By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The “14-game tournament” gets underway on Saturday afternoon for the Penn Quakers as they play their Ivy League opener against rival Princeton at the Palestra.

Steve Donahue spent time as a Penn assistant and as the head coach at Cornell, so he is no stranger to Ivy League play or this rivalry, but this will be his first Penn/Princeton game as the head coach of the Quakers.

“I’m really excited,” Donahue tells KYW Newsradio. “I think it’s an incredible privilege to be the head coach at Penn and play in this game at the Palestra. I couldn’t be more excited, I really am. Part of it is the opponent, the opponent has great tradition as well. It’s inspiring to go against a program like Princeton. You try to prepare the best, you try to get your kids ready. And as I said, to start the (Ivy) season against them in this building, I’m extremely excited.”

Listen to the entire interview with Penn head coach Steve Donahue:

 

Penn is 6-7 on the season and coming off an impressive performance in an 80-45 blowout win over Binghamton on January 2nd.

The Quakers as of late have gotten a real boost from freshman guard Jackson Donahue. He has started the last two games, averaging 17.5 ppg in the two starts while connecting on 9 of 21 three-point field goal attempts.

“I think he’s a consistent performer on both sides of the ball,” Steve Donahue says. “Now when I see him out there, I just feel we have a threat from three at all times. Teams have to remember that. We can run stuff for him and the teams react, the defense reacts and he makes us better because people are out of position and now we get somebody in a wrong position, that can make an easier shot. When you have a kid like that on your team I think you have to utilize him. Jackson’s just had great growth over the last month.”

Princeton is 9-4 heading into Saturday. The Tigers have won two in a row. Last time out, on Tuesday, they won on the road at Norfolk State, 83-74.

“They’re a very solid basketball team on both sides of the ball,” Donahue says. “They score it at a really good pace, not your typical Princeton team. They are going to push it in transition, they’re going to shoot quick if they’re open. Defensively, they’re solid. They’re probably a little undersized but they are arguably the best defensive rebounding team in the country. Just tells you a little bit about their make-up. They’ve got tough kids, kids know how to play and they’re well-coached.”

Penn and Princeton will tip-off at 4:30pm on Saturday at the Palestra.