Guest Blog: Two Things to Root for (Other than the Quakers)

Three facts that are necessary to understand me before we enter this relatively straight-forward named post:

1. I love lists. I will read any arbitrary group of things as long as it’s in numeric order—“The 16 Worst Plastic Surgeries,” “The 4 Handsomest Daily Pennsylvanian Sports Editors,” whatever –for several years I felt as though VH1’s programming was meant exclusively for me.

2. I hold deep seated biases. Oftentimes, I choose these biases on a whim. In presenting these biases to you, the blog reading public, I want to express that they are solely my personal flights of fancy and do not  represent the DP.

3. I love interacting with commenters. Constructive criticisms, deconstructive put downs, construction suggestions, whatever, please interact with me. Like most bloggers, I am lonely.

 

But before we get to the list, for anyone interested in what Penn’s opponents’ newspapers are saying this weekend, here’s the game preview from the Cornell Daily Sun. The money quote in the piece comes from Cornell Coach Steve Donahue saying, about Penn: “They’re still a young team. They’re one of the most talented teams we’ll play in the league, if not the most talented.”

 

The Columbia Spectator does not have a game preview up yet, but I found this article about a potential progressive semi-professionalizing of college sports interesting.

 

All that being said, here are the institutions I’m encouraging you to root for this weekend.

     1. The Princeton Tigers Men’s Basketball team:

Yes, yes, I know this is heresy. I’m the Benedict Arnold of the Buzz. But something has felt consistently wrong without Princeton in the upper echelon of Ivy League basketball. A 4-0, first place Tigers team could generate the sort of excitement for the League that has been lacking everywhere except for Ithaca.

     2. The Continuation of Phi Slamma Eggleston (I wish I had coined this term)

Ever since the La Salle game, Jack Eggleston has picked up—and immediately thrown down, two handed—the mantle as the preeminent Penn in-game dunker. It’s starting not to feel like a game unless the rim is abused by Eggleston. Additionally, rumor has it that last weekend in Hanover Cam Lewis, The Slammin’ Gauguin, joined the elite PSE fraternity attacking Dartmouth’s rims with aplomb. It would be nice to see that translate to a portrait worthy dunk or two on Jeff Foote and Jason Miller.

Beware of the Lions

For whatever reason, Columbia hasn't lived up to its athletic reputation in the past few years on the hardwood against Penn. While everyone is getting geared up for the Penn-Cornell showdown on Saturday, the Quakers could find themselves in a real jam if they overlook tomorrow night's game.

The brief rundown of the recent history, in case you forgot...

Last year, Penn got destroyed at Columbia, 74-58, thanks to the hot shooting of K.J. Matsui. Penn could not defend the three. In Philadelphia, the Quakers squeaked out with a win, 69-67, in the last game of the season.

Three seasons ago, the Lions dealt Penn its first Ivy League loss of the season. That Penn team would go on to win the Ivy League that year.

Columbia has played relatively well this season -- Niko Scott and Matsui remain viable perimeter threats, and freshman guard Norwua Agho has been coming on very strong as of late. Agho, like Ibby Jaaber and Darren Smith, is a product of the Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J.

It's easy for everyone to get absorbed in the Cornell hype, but if the Quakers can't put Columbia away tomorrow, they won't be in very high spirits heading into Saturday night. With such a young team, mental preparation is paramount. For this reason, Columbia cannot be overlooked. The Lions will come to play tomorrow, and Penn better be ready. It's not yet time to be thinking about Saturday.

Having had almost a full week to think about the collapse in the final minutes last week to Dartmouth, the Quakers should be chomping at the bit to get out on the court. And I have faith that Glen Miller has hammered these points home already.

P.S. It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the blatant absence of Penn basketball coverage on The Buzz in the past week. There is no excuse for it, and I personally regret the lack of posts. But you're not looking for an apology -- you're looking for regular commentary on the Quakers. All I can do for my part is promise to do a better job of bringing that to you on a consistent basis. Thanks for reading.

Penn vs. Columbia Video Recap

Penn beats Columbia, 15-10

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Penn beat Columbia, 15-10, at Franklin Field on Saturday.

Editing: David Gurian-Peck and Rebecca Kaplan/DP
Video: David Lei/DP

FINAL: Penn 15, Columbia 10

Andrew Scurria here for The Buzz. Thanks for joining me for today’s home game against Columbia. It’s a sparse crowd and a sparser press corps but the air is crisp and the game is there for the taking.

FINAL: Penn 15, Columbia 10

Under pressure, Kelly threw up a wild, wobbly pass into the arms of Penn defensive back Josh Powers. Irvin took a knee; game over.

Check back with us for lots more coverage in the next DP.

Good afternoon from The Buzz.

1:22 Fourth quarter: Penn 15, Columbia 10

They got the stop, but now the Lions will have to march all the way down the field -- 86 yards -- in under a minute and a half with no time outs. Warm up the bus.

2:24 Fourth quarter: Penn 15, Columbia 10

I must confess that I have no idea what just happened. On that crucial fourth down, Columbia committed a false start penalty -- and Wilson then decided not to go for it, but instead to punt it away and count on its defense to stop Penn right away. Either way, Columbia needs a stop -- if Penn gets a first down, game over.

2:37 Fourth quarter: Penn 15, Columbia 10

Columbia is running out of time and has to convert a fourth-and-13 to stay alive.

4:23 Fourth quarter: Penn 15, Columbia 10

Penn put together a great drive, and wideout Kyle Derham caught a pass on a slant route that would have brought the Quakers within field-goal range. But an illegal blocking penalty -- another one! -- pushed them back, and Olson punted yet again, and yet again Columbia will start a drive from inside the 10.

11:36 fourth quarter: Penn 15, Columbia 10

Columbia went three-and-out as well. Jon Rocholl punted from the Lions endzone, but the combination of a great kick and an illegal blocking penalty on Penn means that the Quakers start this drive at their 30.

12:40 fourth quarter: Penn 15, Columbia 10

Yawn. Another punt, another Columbia drive starting -- this one from their own 12. Let's see if either team can make this game remotely exciting.

0:26 Third quarter: Penn 15, Columbia 10

Wilson chooses not to go for it on fourth-and-the-length-of-a-fingernail, and karma punishes him with a short, offline punt. Penn will start at its 37. Robert Irvin is back in for Penn after almost a whole quarter with Kyle Olson under center.

4:24 Third quarter: Penn 15, Columbia 10

Penn almost put together a nice drive, but a 15-yard pass interference penalty on wideout David Wurst killed it. Another good punt from Olson follows, and Columbia will need 85 yards to take the lead.

7:57 Third quarter: Penn 15, Columbia 10

Once again, the Quakers couldn't make anything of the opportunity. Olson punted to inside the Lions' 20, and Columbia also then went three-and-out. And then... missed snap to the punter and.. SAFETY. What a day for Columbia so far. They outgain Penn two-to-one through two and a half quarters and have a 15-10 score and an embarassing safety to show for it.

11:44 Third quarter: Penn 13, Columbia 10

About the only thing keeping the Penn offense on the field is Shane Kelly. The Columbia quarterback just made another big mistake, underthrowing a long pass by at least six yards. It went right into the hands of Ertman, his second interception of the day. Norries Wilson, Columbia's coach, is giving Kelly a tongue-lashing as I write.

13:04 Third quarter: Penn 13, Columbia 10

After that terrible second quarter of offense, Bagnoli brought Olson, Penn's backup quarterback, in for the second half's first series. Result: another three-and-out. Olson then punted it to the Lions' 42.

Halftime Stats

First downs: Penn 3, Columbia 12. Rushing attempts-yards: Penn 16-23, Columbia 25-148. Passing yards: Penn 57, Columbia 65. Total yards: Penn 80, Columbia 213. Time of possession: Penn 12:04, Columbia 17:56.

Halftime: Penn 13, Columbia 10

A long attempt from Columbia backup quarterback M.A. Olawale falls short. Halftime.

1:10 Second quarter: Penn 13, Columbia 10

Now it's the Penn offense that is sputtering. A three-and-out forces Penn to punt, and Kyle Olson boots it to the Columbia 34. It would have been a great time for a fake, but I guess Al Bagnoli didn't want to take a chance still pretty deep in Penn territory.

2:09 Second quarter: Penn 13, Columbia 10

Kelly found Knowlin, who beat Penn's Jonathan Saelinger on the single coverage, for a six-yard touchdown pass. Nine plays and 67 yards on that drive for Columbia. Mildly impressive.

2:21 Second quarter: Penn 13, Columbia 3

Columbia's running game has suddenly come alive as the first half draws to a close. They've gone nearly the length of the field and will try to punch in a touchdown from the Penn 14 when the teams come back. Penn just took its final time-out.

8:51 Second quarter: Penn 13, Columbia 3

Penn's Bradford Blackman punched it in from a yard out on third down and Samson converted the PAT, giving the Quakers a 10-point lead. It's Blackman's first touchdown of the year.

10:10 Second quarter: Penn 6, Columbia 3

The Lions tried to run and option and Kelly pitched the ball to sophomore running back Zach Kourouma -- but Kourouma missed the ball, and Ertman (him again!) picked up the ball and returned it to the two-yard line. Penn could go up by two scores in a hurry if they convert. Terribly costly mistake for Columbia.

10:51 Second quarter: Penn 6, Columbia 3

All Penn got out of that opportunity was a 31-yard field goal, but it's a lead at least. Andrew Samson is looking good.

12:04 Second quarter: Penn 3, Columbia 3

How do I even explain what just happened? Columbia was inside its own 20, facing a second-and-14, when Kelly took the snap, turned around and ran comically headlong into a teammate he didn't know was there. The ball popped loose and now the Quakers take over at the Columbia 18.

1:56 First quarter: Penn 3, Columbia 3

The score may be tied, but Columbia's offense is not looking so hot. They have no running game whatsoever and were forced to punt after getting 12 yards into Penn territory. It went long for a touchback and Penn takes over.

1:56 First quarter: Penn 3, Columbia 3

The score may be tied, but Columbia's offense is not looking so hot. They have no running game whatsoever and were forced to punt after getting 12 yards into Penn territory. It went long for a touchback and Penn takes over.

4:49 First quarter: Penn 3, Columbia 3

Penn got the Lions' 48 on their last drive and decided to go for it on fourth-and-2. but Robert Irvin bobbled the snap, and Columbia recovered the fumble. They now take over.

6:56 First quarter: Penn 3, Columbia 3

Ertman came up with another big play -- a batted-down pass intended for Columbia's best receiver, Austin Knowlin -- and the Lions were forced to settle for a field goal. Jon Rocholl booted a line drive through from 36 away. Eight plays, 42 yards, 3:39 elapsed on that drive.

9:40 First quarter: Penn 3, Columbia 0

Penn got a 37-yard field goal by Andrew Samson out of the last drive. Now it's Columbia's turn, and it's putting together a good drive too. Kelly just completed a long pass to Taylor Joseph to the Penn 39.

12:42 First quarter: Penn 0, Columbia 0

Columbia received the opening kickoff and started with good field position, but Lions quarterback Shane Kelly threw an interception to Penn’s Britton Ertman (a terrible interception) on the second play from scrimmage. Ertman returned it 40 yards to the Columbia 30, where Penn is driving now.

Blame Amy Gutmann?

A blog dedicated to  Columbia football -- yes, the same Columbia football team that is currently on a 12-game losing streak -- just wrote a post about Al Bagnoli and the quick turnaround of the Penn football team he masterminded in the early 1990s.

But as Quakers fans know, the last four years have brought zero Ivy League titles and three straight losing Ivy campaigns. Why the decline?  Well, according to the post, maybe Penn President Amy Gutmann is to blame.

But 2003 was the last time Penn won the football title. And that's also when current Penn president Amy Gutmann came on the scene.

Could the two incidents be related? When I asked Bagnoli last year if he felt he was getting enough support from the administration, he mostly shrugged. I get the feeling he had more to say ... but couldn't.

And then later:

For all I know, Gutmann is supporting athletics more than anyone at Penn, but the time parallels here are pretty clear. This is not only the longest championship drought for Bagnoli, his Quaker teams have had three straight losing Ivy seasons! And basketball fell off a cliff in 2007-08 for the first time in... forever.

Oh, and quarterback Robert Irvin is also to blame, says the blog, despite the fact that he was injured for all but 1.5 games last year and performed well in his sophomore season when he earned honorable mention All-Ivy honors.

Although this post is more than a little suspect -- Gutmann surely can't be blamed for Penn's football woes -- the blog, Roar Lions Roar, actually does have some legitimate information. Some links of note for Penn fans:

Will Lions WR Austin Knowlin have a big game on Saturday?

Is there a rivalry between Penn and Columbia?

Scouting Penn

Random Ivy notes

In the past few weeks, I've had a lot of seemingly random posts, ranging from connections of the Ivy League to the NFL, to Cornell's basketball team as the best ever to Ivy League hoops previews that are two months early.

But starting today, I'm going to try something a little different. From now on, I'll collect these randomly related Ivy League and/or Penn links that aren't time sensitive and post them each Wednesday. And any story with a more direct news link, such as Cornell's Adam Gore tearing his ACL or analysis of the just-released men's basketball schedule, will get posted ASAP.

So without further ado, here's the first couple of links:

1) In honor of Yankee Stadium closing Sunday night, Jim Caple, of ESPN.com's Page 2, ranked "America's 100 most important sports venues." The title is pretty important, because Caple specifically states it's neither the best venues nor his favorites, and it's not just stadiums (ESPN's headquarters comes in at No. 10).

Penn gets on the list twice. The Palestra comes in at No. 34, while Franklin Field makes the cut at No. 71. (The Palestra actually gets one of the few photos.) ESPN praising Penn athletic facilities isn't anything new, but it's still nice to see our stadiums mentioned on the most-read sports website. The only other Ivy venue is the Yale bowl, and Penn is one of just two universities to have both on-campus football and basketball venues listed (Tennessee is the other).

2) This might be a month old, but if you're sad that the Penn football team just lost its fifth overtime game in its last 16 contests, just remember, at least you don't root for Columbia.

Brewing rivalry/The KJ factor

First off, what a game last night. Even though the Quakers didn't come away with the "W," they came awfully close -- even closer than they did in Ithaca a few weeks ago. For the second consecutive game against the best team in the league, Penn rose up to the challenge when it could have just as easily folded after last Saturday's devastating loss to Brown. This has to be a big confidence-builder for the team going forward, and it should also give them a little extra motivation when Cornell comes to the Palestra next season.

And say what you will about bad calls and no calls (evidently Friday night referees in the Ivy League are the worst in the business with other conference tournament games going on around the east coast), last night's game was the third straight very exciting Penn-Cornell contest. Dating back to last year's fierce battle at the Palestra, we have seen the beginnings of what could likely become a very fun and heated rivalry between the Quakers and the Big Red over the next few years. Cornell is young and talented; Penn is young and talented and should be a much more successful team next season. With Princeton in the cellar, I can certainly see the potential for a great Penn-Cornell rivalry in the immediate future. Not to take anything away from the greatness of the Penn-Princeton rivalry -- the two teams will always compete in entertaining games no matter what. But as far as league importance and quality basketball is concerned, Penn-Cornell might be the real attraction going forward.

Speaking of the Tigers...they somehow managed to pull off a win over the Lions last night, 75-64, earning their third Ivy League win of the season (and sixth win overall). An interesting note from that game, aside from the fact that John Baumann and Niko Scott combined for 41 of Columbia's 64 total points, is that K.J. Matsui saw only seven minutes -- more than 12 below his season average.

The Tokyo-native is somewhat of a secret weapon for Columbia. He started the first two Ivy League games of the season and has since been used as a perimeter threat off the bench. Penn fans know this all too well. Earlier this season against the Quakers, he played 31 minutes off the bench and went 5-8 from behind the arc, ending up with 17 points. Matsui is an even 50-100 from downtown this season, leading the league with his 50% clip.

Given how good Matsui was against Penn last time the two teams met -- and given how much trouble Penn tends to have guarding against the three -- I'd have to imagine that he sees a lot more than seven minutes tonight. Tonight, the Quakers will have to do a better job of containing him and Niko Scott around the perimeter without losing sight of Baumann.

John Baumann

In some circles, he's Columbia forward John Baumann, the senior that leads the team in points. In other circles, he's Columbia pitcher John Baumann, the second team All-Ivy hurler that led the Lions in strikeouts last season. To his fraternity brothers, he's known simply as "Hard Hat" -- the summertime construction worker keeps one in his room.

On Saturday, Baumann will make his final trip to the Palestra. A few weeks ago, the New York Times published a great article about him that can be found here.

The DP's interesting article from a few weeks ago about this "John of all trades" can be found here.

Counting down to game time

Some news stories to keep you busy before the game tonight.

Check out these betting lines: Brown is a four-point favorite at Penn, Cornell is a five-point favorite at Harvard, Columbia a two-point favorite at Dartmouth and Yale a 1.5-point favorite at Princeton.

What's so remarkable about that? I believe today is the first time any road team has been favored all year. And the first time it happens, all four road teams are favored!

I think the best bet is for the Big Red to cover the spread at Harvard.

For those who want to keep an eye on 6-0 Cornell's run for the Ivy League title, check out the Times's ongoing coverage of their roadtrip through New England.

And if you can't make it to the Palestra for the Brown game tonight, check back here for live updates. Until then, here's the Providence Journal's preview of the game and here is the DP's.

Columbia 74, Penn 58 FINAL

Final: Columbia 74, Penn 58

In-game updates can be found after the jump.
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