Palestra a potential site for AAC conference tourney

It appears that the old Big East's loss could be the Palestra's gain.

Sources close to the American Athletic Conference recently reported that the Palestra is one of the potential sites for the new conference's basketball tournaments moving forward.

The conference hit the hardest by realignment was, without question, the Big East. One of the premiere basketball leagues in the nation, the Big East was hampered when schools like Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville decided to make the move to the ACC.

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Penn v. Harvard postgame presser

After Penn's 75-72 victory over Harvard Saturday night, coach Jerome Allen spoke about the sense of desperation and urgency he saw in his team. Top scorers Tony Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry talk about their performances and what it meant to play in a big-game atmosphere in a packed and energized Palestra.

Postgame presser: Jerome Allen and Paul Cormier

We spoke to head coaches Jerome Allen and Paul Cormier after Penn's 69-64 loss against Dartmouth. While a disappointed Allen said very little, Cormier was proud of his young team who pulled through at the end for the victory. On Tony Hicks, who scored 23 points tonight, Cormier said, “He’s someone we’re going to have to reckon with for the next three years, and quite frankly, I’m not looking forward to it.”

A hip-hop video at the Palestra and Franklin Field?

It's not every day that you see a hip-hop music video shot at the Palestra and Franklin Field, but that's where much of the video for OCD: Moosh & Twist's "This High" was filmed.

Moosh & Twist are both Philly natives whose video for the song "City Kids" has gotten nearly 1.5 million YouTube views who recently performed at the Roots Picnic alongside Wiz Khalifa and Nas.

An empty Frank has never sounded so fly.

 

 

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.

 

 

Haiku Corner

In the Palestra                                                                                                                                  I find myself blistering                                                                                                                 under Jerome's stare

Thick as a foxtail                                                                                                                       bristling with promise, Scott                                                                                                     Hartnell's lockout beard

The Cooperstown votes                                                                                                           return, and in his study                                                                                                                    Pete Rose chuckles, once.

The Palestra or Hinkle Fieldhouse?

The Palestra and Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse are two of the oldest college basketball arenas in the country and thus have often been compared to one another. The Palestra (opened in 1927) has hosted more college games than any other venue in the country, and Hinkle (opened in 1928) served as the largest arena until 1950, holding 15,000. (It now seats 10,000.)

In today's Daily Pennsylvanian, I compared the experiences of watching a game in both places after witnessing the Bulldogs beat the Quakers in Indianapolis on Jan. 2 (see column). Here, I'll give you a side-by-side visual comparison:

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View from the nosebleeds, or the furthest seats from the action in each arena:

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Over/Under – Wagner Edition

OverUnderOur second Over/Under focuses on Penn's battle with Wagner. Who's over and who's under?

15 bench points for Penn – Over
Penn has had fewer that 15 points from its bench just three times this season. But Penn's 83-60 loss at Delaware marked the lowest total of the season with just nine. This was due to the fact that Penn lacked three starters and dressed just seven players. The key to bench contribution will be based on how many players are back in uniform. If all three of the suspended starters return, Jamal Lewis, Dau Jok, and Camryn Crocker can move back to the bench where they provide a combined 10.3 points per game. Freshman Tony Hicks, averaging another 5.1 points per contest, would be an important addition to the bench should he be allowed to return. Even if all the suspended players plus the injured Simeon Esprit are again unable to play, Penn needs more of a contribution from the reserves in order to compete and improve upon its average of 62.2 points per game, good for 285th nationally.

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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.

Game 1: UMBC — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

In its season opener at the Palestra against UMBC, Penn entered the game burdened by a long series of question marks: What would this squad look like Zack-Rosen-less? Could this young squad hold its own, despite only returning 43 percent of last year's minutes? Can the team beat the Retrievers for a fourth consecutive year? The Quakers answered by orchestrating an inspired second half comeback and securing their first victory of the year, 80-75.

THE GOOD: Comeback from being down 22 points.
With 5:08 remaining in the first half, the Quakers stared down a 22-point deficit, 42-20, primarily as the result of a 15-0 run by the Retrievers and five Penn turnovers over a four-minute span. However, the Red and Blue turned around and outscored UMBC 14-6 to end the first half, and they continued the onslaught in the second behind a stellar 15-point performance from Miles Cartwright. Most importantly, Penn did not panic when it got down early and made all the necessary adjustments with enough time to take back the game, which demonstrated wisdom beyond this young team's years.

THE BAD: Fifteen first half turnovers.
This does not come as a shocking surprise, since it’s characteristic of an inexperienced squad to try to do too much in its opening game of the season. The Quakers protected the ball much better in the second half, giving up the ball just six times, but there are still some lingering questions about who will handle the ball in the backcourt, after Tony Hicks and Camryn Crocker both accounted for three turnovers. Penn had better control Cartwright bringing up the ball, so the Red and Blue may look to him to play some point guard this season. However, the worst offender in turnovers was Fran Dougherty, which brings us to “The Ugly.”

THE UGLY: Fran Dougherty trying to catch the ball.
Dougherty turned the ball over a team-high four times, all of which are exemplified by one play from this game: Penn is inbounding the ball from the baseline and a pass goes out to Dougherty, near the three-point line. Since Doc isn’t much of a threat from that range, he is wide open. However, when the ball approaches Dougherty, he acts like he’s never seen a basketball before (i.e. pretty confused), and the ball slips through his hands out of bounds. Though Doc scored some crucial points against UMBC, the Quakers will need him to, well, catch the ball this season.