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City Preview: Penn sophomores 'not young anymore'

10/13/2017, 9:15am EDT
By Owen McCue

Ryan Betley (above) played major minutes for the Quakers down the stretch of his rookie season. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

(Ed. Note: This article is part of our 2017-18 season coverage, which will run for the six weeks preceding the first official games of the year on Nov. 10. To access all of our high school and college preview content for this season, click here.)


Things were not going well for the Quakers at the start of the 2016-17 campaign.

More than two-thirds of the way through its season, Penn was 7-12 overall and winless in six Ivy League games.

In mid-February, something changed.

Freshmen Ryan Betley and Devon Goodman joined classmate A.J. Brodeur in the Quakers’ rotation. As a result, Penn started to win.

The Quakers reeled off five straight conference wins from Feb. 10-24, including a 16-point road win at Yale.

“I think he found a lineup that was just clicking together at the right time,” Betley said of head coach Steve Donahue. “He stuck with it and it paid off and got us to the [Ivy League] tournament.”

Brodeur, a 6-foot-8 forward from Northfield Mt. Hermon (Mass.), was a starter for the Quakers from the get-go, averaging 13.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg and 1.9 apg and earning Second Team All-Ivy and All-Big 5 honors. Betley, who was recovering from a broken hand, and Goodman were slow to work their way into the rotation.

Goodman, a 5-10 point guard out of Germantown Academy, played in 15 of Penn’s first 19 games, averaging 1.8 points and one assist in 7.3 minutes per game. Betley, a 6-5 guard from Downingtown West, played in nine games and averaged 7.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 23.2 minutes of action per contest. The Quakers were 7-12 during that stretch.

In the team’s final nine games, Betley averaged 16.1 ppg and 6.1 rpg in 32.9 minutes per game, and Goodman averaged 8.6 ppg, 3.0 apg and 28.7 minutes per game as the Quakers went 6-3 to finish out the season.

“I think as things started clicking at the end, we figured out who we are,” Goodman said. “This year, we’re going to build off where we ended.”

The Quakers’ strong finish helped them secure a spot in the first ever Ivy League tournament, sneaking in as the No. 4 seed despite a 6-8 conference record.

The team’s season ended with a 72-64 overtime loss to Princeton in the first round of the postseason tournament. Brodeur, Betley and Goodman all started the game. The loss dropped Penn to 13-15 on the year, the fifth consecutive losing season for the Quakers.

“We were good the last nine games of the year, eight and then the playoff game,” Donahue said. “But the reality is, that doesn’t mean anything now, and we still didn’t have a winning season, so we’ve got some steps to take here.”

A.J. Brodeur (above) led Penn in both scoring and rebounding as a freshman, as well as blocked shots. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Donahue is hoping to get even more out of Brodeur, Betley and Goodman as sophomores. He said Brodeur and Betley will have to give the Quakers reliable scoring numbers night in and night out, and Goodman will have to build off his finish to last season. He will most likely come off the bench, backing up senior point guard Darnell Foreman.

With the departure of forward Matt Howard, Donahue envisions Brodeur sliding over to play the four this season. Brodeur spent the summer trying to add several elements to his game. That included extending his range to 3-point line and working on his ball-handling and passing skills.

“I think one thing about me last year was I was too predictable,” Brodeur said. “If I had the ball, it was left shoulder with my right hand. I’ve been working on just changing up my game. Some people say I have an unorthodox game, but I guess not unorthodox enough.”

Betley and Goodman worked out together this summer with their former AAU coach and current Harriton High School coach Kyle Sample.

Goodman’s focus was adding strength. Betley worked on becoming a better defender and creating shots for himself, knowing defenses would be focusing in on him more in year two.

They got to compete with several other Division I players and former Villanova star Maalik Wayns, who also played for Team Philly during his AAU days.

“Going against him one-on-one, him killing me, I mean it was frustrating, but I learned a lot from him,” Goodman said. “Just working out with him, and him teaching me stuff, giving me advice, I just took everything in over the summer.”

Brodeur, Betley and Goodman combined to play more than 1,700 minutes for the Quakers last season. They help form an experienced returning core for Penn ready to cement itself among the Ivy League’s top teams.

“I think in the past couple years, we’ve had the excuse of being a young team,” Betley said. “Even though we’re going to have some young guys in the starting lineup and throughout the rotation, I think we have a ton of experience on the team...I think the mindset is to go out to win. We’re not young anymore.”

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