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.)

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

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.

Read moreAntonio Woods is Penn basketball’s second wind vs. Temple