Pack your Penn gear, proceed to the Palestra, and get your popcorn ready … Penn basketball is back, beginning in November, for the first time since March of 2020.
The men’s basketball team tips off against the ACC’s Florida State on Wednesday, Nov. 10, in Tallahassee, Florida, followed four days later by the women’s basketball team, who take on Hartford of the American East Conference on Sunday, Nov. 14, in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Conference play for both teams opens on Jan. 2, 2022, against Brown. The men battle the Bears at the Palestra; the women take them on in Providence, Rhode Island.
In the Ivy League’s recently released 2021-22 Women’s and Men’s Basketball Preseason Media Polls, the Quaker women placed second and the Quaker men placed fourth.
The women’s team finished the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season with a 20-7 record and advanced to the Ivy League Tournament for the fourth consecutive year. The Quakers were led by do-it-all freshman Kayla Padilla, who was the team’s top scorer, averaging 17.4 points per game, a First-Team All-Ivy selection, and the Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
Now a junior, Padilla is a co-captain along with senior forward Kennedy Suttle and senior guards Mia Lakstigala and Meg Hair. All three saw extensive playing time in the 2019-20 season. Suttle played in all 27 games and was the team’s third-leading rebounder with 126, or 4.7 per contest. Lakstigala played in 21 games and shot 51 percent from the field and a team-high 44 percent from behind the arc. Hair saw action in 13 games. (Eleah Parker, the team’s leading rebounder and the two-time defending Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, now plays for the University of Virginia.)
Games of note include a Big 5 showdown against Villanova on Nov. 22 at the Palestra, a donnybrook against Duke on Dec. 5 at the Palestra, a tussle with city rival Temple on Jan. 11 at the Palestra, and the two league against Princeton, No. 1 in the Ivy preseason poll, on Jan. 17 (home) and March 5 (away).
The last time we saw the men’s team in action, on March 7, 2020, they defeated Columbia 85-65 at the Palestra in a game that saw senior forward A.J. Brodeur record the first triple-double in school history and become Penn’s all-time leading scorer, breaking Ernie Beck’s 67-year-old record.
Brodeur, who is currently playing professionally in Iceland, is not walking through the Palestra doors, fans, but the Quakers return a torrent of talented players, including senior guard Bryce Washington, sophomore guard Jordan Dingle, sophomore forward Max Martz, senior forward Michael Wang, junior guard Lucas Monroe, and senior guard Jelani Williams. Monroe and Williams are co-captains.
Dingle, with an average of 13.5 points per game, was the third-leading scorer on the 2019-20 team, Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and a CollegeInsider.com Freshman All-American. Martz shot a team-high .432 from behind the arc and was the third-leading rebounder. Wang did not play in 2019-20 because of a knee injury but averaged 8.5 points per game as a freshman in 2018-19. Williams has yet to play a minute for the Quakers, but big things are expected from the fifth-year senior.
Key games for the men’s team include a matchup against the SEC’s Arkansas on Nov. 28 in Fayetteville, Arkansas; four straight Big 5 battles against Villanova on Dec. 1 (home), Temple on Dec. 4 (away), Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 8 (away), and La Salle on Dec. 11 (away); the Princeton games on Jan. 17 (away) and March 5 (home), and wrangles with Yale, No. 1 in the Ivy preseason poll, on Jan. 22 (home) and Feb. 18 (away).