James Harden at the Palestra

With Penn-Princeton imminent, James Harden of the Houston Rockets stopped by the Palestra earlier today. Penn assistant coach Jason Polykoff posted a photo to his Twitter account earlier today showing Harden posing with the men's basketball team.

"Special visit today from Houston Rocket James Harden. Helping provide some motivation for our @ The Palestra," Polykoff also wrote on Twitter.

Of course, the connection with Harden is Penn assistant coach Scott Pera, who coached and mentored Harden at southern California powerhouse Artesia High School and Arizona State.

 

 

Behind Enemy Lines: Delaware’s Phil Martelli, Jr.

Delaware assistant coach Phil Martelli, Jr. has been scouting the Quakers since the start of this season and been playing against them since the start of this millenium.

It's time to introduce another new feature to the Buzz: Behind Enemy Lines, in which we talk to opposing coaches and players as well as the writers who cover them. 

On Monday, I was able to talk with Delaware assistant coach Phil Martelli, Jr.  about the Blue Hens' perspective going into their Friday night tilt with Penn at the Bob Carpenter Center. Martelli has been scouting the Quakers all year. And after playing for St. Joseph's from 2000-03 under his father, head coach Phil Martelli, and current Delaware head coach Monté Ross (a Hawks assistant at the time), Martelli, Jr. knows Penn a lot better than most Red and Blue opponents. He talks bragging rights, Penn's poor rebounding and more after the jump:

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Scott Pera of ASU to become top assistant for Penn basketball

via ASU.edu

Arizona State assistant coach Scott Pera is slated to leave the Sun Devils and take an assistant coaching position under Penn basketball coach Jerome Allen, ASUDevils.com reports.

Pera served as an assistant under ASU head man Herb Sendek since the summer of 2007, helping guide the Sun Devils to three postseason appearances — one in the NCAA tournament and two in the NIT. He will replace the departed Dan Leibovitz, who officially resigned from his position Thursday to join the Charlotte Bobcats as a player development coach.

"The initial involvement was through a mutual friend with coach Allen and I," Pera told ASUDevils.com. "Basically, it was, 'hey, this seems to me to make tremendous sense,' it intrigued me from there, Jerome did his homework on me, then connections come into play, people that know me and know Jerome connected the dots, we talked through it, had a lot in common, I became more interested and it led to us coming to an agreement."

Prior to his stint at Arizona State, Pera led Artesia High School of Lakewood, Calif. to the state title in 2006. There, he coached Oklahoma City Thunder star James Harden. Pera would again coach Harden with the Sun Devils from 2007-09.

The move east brings Pera, a Hershey, Pa. native and Penn State graduate, closer to home. His wife, Alyssa, is also a Penn graduate.

"A number of pieces are in place at Penn that make it attractive, with the head coaching placement being big and something we're very aware of," Pera said. "To be one step closer to that and my wife's alma mater, and be under another terrific coach in a city we love, all those pieces made it come together."

Pera is the third new assistant the Quakers have added this summer. Ira Bowman and Jason Polykoff have already been hired to take the places of Mike Martin and Rudy Wise, respectively.

Dan Leibovitz may be leaving Penn for the Charlotte Bobcats

Assistant coach Dan Leibovitz could be heading to the Charlotte Bobcats to take a position as a player development coach.

Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports was the first to report the news, via Twitter Thursday morning:

However, Leibovitz has not yet signed a contract with the Bobcats.

Leibovitz has a longtime friendship with Mike Dunlap, who was hired as the head coach of the Bobcats on June 20.

Leibovitz graduated from Penn in 1996 and rejoined his alma mater in April 2010. Prior to his return, he was the head coach at the University of Hartford for four seasons. He also served as the top assistant coach at Temple under John Chaney for 10 seasons.

Head coach Jerome Allen may be forced to find another new assistant coach to replace Leibovitz. Penn already hired two new assistants earlier this summer, Ira Bowman and Jason Polykoff, to take over for Mike Martin and Rudy Wise, respectively.

Penn basketball adds two assistant coaches

The men's basketball team has officially named its two new assistant coaches: Ira Bowman will be replacing Mike Martin, who left to take the head coaching position at Brown, while Jason Polykoff will be taking over for Rudy Wise.

Bowman transferred to Penn from Providence College and played for the Quakers for two seasons, in 1994-95 and 1995-96. His first year in the Red and Blue was Allen's final season at Penn.

As a senior, Bowman was named Ivy League Player of the Year and first-team All-Philadelphia Big 5. The Quakers went 12-2 in the Ivy League that season, but fell to Princeton in a one-game playoff for the conference title.

Bowman played professionally with the Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks, as well as overseas in Italy and Australia. He spent the past four years coaching at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Here is what Jerome Allen had to say about Bowman:

I am extremely happy to continue building this program with someone who is deeply passionate about this University. The career Ira had here has been well documented, and I know he will put forth every effort working to make this program the best that it can be.

Bowman had this to say about rejoining the Quakers:

It is with great appreciation and honor that I return to the University of Pennsylvania. It was a privilege to play here and I am equally grateful to have an opportunity to coach here alongside Coach Allen, whom I deeply respect. Jerome was a tremendous teammate at Penn; his character, humility and determination are the building blocks of what it means to be a Quaker. I share his passion and commitment in making Penn basketball the elite program we believe it is. I could not be more excited!

Jason Polykoff has been the head coach at Friends Central School in Wynnewood, Pa., for the past five years. His team has won four consecutive Pennsylvania Independent Schools State Championships from 2009-12. Polykoff played basketball at Haverford College.

Here is what Polykoff said about his new position:

Having an opportunity to coach at Penn is essentially a dream come true. If you combine the history of Penn basketball with the Big 5 and the Palestra, it is too good of a situation to pass up. Also, to have the opportunity to work with Jerome Allen, Dan Leibovitz and Ira Bowman-three great coaches and even better people-I know I am going to learn a lot. Just as important, I've been affiliated with high academic institutions my whole life, coming from Friends' Central, to Haverford College, and back to Friends' Central. I feel a sense of comfort at a place like Penn.