Game 1: UMBC — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

In its season opener at the Palestra against UMBC, Penn entered the game burdened by a long series of question marks: What would this squad look like Zack-Rosen-less? Could this young squad hold its own, despite only returning 43 percent of last year's minutes? Can the team beat the Retrievers for a fourth consecutive year? The Quakers answered by orchestrating an inspired second half comeback and securing their first victory of the year, 80-75.

THE GOOD: Comeback from being down 22 points.
With 5:08 remaining in the first half, the Quakers stared down a 22-point deficit, 42-20, primarily as the result of a 15-0 run by the Retrievers and five Penn turnovers over a four-minute span. However, the Red and Blue turned around and outscored UMBC 14-6 to end the first half, and they continued the onslaught in the second behind a stellar 15-point performance from Miles Cartwright. Most importantly, Penn did not panic when it got down early and made all the necessary adjustments with enough time to take back the game, which demonstrated wisdom beyond this young team's years.

THE BAD: Fifteen first half turnovers.
This does not come as a shocking surprise, since it’s characteristic of an inexperienced squad to try to do too much in its opening game of the season. The Quakers protected the ball much better in the second half, giving up the ball just six times, but there are still some lingering questions about who will handle the ball in the backcourt, after Tony Hicks and Camryn Crocker both accounted for three turnovers. Penn had better control Cartwright bringing up the ball, so the Red and Blue may look to him to play some point guard this season. However, the worst offender in turnovers was Fran Dougherty, which brings us to “The Ugly.”

THE UGLY: Fran Dougherty trying to catch the ball.
Dougherty turned the ball over a team-high four times, all of which are exemplified by one play from this game: Penn is inbounding the ball from the baseline and a pass goes out to Dougherty, near the three-point line. Since Doc isn’t much of a threat from that range, he is wide open. However, when the ball approaches Dougherty, he acts like he’s never seen a basketball before (i.e. pretty confused), and the ball slips through his hands out of bounds. Though Doc scored some crucial points against UMBC, the Quakers will need him to, well, catch the ball this season.

Game Eight: Princeton — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Penn kept its Ivy title hopes alive with a 28-21 victory at Princeton on Saturday (see recap). Billy Ragone led another game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, while the defense kept the Quakers in the game, forcing four turnovers on the day. The Red and Blue are still tied with Harvard for first place in the league. They face the Crimson — who beat Columbia, 69-0, on Saturday — next weekend at Franklin Field.

THE GOOD: The running game. Penn had its best ground game of the season with 211 rushing yards on 47 attempts, significantly more than the season average of 132.9 yards. Lyle Marsh led the way with 104 net yards on the ground, followed by Billy Ragone with 61 and Jeff Jack with 50. Ragone and Jack each had a rushing touchdown on the day.

THE BAD: Penn's pass rush. Penn had just one sack on Princeton's two quarterbacks. Connor Michelsen and Quinn Epperly threw for 319 yards combined and often had plenty of time to find an open receiver. After Saturday's game, Penn has just 11 sacks on the season, second-worst in the Ivy League.

THE UGLY: Penn students' attempt to rush the field. Penn Athletics arranged for buses to bring students to the game, and many Greek organizations organized their own transportation, so the stands were packed with Penn students. As the clock ran out and the Quakers sealed their 28-21 victory over Princeton, there was a pathetic attempt to rush the field. No more than 20 students participated, and everything quickly fell apart as the students ran into the masses of players meeting in the middle of the field to shake hands.

Game 4: William & Mary — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

After the first win of the season a week ago Saturday at Dartmouth, Penn football was unable to keep up the new trend, falling to the William & Mary Tribe, 34-28. A messy first half started and ultimately determined the game. The Quakers came within six points of the Tribe during a second-half run, but were never able to catch up. The Red and Blue are now 1-3 (1-0 Ivy) and heading back to their Ivy schedule, taking on Columbia next Saturday.

THE GOOD: The passing game (during Penn’s second-half attempted comeback). The turnaround in play showed some promise for the Ivy season. Though the fact that it took the Quakers that long to really get in the game calls for concern, Penn made some major shifts between the two halves — scoring 21 of their 28 points. There wasn’t as big of post-toast dispersal of fans after the third. The fourth quarter had something coming, and though it didn’t have the desired result, the Quakers demonstrated what they have the potential to accomplish. Penn got moving in the second half. Ragone threw for 193 yards in the second half — for a total 207 in the game — and the Quakers got 17 of their 24 first downs.

THE BAD: Non-conference play. The Quakers came within 6 points of avoiding a broken record. After Saturday’s loss, the Quakers have now lost three consecutive non-conference games. This is the first time that this has happened during Bagnoli’s career at Penn. This year especially, Penn had a tough time taking on the scholarship schools with losses to Villanova and Lafayette.

ALSO BAD: Wide receiver Joe Holder is out with a broken fibula, which occurred during the fourth quarter of the matchup.

THE UGLY: Fumbles — four to be exact. These fumbles determined the game. Yes, the Quakers had some great drives in the second half that made the game interesting once again, but with William & Mary’s continued presence on the field, Penn could never recover from the two lost fumbles in the third quarter. Both of these fumbles led to Tribe touchdowns. The Red and Blue lost my six and gave up 14 due to fumbles. These were mistakes the Quakers could not afford to make.

Game 2: Villanova — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

For the second consecutive week, the Quakers were unable to pick up a win as they fell to Villanova, 24-8, in their final non-conference tune-up before Ivy League play begins next Saturday at Dartmouth.

THE GOOD: The offensive spark of Spencer Kulcsar

Despite primarily playing special teams in his career before Saturday's game, Spencer Kulcsar came up with a large contribution to the rushing attack in the second half. The Quakers were without senior running back Brandon Colavita, who had a rib injury, but Kulcsar, a sophomore, picked up the slack in the second half with long runs of 27 and 28 yards that brought Penn into Villanova territory. While Colavita is expected back for Ivy play next week, Kulcsar displayed the depth of the Penn rushing attack and could be in line for more carries next week.

THE BAD: The struggles of the secondary

Facing a Villanova team known for its ground game, the Quakers focused on stopping the run. While the Red and Blue stopped the Wildcats' rushing attack early, they allowed the Villanova aerial assault to control the first three quarters of action until the game got out of hand. Three of Villanova’s top-five receivers had injuries, yet quarterback John Robertson threw for over 200 yards while scoring two touchdowns in the Villanova victory.

THE UGLY: Dexter Davis’s fourth quarter shoving match

Villanova’s offense hit Penn with a barrage of long drives throughout the game and Penn seemed ill-suited to hit back. The only strike from the Quakers came from defensive back Dexter Davis’ fight with a Villanova player late in the game. Davis was shoving the offensive player and landed a blow to the helmet before being assessed a 15-yard personal foul. The penalty provided the Wildcats 15 yards and a first down towards their third and final touchdown drive.

-Steven Tydings

Game 1: Lafayette — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is back after a six-month hiatus and an interesting exchange with an invisible President by our series’ name sake, Clint Eastwood.

After four first-quarter interceptions put the Quakers behind, 21-0, they fought back but were unable to close the gap in a 28-21 loss (see game recap).

THE GOOD: Conner Scott and Lyle Marsh's successful return from injury. After season-ending injuries last season, Scott and Marsh looked great in their first game back. They were the Quakers’ top two receivers of the night. Scott had 12 catches for 161 yards and Marsh pulled in eight receptions for 66 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Now that opposing coaches have film on these two, these secret weapons might not be so secret anymore.

THE BAD: Billy Ragone’s first quarter interceptions. Ragone had five picks total on the night, but he looked especially off in the first quarter, throwing an interception in each of the first three drives. Take away the turnovers and the numbers look OK: 14-for-23 for 153 yards and a touchdown, plus 58 rushing yards and another touchdown. But five interceptions?! Sometimes, it seemed like Ragone was throwing to nobody.

THE UGLY: Taylor Brown's ejection. Senior nose guard Taylor Brown was ejected from the game after a blatant late hit on Lafayette quarterback Zach Zweizig in the second quarter. It will be interesting to see if he receives additional punishment from the coaching staff.

Game 29: Brown – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Recap: Penn beats Brown 54-43 for sixth straight win

The Good: Tyler Bernardini with game-changing effort. Although it's no secret that Bernardini has been hurt, he played one of his best games in weeks. From diving all over the floor to two dagger threes, Bernardini played with the heart of a fifth-year senior who is doing everything in his power to finish his season in the NCAA Tournament.

The Bad: Trailing at halftime. The Quakers have tended to play to their level of competition throughout the season and tonight was no exception. Penn trailed in the first half, 22-24, as the team only shot 10-for-27 in the first period. Trailing for much of the game may take a toll on their bodies as they will have to play another two games in four days.

The Ugly: Bernardini has a rebound stolen away from him. After Dockery Walker missed a ten-footer with 10:07 remaining in the second half, Bernardini grabbed the board only to have it taken right out of his hands by Walker. The Brown forward put in a layup to cut the Bears' deficit to one. After the game, coach Jerome Allen would say that he forgave Bernardini after he dove out of bounds to save a ball underneath the Bears' basket on the following series.

 

The Good: Rob Belcore all over the court. The forward helped turn the momentum of the game. With Penn down 35-33, Belcore stole the ball on back-to-back possessions finishing one with a old-fashioned three-point play and feeding Miles Cartwright for a layup. The two plays capped a quick seven-point run for the Quakers and put the team up for good. Belcore finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four steals and was constantly active on the defensive end.

Also Good: Zack Rosen, again. Although the captain had an off-night from distance, Rosen still scored 27 points on 10-for-20 shooting and reaffirmed his status as Ivy Player of the Year favorite. The senior scored of Penn's last 16 points and really was the Quakers' only consistent offensive threat in the second half.

The Bad: 8:45 without scoring a FG. After Henry Brooks hit a short jumper to open the second half, Penn went almost nine minutes without making another field goal. Their only points during that span came from a pair of Belcore free throws.

The Ugly: Zero points off the bench. If you exclude Steve Rennard, who played 30 minutes without scoring, only Penn starters scored the entire game. Tyler Bernardini was held scoreless in ten minutes of action and the rest of the Penn bench was 0-for-4 from the field. The Red and Blue starters will need some support if they hope to win tomorrow at Harvard.

Game 24: Dartmouth – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

After falling to Harvard last night, Penn was able to take the win against Dartmouth, 58-55, at the Palestra. The Quakers led by five at halftime, but they were unable to keep up the momentum in the second half, during which they were outscored, 33-31, including a 9-0 run by Dartmouth. In the end, though, the Red and Blue were still able to come away with the win.

THE GOOD: Penn is back in control of its own fate. It took a last-minute, long-range three by Rosen to call the game, but the Quakers still were able to up the number in the win column. After the unexpected Princeton victory over no-longer-undefeated Harvard, Penn is back in the fight for the Ivy title.

THE BAD: Penn has a lot of work to do. Coming into the game, the Red and Blue looked to have an easy win against a less-than average Dartmouth team. Early in the second half, they were up by 15, but the Quakers barely made it out of the game with a ‘W’ after being outmatched later in the half.  Penn cannot play as it did tonight if the team wants to continue to win its remaining games, especially against Yale and Harvard.

THE UGLY: Fouling. Foul shots really made this matchup the close game that it was. Dartmouth scored 19 of its points on 23 free throws. Marin Kukoc fouled out in the last minute of the game and both Henry Brooks and Miles Cartwright racked up the fouls on Penn, with four and three respectively. The Big Green’s Jvonte Brooks, who was the game’s top scorer, made 12 of his 18 total points at the line.

Game 23: Harvard — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

In the most anticipated game of the year, Penn fell to No. 25 Harvard, 56-50, at the Palestra. The Quakers drop to 4-2 in the Ivy League, and the Crimson remain undefeated at 7-0. Penn has now lost six straight — and four straight at home — to Harvard.

THE GOOD: Quakers down low. Entering the game, the Crimson looked to have a mismatch in their favor in the front court with Keith Wright and Kyle Casey. Though the Quakers were outrebounded by a slim margin, 39-35, they matched Harvard with 16 points in the paint. Moreover, the Red and Blue held Wright in check. After he dropped a career-high 25 points at the Palestra a year ago, Penn held the 6-foot-8 forward to a season-low four points on just 1-for-5 shooting from the field.

ALSO GOOD: 7,462. This was one of those old corner-packing games current Penn students always hear alums talking about but never actually experienced themselves. Yes, the Princeton game 11 days ago was packed, and so was last year's Harvard game, but neither filled the arena up like tonight. The Palestra was absolutely rocking.

THE BAD: Now, Penn needs help. Coming into the game, the Quakers still controlled their own destiny within the Ivy League. Now, for the Red and Blue to claim their first title since the 2006-07 season, not only will they have to beat Harvard in Boston on Feb. 25, but they have to hope another team can pull of the upset as well.

THE UGLY: Shooting. Not to discredit the defense in this one, because both sides defended well, but the shooting was just awful for both Harvard and Penn. The Quakers went 18-for-56 (32 percent) from the field on the night, and the Crimson weren't much better shooting 17-for-49 (35 percent). And from distance, the numbers get even uglier: 5-for-22 (23 percent) for Penn, 4-for-19 (21 percent) for Harvard. Penn guard Tyler Bernardini may have been the coldest of all, going the whole game without a field goal on five shots.

Game 21: at Yale — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Penn suffered its first Ivy loss of the season to Yale, 60-53, Friday night. With that, the Quakers ended their four-game winning streak and are now forced to get back on track in the Ancient Eight at Brown tomorrow.

As Alyssa waits the projected 2,346 minutes (not an exaggeration) for video of Jerome Allen’s press conference to load and as Jennifer continues (losing) her game of Hanging with Friends, we decided to make productive use of our time.

THE GOOD: Capitalizing on Turnovers. Granted, this was a little difficult for us to list as a positive for the Quakers. But we are optimistic people—and we settled on Penn’s ability to convert their turnovers into points. Yale had 17 turnovers and the Quakers were able to net 17 points as a result.

THE BAD: Shooting Percentage. While Allen harped on defensive play, it’s no secret that the Quakers struggled to sink their shots. Penn had a 37.9 shooting percentage and shot an astoundingly low 23.8 percent from behind the three-point line.

THE UGLY: The Final Minutes. Yale netted 10 unanswered points in the last five minutes of the game. At 4:57, the Quakers were up 53-50, but fell victim to some big momentum shifts in favor of Yale. Miles Cartwright’s missed a three pointer at 2:36, which set Greg Mangano up for his game-tying tres. With 1:23 remaining, Reggie Willhite stole the ball from Zack Rosen and teammate Michael Grace put the Bulldogs ahead for good, 55-53.