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.

Continue reading

Penn basketball alumni attendees announced

Penn men's basketball will hold its annual alumni game tomorrow from 4-5 p.m., before the Quakers take on Cornell at 7. More than 65 alums are slated to appear for the alumni event as a whole, and they'll also be honored throughout the game Saturday night. Recent stars such as Rob Belcore (W' 12) and Mark Zoller (C' 07) will be attendance in addition to older standouts like Keven McDonald (C' 78) and Tony Price (C' 79).

 

Rob Belcore may or may not play in Italy

Last week I reported that Penn senior Rob Belcore had received an offer from Italian pro league team Angelico Biella. The first offer came in, it wasn’t what Belcore was looking for, so negotiations continued. Last Thursday morning, Belcore was notified that negotiations had stalled so Angelico Biella could focus on the weekend's game. He was told they would continue beginning Monday.

Stay with me, because it gets complicated.

Last Friday (March 23), an Italian hoops website reported that 21-year-old Greek player Leonidas Kaselakis had been practicing with the team. All signs pointed toward Kaselakis signing with Biella, as the following day the same site reported that Belcore was not offered and Angelico Biella was not interested.

Yesterday, Kaselakis was sent home to Greece. Giovanni Barga of Eurobasket.com reports that Angelico Biella will "probably get to the end of the season without adding players to its roster," but will continue monitoring the market. In the mean time, Belcore is back in talks with the team after thinking he would not be going to Italy this spring.

Biella certainly knows how to create drama. My sense is that the team has one roster spot available and wants to make the best decision possible. But with five weeks remaining in the season, one might think Angelico Biella would like to sign someone and have an extra body on the court. But again, for Belcore, it's a waiting game.

UPDATE: Rob Belcore received offer from Italian pro team

Thursday morning around 12:15 am (6:15 am in Italy), Italian Serie A team Angelico Biella offered Belcore a first offer for the remainder of the team's season. Belcore, who holds an Italian passport, would be eligible to begin playing in Italy immediately. While the contract is currently being negotiated, it would be prorated based on the 6-7 weeks remaining in Angelico Biella's season.

If Belcore were to accept the offer, he would forego the remainder of his final semester at Penn. He would return to Philadelphia after the season to take summer classes and graduate, then potentially return to Italy in the fall.

UPDATE: Contract negotiations have been stalled until Monday, as Angelico Biella is preparing for its game Saturday.

Stay tuned for more details as they come.

Zack Rosen unanimously selected Ivy League Player of the Year

Justin Cohen / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Today, the Ivy League announced Penn senior guard Zack Rosen was voted Ivy League Player of the Year by the Ancient Eight coaches. Rosen becomes the first Penn player to be named to the honor since Ibrahim Jaaber won the award in the 2006-07 season.

Rosen is the 13th player in Penn history to earn the award, with the 13 men combining for 16 POYs, the most of any program in the Ancient Eight. Michael Jordan (1999-00), Ugonna Onyekwe (2001-02, 2002-03), Tim Begley (2004-05), and Jaaber (2005-06, 2006-07) are other Quakers who have won the award since 2000.

This season, Rosen led the Ivy League in scoring (18.5 points per game), three-point field goal percentage (40.7 percent), and minutes played (38.1 minutes per game). The senior guard also finished in the Top 10 in six other categories: assists (3rd, 5.2 per game), free throw percentage (3rd, 89.2 percent), three-pointers made (2.3 per game), assist-to-turnover ratio (5th, 1.8), steals (6th, 1.4 per game), and field goal percentage (9th, 45.7 percent).

Rosen was one of two players unanimously selected to the All-Ivy First Team, along with Princeton junior Ian Hummer. Others to receive the honor include Columbia's Brian Barbour, Cornell's Chris Wroblewski, Harvard's Kyle Casey, and Yale's Greg Mangano. Senior teammate Rob Belcore was the only other Penn player to earn All-Ivy honors, being named an honorable mention.

Rosen finishes his career at Penn as the Quakers' all-time leader in both assists and minutes, and third all-time in scoring, with 1,686 points.

Senior night stats revisited

I did a little analysis yesterday of past seniors' performances on their final night playing at the Palestra and concluded that they generally don't get the psychological bump in performance many expect from the special occasion. I also posited that this year's seniors had more to play for than just a final home game — they were playing to keep their season alive. And they did.

So there may be a couple variables at play here, and correlation doesn't equal causation (Hey, Mom, I learned something in Psych 001!) but lets look at how seniors Zack Rosen, Rob Belcore, Tyler Bernardini and Mike Howlett played last night, compared to their season averages.

Zack Rosen: Had an all around great night, and as you can see did better than the typical Rosen performance (if that's what you can call it). What's amazing here is that he did this in only 30 minutes — eight below his season average.

Rob Belcore: In my opinion, Belcore was the player of the game for how he handled the tough assignment of Yale big man Greg Mangano. Belcore, listed as four inches shorter than the 6-foot-10 Mangano, actually requested the defensive assignment earlier this week, and after the game coach Jerome Allen called it "probably the most impressive performance I’ve seen in this league the way [Belcore] made Mangano work for everything he got." Belcore held the center to ten points, eight points below his season average. The point of all that praise, is that it won't necessarily show up the following graph; nonetheless Belcore still outdid himself:

Tyler Bernardini: The fifth-year senior has struggled the last three weeks dealing with a foot injury, though this weekend he was noticeably more mobile than the last two, and played his most minutes (28) since the Dartmouth game three weeks ago. While his numbers were below average, he continues to play stellar defense:

Mike Howlett: There's not a large sample size for Howlett, who averages about 10 minutes per game, but he too had a good night by his standards:

Photo Slideshow: Penn vs. Brown

Gallery

This gallery contains 14 photos.

Friday night I had the pleasure of sitting on the baseline photographing Penn's game versus Brown. I had been itching to get behind the camera, and it was a fun change of pace. And no one stepped on me, so … Continue reading

Midseason Report: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

With 16 games down and 15 to go (and hopefully more), the DP Sports staff has compiled a collective Good, Bad & Ugly for the season thus far. Penn (7-9, 0-3 Big 5) got off to a quick 3-1 start, but since then the Quakers have dropped eight of 12. The Red and Blue are 4-5 at the Palestra and 3-4 on the road. They begin their quest for their first Ivy Title since 2007 tonight against Columbia.

THE GOOD

Zack Rosen becomes program’s all-time assists leader
With his 506th career assist in a 78-73 win over Lafayette, Rosen passed his coach Jerome Allen as Penn’s career leader.

Zack Rosen named a finalist for 2012 Bob Cousy Award
The senior guard is the last Ivy League and Big 5 guard in contention. The current field of 20 players will be narrowed to 10 in February and five in March. The award winner will be announced on April 2nd as part of the Final Four in New Orleans.

Tyler Bernardini’s back-to-back monster games
The fifth-year senior notched a career-high 29 points in his home state of California against UCLA, and in Penn’s next game he topped that with 30 points against Marist. On both nights, Bernardini was 8-for-12 from beyond the arc.

Continue reading

Eggleston’s take: Unsung hero

I had barely made it out of post-game press conferences by the time Jack Eggleston had sent us his thoughts on the game. His player of the game? Rob Belcore.

After the UCLA game, much of the reaction will focus on how a scrappy Penn team led by Tyler Bernardini's impressive outing almost pulled out the win despite Zack Rosen's off night. To me, the story of the game was the confidence Rob Belcore displayed on the offensive end. What he displayed against the Bruins should give Quakers fans a reason to be optimistic about the rest of the season.

Before Rob came to campus in his pre-freshman summer, I happened to watch a DVD of Belcore scoring thirty-seven points in a high school game (most of which came against Danny Monckton's little brother, Trent). Don't ask me how or why this happened but it did. Belcore scored in about every way possible: deep threes, midrange pull ups, and even some post ups. Truly, he put on a show. Every preseason, it would seem like Rob could never miss as the Loyola Academy version of himself would appear on the Palestra and Weightman floors.

But at some point in each season, Rob would pigeonhole himself into that familiar role of glue guy. Make no mistake, he always made tremendous contributions with his defense, hustle, and intelligence, but another dimension sat beneath the surface. Against UCLA Penn fans got a glimpse of what Rob has had in his game all along. The difference was confidence. When he's playing like he can, Belcore picks his spots and never hesitates.

This development could give a much-needed offensive spark to the front court. What we have seen so far and I imagine we will see for the rest of the year is a big man by committee system. Within the Brooks, Dougherty, Gunter, Howlett quartet nobody has truly emerged to cement their role in the rotation. I believe that their minutes will fluctuate based on practice and game performance.

Lastly, I don't mean to downplay what a stellar night Tyler Bernardini had. The problem is I've probably been in the gym more with him than anybody else I know, so the revelation that he can shoot the eyes out of the ball is not much a revelation to me. It was only a matter of time before a night like this happened. And to anybody worried about consecutive un-Rosen like nights from Rosen you can stop worrying. UCLA was game number eleven in a month and the captain has played just about every minute. Once he gets through finals and gets some rest he'll be back to his spectacular self, I promise.

Rob Belcore, a modern-day Plato, err… Aristotle

Rob Belcore has not only become Penn's energizer bunny on the court, he's also become a quote machine off it. He's a sound bite waiting to happen, and the forward gave us some golden material on roommate of four years Zack Rosen after the win over Delaware on Wednesday night.

Asked what it's like to have Zack as a teammate, Belcore responded:

"It’s more fun to have him as a roommate… Zack, he’s like no one I’ve ever met, honestly. Every day in everything he does. In his locker if you go in there, he’s got a Plato quote. I don’t know it off-hand, if you guys want to look it up but it’s 'do excellence every day'…"

"Aristotle," a smiling Jerome Allen corrected.

"Aristotle," Belcore continued. "I was close. But that’s what Zack does. You wanna know Zack Rosen? Follow him through the course of a day. Look at what he does in the morning, gets up and makes his bed every day, gets to every single class. In everything he does, he pursues excellence. It’s something that, as someone who is nowhere near as excellent as him, I really admire. And don’t put that in the paper ’cause I don’t want him to know that."

We'll settle for putting it online because it needs to be read. This is the best example yet to demonstrate not only the special player but the special person that captains Penn basketball. FYI, the real quote reads: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Explains how Rosen has achieved shooting excellence this season, but I still like Belcore's version better.

-------------------------

For those craving a "Good, Bad, Ugly" post, here's a quick version:

Good: Steve Rennard coming through when his number was called, the ultimate sign of a good team (check out Kevin's insightful sidebar for more); the 17-2 run that broke the game open early in the second half; Rosen turning an off shooting night into 29 points; Penn's defense on Devon Saddler, who entered as the nation's second-leading scorer (24.7 ppg) and exited with six points on 2-for-8. Lots of good.

Bad: Allowing 11 offensive rebounds; shooting just 37 percent from the field; allowing UD to climb back in it with a late 8-0 run.

Ugly: Shooting 2-for-12 from three in the first half; getting a combined five points on 3-for-9 shooting from the 5-spot.