Men's Basketball Set For Home Opener Saturday

Game Notes in PDF Format

PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania has played three games already in 2006-07, and what have we learned?

No surprise here -- the Quakers will be replying on the usual suspects. Seniors Mark Zoller and Ibrahim Jaaber led the team in scoring throughout the weekend in Syracuse, N.Y. Zoller had a pair of games over 20 points en route to all-tournament honors, while Jaaber came back from a silent first game (five points and only five shot attempts) to score a game-high 18 points vs. Syracuse and then 12 more against St. Francis. Junior Brian Grandieri, Penn’s sixth man a year ago, started all three games and averaged 11.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Senior Steve Danley was also in double figures (11.0 ppg), snared 13 boards and blocked six shots.

The bench needs to get minutes, but there are signs of improvement. Sophomore Tommy McMahon struggled in the first two games, but when he was open in Sunday’s win over St. Francis he knocked down his shots. Classmate Brennan Votel had nine points and played more than 11 minutes a game throughout the weekend. Sophomore guards Aron Cohen and Kevin Egee had ups and downs, but seemed to get more comfortable as the weekend progressed.

The freshmen are raw, but have potential. At forward, Andreas Schreiber sat out the first game, but came in during the first half of Saturday’s game with Syracuse and knocked down a three-pointer on his first collegiate shot. Darren Smith showed athleticism at the guard spot. And Justin Reilly was willing to bang down low and snared four rebounds in 11 minutes of action.

With those things in mind, Penn comes home for six of the next seven games, starting with Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles are a former Division II program transitioning to Division I; next year they will be a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. FGCU also played Drexel on its trip to the City of Brotherly Love, losing Wednesday night, 73-37 -- coincidentally, the Dragons are Penn’s next opponent after this weekend (Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m.).

Surveying the Opponent
• Are you wondering who or what is Florida Gulf Coast? The Eagles are a transitioning Division I program, meaning they are playing some Division I teams this year on their way to becoming a full-fledged Division I program (in the Atlantic Sun Conference) in 2007-08.

• FGCU opened the season with Penn’s next opponent, Drexel, Wednesday night just down the street from The Palestra.

• FGCU does have a connection to Penn these days, believe it or not -- during the summer, the Eagles hired Bob Butehorn to become their first men’s soccer coach. Butehorn got the job after spending the last five years as an assistant coach here at Penn under Rudy Fuller.

Quaker Notemeal
• When Penn opened the 2006-07 season with three games in three days, it marked a first in the Quakers’ history. In fact, only three times in history have they even played two games in two days to start the season!

• In addition, the Quakers were playing three games in three days for just the sixth time since 1955-56, and the first time since the 2001-02 season. The others, and where they took place...
Dec. 27-29, 1955 (Oklahoma City, Okla.)
Dec. 27-29, 1956 (Richmond, Va.)
Dec. 28-30, 1984 (Portland, Ore.)
Nov. 28-30, 1997 (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Nov. 22-24, 2001 (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Nov. 10-12, 2006 (Syracuse, N.Y.)

• If you feel like this season snuck up on you quicker than most years, you are correct. Last weekend’s BCA Invitational marked the earliest Penn has started a season; the previous earliest start was Nov. 16 (in 1994-95 and 2004-05).

• Penn has won its home opener each of the last two years and four of the last five years; the Quakers won their first two home games last year, and their first four home games in 2004-05.

From the BCA Invitational...
• Senior forward Mark Zoller, a first-team All-Ivy pick a year ago, earned all-tournament honors after averaging 18.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, dishing out six assists and collecting nine steals.

• Zoller picked up his 13th career double-double in the opener against UTEP with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

• Zoller also picked up his sixth and seventh career 20-point games in Syracuse -- in addition to his 23-point performance vs. UTEP, he had 22 points against St. Francis. He enters the FGCU game just 80 points shy of 1,000 career points.

• Another player who stood out in the win over St. Francis was junior Brian Grandieri, who nearly had a double-double with 15 points and nine boards.

• Senior Ibrahim Jaaber got off to a slow start this season -- he had just five points (on five shots) and fouled out of Penn’s opening loss to UTEP. However, he bounced back with a game-high 18 points vs. Syracuse, then had 12 points and matched a career high with eight assists vs. St. Francis. Jaaber shot a combined 13-of-21 (.619) from the field in the final two games in Syracuse.

Download: 0607 Notes 04 (FGCU).pdf