By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After a stirring weekend in New England which was capped with Saturday’s 55-54 win at Harvard, the Penn Quakers sit at 17-11 and in control of their own destiny for at least a share of an Ivy League title. This weekend they will welcome Brown to the Palestra on Friday and Yale on Saturday.
Penn is 9-2 in the Ancient 8. Harvard technically leads them by half a game with a 10-2 league mark, but while the Crimson have two games left in the regular season, the Quakers have three (visit Princeton on Tuesday). If Penn wins out, at worst they would face Harvard in a one game playoff with an NCAA Tournament birth on the line, having already earned a share of the Ivy League title.
Now the Quakers have put themselves in this position by winning five straight, and head coach Jerome Allen says they just keeping finding a way to pull out victories.
“We weren’t playing great over the weekend (against Dartmouth and Harvard), struggling a little bit, trying not to turn the ball over and execute the game plan. But I think for the most part, this team was resilient and they just kept defending and they kept plugging away at it and they just found ways to win.”
Penn beat Brown in their first meeting this season 65-48 up in Providence, Rhode Island. That’s one of 21 losses the Bears have suffered in 29 games, but Allen says despite their struggles, they can be dangerous.
“They have four shooters on the floor at all times, and if those guys get hot and get going, it could be a long night for us.”
As for what the Quakers need to do to pull out a win.
“Our biggest challenge is how focused we’ll be on defensive details, with the backscreens and the cutting and how we get back in transition,” Allen says. “I think if we do those things, we’ll be ok.”
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Jerome Allen:
These are exciting times at the Palestra, but Allen is quick to point out that they still have a lot of work to do and have to focus all their energy on taking care of the Bears.
“In the back of everybody’s mind we know we have three (games) and we control our own destiny. But really, if we start focusing on the end and lose sight of what it’s going to take to beat Brown, we’re going to come up short.”
Penn and Brown will tip-off at 7:00pm on Friday night. Penn and Yale will also be a 7:00pm tip-off on Saturday.