Q&A: Robert Morris coach and former Penn basketball player Andy Toole

I asked current Robert Morris men’s basketball coach and former Penn basketball player Andy Toole (C’ 03) Thursday about his relationship with fired Rutgers coach Mike Rice, under whom he served as an assistant coach from 2007-10 at RMU while Rice was head coach. Toole declined comment twice on the scandal two days after Robert Morris athletic director Craig Coleman absolved Toole of any suspicious behavior while announcing the findings of an internal investigation into Rice’s practices there from 2007 to 2010.

But Toole did have a lot to say about the state of Robert Morris’s program following a memorable first-round NIT home win over Kentucky last month and why he never wants to go up against Penn again.

Daily Pennsylvanian: There was obviously a lot of talk about you going to Siena — now that you’re back at RMU, where do you see this program headed in the next couple of years?

Andy Toole: I’m very excited about the direction of this program. I think we have a quality group that’s coming back, so I think what we’ve done here in the last six years and try and continue to just push the envelope in terms of our recognition as a program.

DP  What did it mean for your program to get that much-publicized win over Kentucky in the NIT?

AT: It was extremely exciting … For [the players] to get some of the recognition that they’ve gotten is terrific. Any time you can get that much national exposure, it helps in recruiting, it helps in notoriety and helps increase the brand of Robert Morris University basketball. That helps exponentially.

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Recruit Roundup: Greg Dotson’s all-important ACT exam

Jeff McDevitt from over at City of Basketball Love reported yesterday that Greg Dotson of Germantown Academy told him he wants to play at Penn next year. But Dotson still needs to qualify academically. McDevitt says Dotson told him he needs to get a 24 on his ACT exam which will take this Saturday to qualify, and his current score is 22.

In a December interview with PhilaHoopsHigh, Dotson said he had offers from Delaware, Canisius, Dartmouth, Lafayette and Sacred Heart.

But a February Philly.com article focusing on Dotson's resilience in response to a left hip injury mentioned that Penn, Brown, Lafayette and Canisius were all recruiting Dotson "with passion."

The 6-foot-5 Dotson is known for his strong defense and solid wing play, averaging 16.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in his senior 2012-13 campaign.

 

Turn Back the Clock: April 3, 2001

Penn basketball coach Fran Dunphy removes his name from consideration for the La Salle head coaching job, choosing to return for his 13th season at the Palestra.

All signs pointed toward the legendary coach leaving, but what seemed like a perfect match turned out not to be.

Long-time La Salle head coach William "Speedy" Morris was forced to resign following eight consecutive losing seasons, and Dunphy was one of the primary targets.

Dunphy quickly became a popular pick to fill the Explorers' coaching vacancy due to his connections to La Salle. He graduated from the school in 1970 and served as an assistant first under Lefty Ervin and later under Morris.

Speculation that Dunphy would take the job increased as the Penn coach met with the athletic directors at La Salle on three occasions regarding the head coaching job. However, Dunphy announced on this day that he is removing his name from consideration for the vacant post in order to remain at Penn.

After turning down the job, Dunphy would remain at Penn until 2006, when he left to coach at Temple. He became the first coach ever to lead two different Big 5 programs. He was approached one more time by La Salle in 2004 to be their head coach, but he turned it down again.

The Roundtable: What Harvard’s NCAA win means for the Ivy League

Courtesy of espn.go.comSophomore All-Ivy first-team guard Wesley Saunders led the conference in scoring at 16.5 points per game.

Courtesy of espn.go.com
Sophomore All-Ivy first-team guard Wesley Saunders led the conference in scoring at 16.5 points per game.

Update: Coach Jerome Allen declined comment on Harvard's NCAA upset through Athletic Communications Director Mike Mahoney Monday.

In this edition of The Roundtable, six of our editors past and present ask what Harvard's win means for the Ancient Eight heading into the 2013-14 season, plain and simple:

Former Sports Editor Mike Wisniewski: Harvard's win is obviously good for the league. Why wouldn't it be? It's not like they ran away with the title -- the competition across the board was incredible this year, even though it was pretty certain Harvard or Princeton would end up winning it. It's a shame -- for the league, that is -- that the Crimson couldn't put in a more respectable performance against Arizona, but knocking off New Mexico was impressive enough. That would have been the upset of the tournament had Florida Gulf Coast not stolen their thunder.

Associate Sports Editor Steven Tydings: It is beneficial to the Ivy League in the sense of money since the league will get money from the victory. But it also hurts Penn in terms of image. You have a program that just six years ago was the class of the conference and getting the better players like Ibby Jaaber, Mark Zoller, Zack Rosen, etc., but is now 9-22, and hasn't won a title in six years. Now Harvard appears to be light years ahead, as they not only win a tournament game but also have a strong recruiting class and two players (likely cheaters) returning to make next year's team the favorite to run away with the conference, making it likely that Miller's final recruiting class with Cartwright/Dougherty will go without a title and leave coach Allen with little to nothing on his resume and a team full of just his players in 2014-15, for better or worse. Continue reading

Game 31: Princeton – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (M. Hoops)

Good Bad & Ugly

 

 

 

 

 

Penn (9-22, 6-8 Ivy) closed out its season tonight with a loss to arch-rival Princeton (17-11, 10-4), 71-58, in a game that mattered little in the standings but plenty to the young men on the floor. In a performance evocative of its entire season, the Quakers hung around at first, before inconsistency took its toll and led to yet another disappointing defeat.

The Good: Tony Hicks (1st Half Edition)

In his final game of the season, the freshman came out like gangbusters, draining shots from all over the floor. Whether it was cutting and spinning to get to the basket, or pump-faking and firing away from the elbow, Hicks simply couldn't miss, dropping in 17 points on 7-9 shooting to energize the Palestra and carry the Quakers to a halftime tie while his struggling teammates combined to shoot 5-15. Even better, Hicks managed to take care of the ball as well, turning the ball over only once in the first period. If Hicks can turn in performances like that on a nightly basis next season, Penn will boast a backcourt that can potentially stand up to even mighty Harvard.

The Bad: Tony Hicks (2nd Half Edition)

But in the 2nd half, the wheels came off. The Tigers' guards tightened up on Hicks the rest of the way, limiting him to only 5 points on an unsightly 2-10 shooting performance. In the blink of a eye, Hicks reminded us all of the inconsistency that plagued this year's Quakers squad during Ivy play: flashes of brilliance at times (a stunning upset over Harvard) cancelled out by moments of sheer futility (losing to Dartmouth at home). Like the rest of his class, Hicks still has a lot to learn.

The Ugly: Penn's Mental Effort in the final 5 minutes

Though there was technically nothing to play for in tonight's game, the reality is that a huge amount of pride is riding on every Penn-Princeton matchup. And in this, the 228th meeting between the two historic rivals, the Quakers showed none of that pride when the chips were down. Down by 2 with just over 5 minutes to play, the early fight that the Red and Blue showed simply disappeared when T.J. Bray hit a 3 from the right elbow to give Princeton a 56-51 lead. As a result, what could have been a nail-biting finish and another classic duel turned decidedly anticlimactic, as the Tigers rolled the rest of the way. If the Quakers want to contend in the Ivy League next year, they simply have to avoid fading after the opposition hits clutch shots.

Liveblog: Penn v. Princeton

Follow along as the Quakers wrap up their season against the archrival Princeton Tigers at the Palestra.

This Week on 33rd Street: March 12

I sit down with former Sports Editor Mike Wisniewski to discuss how Penn basketball fared over spring break and whether the Quakers can finish off 2012-13 with a win against archrival Princeton tonight.

Liveblog: Penn at Yale

We're live in New Haven as the Penn Quakers take on the Yale Bulldogs, who are fresh off an upset of the then-top ranked Princeton Tigers.

Scouting Report: Yale

Oh, you again? Last month, Penn played a hard-fought game with the Elis but lost, 68-59. Yale took a 10 point lead late in the second half before a 9-0 run engineered by freshman Tony Hicks brought the Quakers within one point. But the run was not enough as the Bulldogs pulled away behind a clutch three from senior guard Austin Morgan and took the game by nine.

What have you been up to? Yale is coming off its biggest win of the season, as the Bulldogs upset then first-place Princeton yesterday, 71-66. The win completes the season sweep for Yale over the Tigers since the Elis also defeated Princeton the day after their first matchup with Penn. In the three weekends after the sweep of Princeton and Penn, Yale has split its six games, with wins against Columbia, Cornell and Dartmouth. After losing at Columbia last weekend, the Elis took advantage of a shorthanded Cornell squad and won 79-70 in Ithaca.

Leading the way: Yale’s signature this season has been a truly balanced lineup, with 10 players averaging at least 4.5 points per game, and 12 players getting over 13 minutes of court time per contest. In the Elis' last three games, Morgan has led the way, putting up double figures in each contest. Sophomore Matt Townsend has played well in the post for the Bulldogs, averaging 13 points per game in Yale’s last four Ivy matchups. But one Yale forward has been cold in recent games, and that is freshman Justin Sears. Sears had 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench in the Bulldogs’ first game against Penn, but he has scored just a combined eight points in Yale’s last three games.

SIZING IT UP

Scoring: YALE- Both teams struggled at times offensively in the first matchup at the Palestra, but Yale has proven to be the more consistent offensive team this year. The Bulldogs are second in scoring offense in the Ancient Eight and have put up at least 70 points in four of their last six games. They have surpassed 70 points in 11 games this season, compared to just four times by the Quakers.

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Three Up, Three Down: Yale Edition

Three Up Three DownComing off back-to-back wins against Harvard last Saturday and at Brown last night, the Quakers go for their third consecutive conference victory tonight when they visit Yale. Who's up and who's down as we head into Yale?

Three Up-

Tony Hicks: The freshman guard has been outstanding of late, capturing two consecutive Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards. Hicks averaged 23.8 points per game in the four contests leading up to last night's matchup against Brown. While the Bears were able to limit Hicks to only five points, on 1-for-9 shooting no less, expect Hicks to bounce back nicely tonight against the Bulldogs. The freshman scored 11 points in the first meeting between Penn and Yale on Feb. 8. If Hicks wants to pick up his masterful play against the Ivy League, he will need to limit his turnovers and look for opportunities to get easy points at the free throw line.

Upsets: While the Ivy season developed as most expected it to in January and February, the madness of March has hit the Ancient Eight. On back-to-back weekends, the two teams leading the pack, Harvard and Princeton, were upset by Penn and Yale, respectively. Though the Quakers and Bulldogs have both been eliminated from contention for the Ivy League crown, both have stepped up lately to salvage big wins for their programs and play spoiler. Even though tonight's game may seem like a routine conference matchup, if the past few weeks have taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected.

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