Has Yale already ended the Quakers’ volleyball season?

Last weekend, the Penn volleyball team beat Princeton. Now what?

The Quakers are tied with Harvard for third place in the Ivy League Standings, one game behind Princeton and three games behind undefeated defending champion Yale. Now beginning its second pass through the Ivy gauntlet, Penn not only must win but has to do what all teams hate doing: Hope its opponents will lose.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be a very realistic proposal. Not only has Yale yet to lose a single game to an Ivy opponent, they have only lost two sets in the Ivy season — one to Brown and one to Dartmouth, the two teams tied for last place in the Ivy League rankings. The Bulldogs are opportunistic and excel against competitive teams that have given them problems in the past, like Princeton. Their offense thrives, even against strong defensive back rows like Penn, and is ranked third in the nation in both kills and assists per set.

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Weekend Wrap: Volleyball shocks Princeton on the road and more

We all know you've had ample football coverage this weekend, but what about the members of the Red and Blue playing at venues other than the Yale Bowl? For recaps of Penn's other squads, look no further than this week's edition of "Weekend Wrap."

The volleyball team began the second half of its conference schedule with a dramatic victory over Princeton on the road, battling back from two sets down to win, 3-2. While Penn (10-9, 5-3 Ivy) will need the Tigers and the Bulldogs to lose some matches to give it a chance at an Ivy title, this weekend’s performance could be a major turning point for this relatively young squad.

Men's Soccer
Playing on the road, the Quakers’ struggles continued, and the team lost to a lackluster Yale squad, 2-1. Without an Ivy win to its name, this Red and Blue team is hard pressed to find a silver lining to this season’s performance. That said, Penn (2-11, 0-4) could make some noise in the Ivy League by upsetting first-place Brown next weekend.

Women's Soccer
Though this team has walked on a knife’s edge at times this season, the Penn women’s soccer squad has a legitimate shot at an Ivy title, and the team made progress toward that goal by defeating Yale, 2-0, in New Haven. It was just the third road victory for the Quakers (8-5-1, 4-1) against the Bulldogs in program history, and the first time in four games that the Red and Blue have put up multiple goals in a game. These are auspicious signs for the team as it enters its final two matches of the season, including a hotly anticipated showdown with league-leading Princeton on Nov. 3.

Field Hockey
A 3-2 victory on the road over Yale keeps Penn field hockey on pace to improve upon last year’s 2-5 Ivy League record, not to mention out of last place. The game ball (is that a thing in field hockey?) undoubtedly goes to junior captain Julie Tahan, who assisted two scores before adding the game-winner herself. The following day, the Quakers (7-7, 2-3) dropped a contest against Fairfield, 4-2. While coaches and players will give you a line about why momentum’s important, the fact of the matter is that the Ivy slate is what counts, so if you’re going to split for the weekend, the Red and Blue did it right.

Game 30: Yale – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The Good: Penn's team defense. Coach Jerome Allen was quick to point out out that although it wasn't all Belcore, the senior played probably the best defensive game of the year on All-Ivy center Greg Mangano. The Quakers as a team held Yale's big three of Mangano, Austin Morgan and Reggie Willhite to a combined 17 points.

Also Good: A blowout victory. Penn led by as much as 29 points in the second half, their largest lead of the Ivy League season. The large lead gave the Quakers some much needed breathing room and a little rest as they head into Tuesday's game at Princeton (their third game in five days).

The Bad: Henry Brooks foul trouble. Senior Mike Howlett started, but as soon as Henry Brooks entered the game, he picked up two quick fouls and had to come out. Brooks picked up his third foul early ten seconds into the second half and will need to avoid foul trouble if he is to contribute against Princeton.

The Ugly: Greg Mangano's offensive performance. You'd be hard pressed to find something ugly about Penn's performance tonight. They were knocking down shots, they defended for a full 20 minutes and they played above their competition. However, the senior big man from Yale severely disappointed in his collegiate finale. He was frustrated all night and even seemed disinterested at points during the game.

Times’ ombudsman looks into Witt story

It was a big deal when Yale quarterback Patrick Witt turned down the opportunity to interview for a Rhodes Scholarship to play in his final football game against Harvard. It was an even bigger deal when the New York Times last week alleged Witt never had the chance to turn down his interview — because his candidacy was put in question due to allegations of sexual assault.

Then, after the Times dropped that bombshell, there was quite a bit of fallout. Witt responded in a statement through his agency denying the Times' claims, and many were upset with the Times' use of completely anonymous sourcing. The book is hardly shut on this case, and we may never know exactly what happened, but the NYT's ombudsman looked into the story and reported on his findings today.

The full text of his story is fascinating and worth a read, but here is his conclusion, which at least provides a little more insight into the story:

Bottom line: I’m not in a position to dispute The Times’s finding, although I think the story was handicapped by not having Mr. Witt’s version of the timeline. I haven’t seen proof that Mr. Witt was no longer a contender when he bowed out.

Much clearer to me is that reporting a claim of sexual assault based on anonymous sourcing, without Mr. Witt’s and the woman’s side of it, was unfair to Mr. Witt. The Times thought it was a necessary part in its exposé of the feel-good sports story. But the impact of the “sexual assault” label on Mr. Witt is substantial and out of proportion for a case that went uninvestigated and unadjudicated.

Maybe you just can’t publish this story, not with the facts known now. If those involved in the case are more forthcoming later, or if the allegations are investigated more fully, then perhaps. But for now, the timeline and whether Yale had declined to re-endorse Mr. Witt are murky and unresolved — by me and certainly by what was presented in the Times article. Even more unknown are the details of the accusation of sexual assault.

This was a compelling story, and The Times was motivated to publish it. But when something as serious as a person’s reputation is at stake, it’s not enough to rely on anonymous sourcing, effectively saying “trust us.”

Update: For those interested in the details of this case, The Yale Daily News' Cross Campus blog has much more, including statements from Witt and the Rhodes Scholarship.

Jerome Allen’s Yale post-game presser

Hear how disappointed Jerome Allen was after Penn's 60-53 loss to Yale in New Haven, Conn.

Yale football coach Tom Williams resigns

(via fanfusionblog.com)

After three seasons at the helm of the Yale football program, coach Tom Williams resigned today, amid an investigation into claims he made about being a candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship.

The New Haven Register reports that Williams has decided to step down, though the results of the investigation were never made public, and his resignation will take effect at the end of the calendar year.

Last month, Yale Senior quarterback Patrick Witt made national headlines when he chose to play in The Game vs. Harvard over attending an interview for a Rhodes Scholarship in Georgia. Some believed Williams misled people in implying that he too faced a similar situation with football and the Rhodes Scholarship, though a New York Times investigation found no record of Williams' candidacy for the scholarship. After the article ran, Yale launched an investigation to look into the matter.

The New Haven Register had this statement from Williams:

“I wish to clear the record,” Williams said in a statement. “On the Rhodes Scholarship issue, I was encouraged to apply by the Stanford Fellowship office, which identified me ‘as the kind of student who demonstrates the intellect, energy and commitment that the Rhodes selection committees seek in their applicants.’ I considered the opportunity, sought advice and was encouraged to apply by faculty members and my coach Bill Walsh, but I did not apply.”

He continued, “During the spring of my senior year, I was given an opportunity to attend a tryout camp with the San Francisco 49ers, and I participated in that three-day event. I did not sign a free agent contract with the 49ers or participate in their summer training camp for signed players.”

“I am extremely proud of my academic, athletic and coaching career. If there was confusion created, I take full responsibility. The timing of this inquiry has been difficult for everyone. At this point I believe it is in the best interest of my student-athletes and Yale University that I step down,” he said.

In his short tenure with the Elis, Yale went 16-14 overall, 11-10 in the Ivy League, finishing in ties for second place both of the last two seasons. Yale will begin searching for a new coach immediately, according to the Register.

Williams' spot is now the second Ivy football opening this offseason, after Columbia fired coach Norries Wilson. The Lions replaced Wilson with Pete Mangurian, a former Cornell coach.

Yale coach Williams in hot water over Rhodes scholarship

A few weeks ago we reported that Yale quarterback Patrick Witt faced a tough choice in either playing Harvard Saturday in The Game, or flying to Georgia for his Rhodes Scholarship finalist interview.

This week, Witt announced he would withdraw his Rhodes application in order to play — an interesting choice — but the quarterback's decision has quickly fallen out of the spotlight as questions have arisen over his coach, Tom Williams, and his history with the Rhodes program.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Witt had leaned on Williams to help guide him in his choice. Williams also, it appeared, had dealt with a similar decision as a player at Stanford, having to choose between Rhodes and an NFL tryout.

But some snooping by the Times found that the Rhodes Trust had no record of Williams ever applying. And it appears Williams listed his Rhodes candidacy on his resume when applying to Yale.

Now Yale is looking into the matter, according to a new Times article:

Yale’s president, Richard C. Levin, said in a statement that he had instructed the university’s general counsel “to commence immediately a review of the facts surrounding Tom Williams’s assertions about being a candidate for a Rhodes scholarship.” The university said it would have no further comment until after the review.

Stanford would not release any information to reporters without permission of the student (Williams). Meanwhile, Thursday at practice, Williams told reporters that he had been endorsed to apply for the scholarship, but ended up not doing so:

“There is no intention to deceive,” Williams said. “I never said I was a finalist for the Rhodes candidacy. The Rhodes shouldn’t have any record of me, because I didn’t do it. I didn’t go through the process. I pulled out long before it got to that point.”

It will be interesting to see how the Elis handle this one.

Penn basketball memories: The ’02 Yale playoff

Is there any more exciting way to end the Ivy season than a winner-take-all one-game playoff? Today we look back at the last time Penn had to play a 15th game to get to the dance.

Your favorite Penn basketball memory?

My favorite Penn basketball memory is the 1-game playoff against Yale in 2002 to win the Ivy League title and get into the NCAA Tournament.  The game was at Lafayette, and the crowd was literally divided across the arena - one side was Penn, the other side was Yale.

Yale played dirty during the game - one of their guys was a noted thug who cheap shotted Penn players all year, and then did so again during the game.  So he got booed pretty heavily all night long.  It was a very close game right up until the last 5 minutes, when the Quakers pulled away and won by almost 20.

The lasting memory for me was storming the court and watching the Quakers cut down the nets.  Dan Solomito was the last one up, and he cut off the final piece, put the net around his neck and sat on the top of the rim with his hands in the air as we chanted his name.  An incredible night for Penn basketball, and I'm thrilled I got to go.

-Steve Brauntuch, College '04

Yale QB Witt has tough choice to make

A shot at a Rhodes scholarship or a shot at the Ivy title: that's the decision that Yale senior quarterback Patrick Witt may be facing in a few weeks.

The Yale Daily News is reporting that Witt was selected for an interview for the prestigious scholarship, which allows students to study at Oxford for two to three years. The only problem is that his interview date is Nov. 19, the same Saturday that Yale will play Harvard in The Game. Because Witt applied in Georgia, his interview will be at Emory — not very close to the Yale Bowl. And kickoff is set for noon.

From the YDN:

“It’s still very new, it’s still very fresh just finding out this information,” he said. “So I need to kind of reevaluate. If the Rhodes Committee is willing to work with me, in a perfect world, I can interview first thing in the morning and get on a flight to be back in time for the game on Saturday. But I don’t know if that will be possible.”

The Harvard-Yale football game is the equivalent of Penn-Princeton basketball — a heated rivalry and marquee event. But this year, if Yale can beat Brown and Princeton in coming weeks (and Penn knocks off undefeated Harvard), Yale could be playing for a spot in a three-way tie for the Ivy trophy, adding another wrinkle.

According to the YDN, Witt's backup, sophomore John Whitelaw, played sparingly in just one game this season, but he might have to fill for the biggest game of the year.

“If it comes to [Witt missing The Game], I would definitely do my best to be ready,” Whitelaw said. “I guess a Rhodes Scholarship might be more important in the long run, but hopefully for the team’s sake we’ll be able to work something out.”

Penn basketball picked to finish 4th in preseason media poll

Picture 7The Ivy League basketball preseason media poll was released today, and the Quakers were picked to finish fourth for the second straight year. Harvard received 16 of 17 first-place votes, while Yale received the other. The Bulldogs tied for second with Princeton in the poll, followed by Brown, Cornell, Columbia and Dartmouth.

[UPDATE: The women's team was also picked to finish fourth. That's a major sign of respect for coach Mike McLaughlin's program, as the team finished in last at 2-26 in 2009-10 and sixth last year. Contending for the title two years removed from two wins would be an incredible turnaround. More realistically, a .500 league record would be another step forward.]

We all know that Harvard enters this season as the title favorite. But the surprise here is Yale, which hasn't won the league title outright since 1962. The Bulldogs have legitimate championship aspirations this season, led by first-team All-Ivy big man Greg Mangano. Coming off a junior campaign in which he put up a monster line of 16.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks, the 6'10 forward may be the preseason favorite for Player of the Year. He spent the summer declaring and withdrawing from the NBA draft before playing alongside some of the nation's best players in the World University Games. For any long-time Ivy basketball fans, it's definitely weird to see Harvard and Yale listed at the top of the standings.

Penn head coach Jerome Allen also spoke during a media teleconference for Ivy coaches today. He called the Quakers a "fairly young" team that is still in the process of learning how to play championship-level basketball. He explained that the young guys come in "pure," allowing Allen and his staff to "shape and mold" them into the players and citizens they want them to be. He again singled out sophomore forward Fran Dougherty for the "level of commitment" and "demeanor" he showed this offseason in setting an example for the rest of the young guys.

Allen also discussed how the league has "changed for the better" since his mid-1990s playing days because of its balance. "You have to come to play every night." Of course, Allen is a fierce competitor and welcomed that challenge, saying that it will make every team in the league better ("iron sharpens iron").

Perhaps his most interesting comments, however, regarded the Quakers' "centerpiece," senior point guard Zack Rosen. "His leadership on and off the floor has probably been unmatched throughout the nation," Allen said of his protege. He talked about how Rosen has acted as the perfect role model for sophomore guard Miles Cartwright, demonstrating how to approach "getting better every day" and being the leader of a team. Their "competitiveness" and "high basketball IQ" allow them to play together in the backcourt. "They don’t have a selfish bone in their bodies," Allen said. While it's hard to believe, this is Rosen's final year, so his bond with Cartwright will pay off: "Someday, it'll be Miles showing them the way," Allen said. "And he can honestly say that he saw how someone else did it."