By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Only two city teams are still playing basketball. Of course, Drexel has made a deep run into the NIT, but those Penn Quakers are also still alive and they will host Butler tonight in the second round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
Penn was agonizingly close to a piece of the Ivy League title and a shot at a berth in the NCAA Tournament, but they lost their regular season finale at Princeton. That gave all the spoils to Harvard. Penn head coach Jerome Allen says, however, his team has rebounded.
“Obviously, how we finished the regular season was disappointing and I can only imagine how the guys were feeling. The good thing about it was they responded extremely well after they got over it – I’m not quite sure they’ll ever get over it – but after they got over it in terms of, ‘Alright, we’ve got another opportunity to compete’, they really bought in and came to practice and worked and prepared to play against Quinnipiac.”
The Quakers beat that Quinnipiac team in the first round of the CBI, 74-63, on Wednesday night to earn this second round date with Butler.
The Bulldogs are a team that now has a national reputation after their back-to-back appearances in the National Championship game (losses to Duke and UConn) and Allen is looking forward to welcoming them to the Palestra.
“Obviously, they are well coached and their disciplined and they compete,” Allen says. “They play hard, they really defend, they share the ball. Their program is reflected each and every time the ball is thrown up at the start of a game, and you can see how those guys really, really just buy in and love to just go out and compete.”
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Jerome Allen:
Butler is 21-14. They went 11-7 in Horizon League action and lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament. They beat Delaware in the first round of the CBI and are led by junior center Andrew Smith who pours in just under 11 points a game.
Quakers are 20-12 on the season and Allen talks about what they have to do to pick up win #21.
“I think everything starts on the defensive end. We’ve got to finish possessions and keep them off the offensive boards. Gotta keep them out of the paint, they do an excellent job of sharing the basketball and I just think for us, it’s going to take a concentrated effort for forty minutes to really beat them.”
Tip-off tonight is set for 8:00pm.