Annual alumni game ends in tie

In a shockingly close finish on Saturday afternoon, the Penn alumni game ended in a tie, 67-67

The Red and Blue teams were tied at 65 in the final minute when Tim Krug (C' 96) made a shot to put the Blue team up two. The Red team quickly responded with a two of their own from Brian Grandieri (C' 08).

So with the game tied in the final seconds, Krug drew a foul and went to the line for two free throws. Unfortunately, he succumbed to pressure, missing both free throws, including an air ball on his first attempt. He made up for it on defense with a steal to preserve the tie.

“Historically, I’ve been a poor free throw shooter,” Krug said. “Being out of shape and at the foul line at the end of the game, being a bad free throw shooter, isn’t the best place to be.”

The Blue team (0-0-1) led for much of the contest thanks to some strong jump shooting early from multiple players, including Joe Gill (C' 08), who hit two early three pointers.

With the team behind early, the Red team (0-0-1) resorted to the worst of basketball’s vices: cherry-picking. Penn coach Jerome Allen and Stan Greene (C' 78) failed to get back on defense in order to get the glory of an easy layup on the other end.

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Another item for your reading list

It's not often that we link to 34th Street, the DP's weekly entertainment magazine. But Thursday's "Ego of the Week" was basketball forward Justin Reilly. We've already written about (and parodied) his poetic talents. But Street's Q&A provides a nice glimpse of his personality. It's a quick but good read.

M. Hoops Tidbits

Don't be surprised if you see Tommy McMahon back on campus next fall. After McMahon missed the 2007-08 season with an injury, he paced out his courses so he could return to Penn for a fifth year, according to his father. However, since he's no longer on the basketball team, McMahon will still be back at Penn  -- keeping  content playing intramural ball.

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After practice yesterday, coach Glen Miller gave his thoughts on junior Justin Reilly. After undergoing surgery for a double hernia, Reilly has seen limited time this year but earned one start when Miller decided to shake up the lineup against Cornell.

"He practices everyday, but he practices on a limited basis," Miller said.  "He’s never really been through a full practice all out. He does as much as he can for as long as he can."

Miller hopes he will "be at 100 percent" for next season, but acknowldeged the healing process can take "from that surgery two years to get back."

Injury update

Here's the latest on Justin Reilly and Darren Smith, from the postgame press conference on Friday.

Glen Miller: "We're anticipating that Darren and maybe Justin will come back sometime during the exam period and resume practice. But I can't count on that and when they come back, they'll have a ways to go before they get themselves, if all goes well, conditioned to be able to help us on the floor."

[Ed note: For more, see our preview of the team's winter break schedule coming out tomorrow.]

Temple-Duke reaction, Big 5 snapshot, some Penn news and Ivy Rankings

Just finished watching the Blue-bloods beat the Cherry and White easily at the Wachovia Center. No surprise there. The Dukies had plenty of help (from the guys who are supposed to be colorblind). Enough to build a 16-point lead before the refs realized, hey, we should give Temple a few non-calls to make this thing exciting. Alas, as always seems to happen, the officials righted their ship too late to save the integrity of the evening.

The Inquirer's audio of the post-game conferences can be found here, here, here and here.

One of the ESPN announcers mentioned that the Big 5 is "down" this year as opposed to last. Numbers-wise, I'm not so sure. Let's take a look.

Temple is in almost exactly the same spot. The Owls are 6-7 with an RPI of 71 (after tonight's loss); they were an identical 6-7 at this point last year with a final RPI of 67.

La Salle was an even 6-6 twelve games into 2006 and is 3-9 now, but its current RPI is actually a bit better than last year's finish.

St. Joe's is 8-4 with an RPI of 36 (after tonight's win); the Hawks had a slightly worse record a year ago, 7-5, and a much lower RPI at year's end, 95.

Villanova has regressed a smidge, but the Big 5 is in roughly the same spot as last year -- outside of Penn, which has spun backwards from its '07 team.

In another Big 5 item of note, the renovations to the Hawks' Alumni Memorial Field House that we heard about in early 2006 will indeed force St. Joe's to play its 2008-09 games at the Palestra, the Daily News reports.

Dick Jerardi also gives us a notebook on the local storylines.

Now on to the Quakers. Freshman point guard Harrison Gaines suffered another setback after playing 24 productive minutes against NJIT, coach Glen Miller told PSN's Brian Seltzer.

"We're a little worried about Harrison," Miller said. "He probably came back too quick; he re-tweaked his hamstring and he didn't practice yesterday and probably won't practice today [Wednesday]. We really need him on the court."

Miller didn't say whether the injury came in the NJIT game or in a subsequent practice, but either way Gaines has another five days to recover before Penn faces La Salle. He had eight assists against NJIT.

While I'm not ready to eat my words just yet on Cameron Lewis, Miller had good things to say about him, which you would expect after the last two games. What are your thoughts on Cameron Lewis and the men whose minutes he's taking, Jack Eggleston and Justin Reilly? Should Lewis continue to start?

As always, leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Here are my third Ivy Rankings installment. The number in parentheses is how far everyone's RPI has risen or fallen since the last edition.

1. Brown [8-6; Previous Ranking: 3; RPI: 90 (+29)]
The Bears are still playing well despite a loss to Baylor, and Damon Huffman continues to be one of the League's top scorers.

2. Cornell [6-5; Previous Ranking: 1; RPI: 123(-5)]
A 14-point loss to Duke won't lose Cornell many points. Point guard Louis Dale is creating a lot of buzz around the League.

3. Harvard [6-11, 1-0 Ivy; Previous Ranking: 4; RPI: 281 (+20)]
Tommy Amaker's roster changes are helping Harvard score, and the Crimson enter Friday's rematch with Dartmouth riding two straight blowout wins.

4. Columbia [6-8; Previous Ranking: 2; RPI: 215(-12)]
Two steps forward (beating Lehigh), one step back (losing to American). Ben Nwachukwu might finally be picking up steam.

5. Yale [5-8; Previous Ranking: 6; RPI: 166 (-8)]
Another underwhelming week for Yale against three underwhelming teams; thumping 2-15 Longwood doesn't prove much.

6. Penn [5-9; Previous Ranking: 8; RPI: 270 (-15)]
A bad loss (Miami) and a bad win (NJIT) were two more steps back for Penn this week. Continued struggles at point guard negate Lewis's hot streak.

7. Princeton [2-12; Previous Ranking: 5; RPI: 309 (-18)]
A blown lead and overtime loss to Lafayette is a tough way to drop a record 12th straight game. Look for Sydney Johnson to shake things up even more than he already has to get the Tigers out of their historic funk.

8. Dartmouth [5-8, 0-1 Ivy; Previous Ranking: 7; RPI: 262 (-21)]
Dartmouth's only game this week was that disaster against Harvard, so it drops into the cellar for the time being.

Move over Pats, Quakers are setting the real records

Sorry, Andrew, one post illustrating what happened last night is not enough.

Penn's six points, 5.9 percent shooting and one field goal in the first half were all the worst by any Division I basketball team in the shot clock era. Even the 30-point total was Penn's worst in 40 years. Here are a few stats that I found must supplement the last post:

  • Penn had 16 turnovers and 12 missed shots before scoring a single point
  • 10 players attempted a three pointer for Penn, seven of which didn't make one
  • Nine players had multiple turnovers, five (Brian Grandieri, Jack Eggleston, Tyler Bernardini, Justin Reilly and Andreas Schreiber) had four or more
  • The five starters (Grandieri, Eggleston, Bernardini, Reilly and Cohen) had eight more turnovers (21) then points (13)
  • The starters had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.095
  • Six players had more turnovers than points
  • Schreiber (2-for-5) and Bernardini (2-for-9) were the only players to make more than one basket

I could go on, but I don't want to see grown men crying before New Years. Here are some quotes from Penn head coach Glen Miller after the game:

"That's probably the worst performance that any of my teams have ever had -- and I've been a head coach for a long time. I'm very disappointed."

"We were just very lethargic and unsure of ourselves. We certainly didn't handle the five days we had off. We're a much better team than that."

"I want to give [the Eagles] credit. I think they're a better basketball team than their record [4-9] and I think that will come through when they get in league play."

Since it's a new year coming up soon, Penn fans can look on the bright side:

  • Penn's 36 rebounds equaled FGCU's total
  • Joe Gill, playing in the first half for (I believe) the first time in his career had a wonderful game, hitting his only shot attempt, scoring four points, and dishing out one assist to no turnovers in seven minutes
  • None of this matters until the Ivy League

Big man melee

I'd like to get your thoughts on a big personnel question during the final exams lull. How should Glen Miller divide up time in the Penn frontcourt over the next few games?

Well, it depends on the answers to a few other questions:

  • Is Justin Reilly's offensive game worth his defensive lapses?
  • Is it the right decision to bury Brennan Votel on the bench?
  • Should Cameron Lewis be more than a defense/rebounding role player?
  • Should we see more of Conor Turley after the boost he gave against Monmouth?
  • Will Andreas Schreiber ever be able to stay out of foul trouble?

For a frame of reference, here's how the minutes and points have been divvied up so far. I'm not counting Brian Grandieri in this group, although he's been listed as a forward most of the year.

Eggleston: 10 GP, 26.4 mpg, 7.7 ppg, 51.8 FG% (29-56), (7-18) 3-pt. FGs, 4.7 rpg
Reilly: 10 GP, 18.4 mpg, 7.1 ppg, 46.0 FG% (23-50), (7-13) 3-pt. FGs, 2.3 rpg
Schreiber: 10 GP, 13.8 mpg, 5.0 ppg, 54.1 FG% (20-37), (3-14) 3-pt. FGs, 3.7 rpg
Votel: 9 GP, 9.4 mpg, 1.9 ppg, 33.3 FG% (7-21), (1-7) 3-pt. FGs, 2.6 rpg
Lewis: 8 GP, 8.1 mpg, 1.5 ppg, 33.3 FG% (4-12), (0-0) 3-pt. FGs, 1.3 rpg
Turley: 5 GP, 7.2 mpg, 1.4 ppg, 28.6 FG% (2-7), (0-3) 3-pt. FGs, 0.4 rpg

Leave your comments on this frontcourt mess below, but be fair. If you suggest that one player should see more time, please indicate who those minutes should come from.

Brian Seltzer's weekly podcast offers some insight on Harrison Gaines' absence from the starting lineup against Monmouth; Miller commented that he was looking for "more organization for our offense" and better decision-making -- when to push things and when to put on the brakes. With a couple of days' hindsight, I think it also had something to do with Gaines' night against North Carolina, where he looked completely out of sorts.

Trendsetters

Harvard once again one-upped the rest of the Ivy League -- just like it did on early decision -- by revamping and expanding its financial aid program. (Yale did its best to play catchup.) At some point, will Harvard's advantages in this department (a roughly $36 billion endowment) give it an edge over the rest of the conference when it comes to convincing recruits to leave scholarships on the table? Or will it force everyone to up their commitment and thereby help the League? I lean toward the latter. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

A few more thoughts from the Monmouth game: Overall, it was probably the best basketball the Quakers have played outside of the first half against North Carolina. There were downers; they still struggled to get the ball into the post without turning it over, and point guard play was erratic. But they hit 50% from the floor and didn't turn the ball over nearly as much in the second half, which should be encouraging.

My one prediction for winter break is that we'll see a few more players grab time in the frontcourt, like freshman Conor Turley did. Glen Miller said after the game that Penn had to adjust and spread the floor in the second half, because in one-on-one situations down low Monmouth was getting the better of every play. The main culprits there were Jack Eggleston and Justin Reilly.

He also said he was pleased that his team didn't seem to be as reliant on the three-pointer as it was earlier this year, and he suggested that he would like to see the Quakers take fewer threes in the future, too.

The biggest question mark of the night was Harrison Gaines' lack of minutes, and I don't really have an explanation there.

Kevin Egee wasn't with the team at Monmouth, and seperately, I spotted Remy Cofield on crutches outside Franklin Field today, so there's two more items to keep an eye on in the coming days.

Monmouth-Penn also gets the award for 'smallest media contingent ever' -- two DP reporters, myself included, and one from the Ashbury Park Press in the Hawks' weight room. Aaawkward.

Three points hard to come by

I wasn't at the 89-68 thrashing the Quakers took in Baltimore to Loyola on Sunday afternoon, so all I can go by is the live blog and the boxscore, but here are some interesting things to note from Game 2:

  • The Quakers shot 59 percent from two-point range (17 for 29) and 17 percent from three-point range (4 for 23). For the season, they are 46 percent from two and 20 percent from three.
  • Aron Cohen hit 4 of 8 from downtown against Drexel, and yet missed all of his five attempts from behind the stripe against Loyola.
  • Eight Penn players attempted at least one three, and didn't make any.
  • Eight Penn players had more turnovers than assists against the high-pressure Grayhounds' defense.
  • Quakers forwards went an astonishing 13 for 17 from the free-throw line, thanks to Andreas Schreiber's 4-for-4 effort and Justin Reilly's 5-for-6 performance. And ironically, the guards (and swingmen) went 9 for 17.
  • Reilly got 4 minutes in the opener against Drexel, but logged 22 in Baltimore, while Brennan Votel was in the game for 24 minutes against the Dragons, but got a breather on Sunday, playing only eight.
  • Loyola's Gerald Brown had an Andre Iguodala-like perfromance, scoring 27 points, with eight rebounds, six steals and three assists, not to mention going 10 for 11 from the line.
  • In a 15.5-minute stretch, starting from when it was 20-17 Loyola with 6 minutes remaining in the first half, the Hounds scored 53 points, bringing the lead from three to 30.
  • Points anyone?

    If you've followed Penn basketball for more than 10 minutes, you probably know that the team will take a major blow without recently-graduated and current European basketballers Mark Zoller and Ibrahim Jaaber this season. It sounds bad, but the stats make it look even worse.

    Zoller and Jaaber averaged 34.1 points per game, or 46 percent of the team's total. And if you take out Stephen Danley's (graduated) 8.7 and Tommy McMahon's (medical redshirt) 5.0, (and yes, Adam Franklin's 0.7) the current team (10 returning players) only accounted for 34 percent of last year's points. Other than Brian Grandieri, the highest average last year was Kevin Egee's 3.9 points per game.

    Coach Glen Miller is clearly not oblivious to this issue.

    "We're trying to find out [who's going to score], we don't have those answers right now," Miller said last Friday. "Just like the Ivy League has a lot of parity, on our team from top to bottom there's a lot of parity."

    So where will the points come from in 2007-08?

    The obvious answer is that Grandieri (11.7 points per game) will pick up the slack. Grandieri is the team's best player, but he's a guy that slips into the short corner and nails 10-footers or finds a loose offensive rebound and puts it in, not a guy who breaks a defender's ankles and throws it down over a guy like Drexel's Frank Elegar. He was a cog in last year's offense, and without the parts around him can he do the same thing?

    All is not lost, though. There is a lot of potential in this team.

    Darren Smith, while he was tentaitive last year and his shot isn't exactly beautiful, can knock down that corner three as well as anyone in this league. He hit an astounding 22 of 46 from deep (48 percent), he's just got to be less gun-shy (a.k.a. shoot other than just on the game's first three possessions) in his second season.

    Egee also hit at a great percentage from three, going 20 for 39, but his strength is his all-around offensive game. He had a couple of strong drives in the Red and Blue scrimmage that ended in a runner (one went in, one didn't). And he has the strongest triceps on the team.

    Guys like Aron Cohen and freshman Tyler Bernardini are real unknowns, but each has a nice shot and could put it to use.

    The inside game will be a big question mark, as guys like Justin Reilly, Brennan Votel and Cam Lewis have to prove they can score on the block. Lewis' post game looked improved in the Red and Blue scrimmage, so we'll have to see what he can do in a game, and how the other two will fare. Lets just say they weren't the deadliest of shooters last season - Votel and Reilly went a combined 8 for 31 from three in 2006-07 (26 percent), while averaging a respectable 39 percent from inside the arc.