Three Up, Three Down: Penn men’s tennis vs. Harvard and Dartmouth

There have been few teams as solid in Ivy play so far as Penn men’s tennis, a squad that is off to a 2-1 start in conference play. The Quakers have matchups up north with No. 31 Harvard and Dartmouth. How will the Red and Blue fare in these crucial Ivy matches? We give you who is up and who is down for Penn’s weekend away from home.

Three Up

Matt Nardella — The Penn freshman is coming off a strong weekend against Yale and Brown, winning both of his singles matchups at No. 5 and winning his doubles matchup with fellow-freshman Marshall Sharp against the Bears. Nardella has been one of the few constants for the Red and Blue this year and has the potential to be a difference maker against Harvard and Dartmouth.

Denis Nguyen — The Harvard junior has been solid at No. 1 for the Crimson, going 8-3 so far on the year. Harvard has been 10-3 overall at the No. 1 spot, and Nguyen will look to continue that when the Crimson take on both Penn and Princeton over the weekend up in Cambridge.

Vim De Alwis — Despite losing his last match — at No. 2 vs. Yale — De Alwis has had a strong sophomore campaign for the Red and Blue, winning at No. 1 last weekend against Brown. The sophomore clinched that win, and he’ll try to follow that up this weekend.

Three Down

Spring Fling — With road matches on Saturday and Sunday, the Quakers won’t have the opportunity to enjoy the weekend in quite the same way as the rest of campus. Instead, the jubilation will have to come from playing some big Ivy matchups while trying to stay over .500 in the Ancient Eight.

Injuries — If you looked at the DP earlier this week, you would have seen the details of the Red and Blue’s struggles with injuries all year. Penn will have to make due with many key contributors either gone for the year (Ismael Lahlou comes to mind) or banged up, which makes for a tough weekend, especially against the nationally ranked Crimson on Saturday.

Everyone besides Columbia — Both Harvard and Dartmouth split Ivy matchups last weekend, losing to the Lions from Morningside Heights, N.Y. Columbia is the highest ranked team of any Ivy squad, and the Quakers will host the Lions a week after facing Harvard and Dartmouth. Columbia leads the Ivy League at the current moment, and it seems like none of these three squads has a strong chance of catching them.

Penn baseball picks up honors after 8-0 week

By Associate Sports Editor Colin Henderson

Penn baseball may have had its 11 game winning streak snapped in an extra-innings overtime loss to St. Joseph’s on Tuesday, but the Quakers have been rewarded for their efforts nonetheless. has announced that Penn (15-11, 8-0 Ivy) has been named its Louisville Slugger Team of the Week.

The achievement was well earned by the athletes of Penn baseball. Prior to their loss on Tuesday, the Quakers had gone undefeated in their nine contests since March 31. Additionally, Penn’s perfect 8-0 start in Ivy League play – including victories over Yale, Brown, Harvard, and Dartmouth – is the best Ivy start in program history.

Offensively, the team has been led by senior outfielder Rick Brebner, who has been named Ivy Player of the Week for the first time in team history. Brebner has been a force at the plate all season, posting a 1.150 slugging percentage to go along with his Ivy League leading 7 home runs.

From the mound, the Quakers have been led by junior righty Connor Cuff, who has been named Big 5 Co-Pitcher of the Week. Cuff has posted a 1.21 ERA and a 3-1 record thus far this season.

The Quakers will look to recover from their loss to St. Joe’s and get their momentum moving back in the right direction today at home against St. Peter’s.

Mano-a-Mano: What should we expect from Penn track for the rest of the year?

ManoAMano11-1Penn’s track and field campaign this year has been dominated by headline-getters such as Sam Mattis and Thomas Awad, breaking school records despite the team getting flung all over the East Coast. But what should we expect from the Quakers for the rest of the season? Sports Editor Ian Wenik and Associate Sports Editor Colin Henderson discuss:

Sports Editor Ian Wenik: It’s tough to pin down specific expectations for the Red and Blue, considering just how big and diverse the team is, but if you’re going to force me to pick one event group, then I would have to say that people should expect bigger and better things from Penn’s relay teams in the coming weeks.

Consider Penn’s most recent relay performance at last week’s Sam Howell Invitational. The men’s 4x400-meter relay won with an impressive time of 3:16.74, a mark certainly aided by the presence of veteran sprinter Tom Timmins as the anchor leg. The women’s 4x400m relay team certainly did well in its own right, finishing in fifth place. I expect those strong performances to continue.

And you should expect big things from the 4x100m relay teams looking forward as well, as sprinters like Heather Bong and Brandon Senior get shuffled into coach Steve Dolan’s lineups. Continue reading

Three up, three down: Penn baseball vs. St. Joe’s


Three Up Three DownWhat a way to kick off the Ivy season. After starting the 2014 campaign with nine losses in its first 11 games, the Penn baseball team has rebounded, notching 11 consecutive wins, including its first eight in Ivy play. Not bad for a team that won seven Ancient Eight contests all of last season.

But the Quakers still have plenty of work left to do. Before four games against Cornell this upcoming weekend, the Red and Blue (15-10, 8-0 Ivy) take a break to host St. Joseph’s (15-9) on Tuesday in the second round of the Liberty Bell Classic. Let’s take a look at who’s up and who’s down entering the matinee.

Three Up

Rick Brebner: The senior from Langhorne, Pa., is certainly anything but boring. A season after the outfielder finished tied for the team lead in home runs, Brebner has picked up right where he left off — although arguably with even more success in 2014. Playing on a team that packs quite a bit of pop at the plate, Brebner has led the charge of Penn’s home run crusade. In 25 games, the veteran has smacked seven homers and piled on 25 RBI. Brebner’s seven bombs account for slightly more than 10 percent of the home runs hit by the entire Ivy League this year, as the conference’s eight teams have combined for 69 homers overall.

The Quakers on the mound: Everyone knows Connor Cuff is a star on the rubber. But the way Cuff has been neutralizing opponents this season is downright impressive. The junior righty leads the Ivies with a 1.12 ERA and is tied for second with three wins. But juniors Dan Gautieri and Ronnie Glenn and freshman Jake Cousins have all been on top of their games as well this season, combining for a 7-5 record in 14 starts.

Brian O’Keefe: St. Joe’s junior catcher leads the Hawks with a .363 batting average and four home runs and is second on the team with 23 RBI. The Hawks star behind the plate has also generated 13 walks this year, and his .431 on-base percentage is third-best on the team. The Albany, N.Y., native was named Atlantic-10 Player of the Week after last weekend’s series in which he hit .857 and scored seven runs against St. Bonaventure.

Three Down

St. Joe’s on the road: While the Quakers may be the ones getting most of the spotlight right now, the Hawks have had their fair share of success this season. St. Joe’s has won seven of its past 10 games, and currently sits in fourth place in the A-10 after dropping two of three to VCU over the weekend. But the Hawks have struggled on the road, losing five of nine contests away from Smithson Field, and are looking to rebound against Penn at Meiklejohn Stadium.

Penn’s schedule: The past week has been packed for the Quakers. After Penn’s first two Ivy doubleheaders had to be pushed back to March 31 and April 1, respectively, due to rain, the Quakers played five games in a three-day period, including a win over Lafayette to advance in the Liberty Bell Classic. Throw in Penn’s four games against Harvard and Dartmouth, plus Tuesday’s game against St. Joe’s and Wednesday’s matchup with Saint Peter’s, and the Red and Blue will have taken the field 11 times in 10 days.

K’s everywhere: The Hawks are a solid hitting team, as evidenced by their .285 batting average that ranks second in the A-10. But St. Joe’s also strikes out quite a bit — the squad has fanned 170 times this year, 18 more times than its opponents and 11 more times than Penn, a team that has already played one more game.

Roundtable: Which Penn spring sport is in the best Ivy title shape?

This past weekend featured a full plate of action for Penn’s spring sports teams. From John Yurkow’s baseball squad picking up its 11th consecutive victory to the men’s lacrosse team staving off a comeback from pesky Brown, there have been plenty of highlights for the Red and Blue over the past few days. With the spring season far from over, some Penn squads are in better positions than others to compete for Ivy titles. But which team is in the best position? Our editors weigh in.

Sports Editor Riley Steele: When Yurkow was hired over the summer to take the reigns of Penn baseball, I don’t think anybody expected this kind of run from the team. In Yurkow’s first season as skipper, it was fair to expect considerable growing pains. And the Quakers experienced quite a few of them, dropping their first six games of the season and returning home from spring break with a 2-9 record. Since then, this team has been red hot. The Red and Blue have won 11 straight and 13 of 14 overall.

The Quakers' strengths were all on display this weekend. Led by Connor Cuff and bolstered by the addition of freshman Jake Cousins, a deep and experienced pitching staff gave up only 13 runs in four games. Rick Brebner bolstered his Ivy League-leading home run total to seven, and Austin Bossart and Mike Vilardo continue to produce for the Quakers. Now that the Red and Blue sit atop the Ivy League with an undefeated conference record, it’s time for the rest of the Ancient Eight to pay attention. Continue reading

Q&A: Penn baseball coach John Yurkow

Penn baseball is off to a blazing 8-0 start in Ivy League play and is riding an 11-game win streak. We caught up with head coach John Yurkow after his squad swept road doubleheaders against Harvard and Dartmouth this past weekend.

Daily Pennsylvanian: You guys are now 8-0 in Ivy play, having won 11 straight [games] . What do you have to say about how well this team is playing and how confident they are?

John Yurkow: They’re playing really well. Twice, we were down on this trip. They were unfazed even though we went down by a few runs. They weren’t worried about it, they came storming right back. There’s just a really good energy in the dugout right now. It’s fun being around them. They’re playing well.

DP: Would you say that the comeback win in game one against Harvard on Saturday gave you some momentum and energy that carried you guys through the weekend?

JY: Absolutely. They’re a pretty good team. They’re well coached and they threw some pretty good arms out there against us. They hopped on us early, but we were able to bounce back pretty quick. Those are signs of a good team. Continue reading

Penn football Spring Game: Offensive breakdown

30120_09212013_footballvlafayetteyuzhongqian252fPenn football’s spring season culminated on Saturday with its annual inter-squad Spring Game. We give you our biggest takeaways from the offensive side of the ball.
With senior quarterbacks Billy Ragone and Ryan Becker departed, the Quakers’ quarterback competition is the biggest positional battle to keep an eye on heading into the 2014 season.
Freshman quarterback Alek Torgereon, who showed flashes of potential against Cornell last season, started the first two series, and was followed by junior Patton Chillura.
The main battle appears to be between Torgersen and Chillura, as the two split that majority of the snaps behind center. The focus was also clearly on the passing games, as handoffs were few and far between, apart from the short yardage situations.
One did not clearly outperform the other, as both QB’s completed roughly a third of their passes for under 60 yards along with a TD and a pick.
Both quarterbacks struggled and looked out of sync with their wideouts early on, as the pair went a combined 0-for-8 with a pick in the first four series.
The early struggles were not too surprising given the lack of experience the two arms have, couple with the wind the was swirling through Franklin Field on Saturday.
The QBs eventually started to find more of a rhythm, and both were able to execute pretty touchdown passes to a tight end – Torgersen a 19-yarder to Mitch King, and Chillura a nine-yard connection to Ryan Kelly.
One piece of good news given the inexperience of Penn’s quarterbacks is that they have a handful of tall, talented weapons to throw to this season.
Sophomore QB Andrew Lisa also got a few snaps, completing a five-yard pass, and scrambling for 20 yards.
Freshman QB Adam Strauss saw the field as well, although his role is still undefined according to coach Al Bagnoli. Strauss did not throw a pass and instead worked on running the ball in short yardage situations.
In his limited amount of action running the ball, junior Kyle Wilcox displayed his ability to both plunge up the middle and scamper outside for chunks of yardage, as the Quakers have come to expect.
Sophomore Mike Elespuru and freshman Ryan Ripp also saw considerable action in the backfield.
Holes proved hard to come by, as both backs averaged under two yards on the day.
The Quakers’ line will certainly be something to keep an eye on, given that it endured some struggles last year, and will need to provide as much help as possible to the Quakers’ inexperience signal callers this year.
Junior flex-back Spencer Kulcsar – who led the Quakers with 110 carries last season – saw minimal time in the backfield, and rather spent his time in the slot at receiver.
Kulcsar corralled a handful of short-to-intermediate passes, and provided one of the day’s highlights when he broke a tackle in the left flat and bolted for a long touchdown.
Looking at the backfield situation, Wilcox will likely be the man, and Elespuru should be expected to see an increase from his 24 carry total last year, especially with Kulcsar playing wide receiver more often, according to Bagnoli.
Wilcox and Elespuru will play critical roles this year, as the experienced backs will likely often be called upon to both establish and extend drives.
With standout seniors Conner Scott and Ty Taylor returning, the receiving corps should be one of Penn’s biggest strengths in 2014. Scott and Taylor saw a handful of snaps, but Saturday was mostly about giving other receiving hopefuls reps.
6-foot-3 junior Cole Stern, who didn’t see any action last year, had himself a nice day in the slot, hauling in two balls for a team high 33 receiving yards.
Fellow junior Danny Gallagher also found himself busy, and posted a team-high three receptions.
Sophomore Christian Stapleton lined up outside on a significant number of snaps, but didn’t find himself in the mix.
Freshman Danny Ferens continued to show potential, making a nice catch over the middle in his limited action.
The one real deviation from the typical gameplan was a jet sweep to freshman Mason Bryant, which went for three yards.
The tight ends had a solid showing on Saturday, catching the only two touchdown passes of the day. Mitchell King’s score was particularly impressive, as he was able to make an adjustment and climb the ladder to haul in a Torgersen pass in the back corner of the end zone.
As indicated in the Spring Game, the Quakers are going to look to take advantage of the size advantage their tight ends give them in the red zone – Ryan Kelly is 6-foot-4,  King is 6-foot-6 and Ryan O’Malley is 6-foot-5.

Rick Brebner named Ivy Player of the Week

Senior outfielder Rick Brebner was named Ivy League Player of the Week for the first time in his career after leading the Quakers to five straight wins over the week ending on April 1st. Facing arms from Villanova, Yale and Brown, Brebner hit .364 with four doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI.

The Langhorne, Pa. native’s biggest game of the week came in the second contest of Penn’s doubleheader versus Yale on Monday, where he went 4-for-5 with four RBI and two runs.

Brebner’s bat remained hot on Wednesday in Penn’s 11-5 win over Lafayette, as he went deep twice, driving in five runs along the way.

Brebner has started every game this year for the Quakers, hitting .321 overall with a team-leading five home runs and .605 slugging percentage. Brebner has thus far displayed the most power in a Penn lineup that has belted 23 bombs, an Ivy League high by a significant margin.

Brebner’s honor represents the second straight week a Penn outfielder has been named Ivy Player of the Week, as sophomore Gary Tesch took home the award the week before.

Breaking down the Final Four contenders

Consider our bracket alive — but just barely so. DPOSTM lost three of its Final Four teams — two in the Elite Eight, another in the Sweet Sixteen — but is still clinging onto its championship prediction of Florida. Let’s take a look back at last week’s craziness and look forward to the culmination of it all.

What We Got Right

Florida advancing easily

As predicted, the Gators emerged from the South regional with relative ease, toying with UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen before holding overmatched Dayton at arms length in the Elite Eight. The catalyst for Florida’s ticket to the Final Four? The electric play of point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who dropped 23 points against the Flyers, while also picking up three steals.

Michigan State toppling Virginia

In one of the tournament’s most thrilling games, the Spartans and Cavaliers went toe-to-toe at Madison Square Garden, with neither team budging an inch. Coach Tom Izzo’s decision to order an intentional miss of a late free throw that gave Virginia one last heave at the basket might have been risky, but his decision to leave the ball in the hands of Branden Dawson wasn’t — the junior guard pulled down 10 rebounds and accounted for almost half his team’s points in the 61-59 Michigan State win. Continue reading

Q&A with former Penn basketball assistant Scott Pera

PeraAfter two years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Penn basketball under coach Jerome Allen, Scott Pera left last week, moving to a job on Mike Rhoades’ staff at Rice. The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with Pera about the move and the trajectory of Penn basketball.

Daily Pennsylvanian: What was the reasoning behind the move to Rice and what is your relationship with coach Mike Rhoades?

Scott Pera: Coach Rhoades and I go back 20 years. When coach Rhoades was a college player at Lebanon Valley college, I was the high school coach at Annville High School. They were located about four blocks apart. We were very friendly during his playing days and it grew as we grew older and fortunately life has taken us to the point where we are both Division I assistant coaches all these years later. Each spring we both have our opportunities and maybe try and get head coaching jobs and Mike has been involved in a few [job openings] recently due to his success at VCU. We always talk about coaching together and how it’d be a dream of ours. When he got this, he called and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Continue reading