Penn vs. Columbia: Al Bagnoli returns to Franklin Field


Penn vs. Columbia: Al Bagnoli returns to Franklin Field

Columbia (1-3, 0-1) at Penn (2-2, 1-0)
Franklin Field, Philadelphia
Saturday, 3 p.m.

Welcome back, Al Bagnoli.

In a game that many Penn people have probably been looking forward to for a while, the former Quaker football coach returns to Franklin Field for the first time as a visiting coach. Here’s a look at the matchup.

Scouting Penn
The Quakers won their second straight game last week, knocking off Central Connecticut State, 28-16, behind two passing touchdowns and one rushing TD from quarterback Alek Torgersen. Running back Tre Solomon had another good game with 114 rushing yards and a touchdown, while standout receiver Justin Watson had a team-high nine catches for 84 yards. Solomon leads the Ivy League in rushing while Watson is second in receptions per game and third in receiving yards. Penn’s defense remains near the bottom of the Ivies statistically but held CCSU to just 22 rushing yards last week with Louis Vecchio finishing with six tackles, one sack, 2.5 tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. For the season, linebacker Colton Moskal ranks third in the league in tackles with 9.2 per game.

Scouting Columbia
After three straight losses, Columbia won its first game of the season with a 15-13 victory over Wagner last week. The Lions managed to win on the strength of a school-record five field goals from freshman Oren Milstein, a career-high 107 rushing yards from senior Alan Watson, and a defense that allowed zero points, three first downs and 63 yards in the second half. Gianmarco Rea, the Ivy League’s leading tackler (11.2 per game) led the defense with a sack and 10 tackles. As a team, Columbia ranks third in the Ivies in total defense and scoring defense. But the Lions’ offense is one of the worst in the country, ranking 117th out of 122 teams in scoring (12.8 points per game) and 108th in total yards (285.8 per game).

Series history
It’s been quite the one-sided series with Penn owning a 73-21-1 edge all-time edge and winning 19 in a row. In their first matchup against Bagnoli last year, the Quakers stormed to a 42-7 win.

Storyline to watch
The Penn players and coaching staff are trying their best not to make a big deal of it but it’s hard to ignore Bagnoli returning to the place where he won a record nine Ivy League titles in 23 years. It will also be interesting to see how the Penn players and fans react. It’s unlikely he’ll be treated as a conquering hero since he retired from coaching after the 2014 season and took an administrative job at Penn before shocking everyone and bolting for Columbia. But considering all he did for the Quakers, he’ll probably get a nice reception — until the game starts.

What’s at stake?
On top of getting the satisfaction of beating their old coach, the Quakers need a win to keep place with Harvard and Princeton atop the Ivy League.

Bagnoli’s return probably won’t be too pleasant for him.

Penn 28, Columbia 10

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

USA Today Images

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

Fresh off a second national championship in three years, this was bound to happen. Jay Wright is a hot name. 

And according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks plan on reaching out to Wright about their vacant head coaching job. 

Just don’t expect Wright to be interested. 

The 56-year-old coach has been determined to build Villanova into a powerhouse since he took the head coaching gig way back in 2001 and he’s finally done that. On the surface, maybe some think that would be enough to make him want to take his coaching to the top league in the world. Not so fast. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Wright said pretty flatly that he’s staying at Villanova because he loves it there. 

“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright said. “That challenge is appealing but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

In that interview, Wright talked about his time at Hofstra and quoted Jim Valvano, who once said, ‘Don’t mess with happy.’ That was true at Hofstra until the Villanova job came around, so maybe there’s a chance the Knicks could blow him away. It just doesn’t seem likely. 

The Knicks just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after a 29-53 record in 2017. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2012-13. 

The New York Daily News cites a source, who said the Knicks believe Wright would be a “perfect candidate for a rebuilding club.” The Knicks might be right, but don’t bet on them getting Wright. 

Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

USA Today Images

Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

Villanova is losing its second star player in two days. 

Guard Jalen Brunson has decided to hire an agent and enter the 2018 NBA Draft, he wrote in a letter to Nova Nation on ESPN. He will forego his senior season at Villanova after an incredible college career. 

This news comes a day after his teammate Mikal Bridges announced he will also head to the NBA draft.

“It is with great honor and privilege that I have called Villanova University my home for the past three years,” Brunson wrote in ESPN. “When I decided to commit to Coach Jay Wright and the basketball program, I was driven by three goals: getting my education, competing at the highest level and winning a national championship. While I pride myself on remaining disciplined and focused to achieve these goals, I have grown as a man and have established lifelong relationships with my teammates, classmates, members of the basketball staff, fellow student-athletes and the wonderful educators and administrators of this prestigious university.”

Brunson leaves Villanova as one of the greatest players in Wildcats history, helping lead Villanova to its second national championship in three years. 

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game this season. Brunson was named the Big East Player of the Year and was the Wooden Award and Naismith Award winner this season.