Category Archives: Men's Basketball

Penn basketball has a beautiful new practice facility at Hutchinson Gym

Earlier this week, I interviewed Penn basketball coach Jerome Allen for a story in the next issue of the Gazette. The best part about the chat? It took place in Allen’s brand new office overlooking a brand new basketball court at the recently renovated Hutchinson Gymnasium.

The John R. Rockwell Court is part of several upgrades to the creaky old gym. Others include a new fencing room, as well as improvements to the school’s golf, gymnastics and rowing training facilities.

For Allen, whose old office was in a cramped space at the Dunning Coaches’ Center and whose team’s practice court was in a stuffy upstairs gym at Weightman Hall, the major upgrades mean a lot.

“In order to be successful as a program, commitment has to come from the top,” he said. “And I think this building kind of is like a statement that they really care about basketball at Penn. It’s beautiful. I thank every person that donated a penny to make this happen for us. And I’m quite sure the guys will get a lot of use out of it.”

Some parts of Hutch Gym are still under construction but I snapped a few photos of the renovations, which I’ll share below.

A look from above at John R. Rockwell Court.

A look from above at the center of John R. Rockwell Court.

The basketball coaches offices have glass windows overlooking the court.

The basketball coaches offices have glass windows overlooking the court.

A look from the inside of head coach Jerome Allen's new office.

A look from the inside of head coach Jerome Allen’s new office.

A look down the hallway outside the coaches offices.

A look down the hallway outside the coaches offices.

Some photos - and bobbleheads! - are already decorating the shelves outside the offices.

Some photos – and bobbleheads! – are already decorating the shelves outside the offices.

The new fencing training room was named after longtime coach Dave Micahnik.

The new fencing training room was named after longtime coach Dave Micahnik.

Some parts of the Hutch Gym renovations - like the gymnastics room - are still under construction.

Some parts of the Hutch Gym renovations – like the gymnastics room – are still under construction.

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Penn grad gets his ‘Rocky’ moment

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It’s been a week since the Penn men’s basketball season ended.

But last night, a former Penn point guard captured the imagination of the college basketball world.

Andy Toole C’03, who led the Quakers to the NCAA tournament in 2002 and 2003, coached his Robert Morris team to a stunning upset of defending national champion Kentucky in the first round of the NIT.

Afterwards, the Robert Morris fans rushed the court, the game was splashed all over ESPN (see the pictures below) and Toole, one of the youngest head coaches in Division I, suddenly became a household name.

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Of course, Penn fans have known about Toole long before his little-known program channeled its inner “Rocky” (click that link to read a terrific piece that truly sets the scene and explains the “Rocky” theme) to send a home a John Calipari-coached Kentucky team that started the season ranked No. 3 in the nation.

After transferring from Elon, he became, as one former player once told me, “the glue that made everything fit,” taking a team that sputtered in 2000-01 to back-to-back Ivy League championships.

Not long after that, he got into coaching, first as an assistant at Lafayette and then at Robert Morris, where he went back to the NCAA tournament in 2009 and 2010. (The Colonials, by most accounts, were robbed of a first-round upset of Villanova in the first round of the 2010 Big Dance.)

Toole was named head coach the following season, and although he hasn’t been able return to the NCAA tournament, he got a chance to earn his signature moment last night when Kentucky couldn’t play at home because Rupp Arena was hosting the NCAAs and had to travel to Robert Morris’s 3,000-seat gym near Calipari’s hometown.

Toole made the most of the unique opportunity and the Penn grad, who has already heard his name come up in offseason coaching rumors, could now be in line for a bigger job because of it.

But that’s all in the future. For now, let’s leave you with this terrific picture that’s been circulating on Twitter today, of Toole with his son Ryan, just after winning one of the biggest games of his life.

Toole wtih baby

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On This Date – 2003

I still remember back in November of 2002 when I asked every basketball coach in the city who the favorite was to win the Big 5. I was a reporter for the Daily Pennsylvanian then, and I wasn’t sure how they would respond. But all of the coaches practically laughed at my face because the answer was so obvious.

It was Penn. Of course it was Penn.

(Imagine that being the case today.)

Returning everyone from a 2001-02 team that went 4-0 in the Big 5 and battled back from three early league losses to win the Ivy title, expectations were certainly soaring for the Quakers heading into the 2002-03 campaign. And the excitement on campus was palpable, with some people predicting that the team could be the best one since the Jerome AllenMatt Maloney days in the early 1990s – or maybe even before then.

Today, the players on Fran Dunphy’s 2002-03 squad – a group led by point guard Andy Toole C’03, forwards Ugonna Onyekwe W’03 and Koko Archibong C’03, sharpshooters Tim Begley W’05 and Jeff Schiffner C’04, and sixth man Dave Klatsky W’03 – will probably tell you they underachieved because they didn’t win a game in the NCAA tournament.

But that’s not entirely fair.

The team still boasted a sterling 22-6 overall record, dismantled USC by 38 points by shooting a school-record 72 percent from the field, and raced through the Ivy League unbeaten to earn a second straight 11 seed in the NCAA tournament.

How hard is it go 14-0 in the Ivy League? The 2002-03 squad is the last team at Penn to do it and only the seventh in program history to accomplish the feat (with the others being the 1969-70, 1970-71, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1999-2000 teams).

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2002-03 Ivy champs, I decided to take a look back at one of that season’s most memorable wins – a 73-66 win over Brown on this date in 2003. And I decided to do so with the help of Klatsky, who buried probably the biggest three-pointer of his career with 40 seconds left to turn a two-point lead into a five-point lead and sent the Palestra crowd into frenzy.

You can watch the shot here.

Now let’s turn it over to Klatksy – an assistant coach at Colgate – who was kind enough to offer his thoughts of that game, the unlikely rivalry with Brown and the season in general…

Klatsky

After starting as the team’s point guard as a sophomore, Klatsky became an effective bench player during his junior and senior years.

On what he was thinking before making the shot:

“Koko, what are you doing – why are you passing me the ball with three seconds on the shot clock?  Oh, you’re passing it to me? OK, I’ll shoot it – thank god Forte is letting me shoot it.”

On his reaction after making the shot:

“I had just hit one of two threes so that third one really was make or break. If I make it, I finish the last couple minutes hitting two huge threes. But if I miss it, then I took two huge threes and missed both of them. I loved taking huge shots but I sure am glad I hit two of three and didn’t miss two of three.”

On the rivalry with Brown:

“We knew the Ivies were going to be really strong that year. Yale was still a great team but they lost some close ones early, Princeton was very solid that year and we knew Brown had a chance to be good in the preseason because they returned the nucleus of their team. By the time the first meeting rolled around we knew they were a legitimate threat. They had really good players and had a lot of experience. Both of the Brown games that year were unforgettable. I’ll never forget going to play at their place later that year which was basically for the championship (since it would put us two games up) and having their fans line the sidewalks when our bus arrived. If that wasn’t enough, they had Chris Berman announce the starting lineups. You couldn’t ask for a more electric atmosphere for a college basketball game.”

[Editor’s note: Then-Brown coach Glen Miller added flames to the rivalry when, shortly after Klatsky’s shot and Penn’s win at the Palestra, he told reporters that his team “got jammed up our asses by three officials” and that they “outplayed [Penn] the whole freakin’ game.” Those unsportsmanlike comments made his hiring at Penn three years later troublesome to some fans and alumni.]

On going 14-0 in the league:

“We had a lot of expectations coming in to the year and that caught up with us early as we dropped two of three to start the season and then got smoked at Colorado. I don’t think anyone truthfully expected a 14-0 Ivy season with as good as the Ivies were that season. It helped that we were a veteran team and knew how to win games. Unless you’ve played in the Ivies, it’s hard to explain how tough it is to play and win on the road in those back-to-back games.”

On some of his best memories of the season:

  • Going to California and having Koko’s family take care of us all and then having what seemed like everyone he ever talked to come support us at the Forum for what is arguably the best Penn game in history when we shot 80 percent in the first half and beat USC by 40.
  • Playing that season with NB on our shorts in tribute to Tim Begley’s father Neil who passed away before the season.
  • Playing a tough Oklahoma State team in the first round of the tourney and loving the matchup when it showed up on TV and hating it when we realized how good their guards were – i.e. Tony Allen.
  • Being disappointed that we didn’t make noise in the NCAA tourney because I had such confidence in our team and truly believed we had the capabilities to make a run. In that respect, as well as we did, it still seems like we underachieved.
  • In the last game of the season, we already clinched the Ivies but we still had our game at Princeton left. It’s Penn-Princeton, so records don’t really matter. As we got to Jadwin, Andy Toole realized he didn’t pack his shoes. As Toole warmed up in running shoes, our managers were on the horn trying to get a hold of a friend who was coming to the game. Luckily for us, our friend Matt Mezvinsky was able to bring the shoes to Andy ten minutes before game time.  I’m pretty sure Coach Dunph never knew about this.”

Many thanks to Klatsky for sharing such great memories from such a special season – and a special shot.

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Midseason basketball report: Can the Quakers’ downward spiral be stopped?

Nelson-Henry

Freshman Darius Nelson-Henry has been a recent bright spot for Penn

PRINCETON, N.J. – Lots of familiar words were being thrown around in the postgame press conference at Princeton on Saturday.

Following another disappointing loss in a season filled with them, Penn head coach Jerome Allen talked about how the team is young but that they can’t use that as a “cheap crutch” (which has become one of his signature phrases this season). He said the expectations remain high because of the tradition of the program. He refused to overly praise the opponent, instead harping on his own team’s shortcomings and lack of urgency. He dismissed the idea that leading scorer Fran Dougherty being out with mono is hurting the team.

Basically, Allen said all the same things he’s been saying for most of the season – which has been, in no uncertain terms, a very poor one (as the Quakers’ Ivy League-opening loss to Princeton, 2-13 record and dreadfully low RPI all indicate).

But following Allen’s turn in front of reporters, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson also said something familiar. Following in the same vein as Butler coach Brad Stevens, La Salle coach John Giannini and Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon, Henderson said the Quakers are on the verge of being a much better team.

“I see the record in front of me,” Henderson noted, “but they’re bubbling.”

Are these coaches simply being nice after a win? Maybe. Is it just false hope? Perhaps. Is there also a chance Penn won’t get any better this year? Certainly. Do the glory days when Penn would compete for an Ivy title year after year seem excruciatingly far away? Definitely.

But what if these coaches are right? What if Penn is able to cut down on its turnovers and fouls and all of the other issues that have plagued them through the first half of the season? Perhaps this is being overly optimistic, but at the midway point of the 2012-13 season, we present five reasons why the future of the Penn men’s basketball program may in fact be bright.

1. The freshmen: In the last few games, we’ve gotten a good glimpse into the potential of guard Tony Hicks and center Darius Nelson-Henry. And by the looks of it, these two guys will be big-time players for the next three-and-a-half seasons. Hicks has the unique ability (at least by Ivy League standards) of being to break down almost anyone off the dribble and finish his drives – and Allen has slowly been increasing his minutes and putting the ball in his hands in big moments. And Nelson-Henry has been effectively using his 6-foot-11, 265-pound frame to become a very good post player. A high-scoring guard and a talented center sounds like a pretty good foundation, doesn’t it? (The jury’s still out on point guard Jamal Lewis, who’s mostly struggled this season, and Julian Harrell, who’s been sidelined with an injury.)

2. The big men: The absence of Dougherty has allowed Nelson-Henry to shine. But what about when Dougherty comes back? Assuming he can return for the start of the Friday-Saturday Ivy games in February (which, granted, is a big assumption), Allen will have a very nice stable of frontcourt players at his disposal. On top of Nelson-Henry and Dougherty, there’s also starting forwards Henry Brooks and Greg Louis, both of whom are foul-prone but talented. All of these players still have improvements to make but it’s hard to remember a recent time when Penn had this many promising big men.

3. The ability to come back: This one might not mean much to the people that only look at wins and losses but the old never-say-die cliché certainly applies to this team. Against Lafayette last Tuesday, the Quakers erased a 17-point deficit to tie the game – before losing by two. At Princeton on Saturday, they trimmed a 20-point deficit down to 10 to make sure the game wasn’t a blowout.  And in their season-opening win over UMBC, they came back from 22 points down – the largest comeback in program history. Considering they’re one of the youngest teams in the country, this could be an indicator that they’re indeed “bubbling.”

4. Dau Jok: The junior guard will never be a star. But if you’re looking for good players to root for, he’s your man. Jok didn’t play much during his first two seasons but was always the first one out on the floor to congratulate teammates and often stayed late in the gym after games to work on his shot. Because of that, Jok was named a tri-captain (along with Dougherty and Miles Cartwright) this season and has since enjoyed some nice games, showcasing a much-improved jump shot, terrific hustle and excellent rebounding ability. And off the court, he’s just a model citizen, having already started a foundation to fight poverty in his native South Sudan.

5. Next year’s recruits: Granted, the recruiting game is often a crapshoot and it’s hard to know who the best players will be. But next year’s class – Allen’s third – seems to be his most promising one yet, with point guard Tony Bagtas and high-scoring swingman Matt Howard turning down offers from bigger programs to come to Penn. Both players could immediately fill needs, and Dave Winfield Jr., the son of the former Major League Baseball star, is an exciting prospect too. Plus, maybe having a Baseball Hall of Famer come to the Palestra will be good for karma, right?

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Here’s a toast to dear old Penn

This past year was a great one for Penn sports, as I tried to document with this list of memorable games. But it was also a sad one, as a few Quaker legends passed away. Here’s a brief tribute to some of the ones we lost in 2012:

George Savitsky Ed’48 D’54 GD’59

July 30, 1924 – September 4, 2012

George SavitskyA four-time All-American from 1944-47, Savitsky was one of the greatest football players ever to play for Penn – during one of the program’s greatest stretches.

Led by the bruising offensive tackle, the Quakers were ranked 10th in the nation in 1945, 13th in 1946 and seventh in 1947 (which stands as the program’s highest finish ever).

Savitsky, who was also a member of the track and field and wrestling teams while at Penn, was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1947 and won NFL championships in 1948 and 1949 with the Birds, before returning to Penn to study to become a dentist. He lived most of his life as an oral surgeon in New Jersey.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991 and was also a member of the second class to be inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.

Bob Odell C’43

March 5, 1922 – December 15, 2012

Bob Odell 1Another standout football player from the 1940s, Odell did it all for the Quakers as one of the last great iron-man players. He ran, passed, punted, received, returned kickoffs and punts and played defense from 1940-43, winning the Maxwell Trophy and coming in second in the Heisman Trophy voting as a senior in 1943.

He was drafted into the NFL in 1944 but instead served two years in the United States Navy, before giving up football due to a knee injury. But he only gave up playing football and quickly got into coaching, compiling an overall record of 136-95-5 as the head coach for Bucknell, Penn and Williams.

He was the head coach at Penn from 1965 to 1970 before taking over at Williams.

He was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 1992 and was a charter member of the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996.

Dick Harter Ed’53

October 14, 1930 – March 12, 2012

dick harterA basketball lifer, Harter is perhaps best known for coaching Penn to a perfect regular season in 1970-71 that ended in devastating fashion.

Before that, Harter played for the Quakers as a reserve guard, was an assistant coach for Penn after graduating and returned to his alma mater as head coach in 1966 after a brief stint at Rider. His 1969-70 and 1970-71 teams were two of the best in program history – and his Marine-like intensity was a big reason why.

In 1971 Harter left Penn to coach the University of Oregon, where his teams were known as the “Kamikaze Kids” because of their fast-paced defensive style. He later coached at Penn State and then spent many years as an NBA coach (for the Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Portland Trailblazers, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers).

Harter was inducted into the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame in 1993. Three years later, he was a member of the inaugural class inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame.

Albert Richmond “Boo” Morcom

May 1, 1921 – October 3, 2012

Morcom2A track and field star at the University of New Hampshire and an Olympian, Morcom came to Penn in 1948 to be an assistant coach for the Quakers’ track program.

Two years later, he was recalled for duty in the Korean War (where he served as an office and jumpmaster in the 101st Airborne Division known as “The Screaming Eagles”) before returning to Penn, where he spent 35 years as an assistant coach, a head coach and, finally, the director of intramural athletics.

During his lifetime, Boo was elected into seven halls of fame, including the Braintree High School Athletic Hall of Fame, the UNH Athletic Hall of Fame, the Pole Vault Hall of Fame, the Massachusetts Track Coaches Hall of Fame, and as a coach in the Women’s Track and Field Hall of Fame.

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Former players remember Dick Harter

photo-18Jim Wolf W’71 was all set to go to the Pittsburgh Steelers game this past weekend when he got a call to say that Penn was honoring his former coach, Dick Harter Ed’53, at halftime of Saturday’s game against Villanova at the Palestra.

He immediately dropped everything and told his wife, Susan, that they had to go to Philadelphia. That’s how much he respected and admired Harter, a legendary former Penn basketball player and coach who died in March of cancer at the age of 81.

“He was harder than nails on you when you played for him but he was fair, he was honest, he was humble, and you wanted to play for him,” Wolf said. “I wanted to be here for him today.”

Harter is best known for coaching the 1970-71 team to a perfect regular season (the subject of a 40-year anniversary feature I wrote for the Gazette) in what would be his final year at Penn.

Wolf, a senior on that squad, was joined by Steve Bilsky W’71, Dave Wohl Penn BB CardsC’71, Corky Calhoun W’72 and Bob Morse W’72 in what was arguably the greatest starting lineup in Penn, if not Big 5, history.

Calhoun, who played in the NBA from 1972-1980 after graduating from Penn (see his and Wohl’s old playing cards to the left), was another one of Harter’s former players in attendance for Saturday’s halftime ceremony, which included a very nice video tribute.

“It’s great to think back to those days and the success we had at the University of Pennsylvania,” Calhoun said. “Dick Harter was in the very middle of it. He built the program. I’m just glad to have been a part of it.”

When asked about Harter, the first word Calhoun used was “intensity.” That’s just how Harter, a former Marine, liked to coach.

“What I remember from practices is we had a drill called ‘Hands up’ where you shuffle back and forth across the floor,” Calhoun said. “I’ll never forget those days when it felt like it was meaningless to do that, but I think it did pay off and gave us a few extra victories.”

Wolf relayed a similar story about Harter’s grueling, no-nonsense approach to practice.

“Nowadays if coaches don’t keep you hydrated in practice, it’s terrible,” Wolf said. “In those days, you had to earn a drink of water. I can’t tell you how many times we might have earned a drink of water but we didn’t get it because he kicked the water bucket over because he was upset about something that was going on at practice.”

Those practices certainly worked as Penn went a combined 53-3 during the 1969-70 and 1970-71 seasons. And it was fitting that the tribute was held Harter realduring a Penn-Villanova game because Harter’ Penn teams engaged in many fierce battles with ’Nova during that time. It was the Quakers’ 32-30 upset victory over Villanova during the 1968-69 season that truly began the team’s dominance throughout the 1970s.  Penn went on to beat the Wildcats the next two years in the regular season before famously losing to them by a staggeringly lopsided 90-47 score in the 1971 NCAA tournament, the game that ended the Quakers’ undefeated season.

That game haunted Harter forever, with the Penn coach telling me a year before he died, “I’m sure there’s never a day where I don’t think about it.” The players still think about it, too. Wolf said he and the rest of his former teammates on hand at the Palestra on Saturday made sure to jokingly boo when the Villanova team was introduced.

“It’s a good rivalry,” Wolf said. “I think it was better when [former Villanova coach] Jack Kraft and Dick Harter were there because they hated each other. Hated each other.”

Saturday’s tribute, however, was all about love. Wolf said he kept closely in touch with Harter, during the coach’s stops at the University of Oregon and then at all of the different NBA cities he worked in. He called it “a shock” when he found out Harter died.

“He always looked like he was 50 years old,” Wolf said. “He never aged. He always looked the same. To find out that something happened that suddenly, I couldn’t believe it. He looked like he was going to go on forever.”

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The long journey to 1,700 victories

Penn basketball

The next time Penn wins a basketball game, it will join an exclusive club: the 1,700-win club.

The Quakers, who came into the season with 1,697 all-time victories, can reach the milestone Saturday when they host longtime city rival Villanova at the Palestra. They’d join perennial powers Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse, Temple, St. John’s, UCLA and Notre Dame. Top-ranked Indiana is also closing in on the mark with 1,698 all-time wins.

To illustrate the scope of this historic accomplishment, I decided to take a look back at all of Penn’s milestone victories since it first began playing varsity basketball in 1897, from win No. 100 through win No. 1600.

(Note: some of these wins are different than the ones originally reported because a victory from the 1930s was recently added to Penn’s record books. Second note: I had to do more math for this than any sportswriter should, so please read and enjoy!)

Win No. 100

Date: February 4, 1909

U.S. President at the time: Teddy Roosevelt

Coach: R.B. Smith

Opponent: Brown

The skinny: Led by senior captain Charles “Kid” Keinath W’09, a four-time All-American and Penn Athletics Hall of Famer, the Quakers doubled up the Bears, 28-14, to hit the century mark in all-time wins. How good was Keinath? A year before that, he led Penn to national championships in both basketball and football. He went on to coach the Quakers’ hoops team for the next three seasons.

Win No. 200

Date: March 1, 1918

U.S. President at the time: Woodrow Wilson

Coach: Lon Jourdet

Opponent: Dartmouth

The skinny: The Quakers beat another future Ivy League opponent, 31-9, in what was, if the media guide is to be believed, their second road game of the day! This was also one of the better seasons in program history as Lon Jourdet’s squad went 18-2 and captured its fourth of 14 Eastern Intercollegiate League (EIL) titles. It also kicked off a dominant five-year stretch in which the Quakers went a combined 100-9 and won two national championships.

Lon Jourdet, seen here with the 1908 national champion Penn team,  coached the Quakers to both their 200th and 500th win.

Lon Jourdet, seen here with the 1908 national champion Penn team, coached the Quakers to both their 200th and 500th win.

Win No. 300

Date: December 12, 1923

U.S. President at the time: Calvin Coolidge

Coach: Edward McNichol

Opponent: Haverford

The skinny: The Quakers held Haverford to single digits in a 29-9 rout in the second game of the 1923-24 season. The 300th win was sandwiched in between victories to city foes Drexel and Saint Joseph’s and came during a season in which Penn went 18-8 overall and 3-7 in the EIL. James Carmack was the team’s captain.

Win No. 400

Date: February 12, 1929

U.S. President at the time: Calvin Coolidge

Coach: Edward McNichol

Opponent: Columbia

The skinny: The Quakers handled the Lions in New York, 39-33, in the midst of a nine-game winning streak, a 20-6 season and another EIL championship. Penn was led by captain Joe Schaaf C’29, a two-time All-American who as a senior that season set a then-EIL scoring record with 144 points in league play.

Win No. 500

Date: March 14, 1936

U.S. President at the time: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Coach: Lon Jourdet

Opponent: Princeton

The skinny: It’s only fitting that one of Penn’s biggest milestone wins came against its biggest rival at the Palestra (which was built just a decade earlier). It was also the final game of that 1935-36 campaign – and the Quakers made sure to end the season in style by hammering the Tigers, 44-21. The captain of this squad was junior Francis Murray C’37, a two-sport star who was also a part of the Penn football team’s famed “destiny backfield” and would go on to play briefly for the Philadelphia Eagles and become the school’s first athletic director. He died in 1998, just weeks after being inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame.

Win No. 600

Date: January 22, 1947

U.S. President at the time: Harry Truman

Coach: Don Kellett

Opponent: Gettysburg

The skinny: As you can see, it took a while for Penn to go from 500 to 600 wins because of some below-.500 seasons in the late 1930s and early 1940s. But this was a pretty good year for the Quakers, who won 14 games in 1946-47, including this 60-53 triumph over Gettysburg. Frank Crossin C’47 captained this squad after leading the Quakers in scoring in 1942-43 and 1943-44 before having his career interrupted when he served in the Navy during World War II. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1947 and was posthumously inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010 (when his son Don said, “He didn’t even wear a wedding band but he always wore his Penn ring.”)

Despite having his career interrupted due to World War II, Frank Crossin led Penn to the program's 600th win.

Despite having his career interrupted due to World War II, Frank Crossin led Penn to the program’s 600th win.

Win No. 700

Date: February 24, 1953

U.S. President at the time: Dwight Eisenhower

Coach: Howie Dallmar

Opponent: Rutgers

The skinny: The Quakers toppled the future Big East team, 55-48, just as they beat many other big-time programs during the 1952-53 season, including Maryland, Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. That should not be surprising, considering it was the final season for Ernie Beck C’53, arguably the best basketball player in Penn history. Beck, who holds the school record for most points in a career with 1,827 despite only playing three seasons, averaged a whopping 25.9 points per game that year for the Quakers, who went 22-5 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament.

Win No. 800

Date: March 5, 1960

U.S. President at the time: Dwight Eisenhower

Coach: Jack McCloskey

Opponent: Columbia

The skinny: In one of the early years of the Ivy League, the Quakers beat Columbia at the Palestra, 61-52, to cap a three-game winning streak to end the 1959-60 season. Penn finished 14-11 overall and 8-6 in the Ivies to tie for third place in the league. Bob Mlkvy, the younger brother of Temple All-American Bill Mlkvy, led that Penn team in scoring (18.9 ppg), the first of two straight years he would accomplish that feat.

Win No. 900

Date: March 1, 1966

U.S. President at the time: Lyndon B. Johnson

Coach: Jack McCloskey

Opponent: Princeton

The Skinny: This one is just too perfect. The 900th win in program history came in the final game of the 1965-66 season – and it not only came against archrival Princeton at the Palestra but also clinched the program’s first-ever Ivy League championship. Making the most of Princeton star Bill Bradley’s graduation, the Quakers rode all-Ivy co-captains Stan Pawlak C’66 and Jeff Neuman W’66, WG’67 to a 19-6 record and the league title that year – although Penn was prevented from participating in the NCAA tournament for refusing to comply with a new NCAA mandate.

Win No. 1,000

Date: Jan. 29, 1972

U.S. President at the time: Richard Nixon

Coach: Chuck Daly

Opponent: Princeton

The skinny: Naturally, Penn’s biggest milestone of all came against Princeton as the Quakers hit the century mark for all-time victories in this 82-59 romp of the Tigers at the Palestra. A year after Penn’s historic undefeated season, this 1971-72 squad was almost as good, riding senior co-captains Corky Calhoun W’72 and Bob Morse C’72 and a first-year coach named Chuck Daly to the third of six straight Ivy League championships and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.

Chuck Daly was in his first year at Penn when the program hit the 1,000-win milestone.

Chuck Daly was in his first year at Penn when the program hit the 1,000-win milestone.

Win No. 1,100

Date: January 11, 1977

U.S. President at the time: Gerald Ford (for the next nine days, at least)

Coach: Chuck Daly

Opponent: Princeton

The skinny: It was Princeton at the Palestra again, as the Quakers picked up a 43-39 victory over their biggest rival in what would be Chuck Daly’s final season as head coach before leaving for the NBA. Keven McDonald C’78 scored 17 points in this game to lead the Quakers, who got a steal and a dunk in the final minute from co-captain Mark Lonetto C’77 to secure the win. Princeton would get its revenge, however, by winning the Ivy title by a game over second-place Penn.

Win No. 1,200

Date: January 30, 1982

U.S. President at the time: Ronald Reagan

Coach: Bob Weinhauer

Opponent: Princeton

The skinny: Maybe some things are meant to be. Even if they didn’t know it at the time, the Quakers got their fourth straight milestone victory over Princeton at the Palestra. This one was also a low-scoring affair with the Quakers holding on for a 43-40 win, overcoming a nine-point deficit thanks to David Lardner, who shot 7-for-10 in the second half in front of a sold-out Palestra crowd. The Quakers, who had lost their first two Ivy games of that 1981-82 season, would not lose another game until the NCAA tournament, capturing their fifth straight Ivy title under Bob Weinhauer, who famously coached Penn to its only Final Four three years earlier. It would be Weinhauer’s final year at the helm.

Win No. 1,300

Date: February 8, 1989

U.S. President at the time: George H.W. Bush

Coach: Tom Schneider

Opponent: Yale

The skinny: The Quakers, whose leading scorer and captain was Walt Frazier III, the son of the NBA legend, scraped by the Bulldogs, 67-61, in this one to move to 6-3 in the Ivy League. They ended up finishing the 1988-89 campaign with a pedestrian 13-13 overall mark and 9-5 Ivy record in what was Tom Schneider’s final year – but they did pull off a memorable upset of nationally ranked Villanova earlier in the season.

Win No. 1,400

Date: February 4, 1995

U.S. President at the time: Bill Clinton

Coach: Fran Dunphy

Opponent: Brown

The skinny: Senior guard Matt Maloney C’95 poured in 36 points – a record at Brown’s Pizzitola Sports Center – to lead the visiting Quakers to a 95-83 defeat of the Bears. This result marked the 34th straight Ivy League win for the Quakers, who went 14-0 in the conference for three straight seasons with Maloney and current head coach Jerome Allen W’09 running the show.

Matt Maloney had one of many big nights to lift the program to its 1,400th win en route to its third straight Ivy League title.

Matt Maloney enjoyed one of his many big nights to lift the program to its 1,400th win en route to its third straight Ivy League title.

Win No. 1500

Date: January 13, 2001

U.S. President at the time: Bill Clinton (for one more week)

Coach: Fran Dunphy

Opponent: Cornell

The skinny: This was one of the worst seasons of the Dunphy era as the Quakers sputtered to an 0-8 start and failed to win the Ivy title. But the Quakers still opened league play with a pair of home wins, including this 64-49 triumph over Cornell. This game was probably most notable for being the homecoming of Steve Donahue, the former Dunphy assistant who was coaching his first game at the Palestra as the head coach of Cornell (who nine years later he’d take to the Sweet Sixteen).

Win No. 1,600

Date: January 13, 2006

U.S. President at the time: George W. Bush

Coach: Fran Dunphy

Opponent: Cornell

The skinny: In his final year at Penn, Dunphy – the winningest coach in program history – got the Quakers to another milestone with this 84-44 smashing of Cornell at the Palestra. Ibby Jaaber C’07 put up an impressive stat line to lead the rout, logging 20 points, eight assists and seven steals. The Quakers would win their second of three straight Ivy titles this season before losing to Texas in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

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