Matt White: A Penn basketball retrospective

Former Penn center Matt White, a member of the 1979 Final Four team, was stabbed to death at his Delaware County home Monday night.

Former Penn center Matt White was stabbed to death at his Delaware County home Monday night.

Former Penn basketball player Matt White C'79, WG '83 was stabbed to death at his Delaware County home Monday night. Our immediate coverage of White's death can be found here and his teammates' reactions to his death can be found here.

In light of his passing, it's worth reviewing what he contributed to Penn during some of its gloriest days. White averaged 8.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest in 85 games for the Quakers from 1976-79. During Penn's 1978-79 Final Four run, White shot a stellar 63.3 percent from the field and averaged 11.7 points and 7.5 boards per game. At 6-foot-11, he was a fixture inside for the Quakers. White remains Penn's all-time leader in field goal percentage for players with a minimum of 200 made baskets, shooting 59.1 percent from the field from 1976-1979.

In Penn's Final Four matchup with the Magic Johnson-led Michigan State Spartans on Mar. 22, 1979, White posted 13 points on 5-for-12 shooting from the field, also adding 11 rebounds.

White was a fifth-round pick (100th overall) in the 1979 NBA Draft for the Portland Trailblazers before playing 12 years of basketball in Spain. White also helped late '90s Penn great Michael Jordan get a roster spot with Etosa Murcia, a team in the Spanish second division, after Jordan graduated in 2000.


8 thoughts on “Matt White: A Penn basketball retrospective

  1. A wonderful player for the 79 team. My condolences to him and those involved with the tragedy.

    Puts other things in perspective, eh?

  2. I met Matt White at a dinner in the early '80's. He was gregarious and funny, confiding that several of the Quakers on the 1979 team that went to the Final Four were very upset that they made it to the Final Four because it meant missing spring break. They knew they were going to be thrashed by Mich. St.

  3. That's a load of crap NL. Penn thought it could play with anyone, and the legend of Magic was not nearly what it later became---that Michigan State team was not great until the tournament. In the Michigan State game, Penn had a perfect gameplan and repeatedly got right to the hoop, only to miss layup after layup. When they got into foul trouble, it was all over. But they recovered from the rout to play a great game against DePaul with Mark Aguire and took them to OT in the consolation game. I agree that Matt was a great guy and this is tragic--no way that Penn went into Salt Lake thinking they were going to be thrashed.

  4. @Mike Tony - Looks like your "Reply" counter for posts is off. Is it a manual process, and if so, would you like some tech help to automate the process? Note several posts are off!

  5. First, it's terribly sad and I grieve for Matt's family, friends, fans, everyone who's hurt by this. Second - seconding NL - I also had the good fortune to meet Matt at a holiday dinner in the '80s, in Washington DC, and I remember Matt's comments (in a light self-deprecating vein) much as NL does, though I'm sure we weren't at the same party. I understand and sympathize with Bagnoli Fan's attachment to a fan-friendlier excelsior-style narrative, but Matt White knew what Matt White was thinking in 1979. And if he wasn't too embarrassed to admit it, we shouldn't be too embarrassed to let his candor live on. r.i.p. for a good-natured guy.

  6. I would hope that Penn Athletics, the Bronzed one and the University do something at the next home MBB game

    A moment of silence is more than appropriate.

    Lets see that this happens

  7. I don't remember much from school, but I still remember screaming at the Palestra, screaming at the television and then crying at the end of the North Carolina game, and then pleading with Matt on the television to make his layups during the first few minutes of the Michigan State game.

    Rest in peace.

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