The closest thing I can compare it to is what Liverpool FC manager Jürgen Klopp calls “Heavy Metal Football” — and well, ladies and gentlemen, what the Quakers have finally worked their way into is Heavy Metal Basketball.
Put the funeral pyres away — Penn men’s basketball is back. Boosted by a ridiculous 27-2 first-half run spearheaded by a career-best shooting performance from freshman shooting guard Ryan Betley, the Quakers jumped out to a 25-point first-half lead at Brown and never looked back, cruising to a 96-72 win over the Bears.
Rock-bottom after six games, even we had written this team off. But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Quakers have taken the bull that is the Ivy League by the horns and is almost halfway through a Mission Impossible: going from 0-6 to finish in fourth place and make the Ivy League Tournament.
Penn men’s basketball had a diamond weekend against Columbia and Cornell, winning its first two Ivy League games of the season under immense pressure. The pressure was both expected and self-imposed; the result of an 0-6 run bookended by twin loses to rival Princeton. The Quakers (9-12, 2-6 Ivy) knew that another loss meant the end to their post-season chances, and they responded with two of the most spirited performances to date.
Coming into the weekend, Penn men's basketball’s chances to make the Ivy League Tournament and compete for a March Madness bid seemed almost nonexistent. The Quakers were not shooting well, and seemed unable to hold teams off down the stretch in games. But by early Sunday afternoon, it appears as though the Red and Blue have life once again.
The floodgates have finally opened. Winless in its first six conference games, Penn men's basketball came out firing on all cylinders this weekend at the Palestra to take down Columbia and Cornell in a sweep of New York’s two Ivy League teams.
This season has not been kind to Penn men’s basketball. Coming into Friday’s game against Columbia, the Quakers were winless in six Ivy League contests and in desperate need of a better performance to have any shot of making the Ivy League Tournament. The Red and Blue were able to gut out the victory on the back of 48 rebounds and 12 three-pointers. Let’s go to the player ratings.
Matt Howard has solved Penn men's basketball’s finishing problem. After watching an 11-point lead slip away in the second half, the senior forward was determined to not let another strong start go to waste. Howard hit a clutch three-pointer with eight minutes to play, cutting a brief Columbia lead down to one. But, it was his defensive closing that sealed the game for the Red and Blue as they went on to win 70-62.
Coach Steve Donahue of Penn men’s basketball is not keen on the phrase “must-win.”
In fact, in a past interview, he has described the phrase as “for the media” (guilty as charged) and “not what we focus on.”
However, with the Red and Blue (7-12, 0-6 Ivy) hosting two immensely important games against Columbia and Cornell this weekend, he had seemingly no choice but to use the vaunted expression.
“In terms of making the tournament, I think both of the games this weekend are must-win,” Donahue admitted.
Penn men’s basketball fell to its archnemesis Princeton, 64-49, in a high-stakes rivalry match that kept the Quakers rooted to the bottom of the Ivy League and solidified the Tigers’ grip at the top. Despite the packed crowd at the Palestra there to celebrate the Cathedral of Basketball’s 90th birthday, there was no celebration for Penn (7-12, 0-6 Ivy) and its players’ hopes of topping their fiercest rivals (13-6, 6-0) in the first match between the two during the school year since 2012.
In the most highly-anticipated game of the year, Penn men’s basketball fell to archrival Princeton, 64-49, to keep the Quakers languishing at the bottom of the Ivy League. In his postgame press conference Tuesday night, coach Steve Donahue lamented that his players really didn’t play that badly — they just aren’t good enough at their current level. With that in mind, here are our player ratings from Penn’s loss to Princeton at the Palestra:
I went to both Penn-Princeton men's basketball games this year, and they tell the story of our team's season. They tell the story of a team that had the ability to hang with the best of the league, but just couldn't put it all together. They tell the story of a squad that had ample opportunities to earn their way back into competition, but faltered when it mattered most.
On Tuesday, when Princeton storms into town to take on the Red and Blue, students from across the university will flock to the Palestra to view in-person the storied basketball rivalry matchup that the Ivy League has boasted every year since 1903. Several groups on campus are taking advantage of this valuable opportunity to give their members a break from the stresses of academics.
The last time we hosted you guys during a normal damn time of the school year to host one’s biggest rival (seriously, Ivy schedule-makers? FIVE years?), Penn won. That was also the last time we did these columns. So this game is pretty much in the bag.
What’s the exact opposite of the remarkable 5-0 start the Tigers are enjoying this season? And the opposite of an eight-game winning streak, with victories against the likes of Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown?
On Tuesday, Penn men's basketball will face off against rival Princeton in the Palestra for the first time during Penn's school year since 2012. The game will celebrate the Palestra's 90th anniversary, as it will be the schools’ 236th meeting with each other. But before the Quakers and Tigers tip off in Tuesday's crazily anticipated matchup, take a look back at the last time the teams met during the school year in the rivalry’s 225th edition.
Last November, Aaron Rodgers predicted his struggling team would “run the table”. At the time, Rodgers' Packers were 4-6, two games out of first place in the division. By season’s end, they had done exactly that. Penn men’s basketball team finds itself in a somewhat similar position.
On its farthest road trip of the Ivy League season, Penn men’s basketball dropped two critical games to Harvard and Dartmouth, blowing an early lead in Cambridge before falling to the previously-conference-winless Big Green. After jumping out to a massive early lead, Penn basketball regressed substantially over the game’s final 30 minutes en route to a 69-59 loss to Harvard Friday night.
Penn men’s basketball’s trip to Cambridge was supposed to be the beginning of the Ivy League resurgence. Coming off a big win at La Salle, Quaker fans — and coach Steve Donahue — were hoping the momentum would continue. It did, just for about 15 minutes. Then came the collapse.
After jumping out to a massive early lead, Penn basketball regressed substantially over the game’s final 30 minutes en route to a 69-59 loss to Harvard Friday night.