To say that Jerome Allen’s Penn Quakers had a rough go of it prior to the start of Ivy League play would be an understatement. The Quakers entered Saturday’s game against Princeton with a 2-10 record, with five of the defeats being decided by margins of six points or less. But there is talent on the Penn roster, with that moving the league coaches to pick the Quakers to finish second in the Ivy League’s preseason poll.
So despite their struggles, especially from a health standpoint, Saturday’s Ivy opener against rival Princeton represented a “new beginning” of sorts for the Quakers, and they were able to take advantage. Tony Hicks scored 18 points and Fran Dougherty and Darren Nelson-Henry added 17 apiece to lead Penn to the 77-74 victory at the Palestra, ending a seven-game losing streak in the process.
T.J. Bray led five Princeton players in double figures with 19 points, but their 6-for-21 shooting from beyond the arc and defensive rebounding (Penn rebounded nearly 39% of its missed shots) proved to be problematic for the team that was picked to finish third in the Ivy League preseason poll. With the defeat Princeton drops to 11-3 overall, but by no means should they be dismissed as a possible challenger to reigning champion Harvard.
Penn certainly has some things to clean up, most notably their 19 turnovers on the evening, but the full rotation Allen expected to have on the floor was finally available Saturday. Could their improved health make Penn the Ivy League threat they were projected to be back in October? That remains to be seen, but Saturday’s victory is certainly a step in that direction.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.