By Matt Leon

By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It is all Ivy League play for the Penn Quakers from here on out, starting with this weekend as they welcome Columbia to the Palestra on Friday night and Cornell on Saturday.

The Quakers haven’t played since giving Temple all they could handle back on January 23rd, losing 76-69.

“I thought after our game on the 23rd, it was great to have about seven, eight days off to just work on us,” Penn head coach Jerome Allen tells KYW Newsradio.  “And hopefully, we did the things that we needed to do over the course of that period to get ready for Friday night.”

Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Jerome Allen:

The Quakers are 3-15, but Allen says they have made strides in some areas since the beginning of the season.

“I think we’re rebounding the ball better defensively,” Allen says.  “I think we’re looking to play inside-out and in spurts we’ve defended pretty well.”

Could be some good news for the Quakers, as leading scorer Fran Dougherty may be able to return to the line-up this weekend.  He has missed the last eight games with mono.  He is averaging 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game.

Penn has played one Ivy League game, a 65-53 loss at Princeton back on January 12th.  But this is their first full weekend of Ancient 8 play.  Of course, the Ivy utilizes the unique set-up of back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday nights and, with several freshman on the Penn roster, it could take a bit of getting use to for them.

“You’re never really prepared for it until you actually experience it,” Allen says.  “Hopefully, we’ve got some older players to take some of the pressure off the freshmen.  I think we’re a deep team, there isn’t a lot of differentiation as far as who is capable of contributing.  So I’m just going to try and rely on everybody and go with who’s ready.”

Columbia brings a 9-7 mark to campus (1-1 in the Ivy) and their marquee win actually came on the Main Line when they beat Villanova, 75-57, at the Pavilion on November 20th.

“Coach (Kyle) Smith, he really does a good job with those guys,” Allen says.  “They get out, they run, they attack, they’re aggressive.  (Senior guard Brian) Barbour really tries to probe the defense, (senior center Mark) Cisco is a true presence inside.”

Barbour is Columbia’s leading scorer at 13.6 points a game.  Cisco averages 9.4 points and a team high 5.9 rebounds a contest.

Cornell sits at 9-10 (1-1 Ivy) and they will open the weekend with a visit to Princeton on Friday before coming to the Palestra Saturday night.

Both games for Penn will tip-off at 7:00pm this weekend.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.

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