-half points in only 11 minutes of playing time. Meanwhile, the Quakers gradually added to their 13-point halftime lead, reaching their largest margin of the game on sophomore Dan Solomito's buzzer beater that gave Penn a 79-52 victory. The next night, Penn got out to another fast start. It looked like the Red and Blue would have a cakewalk against Dartmouth (6-15, 2-6) when they took an early 13-2 lead. Penn's game-opening run was almost single-handedly sparked by forward Ugonna Onyekwe, who scored a staggering 11 points in the first seven minutes. "The positive thing is that Ugonna will graduate in four years, so it's only four years that we have to put up with it," Dartmouth coach Dave Faucher said. The Quakers built on their blistering start and took a 39-22 lead into the locker room at the half. The second session was a different story, however, as Dartmouth began to find its range, hitting seven three-pointers after halftime. The Big Green cut a 42-22 Penn lead to 44-31 by hitting trifectas on three consecutive trips down the floor. Two of those threes were nailed by junior guard Greg Buth, who drew the ire and subsequent heckling of Penn fans after he hit a three in the first half and proceeded to taunt the Palestra faithful. Nevertheless, Penn answered with a monster slam from freshman Koko Archibong and two layups from Jordan -- who led the Quakers in scoring with 24 points -- to up Penn's lead to 50-31. "I thought we did some good things out there to answer their runs, but I thought they were very good offensively and made some shots we contested and challenged a little bit," Dunphy said. That was the basic story of the entire second half. Dartmouth would hit some tough shots to stay in the game, but Penn would always respond, preventing the Big Green from ever coming within 11 points of the Quakers. Holding a 67-54 edge with one minute, 24 seconds left, the Quakers made it clear that the Big Green would be unable to pull off the upset. Then, the Penn fans -- hungry to increase their Ivy League winning streak to 14 -- started chanting, "We want Princeton." They'll get their wish tomorrow.

M. Hoops clips Hawks' wings for Big 5 victory

(02/01/00 10:00am)

The Quakers won their fourth straight game to close the month of January. It was the game every Penn men's basketball fan has been longing for. Freshman forward Ugonna Onyekwe put on a 31-minute highlight reel, and the Quakers finally proved they can win a big game at the Palestra. Penn's two home losses this season came in heartbreaking fashion. First, they were unable to get off a shot in the final seconds of a 59-56 loss to Penn State. Then, Villanova devastated Penn fans by hitting a layup at the buzzer to win 67-65. While the Quakers scored the final six points of the game to edge Lafayette 80-76 during winter break, that game pales in comparison to beating Big 5 rival St. Joseph's 68-65 in front of 8,119 fans at the Palestra. Leading 60-53 with only 1:24 left in the game, it looked like the Quakers (9-7, 1-3 Big 5) would cruise to victory. The stubborn Hawks, however, capitalized on missed Penn free throws and a costly turnover to get a chance to win. "They just kept hanging in and hanging in and there was no saying die by that group," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "I thought they made some great plays at the end." Their greatest play came in the final 10 seconds. St. Joe's junior guard Erick Woods threw a long bomb to senior Tim Brown on the inbounds pass. Brown stepped back and drained a three to cut the Quakers' lead to 67-65. The Hawks called their final timeout to set up their defense for Penn's inbound play. Penn managed to inbound the ball, but Frank Brown traveled after catching the pass, giving St. Joe's (9-9, 0-1) the ball with 3.8 seconds left. "I wasn't sure whether I wanted to call timeout there at the end to set our defense, which would have allowed them to set their offense," Dunphy said. Dunphy decided against calling timeout, and the move worked to Penn's advantage. Tim Brown had trouble finding an open man and forced a pass to sophomore forward Bill Phillips. Owens knocked the pass away, and Jordan recovered the loose ball to secure Penn's first Big 5 victory. St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli, who spent a large part of the game barking at the officials over what he thought were blown calls, was livid because he thought Owens fouled Phillips on the game's final play. "I was down the other end, so I obviously couldn't see," Dunphy said. Martelli, who was closer to the controversial play, seemed pretty positive about what he saw, though. "There should have been a call on the last play and there wasn't," Martelli said. "Owens fouled him. He pulled his jersey." Whether there was a foul or not, the refs did not blow a whistle, and Penn won after Jordan hit his ninth free throw of the evening. Until he fouled out, Onyekwe powered Penn's win, causing fans to jump out of their seats almost every time he touched the ball. Onyekwe scored a career-high 20 points and snagged seven boards, blocked three shots and stole the ball once. "Andre [Howard] was at a disadvantage at times because he's only 6'6" or so, and he has a tough time guarding these bigger guys," Martelli said. "We were hoping we'd be able to exploit that matchup at the other end, but they exploited that matchup on us." Although the game began with an Onyekwe dunk, Penn's other big offensive contributors were guards Jordan, senior Matt Langel and freshman David Klatsky. Klatsky scored all five of his points in the first half to help pace Penn to a 31-28 halftime lead. Jordan scored 19 points in the contest and was 9-of-11 at the free throw line, while Langel sunk two three-pointers to account for six of his 12 points. Both Jordan and Langel generated most of their offense by driving to the basket for open looks. "For an unknown reason, we had trouble guarding them off the dribble," Martelli said. "There's no explanation for those dribble drives." While Martelli continues to look for an explanation for the no-call at the end of the game, Penn fans can finally enjoy their first close victory in a highly anticipated game.

M. Hoops wins Battle of u. City over Dragons

(01/26/00 10:00am)

Despite the snow, 2,409 people showed up to watch the Penn victory. Going into last night's game, the Penn men's basketball team was batting 0-for-Philadelphia on the season. But the Quakers snapped their intra-city slump with a 54-46 win over Drexel. The victory broke a four-game losing streak against Philadelphia opponents, which includes three Big 5 losses this season and dates back to Penn's February loss at Villanova last year. The Dragons came to the Palestra without their senior center and co-captain Joe Linderman, who will miss the remainder of the season with chronic back pain. Without Linderman, who averaged 17.2 points per game last year, Drexel's game plan was to control the game's tempo. "We tried to slow it down and make it a possession game," Drexel coach Steve Seymour said. "Our objective was to come in and keep them on the defensive end of the floor. That's where we needed the score to be -- in the mid 50s." And that's exactly where the score was -- for the Quakers. Drexel did a good job controlling the tempo, but shot only 36.7 percent from the floor and grabbed just five offensive rebounds. These problems resulted in the Dragons scoring a paltry 46 points. The Quakers opened the game on a 7-2 run, only to see the Dragons match that run to tie the score at 9-9 with slightly over 10 minutes remaining in the first half. The next five minutes and 10 seconds proved to be all the Quakers would need to bury their University City rivals. Penn went on a 12-0 run in that span, and Drexel never recovered. The Quakers led by at least six the rest of the way. That 12-0 run featured one three-pointer each by freshman David Klatsky and seniors Matt Langel and Michael Jordan. For the game, the three guards scored 10, 12 and 16 points, respectively, and they combined to shoot 13-for-21 from the floor. Impressively, the threesome shot 6-for-9 from behind the arc, highlighted by Klatsky's 3-for-3 sharpshooting. "David is a good shooter from the perimeter, as evidenced by his made shots this evening, but he's been doing that on a regular basis," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "David is going to have a terrific career here." Klatsky's double-digit performance was the first of his career. Previously, his highest scoring output was nine points against Lafayette. A surprise participant in Penn's 12-0 first-half run was sophomore forward Dan Solomito. Solomito, who usually plays during garbage time, has only seen the hardwood twice this season. Nevertheless, Dunphy put the team's lone sophomore into the game with 7:39 remaining before halftime. "As [the assistant coaches] go through practice, they have watched some things and have said that Danny deserves an opportunity," Dunphy said. "He took advantage of it. Hopefully down the line, he'll get more opportunities and he'll continue to play well." Playing five minutes, Solomito hit one free throw and also stole the ball once. Drexel answered Penn's 12-0 run with three-pointers from junior forward Mike Kouser and senior guard Bryant Coursey, but Penn freshman forward Ugonna Onyekwe scored to end the Drexel run at six consecutive points, as the Quakers entered halftime with a 27-19 lead. The highlight of the second half, in which both teams scored 27 points, came from Langel. With the Quakers leading 42-31, Langel made a backdoor cut on Drexel guard Tom Dearborn. Klatsky found Langel driving to the hoop, and Langel layed the ball in for his 1,000th and 1,001st career points. "Achieving goals like that isn't something I think about as a basketball player," Langel said. "I've had a great opportunity to play a lot of minutes here at the University of Pennsylvania. That's something that comes along with playing a lot." Langel is the 28th player in Penn basketball history to score 1,000 points in a career. Langel's historic basket put the Quakers up by 13 points. Minutes later, the Quakers still led by 13 when Drexel made a last ditch effort to get back in the ball game. Penn held a 48-35 lead, but Drexel scored six in a row to shave the Quakers' lead to seven. Drexel's comeback was fueled by junior guard Stephen Starks, who came off the bench to score 12 points in the game. "[Starks] has given us that bench production that we hadn't had a couple of weeks ago," Seymour said. "He's really picked us up at the offensive end, and he singlehandedly got us back in the mix." After an Onyekwe basket and a Geoff Owens free throw, Penn took a 51-41 lead, only to see the Dragons cut the lead back to seven after Coursey hit a three with 2:31 left in the game. However, Drexel could only muster two more points in the rest of the contest, giving Penn its first win against a Philadelphia local this season. News and Notes Koko Archibong took a blow to the head and was brought to the hospital after last night's game. Dunphy said that he suspects it is a concussion... It was a game-day decision for Dunphy to sit Frank Brown, who has seen only one minute of action since spraining his ankle in the Golden Bear Classic... Jordan continues to climb the list of most prolific scorers in Penn history. His 16 points against Drexel gave him enough points to pass Herb Lyon and puts him ninth on the all-time Penn career scoring list with 1,345 points... For the second consecutive season, a Quaker has reached the 1,000-point milestone against Drexel. Last season, Paul Romanczuk scored his 1,000th point against the Dragons. He finished his Penn career with 1,179.

Analysis: La Salle snipers on target for victory

(12/08/99 10:00am)

Connie Carr and Rasual Butler shot down hopes for a Penn win last night. It took six minutes, 42 seconds for La Salle to score its first two-pointer. Ironically, before that basket, the Explorers actually led 13-12. La Salle's first 13 points of the game came courtesy of a free throw and four three-pointers -- one from senior guard Donnie Carr and three from sophomore forward Rasual Butler. La Salle's start to its 83-76 win over the Penn men's basketball was truly fitting because it was the timely three-point shooting of Carr and Butler, along with their ability to capitalize from the charity stripe, that won the game for the Explorers (5-1, 1-0 Big 5). In all, La Salle scored 59 of its 83 points from either behind the arc or at the free-throw line, mostly thanks to Carr and Butler, who finished the contest with 25 points apiece. "Our offense has to take the pressure off our defense," La Salle coach Speedy Morris said. "We have to be able to score. We couldn't score 58 points [against Penn] like we did last year." After La Salle took a 15-12 lead on its first two of the game, Carr netted his third trey of the evening on the Explorers' subsequent trip down the floor. Now holding an 18-12 lead, Penn would never be closer than four points from La Salle for the remainder of the game. La Salle only drained four shots from downtown in the second half, but each one seemed to break an oncoming surge of Quakers' momentum. Playing a tough zone defense to start the second half, Penn neutralized the La Salle offense -- which scored 43 first-half points -- on the first possession of the half. The next time down the floor, Carr answered the Penn zone with an NBA-range three-pointer that hit nothing but net. Later on, Carr's final trey gave La Salle its biggest lead of the contest at 66-54. As for the other two second-half threes -- Butler did it. The sophomore's first triple came following a three from Penn junior guard Lamar Plummer. Butler sunk a three from the corner as the shot clock neared zero. Then, the final La Salle three-pointer of the game came following another momentum-building Penn trifecta. Senior guard Matt Langel hit his fifth trey of the game to put the Quakers within six points, but Butler was the next player to score, hitting that second three to give La Salle a 74-65 advantage. "You make shots and then you can't go down to the other end and stop them," Langel said. "They had some answers for our tough shots, which made it a good game." While the Explorers built a lead thanks to their success from behind the arc, finishing the game 10-of-20, it was the free-throw shooting down the stretch that secured La Salle's victory in this Big 5 opener. La Salle shot a jaw-dropping 88 percent from the foul line in the game's final 20 minutes -- going 22-for-25. After junior forward James Jordan missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Explorers hit 14 in a row from the charity stripe in the game's final 10 minutes before Carr missed one with less than 10 seconds left. "Coach has done a good job stressing that [hitting] free-throws down the stretch is the thing that wins games," Carr said. "You've just got to step up to the line with confidence. Everything is contagious. Winning is contagious. Losing is contagious. Defense is contagious, so definitely foul shooting is contagious." Carr sank four of those 14 free-throws, and Butler accounted for six. The free-throws proved to be pivotal because the Quakers refused to be buried in the game's waning minutes. Plummer, Langel and senior guard Michael Jordan all connected from downtown in the last three minutes, but they could never make it a one-possession game. Every time Penn intentionally fouled La Salle to get back in the contest, it became a seemingly automatic two points for the Explorers. "They came out and did a terrific job, especially down the stretch where they are basically flawless at the foul line," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "It's a nice way to finish out a game for them." A great way to finish a game that started in a similar fashion -- with threes and freebies.