With seven weeks to go before the 2019 Ivy Tournament shootarounds on Fri., Mar. 15 at Yale’s John J. Lee Amphitheater, it’s time to check in on the most recent news surrounding Ivy Madness III.
What a long, strange trip it’s been …
@IvyLeagueNet Thanks, Harvard was great in Shanghai
— Bill Walton (@BillWalton) November 14, 2016
This has been a crazy season for Ivy League basketball, all 16 weeks of it. From Harvard’s starting the season 14 hours away in Shanghai to Penn’s regular season-ending triumph over the Crimson Saturday night, this season has been full of surprises and unusual trends.
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. Brown is next because the bandleader plays on…
Glen Miller wouldn’t have had the opportunity to turn the Penn basketball program into a still unextinguished dumpster fire if he hadn’t done a solid job in Providence.
Before Miller became Brown head coach in 1999, the Bears had enjoyed just one winning season in 23 years (the 1986 Ivy title season) and 14 total wins in the previous three seasons. Under Miller, whose previous coaching stop was at Division III Connecticut College, Brown quadrupled that achievement, reeling off four straight winning seasons from 2000-01 through 2003-04, including the school’s only NIT appearance in 2003.
There have been signs that a Big 5 doubleheader was a distinct possibility for next season. Now it’s a sure thing.
Philly.com reported Wednesday that the Palestra will indeed host a Big 5 doubleheader on Wed., Jan. 20, 2016 featuring Temple vs. La Salle and St. Joseph’s vs. Penn, the first all-city twinbill since the Big 5 Classic’s last outing in 2004.
“This is how Philadelphia first fell in love with college basketball – by seeing two great games and four great teams in one night in what I think is the most intimate setting to watch a game,”
Penn coach Steve Donahue told Philly.com.
Donahue, former Penn and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy, St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli and La Salle coach John Giannini have always publicly revered the Palestra as the hub of Big 5 hoops, and they were undoubtedly driving forces behind the 2016 twinbill.
The Big 5 office reportedly said “other facts about the celebration” will follow. What could those be? Well, Big 5 executive director and former Penn athletic director Steve Bilsky said in February that he envisioned a Big 5 week with a banquet the night before, an alumni game, students from the schools playing against each other, sponsorships and television.
As an outstanding people person who the Philadelphia Inquirer correctly noted that no one wanted to see fired as Penn head coach in March, Jerome Allen was likely to find a decent assistant coaching gig outside the confines of the Palestra.
But was anybody expecting this?
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.
Longtime Harvard basketball booster Thomas Stemberg on Wednesday announced the appointment of the boosters’ latest Director of Communications.
“I am delighted to report what I consider a recruiting coup on a par with the Keith Wright hocus pocus of several years ago. IHO’s Ancient Quaker has signed a contract in perpetuity with our club.’
The AQ recently resigned his position as Chairman Emeritus of the End the Nightmare Society in the City of Brotherly Love, a move most observers expected after the nightmare ended.
It had to go off perfectly.
The hiring of Steve Donahue as Penn’s next head coach was the second major decision that M. Grace Calhoun had to make since coming on as Penn’s athletic director, and it will prove to be – for better or worse – the defining decision of her tenure. And thus, everything had to be perfect.
After all, people had their doubts. Former coach Jerome Allen had left the fan base with a bad taste in its mouth, from his questionable hiring by former athletic director Steve Bilsky, to the questionable manner in which he was dismissed by Calhoun just weeks ago.
In the same way that people surrounding the program feared that the administration had done its due diligence, those same people had a wealth of questions about Donahue. To the naysayers, the pros – his years as a Penn assistant, his three-year run of Ivy League dominance that included him leading a Cornell team to the Sweet 16 – are overshadowed by the cons.
My big board for Penn’s vacant head coaching position, a mixture of what I think Penn Athletic Director Grace Calhoun’s current ranking is and what the ranking should be:
10. Louis Orr (Siena head coach 2000-01, Seton Hall head coach 2001-06, Bowling Green head coach 2007-14)
Lifetime record: 201-201 (.500)
Wanna succeed against Tommy Amaker? Hire Tommy Amaker’s successor. Louis Orr, one half of the “Bouie & Louie Show” at Syracuse in the late ‘70s, took over for Amaker at Seton Hall in 2001 when the latter left for Michigan. Orr was actually the more successful coach for the Pirates, making one NIT appearance and two NCAA appearances in five years. In 2006, he was inexplicably fired after taking the Pirates to the NCAA tournament, and they’ve never made it back since. Then again, neither has Orr, who finished 101-121 in seven years at Bowling Green. The 58-year-old Cincinnati native has no Ivy or City 6 experience, but he’s got loads of experience and would provide instant credibility on the recruiting trail, especially in New Jersey, a frequent target area for Penn recruiting. Still, he’s an outsider on nobody’s radar.