University of Pennsylvania 67, Yale 61
Yale’s new commitment to defense should keep them within striking defense. But Penn has regained last season’s form. Per possession they score far more than anyone else in the Ancient Eight, and unless Matt Minoff ’04 can come up with another superhuman effort against Schiffner, I don’t think Yale will be able to shut down that kind of offense. Since starting the season 0-2, Penn’s closest game has been a 15-point embarrassment of Princeton.
Yale 61, Princeton 56
Princeton and Yale are almost identical in points per possession and points allowed per possession. The one place where the boys from Old Nassau have a distinct advantage is on the boards — Princeton grabs a far higher percentage of available rebounds than any other Ivy team.
Yale should have won the game in New Haven and Princeton has been just barely escaping defeat recently. Starting with the game at Yale, the Tigers were devastated by the Quakers and pushed into overtime by Harvard and Columbia — both of which are 2-6 in the league this season. It’s not a very impressive streak. The Elis, on the other hand, have won four of their last six.
The bottom line is that I think Princeton is not as good as its record, while Yale is better than its losses indicate. If the Bulldogs are on their game, they should definitely beat this team.
Out of the three players in the Quaker backcourt, point guard Charlie Copp is the only one for whom a case cannot be made for the All-Ivy first-team. At 7.3 points per game and a 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio this season, even the floor general’s numbers aren’t that bad.
The other two, last year’s honorable mention selection Tim Begley and unanimous first-teamer Jeff Schiffner, are deadly.
Eli fans might not appreciate how good a player Schiffner is after Matt Minoff ’04 smothered him for four points in the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Don’t be deceived. Schiffner, last week’s Ivy Player of the Week, is the fifth leading scorer in the Ancient Eight at 15.1 per game and he is tops among eligible players in assist to turnover ratio. And he’s regained last season’s shooting stroke that gave him the best 3-point shooting percentage in the nation.
Cohort Begley, on the other hand, Yalies probably will remember. He torched the Elis for 21 points in the first meeting this season. Neither has Begley slowed down — he leads the league right now in 3-pointers made per game and 3-point shooting percentage, converting almost 50 percent of his attempts.
Beware of freshman Ibrahim Jaaber who, like Yale’s Casey Hughes ’07 and Sam Kaplan ’07, has steadily become an impact player for Penn.
Adam Chubb has proven himself to be one of the top rebounders in the league, and is even contributing double figures on offense. Freshman Mark Zoller is getting most of the minutes at power forward and has done a commendable job.
Still, Dominick Martin ’05, Justin Simon ’04, Paul Vitelli ’04, Sam Kaplan ’07 and Minoff comprise a frontcourt that is hard to rival when they are playing well. That was not the case in the teams’ last meeting, when that group combined for only 29 points, seven points below their average for the season. Yale needs Martin to come to play in order to win this game.
Ed Persia and Will Venable lead the Tiger guards and are the only two Princetonians to log over 30 minutes a game. Persia is more of the 3-point threat, but Venable has improved his shooting and is connecting at a 39 percent clip. Though both rebound well for their position, Venable’s 4.8 per game is especially impressive. Venable is a good defender who gets more than his share of steals on a team that is not good at forcing opponents into turnovers.
Scott Greenman is the starting point guard and he does some scoring, but is not a particularly dangerous threat. Backup Max Schafer is a good distributor and his shooting has improved in Ivy play — but that’s not saying much.
Judson Wallace started the year by leading the team in scoring in four of the first five games and in rebounding for three of those first five. He scored over 25 three times in that stretch. Since then he has led the team in scoring only twice and in rebounding only five times; Princeton has played a total of 20 games.
He is still the leading candidate as the Ivy League’s best center and he leads the team with 13.5 points per game and almost six rebounds a night.
Wallace is backed up by the burly Mike Stephens. Stephens is more brawn than basketball player, but he scores more than you would expect. Keep him outside and he can do nothing.
Andre Logan can be terrific, as Yale fans know, but he’s not a good outside shooter and he hasn’t put up huge numbers. He does lead the Tigers in blocks.
Freshmen Luke Owings and Harrison Schaen have come on strong in the wake of Konrad Wysocki’s departure. Owings is a good outside shooter. Schaen is second on the team in blocks despite playing less than 10 minutes per game. He is also a good rebounder.