Jackson Donahue becomes second Penn 2015 commit this week

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Following a visit last week, Northfield Mount Hermon School (Massachusetts) 2015 guard Jackson Donahue committed to Penn. His coach, John Carroll announced the commitment through the program’s Twitter account on Thursday night.

Donahue, the 6-foot-1 Connecticut native, was being courted by other Ivy League schools before picking the Quakers. This past weekend at the Providence Jam Fest, I spoke to Donahue after he dropped 27 points in a win for his Middlesex Magic AAU team. He had recently returned from Penn, leaving the visit with positive vibes from the coaching staff and about the school.

Donahue is a sharpshooter, hitting 92 3-pointers in his first season at NMH. During the Jam Fest, Donahue began to drive to the basket, something coaches were looking to see more from him. Despite his lack of size, he’s a competitor, the product of being one of the younger brothers in a large basketball family. His older brother, Sam, is a rising sophomore at Boston College.

Nat Graham, who was named as an assistant coach at Penn last week, was part of the BC staff that recruited his brother. That familiarity made an instant impact on Jackson Donahue’s recruitment.

Within the last week, Penn has added two pieces to its Class of 2015, the first being Lower Merion High (Pennsylvania) forward Jule Brown, who committed on May 8. They join Hebrew Academy (Florida) point guard Morris Esformes, who pledged back in March.

Brown takes down Penn, 76-67, inside The Palestra (VIDEO)

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Mike Martin is continuing another strong year with his alma mater, as the Brown Bears lead the entire game, defeating Penn, 76-67, inside The Palestra on Friday night.

Steven Spieth scored 19 points and corralled 12 rebounds. Cedric Kuakumensah recorded the second double-double for Brown with 16 points, 10 boards. Brown grabbed 12 more rebounds than Penn and six more offensive boards.

Martin, the second-year head coach matches his conference win total from a season ago, and has his Bears in a tie for third place in the Ivy League standings with Columbia. The Bears and Lions split their two meetings this season.

The Bears have a quick turnaround, traveling to Princeton on Saturday evening. Next week Brown ends with Dartmouth and Harvard. The Crimson can clinch the Ivy League title this weekend with a win and a Yale loss.

Ivy League prepares to join the webstreaming revolution

photo courtesy ivyleaguesports.com
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TV time is hard to come by for any basketball league outside the BCS. The Mountain West and WCC have been able to grab a little more than most, simply because they play late enough to fill a time slot that East Coast markets don’t really know what to do with.

As John Templon of NYC Buckets noted recently, that gap has been ably filled by various webstreaming services, pioneered in 2005 by the Horizon League Network. The HLN was a grass-roots collaboration between the league and a Butler grad who formed his own streaming service. For many leagues following in the Horizon’s footsteps, an existing service makes more sense.

That’s the route the Ivy League is taking, joining up with NeuLion. The fast-growing webstreaming service already works with several of the league’s schools on an individual basis, but the new service will unite the Ancient Eight on one platform, where league lovers can go to find all meaningful games in the league with the most meaningful regular season in the NCAA.

Available to subscribers in August, The Ivy League Digital Network will be accessible on multiple devices, including PCs, smartphones and tablets, allowing for an all-new nine (9)-channel network of Ivy League action anytime, anywhere. Each of the conference’s eight (8) schools will have their own individual channel and the Ivy League will have its own League-wide channel featuring all available digital content across the conference.

The new network, powered by the NeuLion College Platform, will provide live and on-demand video and audio content from each school with interactive touch points that will consistently offer a personalized experience for Ivy League fans everywhere.

It’s a pay service, which isn’t really the worst thing ever. In order for hoops obsessives to get hyper-local games on TV, an additional satellite or cable package is a must-have, so you end up paying for it anyway. To get high-quality video and other league-specific content when you want it, where you want it (mobile devices for the win), for a league that doesn’t have a television deal, is a pretty good deal.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Hoops “Rudy” is quantifying hustle with computers

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The NCAA likes to remind you that most of their athletes go pro in “something else”.

This is the story of one of those guys.

Vasu Kulkarni grew up hoops-mad in India. When he was accepted as a student at Penn, he thought he’d carry that love over to a college career – his version of the American Dream.

“I didn’t realize that at 5’9″ and 135 pounds that wasn’t about to happen,” Kulkarni told CBSPhilly.  “I was in for a rude awakening when I showed up at the Palestra.”

In true Rudy fashion, Kulkarni didn’t give up. He busted his butt trying to get better and earned a walk-on spot as a senior. He got to put on the uniform, and see some court time with the JV team. Since a hoops career clearly wasn’t on the horizon, Kulkarni took the two things he knows best – hustle and smarts – and built a tech company called Krossover that helps measure hoops intangibles.

“A lot of coaches that go by this gut feel, they like to talk about hustle. Sometimes that’s their answer to statistics, is ‘oh well you can’t really measure the intangibles. And that’s what I look at when I’m talking about my team.’ And we try to look at some of those things as well. So we measure deflections. Deflections are a good measure of how active your hands are, and how active your team is as a whole on defense. So if you can measure deflections, winning 50/50 balls on the floor, steals and rebounds, now you have possibly to put some sort of weighted average on these things and come up with a metric around hustle, which is one of those intangibles that coaches really like to see.”

Kulkarni has also found a novel way to measure basketball IQ – another of those arcane concepts we pundits like to go on and on about. He made a sort of video game out of it. The program, called sIQ, shows a basketball play developing, then freezes the action. It tells the player the result of the play, and he must guess how the result came about. The game measures not only right and wrong answers, but how fast the player arrives at the answer.

Kulkarni has compared his own performance to that of NBA execs and players. “More often than not, I’m probably right. But it probably takes me four or five seconds to answer a question. Whereas an elite athlete, their response time is under one second and they’re getting most of these questions right.”

Kulkarni doesn’t claim his program replaces human intuition, more that it gives data-based evidence for what our intuition might notice in a player. He does believe, however, that his programs will streamline the process, and possibly eliminate some confirmation bias.

“You know, I’m not saying that we’re going to give you a better decision than your coaches are going to make. But I’m saying when it comes to data collection, when it comes to putting all of this together in a form that is easily digestible, it’s much better to use a computer program. At least it’s more efficient and cheaper to use a computer program, than it is to use humans.”

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.