UPenn basketball preview: Is it time to contend in the Ivy League?

UPenn basketball preview: Is it time to contend in the Ivy League?

Steve Donahue’s Penn Quakers may have not yet turned the corner when it comes to the conversation of Ivy League basketball contenders. But following five straight losing seasons and nine in the last 10, at least they can see the end of the block.

Coming off four seasons in which they went a combined 38-78, the Quakers went 13-15 in Donahue’s second year at the helm, and should’ve beaten Princeton in the opening round of the first ever Ivy League Tournament at the Palestra.  From that squad Penn returns seven of its top eight scorers, including dynamic sophomore A.J. Brodeur, who averaged 13.8 while blocking 66 shots.

Teaming him with Ryan Betley, Jackson Donahue, Darnell Foreman and Caleb Wood gives Donahue a pretty good nucleus to work with.  Add Max Rothschild, Devon Goodman and Matt McDonald and the Quakers should have the kind of depth necessary to survive a schedule that begins Saturday at Fairfield, followed by LaSalle at the Palestra on Monday, then sees them take on city and national power Villanova, Dayton and Toledo.

By the time the Ivy League slate gets underway Jan. 5 against Princeton, followed the next night by Cornell, where Donahue won three straight Ivy titles, he should have a pretty good idea what to expect.  Whether that means the Quakers will be good enough to finally post their first winning season since going 20-13 in 2012 under Jerome Allen remains to be seen.

But after spending so many years buried deep, it looks like Penn can finally see just a hint of light.