Ivy Hoops Online announces the next entry in Ivy 60 for 60, our series running through 60 of the greatest players in Ivy League men’s basketball history after a hiatus to continue celebrating six decades of modern Ivy League basketball. An Ivy 60 for 60 for Ivy women’s basketball will follow.
In May of 1967, a cryptic but prescient one-paragraph article was to be found hidden away in the the nether regions of the Philadelphia Inquirer sports section. It stated that Steve Bilsky, Dave Wohl and Jim Wolf were about to become the core components of the 1967-68 Digger Phelps-recruited Penn freshman squad which could possibly be the “best freshman team in the country.”
In 1967, this meant a great deal.
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 focus on Bobby Morse, one of the greatest players in Penn basketball history…
Penn’s 6-foot-8 Bobby Morse was known in Philly parlance as “Larry Bird before there was a Larry Bird.”. With floppy blond hair and a classic but deadly rainbow jump shot, he was possibly the original “stretch four,” even though he played before the adoption of the three-point line. Morse was a key member of the 1971 Quakers, the best team in Ivy League history. He teamed with Corky Calhoun, Dave Wohl, and Steve Bilsky to start the season 29-0 and achieve a No. 3 national ranking. In the NCAA Tournament, Penn reached the Elite 8 before losing 90-47 to hometown rival Villanova – a team that they had beaten just a few weeks earlier to win the Big 5 title – and missing an opportunity to play against UCLA in the Final Four. While this loss would haunt the Penn program for “what might have been,” Morse and Calhoun bounced back to lead the ’72 Quakers to another No. 3 national ranking and Sweet 16 appearance. No other team in Ivy League history has come even close to accomplishing what Morse and his teammates accomplished between 1970 and 1972 (possible exception – the ’65-’67 Princeton Tigers featuring Gary Walters, Chris Thomforde, Ed Hummer, Joe Heiser and John Haarlow … with a 1965 assist from Dollar Bill Bradley).
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 Corky Calhoun somehow lived up to his mindblowingly awesome name.
There will never be another season like it in the Ivy League. Despite Harvard’s perennial chest pounding, Yale’s unrequited dreams of glory and Princeton’s … well, whatever they do, no team will ever go undefeated for an entire season (on the men’s side, anyway).
In 1970-71, the Quakers went an astounding 28-0 before finally losing to cross-town rival Villanova (a team they beat earlier in the year) in the Eastern Regional Final, 90-47. Regardless, they dominated their competition throughout the season, beating Ohio State, Utah and Syracuse, winning both the Ivy and Big 5 titles (the Quakers scored 103 and then 102 points on consecutive nights vs. Harvard and Dartmouth), winning 61 of their previous 65 games and achieving a No. 3 national ranking. They are therefore considered by many as the greatest Quaker team of all time.