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UPenn hoops rebuilding process keeps moving in the right track

The Quakers will be much better — but likely not Ivy league contenders in 2016-17.
Penn coach Steve Donahue is working hard to turn things around in West Philly.Getty Images

Aftera trying “rookie” season, Steve Donahue feels confident he can finally turn Pennin the right direction, maybe even postits first winning season since 2012. The man who led Cornell to three straight Ivy League titles, before plummetingback to earth at Boston College, went just 11-17 here last year, just 5-9 inthe Ivies.

Buthe says that’s about to change, beginning tonight when the Quakers travel toRobert Morris to open the Year Two. “There are a lot of moving parts to our program,”said Donahue, who has four starters back from that squad in addition to eightnew faces. “But we’re trying to growthis, trying to build it back to where Penn basketball was and we’re still inthe building stages.

“We’re totally differentthan last year. We have a different feel. Most guys back are playing different roles.”

That includes sophomorepoint guard Jake Silpe, who spent the off-season bulking up and working on hisshot while working out with Villanova’s Jalen Brunson.

“We took a step in the right direction andthat initial step is usually the hardest,” said Silpe, with Matt Howard (12.3 points per game), Antonio Woods (10.7) and Jackson Donahue (9.7) leading the way. “We didn’t doas we hoped last year, but I think we’ll be a lot better.”

And thanks to a majorchange in the rules teams no longer have to win the 14-game Ivy wars to punchtheir ticket to the NCAA’s big dance. Instead the top four teams will square off in the first Ivy Leaguetournament—to be played at the Palestra.

“As a coach you don’t thinkabout the tournament at this point,” admitted Donahue. “You always think about winning the 14-game battle and becoming Ivy champs.

“But I’m excited aboutthe possibility of Penn being in the tournament, just like everyone else.”

So let year twobegin. It nothing else it figures to be interesting.

 

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