PHILADELPHIA –The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team is 3-0 for the first time since the 1981-82 season—kind of amazing, when you consider the Penn program is 15th on the NCAA’s list of winningest Division I basketball programs (see page 3). The Quakers face a different kind of test on Saturday, though, tipping off against the University of Washington at Alaska Airlines Arena (formerly the Hec Edmundson Pavilion).
GAME 4 – PENN (3-0) at WASHINGTON (2-0)
Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 * Noon (3 p.m. Eastern)
Alaska Airlines Arena (Seattle)
The Series With Washington
The Quakers lead the series, 2-0, with wins in 1988 (70-69 at the Palm Beach Classic in Palm Beach, Fla.) and 1993 (71-68 at the Hec Ed).
Penn vs. The Pac-12
Penn is 14-13 all-time against programs that currently compete in the Pac-12. The Quakers’ most recent game against a Pac-12 opponent came on Dec. 10, 2011, a 77-73 loss to UCLA in a game that was played in Anaheim. Penn has played every Pac-12 program except Oregon. (0-1 vs. Arizona; 0-1 vs. ASU; 2-2 vs. Cal; 0-2 vs. Colorado; 0-2 vs. OSU; 2-0 vs. Stanford; 0-2 vs. UCLA; 5-2 vs. USC; 1-1 vs. Utah; 2-0 vs. Washington; 2-0 vs. WSU)
A Sort of Homecoming
Today’s game represents a homecoming for senior center Darien Nelson-Henry, who grew up in nearby Kirkland and played his high school ball at Lake Washington. His senior year, Lake Washington advanced to the quarterfinal round of the 3A state tournament which was the best finish in school history. Nelson-Henry was the State 3A Player of the Year and MVP of King County as a senior, as well as two-time first-team King County 3A. In 2010, he was second-team King County 3A.
Jones Earns Ivy, Big 5 Honors
After averaging 22.0 points per game and knocking down 10 three-point baskets, sophomore forward Sam Jones was named Ivy League Player of the Week as well as co-Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Week (sharing that honor with DeAndre Bembry from Saint Joseph’s). Jones tied a career high with 23 points in Sunday’s win over Central Connecticut State—15 of them coming after halftime, when Penn broke open a game that was tied at the break—after scoring 21 in Friday’s season-opening win against Robert Morris. It was the second Ivy League weekly honor for Jones, who was Ivy Rookie of the Week once last year.
About That 1981-82 Team...
*Following its 3-0 start -- the third win coming against another Pac-12 program, Stanford -- the Quakers proceeded to lose their next nine in a row (including their first two Ivy League contests).
*Penn then won 14 in a row, including each of its final 12 Ivy games, and won the Ivy title.
*The season ended with a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to St. John’s in Uniondale, N.Y.
*Following the season, Penn’s head coach, Bob Weinhauer, would leave for the head coaching position at Arizona State.
Just Saying It...
We don’t want to put the cart before the horse, but the natural question is when was the last time Penn started 4-0? That would be the 1978-79 team, which actually started 5-0.
Penn started the season with a roster that features 11 freshmen and sophomores among its 15 eligible players. According to an informal survey of SIDs conducted by the University of Denver, the Quakers’ percentage of freshmen and sophomores (73.3) is tied for eighth nationally with Marist. One of Penn’s future opponents, Washington, is tied for third (80.0 percent), while fellow Ivy rival Harvard is 11th (62.5 percent).
While the Quakers are youthful, it does not mean they are inexperienced. In fact, four of the aforementioned sophomores played more than 400 minutes last year: Antonio Woods (team-high 889), Darnell Foreman (595), Sam Jones (455), and Mike Auger (420). Throw in upperclass veterans Darien Nelson-Henry (1,688 career minutes), Jamal Lewis (1,059 despite missing last season to injury) and Matt Howard (849), and you’ve got a fairly experienced nucleus.
*Through three games, Penn has a 1.66 assist/turnover ratio (53/32), and 53 assists on its 77 baskets (a 68.8 percentage). Last year, Penn’s assist/turnover ratio was 0.78, and its assist-to-basket percentage was 54.9.
*Penn has 22 three-point baskets so far this season, a 7.3 per-game average. Last year, Penn averaged 5.5 treys per game.
*Penn is 6-2 when sophomore Sam Jones scores in double figures during his career; that includes all three games so far this season.
*Through three games, freshman Jake Silpe has been handed the keys at the point position. He has responded with eight assists and just one turnover.
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