Penn vs. #1 North Carolina
Dec. 4, 2007 * 7 p.m.
The Palestra (Philadelphia)
TV: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch, Bill Raftery)
Radio: WPEN (950 AM)/PennAthletics.com - Brian Seltzer, Vince Curran
Penn Game Notes (PDF)
UNC Game Notes (PDF)
PHILADELPHIA - Coming off a pair of tough road losses at Lafayette and Villanova, the young Quakers return home. However, things are hardly going to be easier -- No. 1 North Carolina is Penn’s opponent, setting up one of the most anticipated games in the storied history of The Palestra.
How historic is Tuesday night’s contest? From a Penn perspective, it’s a first. The Quakers have never hosted a No. 1-ranked team at The Palestra. A survey of the other Philadelphia Big 5 schools (La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, Temple, Villanova) yielded two contests played here by Villanova against No. 1 teams -- Seton Hall on Jan. 31, 1953, and West Virginia on Jan. 8, 1958 -- and one by Saint Joseph’s (when the Hawks beat No. 1 Bowling Green, 58-57, on Dec. 26, 1962).
Penn is not entering the 2007-08 season quietly -- with a young, inexperienced roster, the Quakers played seven games in the month of November, and this is already their second in December. Consider the schedule after this, though. On Saturday, Penn plays at Monmouth, their 10th game in a 30-day span; following that game, the Quakers will play just eight games between December 9 and February 1 (a span of 54 days).
Penn has had nine different players reach double figures in scoring in at least one game already this year, including four freshmen.
Senior Brian Grandieri, a second-team All-Ivy pick a year ago, is the only Penn player to start all eight games this season; overall, head coach Glen Miller has started 10 different players.
Freshmen Tyler Bernardini, Jack Eggleston and Harrison Gaines have swept the Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors this season, as each of them has won it in the three weeks it has been given.
Bernardini has scored 74 points in the last five games (14.9 ppg) including four double-figure scoring games (18 against The Citadel, 13 vs. Virginia, 15 against Navy, 21 at Villanova).
Bernardini went 4-of-6 on three-pointers Saturday night at Villanova.
His classmate and roommate, Gaines, has dished out 28 assists in the last five games; he had 12one shy of the Penn school recordin the Quakers’ win over The Citadel on Nov. 20.
Eggleston, has only two games in double figures; however, he scored at least seven points in the first seven games of this season (he was held to just two at Villanova).
Sophomore Justin Reilly has scored 30 points in the last three games, and started each of the last two.
The Series With North Carolina
Penn and North Carolina are meeting for the seventh time in history; the Tar Heels lead the series, 4-2, and are making just their second appearance in The Palestra (first since 1948).
1/3/2007 - UNC 102, Penn 64 (Chapel Hill)
*3/12/1987 - UNC 113, Penn 82 (Charlotte, N.C.)
*3/11/1979 - Penn 72, UNC 71 (Raleigh, N.C.)
*3/18/1972 - UNC 73, Penn 59 (Morgantown, W.Va.)
12/31/1951 - Penn 70, UNC 62 (Raleigh, N.C.)
1/24/1948 - UNC 52, Penn 46 (Philadelphia)
*NCAA Tournament game
Though this is the seventh meeting between the Quakers and the Heels, it is just the second regularly-scheduled game since 1948; of the four meetings between that game and last year’s contest at the Deandome, three came in the NCAA Tournament, and the 1951 meeting came on the final day of the three-day Dixie Classic in Raleigh, N.C.
Penn actually boasts a winning record all-time against the schools that currently make up the Atlantic Coast Conference, at 36-34. The Quakers are playing three ACC teams this season; they have already lost to Virginia, 100-85, and on January 2 they will be at the University of Miami.
This is the second time UNC head coach Roy Williams has brought his team to The Palestra to play Penn; he also did so at Kansas on Nov. 17, 1998.
Penn and No. 1
Penn is hosting an AP No. 1 team at The Palestra for the first time in program history. In fact, the Quakers have met just two other AP No. 1 teams in history...
The first happened Jan. 14, 1995, when Penn -- in the midst of a 48-game Ivy League unbeaten streak, a four-year run of Ivy titles, and four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances -- went to the University of Massachusetts to meet the No. 1 Minutemen. UMass prevailed, 93-60, in a nationally televised game.
Two years ago, on Dec. 7, 2005, the Quakers -- who would go on to win the second of three-straight Ivy titles -- went down to Tobacco Road to play UNC’s nearby neighbor, Duke, when the Blue Devils were ranked No. 1. Duke won that game (which was televised on ESPN2), 72-59.
Ivy League Honors
Tyler Bernardini earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors Monday morning. He was a bright light in Penn’s 87-61 loss at No. 21 Villanova, scoring 21 points to tie for game-high honors with Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds. In the game, Bernardini hit four three-pointers (on six attempts) and was 9-of-12 from the foul line; he also had four rebounds and two steals in the contest. In Penn’s loss at Lafayette, Bernardini scored seven points, added a board and two other steals. He is currently second on the team in scoring (11.1 ppg) and leads the Quakers with 10 steals and 12 three-point baskets.
So are we looking at the future of the Ivy League? Well, with Bernardini’s’ honor, Penn is now 3-for-3 in gaining the weekly rookie award -- and they all went to different players. Jack Eggleston won the first award this season, for the week of Nov. 19, and Harrison Gaines took the award for the week of Nov. 26.
Settling on Starters
Penn head coach Glen Miller has started 10 different players through eight games this season, but seems to be settling on most of his starting five; against Villanova, for the sixth-straight game, four of the starters were senior Brian Grandieri and freshmen Tyler Bernardini, Jack Eggleston and Harrison Gaines. (the fifth starter throughout that stretch has alternated between sophomores Andreas Schreiber and Justin Reilly)
A Bad Break (Literally!)
Sophomore Darren Smith, one of just two returning starters for this year’s team, was lost for the season after he fractured his patella (right knee) in the first half of the season opener against Drexel.
Smith’s injury is actually the second this season to knock the Quakers for a loop; prior to the season, junior Tommy McMahon had surgery which is forcing him to miss the 2007-08 season. He has been plagued by back problems during his first two seasons at Penn, but was expected to be a major contributor.
Notes From Villanova
For the first time this season, Penn hit more three-point baskets (9) than its opponent (8).
Freshman Tyler Bernardini scored a career-high 21 points, hitting four three-pointers; he became the third Penn player this season to have a 20-point game.
Bernardini scored in double figures for the fourth time in the last five games.
Sophomore Justin Reilly scored in double figures for the second time in the last three games, with 12 points.
Notes From Lafayette
The loss snapped an eight-game win streak the Quakers had over the Leopards, dating back to Jan. 27, 1997.
Perhaps more impressively, Penn had won 23 in a row against Patriot League teams before this loss.
Senior Michael Kach not only led all scorers with 17 points; he also set a career high with five assists, and matched a career best with six rebounds.
Kach went a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line.
Notes From Navy
Penn and Navy had six ties and eight lead changes; prior to this game, the Quakers had seen just one lead change through their first five games (when Howard overcame Penn midway through the first half).
It marked the first time this season Penn overcame a halftime deficit to win a game.
Penn took 42 foul shots, one day after taking 40 against Virginia.
Penn put four players in double figures for the third game in a row: Brian Grandieri (18), Bernardini (15), Harrison Gaines (12) and Reilly (10).
Notes From Virginia
Penn allowed 100 points to an opponent for just the second time in the Glen Miller era; the other time was also against an ACC school, when North Carolina dropped 102 on the Quakers last season.
The last time Penn allowed an opponent to score 100 points in The Palestra was Feb. 10, 1990, when Harvard beat the Quakers, 105-97.
The game pitted Miller against UVA head coach Dave Leitao; they were assistant coaches together under Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun at UConn from 1986-87 to 1992-93.
Freshman Remy Cofield -- who did not score a point in Penn’s first four contests -- scored a game-high 20 points off the bench; it marked the most points by a Penn freshman since Mark Zoller scored 24 against Brown on Feb. 20, 2004. (that Brown team, of course, was coached by current Penn mentor Glen Miller)
Gaines had his first double-figure scoring game as a collegian, with 12 points.
Download: Notes for UNC-Penn.pdf