But since this is STILL March, as Jon Rothstein has noted – one without a NCAA Tournament – now’s as good a time as ever for Ivy Hoops Online’s contributors to reflect back on our favorite moments for Ivies in the Big Dance.
Things have not calmed down after Tuesday afternoon’s bombshell announcement from the Ivy League and its eight presidents that this weekend’s Ivy League Tournaments were canceled, making the league the first conference to cancel tournament play.
The conference likes to refer to its tournament as Ivy Madness. To paraphrase Harvard senior Seth Towns, the 2018 Player of the Year, it’s more like Ivy Mayhem.
Years ago, back in the black and white, pre-digital ether, I attended my first Penn basketball game on a chilly, late fall evening. The Cathedral, an edifice I didn’t even know existed until I was nestled wide-eyed within its cavernous nave, was steamy and the burgeoning Big 5 crowd, restless, loud and profane. In my hand was a game program with Penn’s All Time Leaders featured prominently across its center portion.
Naturally, my eyes drifted to the sexiest stat of all: all-time scoring leader. It was Ernie Beck, 1951-1953, 1,827 points. “Ernie Beck.” That name sounded old. It conjured up mental images of the colorless, antediluvian days of a two-handed set shot sailing through the air before orderly rows of spectators wearing suits and ties. As my attention quickly returned to the spectacle before me, I recall thinking, “That record may never be broken.” I was right — until now.
AJ Brodeur will most likely be remembered for finally eclipsing this lofty personal milestone for a school with a long and proud basketball tradition, but what he really did over his four years wearing the Red & Blue was something much greater — he saved the program.
Penn senior forward AJ Brodeur set three program records in his final game at the Palestra as the Quakers easily dispatched Columbia, 85-65, on a historic night at the Palestra to earn the No. 4 seed in the Ivy League Tournament.
The Red & Blue (16-11, 8-6 Ivy) nabbed their fourth straight Ivy League Tournament berth, knocking Brown (also 8-6 in Ivy play) on the strength of a Brodeur triple-double: 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Penn split the season series with Brown but held the second tiebreaker, a better record against league top seed Yale.
Brodeur’s triple-double was the first in program history, a feat that followed two more records from the Northborough, Mass. native.
With the game well in hand in the second half, the focus became whether Brodeur would pass Ernie Beck ’53 to become the all-time leading scorer.
So what really mattered in Saturday’s Penn-Columbia women’s game?
Well, winning meant something, and Penn did that quite comfortably, 51-36, at Columbia.
But both teams were already locked into the Ivy League Tournament next weekend; only the seeding would be affected, and the loss makes Columbia (17-10, 8-6 Ivy) the No. 4 seed with the job nobody really wanted, facing Princeton in the first game Friday. Penn (20-7, 10-4) will be the No. 2 seed and face Yale. Columbia also was looking for a measure of revenge for a tight overtime loss in Philadelphia. Two top contenders for Ivy Rookie of the Year had a chance to show their stuff. And Janiya Clemmons, the Lions’ sole senior, had a sendoff in her last home game for Senior Day.
After four months and 26 games, Penn’s chance at making its fourth straight Ivy Madness appearance now comes down to one final contest.
Following a closely matched 24 minutes, the Quakers used a 12-4 run, punctuated by back-to-back threes from Ryan Betley and Jordan Dingle, to create separation from Cornell and cruise to a 78-64 victory on Friday night.
ITHACA – The Penn defense was too much to handle for Cornell women’s basketball Friday night at Newman Arena.
The Big Red fell, 67-46, to the Quakers, their ninth loss in the last 10 games.
“They denied passing lanes, our ballhandlers, our guards [and] our perimeter play was really hesitant and passive,” said Cornell coach Dayna Smith. “They put the press on because they were scoring. That really negated a lot of things.”
Another wild night on the roller coaster that is Penn men’s basketball, so what else is new?
One night after losing a 10-point lead lead over the last 98 seconds at Yale, the Red & Blue faced a similar situation up nine at the 2:39 mark in a win-or-go home showdown against Brown. On this night, the Quakers would hold the line and defeat Brown, 73-68, to get back in the battle for the No. 4 seed in the Ivy League Tournament.
The Penn women ended a bad week with a strong win Saturday night, beating Brown, 74-60, at the Palestra and locking up a berth in the Ivy League Tournament.
The Quakers dominated the inside; that was to be expected. And the Bears had some success with what they do best, outside shooting plus a fast transition game. But Penn kept pace with Brown from the outside: Penn was 10-for-28 from three, and Brown was 11-for-29.
On Senior Night for Penn, that outside matchup was personified by two shooting guards who have played one another very well for four years, Penn’s Phoebe Sterba and Brown’s Justine Gaziano. Each knocked down five threes; Sterba had 15 points, six assists and two steals, Gaziano 21 points and six rebounds.