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

Greatest Quakers of the Last 50 Years

Jack Scheuer over at Philahoops is choosing the five best players from each of the City 6 schools over the past 50 years as part of an ongoing feature, and now he's gotten to Penn. Here's what he came up with:

1. Corky Calhoun

2. Ron Haigler

3. Keven McDonald

4. Jerome Allen

5. Zack Rosen

Interesting to see Matt Maloney left off, and Quaker fans who only remember the last 20 years or so will also have a soft spot for Ugonna Onyekwe, Matt Langel and Mark Zoller. Those who can remember a little further back may consider Tony Price or even Stan Pawlak as well, not to mention Mr. Bilsky himself. Who are your top five Quakers of the past 50 years?

 

AD Bilsky comments on Ivy Hoops Tourney proposal

I just received a statement from Athletic Director Steve Bilsky on the possibility of an Ivy League tournament in men's basketball. The statement is a response to reports that Ancient Eight coaches are proposing a post-game tournament between the top four teams to determine the League's NCAA Tournament representative.

Two key takeaways: 1) To no surprise, Bilsky does not support an Ivy Tournament. 2) A major priority of his is to get football in the post-season. Here's the full release:

"Many coaches groups have submitted proposals for Ivy Tournaments and I'm sure the men's basketball one will receive the same consideration as has been done in the past.

 

"Over the years there has been wide-ranging discussion on the merits of a men's basketball tournament. There are many philosophical, as well as logistical, issues and challenges to consider. In my opinion, to date, the reasons not to have a tournament have been much more compelling than the reasons to sponsor one. When it comes to basketball competition, the double round-robin format to select the NCAA representative is one instance where I believe the Ivy League has it right.

 

"Nevertheless, our Ivy spring meetings are the proper forum to revisit this issue. Frankly, I would rather have the League place a greater priority on finding a way for our football programs to play in postseason competition."

2 Minutes with Ed Rendell

At the Butler game last week, I caught up with Penn alum, former PA governor, and avid sports fan Ed Rendell for an interview on Penn sports, the all-time Quaker greats, and what you should do when you've moved to Philly, and still have to root for a terrible home team. We published an abbreviated version of the interview in the paper. Here is the full transcript:

How many years have you been a fan of Penn athletics?

Well, since my freshman year in the fall of '61. I remember on December 22 - I think it was - I was supposed to go home for Christmas to New York and we were playing St. Joe's on a Friday night. It went to a triple overtime and I missed my train. And we won in triple overtime.

Do you have a list of your top five Quaker athletes?

Oh gosh. I think they'd be all basketball. And it would be that great '71 team - Dave Wohl, Steve Bilsky, Corky Calhoun and Bob Morse, and maybe I'd throw in Keven McDonald or Ron Haigler. The later years.

Where does Zack Rosen rank in there?

I'd say Zack is one of the top five guards to ever play for Penn. But Butler's doing a great job tonight. A great job.

You're a native New Yorker, right?

Yes.

How long did it take you to start rooting for Philadelphia teams?

 Well, it depends on the sport. I lasted longer on the football Giants. Didn't become an Eagles fan until the early seventies.

For a long suffering Redskins fans or Mets or Wizards fans, what do you say?

Some day it will turn around. [laughing] For the Redskins, hopefully not too soon.

Free tickets for Penn-Harvard next Friday

Ask any Penn basketball player about the highly anticipated Harvard game next Friday night and they'll tell you one thing: We're focused on Yale.

But with the Quakers on the Connecticut-Rhode Island road swing this weekend, Penn Athletics is gearing up for what may (depending on this weekend's results) be the biggest Ivy game Penn has played in some time at the Palestra. If all goes according to the Quakers' plan, the Cathedral will host the meeting of two Ivy-unbeatens, one of which has sat in the ESPN Top-25 for some time now. And we all remember the last time a ranked Ivy team showed up at the Palestra.

So after a successful bid to get students to come out to see Penn-Princeton last Monday, Penn Athletics is looking to once again pack the Palestra for the Crimson. This email was sent out this morning advertising free tickets to students:

This is a great idea — raise some money for a good cause, inspire a little class rivalry and school spirit & get students down to the Palestra for a massively important game. But it's hard not to be reminded of Athletic Director Steve Bilsky's comments in the DP earlier this week about the necessity for giving tickets a price:

DP: Have you thought about getting rid of the price for student basketball tickets?

A lot of people have asked us that. I happen to think … that having a price puts value on it and actually improves attendance, rather than hurts it.

Anecdotally, if you’re in your dorm and it’s February and it’s a miserable night and all you have to do is walk in for free, you might not go.

Obviously, this promotion is not quite the scenario that Bilsky paints in the quote above, but Penn is giving away free student tickets — if only for one game. The Athletic Department has been successful in recent weeks with promoting the basketball program. We'll see how this experiment works out on Friday the 10th. Until then, there are still two games to be played.

Penn-Princeton rivalry in one sentence

In anticipation of Monday's crucial matchup against Princeton, I asked Penn players and coaches, as well as Athletic Director Steve Bilsky, to sum up the Penn-Princeton rivalry in one (sometimes run-on) sentence.

How would you sum up the rivalry in one sentence?

More on DeRosa: Steve Bilsky’s take

Last week, DP Sports alum Ken Rosenthal tweeted that Penn football and Penn baseball alumni Mark DeRosa was very close to reaching a deal with the Washington Nationals. Today, the one-year deal was officially finalized.

At Penn, DeRosa played both football and baseball, but left Penn early when he was drafted in 1996. Earlier this fall, Athletic Director Steve Bilsky talked about DeRosa's early departure from Penn:

One of the biggest eggs on my faces I ever had was when Mark DeRosa, who was an outstanding quarterback here, and probably would have set all of Penn's QB records if he stayed … was drafted. He wasn't just listening to what I had to say, but my sense was, 'Stay at Penn, you're going to be the all-time leading quarterback, you're going to be a good baseball player, you still might have a chance in baseball. And you're certainly going to have opportunities career-wise that are going to be unbelievable. As compared to leaving, taking your chances, the longshot of making it … really a long-shot. Look at what you're giving up.' And I think he's playing in his 13th year of Major League Baseball.

Last season was DeRosa's 14th year, and now, he's guaranteed a 15th. Not too shabby.


Penn Park opening, an afternoon in pictures

Braving the cold and the rain, the Penn community went to the Penn Park opening this afternoon and compulsively shared pictures of it. Thanks to twitter, we can share them all with you:

First Penn President Amy Gutmann and Athletic Director Steve Bilsky shared a casual chat before the opening (Via @PennAthletics)

Gutmann

There was lots of rubber, from the pellets in the SprinTurf fields, to the balloons, to the raincoats. (Via @Pennathletics)

Balloons

Then Amy got down to business, picking up a shovel to help plant a tree with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Penn Chairman of the Board David Cohen and VP of Facilities and Real Estate Anne Papageorge. Without being there, I'm sure she said something about putting our roots down on the east end of campus. (Via @Terry_Gillen)

tree

Then Bilsky did a short bit with Penn Sports Network's Brian Seltzer. Lookin' spiffy, Seltz! (Via @PennAthletics)

Seltz

Then ALL OF PHILADELPHIA TURNED ORANGE. Except for Penn Park, of course, which remained vibrant and green. (Via @PennWebTeam)

orange

And then your average epic rainbow showed up. It was reportedly a full-on double rainbow all the way across the sky. What does it mean? (Via @PennWebTeam)

Rainbow

And then there were fireworks.

Fireworks

And then night settled over the City of Brotherly Love. (Via Penn Athletics facebook)

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Just your average night on the east end of campus.

Date set for NBA star-studded expo at Palestra

pg2_a_palestra_300 espnThe news that sounded almost too good to be true is now official — well, sort of. Rahim Thompson, founder of the Philly-based "The Chosen League," has been tweeting away all kinds of info about a Team Philly-Team Baltimore exhibition at Penn's own Palestra. According to Thompson's twitter handle, @RTchosenleague, the game will be held Sunday, September 25th at 6 p.m. Tickets will go on sale beginning next Tuesday and will be sold at the Palestra box office and online (though I'm not sure what that site would be). Tix in Section 100 will be sold for $50, while those in Section 200 will be sold for $35 (also no word on whether there will be any tickets reserved for Penn students, though that is an important thing Penn AD Steve Bilsky has been trying to accomplish).

And now, drumroll...the players, according to Thompson, who, by the look of his feed, is probably one of the event's planners:

Team Baltimore: Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies), Gary Neal (San Antonio Spurs), Eric Bledsoe (L.A. Clippers), Donte Greene (Sacramento Kings) and "more surprise guests" (fingers-crossed for Kevin Durant).

Team Philly: Hakim Warrick (Phoenix Suns), Lou Williams (Philadelphia 76ers), Kyle Lowry (Houston Rockets), John Salmons (Sacramento Kings), Jason Thompson (Sacramento Kings), Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns), Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets), Wayne Ellington (Minnesota T'Wolves), former NBA player Ronald "Flip" Murray, and Philly streetball legend of And1 Mixtape fame, "A.O."

Whew. This should be quite a game.

AD Bilsky: talks to bring NBA scrimmage to Palestra are ‘very advanced’

melo-hakim

Syracuse.com

At our annual sit-down meeting with Penn Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky, we discussed the possibility of the rumored Philly vs. Baltimore scrimmage happening at the Palestra. According to Bilsky, talks with the groups involved -- the Phoenix Suns' Hakim Warrick and the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, former teammates at Syracuse, first hatched the idea -- are in the "late-seventh, early-eighth inning."

Representatives of the NBA players and of Penn Athletics held a conference call this afternoon to continue to work out the details of the event, which reportedly would take place on September 25. "There are discussions every day," Bilsky said. "They want to do it, we want to do it. … I haven’t heard of any major stumbling blocks."

Bilsky explained that an agreement hasn't been reached — and cautioned that nothing is certain yet — because of the issues involved with an outside group using a Penn facility, including insurance, liability and security. Even the ongoing lockout is an issue, as both sides need to work out contingency plans should the owners and players' union come to an agreement before the Palestra game takes place. But Bilsky reiterated that the athletic department wants to make it happen and is "making it as easy as possible to happen."

"What we tell them is, 'you guys just need to show up. We’ll handle tickets, we’ll handle security, we’ll handle operations, we’ll do all of that stuff,'" he said. "We’re not charging a rental fee, which we normally do, because we want it to happen. … To make this happen, we’re eliminating all those things that could be deal breakers."

One of Penn's chief concerns is trying to ensure that tickets are available to students should the game take place. Bilsky said Penn representatives haven't "demanded anything" but have "made it clear what we want." Since there would be so much demand for tickets in an arena as small as the Palestra (capacity is listed at just under 9,000), the most likely scenario is that tickets are made available to season-ticket holders, including students who participated in The Line. That was the case back in December of 2002, when LeBron James' St. Vincent-St. Mary High School team played Maureece Rice and Strawberry Mansion at the Palestra.

Among the players rumored to be participating in the Philly vs. Baltimore game are Philly natives Warrick, Tyreke Evans, Jameer Nelson, Richard Hamilton, Kyle Lowry and John Salmons (plus the Sixers' Lou Williams) and Baltimore/Washington D.C. natives Anthony, Kevin Durant and Ty Lawson.

Stay tuned for more on this game -- and more from our sit-down with Bilsky -- as we learn more in the coming days/weeks. Believe me, we're crossing our fingers as much as you are...