Teamwork Propels Men's Basketball to Third-Straight Winning Season

Schiffner, Begley and Chubb earn All-Ivy honors as Penn wins ECAC Holiday Festival.

April 26, 2004

The Penn men's basketball season began with some serious questions as well as some ready-made answers. The Quakers lost six seniors who led Penn to three Ivy League titles and recorded 80 career victories. Returning to the 2003-04 lineup were two proven scorers, as well as three senior leaders that had seen many ups and downs from both the bench and on the court during their four-year tenure with the Penn program. Added to that was a dash of rookie flavor, which included four freshmen and two junior transfers, and the eclectic bunch took the hardwood on November 23 against Wisconsin with hope in their hearts and a strong work ethic in their veins.

Never known to back down from nationally-ranked competition, Head Coach Fran Dunphy prepared his Quakers for a very tough road to open the season in hopes of ending it the same way they had the previous two - in the NCAA Tournament as Ivy League Champions. Penn began the season hosting No. 15 Wisconsin in The Palestra as part of the very first college basketball game televised by the College Sports Television Network (CSTV). A national audience watched as the Quakers tied the game at 40 in the second half after being down eight at halftime, but a defensive stand by the Badgers in the final three minutes handed the Quakers their first loss of the season, 64-53. Senior Jeff Schiffner led the Red and Blue with 20 points, while junior Jan Fikiel, who made just the second start of his career, poured in 10.

Penn picked up a six-point victory (79-73) over Drexel just three days later behind senior Adam Chubb's career-high 19 points. Schiffner again scored 20 points, while junior Tim Begley had eight assists and three steals for the Quakers. Penn waited 25 years for this next rematch to occur, but was hoping for different results as the No. 3 Michigan State Spartans overcame a sloppy first half to defeat the Quakers, 77-52, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. The game marked the first round of the Coca-Cola Classic that was also the 25th anniversary of the 1979 Final Four. The Quakers were also defeated by the Spartans in 1979, as Magic Johnson led Michigan State to its first-ever national championship. The 1979 East Regional champion-Quakers are still the only team since the official formation of the Ivy League in 1955-56 to have made it to the NCAA Final Four in men's basketball.

The Red and Blue regrouped the following day against Indiana State, defeating the Sycamores, 86-48, in the consolation game of the Coca Cola Classic. Led by senior Charlie Copp's career-high 18 points, which he scored all in the first half, the Quakers shot a season-high 61 percent from the field and hit 12 three-pointers in the contest. The Quakers outrebounded Indiana State, 40-24, which included a career-high 11 boards by Chubb, who finished the game with his first career double-double with 14 points. Copp earned All-Tournament Team honors for his thrilling performance.

Despite a valiant comeback attempt, the Quakers fell to No. 12 Saint Joseph's, 67-59, in the third annual Big 5 Classic at The Palestra. Schiffner went point-for-point with National Player of the Year Jameer Nelson as each scored 23 points on the night. Penn's third game against a nationally ranked opponent was everything it was cracked up to be. Freshman Mark Zoller scored his first points in the game and two free throws by Chubb cut the Hawks lead to five with 57 seconds remaining in the contest. Nelson made one of two free throws before Copp hit the team's 13th trifecta of the game to bring the Quakers within three with 38 seconds left. Unfortunately, the Quakers would score no more as Saint Joseph's went 5-for-6 from the free throw line to end the game with an eight-point victory.

Penn was ready to close out the first part of its season with its first Philadelphia Big 5 victory, but the Villanova Wildcats had other plans. The Quakers made an offensive surge in the second stanza, however it was not enough as Villanova shot 63.2 percent from the floor to take a 10-point victory, 73-63. Chubb recorded 17 points, 13 of which came in the second half, to lead Penn.

The Red and Blue began the second part of the 2003-04 campaign in Lewisburg, Pa. against Bucknell. Both teams came into the game after 11-day layoffs for final exams, and the defenses on both sides clearly came back to form ahead of the offenses in the first half. Begley scored five second-half three-pointers (career-high 19 points), and Penn tallied 42-points in the second half to give them a 58-49 victory over the Bison. Penn's defense came alive as they bottled up Kevin Bettencourt, the Patriot League's leading scorer at 19.2 ppg entering the contest. Bettencourt was held without a field goal for the first time in his career and finished with five points and five assists.

Fortunately, the Quakers' second layoff of the season yielded the same results as Penn won the 2003 Dreyfus Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden for just the second time in the tournament's history. Both games were tight, but the shooting duo of Schiffner and Begley helped pull the Red and Blue through to victory on back-to-back nights. Against St. John's, it took two overtimes before Schiffner's jumper with 0.8 seconds left in the contest gave the Quakers a two-point win (63-61) and a berth in the title game against two-time defending champs Manhattan. Penn held the lead most of the game until they came across a St. John's defensive stance with six minutes remaining in regulation that put a halt to all that was happy on the Quakers' bench.

Three players had double-scoring figures as Schiffner led the way with 17 points, while Begley had 16 and Chubb added 12. The contest was Penn's first overtime game since a loss to Providence on Dec. 20, 2002, and was the tournament's first overtime game since Dec. 30, 1992. It had been a long time between double overtime games for the Quakers, as the last time was on Dec. 29, 1997 when the Red and Blue fell to Santa Clara, 89-76, in the Cable Car Classic.

The following night's game against Manhattan proved just as exciting. Begley's jumper with the shot clock winding down (42 seconds left on the game clock) and Honorable Mention All-American Luis Flores in his face hit its target to give Penn an emotional 49-47 victory. The win was the third-straight for the Quakers and both Begley and Schiffner were named All-Tournament, with Schiffner taking home Most Valuable Player honors. Freshman Mark Zoller did not disappoint in just his third collegiate start. The rookie from St. Joseph's Prep scored a career-high 12 points and pulled down eight tough rebounds, including one to end the game after a Manhattan miss, to impress the masses at the Garden. He finished the night shooting 6-for-12 from the field, grabbing three blocks and two steals. The trophy was Penn's first since winning the Golden Bear Classic at Cal in 1999.

Penn had another week-long break to prepare for the high-flying Lafayette Leopards in the first game of the new year. Chubb scored 17 points and had eight rebounds as Penn defeated Lafayette, 88-68, for its fourth straight win. The Quakers scored a season-high 50 points in the first half, which included a 10-point effort by Chubb. Penn shot 50 percent from the floor and hit 12 three-pointers in the victory. Unfortunately, the Quakers' winning streak would be halted just three days later as the Rider Broncs handed Penn a 77-72 overtime loss. Despite another good shooting performance by Penn, the Quakers could not hold onto a seven-point lead with two minutes remaining in regulation. It was the first-ever meeting between the teams, but Rider was no stranger to the Ivy League this season, improving to 4-0 against the Ancient Eight with the victory. Schiffner finished the game with 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and no turnovers, while Zoller and Begley each had 12 points.

The Quakers headed back into their Big 5 schedule with games against La Salle and Temple. Against the Explorers, Begley's career-high 20 points was the difference in a 71-47 victory over La Salle in Penn's first Philadelphia Big 5 win of the season. The Quakers held the Explorers to just 25 percent shooting from the floor and outrebounded La Salle, 49-36, to improve to 7-5 on the season. Several defensive stands by the Quakers held off any La Salle attempt at gaining on the lead during the second half. Zoller and Chubb recorded double-doubles in the game with the elder posting 11 points and 11 rebounds, while the rookie had a career-high 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.

The final non-conference game of the season matched Temple and Penn at The Palestra with both teams wanting to gain ground in the Big 5 standings. Begley led the Quakers with a career-high 22 points but his effort was not enough as the Red and Blue fell, 73-69. Penn pulled within one with 3:04 remaining (62-61) after Schiffner hit one of his four three-balls on the night, but the Owls hit nine-of-10 free-throw attempts in the final 2:33 to secure the win. In four Big 5 games this season, Begley averaged 12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals per contest.

Penn was excited about beginning defense of its two-straight Ivy League championships when the Quakers opened the 2003-04 Ancient Eight season at Yale and Brown at the end of January. What they did not count on was heading home with two losses to begin the Ivy season at the bottom of the ladder. Yale snapped Penn's 23-game regular-season conference winning streak with a 54-52 victory in New Haven. Ironically, the Quakers' last Ivy League loss came at Yale on Feb. 8, 2002. Begley scored 20+ points for the third-straight game to lead the Quakers, but this time not all of his points came from behind the arc. Begley had 15 points in the first half, which included a perfect 3-for-3 effort from the three-point line and a perfect 4-for-4 effort from the free throw line. He also had two steals and two offensive boards in the first stanza to help Penn come back from a 12-point first half deficit. Begley hit his fourth trifecta (and his first in the second half) to give Penn a three-point lead with 2:46 remaining (52-49), but it would be the last points Penn would put on the scoreboard.

The following night was more of the same. Up four points with six seconds left in regulation, Brown's Jaime Kilburn scored on a layup, the Quakers fouled him on the play, and he converted one free throw and purposefully missed the second. The Bears got the rebound and Mike Martin floated the ball into the basket to tie the game at 75 at the buzzer to force overtime. The Bears' momentum continued into the extra stanza as Brown shot 72 percent from the field and hit all five of their free throws to hand the Quakers their second loss of the Ivy League season, 92-88, in overtime. The loss marked the first time in Dunphy's tenure at Penn that the Quakers were swept in the opening weekend of the Ivy League season. Actually, the last time the Red and Blue were defeated twice in the opening weekend of an Ivy season was in 1981-82 by the same teams - Brown (76-75) and Yale (49-48) - but finished the Ancient Eight campaign with a 12-0 run and the Ivy League title. The loss also marked the first time since the 2000-01 season that Penn dropped three-straight games.

The Quakers regrouped from what they considered a temporary setback and slapped Harvard with a 104-69 loss in the first Ivy League game of the season at The Palestra. The Quakers shot 66 percent from the floor for the game and went over the 100-point plateau for just the second time in the last three seasons when junior guard Patrick Lang hit a three with 1:12 left in the game. Schiffner scored 15 points and Penn regained its shooting touch in the second half to defeat Dartmouth, 67-49, the following night. Copp had 11 points and Fikiel had 10 for Penn, which defeated the Big Green for the 14th-straight time.

Heading into the biggest game of the season with a 2-2 Ivy mark, the Quakers traveled to Jadwin Gym to take on the 4-0 Princeton Tigers. Schiffner, who had been in the same "backs against the wall" situation during the 2001-02 season, scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the first half, Zoller chipped in 16 points and five rebounds and Penn shot 63 percent in the first 20 minutes and 9-for-15 from three-point range for the game on the way to a 67-52 victory over the Tigers. The Quakers recorded their fifth-straight victory against Princeton in a game where the Tigers' biggest lead was 2-0 to open the scoring.

Penn recorded two more tough road victories over Columbia and Cornell to put itself back in the driver's seat in the Ancient Eight race. Schiffner continued his hot-shooting as he scored a career-high 28 points to lead five players in double-scoring figures as the Quakers defeated Columbia, 91-76, in New York City. Penn shot 61.5 percent from the field for the game and outscored Columbia, 45-36, in the first half to run away with their fourth-straight victory. The following night against Cornell, freshman Ibrahim Jaaber gave Schiffner some rest and led the Quakers with a career-high 17 points as Penn defeated the Big Red, 79-52, in Ithaca. The Quakers scored more than 75 points for the second-straight game and the sixth time in 2003-04.

The most anticipated rematch of the season was held on Feb. 20 at The Palestra. The Brown Bears and the Penn Quakers were tied for second place behind Princeton and neither was going to lie down quietly. Penn cut a 15-point deficit to one on a jumper by Jaaber with 46 seconds left in the game, but the Quakers could not overcome an almost-perfect free-throw shooting performance by the Bears (13-for-14), including a 4-for-4 effort in the final 30 seconds, and fell, 78-74. Despite a career-high night of 24 points by Zoller and 21 points by Chubb, the Quakers could not find their outside shooting touch and finished the contest shooting 14.3 percent (3-for-21) from behind the arc.

Down, but not totally out, the Quakers took on Yale the following night in hopes of salvaging a split with the Bulldogs. Zoller and Copp each scored 12 points and the Quakers went 9-for-10 from the free throw line in the final minutes of the game to secure the 69-61 victory. Coupled with a Brown loss to Princeton, the Quakers and Bears still had a fighting chance to earn a tie with the Tigers, but would need help from the rest of the League in the next two weeks.

Penn took care of business the next weekend by finishing the season sweep of Cornell and Columbia. Schiffner scored 24 points, Jaaber recorded 14 of his 17 points in the second half, and Penn used scoring outbursts in each half to defeat Cornell, 84-69. A combination of Penn guards led by Copp held Ka'Ron Barnes, the Ivy League's leading scorer (21 points per game), to just 10 points. Penn shot 55 percent from the field and 92 percent from the free throw line in the second half en route to its seventh Ivy League victory of the season. Penn picked up its eighth victory in the last nine contests with a 64-50 win over Columbia the following night as Copp recorded a career-high nine rebounds and four players scored double-figures.

Penn's final two road games of the season were both high scoring affairs. The Quakers began with a 81-59 defeat of Dartmouth. Penn forced 18 Big Green turnovers and scored 25 points off those miscues to pick up its ninth win in the last 10 contests. Begley finished the game with 18 points, 16 of which he scored in the first half. Led again by Begley's 17 points, the Quakers defeated Harvard, 77-56, to complete its fourth series sweep of the season. Penn had another impressive second-half of shooting, hitting 17-of-27 field goals, and finishing the game hitting 53 percent from the floor.

Despite Princeton clinching the 2003-04 Ivy League title against Dartmouth the previous weekend, the Quakers worked hard for the next three days in hopes of keeping one streak alive - for the past 13 years, the team that won the first game in the Penn-Princeton series also won the second. Penn was looking for a little luck like that in the season finale at The Palestra, but despite Chubb's 18-point, 10-rebound performance, the Quakers fell, 76-70, in overtime. The game marked the fourth OT contest of the season for the Red and Blue. It was Begley's heroics that once again gave the Quakers hope. The junior guard made two free throws to bring Penn within two with 52 seconds left in regulation, and then found the basket with one second left in regulation to tie the score at 61 and send the game into overtime. Andre Logan hit four-straight free throws at the end of overtime to give the Tigers their ninth-straight regular season victory and send the Quakers home for the summer.

Although Penn's ultimate goal of the Ivy League three-peat fell a couple of games short, there was no lack of individual accolades for the Quakers. Schiffner earned his second-straight unanimous first-team All-Ivy League nod, while Begley was named second-team All-Ivy and Chubb earned honorable mention honors. The Schiffner-Begley duo also earned second-team All-Philadelphia Big 5 accolades. Schiffner scored his 1,000th career point against Brown on Feb. 20 in The Palestra and finished his career 26th all-time in career points at Penn with 1,081. He is also second at Penn in all-time three-point field goals with 220 and has locked up fourth and fifth place on the three-pointers made in a season list with 76 trifectas this year and 74 three-pointers last season, respectively.

Begley also made his second career appearance on the All-League team after earning honorable mention accolades as a sophomore. The junior guard finished the season averaging 13.1 points per game and was first in the Ivy League in three-point shooting percentage (45.6) and three-point field goals made per game (3.07). Begley finished the regular season sixth on Penn's three-pointers made in a career list with 177 and is now third all-time in three-point field goals made in a season with 83. Begley also finished the season ninth in NCAA Division I in three-point field goal percentage and 23rd in trifectas made per game.

Chubb earned his first All-Ivy accolade for the Quakers. Penn's starting center averaged 10.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in 2004, and finished the regular season tied for first in the Ivy League in rebounding. Chubb recorded several career highs during his senior season, including 21 points against Brown, six assists against Rider and four blocks against Brown.

As a team, the Quakers finished first in the Ivy League in scoring margin (+7.9), three-point field goal percentage (.397), three-point field goal percentage defense (.319), assists (16.0), assists:turnover ratio (1.17) and three-point field goals made per game (8.74). The Red and Blue finished 10th in NCAA Division I in three-pointers made per game and 11th in three-point field goal percentage.

Despite the loss of three seniors - Chubb, Copp and Schiffner - the Quakers will have a full arsenal of returning talent for the start of the 2004-05 season as five seniors will lead Penn on the hardwood, led by two-time All-Ivy honoree Begley.

Written by Carla Zighelboim