Ivy 60 for 60: Bobby Morse

Bobby Morse averaged 16.4 points per game during his three seasons with Penn, in which the Quakers went 78-6. (Penn Athletics)

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).

Read moreIvy 60 for 60: Bobby Morse

Penn all-time moment No. 1: The 1979 Final Four run

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. We covered Penn now because Steve Donahue knows what’s up:

YQ = Young Quaker, of course. Bob Weinhauer = forever.
YQ = Young Quaker, of course. Bob Weinhauer = forever.

For those who did not experience it, the 1979 Penn Final Four season is almost indescribable. It was a once in a lifetime moment that happened to last two weeks. As students, our time in Philly was indelibly shaped by the completely unexpected rise of the Red and Blue to national prominence. School spirit was at an all-time high, and people who otherwise knew and cared little about college basketball were swept up in the mania that those few weeks in March brought. USA Today ranks it as the greatest Final Four ever and it is still, 36 years later, one of the highest-rated in terms of television viewership. This is because it not only changed our lives, but it changed the panorama of college basketball in America forever.

The ‘78-79 campaign started out like most for the Quakers in Bob Weinhauer’s second year as head coach. The team had finished 20-8 in his rookie season and was well on its way to repeating as Ivy League champions. The Quakers deftly handled their nonconference schedule, losing only to Iowa in two overtimes and getting blown out by San Diego State, 110-86. Then in late January came the Georgetown game at the Palestra. It was a nationally televised contest, a rarity for an Ivy League school, on a freezing Saturday afternoon. (Let’s face it, the networks certainly weren’t going to give it Brown or Cornell). The Cathedral was packed. Georgetown was ranked 10th in the nation and featured All-American guard Eric “Sleepy” Floyd and forward Craig “Big Sky” Shelton. (They just don’t make nicknames like that anymore.  Tony “Big Float” Hicks? Nah.)

Read morePenn all-time moment No. 1: The 1979 Final Four run