PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After winning a share of the Ivy League title for the first time since the 2006-07 season, the University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team is now preparing for the Ivy League Tournament where the league’s NCAA Tournament representative will be determined.
The Quakers will be the #2 seed in the tournament, opening up with a semifinal matchup with the #3 seed Yale on Saturday. Penn went 22-8 during the regular season, sharing the Ivy crown with Harvard.
“Certainly very happy with the way things turned out in the regular season,” Penn head coach Steve Donahue tells KYW Newsradio. “In particular, we haven’t had a winning season here in a while and for guys to be committed to it and play as well as they did, through the ups and down, I’m ecstatic and we’re excited about the next step.”
The Quakers were well represented when the Ivy League announced their awards for the 2017-18 season. Donahue was named the Coach of the Year and three players earned All-Ivy status. Senior guard Darnell Foreman earned an honorable mention nod, sophomore guard Ryan Betley was a second team selection and sophomore forward AJ Brodeur was a unanimous first-team selection. The 6’8″ Brodeur is second on the team in scoring (12.6 ppg) and shooting 53% from the field. He leads the squad in rebounding (6.9 a game) and blocked shots (39) and is second in assists (79).
“I think all aspects of the game that he plays is what makes him special,” Donahue says of Brodeur. “Still developing certain aspects of his offensive game, but his ability to guard different positions, block shots, rotations, spread the floor in transition, play him 30, 35, 40 minutes a game for a big kid, it allows us so much flexibility. I thought he had a great year and still think we’re scratching the surface. I think he has a great future ahead.”
This will be the second year for the Ivy League Tournament and the second year it will be held at the Palestra.
“Obviously, we love it here,” Donahue says. “We’re slightly biased, but the fact is it’s one of the best arenas in all of sport for the fans, for the players, for the TV audience. For our league to be able to showcase our main event in this venue, I think is special.”
Penn and Yale split their two regular season meetings. On February 3rd at the Palestra, Penn won 59-50, holding the Bulldogs to a 1 for 19 performance from 3. But in the rematch in New Haven on March 2nd, Penn lost 80-79 on a Paul Atkinson lay-up with under a second to play. Penn blew a seven-point lead with 2:38 left and a four-point lead with :17 remaining.
The Bulldogs finished the regular season 16-14, 9-5 in the Ivy League. They are playing their best basketball of the season right now as they enter the tourney on a four-game winning streak and they have won seven of their last eight.
“In terms of personnel, [Yale sophomore guard] Miye Oni is one of the better players in our league,” Donahue says. “He’s a very good scorer, he’s a great passer, he’s a great athlete so he can finish and he can rebound. With that, they have a bunch of guys who run Coach [James] Jones’ system, he’s been there for 19 years. They don’t give you anything, you have to earn it.”
The other semifinal will feature Harvard taking on Cornell. The two winners meet on Sunday afternoon with that winner heading to the NCAA Tournament.
Penn and Yale will get underway at 3:00pm on Saturday.