Men’s basketball awards

Following the men's basketball program's first annual town hall meeting yesterday, the following awards were handed out at the team banquet.

Best Defensive Player: Rob Belcore
Most Improved: Rob Belcore
Top Newcomer: Zach Rosen
Most Inspirational: Kevin Egee
Most Valuable: Tyler Bernardini

I think Belcore certainly deserved the Best Defensive Player award. In fact, the DP wrote a profile of Belcore and his vaunted defense during the season. He was also a good choice for Most Improved. There was good reason why he saw more playing time as the season went on. Not only was he Penn's top defender, but he became one of its most reliable three-point shooters as well. Rosen was an easy choice for Best Newcomer, and likewise for Egee and Most Inspirational.

However, I think the MVP award can be debated. While Bernardini was the Quakers' best shooter and leading scorer, and he did lead the team in its biggest win of the year, his inability to break out as a first-team All-Ivy player was a big reason why Penn struggled.

Rosen's case for MVP is nearly as strong.  He was the on-court leader, and topping the Ivy League in assists is no small feat.

Kevin Egee’s YouTube moment disappears

The Penn basketball team's 51-50 win at Columbia on March 7 was a great memory in a season mostly full of bad ones. The Quakers spent most of the night playing catchup and were down a pair with 1.9 ticks left, but senior captain Kevin Egee drilled an impossible three-pointer off a flawless inbounds play to snatch the game away. It wasn't being televised, but someone in the crowd that night had a camera rolling and later posted a grainy clip of the final play on YouTube, where Egee's moment could live on forever.

Or perhaps not. The video has since been removed at the request of Columbia's Athletics Department. See for yourself: The original link, which had been posted on The Buzz, now just gives a message reading "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Columbia University Athletics." So far as I can tell, there are no other versions of it floating around.

What childishness. Columbia obviously has the right to decide where and how recordings of its teams' games appear online, but was removing that video from YouTube really necessary? Was Columbia losing any money because it was there? Was there an important precedent at stake? Did Columbia have to deny fans, recruits and casual observers -- not to mention Egee's family and Egee himself -- the chance to relive that great moment online?

The answer is obvious. Which might explain why there are plenty of other Ivy League basketball clips on YouTube -- some from games that were broadcast, some from games that were not. Those clips have stayed there for years, unmolested. Why this one was judged to be so damaging, I don't know.

If athletic administrators want to spend their man-hours policing YouTube, that's their right. But erasing the memory of Egee's shot -- a game-winning, Columbia-beating shot -- just reeks of sour grapes.

The shot of the season, and other notes

1. No recap can do justice to Kevin Egee's long three-pointer that beat the buzzer and Columbia on Saturday. Here, then, is the video evidence for your viewing pleasure.

2. The Quakers were certainly ecstatic after the win. But coach Glen Miller was, as usual, a bit more even-keeled. Here are some of his comments that did not make it into the recap:

  • "We're struggling. You win a game - and you win a game in that fashion - and it's very exciting."
  • "We kind of wasted a good defensive effort - well, we won, so we didn't - but you got to finish defensive[ly] with rebounds. But we gave up 15 offensive rebounds and some of them were critical. ... If we rebound the basketball even to a reasonable level, we're not coming down to the last shot to win the game." Penn was outrebounded, 38-29, including 15-8 on the offensive glass. A full box score is available here. The Quakers are seventh in the Ivy League in rebounding margin; only Dartmouth is worse.
  • On the lack of flow: "We’ve been having trouble scoring all year long, so I don’t mind stoppage of play. We got to the foul line. That’s another area where we came up short, really. … If we hit a few more foul shots, pick up a few more rebounds, and maybe it’s just a more comfortable game for us, margin of victory."
    Penn shot 17-for-28 (60.7 percent) from the line. Zack Rosen, Jack Eggleston, Rob Belcore and Justin Reilly combined to go a perfectly respectable 16-for-20 (80 percent). But Cam Lewis showed off his great hands with two of the worst free throws I've ever seen. He finished 0-for-3, as did Brennan Votel; Harrison Gaines was 1-for-2.

  • "The bottom line is that at this point, it’s a good win. Any win’s a good win. The guys were excited into the lockerroom. It’s different than losing, that’s for sure."

3. Columbia did not hit a field goal in the final six-plus minutes of a game that featured nine lead changes. The biggest margin by either side was a mere eight points, although Penn spent most of the second half playing catch-up.

Quick postgame notes

  • Tonight's game marked the first time in Brian Grandieri's career that Penn lost an Ivy League contest at the Palestra.
  • As a team, the Quakers shot 9-17 from downtown, hitting three more triples than the Bears. The difference was the play inside. Despite Brown's smaller size, the Bears etched out 30 points in the paint (compared to Penn's 24) thanks to a number of smooth backdoor cuts. More importantly, the Bears got to the free throw line 26 times -- Penn was 2 of 6 from the charity stripe. Brown's 61.5% clip wasn't impressive, but it was good enough.
  • Grandieri overcame his recent shooting woes tonight, going 9-15 from the field and 2-4 from beyond the arc. He was the Quakers' only reliable option in the second half -- especially with Kevin Egee on the bench in foul trouble -- and hit a number of clutch shots down the stretch.
  • Cameron Lewis did not see any action tonight, and though Remy Cofield did see 12 minutes, he left the Palestra wearing a Tom Brady-like protective boot.

Tomorrow's game against Yale has been moved up to 6 pm. If you can't make it to the Palestra, ESPN Classic will be televising the game. Stay tuned to The Buzz for more coverage.

P.S. Jack Eggleston was a guest earlier this week on UTV's DP Roundtable and was asked about the incident with Noah Savage at the end of the Princeton game. With Princeton inbounding the ball under its own basket down by 3 with 9 seconds to go, Savage took a swing towards Eggleston's groin area and was called for a technical foul, essentially ending the Tigers' chances. On an earlier possession, Savage missed an important shot that would have put his team in better position to win. On the show, Eggleston said that right before Savage picked up the "T," Eggleston -- who played with Savage a lot over the summer -- said something to him about the missed shot, prompting the hot-headed reaction. Zidane, anyone?

Gaines unlikely for tonight

Freshman point guard Harrison Gaines is unlikely to see action tonight against La Salle. He is still feeling the effects of re-tweaking his hamstring last week.

Junior Kevin Egee has been seeing more time in Gaines' absence. Egee played 13 minutes against NJIT last Saturday (Gaines played 24), but he led the team with 30 against Miami when Gaines was on the bench.

Senior guard Michael Kach is good to go, according to Penn's game notes, as is junior forward Brennan Votel, who dressed for NJIT but didn't get in the game. Kach had been out with a back problem and Votel with a hamstring injury.

Elsewhere in the Big 5, both Villanova and St. Joe's could be getting personnel boosts in the near future, the Inquirer reports.

A little Miami Ink

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Greetings from about two blocks away from the Miami Hurricanes' BankUnited Center, where the Quakers will try not to set any more dubious NCAA scoring records Wednesday night.

As of midnight, Penn is a 20- or 21-point 'dog, and it's not hard to see why. The 'Canes were ranked for two weeks, then suffered their first loss (to Winthrop) and fell out of the Top 25, but they're still a darn good team on paper.

No way will Penn come out as flat as it did against Florida Gulf Coast, but the Quakers just don't seem to match up well in this game. Miami shoots the lights out from three-point land (nearly 44%), which has killed the Quakers all year. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior Jack McClintock has been particularly ridiculous in this department; he leads the ACC with 2.91 threes per game and a 54.2% clip from deep and has a 20-point scoring average. James Dews, a sophomore with a bit more size, is a distant second in the conference in three-point percentage (47.9) and scores nearly 12 per game.

According to Penn's game notes, Brennan Votel, Harrison Gaines and Michael Kach are doubtful again after missing the FGCU game, which means we'll see plenty of Aron Cohen (who'll start) and Andreas Schreiber, plus some more Kevin Egee, Conor Turley and possibly Cameron Lewis as well.

Check back here at 8 p.m. where I'll be blogging the game live. Afterwards, myself and fellow DP Sports Editors Krista Hutz and Sebastien Angel will all have stories on dailypennsylvanian.com breaking things down.

As promised, here are my personal Ivy Rankings, Edition 2. (Here's No. 1.) RPI is included this time as well, and starting in the next edition I'll include how each team's RPI moved in the previous week.

1. Cornell (6-4, Previous Ranking: 3, RPI: 118). The Big Red had the best-quality win of the week -- Stony Brook -- so the No. 1 spot is theirs by default.
2. Columbia (5-7, Previous Ranking: 4, RPI: 203). 46-point victories are in short supply around the Ivy League, even against an opponent like Polytechnic.
3. Brown (6-5, Previous Ranking: 1, RPI: 119). The Bears got blown out by Notre Dame, but the Irish are 10-2, so Brown only moves down two spots.
4. Harvard (4-11, Previous Ranking: 7, RPI: 301). Harvard is still losing, but by smaller and smaller margins. I'm predicting a win over Dartmouth on Saturday.
5. Princeton (2-10, Previous Ranking: 8, RPI: 291). Still not much for the Tigers to be proud of, but their nine-point loss to Monmouth this week pales in comparison to what the three teams below them did.
6. Yale (3-7, Previous Ranking: 6, RPI: 158). 35-point loss. (Kansas.)
7. Dartmouth (5-7, Previous Ranking: 5, RPI: 241). 35-point loss. (Siena.)
8. Penn (4-8, Previous Ranking: 2, RPI: 255). 30-point loss. (Florida Gulf Coast.) Pick the outlier in that group. Sorry, Quakers, but last place is a lock this week.

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.

+/- and thoughts from the Lafayette game

A couple thoughts after last night's game at Lafayette:

I am really starting to think that Harrison Gaines is the most important player on the Quakers. Grandieri might know the offense inside and out, but Gaines is the spark that gets everything going. Moreover, he practically cannot be subbed out -- at least not until Kevin Egee and Aron Cohen prove they can play defense and control the offense without turning it over. It seems that Gaines' play -- more than that of any other player -- is very closely correlated with the Quakers' success.

Last night, Lafayette tough perimeter defense and good interior help gave Gaines a lot of trouble. He wasn't able to pass the ball inside with ease and he wasn't able to use his quickness to get inside. He had an awful game -- got beat on defense a few times and made some very poor decisions on offense -- but experience is a good teacher.

Just look at Mike Kach. The senior had to face the same perimeter defense that Gaines did and is probably just a little more athletic. But he made the right decisions and was crafty enough to have a great game. He had to create his own shot all game, and when he wasn't able to, he found the open man and crashed the boards. A great all-around game from him.

Here are the +/- numbers from last night. Minutes played are in parentheses, and the season total is the last number:

Grandieri: -13 (35) -22

Kach: -3 (25) -31

Votel: 0 (3) -4

Eggleston: -8 (31) -10

Reilly: -4 (13) -7

Gaines: -6 (28) +22

Cohen: -3 (15) -31

Schreiber: -2 (6) +6

Bernardini: -4 (25) +6

Lewis: -4 (5) +3

Cofield: -6 (6) -10

Egee: -5 (8) -28

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.