Penn men aim to repeat with the help of new recruits

Following an 0-6 start to Ivy play in 2017, the Penn men’s basketball team went 6-2 through the remainder of the conference schedule to claim the final spot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament. Despite having home court advantage and never trailing to undefeated Princeton during regulation, the Quakers could not find a way to close out the game and lost in the semifinals. Heading into 2017-2018, the expectations were that Penn, while not ready to challenge for the top of the conference, would build upon their immediate success and have a much more comfortable time at securing the four seed. The preseason media poll reflected this idea, with the Red & Blue being picked fourth with 88 points, 28 points behind third ranked Princeton and 31 points ahead of fifth place Columbia.

The Quakers entered the Ivy schedule at 9-5 with highlight wins on the road at Monmouth (in 4 OT) and Dayton.  However, Penn’s 85-72 home loss to Toledo (KenPom #113) on December 29th was a troubling way to enter the January 9th conference opener against the Tigers.  Penn put any concerns to rest, snapping an eight-game losing streak to Princeton on its way to a 7-0 start to the league schedule.  Following a loss at Harvard, the Quakers won its next four, including a three point home win against the Crimson.  A controversial last second 80-79 loss at Yale left Penn tied with Harvard going into the regular season finale.  A 99-93 over Brown gave the Red & Blue (24-9 overall, 12-2 Ivy, 1-3 Big Five) a share of the Ivy title, its 26th overall championship and first since 2007.

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Reports: Jerome Allen pleads guilty to taking bribe while coaching Penn

Multiple publications reported Friday that former Penn head coach Jerome Allen pleaded guilty to a bribery-related money laundering charge in Miami federal court this week.

Allen admitted to accepting $18,000 in bribes in 2014 from Morris Esformes, a wealthy Miami Beach businessman who was the father of a then-prospective student, according to multiple outlets. As part of the agreement, Allen will reportedly repay the $18,000 in addition to a $200,000 fine.

Penn fired Allen in March 2015, and he has been assistant coach for the NBA’s Boston Celtics since July 2015. Allen will be suspended from his role as assistant coach by the Celtics for about two weeks, according to the Boston Herald.

Penn Athletics announced in July that it was retaining outside counsel to investigate bribery allegations against Allen, who was the head coach at Penn for six seasons, following reports that Allen took bribes at Penn.

An expanded indictment against Esformes accused him of giving Allen more than $74,000 in the form of cash, a recruiting trip to Miami and a separate ride on a private jet in 2013 and 2014, according to Bloomberg.

Penn Athletics declined comment Saturday on Allen’s guilty plea, adding that it not have any updates on outside counsel’s investigation of Allen.

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2019 Ivy men’s and women’s recruiting update

Since Ivy recruits do not sign National Letters of Intent, the Athletic Departments of the Ancient Eight schools cannot comment on student-athletes’ commitments until after they are formally accepted and place their deposits.  As a result, the following list is a summary of committed recruits for the Class of 2023 that have been obtained from searching the internet.

If any reader has any athlete to add to the list, please send a note to tips@ivyhoopsonline.com.

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Class of 2022 hopes to help Penn women’s hoops with graduation losses

Although missing out on a Ivy League championship three-peat, the Penn women’s team had another great year in 2017-2018. The Quakers (22-9 overall, 11-3 Ivy), which ended the season first in the Big Five, second in the Ancient Eight’s regular season and runner-up in the Ivy Tournament, finished with its fifth straight year of 20+ total wins and 11 or more league victories. While missing out on the NCAA Tournament, Penn beat Albany in the first round of the WNIT before losing 53-48 at St. John’s in the round of 32. The Red & Blue will enter the 2018-2019 season without 3/5th of its starting lineup, looking to reload as it attempts to get to the post season for the seventh straight year.

Penn had one of the top defenses in the nation, holding teams to 54.9 points a game with 35.4 percent shooting from the field and a 31.2 percent three point rate. The team averaged a conference best 5.8 blocks per game and 37.8 offensive rebounding percentage, while having the league’s second best defensive rebounding rate of 69.6 percent. The Quakers outscored its opponents by 10.6 points a game, but struggled with 38.3 percent shooting from the field (7th in the Ivy League) and 33.2 percent from three (4th in the IL). If Penn hopes to dethrone Princeton from the top spot, the team will need to maintain its traditional defensive intensity while improving its offensive efficiency.

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Reports: Jerome Allen allegedly took bribes while coaching Penn

Multiple news outlets reported Friday that former Penn coach Jerome Allen allegedly took bribes while at Penn.

The Miami Herald reported Friday that a Miami Beach businessman has been charged with paying bribes to Allen so his son could be accepted as a “recruited” player to Penn.

The bribery allegations were included in an expanded indictment against Philip Esformes accusing him of giving Allen more than $74,000 in the form of cash, a recruiting trip to Miami and a separate ride on a private jet in 2013 and 2014, according to Bloomberg.

The indictment, which per the Miami Herald expands upon a $1 billion Medicare fraud case that led to Esformes’s arrest two years ago, does not identify the university, coach or student-athlete, Bloomberg noted. But a Justice Department prosecutor, prompted by a question from a Miami federal judge, disclosed Friday that the college listed in the indictment is Penn, the basketball coach is Allen, and the student is Esformes’ son, Morris, according to the Miami Herald.

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Women’s Ivy Tournament teams continue onward in postseason

For the second consecutive year, all four participants in the women’s Ivy Tournament have earned postseason bids.  Following top seeded Princeton’s championship victory over second place Penn early Sunday evening, the Tigers clinched the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and Penn claimed the conference’s automatic qualifying spot in the Women’s NIT.  On Monday night, Harvard received an at-large bid to the WNIT and Yale was selected for the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI).

The Tigers were chosen as the No. 12 seed in the Kansas City regional, where they will face No. 5 Maryland in Raleigh on Friday at noon on ESPN2 and online at ESPN3.  For Princeton, this is their ninth straight postseason appearance and seventh trip to the Big Dance.  The Quakers will be going up against Albany at the Palestra on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. on the Ivy League Network.  Penn is competing in its sixth straight postseason tournament and its second trip to the WNIT.  The Crimson will travel to the Bronx on Friday night at 7:00 pm to take on Fordham on the A-10 Network, as they make their 14th overall postseason tournament, eighth all-time WNIT showing and sixth WNIT appearance in the last seven seasons.  The Bulldogs will visit Northeastern on Thursday night at 7:00 pm on Northeastern’s NUxtreme.  This is the team’s first postseason play under third-year head coach Allison Guth, and the first of any kind since a 2011 WNIT bid.

Here is a short primer on the Ivy representatives’ opponents for this week’s action:

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No. 16 Penn vs. No. 1 Kansas: Keys to making history

My range of emotions on Sunday swung from unadulterated joy as I rushed the Palestra floor to celebrate Penn’s 68-65 win over Harvard to mouth-agape shock as I stood in the back of Houston Hall at Penn’s selection show watch party and saw the Quakers on the 16 line against Kansas.

As fellow IHO contributor Steven Tydings and I rode the bus home to New York, I started to think of a plan for the Quakers to do the impossible and topple a No. 1 seed for the first time in men’s NCAA Tournament history.

The basic points of that plan, some of which you’ve probably already heard, are below:

Penn will win if …

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No. 16 Penn to face No. 1 Kansas in NCAA Tournament

After winning the Ivy League Tournament Sunday and an automatic NCAA Tournament berth, Penn got assigned a No. 16 seed by the NCAA Selection Committee and a matchup with No. 1 Kansas at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita Thursday at 2 p.m. on TBS.

It’s the first No. 16 seed for an Ivy League men’s team since 1989, when No. 16 Princeton pushed No. 1 Georgetown to the brink but not past it in a 50-49 loss to the Hoyas hailed as “The Game That Saved March Madness” in a memorable Sports Illustrated feature by Princeton alumni Sean Gregory and Alexander Wolff titled as such. 1989 is also the last year that a fourth different Ivy squad in as many years got to the NCAA Tournament, when Princeton made it after Cornell (1988), Penn (1987) and Brown (1986).

Penn is the highest-ranked No. 16 seed by KenPom in the past six seasons, per Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star.

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