The Penn Quakers got back on track in the Ivy League, and Villanova lost a chance to get even with Seton Hall in the Big East before the Pirates come to South Philadelphia this weekend. Those were the headline events of a City 6 week that otherwise kept on the same local trajectory.
The importance of Penn’s Friday night overtime cliffhanger over Harvard can’t be overstated. Falling to 0-3 in the league would have kept the Quakers outside the top four of the Ivies, with only four teams advancing to the league playoffs, and tiebreakers in disarray.
Instead, a sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth, coupled with Harvard’s Saturday night loss at Princeton, has Princeton and Yale at 4-0, with Penn, Harvard and Brown all at 2-2. (Harvard, the league favorite, lost two road games on back-to-back nights by a combined four points, and the race is suddenly different.)
A long way to go, but if Penn makes the playoffs, the Quakers will look back to Friday night as the key “W.” So we’ll start with the Quakers in City 6 observations, Vol. 12.
Only four home games left to catch Penn’s AJ Brodeur in action inside the Palestra. There’s a Brown-Yale back-to-back on Feb. 14 and 15, then a season-finale weekend, March 6-7 vs. Cornell and Columbia.
We’ll repeat: Brodeur has put together four of the best seasons seen on West 33rd Street in many years. Catch him while you can.
We did Saturday night against Dartmouth. Brodeur didn’t have his shot falling in the first half. Only three points, with the bucket coming in the last 30 seconds.
All Brodeur did was contest the first Dartmouth shot, grab two rebounds, throw an outlet pass that started a fast break for Penn’s first basket, then set a screen, roll toward the hoop, get the ball, and throw a pass out to an open teammate for a three-pointer and a 5-0 lead. Watching him set screens, grab the ball outside, try backdoor passes — the offense runs through him.
At the other end, Brodeur has the ability to hedge opposing guards just for a moment, then get back to an area where he can protect the rim and stay within range of his man. His play had nothing and everything to do with Penn’s 28-14 halftime lead.
One Brodeur backdoor try was kind of a difference in thinking. Brodeur clearly thought Quakers guard Devon Goodman would be cutting to the hoop. Goodman had other ideas. Didn’t matter.
The pass to nobody still had some touch on it, not flying out of bounds as it bounced under the rim. And Goodman is so quick that he readjusted and still beat Dartmouth defenders to the ball. He put in the reverse layup for a highlight of a different kind. While Dartmouth had 14 points at the break, Goodman had 12.
Drexel’s James Butler is 30th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage and 14th in defensive rebounding percentage. A walking double-double, averaging 13.3 points and 12 rebounds.
Drexel lost three straight road games to fall to sixth place in the muddled Colonial Athletic Association. One "W" in that stretch would have kept the Dragons within a game of first place. Four home games and four road games remain in the CAA.
La Salle and St. Joseph’s are still stuck at a combined one win in the Atlantic 10. That’s all. That’s the observation.
That number will double on Saturday, when the Explorers and Hawks face each other at La Salle and somebody wins.
St. Joseph’s junior guard Ryan Daly, the A-10 and Big 5 player of the week again, combined for 57 points in two games. Maybe that’s not the interesting part. He also had a dozen assists. The more Daly scores, the more assists he gets. Seems like the teams that can’t stop him still are trying so hard they’ll leave openings elsewhere and Daly will see those openings.
Villanova’s Saddiq Bey is the only City 6 player named to the 20-player, late-season watch list for the Wooden Award (national player of the year). No argument here at all, even if it comes after one of his lesser offensive performances of the season in Saturday’s loss to Creighton, the first time since Villanova’s other Big East loss at Marquette that Bey had only one three-pointer.
Big week for Villanova, with Wednesday’s trip to Butler and that Seton Hall visit.
A win is a win, and that’s what Temple desperately needed and got Saturday against East Carolina, with a road trip to Memphis on Wednesday next on the schedule. Owls senior guard Alani Moore made 4-of 8-threes and had four assists.
Even if it must be tempting for Temple coach Aaron McKie to look to the future in making lineup decisions, Moore has earned his time and again played like a senior. Even as the Owls fell badly in their previous game at UConn, Moore had a couple of three-pointers, a few assists, and four steals. Not bad for a player who could have been an afterthought.