The Penn Quakers have gotten off to a somewhat surprising 9-5 start and have emerged as a dark horse in the Ivy League. Their current nine-game homestand is now an opportunity for them to pad their numbers and put themselves in position to make the Ivy League Tournament.
Before losing to Toledo 85-72 to close out 2017, the Quakers strung together a four-game winning streak which was buoyed by senior Sam Jones’ sharp shooting. Before the streak, he made a total of two three-pointers during his first nine games. During the streak, he has made 12-of-20.
His best game during the stretch came on the road against Dayton. Jones came off the bench to shoot 5-6 from the three-point line to score a season-high 15 points in a 78-70 win.
A good sign of a mid-major team destined for the big dance is a cast of characters who can lead the team in scoring in any given game. So far, the Quakers have had six different players lead the team in scoring. 11 of them have scored in double-digits during the first 14 games of the season.
Against Delaware State, the Quakers had five players score 10-plus points en route to a 105-52 beatdown. Destroying Delaware State was the fourth time the Quakers scored more than 90 points in a single game. The last time Penn had a similar scoring output was during the 1994-95 season, when the Quakers won the Ivy League with a 14-0 conference record.
Sophomore Ryan Betley currently leads the Quakers in scoring. Averaging 14.8 points per game, Betley scored over 20 points four times so far this season. Junior Max Rothschild is the closest to averaging a double-double with nine points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game. His 11-point and 10-rebound performance against Toledo was his third double-double of the season.
Penn enters 2018 as the only team in the Ivy League with a winning record and will open with seven straight home games, five against conference opponents. It’s easy to see why the Quakers can win the Ivy League and return to the NCAA Tournament.