Following a season in which he led Yale back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016 and became a finalist for the St. John’s coaching job, James Jones was rewarded this week with a contract extension that will keep him in New Haven until the conclusion of the 2025-26 season.
Some Ivy updates before heading into Final Four weekends in Tampa and Minneapolis:
For the uninitiated, I can tell you the Big 5 is a Big Deal. The Philly City Series is as important and frequently more difficult to capture than the Ivy Crown. The teams are generally better, the crowds are bigger and the games are significantly fewer. Villanova has owned the Big 5 for more than a decade, and rightfully so. To play the national champions every year is no easy feat for anyone. Since Penn’s last title in 2002, St. Joseph’s has been ranked number one in the nation, and the John Chaney-Fran Dunphy Temple Owls as well as La Salle are almost always solid squads from deep conferences.
So when Penn, coming off a four-game losing streak, faced Temple (14-3 and coming off a four-game winning streak) Saturday, a lot was on the line. In my opinion, it was a masterful performance by the Quakers. I would argue that it was even better than the Villanova win. Of course, Penn was still without last year’s leading scorer, Ryan Betley. Max Rothschild played only a few token minutes, Michael Wang does not appear to have fully regained his soft shooting stroke and the Quakers were playing away from home, before a full house, on national television. Still, Steve Donahue’s squad maintained complete control of the game. Their four-game hiatus from victory looked like a thing of the past. (I consider the losses to Princeton just a low point in a season where low points inevitability happen.)
In the latest episode of Inside Ivy Hoops, Ivy Hoops Online editor Mike Tony is joined by all-time Cornell basketball great Jeff Foote and IHO writer Rob Browne.
Mike and Rob preview last weekend’s intriguing Princeton-Penn and Harvard-Dartmouth men’s games while looking ahead to this weekend’s men’s and women’s action:
Jeff Foote reflects on his time at Cornell, his keeping tabs on Cornell, Penn and Miami men’s basketball (which has played six games against Ivies the past four seasons), his professional basketball career, his team’s legacy in the conference’s upward trajectory, the Ivy League Tournament and much more:
Mike weighs in on why Cornell’s reign atop the Ivy League from the 2007-08 through 2009-10 seasons still feels special:
On an afternoon when the University of Pennsylvania honored the 1978-1979 Final Four team, the present-day Quakers played more like the 2014-15 squad in a 62-53 defeat to their arch rivals from Princeton. In another game of sloppy offense and tenacious defense from both sides, the Tigers (9-5, 2-0 Ivy) prevailed on the strength of their rebounding and free throw shooting.
An AJ Brodeur jump shot in the paint capped a 12-1 Penn (10-6, 0-2) run, giving the Red & Blue a 20-10 lead with 6:55 left in the first half. The lid then seemed to close for the rest of the half for the Quakers as the Tigers bounced back with two 6-0 runs to finish the half tied at 27.
Princeton notched its fourth season sweep of Penn in the past five seasons Saturday at the Palestra, once again overcoming an early deficit to grind out an ugly win over its arch-rival and defending Ivy League champion.
The 62-53 victory for Princeton (9-5, 2-0 Ivy) came despite the Tigers making just three treys (on 16 attempts), committing five more turnovers (13) than Penn (10-6, 0-2), missing 17 of their first 19 shots from the floor while turning the ball over seven times in the first 13 minutes and shooting 32.3 percent from the floor overall (20-for-62). Princeton’s emerging standout Richmond Aririguzoh turned the ball over three times in the first four minutes, and Penn built an early 20-10 lead with 6:55 to go in the first half, a throwback (on a night of throwbacks) to Penn’s 19-10 lead early in the first half at Princeton last Saturday.
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.
1. Penn (13-6, 3-0 Ivy)
After Penn let Temple slip away at the Palestra last weekend, it got Big 5 revenge Saturday with a 67-56 win over St. Joseph’s, displaying a stout defense that had Steve Donahue singing its praises after the game.
“The story of our team, and our season, is our defense,” Donahue said according to The Daily Pennsylvanian. “Playing two bigs, with the defensive numbers we have right now … we’re way different than last year, and way ahead.”
1. Penn (12-6, 3-0 Ivy)
It says a great deal that, in just his third season at the helm on 33rd Street, that Steve Donahue has turned Penn around to the point that it’s No. 1 in the Ivy Power Poll during league play.
Donahue’s predecessor’s predecessor’s predecessor Fran Dunphy and the Temple Owls still dealt Penn the 11th consecutive loss in the teams’ series Saturday, overcoming a 51-48 deficit with 4:02 to play at the Palestra. Penn went ice cold from deep (8-for-31, 25.8 percent) and notched just 0.81 points per possession against Temple’s stout defense.
Jonathan Tannenwald’s been an insightful reporter on Ivy League and Big 5 basketball for Philly.com, and before that, The Daily Pennsylvanian, for 15 years. He’s been a guest multiple times on our On the Vine podcast and he’s been a generous resource, mentor and friend to many at The DP, Penn’s student newspaper, over the years.