Penn, Villanova Set to Tip Off Big 5 Slate

Penn vs. Villanova
Saturday, Dec. 2*7 p.m.
The Palestra (cap. 8,722)
Radio/Internet: (Brian Seltzer, Vince Curran)
TV: CN8 (Scott Graham, Rob Kennedy)
Penn Game Notes in PDF Format

PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania has won four in a row after starting the season with a pair of losses, while Villanova -- a Top 10 program throughout last year -- is off to another quick start and boasts a 5-1 mark.

Fans who have been to The Palestra to see Penn play this year cannot argue with what they have seen. After racking up 97 points against a transitioning Division I program, Florida Gulf Coast, the Quakers have displayed an up-tempo style and tremendous team offense in garnering convincing wins over teams that are expected to contend in the Colonial Athletic Association (Drexel) and the Northeast Conference (Monmouth).

Tuesday’s win over Monmouth was indicative of how the Quakers have been playing lately. Penn reached 80 points for the third time in four games, shot 50 percent from the field, crashed the boards for 18 offensive rebounds and 39 overall, and had 26 assists on its 34 baskets. Defensively, Penn had 11 steals, the third time in four games reaching double digits in that category.

Mark Zoller was his usual dominant self, scoring a career-high 29 points -- his fourth 20-point game of 2006-07 -- on 12-of-16 shooting (including 3-of-5 from three-point land) and snaring 11 rebounds; Brian Grandieri matched his career high for the second time in three games with 19 points, and filled the box score with three boards, three assists and two steals; and Steve Danley once again got to double digits in the scoring column, with 10, and had six rebounds including five on the offensive glass. Tommy McMahon also had his best game of the season to date, scoring nine points and handing out four assists.

Ibrahim Jaaber? The reigning Ivy League Player of the Year was held to just five points on an unusually poor shooting night -- he went 1-of-7, far below his .620 percentage entering the contest. He made up for it, though, by dishing out 10 assists (against just two turnovers) and coming up with six steals.

Following tonight’s game, Penn does not play another Big 5 game until three in a row pop up from Jan. 18-27. So for Zoller, Jaaber and Danley, this represents a chance to get a head start on their final shot at a city title.

Surveying the Opponent
• Tonight’s Philadelphia Big 5 meeting represents the 54th between Penn and Villanova in men’s basketball; the Wildcats lead the series, 35-18, after last year’s 62-55 win here at The Palestra.

• Villanova has won each of the last three games in this series, but prior to that Penn bested the ‘Cats on a pair of occasions. On Dec. 5, 2001, the Quakers won 75-74 in overtime; on Dec. 10, 2002, Penn dropped Villanova, 72-58.

• Penn is 81-108 against the teams that currently make up the Big East Conference.
Notre Dame2-20
St. John’s5-4
Seton Hall1-1
West Virginia1-1

• Penn has won its Big 5 opener 18 times in the 50-year history of the intracity rivalry; of those 18, nine have led to the Quakers winning at least a share of the Big 5 title.

• On only three occasions has Penn lost its first Big 5 game in a season and gone on to clinch at least a piece of the championship—1971-72, 1976-77 and 1991-92.

During Penn’s four-game win streak...
• Penn has outscored its opponents by an average score of 82.8-61.3 (+21.5).

• Penn has trailed a total of 4 minutes and 31 seconds (out of 160 minutes), and the latest point in a game that the Quakers have been behind an opponent was with 4:35 left in the first half (against Florida Gulf Coast).

• Penn’s largest deficit during this winning streak has been four points, when the Quakers were down 6-2 to FGCU.

• Penn has reached 80 points three times; the Quakers have scored 80 or more points three times in a four-game span only once since the 1998-99 season (last year, when they actually did four times in five games from Jan. 4-Jan. 16).

• Penn has shot 53.8 percent from the field (120-of-223) and held its opponents to 38.6 percent shooting (83-of-215).

• Penn has shot 44.3 percent from three-point land (31-of-70).

• Penn has dished out 95 assists on its 120 baskets, a .792 ratio.

• Penn has a 1.38 assist/turnover ratio (95 assists/69 turnovers).

• Penn has a +2.50 turnover margin.

• Penn has 45 steals, an average of 11.3 per game.

Penn’s Personnel...
• Ibrahim Jaaber entered the season with a career high of eight assists; he has already matched that number twice (11/12 vs. St. Francis; 11/18 vs. Florida Gulf Coast) and bested it once (11/28 vs. Monmouth).

• Jaaber needs 13 steals to become the Ivy League’s all-time leader; he currently has 230 for his career (Andrew Gellert of Harvard holds the Ivy mark with 242).

• Jaaber has 1,103 points, good for 27th on Penn’s all-time scoring list; he needs six to pass current Penn Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky, and 14 to pass Paul Little on the all-time list.

• Jaaber shot 1-of-7 from the field; prior to that, he had shot 29-of-44 (65.9 percent) in four games.

• Mark Zoller entered the season with a career high of 26 points; he has already matched that once (11/18 vs. Florida Gulf Coast) and surpassed it once (29 points, 11/28 vs. Monmouth).

• Zoller has hit double figures in scoring every game this year, the only Penn player to do so; he is averaging 23.3 ppg during this four-game winning streak.

• Zoller is also averaging 8.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game during Penn’s winning streak.

• Zoller is shooting 66.7 percent (34-of-51) from the field and 77.3 percent (17-of-22) from the foul line during Penn’s four-game winning streak.

• Zoller missed the first nine three-pointers he took this year, stretching into Penn’s third game; he has shot 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from beyond the arc since then.

• Zoller is a good bet to join Jaaber and become the 34th player in Penn history to score 1,000 points; he enters tonight’s game needing just nine to reach the milestone.

• Brian Grandieri entered the season with a career high of 17 points; he has already surpassed that twice in 2006-07 (19 points against both Florida Gulf Coast on 11/18 and Monmouth on 11/28).

• Grandieri has been consistently filling the box score this season—during Penn’s winning streak he has averaged 16.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.5 steals.

• Grandieri has shot 55.6 percent (25-of-45) from the field during the winning streak.

• Grandieri has a 2.86 assist/turnover ratio in the last three games (20/7).

• Steve Danley has hit for double figures in four-straight games, averaging 12.3 ppg.

• Danley is 14-of-28 (50 percent) from the field and 18-of-21 (85.7 percent) from the foul line the last four games.

• During Penn’s four-game winning streak, the quartet of Zoller, Jaaber, Grandieri and Danley has been sizzling:
St. Francis (N.Y.) – all four shot above 55 percent from the field.
Florida Gulf Coast – all four shot at least 60 percent from the field.
Drexel – Jaaber (69.2 percent) and Zoller (50.0) got it done from the field, while Danley and Grandieri went a combined 11-of-11 from the foul line.
Monmouth – Zoller shot 75 percent from the field, while Grandieri shot 60 percent.

• Sophomore Brennan Votel broke out in the Monmouth game, playing a career-high 17 minutes and coming up with four points, six rebounds (he entered the game with 12 in his career), two assists and two blocked shots.

• Votel has played double-figure minutes each of the last five games.

• Votel has seven assists in the last three games, against three turnovers (a 2.33 ratio).

Download: 0607 Notes 07 (Villanova).pdf