Men's Basketball Ready to Tip Off 2006-07

BCA Invitational Game Notes in PDF Format

PHILADELPHIA - When the University of Pennsylvania’s new head coach, Glen Miller, met with his new players for the first time in April, he told them that they were the ones who had won the last two Ivy League championships, not him.

With that in mind, the Penn men’s basketball team of 2006-07 will bear a distinctly different look than the units which have won the last two, four of the last five, and 10 of the last 14 Ivy titles. This team will get up and down the floor, they will run a lot more bodies onto the court, and they will put points on the board.

Of course, some things will not change. Ibrahim Jaaber, the 2005-06 Ivy League Player of the Year, will still be the Quakers’ go-to guy this season after averaging more than 18 points per game last year. In addition, he is rapidly closing in on the conference record for career steals and might have it before the calendar year ends.

Mark Zoller and Steve Danley -- like Jaaber, seniors who are three-year starters -- will provide the frontcourt complement. Zoller was a first-team All-Ivy forward a year ago, and has led the Quakers in rebounding each of the last two years. Danley does the dirty work on the blocks, but has developed an outside game that could make him a little more of a threat and force teams to change things up defensively (again, a Miller wrinkle).

After that trio, things get murky for Penn. Brian Grandieri saw plenty of minutes off the bench last year and figures to be a starter; Tommy McMahon was seeing time before a back injury sidelined him for the final month, and he will be monitored closely (especially on a three-games-in-three-days weekend like this). Everyone else on the roster has seen only limited time; who will be the ones to take advantage of having a new coach and a second chance?

As for this weekend? So much for easing into a new coach and new system. Friday’s foe, UTEP, went 21-10 and played in the NIT last year; Syracuse is a Top 25 team in some preseason polls.

Surveying the Field

UTEP: The Miners have a new face on the sidelines as former Memphis assistant, Tony Barbee, was named head coach on August 14. UTEP finished last season 21-10 and received their second consecutive post-season berth; the Miners’ top returnees are Kevin Henderson (7.9 ppg) and Stefon Jackson (8.0 ppg).
The Penn-UTEP Series: This will be the first meeting between the Quakers and the Miners.

Syracuse: During the 2005-06 season, Syracuse triumphed in the Big East Conference Tournament and earned its 31st NCAA Tournament invitation. While the Orange lost Big East Tournament hero Gerry McNamara, they return four starters to a team that finished last season 23-12. Big East All-Tournament Team selection Demetris Nichols will lead the way after averaging 13.3 ppg and 5.8 rpg last season. Terrence Roberts (10.7 ppg) and Darryl Watkins (7.1 ppg) round out the front court for the Orange, and Eric Devendorf (12.2ppg), a Big East All-Rookie selection, is the fourth returning starter.
The Penn-Syracuse Series: The Orange lead the series, 26-20, but this is the first meeting between the schools since the 1979 NCAA Tournament. In that game, Penn defeated Syracuse, 84-76, en route to a Final Four berth.

St. Francis (N.Y.): Second-year head coach Brian Nash will lead St. Francis into the BCA Invitational. The Terriers bring back leading scorer Allan Sheppard (11.6 ppg), who will play a key role in Nash’s rebuilding effort.
The Penn-SFNY Series: This will be the first meeting between the Quakers and the Terriers.

Quaker Notemeal
• Penn is playing three games in three days for the first time since the 2001-02 season. The other times (since the start of Ivy League play, 1955-56):
Dec. 27-29, 1955 - L, W, L (Oklahoma City, Okla.)
Dec. 27-29, 1956 - W, L, L (Richmond, Va.)
Dec. 28-30, 1984 - L, L, W (Portland, Ore.)
Nov. 28-30, 1997 - L, W, L (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Nov. 22-24, 2001 - L, W, W (Las Vegas, Nev.)

• This is the earliest Penn has started a season; the previous earliest start was Nov. 16 (in 1994-95 and 2004-05).

The Goods on Penn

Some things to think about as the Quakers head into the 2006-07 season...

• Penn returns four of its top five scorers from the 2005-06 Ivy League champions.

• Penn has won 20 games each of the last two seasons, four of the last five seasons, and nine times since 1992-93.

• Penn is 168-28 (.857) against the Ivy League since the start of the 1992-93 season, including five undefeated campaigns.

• Penn has won 14-straight Ivy League home games heading into the 2006-07 season.

• Penn led the Ivy League in seven categories overall last season, and seven in conference-only games. Nationally, Penn was 10th in steals per game (9.76), 24th in scoring defense (60.1 ppg) and 28th in scoring margin (+8.4).

• Penn returns three seniors who have earned All-Ivy honors twice in their career -- Ibrahim Jaaber (first-team in 2006, second-team in 2005), Mark Zoller (first-team in 2006, honorable mention in 2005) and Steve Danley (honorable mention in 2006 and 2005).

• Jaaber and Zoller also earned All-Philadelphia Big 5 honors in 2005-06. Jaaber was a first-team selection -- Penn’s first since Ugonna Onyekwe in 2002-03 --while Zoller was a second-team honoree.

• Jaaber has started all 58 games played by Penn the last two years, while Danley has started 56 of the 57 games he has played in that span (he sat for Senior Night in 2004-05, and missed a game to injury in 2005-06). Zoller, meanwhile, has 63 career starts.

• Jaaber is vying to become the third player in Penn history and fifth overall to win Ivy League Player of the Year two times.

• Jaaber led the Ivy League in scoring last year (18.2 ppg) and shot 52.5 percent from the field (190-of-362). His scoring average was the best by a Penn player since Hassan Duncombe in 1989-90 (19.1 ppg).

• At the other end, Jaaber broke his own Penn and Ivy League single-season steals records with 96. He finished fourth in the nation in steals per game (3.31).

• Jaaber enters the 2006-07 season needing 30 steals to become the Ivy League’s all-time leader; he has 213 in his career. Harvard’s Andrew Gellert hold the mark at 242.

• In Ivy-only games, Jaaber led the conference with 19.1 points per game and 3.57 steals per game, and finished in the Top 10 in five other statistical categories.

• Jaaber enters this season with 1,026 points already in his career; he is the 33rd player in Penn history to pass the 1,00-point mark.

• Zoller is a good bet to be the 34th player to reach the milestone; he enters the 2006-07 season needing 136 points to reach 1,000.

• Zoller has led Penn in rebounding each of the last two seasons; he averaged 7.3 caroms per game last year.

• Zoller was among the top seven in the Ivy League in seven different categories in 2005-06 (all games); in conference-only games, he led the League with 9.0 rebounds per game.

• Zoller enters the 2006-07 season with 41 career double-figure scoring games and 15 double-doubles (including nine last year).

• Danley averaged 8.9 ppg in 2005-06 and led Penn with 84 assists. His assist/turnover ratio of 1.35 was second in the Ivy League.

• After missing his entire freshman season due to injury, junior Brian Grandieri became a spark off the bench in 2005-06. He averaged nearly 21 minutes per game, 6.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest, and had 37 steals. He also had two double-doubles and a 2.04 assist/turnover ratio (53 assists/26 turnovers).

• Sophomore Tommy McMahon missed the latter half of the Ivy League season with a back injury, but showed glimpses of his shooting prowess; in fact, in his first three collegiate shots he collected eight points (two three-pointers and a traditional field goal).

• The Quakers welcome back Michael Kach, who played six games as a freshman in 2004-05 before leaving the program. He averaged 3.7 points in his brief stint, including a career-best six in his collegiate debut against Quinnipiac. Kach will be expected to shore up the backcourt.

• Yes, you are going to need to consult your roster to start the season -- a host of returning players have switched numbers for 2006-07:
Kevin Egee-- from #12 to #15
Brian Grandieri-- from #1 to #21
Michael Kach-- from #4 to #14
Cameron Lewis-- from #34 to #33
Tommy McMahon-- from #31 to #20

Download: 0607 MBK Notes - BCAInvite.pdf