Ivy 60 for 60: Zack Rosen

Zack Rosen averaged 14.7 points, 5.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game during his Penn career. (Penn Athletics)
Zack Rosen averaged 14.7 points, 5.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game during his Penn career. (Penn Athletics)

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 throughout the season (in no particular order):

One could argue that Zack Rosen is the greatest Penn player of the modern era.

His personal achievements on the court clearly support this. He is Penn’s all-time leader in assists, games started and minute played, third all-time in points, free throw percentage and three-point shooting as well as fourth in steals.  He was named Honorable Mention AP All-American in 2012, first-team All-Ivy three times (2012 unanimously) and All-Big 5 twice. Zack also has a plethora of personal awards and accolades far too numerous to mention.

Still in life, timing is everything and Zack’s timing was undeniably poor. Not only did he come to Penn in the midst of the tumultuous Glen Miller era, but his arrival also coincided with the emergence of unusually strong Cornell and Harvard squads. Sure, Jerome Allen was also a great Quaker player, but he played in a different time with a significantly more talented supporting cast.  This is partly what separates Zack from everyone else who has worn the Red and Blue on the Palestra hardwood.

Rarely have I seen a Penn player with his combination of fearlessness coupled with a steadfast resolve to win. In 2011-12, he took a Penn team predicted to finish fourth in the league and virtually willed them to within 10 points of the Ivy title.

Although his assist record is testimony to his unselfishness as a player, he could easily break an opponent’s will in a myriad of ways, whether it was driving boldly to the basket or shooting with accuracy from three-point distance, Zack had a impressive armamentarium.   Even as a fan sitting in the stands, you just knew that whenever he had the ball and the clock was winding down, that ball was going in. That, in my mind, is the hallmark of a truly great player.

I recall a game against Columbia in New York that illustrates this very point. With the seconds counting down in a tight game, Zack gets the ball. At that moment, the Columbia crowd immediately falls deathly silent, fearful of what it knew was going to happen. Meanwhile the Penn side begins cheering, “You can’t stop him!” The result:  Mr. Rosen drives the length of the court for the winning basket. There was surprisingly little drama however, because everyone at Levien already knew what was going to happen.

In 2012 I wrote this for IHO:

“If there was ever a heartbreaking coda to this season, it is Zack Rosen. Over the years, The AQ has seen many great Penn teams and Penn players, but I think none greater than Zack Rosen. It is difficult to forget the image of him weeping after his pathetic 6-22 team defeated then No. 21 Cornell. It wasn’t just his superlative skill on the court which put fear into the heart of the opposition, it was his indomitable will to win.  If anyone deserved an Ivy League Championship ring, I know friend and foe alike would have to agree it was Mr. Rosen. He was indeed “The Chosen.”

The same sentiment still rings true today. Chosen indeed. On behalf of all fans of Quaker basketball, a belated thank you, Mr. Rosen.

Stay Red and Blue my friends,

The AQ