Q&A with Princeton coach Mitch Henderson

Our George “Toothless Tiger” Clark caught up with Princeton coach Mitch Henderson at Cameron Indoor Stadium just hours before Princeton’s tilt with Duke Tuesday. Listen to hear Henderson explain why he scheduled the game at Duke, break down Drew Friberg’s crucial second-half production in the Tigers’ comeback win over Iona, explain how Jaelin Llewellyn is unlike any freshman he’s ever seen and why Jose Morales is a “junkyard dog,” detail Richmond Aririguzoh’s development, the qualities his senior class has displayed, why Penn appears to have “that look” to him and much more:

Yale falls to Duke again after early back-and-forth

It’s not a bad gig, covering Yale and getting to see the Elis play twice at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 2015, not to mention an inspirational NCAA game in Providence in 2016.
But let’s start from the beginning. The flight to Raleigh on Friday was simple and a tour of the Duke Basketball Museum & Sports Hall of Fame and Krzyzewskiville, where Duke students have camped out for tickets since about 1986, was a blast.
The privilege to attend the Yale shootaround on Saturday at 11:30 a.m., was even better thanks to coach James Jones, who was methodical in his preparation but sure to give ample time to some of his own family, including his peripatetic son Quincy, a great athlete in his own right. As always, he preached toughness and crafted a sound game plan against one of the top two teams in the country.

Read moreYale falls to Duke again after early back-and-forth

Grading the inaugural Ivy League Tournament

After years of debating and voting on the efficacy of an Ivy League Tournament, the first one is in the books.

And it certainly has engendered much discussion amongst the Ivy faithful, given its prominence on the ESPN family of networks this past weekend (ESPNU for the semifinals and ESPN2 for the final).

From a national perspective, not so much, despite the fact that the venerable college basketball writer John Feinstein was one of the media members in attendance for the Saturday session. With that said, here is an attempt to grade the event in different categories:

Read moreGrading the inaugural Ivy League Tournament

Ivy Power Rankings – Dec. 8, 2015

Now that we’re well into nonconference season, we’ve got a bead on how the Ivies are coming along so far. Our Richard Kent breaks down his Ivy power rankings. What are yours?

1. Yale (5-3) The best team by far thus far. Makai Mason is making an early case for Ivy Player of the Year, coming up big against top competition (37 points and 15 assists against SMU and Duke combined). Justin Sears is, well, Justin Sears (and the reigning Ivy POY, who has to like his chances of doing major damage to the Tigers, who he scored 53 points against in two games a year ago) after Stony Brook forward Jameel Warney dominated the Tigers in the frontcourt last week. Brandon Sherrod is a specimen after taking a year off. Should have beaten the Mustangs and were competitive at Cameron Indoor for a half.

Read moreIvy Power Rankings – Dec. 8, 2015

Reporter’s Notebook: A trip to Duke

Our Richard Kent chronicles Yale”s trip to Durham to face defending national champion No. 6 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium Wednesday. Yale lost to Duke, 80-61, but Kent astutely observed a whole lot more than a final score.

Tuesday 6 p.m. Time for the Yale hard practice in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The building seemed a lot smaller in person and loads of camera phone pictures were taken before the practice started. Then the team and certainly the coaches were all business. Coach James Jones was as intense as I have ever seen him. The practice was orchestrated to the minute. Assistant coach Justin Simon, a former Bulldog himself, was in charge of the Duke scouting report. He was focused to a large extent on the Duke post players and wanted to be certain that forwards Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod were positioned properly. Both players seemed to pick up the report easily and Sears was focused on working on his short-range side jumper and free throws.

Read moreReporter’s Notebook: A trip to Duke

Ivy Wednesday roundup

Penn 80, La Salle 64

Penn came into this Big 5 matchup with a three-game losing streak, having lost its last three games to La Salle by a combined 53 points. The Quakers’ previous three wins had come against weak competition, including two of the worst nine teams in Division I according to KenPom. After La Salle built a 30-20 lead with 2:42 left in the first half, it seemed                 inevitable that the Explorers were ready to roll again as a top 150 team over the young Quakers.

Read moreIvy Wednesday roundup

Penn all-time moment No. 6: The Palestra opens in 1927

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Penn is next because SQUIRRELS

Do you know why the other seven Ivy schools will always suck even if they win? Because they play their games in high school gyms.

I ask you, would Duke still be “Duke” if they played at Levien, or the Alfred E. Newman Senior Citizen Center or that bullshit place where Harvard plays? (By the way, Cameron Indoor was designed by the same architectural firm as the Palestra. That’s why they look the same.)  If clothes make the man, then the stadium makes the team. In this arena Penn has, and never will have, any competition.  The Palestra is called “The Cathedral of Basketball” with good reason.  Since it was built, Penn’s home court has hosted more games, more visiting teams and more NCAA Tournaments than any other facility in the country.  It is unquestionably the “birthplace of college basketball.”

Read morePenn all-time moment No. 6: The Palestra opens in 1927

Q&A with Daily Pennsylvanian Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings

The Daily Pennsylvanian’s annual Penn Basketball Supplement is out today, and I encourage you to check it out, not because I’m a DP alum but because it’s a very thorough, insightful supplement. In fact, there are some genuine nuggets in the DP’s supplement, including Tony Hicks’s reasoning for changing his jersey number from ‘1’ to ’11’ this season – “It was kind of egotistical, and I just wanted to get away from that” – and the team’s reaction to being projected to finish seventh in the Ivy League – “We break huddles; we say: ‘Seven.’ We commit bad plays during practice on offense or defense; sometimes coaches will say ‘Seven.’”

So optimism abounds for Penn basketball in spite of last season’s 8-20 finish, but how’s the team looking up close and personal right now? I reached out to my successor as Daily Pennsylvanian senior sports editor, Steven Tydings, for an inside look at the Quakers.

Read moreQ&A with Daily Pennsylvanian Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings