Quakers, Tigers Meet For Latest Chapter in Historic Rivalry

Penn-Princeton Game Notes in PDF Format

PHILADELPHIA - CBS likes to talk about “one shining moment” when it comes to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and of course we are in the midst of ESPN’s “Championship Week” when celebrations are the norm.

Penn’s Ivy League championship moment was a little different. The Quakers clinched a share of the Ancient Eight title Friday night with a win against Yale -- for the second year in a row, they were the first team to punch their ticket -- but anyone who was at the game or saw the highlights on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” late Friday and on into Saturday saw Penn players who were breathing a sigh of relief more than they were celebrating. That, after the Quakers handed the Bulldogs a chance at a game-winning shot (a prayer, fortunately, that was not answered).

The true celebration actually came about 20 minutes later, when the players were not even on the court. That was when news filtered out that Brown had knocked off Princeton, pushing Penn’s lead in the Ivy League to three games over the Tigers with two to play -- in other words, insurmountable. Only then did the Quakers know they had secured their ninth NCAA Tournament bid since 1993.

“It never gets old,” said Head Coach Fran Dunphy after the news of Princeton’s loss hit. “It is always exciting to be able to watch the Selection Show on Sunday afternoon and wonder where you are going and who you are going to play. That is what college basketball is all about.”

Penn could have been excused for mailing it in one night later at Brown, but in true championship fashion the Quakers did not (as if Dunphy would let them!). After falling behind by double figures, Penn battled back and grabbed an overtime victory.

Of course, before any of that speculation takes place, there is still some unfinished business left in the regular season. Penn heads to Princeton’s Jadwin Gym to play the latest installment in what is undoubtedly the most heated rivalry in Ivy League men’s basketball. It is well known that either the Quakers or the Tigers have won a share of the Ivy League title and/or represented the conference in the NCAA Tournament every year since 1988, and all but two years dating back to 1962. It might well be the most impressive display of dominance in college basketball during the last half-century.

The Series with Princeton
• Tonight’s meeting between Penn and Princeton is the 214th in men’s basketball; the Quakers lead the series, 117-96, and has won three in a row.

• Penn Head Coach Fran Dunphy is 20-14 against the Tigers, including a 10-6 mark at Jadwin Gym; surprisingly, he has a better record against Princeton here than he does at home in The Palestra (10-7). Dunphy was the losing coach the one time these teams played on a neutral court, when Princeton took a 63-56 overtime decision in a 1996 playoff game to determine the Ivy League’s NCAA representative.

• A classic rivalry? Yes, four games in the 17-year Dunphy era have gone to overtime (including one each of the last two seasons). But you may be surprised to know that just nine of the other 30 games have been decided by single digits, and the average margin of victory during the Dunphy era has been 11.6 points.

• Under Dunphy, Penn has swept Princeton eight times, been swept by the Tigers five times, and split the regular-season series three times.

The Goods on Penn...
• Fran Dunphy is 168-27 (.862 win percentage) against the Ivy League since the beginning of the 1992-93 season.

• Since starting the 2003-04 Ivy campaign with two losses, Penn is 35-4 against the Ancient Eight including 18-2 on the road.

• Penn reached the 20-win plateau for the second-straight season, the fourth time in the last five years, and the ninth time since 1992-93.

• Penn has won five in a row, 10 of its last 11, 14 of its last 16, and 17 of its last 20; the Quakers’ last two losses have come by a combined five points.

• In that 20-game stretch, eight of the wins have come on the road, the nine home wins came by an average of 21.0 points, and 12 of the victories have been by double figures.

• Nine of Penn’s 12 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 went 7-0 at home against Ivy opponents for the second-consecutive season, and the eighth time since 1993; the Quakers’ last conference home loss took place in the 2003-04 season finale, a 76-70 overtime decision to Princeton.

• Penn entered last 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); NCAA statistics are released on Tuesday afternoons, too late for these notes.

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

• Penn has committed fewer turnovers than its opponent in 19 of the last 21 games -- including five games where the margin was more than 10 -- compiling a +6.00 turnover margin in that stretch; the two times it did not happen, Penn had just one more turnover than its opponent.

• Penn has had 10 or more steals in 14 games this season -- including four of the last five contests -- nine thefts six other times, and at least seven steals in every game in 2005-06; in the last five games, the Quakers are averaging 11.4 steals.

Speaking Personnel-y...
• Junior forward Mark Zoller has had double-doubles in each of Penn’s last four games (15.3 ppg, 12.8 rpg in that stretch).

• Sophomore guard Brian Grandieri has come off the bench to score in double figures four of the last five games (11.2 ppg in that stretch).

• Junior forward Steve Danley has scored in double figures three-straight games (11.3 ppg in that stretch).

• Senior walk-on forward Greg Kuchinski played 16 minutes this past weekend (5 at Yale, 11 at Brown) after playing just five total the entire season; he had six rebounds during the weekend.

• Want a barometer of the Quakers’ success this season? Senior guard Eric Osmundson has averaged 12.1 ppg in Penn’s 20 wins and 5.0 ppg in its seven losses; 14 of his 15 double-figure scoring games this season have come in Quaker wins.

• Osmundson has 14 assists and two turnovers in the last four games.

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

• Jaaber entered last week second in the nation in steals per game (3.48); NCAA statistics are released on Tuesday afternoons, too late for these notes.

• Jaaber entered last 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 93 steals this season, giving him 210 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 (93); last year, he set the marks with 85.

• Jaaber is 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 985 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 26 of Penn’s last 29 games, dating back to last season. The only times he was held in single digits was Jan. 28 vs. Saint Joseph’s (9 points), Feb. 25 vs. Dartmouth (8) and March 3 at Yale (9).

• Overall, Jaaber leads the Ivies in points (18.1) and steals (3.44) per game, and is in the Top 10 in five other categories.

• In Ivy League play, Jaaber leads the conference in points (18.6) and steals (3.69) per game, and is among the top four in four other categories; if he had the minimum 3.00 assists per game instead of the 2.69 he has, his 2.33 assist/turnover ratio would also lead the Ivies.

• Jaaber is shooting .546 from the field this season, including .587 in Ivy play; despite the fact that he has taken 10 or more shots in all but three games, he has been better than 50 percent in all but six games.

Download: MBK Notes 28 (@Princeton).pdf