NCAA

Youthful Penn displays 'grit' but can't get over hump at Princeton

Youthful Penn displays 'grit' but can't get over hump at Princeton

BOX SCORE

PRINCETON, N.J. – For the first 23 minutes on Saturday night, Princeton didn’t just have Penn on the ropes. The Tigers had the Quakers all but put away.
 
But when the rivals meet, even in a game at Princeton, no lead is sacred, not even a 21-point lead like the Tigers staked out on Saturday.
 
So for the second straight year, Penn came storming back from an 18+ point deficit in the second half at Jadwin Gym, turning a laugher into a thriller in a short span. Princeton, however, didn’t falter in the final minutes and held off the Quakers, 61-52, and moved to 1-0 in the Ivy League (see Instant Replay).
 
Part of what allowed the Tigers to build a large lead in the first place was their experience. They start three senior forwards and while their primary guards are two sophomores and a junior, even that backcourt has seen its fair share of close games over the last few years.
 
And Penn coach Steve Donahue chalked up part of his squad’s slow start to the Quakers being at the opposite end of the spectrum, starting three underclassmen, a transfer and just one senior.
 
“I think we’re really similar in terms of talent level and where we’re at,” Donahue said, “so the difference, in my opinion is that they’re a pretty experienced group and they’ve been winning for a couple years now.”
 
That showed during a first half that was anything but picturesque. Princeton raced out to an early lead in a defensive struggle. Penn couldn’t even muster an assist in the first half and turned the ball over nine times. Princeton wasn’t much better with two assists and seven turnovers.
 
Junior guard Amir Bell helped pace the Tigers to a 34-17 lead at the half with 10 points off the bench. Meanwhile, the Princeton veteran forwards, especially senior Pete Miller, helped limit Penn’s top scoring option, freshman forward A.J. Brodeur.
 
Donahue mentioned that Brodeur had a few easy shots that would have made his final stat line – six points on 1 for 6 shooting. The freshman also struggled from the stripe, going 4 for 10 on the night.
 
Despite a startling comeback, Donahue refused to take the credit with his halftime speech and focused on how much his squad is trying to take the next step.
 
“I don’t know if it was what I say,” he said. “We’re growing this program right now and we need to prove to ourselves that we’re better than what we just did. We need to compete better, we need to play better. We need to go out and show what we’ve been building for.”
 
The game turned in the second half thanks to the effort of Penn junior Darnell Foreman. The guard was able to penetrate Princeton’s defense and create for the Quakers, dishing out their first few assists while pumping in a game-high 17 points. His effort may have earned him a spot in the starting lineup.
 
“He’s got some really good confidence,” Donahue said. “He keeps getting better as a player. I try to utilize him off the bench right now. That may not continue. It’s always good to know that I can go to him.
 
“He still misses a lot of them at the rim, but he does the hard thing. He goes by guys. He needs to learn to slow down and finish.”
 
That speed is what really caught Princeton’s eye.
 
“I was worried about him going into the game, I was worried about him during the game and I think he’s a really good player,” Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said. “He’s fast. … In our league, that makes a big impact and he was difficult to guard tonight.”
 
Beyond Foreman’s impact, Penn finally got going from three in the second half. Sophomore Jackson Donahue and freshman Ryan Betley each hit three triples during Penn’s 26-5 run to tie the game.
 
However, Princeton’s experience won in the end. A couple key shots from the Tigers’ guards handed Penn an 0-1 record in Ivy play despite a strong effort late in the game.
 
Now the Quakers need to refocus with their first Ivy weekend coming up on Friday at home.
 
“I give our guys a lot of credit. They fought back from 21, showed a lot of grit,” Donahue said. “It’s just not there yet and we hopes it’s there by Yale-Brown, but execution has to get better on both sides of the ball.
 
“There was a lot of good. We dominated the game for a long portion but we’re just not good enough to beat those guys on their home court when we fell down by 21.”

UCLA reportedly offered Jay Wright ridiculous amount he turned down

usa-jay-wright-smile.jpg
USA Today Images

UCLA reportedly offered Jay Wright ridiculous amount he turned down

Because of his success at Villanova, Jay Wright is always a hot name when a high-profile coaching job becomes available. But Wright really does seem happy at Villanova. 

It looks like Wright subscribes to the idea that money can’t buy happiness. 

The Los Angeles Times published a story today about UCLA’s long and winding search for a new head coach. Before they eventually landed on Mick Cronin, they went after some big names in the coaching world, including John Calipari and Wright. 

While Calipari showed some real interest in the gig, it doesn’t seem like Wright gave it a second thought, not even after UCLA offered to double his salary, according to the LA Times

Read by the LA Times, here’s part of what UCLA’s senior associate AD Josh Rebholz said in a text message to donors after the school failed to hire Calipari: 

We would have loved for Jay Wright to walk out on the floor, but even when we offered to double his salary, he still wasn’t coming. Nothing we can do about that. But I am proud of our effort. We didn’t assume anything, took our shots and I believe will end up with a solid coach who will embrace UCLA and build a program we all can be proud of and root for.

If that’s true, that UCLA offered to double his salary, Wright turned down a ton of money. According to USA Today, Wright makes $3,878,768 per season, so doubling that would give him an annual salary of over $7.75 million. That would be the second-highest salary in college basketball behind Calipari and ahead of Mike Krzyzewski. 

It seems like Wright really does love it here. 

2019 NCAA March Madness printable bracket

2019 NCAA March Madness printable bracket

Sports fans, it’s the best time of the year.

Even if you don’t have a team in the dance, you’re probably filling out a bracket and will be just as interested in all the games, until your bracket has been busted.

Speaking of a bracket, if you’re looking for something clean to print out, click here. If you're looking for analysis, our friends at NBC Sports have you covered.

Good luck this year and be sure to be gracious in both victory and defeat in your office pool.