A turnaround to remember for Penn basketball under Steve Donahue

I must admit that there were times over the last 10 years that I began to despair.

Penn basketball has always been an essential part of my sports spectating life, and yet, inexplicably,
there was the “crown jewel” of Penn Athletics in shambles. For those of us who had always witnessed greatness on the hardwood from the Red and Blue, the past decade has been nothing less than a gut-wrenching, surreal descent into irrelevance and thus humiliation.

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It’s the journey, not the hardware

With the 2017-18 Ivy hoops season coming upon us, I wish to share with you my one encounter with the Ivy League football championship trophy.

In 1982 I was doing post-graduate work on campus in a subject that will remain classified. (However, I will tell you that it was replete with the “three Ms”—math, molecules and, therefore, misery.) It was also the year that Penn football vaulted from doormat status to Ivy League champion. Up until this time, the football team was so incredibly bad. I once watched an opening kickoff squib a mere seven yards.

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Why Penn can do better than fourth in the Ivy League standings in 2017-18

The leaves remain unnaturally green, the air temperature dips into the upper 70s and the Quaker football team uncharacteristically turns Franklin Field into a house of horrors. All of this can only mean one thing: the upcoming Ivy hoops season cannot be far behind. (And, of course, the Earth is going to burn like a cinder in space.) And once again it is I, The AQ, bringing you another year of outstanding Penn basketball coverage as I faithfully have for IHO since 1947.

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Looking beyond this season for Penn

Well, that ends that.

Penn’s season is officially over less than halfway through the Ivy schedule.  Ironically, if not for the Ivy Tournament, the team probably would have been out after the first weekend. It has been quite a rugged six games through the Ancient Eight for the Quakers. The Ivy League is known for smart people, and it seems the Ivy coaches have effortlessly figured out how to neutralize the one-dimensional nature of the young Penn players. Thus what had begun in Philadelphia as a campaign of hope and promise has now ended in abject disappointment.

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Penn looking to keep company with the Ivy League’s “big boys”

It is simply a rite of passage. A youngster at holiday meals joins his or her cousins, friends and siblings at a tiny, uncomfortable makeshift table with mismatched chairs. There they eat their meal on paper plates using plastic cutlery while in engaging prepubescent inanities. A tsunami-like fluid spill is also almost a certainty at some point in the repast. The adults, on the other hand, sit regally above them at the family dinner table. They sup the best dishes prepared for the day on fine silverware while reminiscing about holidays gone by in peaceful, civilized tones. Most importantly, the grown-ups are free to ignore the chaos transpiring next to them whilst they serenely enjoy their meal. It is therefore a juxtaposition of two worlds: one, dignified and graceful, and the other, utter chaos and irrelevance.

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Ivy Power Rankings: Dec. 12, 2016

Well, a Penn grad has finally ascended to the highest office in the land. Although most would argue that this is indeed our rightful place in the world order, our man in the White House is not quite what we, or anyone with a liberal arts education, expected. The Ivy hoops season is also a bit of a surprise (yawn), in that no one expected it to be this bad. There’s a frontrunner that keeps blowing late leads despite their aura of inevitability and too many blah contenders looking to get their act together by January.

For the first time in years, there appears to be no dominant team among the Eight.  The favorites, HYP, have all had their early problems and the bottom half of the league is as bad, if not somewhat worse, than anticipated.

So without further ado, I give The AQ’s Special Post-Election Ivy Power Rankings. “It’s going to be yuge!!”

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Float like a butterfly, live by the three

penn-butterfly

Maturation.

It comes in many forms.  Caterpillar to chrysalis to beautiful butterfly: Whether it’s an insect, person, business, or athletic team, it is a necessary transformation for survival. No entity on the planet is exempt: evolve or perish.

This will be a curiously critical year for Quaker Basketball because it will show whether Steve Donahue, with his first true recruiting class, can be competitive in the increasingly upwardly mobile Ivy League. Evidence of institutional growth, something that consistently eluded Jerome Allen’s teams and consequently vexed and frustrated the Penn fan base, will soon be on full display as the season progresses. True, the Quakers will be a young squad (11 of the 19 players will be either freshmen or sophomores), but that should not significantly mask whether they will be able to take that next crucial step back toward Ivy hoops relevance. Of course, there will be growing pains but I, unlike the perpetually lugubrious Penn Basketball message boards, am unusually sanguine about this team.

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Ivy 60 for 60: Tony Price

Tony Price celebrates Penn’s Final Four berth after the Quakers defeated St. John’s, 64-62, in the East Region final in Greensboro, N.C. (University of Pennsylvania)

Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order). For the next entry in our Ivy 60 for 60 series, we cover one of the greatest players in Penn basketball history:

It is impossible for me to think of the ’79 Final Four Team and not think of Tony Price first. If a team could have a soul, a heartbeat or a center of gravity, it was Mr. Price. I don’t mean to disparage any of the other amazing players from that most magical of Quaker squads, but Tony Price was perhaps the most clutch player I think I have ever seen. When the game was on the line, he just refused to lose.

A high-school All-American from Taft High School in the South Bronx, Tony Price was no stranger to hitting the game-winning shot. In the 12th grade, down one point with three seconds left, Tony hit the winning jumper to give Taft its second New York City Championship. In the 1970s, New York basketball was everything, and Tony was named the Best Schoolboy Player in Gotham.

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