Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Penn men’s basketball will go exactly 613 days between competitive games. But at least there’s an end date in sight.
The Quakers put out their 2021-22 schedule on Tuesday, finalizing a 29-game slate that will finally see them take to the court again after sitting out the entire 2020-21 season along with the rest of the Ivy League. It’ll be the fifth year on the sideline and sixth year at Penn overall for Steve Donahue, who’s already captured one Ivy League title (2018) and had another in the mix before COVID ended the 2019-20 season prematurely.
Steve Donahue (above, during the 2019-20 season) will be entering his sixth year as Penn's coach. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
“After not playing at all last year, we are certainly diving back into it this season,” Donahue said in a release. “We are facing four NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, three of which made it to the second weekend. We will host another conference champion in James Madison, and for the first time in history we will play three of our Big 5 games in our rival’s gym. Overall, I think these tests will prepare us well when we hit 2022 and get into Ivy League play. I’m excited with the group of guys we have this season, and I can’t wait to see how they prepare for this rugged non-conference schedule over the next few months.”
The return is scheduled to begin Nov. 10 with a big trip down to Tallahassee to take on Florida State. The Seminoles, who went 18-7 last year and made it to the NCAA Sweet 16, feature a couple of local players on the roster in center Naheem McLeod (Plymouth Whitemarsh/Chipola JC) and guard Jalen Warley (Westtown), both of whom are in their first year playing D-I hoops. FSU does have to replace four of its top five leading scorers last year, but Leonard Hamilton still has a ton of talent on his ACC squad.
Penn then plays two more road contests, at George Mason (Nov. 12) and Bucknell (Nov. 14), before finally getting its Palestra action on Nov. 16 with its annual matchup against Lafayette.
It’s then back on the road to Conway, S.C. for the Myrtle Beach Invitational, starting with a game against Utah State (Nov. 18). Penn gets either Davidson or New Mexico State the day later, with further championship/consolation play on Nov. 21; East Carolina, Indiana State, Old Dominion and Oklahoma round out the eight-team field.
The travels don’t end there for the Quakers, who head down to Maryland to face Towson (Nov. 23), come home for Thanksgiving, and then head out to play SEC powerhouse Arkansas on Nov. 28 in Fayetteville; the Razorbacks are coming off a 25-7 season that saw them earn a No. 3 seed in March Madness and reach the Elite 8. J.D. Notae (12.8 ppg/3.1 rpg) and Davonte Davis (8.5 ppg) both return for Eric Musselman, who also has 7-3 center Connor Vanover (6.3 ppg/4.5 rpg/1.8 bpg) in the paint.
Donahue’s squad returns to Philly for the month of December, getting all of its Big 5 games in a row as the non-league schedule draws to a close.
Jay Wright, Collin Gillespie and Villanova visit the Palestra on Dec. 1 in what’s sure to be a packed building, the Wildcats coming off an 18-7 season that saw them fall in the Sweet 16 while returning the vast majority of their roster. The Quakers follow that with local trips to Temple (Dec. 4), Saint Joseph’s (Dec. 8) and La Salle (Dec. 11), wrapping up their city series before the winter break.
Two non-league games remain: James Madison (Dec. 28) and Howard (Jan. 4) both visit Philadelphia around the New Year, bracketing the Ivy League opener against Brown on Jan. 2.
That’s an earlier start than usual for the Ancient Eight, who’ve done away with the old format of six back-to-back weekends and two games against a travel partner in favor of a more drawn-out format which includes three back-to-back weekends, several stand-alone games and the rivalry games thrown in as well. Penn’s rivalry games against Princeton come on Jan. 17 at Princeton, with the two closing out the regular season on March 5 at the Palestra.
Penn’s back-to-back weekends include a visit from Cornell and Columbia (Jan. 7 + 8), a trip to those same schools in reverse order (Feb. 4 + Feb. 5), and a trip to Yale and Brown on Feb. 18 + 19.
The Quakers went 16-11 (8-6 Ivy) in their last season of competition, but the roster is going to look substantially different this year. A.J. Brodeur (17.3 ppg/8.9 rpg), Devon Goodman (13.6 ppg) and Ryan Betley (11.6 ppg) have long since graduated; the 2019-20 freshman class of Jordan Dingle (13.5 ppg), Max Martz (7.9 ppg), Lucas Monroe (3.4 ppg), Max Lorca-Lloyd (1.3 ppg) and Jonah Charles (DNP-Injured) will be the core of the program moving forward, joined by two separate ‘freshman’ classes who’re new to D-I hoops.
Penn Men’s Basketball 2021-22 Schedule
All game times TBD
* = Ivy League; ** = Big 5
Weds., Nov. 10 @ Florida State
Fri., Nov. 12 @ George Mason
Sun., Nov. 14 @ Bucknell
Tues., Nov. 16 vs. Lafayette
Myrtle Beach Invitational
Thurs., Nov. 18 vs. Utah State
Fri., Nov. 19 vs. Davidson/New Mexico State
Sun., Nov. 21 vs. TBD
Tues., Nov. 23 @ Towson
Sun., Nov. 28 @ Arkansas
**Weds., Dec. 1 vs. Villanova
**Sat., Dec. 4 @ Temple
**Weds., Dec. 8 @ Saint Joseph’s
**Sat., Dec. 11 @ La Salle
Tues., Dec. 28 vs. James Madison
*Sun., Jan. 2 vs. Brown
Tues., Jan. 4 vs. Howard
Fri., Jan. 7 vs. Cornell
Sat., Jan. 8 vs. Columbia
Sat., Jan. 15 vs. Dartmouth
Mon, Jan. 17 @ Princeton
Sat., Jan. 22 vs. Yale
Sat., Jan. 29 @ Harvard
Fri., Feb. 4 @ Columbia
Sat., Feb. 5 @ Cornell
Sat., Feb. 12 vs. Harvard
Fri., Feb. 18 @ Yale
Sat., Feb. 19 @ Brown
Sat., Feb. 26 @ Dartmouth
Sat., March 5 vs. Princeton
Ivy League Men’s Basketball Championship
March 11-13; Harvard University