Penn basketball leaving turbulence behind

 

See if you can find Steve Donahue in this picture. Rest assured, he hates two-point jumpers just as much 33,000 feet up in the air as he does on 33rd Street.

“Hey AQ, where have you been?” The question has arisen this season from many emails and tweets.  First, for those of you who have missed my pithy, yet pedantic,and occasionally puerile persiflage (800 Math, 790 Verbal), my apologies, and no, I have not retired. Instead, I have merely taken a step back to observe the rapid reshaping of the Ivy hoops landscape. Overall, this brief offseason has been arguably more tumultuous than the season itself. Yale captures the league outright for the first time in 54 years and then bags a tournament win over Baylor. Princeton does their “I got this. Oops, no I don’t!” routine in the NIT. Kyle Smith, after winning the CIT, triumphantly leaves Columbia (“Thank you and good night!”) as perhaps the torchbearer of a strange, new breed of Lions coach — a winning one. (I am hoping that they lose the secret formula for this perverse brand of eugenics, no doubt developed in some arcane lab on the Morningside Heights campus, before that institution actually gets used to victory.) Paul Cormier, after two straight ROYs, abruptly gets canned in Hanover which only proves that you can never go home again especially if that home is in New Hampshire, on the Dartmouth campus and you’re hired as its basketball coach. And Bill Courtney, well…even the muskrats at the bottom of the gorge could see that one coming.

So what about my beloved Quakers?

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Penn coach Steve Donahue off to a great start

Steve Donahue knows you don't get a second chance at a second Ivy impression. (AP/David Duprey)
Steve Donahue knows you don’t get a second chance at a second Ivy impression. (AP/David Duprey)

Anyone who wants to know how Steve Donahue is faring so far as Penn basketball’s new head coach can refer to a May 16 Tweet from Donahue:

 

It’s all there: Donahue’s savvy embrace of analytics for his new program, awareness that upgrades to the program must be highlighted and emphasis on accordingly communicating with both the public at large and the Penn student community (The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student newspaper whose story Donahue linked to in the Tweet).

Donahue’s making moves – simple, logical moves – and making sure we know it.

As for logical – how else to describe tapping Penn professor and program superfan Nakia Rimmer to work on basketball analytics projects with select undergraduates for the coaching staff? It’s not a shocking measure given Donahue’s commitment to analytics-friendly motion offense predicated on three-pointers and ball movement. But it’s still refreshing and supports Donahue’s acknowledgment upon his hiring that the Palestra and the Big 5 weren’t enough to ensure success for Penn anymore.

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Princeton’s defense is desperate for a turnaround

“You are what your record says you are.” – Bill Parcells

Princeton’s record says “we are not very good.”

Unable to hold an eight-point lead at the half last night at Fairleigh Dickinson, the Tigers surrendered an unfathomable 64 second-half points, losing to the Knights, 89-85. In one eight-minute stretch in the second period, the teams combined for 29 points, 25 of which were entered in FDU’s ledger.

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