Game 9: Villanova — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The Palestra hosted its first Big 5 matchup of the 2012-13 campaign, a foul-filled and turnover-laden affair between Penn and Villanova. Despite shooting just 4-for-17 from the field in the first half, the Quakers stayed in the game behind 24 free throw attempts, including a perfect 8-for-8 performance from Miles Cartwright, in the opening frame. But Penn could not keep pace with Villanova in the second, as its shooting woes continued and turnovers piled up. The Wildcats extended their lead to double digits and shutdown Penn's attempts to get back in the game, as Villanova went on to win, 68-55.

THE GOOD: Steve Rennard puts up 12 points.
After scoring some crucial buckets toward the end of last season, the shooting guard had all but disappeared from the stat sheet this winter, averaging just 3.5 points per game through eight games. But Rennard looked more like himself tonight, knocking down two treys late in the game to go along with six free throws. Perhaps even more important than him scoring was that he didn't stop shooting even after his first couple shots rolled out. Penn will need him to stay confident and keep firing in order to make the Quakers a legitimate threat from three-point range.

THE BAD: Dougherty disappears.
Villanova came ready to guard Fran Dougherty and succeeded in stifling the junior forward. The Ivy League's leading scorer at 17.1 points per game finished with a measly two points on 1-for-3 shooting. Even in a game with 52 personal fouls between the teams (yes, we'll get to that), Doc shot no free throws whatsoever. After his seven-point performance against Penn State and tonight, it's become clear that opposing squads know that shutting down Doc is a key to beating Penn. And it would seem they're right.

THE UGLY: Hack-a-thon at the Palestra.
Villanova and Penn tallied a combined 52 personal fouls on the night, leading to 71 free throws. That said, the whopping number of fouls cannot be entirely attributed to the players, since the referees seemed determined to call virtually every bump, and love tap, as a foul. For a game between two Philadelphia basketball squads, the matchup had none of the grittiness or toughness expected from a Big 5 contest, primarily because anything smacking of toughness at all was called a foul.

M. Hoops picks up fourth commitment

As the early signing period comes to a close, Penn picked up its fourth commitment in the Class of 2013 in Dylan Jones.

Jones, the son of former NFL defensive end Sean Jones, is a 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward from Houston. He committed to Pepperdine at the end of August, but shortly reopened his recruiting and announced his decision Tuesday afternoon on Twitter.

In his second recruiting period, he chose Penn over Tulsa, Sam Houston and Holy Cross. He also initially had offers from Columbia and Rice. ESPN wrote that one of his strengths is rebounding, which the Quakers will benefit from greatly. He needs to bulk up, however, and "extend his shooting range," according to ESPN. He is ranked No. 29 in the state.

Ivy editors make preseason predictions

Similar to the Ivy media preseason men's basketball poll, two editors from each Ivy League newspaper participated in our own preseason poll. Ours was nearly identical to the Ivy League's, with the exception of Columbia and Cornell being switched. Here's the full breakdown with votes:

1. Princeton (13), 123
2. Harvard (2), 108
3. Cornell, 79
4. Columbia, 77
5. Penn (1), 75
6. Yale, 51
7. Brown, 41
8. Dartmouth, 22

Allen hires Friends’ Central’s Polykoff as assistant

With Mike Martin departing for his alma mater in Providence, RI, coach Jerome Allen’s staff was left with a vacancy.
Allen may have a found a solution nearby.

Penn is set to hire Jason Polykoff, as an assistant for the Quakers program, according to a report by Philly.com.

The head coach at Friends’ Central School for the last five years, Polykoff was 113-28, won two Friends Schools League championships and earned four straight Pennsylvania Independent School Tournament titles during his tenure.

The 28-year old coach already has a close connection with Allen. He coached Allen’s son, Jerome, who was a sophomore forward for Friends' Central last year. Polykoff played guard at Friends’ Central and Haverford (Class of 2006) before becoming a math teacher and basketball coach at his former high school school.

Polykoff has coached a number of Division I athletes, the latest being Amile Jefferson, a 6-foot-7 forward who ultimately recruited by Duke and was ranked No. 25 in ESPN’s Class of 2012.

He’s baaaaack: Glen Miller a candidate for Brown head coach job

Glen Miller might be the smartest man to ever coach Ivy League basketball.

Word up the Northeast corridor is that Miller is a candidate for the head coach opening at Brown in the wake of Jesse Agel's firing. Miller was the most successful coach in Bears history, before he left to take Fran Dunphy's coveted position coaching at Penn in 2006. After devastating the Quakers' program in 3.5 short years, Miller was fired, and has since served as Basketball Operations coordinator and an assistant under Jim Calhoun.

GoLocalProv.com has more on the short list for the Brown job (which includes Penn assistant and stud Mike Martin).

So why is Miller the smartest coach in the history of the Ancient Eight? After running the Penn program into the ground during his tenure here, he destroyed the League's most successful program over the previous decade. It was all just a beautifully concocted mastermind plan to derail the competition and, when he returns to coach the Bears, bring an Ivy title to Providence.

Inception.

Penn basketball lands USC transfer

The LA Daily News' Scott Wolf reported Saturday that University of Southern California freshman Alexis Moore will transfer to Penn. The Daily Pennsylvanian has confirmed the report.

Moore is a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard from Long Beach, Calif. In his freshman campaign, he averaged 24.8 minutes, 4.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

Moore was supposed to be a backup point guard behind senior Jio Fontan, but got a significant amount of playing time when Fontan went down with a torn ACL in August.

The Trojans went 6-26 in the 2011-12 season, with a 1-17 record in the Pac-12, last in the conference.

The only team both the Quakers and Trojans played this season was UCLA. Penn fell to the Bruins, 77-73, on Dec. 10. USC lost both its games to UCLA, 66-47 and 55-40.

Zack Rosen Draft Watch: NBAdraft.net projects 59th pick

We're still more than two months away from the NBA draft, but after two days of competition at the Portsmouth Invitational, Zack Rosen is starting to get some attention.

The latest draft projection from NBAdraft.net has Rosen as the penultimate 59th pick in the draft, going to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rosen is the only Ivy League player to appear on the board, though for some reason, the website doesn't list his school.

The senior has also made up considerable ground on ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford's projections (Requires ESPN insider). He was listed 152nd on Ford's rankings just two weeks ago. Now he's up to 89th.

Rosen's team lost in the consolation bracket of the Portsmouth Invitational last night. The point guard went 3-for-5 with six points in 23 minutes. He also had two rebounds, two fouls, three assists and a turnover. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey was in Virginia this week and spoke with on NBA draft analyst about Rosen's chances:

"He's a guy that definitely helped himself," NBA draft analyst Jim Clibanoff said.

Clibanoff, however, doesn't think Rosen is talented enough to make an NBA roster through the draft.

"But he definitely is a gritty-enough player, who really competes, really has a good will about him to make his team better," said Clibanoff, who also is the president of ClibHoops, a scouting service used by NBA teams. "Of course, as the level of his teammates increases, will he have that same control over that team?"

After an early exit from Portsmouth, Rosen will hope he turned enough heads to get an invite to the NBA draft combine in Chicago next month.

Rosen has mixed-bag first night at Portsmouth Invitational

After watching Zack Rosen dominate the Ivy League this season, a casual glance at his statline from opening night at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament might turn a few heads:

24 Minutes, 4 points, 2-for-5 shooting, 0-for-2 from three, one offensive rebound, six assists, two turnovers, one steal, one block.

Only his six assists were on par with Rosen's season numbers, though he played about 14 minutes less than his season average. His team, K&D Rounds Landscaping fell to Cherry, Bekaert & Holland (featuring Greg Mangano and Keith Wright), 85-73. Rosen's team will play tonight in the consolation bracket. Those who were down in Virginia for the tournament had mixed reactions to his night.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey, who mostly covers Temple hoops, tweeted about Rosen's performance:

While Pompey found a couple issues with Rosen's game, he is at least familiar with Rosen's abilities. Ryan Mattocks of NBAdraft.net, has seen less of Rosen this year, and had a lot of praise for Penn's point guard, and hinted that Rosen could fit into an NBA roster:

6’1” Zack Rosen (Penn) is the absolute epitome of a coach on the floor. The Ivy League Player of the Year dominated Jordan Taylor in the first half of their matchup tonight – causing him to go 0-6 from the floor and turn the ball over three times. Aside from his swarming defensive presence, Rosen found guys in transition with user-friendly passes either off the bounce or of the lob variety. His understanding of the nuances of the game cannot be understated – and coupled with his competitiveness may lead to a spot on an NBA roster. Lefty showed a step-back jumper from 17’. Shot is a tad flat from deep. Great facilitator in the half-court and not afraid to head-hunt screens. Could be a huge thorn in the side vs. opposing PGs in the league in doses. Questions will be his ballhandling/shooting. Can he play at 2 speeds since he’s not an outstanding athlete?

Zack Rosen begins play at Portsmouth Invitational

Today Zack Rosen will take the next step on his journey to go pro, playing at the four-day Portsmouth Invitational Tournament — a showcase for college basketball's best seniors. Rosen hopes his play at the PIT will earn him an invite to the NBA draft combine in Chicago next month.

The Quakers' star point guard is one of 64 seniors invited to Portsmouth. Some familiar names on the list include Yale's Greg Mangano, Harvard's Keith Wright, Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs — a close friend of Rosens's, and Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore out of Temple.

When I spoke to Rosen a few weeks ago about his post-Penn aspirations, he said he was looking forward to playing with the heightened, non-Ivy League competition.

"Let’s see what happens when there’s not as much attention on me," he said.

Rosen will play on the "K&D Rounds Landscaping" team. Rosters are available here. Note that Mangano and Wright will be playing together at the tournament, and will face Rosen's team in the first round at 7 p.m. tomorrow.

While an invite to the PIT is an honor for the recently crowned Big 5 player of the year, it is by no means a golden ticket. According to the tournament's website, five of 64 participants last year are currently on NBA rosters. Jeremy Lin, who went to Portsmouth in 2010, was not drafted but found his way to the Golden State Warriors.

I went through Portsmouth's data, which goes back 10 years, to see how many players regularly make it to the big leagues:

As you can see, the past two years have seen a decrease in Portsmouth participants who made it to the NBA. On average over the 10 year period, 10 players have made the jump each year, about 16% overall.

Rosen knows what he has to overcome to reach the promised land.

As he put Portsmouth: "Destroy it — that’s my plan. Play my game, do what I do, and from there see what happens."

More on Zack Rosen’s NBA prospects

Believe it or not, there was a lot that didn't make it into my long read in today's DP about Zack Rosen's professional basketball aspirations, so I thought I'd share a little more here.

Rosen sat down two weekends ago and heard pitches from about a half-dozen agencies that are seeking to represent him. It's a difficult process because different agents bring different qualities and skill sets to the table, and since Rosen doesn't know where he'll end up, it's kind of a gamble no matter what he does.

It’s not an easy process because it’s like — do you want to go with a bigger agency that represents all these NBA guys and you’ll be one of them, but are they going to do everything they can for you? are they going to make you feel special? Are you always going to have access to them? Or do you want to go with someone who’s up and coming.

Do you go with someone who has more pull with NBA people but doesn’t know much about Europe — there’s so many factors. It’s exciting.

To aid him in this process Rosen has a core group that he's leaning on for advice when he needs it, "my circle," he called it. That includes his parents, Penn coaches Jerome Allen and Dan Leibovitz, and his St. Benedict's high school coach Dan Hurley, who just left Wagner to take a coaching position at Rhode Island. I asked Rosen what they've been telling him:

Listen to what they have to say and then sit down and evaluate what you want. That stuff’s foreign to me, I don’t know about it. Jerome knows tons about it because he played for so long, and coach Hurley knows so much about it because of Bobby [Hurley, his brother] and what they went through with that. [Bobby was a first round NBA pick in 1993 out of Duke].

He also has several friends who played professionally in Israel who he is talking with about that process. One frequent question that comes up in discussions about becoming an Israeli citizen is whether Rosen would have to do the mandatory service in the country's army. He wasn't sure of the answer.

Finally, just for fun I asked Rosen where he thought he'd be in 20 years. I have no clue what my answer would be to this question, but Zack had a pretty clear idea. It goes without saying that it involves basketball:

Married happily with kids. I’ll never get away from basketball. … There’s nothing that I’ve found in life yet that I’m more passionate about. If you’re that passionate about something, you’re gonna do it. If it came down to going out or sitting in my room and watching some lower level D-I game that had a good coach and I was watching strategy, I love that.

I don’t know if college coaching is for me. Just because the hours are ridiculous. People don’t realize what those guys go through, on the road. That would have to be the right fit for me to do it. But I really could see myself coaching high school. [Butler senior Ronald] Nored doesn’t even want to play, he’s going to be the head coach at Gordon Heyward’s old high school starting next year, he already signed. He’s excited about being a high school coach.

The way coach Hurley and the people at St. Benedicts and my high school coach at Colonia, the way they influenced me changed my life, if I could have that positive influence on kids 14-18 years old and change the trajectory of where they’re going to go, to me there’s nothing more satisfying.

Where else are you going to have that kind of impact on people directly. In business? I don’t know how. There might be. I just don’t see that yet. And I’m not as passionate in that area. If I can touch people’s live through coaching, teaching, that would be awesome.

The farther I take it playing, the more opportunities I’ll have. The more people you meet, the more you learn.