Penn Sports Plus: Men’s Rugby

This week, we sat down with Doug Swift, an England native, and president of the Penn men’s rugby team, who discussed recent successes and the future of the fiercely competitve club sport.

How did you get into rugby?

Swift: So, I’ve been playing rugby since I was five, back in England. I played throughout Lower School, Middle School, and High School. After a gap year, when I realized I was going to come to America, I scouted out some of the schools I was applying to and it was an absolute bonus that Penn had a great program.

Being from England, most of the players that try rugby out in the States are football players or ex-football players. How do their skills translate in the game of Rugby?

Swift: There are certainly skills that do transfer over. But, you'd be surprised Americans are kind of wimpy. The tackle technique is more different than people give it credit for, and the fact that we don’t wear pads means that there is some adjustment. However, especially defensively the skills do transfer over.

So, you guys just played Brown this past weekend. What does your club look to do playing teams like Brown, Cornell, and Dartmouth who are more active in recruiting players?

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Game 25: Cornell – The Good, Bad & the Ugly

Good Bad & Ugly

Facing Cornell on the road at the Newman Arena in Ithaca, N.Y., the Quakers avenged a close loss from earlier this month behind freshman guard Tony Hicks’ 29-point eruption, getting the 79-71 win. Penn started out hot, jumping to a 25-13 lead, but the Big Red answered with a 30-14 run of their own to close out the first frame. Down 43-39 at the half, the Red and Blue dominated the second half, taking back the lead early on and never surrendering it again.

THE GOOD: Miles Cartwright’s well-rounded performance

The junior captain played like the leader everyone expects him to be, and he really did everything against Cornell. Cartwright racked up 15 points, nine assists, six boards and two steals. He also led the Quakers in playing time, with 34 minutes on the court. The only downside? Try 4-for-11 shooting and three turnovers. But that’s fine, because trying too hard is better than not trying at all.

THE BETTER: Tony Hicks’ season-high 29 points

Oh wait. Rather career-high, since he’s only a freshman. Hicks showed off what he’s capable of, hitting 11-for-18 from the field, which included making five of his six attempts from beyond the arc. The rookie secured Penn’s second best point total of the year — only behind Fran Dougherty’s 31-point show in a 62-53 loss against Fairfield on Nov. 12.

THE BAD: Henry Brooks fouls out … again

12 minutes. That’s exactly how much playing time Brooks got tonight, despite being in the starting lineup. The sophomore forward was subbed out after racking up two fouls in the first five minutes. He came back at the start of the second half, only to get subbed out yet again after two fouls in five minutes. When Allen finally decided to let him back in, Brooks made the most of it by turning the ball over and immediately reaching his fifth infraction of the night. Too bad for him, as his stat line of four points, three rebounds and two assists doesn’t look too bad for the short amount of time he actually spent on the court.

THE UGLY: Penn’s abysmal performance at the end of the first half

After Cartwright made two free throws that put the game 25-13 in favor of the Quakers, it looked like it would be an easy ride for Allen and co. That was before Cornell terrorized Penn for the last ten minutes of the first frame, scoring 30 points in that time period, which included 12 by guard Nolan Cressler. The Red and Blue surrendered five treys and also committed six turnovers during those ten minutes, and for a moment it looked as if it was going to turn into a blowout for the home team. That never materialized, as the Quakers kept it close and then reversed the situation in the second half, but this won’t happen against Princeton or Harvard.

Game 20: Cornell — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Good Bad & UglyJust a night after securing its first conference win of the season, Penn took Cornell down to the wire at the Palestra before falling in anticlimactic fashion. With 2.7 seconds remaining, the Quakers were set to inbound the ball from the baseline, down 71-69. But they never got a chance at a last shot, as they suffered a five-second violation call just as Cameron Crocker inbounded to Darien Nelson-Henry underneath the basket, and the Big Red walked away with a 71-69 victory. With the loss, Penn sinks to 4-16 and 1-2 in Ivy League play.

THE GOOD: Three-point shooting gives Penn a chance to win.
Despite entering the game dead-last among the Ancient Eight in three-point field goal percentage, the Red and Blue lit Cornell up for 12 threes and shot exactly 50 percent from distance. It's become clear that giving minutes to Dau Jok and Patrick Lucas-Perry adds marksman accuracy to Penn's offense and complements Nelson-Henry's play inside. The two sophomore guards shot a combined 7-for-12 from the field, and Lucas-Perry led the Quakers in scoring with 14 points.

THE BAD: No inbound, no overtime.
The bad of this really starts before Penn even has a chance to inbound the ball. After Cornell scores with 10.5 seconds left to make the score 71-69, Cartwright drives the ball up the floor and takes the ball left, driving toward the basket. Just as he goes into the air for a leaning, left-handed layup, Jerome Allen calls timeout, leaving the Red and Blue just 2.7 seconds left. Why Allen didn't call timeout as soon as Cartwright crossed half-court is truly a mystery. Then, the play Allen draws up is fruitless, and Crocker fails to get the ball in. The Quakers' coaching staff needs to be better in the clutch for Penn to have a chance down the stretch.

THE UGLY: Fran the Man goes down again.
After missing eight games due to mononucleosis, Fran Dougherty went down with some sort of upper body injury in his second appearance since returning. He was later spotted wearing a sling with tape reaching from his upper arm to his wrist. No word on whether the junior forward will miss any time, but his absence would be a serious blow to Penn's chances to make a run in the Ivy League.

Cornell to cut funding to 11 varsity teams

Is Cornell going broke?

No doubt the Ithaca, N.Y., school has felt the brunt of the recent recession as has any other university, but according to the Cornell Daily Sun, the university if requiring 11 of its 36 varsity sports teams to be completely self-funded by 2015.

"There is a major ongoing effort to raise this money," Andy Noel, Cornell's director of athletics and physical education, told the newspaper. "We're visiting alumni all year and on the phone a lot as the fiscal year closes. ... It's a real challenge each year to generate the income that ... allows us to have competitive teams."

The 11 teams on the list: baseball, golf, lightweight rowing, sprint football, men's and women's polo, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's squash, and equestrian.

Cornell first started trimming its budgets in 2009, when a five-percent cut was implemented by the University across-the-board to every department. In each year since, the school has made additional cuts to Cornell Athletics.

Without funding from the University, the teams will have to stay afloat by means of operating income such as ticket sales (which are minimal for all programs but men's basketball, football and men's hockey), philanthropic gifts and endowments.

Jeremy Lin gets the best of Wizards, Ryan Wittman tells dad he guarded Lin better

Last night the Jeremy Lin train rolled through the woeful Washington Wizards, 107-93, behind another great game from the hottest Asian-Ivy-League-turned-pro-athlete to hit New York since, well, ever.

On the losing end was the Wizards interim coach Randy Wittman. Name ring a bell? He's the father of former Cornell sharpshooter Ryan Wittman — who faced Lin for four years in the Ancient Eight. After the game, Ryan reportedly texted his father with a little quip:

“He told me that they [Cornell] did a much better job guarding him than we did tonight,” Randy Wittman told the Washington Post. “Makes Dad feel good.”

Zing!

Game 18: at Cornell — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

For the first time since 2007, the Quakers were able to pull off a victory in Ithaca. With the win, the Red and Blue have begun their Ivy season 2-0 for the second consecutive year, but this time the first two wins came on the tough New York road trip.

THE GOOD: Penn’s stifling defense. From the tip, Penn took away Cornell’s best scorers — Drew Ferry and Chris Wroblewski were limited to eight and four points, respectively. The Big Red never got going offensively. The Quakers forced Cornell to take tough shots, resulting in 38 percent shooting from the field for the Big Red, including 18 percent from beyond the arc. The Penn 'D' forced 12 turnovers, resulting in 17 points. After the game, Coach Allen — always a tough critic on defensive play — praised his team’s effort. “A credit to those guys and their commitment to playing with one another," he said.

ALSO GOOD: Penn’s last play of the first half. With 2.6 seconds on the clock, the inbound went to Zack Rosen, who was double-teamed by the Big Red (shocker!), but Rosen was able to get just enough separation from the defenders to find a wide open Steve Rennard at the three-point line. Rennard got off the shot just in time — and nailed it — giving the Quakers all the momentum going into the half.

THE BAD: Miles Cartwright fouling out. The Quakers are at their best when their three top scorers have it going offensively, and that’s not possible if they’re not all out on the court. Cartwright took a couple weak fouls and has to be smarter about his aggressiveness. He also choked up the ball a few too many times, with three turnovers in just 24 minutes.

THE UGLY: Penn at the charity stripe. 8-for-15 from the free throw line isn’t going to help you win too many close ballgames. Luckily for the Quakers, they had this one well in hand. But when it comes time to play the likes of Harvard and Yale, they’ll need every point they can get. The Red and Blue nearly shot better from beyond the arc (50 percent) than they did from the line (53 percent). Cornell struggled as well, hitting only 13-of-24 (54 percent) free throws.

VIDEO: Postgame interviews from Cornell

The Quakers roll home to Philadelphia 2-0 after a narrow win at Columbia Friday and a solid 12-point victory over Cornell, the first at Newman Arena for any of Penn's current players. Here are postgame interviews with coach Jerome Allen and senior Tyler Bernardini, who led Penn with 18 points Saturday.

Penn basketball at Cornell – Liveblog sponsored by the Blarney Stone

The Quakers are off to their best Ivy League start since, well, last year after defeating Columbia in the conference opener last night in Manhattan. They now take on Cornell in frigid Ithaca, N.Y. Follow the action live from Newman Arena below:

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Liveblog: Football vs. Cornell – Brought to you by The Blarney Stone

Ten weeks later, we've reached the final game of the Ivy football season. Penn (5-4, 4-2 Ivy) takes on Cornell (4-5, 2-4) and its red-hot quarterback Jeff Matthews, who threw for five touchdowns and 521 yards last week in a win over Columbia. Penn was dropped from title contention last week with a loss to Harvard, but the Quakers want to finish the season on a positive note, and get one last 'W' for the seniors.

Ethan Alter brings you the action from the Frank. Follow along:

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Bill Murray conducts band at Harvard-Cornell game

peter-venkman-ghostbustersThings have been kind of slow on Schoellkopf field for the past few years, as Cornell football has struggled in the Ivy League. That all changed Saturday. No, Cornell didn't upset Harvard, but a surprise visit from Bill Murray shook things up at halftime as the two bands performed.

Murray reportedly attended the game with his friend James M. Downey, a Crimson alum and Saturday Night Live writer. Then the Harvard band started playing the Ghostbusters theme, part of their usual repertoire, and Murray, for obvious reasons, felt the need to intervene.

From the Harvard Crimson:

"This guy in pink pants walked up and said, 'Hey, play that song again,'" said Harvard University Band Manager Rachel L. Hawkins '12. Hawkins said that the band had no idea Murray was at the game and that "Ghostbusters" is just part of their usual set list. "He kind of appeared out of nowhere. It was very serendipitous."

Once Murray returned to his seat to watch the last quarter of the game, the trombone section pointed itself in his direction and played the theme song for him one more time. At the end of the game, Murray reappeared and treated the band to a special performance. "We were playing our fight songs, and he came over and started mock-conducting us," Hawkins said.

And if it's still too crazy to believe, here's some video evidence. At the end you can hear Murray say, "Harvard won the game, but you kicked their band's ass." Penn band, the ball's in your court now.