A win’s a win, right? And if you win by 17, you must have done well, right?
Then you lose by three at home — a bad night, of course.
But those two games for the Penn women were paradoxically disappointing and worth celebrating. Mike McLaughlin’s team escaped Brooklyn with a 63-46 victory Thursday over St. Francis. Penn failed to play its game with any consistency, and the Terriers gave the Quakers a good shake and would have had a shot at winning if they hadn’t had a preposterously bad night of shooting — 14-for-62 (22.6%).
Then, on Monday, the Quakers — minus their upper-class leaders — faced their first serious challenge in their first Big 5 opponent of the year, played with verve and discipline, and almost won again.
You know all the top coaches in the women’s game. Actually, you know them all by their first names.
Geno. Kim. Tara. Dawn. Brenda. And the list goes on. Every fan of the game would come up with those names quickly.
But most would struggle to come up with another. And it belongs. Maybe not in November 2021. But it will by March 2022.
The name is Carla. Yes, Princeton’s Carla Berube.
Ivy Hoops Online resident Princeton beat writer George “Toothless Tiger” Clark recaps an impressive Tigers win in the team’s first game in 614 days from Finneran Pavilion:
Penn may have lost 80-69 to Villanova at Finneran Pavilion Wednesday night, but the final score doesn’t reflect the fairly even play between the Big 5 rivals, notwithstanding the strong finishes the Wildcats ended both halves on to clinch the win.
How reigning Big 5 champion Penn (5-4) hung with the Wildcats (6-2) is important.
Question: How many Ivy League hoops squads could lose their leading scorer from the preceding year in the first five minutes of a nascent season and still go on to beat KenPom No. 44 Miami as well as the AP No. 17 defending national champions, all the while compiling an overall 9-2 record?
Answer: None — except Penn.
The fact that the Quakers have been so successful so far this season appears to be less a factor of overall talent (which is substantial nonetheless), and more of a function of overall depth and system.
Nowhere were these latter two qualities on full display than on Tuesday night before a packed house when the Quakers knocked off Villanova, thus ending the Wildcats’ 25 game Big 5 winning streak as well as their painful 16-year reign over Penn.
Before the season started, I wrote for IHO, “Clearly, the marquee game will be against the Wildcats. I can tell you from experience, anything can happen in a Big 5 game. I just hope it happens this year.”
And it did.
Penn did it.
The Red & Blue were simply better than the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats throughout their matchup at the Palestra Tuesday night, notching a 78-75 victory that underscored how each Big 5 squad is trending in opposite directions.
The continuation of Penn’s remarkable improvement made history at No. 17 Villanova’s expense, repeatedly getting easy buckets via cuts to the basket and making just enough free throws down the stretch to snap Villanova’s 15-game winning streak over Penn (dating back to Dec. 10, 2002) and 25-game Big 5 win streak (dating back to Dec. 5, 2013).
Penn pulled off the most impressive win of the Steve Donahue era (at least according to KenPom) Tuesday night at the Palestra, taking full advantage of hosting a high-major by besting Miami in convincing fashion, 89-75.
The Quakers (7-2) notched an astounding 1.39 points per possession, posting 50 points in the first half against the Hurricanes’ zone, a defense that ranks just outside the nation’s top 50 per KenPom.
The loss came in the first true road game of the season for Miami (5-4), which has now lost four games in a row, including a 79-75 home loss to Yale in the ‘Canes’ previous tilt Saturday.
Brett Franklin and Jill Glessner return as hosts of Inside Ivy Hoops this week to talk with Brown men’s coach Mike Martin and Penn women’s coach Mike McLaughlin and break down a slate of crazy results so far on both the men’s and women’s sides.
Brett and Jill recap an Ivy Friday night to remember on the men’s side, explain why Matt Morgan is more than a gunslinger, and much more:
Jill and Brett detail why and how Princeton is the deepest team in conference on the women’s side, focus on Cornell’s “shocking” win over Brown, Yale’s first weekend road sweep in five years, the vital presence of Leslie Robinson for the Tigers, looming Ivy League Tournament tiebreakers, two potentially significant injuries on the women’s side and more:
Mike Martin reflects on Brown’s multiple game-winning shots this Ivy season, what went wrong Friday night versus Cornell, Desmond Cambridge’s progress following an injury sustained Saturday night, the dynamic duo of Matt Morgan and Stone Gettings, keys to besting Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion, his Espresso awakening and much more:
Mike McLaughlin talks about the Philadelphia Eagles ‘ Super Bowl parade, Penn’s win over Villanova and the void Eleah Parker helped fill while also reflecting on the program’s rise from his two-win first season in 2009-10, what makes Princeton so tough, his time with the Washington Generals and more: