Quakers Look to Clinch Ivy Title This Weekend

Penn Ivy Weekend #6 Game Notes in PDF Format

PHILADELPHIA - Most college basketball coaches -- okay, all college basketball coaches -- will tell you that if you want to win your conference championship, it starts by defending your home court.

The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team has done just that again in 2005-06, going a perfect 7-0 against its Ivy League foes for the second year in a row and the eighth time since 1992-93. Not coincidentally, the Quakers have won nine Ivy titles in that period and are still in shape to win a 10th.

That said, the hard part has now arrived for Penn -- the road. The Quakers finish the conference campaign with three games away from home, beginning this weekend at Yale (Friday) and Brown (Saturday), and continuing Tuesday with the traditional regular-season finale at Princeton.

Penn is 3-1 in Ivy road games to date, most recently losing at Columbia and gaining a closer-than-it-looks, 67-56 win at Cornell two weekends ago. Things do not figure to get any easier for the Quakers this weekend; Yale in particular has consistently been a tough place for them (witness last year’s 18-point loss at the Lee Amphitheater, Penn’s only league loss).

As if playing on the road was not bad enough, the Quakers are limping a bit heading into this final stretch. Senior Friedrich Ebede played only a few minutes against Harvard Friday night, then sat out Saturday’s game with Dartmouth due to a groin injury. His status for the weekend is unknown. Junior center Steve Danley, meanwhile, broke his nose in Friday’s game thanks to a stray elbow.

In basketball you seldom read about magic numbers -- that is more of a baseball thing -- but it applies in this case. Penn’s magic number is two; any combination of two Quaker wins or Princeton losses in these final three games (the Tigers are at Brown Friday and Yale Saturday, before Tuesday’s showdown at Jadwin Gym) will allow the Ivy championship trophy to remain in Philadelphia.

The Series with Yale
• Friday’s meeting between Penn and Yale represents the 204th; the Quakers hold a 137-66 lead in the series.

• Penn Head Coach Fran Dunphy is 25-9 against Yale, but just 9-7 in New Haven against the Bulldogs.

• Penn defeated Yale earlier this season, 74-52 in Philadelphia; however, last season the Bulldogs pinned the Quakers with their only Ivy League loss, 78-60, here in New Haven.

The Series with Brown
• Saturday’s meeting between Penn and Brown represents the 110th; the Quakers hold a 91-18 lead in the series.

• Penn Head Coach Fran Dunphy is 27-6 against the Bears, including a 12-4 mark in Providence.

• Penn defeated Brown earlier this season, 68-51 in Philadelphia, and swept the Bears last year, 83-60 in Philadelphia and 79-62 in Providence. The year before that, the Bears swept the Quakers (92-88 OT in Providence and 78-74 in Philadelphia).

Jaaber, Dunphy Honored by collegeinsider.com
Junior guard Ibrahim Jaaber and Head Coach Fran Dunphy were honored earlier this week by www.collegeinsider.com as the Ivy League’s Player and Coach of the Year, respectively. www.collegeinsider.com is a website devoted to college basketball, with a special emphasis given to the mid-major conferences.

It is the second time Jaaber has been honored by the website; during the preseason, he was one of 25 players named to its Preseason Mid-Major All-America Team.

The Goods on Penn...
• Fran Dunphy is 166-27 (.860 win percentage) against the Ivy League since the beginning of the 1992-93 season.

• Last weekend, Penn completed its second-consecutive 7-0 Ivy League home season, and the eighth since 1993; the Quakers’ last conference home loss took place in the 2003-04 season finale, a 76-70 overtime decision to Princeton.

• Since losing its Ivy League home opener in 1991-92, Penn is 95-9 at The Palestra against the Ancient Eight (including a current streak of 14 wins); in that run, the Quakers are 9-5 against Princeton and 86-4 against the rest of the league.

• Since starting the 2003-04 Ivy campaign with two losses, Penn is 33-4 against the Ancient Eight including 16-2 on the road.

• Penn has won eight of its last nine, 12 of its last 14, and 15 of its last 18; the Quakers’ last two losses have come by a combined five points.

• In that 18-game stretch, six of the wins have come on the road (Hawaii, BYU-Hawaii, The Citadel, Dartmouth, Harvard, Cornell), the nine home wins have been by an average of 21.0 points, and 12 of the victories have been by double figures.

• All but one of Penn’s Ivy League wins this season have come by double digits, while the loss came by two points and was lost at the buzzer on a putback.

• Penn entered the week 14th nationally in steals per game (9.9), 24th in scoring defense (60.0 ppg allowed), 25th in scoring margin (+9.8) and 45th in turnovers per game (12.9).

• Penn leads the Ivy League in seven categories overall, and eight when Ivy League-only games are considered (see graphic on page 2 for more info).

• Penn has committed fewer turnovers than its opponent in 18 of the last 19 games—including five games where the margin was more than 10—compiling a +6.37 turnover margin in that stretch; the one time it did not happen was Feb. 10 at Dartmouth, when Penn had 19 turnovers and the Big Green had 18.

• Penn has had 10 or more steals in 12 games this season, nine thefts six other times, and at least seven steals in every game in 2005-06; in the last 16 games, the Quakers are averaging 10.3 steals.

Speaking Personnel-y...
• Junior forward Mark Zoller—the Big 5 Player of the Week on Jan. 23 and Ivy Player of the Week on Feb. 27—has averaged 13.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in 20 games as a starter; he has scored in double figures 13 times as a starter, and reached double figures in rebounds seven times.

• Zoller has had double-doubles in each of Penn’s last two games (13 points, 18 rebounds vs. Harvard; 17 points, 11 rebounds vs. Dartmouth).

• Sophomore guard Brian Grandieri has come off the bench to score in double figures each of the last three games (11 points at Cornell, 17 vs. Harvard, 10 vs. Dartmouth).

• Want a barometer of the Quakers’ success this season? Senior guard Eric Osmundson has averaged 11.8 ppg in Penn’s 18 wins and 5.0 ppg in its seven losses; 12 of his 13 double-figure scoring games this season have come in Quaker wins.

Stuff to “Jaaber” About...
Some things that, when you know them, make Ibrahim Jaaber a really fun player to watch...

• Jaaber entered the week second in the nation in steals per game (3.48).

• Jaaber entered the week 43rd nationally in field-goal percentage (.552); he was one of only two guards listed in the Top 50, ahead of Florida State’s Al Thornton who was 49th.

• Jaaber has been the Ivy League Player of the Week four times (Feb. 13, Jan. 16, Jan. 4, Dec. 3).

• Jaaber has 87 steals this season, giving him 204 for his career which makes him the program’s all-time leader (did we mention he is a junior?); on Jan. 25 vs. La Salle, he had five steals to surpass Jerome Allen as the program’s leader.

• Jaaber has already broken his own Penn and Ivy League records for steals in a season (87); last year, he set the marks with 85.
• Last weekend, Jaaber became just the fourth player in Ivy League history to get 200 steals in his career (again, as a junior); the others are Harvard’s Andrew Gellert (242), Harvard’s Mike Gielen (213) and Columbia’s Gary Raimondo (209).

• Jaaber has eight four-steal games, four five-steal games, one six-steal game and one seven-steal game this season.

• With all the talk about Jaaber and his ever-increasing steal total, what may get overlooked is his point total. Entering the weekend, the Ivy League’s leading scorer has 963 career points; he is on course to become just the 33rd player in Penn history to reach the 1,000-point plateau this season, as a junior.

• Jaaber has hit double figures in scoring in 25 of Penn’s last 27 games, dating back to last season. The only times he was held in single digits was Jan. 28 vs. Saint Joseph’s (9 points) and Feb. 25 vs. Dartmouth (8 points).

• Overall, Jaaber leads the Ivies in points (18.6) and steals (3.48) per game, and is in the Top 10 in four other categories.

• In Ivy League play, Jaaber leads the conference in three categories—points per game (20.0), field-goal percentage (.605) and steals per game (3.82)—and is among the top three in three other categories; if he had the minimum 3.00 assists per game instead of the 2.73 he has, his 3.33 assist/turnover ratio would also lead the Ivies.

• Jaaber is shooting .552 from the field this season, including a staggering .605 in Ivy play; despite the fact that he has taken 10 or more shots in all but one game, he has been better than 50 percent in all but five games.

Download: MBK Notes 26-27 (@Y-B).pdf