By the time I had a chance to write about the game that took place on Friday night, Brown coach Jesse Agel had already lost his job.
Brown certainly came into the Palestra looking overmatched. They were 2-10 in the conference. Their pace earned the coveted "excruciating" designation from Basketball State. Even next to Penn's not-exactly-towering lineup, they looked small. They brought as many coaches as they did bench players (four of each).
However, they were coming off what looked to have been a pretty convincing victory over Columbia the weekend before, so I didn't expect a walkover by any means. Certainly the first half reinforced this expectation, as Brown not only kept things close, they led the Quakers by as many as eight points. It appeared that their plan of attack was to focus on stopping Penn's guards (certainly a logical choice), which led to sophomore forward Fran Dougherty scoring the Quakers' first eight points. The Bears weren't able to keep Zack Rosen and Miles Cartwright down forever, though, and Rosen in particular stepped up at the end of the first half to bring Penn within two.
At halftime, since it was the second-to-last home game of the year, the seniors from the Penn band were honored.
Most of the minds of the Penn faithful were on whether the Quakers could continue their remarkable five-game winning streak through the weekend and into next week for a chance to meet Harvard in a playoff for an NCAA bid. The significance of this game wasn't lost on the Red & Blue Crew, who turned out admirably considering that Friday was the last day of classes before Penn's spring break.
Zack Rosen (above, center) scored the first basket out of the halftime break, and although the game remained within a few possessions for most of the second half, Penn took a final lead with around five minutes remaining and never relinquished it.
As I watched the clock tick down and the looks on the Bears' faces turn from hope to resignation, I didn't know that it would, in all likelihood, be Coach Agel's last time coaching Brown in the Palestra. It's possible that I might also have unknowingly seen his replacement, too. Penn assistant Mike Miller is a Brown alum whose name I've seen mentioned in connection with the job, and former Penn head coach Glen Miller, currently at Connecticut, (no relation, as I understand it) is also a Brown alum. Apparently the interim coach is current Brown assistant T.J. Sorrentine.
He's the one standing next to Coach Agel in the photo above. But you may recognize him better from this. As a fan of the Ivy League, I'd love to see a former MMBOW across the sideline a couple of times a year.
at PENNSYLVANIA 54, BROWN 43 03/02/2012
BROWN 8-22 (2-11) -- T. Ponticelli 1-2 0-0 2; J. Harris 6-15 0-0 16; S. McGonagill 2-12 0-0 5; M. Sullivan 2-10 1-2 7; D. Walker 5-11 2-2 12; J. Schmidt 0-0 1-2 1; T. Lundevall 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-50 4-6 43. PENNSYLVANIA 18-11 (10-2) -- Z. Rosen 9-17 0-0 19; R. Belcore 1-4 0-0 3; M. Cartwright 4-7 2-2 11; F. Dougherty 4-7 0-0 8; S. Rennard 0-3 0-0 0; T. Bernardini 3-6 2-3 10; H. Brooks 1-4 1-1 3; M. Kukoc 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 22-48 5-8 54.
Three-point goals: BRWN 7-24 (J. Harris 4-12; M. Sullivan 2-7; S. McGonagill 1-5), PENN 5-17 (T. Bernardini 2-5; R. Belcore 1-3; Z. Rosen 1-5; M. Cartwright 1-2; S. Rennard 0-2); Rebounds: BRWN 30 (D. Walker 14), PENN 29 (F. Dougherty 8); Assists: BRWN 8 (M. Sullivan 2), PENN 13 (R. Belcore 4); Total Fouls -- BRWN 14, PENN 8; Fouled Out: BRWN-None; PENN-None.