Scouting Report: Yale

Oh, you again? Last month, Penn played a hard-fought game with the Elis but lost, 68-59. Yale took a 10 point lead late in the second half before a 9-0 run engineered by freshman Tony Hicks brought the Quakers within one point. But the run was not enough as the Bulldogs pulled away behind a clutch three from senior guard Austin Morgan and took the game by nine.

What have you been up to? Yale is coming off its biggest win of the season, as the Bulldogs upset then first-place Princeton yesterday, 71-66. The win completes the season sweep for Yale over the Tigers since the Elis also defeated Princeton the day after their first matchup with Penn. In the three weekends after the sweep of Princeton and Penn, Yale has split its six games, with wins against Columbia, Cornell and Dartmouth. After losing at Columbia last weekend, the Elis took advantage of a shorthanded Cornell squad and won 79-70 in Ithaca.

Leading the way: Yale’s signature this season has been a truly balanced lineup, with 10 players averaging at least 4.5 points per game, and 12 players getting over 13 minutes of court time per contest. In the Elis' last three games, Morgan has led the way, putting up double figures in each contest. Sophomore Matt Townsend has played well in the post for the Bulldogs, averaging 13 points per game in Yale’s last four Ivy matchups. But one Yale forward has been cold in recent games, and that is freshman Justin Sears. Sears had 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench in the Bulldogs’ first game against Penn, but he has scored just a combined eight points in Yale’s last three games.

SIZING IT UP

Scoring: YALE- Both teams struggled at times offensively in the first matchup at the Palestra, but Yale has proven to be the more consistent offensive team this year. The Bulldogs are second in scoring offense in the Ancient Eight and have put up at least 70 points in four of their last six games. They have surpassed 70 points in 11 games this season, compared to just four times by the Quakers.

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Three Up, Three Down: Yale Edition

Three Up Three DownComing off back-to-back wins against Harvard last Saturday and at Brown last night, the Quakers go for their third consecutive conference victory tonight when they visit Yale. Who's up and who's down as we head into Yale?

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Tony Hicks: The freshman guard has been outstanding of late, capturing two consecutive Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards. Hicks averaged 23.8 points per game in the four contests leading up to last night's matchup against Brown. While the Bears were able to limit Hicks to only five points, on 1-for-9 shooting no less, expect Hicks to bounce back nicely tonight against the Bulldogs. The freshman scored 11 points in the first meeting between Penn and Yale on Feb. 8. If Hicks wants to pick up his masterful play against the Ivy League, he will need to limit his turnovers and look for opportunities to get easy points at the free throw line.

Upsets: While the Ivy season developed as most expected it to in January and February, the madness of March has hit the Ancient Eight. On back-to-back weekends, the two teams leading the pack, Harvard and Princeton, were upset by Penn and Yale, respectively. Though the Quakers and Bulldogs have both been eliminated from contention for the Ivy League crown, both have stepped up lately to salvage big wins for their programs and play spoiler. Even though tonight's game may seem like a routine conference matchup, if the past few weeks have taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected.

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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.

Mano-a-Mano: An Empire State of Mind for Penn

ManoAMano11-1In this week’s Mano-a-Mano, Associate Sports Editor John Phillips and Senior Sports Editor Mike Tony debate whether we can expect Penn to sweep this upcoming Ivy weekend against Columbia and Cornell.

John Phillips: I think the odds are in Penn’s favor, with Cornell being the bigger question mark of the two games.

This is a young squad, and the mistakes down the stretch that they made against Cornell the first time around — like not even being able to inbound the ball with the game on the line — won’t happen again Friday night. Penn knows that it can hang tough with the Big Red, and that confidence goes a long way in determining which version of the Quakers appear on a nightly basis.

Cornell is playing well right now, but there is the revenge factor that can’t be overlooked. Penn let one slip out of their grasps at the Palestra a few weeks ago, and now the Quakers have a chance to make up for it.

Mike Tony: The odds can’t be in favor of a team with this lack of experience in Ivy roadtripping. The Quakers never got things going against Harvard and needed 20 minutes to wake up at Dartmouth, scoring just 18 points in the first half at Leede Arena.
The Big Red gave Harvard everything it could handle a couple of weeks back with an efficient frontcourt. Will Cam Gunter and Henry Brooks be as efficient against Errick Peck and Shonn Miller?

If Penn couldn’t handle Cornell at home with the momentum of upsetting Columbia at the Palestra on its side, why should we believe it can pull off a sweep of both teams now?

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Over/Under – Dartmouth Edition

OverUnder15 minutes for Cam Gunter – UNDER

The junior forward had a career night Friday against Harvard, scoring 10 points and grabbing nine boards in just 15 minutes of play. Off of a breakout performance like that, the fans might expect to see more of Gunter. But for the most part, Gunter was forced into action due to Henry Brooks’ foul trouble and Darien Nelson-Henry’s limited minutes coming back from injury. Both of those players should see more minutes tonight, which means less court time for Gunter.

60 points for Dartmouth – UNDER

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Three Up, Three Down: Cornell Edition

Three Up Three DownWith the Quakers coming off an upset win over Columbia to open their first Ivy weekend of the season, we take a look at who's hot–and who's not–as the Big Red come to town.

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Miles Cartwright- The junior captain stepped up as a leader when the Red and Blue needed him the most Friday, pouring in eight points in the game's final two minutes to ensure that a nine-point second half lead wouldn't go to waste. Additionally, Cartwright was able to minimize his turnovers, a positive trend that he'll need to keep up against a Cornell team that averages seven steals a game.

Steve Rennard- After seemingly being left for dead, the junior was able to revitalize his season against Columbia. In 29 minutes of action, Rennard was able to score seven points on 2-4 shooting, including his first made three-pointer since a win over NJIT on Jan. 17th. If Rennard can maybe, just maybe, recapture his shooting touch from last year, the Quakers will only benefit from having yet another outside scoring threat.

Henry Brooks- Much like Rennard, Brooks was able to reverse an early-season bad habit on Friday night. In 28 minutes of action, the sophomore forward managed to keep himself out of foul trouble against Columbia's rangy big men, hearing only two calls against him on the night. Additionally, he showed some nice range in going 2-for-4 from the field, including one shot that was just inside the three-point line.

Three Down-

Patrick Lucas Perry's minutes, again- Where was he? If people thought that PLP had turned the corner after his sterling performance against Temple, they were wrong. Lucas-Perry received 15 minutes of playing time, but it seemed like far less, as he never seemed to establish much of a presence for himself on the court. The sophomore wound up going 0-for-2 from the field, and only managed to pick up a single rebound.

Every freshman not named Darien Nelson-Henry- It was a rough night for most of the Quakers' youngsters. Jamal Lewis tallied one assist, two turnovers, and a whopping three fouls in only seven minutes of action, earning him a comfortable spot on the bench. Tony Hicks scored eight points, but went 1-for-5 from the field. And, in keeping with tradition, Julian Harrell never even had a chance to take his warm-ups off.

The rims in the Palestra whenever Fran Dougherty shoots- Playing for the first time in a month following a bout with mononucleosis, the dynamic junior wound up going 1-for-5 from the field in 18 minutes off the bench, but his stat sheet could have looked a lot better. Dougherty had shot after shot take the exact wrong bounce at the exact wrong time, spoiling some sharp inside post and isolation moves by the athletic forward.

Three Up Three Down: Princeton Edition

Three Up Three DownPenn heads to the unfriendly confines of Jadwin Gym to take on rival Princeton. Here are some predictions for the Quakers’ first Ivy League game of the season.

Three Up-

Miles Cartwright- Cartwright was held to just six shot attempts against Lafayette and while Penn’s bench helped lead a strong comeback with him on the bench, he will need to be front and center if the Quakers have the chance of pulling the upset at Jadwin. He went 4-11 in last year’s season-ending loss to the Tigers, so expect the junior captain to have extra motivation heading into Saturday’s game.

Tony Hicks- Hicks has taken off in Penn’s last three games, scoring in double figures in each game despite coming off the bench. His performance against Lafayette may have been his finest of the season, as he not only tied a career high with four assists, but coach Allen trusted Hicks with the ball in his hands in the final seconds. With his recent performance, Hicks has the opportunity to increase his minutes and continue his recent success.

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Reports question whether Penn basketball suspensions due to alcohol

Yesterday we reported that a highly reputable source told the Daily Pennsylvanian that Miles Cartwright, Henry Brooks, Tony Hicks, Darien Nelson-Henry and Steve Rennard were all suspended for Penn basketball’s game at Delaware on Dec. 21 after failing random drug tests. Now the Daily Pennsylvanian is hearing from various sources that alcohol may have played a role in the suspensions.  Our original sources, though, maintain that positive drug tests triggered the suspensions.

However, alcohol is still a banned drug according to the NCAA Banned Drug List.   As reported yesterday, the Penn Athletics Compliance Office's 2012-13 Review of Rules and Regulations Governing Intercollegiate Athletics states that “those found to have used banned or street drugs "shall be declared ineligible for further participation in regular-season and postseason competition," but does not clarify whether this is a University or NCAA policy. The guide also states that “Student-athletes who abuse alcohol or who possess or consume alcohol illegally may have their eligibility suspended.”

Alcohol would constitute a drug violation that would force Penn to follow NCAA Bylaw 10.2, which, as noted yesterday, requires schools to follow their own institutional policies and protocols for drug violations if they have them. Penn Director of Athletic Communications Mike Mahoney told the Daily Pennsylvanian yesterday that the suspensions were coach Jerome Allen’s decision, and it is this NCAA Bylaw that would allow him the latitude to decide the penalty for the players’ use of banned drugs. Mahoney also neither contested nor confirmed yesterday’s report.

We’ll continue to report on the suspensions as more news breaks.

Megan Soisson also contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.

SOURCES: Penn basketball suspensions due to failed drug tests

A highly reputable source has told the Daily Pennsylvanian that Miles Cartwright, Henry Brooks, Tony Hicks, Darien Nelson-Henry and Steve Rennard were all suspended for Penn basketball’s game at Delaware on Dec. 21 after failing random drug tests. The official word after the game was that these five players were suspended for violating team rules, which Penn coach Jerome Allen did not elaborate on in his postgame press conference.

Two sources close to the team did not comment specifically on the reports that five players failed drug tests, citing that Allen had told those with knowledge of the incident to say only that "it was a disciplinary action that [Allen] took due to them not following a team rule." Penn Director of Athletic Communications Mike Mahoney also did not comment on the reports of failed drug tests.

Many unknowns still remain, including when the tests were administered, what drug(s) or masking agent(s) were identified from the test, when Allen notified the players of their suspensions and whether the tests were administered by Penn or the NCAA.  A failed drug test administered by the NCAA would result in the players losing one full year of eligibility effective on the date the urine sample was given. The NCAA does not require schools to drug test their players, nor are those schools required to report the results of drug tests to the NCAA.

However, 90 percent of Division I schools have their own drug-testing programs independent from the NCAA. Additionally, NCAA Bylaw 10.2 requires schools to follow their own institutional policies and protocols for drug violations if they have them.

The Penn Athletics Compliance Office's 2012-13 Review of Rules and Regulations Governing Intercollegiate Athletics states that Penn "does not promote drug-testing of its student-athletes except when there is cause or suspicion of abuse." The guide does state that those found to have used banned or street drugs "shall be declared ineligible for further participation in regular-season and postseason competition," but does not clarify whether this is a University or NCAA policy.

Mahoney told the Daily Pennsylvanian that he assumes the drug policy being enforced is "at University-level," and he does not think the NCAA has authority to decide what punishments are given on alcohol or drug-related matters. Mahoney added that coach Allen "has been in touch with his superiors," who "are aware of the reasons for the suspension and support him on his decision."

Penn Assistant Director of Athletics/Compliance D. Elton Cochran-Fikes was not available via phone and did not immediately return an email asking to clarify Penn's policy.

Two sources close to the team have also said that they expect the suspensions to be lifted for all five players for Penn’s next game at Wagner on Saturday. The matchup would mark the suspended group’s first game action since the Quakers’ 68-55 home loss to Villanova on Dec. 8. The decision to play the five after a one-game suspension would suggest that the reported drug tests were not administered by the NCAA.

We’ll continue to report on the suspensions as more news breaks.

Megan Soisson also contributed to the writing and reporting of this article.

Mano-a-Mano: Is it Greg Louis’ time?

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In this installment of Mano-a-Mano, men's hoops beat writer John Phillips and Senior Sports Editor-elect Mike Tony debate whether it's time for sophomore forward Greg Louis  to crack the starting lineup after his 19-point, 11-rebound performance at Delaware.                                                     
John Phillips: The best argument for why Louis should start is the same argument against sophomore forward Henry Brooks. Both guys are talented, and Brooks does have experience at the collegiate level. Yet, a lot of the same mistakes that he made in his freshman year continue to pop up. He gets in foul trouble far too early during contests, putting coach Allen in a bind before the first half even ends. In addition, when he's on the floor, he doesn't put up the points that the Quakers need from the center position.
                                                                                                                                       
 While Brooks' biggest attribute is his defensive prowess, Louis is no slouch on the defensive end, and also has bigger upside offensively. Surely, he needs to take less shots from downtown and more midrange jumpers, but he showed the ability to attack the basket against Delaware, putting in a performance that, had Miles Cartwright been on the floor, would have given the Quakers three threats offensively, something this team desperately needs.
                                                                                                                                                       Mike Tony: You're definitely right about Brooks' foul woes. It's outrageous how quickly he accumulates fouls, averaging just 15.1 minutes per game directly because of his 3.56 fouls per game average. Continue reading