Ivy hoops roundup – Commitments amid uncertainty

Despite the uncertainty that has come with COVID-19, Ivy hoops figures are still making plenty of moves.

Dunphy steps up again 

In case you missed it, Temple named former Penn coach Fran Dunphy acting athletic director effective July 1 last week, 15 months after his 30-year head coaching career ended at Temple, which opted to hand over the coaching reins to assistant Aaron McKie and have Dunphy step aside after the 2018-19 season. Dunphy will succeed Patrick Kraft, who will be departing Temple to become Boston College’s athletic director on July 1. (Penn athletic director M. Grace Calhoun was also reportedly under consideration for the BC job, per the Boston Herald.) Dunphy is not expected to be a candidate for the athletic director’s job, but that could change, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, which reported that Temple hoped to have an athletic director named within 90 days.

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Penn stymies Temple, 66-59, to split Big 5 slate

Fran Dunphy’s teams always seemed to play great defense, whether at Penn or Temple.

Dunphy was honored with a standing ovation prior to the game, the first meeting between the two without either being coached by Dunphy in 31 seasons Saturday at the Palestra, and defense was fittingly the order of the day.

The Big 5 rivals held each other under a point per possession, but it was Penn that made enough shots for a 66-59 win.

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Temple takes Big 5 crown in late comeback over Penn women

The Penn women, who looked like Big 5 champions in the fall when they beat St. Joseph’s and La Salle (and Drexel, for that matter), missed a share of the city title when they went cold from outside, gave up 29 points in the fourth quarter and lost at Temple Thursday night, 76-72.
Temple and Villanova get to share Philadelphia bragging rights with three wins each in the series. Penn gets to wonder how it’s lost three games in a row, albeit to good teams, and how the defense on which it prides itself failed to protect a 15-point lead.

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Penn claims share of first Big 5 title since 2002, is back on track

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.)

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Antonio Woods is Penn basketball’s second wind vs. Temple

PHILADELPHIA – For the first time in the Steve Donahue era, Penn basketball lost a Big 5 game.

Temple held the Quakers at an arm’s length the entire game before a late Red and Blue rally led by sophomore guard Antonio Woods fell just short in the 77-73 loss at the Palestra Wednesday night.

There are plenty of reasons for Penn’s ultimate defeat. Thirteen turnovers. Key offensive rebounds for the Owls. Poor shooting from beyond the arc in the first half to build that early deficit.

But there are also a few key positives to take out of this game, chief among them the performance of Woods. Antonio took over down the stretch, putting together what is now a patented dominant second half in a last ditch effort to bring the Quakers back, just as he did against Lafayette and Navy.

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