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.
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.
When the Penn women have their whole game working, they’re hard to beat. On Saturday night at the Palestra, Harvard couldn’t come close.
Three weeks after losing to Harvard by seven in Boston, the Quakers (17-5, 7-2) scored the game’s first 12 points and never looked back in the 70-48 victory. Four Quakers hit double figures.
Harvard (14-9, 5-5) has lost three in a row and is in danger of missing the Ivy League Tournament in its own gym. (Someone should ask coach Kathy Delaney-Smith how she feels about that possibility. Not me: I’m chicken. But someone should.) The Crimson probably need to win at least three of the last four games on their schedule to knock Columbia or Yale out of the way.
One could say I was born into it. My grandpa was one of the first professors at Brown’s Medical School and as a result of his medical discoveries, Brown awarded him with an honorary doctorate. He was a huge Brown sports fan and as a faculty member, he received four tickets to every Brown home sporting event and attended even if there was snow or ice. When my dad was a young child, the family beagle ran away from home and found his way onto the Brown Stadium football field during a game and started eating the Brown bear’s dog food. This was when there was an actual bear on the sidelines.
As I was growing up, we lived close to Brown and my grandma, who we were always visiting, lived one block away from Brown Stadium. My grandpa passed away four years before I was born but school spirit for Brown stayed alive in our family. One of my earliest memories is when I was about five years old walking home from synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. My dad bought me a Brown football pennant from the souvenir stand outside the stadium. It was my reward for being good and sitting through services. This pennant made me just as happy as a new Barbie doll would. Brown football was something really special and I was proud to show my spirit.
A night after the Penn women took a memorable game from Columbia in overtime, coach Mike McLaughlin said he was worried that fatigue might keep the Quakers from being sharp when they faced Cornell on Saturday at the Palestra.
The Quakers needed just five seconds to set those worries to rest.
Penn nearly gave the game away several times down the stretch against Harvard Friday evening at the Palestra. But it held on for a 75-72 win in overtime that it needed to avoid a fourth 0-3 start to Ivy League play in five seasons.
Penn seemed to be on the verge of victory when an inbounds turnover gave Harvard possession down 58-56 late. With 1.7 seconds on the clock, Noah Kirkwood hit a fadeaway jumper over the outstretched hand of AJ Brodeur to force an overtime period in which Penn again built an early lead, eventually getting to a 68-63 advantage off a Devon Goodman basket with 77 seconds remaining and making hay on multiple trips to the free throw line to gain a 75-69 edge.
For the second year in a row, the Princeton men’s basketball team is emerging from its exam break at the top of the Ivy League standings and looking primed to make a run for an Ivy League title after sweeping arch rival Penn in back-to-back games to open the conference season.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Exactly one year ago, the 2018-19 Tigers stood in exactly the same position. That Princeton squad of a year ago started conference play by sweeping Penn in back-to-back games and then beating the New York schools on the road to start the Ivy campaign at 4-0. Hopes of an Ivy League title began to rise until calamity struck and Princeton lost the services of one of its transcendent stars, Devin Cannady. Without their senior co-captain, the Tigers slumped through the rest of the Ivy season, losing six of their final 10 regular season games and finishing a disappointing third in the conference standings.