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Getting It Done
Ivy crown for men’s basketball, and win #600 for Bob Seddon.
By David Porter

There is something dry, lifeless, almost clinical, about perfection in sports that belies the sweat and muck that go into producing it. A perfect game, a perfect season; going strictly by the book, wouldn’t the former be defined as 27 strikeouts, 81 strikes, no balls? Likewise, the latter could be construed as a team reaching its potential and playing its best each time out, whatever the score.

This is folly, of course, and numbers are the lifeblood of any sporting discussion. The number 14 has always possessed a certain cachet for Ivy League basketball teams, but the Penn Quakers are doing their best to remove some of its mystique by making perfection seem almost routine. It almost makes one wonder what they are planning for an encore.

As the Ivy League has gradually begun to resemble an actual Division I conference where more than two teams can be considered legitimate contenders, Penn has made it clear that it is playing, for all intents and purposes, a different game. The Quakers’ 14-0 Ivy record this season was the seventh in school history, but the fifth in the last 11 years. For comparison, the gap between perfect seasons Nos. 2 and 3 was 22 years.

In addition to being an aesthetically pleasing group to watch, this was a team hardened by the experience of last season’s 2-3 start and subsequent 10-game winning streak. This translated itself into an almost other-worldly poise and sense of confidence that only increased as the season wore on. The home-and-home series against Brown offered perfect examples. The Bruins, with Earl Hunt, the league’s top scorer, and slippery point guard Jason Forte, were undefeated entering the February 15 game at the Palestra, but they went scoreless in the last four minutes and lost, further embarrassing themselves with coach Glenn Miller’s carping about the referees’ allegedly favoring the Quakers.

The rematch in Providence, played in front of a screaming mob at the high-school-sized Pizzitola Center, again found Hunt & Co. with a chance to make a statement, with the same result, except this time Brown closed a gap in the waning minutes before misfiring on a potential game-tying basket. This is the way it is when pretenders play contenders: they get the one possession, the one chance to grab for glory and if they blow it, it doesn’t come around again. At least, not until next year.

As senior point guard Andrew Toole stood in his stocking feet in the hallway outside the Penn locker room after the Quakers’ 69-65 win, he addressed the criticism that the Quakers of recent years had a habit of tightening up in the clutch. “I think at the beginning of the year a lot of people were thinking that we didn’t have the poise, that we couldn’t win the close games, but we won two against Brown,” he said. “We have a lot of guys who have been in close games. And from last year, we know how fragile it is.”

Toole captured the essence of this Penn team in the first half of the game in Providence with a sequence that slipped by almost unnoticed in the game’s ebb and flow. With Hunt guarding him at the top of the key, Toole faked right, dribbled once left, then crossed back over to the right, leaving Hunt clutching at the air. Driving through a thicket of players in the lane, he deftly switched the ball from his right hand to his left in mid-air and curled it softly over the rim, as if he were setting down an antique vase on a high shelf. As he turned to run back upcourt, Toole looked at press row and let out a whoop, partly in exultation and partly as if even he could not quite believe what he had just done.

These Quakers believed in themselves and backed up those beliefs, and in doing so added their names to an already illustrious tradition and inched the standard for future teams just that much higher.

 

You had to figure Bob Seddon was going to go into coaching just from his choice of college. The list of collegiate and professional coaches who have graduated from Springfield College in western Massachusetts is lengthy, beginning with James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, and includes former New England Patriots coach Dick MacPherson and former Sacramento Kings coach Garry St. Jean.

Seddon has outlasted them all, or at least a good majority of them. The 1956 Springfield graduate is still at it, for which generations—and we do mean generations—of baseball players and fans at Penn should be grateful.

The all-time leader in baseball victories at Penn, Seddon won his 600th game in March, in his 33rd season in West Philadelphia. Chew on those numbers for a second: in 1971, when Seddon took over as head coach, the parents of most of his current players were probably just hitting puberty. Prior to that, he had already coached high-school baseball and soccer in North Jersey for 10 years, and in 1968 was named Penn’s head soccer coach, a position he held until 1986.

Longevity has its place. So do wins, and you usually don’t find the former without the latter. Thirteen 20-win seasons and five trips to the NCAA Championships speak to that, as do the numerous all-Ivy selections, batting champions, pitching leaders, and players of the year (three pitchers and two field players), not to mention the two Penn graduates currently on major league clubs—Doug Glanville EAS’92 (Texas) [“Alumni Profiles,” April 1998] and Mark DeRosa W’97 (Atlanta) [“Alumni Profiles,” September/October 2001].

“As far as the wins go, most coaches will tell you that those are the kinds of things they’ll appreciate after they retire,” Seddon said. “I think what has been most rewarding to me has been all the players who have given back to the program. Also, being involved in the fund-raising and working with the architects and engineers on the new baseball stadium.”

The Penn Athletics Hall of Fame inducts its fourth class on May 10. Whenever Seddon decides to step down, there will surely be a plaque awaiting him.

Sports columnist David Porter C’82 has another article on page 36.


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2003 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 04/28/03



SCOREBOARD

From Feb. 10 - Apr. 6

Men’s Basketball (22-5)
Penn 65, Princeton 55
Penn 68, Yale 57
Penn 73, Brown 66
Penn 82, Harvard 66
Penn 67, Dartmouth 52
Penn 69, Brown 65
Penn 80, Yale 75
Penn 63, Columbia 39
Penn 69, Cornell 52
Penn 74, Princeton 67
Oklahoma State 77, Penn 63

Women’s Basketball (15-12)
Penn 71, Yale 65
Brown 83, Penn 72
Harvard 84, Penn 80
Penn 58, Dartmouth 53
Penn 82, Brown 58
Yale 75, Penn 63
Penn 72, Columbia 62
Penn 65, Cornell 52
Penn 79, Princeton 69

Men’s Fencing
Penn 15, Princeton 12
IFAs, 5th Place
NCAAs, 11th Place

Women’s Fencing
Princeton 17, Penn 10
Penn State, Cornell, Temple, 3rd Place
IFAs, 4th Place
NCAAs, 11th Place

Gymnastics
Cornell & Ursinus, 1st Place
Ivy Classic, 2nd Place
Maryland & George Washington, 4th Place
Temple 190.4, Penn 190.325
ECACs, 6th Place

Men’s Indoor Track
College Challenge Cup, 8th Place
Heptagonals, 3rd Place
IC4As, 26th Place
NCAAs, 36th Place

Women’s Indoor Track
ECACs, 36th Place

Men’s Squash
Team Championships, W 4-3

Women’s Squash
Howe Cup, L 7-2

Men’s Swimming
Harvard 220, Penn 80
ECACs, 14th Place
EISL Championships, 5th Place

Women’s Swimming
Ivy Championships, 6th Place

Wrestling (8-4)
Penn 25, Princeton 15
Lehigh 24, Penn 18
EIWAs, 3rd Place
NCAAs, 29th Place

Baseball (14-10)
Bowling Green 23, Penn 7
Illinois State 8, Penn 4
Fresno State 8, Penn 4
Penn State 6, Penn 2
Penn 5, Illinois State 4
Caltech 9, Penn 7
Penn 1, Bowling Green 0
UNC Asheville 12, Penn 7
Penn 10, St. Joseph’s 7
Penn 5, West Chester 4
Penn 8, West Chester 6
Penn 8, Hartford 7
Penn 7, Hartford 3
Penn 4, Lehigh 0
Columbia 11, Penn 6
Penn 19, Columbia 10
Penn 9, Columbia 6
Penn 21, Columbia 2
Temple 7, Penn 4
La Salle 10, Penn 8
Penn 6, Harvard 4
Harvard 11, Penn 6
Penn 8, Dartmouth 1
Penn 6, Dartmouth 3

Men’s Golf
Spring Trip, 7th Place
Towson Invitational, 1st Place
Navy Invitational, 7th Place

Women’s Golf
Georgetown Invitational, 2nd Place
William & Mary Invitational, 8th place

Men’s Lacrosse (4-5)
Notre Dame 14, Penn 5
Penn 9, Lafayette 4
Johns Hopkins 14, Penn 5
Penn 11, Mount St. Mary’s, 9
Penn 13, Army 8
Penn 8, Harvard 6
Cornell 13, Penn 7
Princeton 12, Penn 6
Dartmouth 7, Penn 5

Women’s Lacrosse (4-7)
Penn 12, Delaware 3
Duke 15, Penn 5
Johns Hopkins 8, Penn 4
Penn 14, Lafayette 1
Temple 7, Penn 6
Yale 10, Penn 8
Loyola 12, Penn 3
Cornell 11, Penn 6
Rutgers 9, Penn 8
Penn 15, Columbia 4
Penn 16, Villanova 1

Men’s Heavyweight Rowing
Stanford & Navy, 2nd Place

Men’s Lightweight Rowing
Lev Brett Cup, 2nd Place
Matthews-Leonard Cup, 3rd Place

Women’s Rowing
Navy & Georgetown, 1st Place
Columbia & Yale, 2nd Place

Softball (6-15-1)
Penn 11, Bucknell 2
Maine 6, Penn 2
Quinnipiac 8, Penn 0
IUPU-Fort Wayne 7, Penn 5
Binghamton 5, Penn 1
Penn 4, Syracuse 3
Youngstown State 10, Penn 4
Appalachian St. 6, Penn 3
IUPU-Fort Wayne 6, Penn 5
Penn 5, Niagara 1
Austin Peay 3, Penn 1
Penn 4, Butler 3
Penn 2, Delaware 1
Penn 0, Delaware 0
Lafayette 5, Penn 4
Penn 7, Lafayette 4
Fordham 4, Penn 3
Fordham 5, Penn 4
Lehigh 5, Penn 0
Lehigh 7, Penn 1
Princeton 3, Penn 2
Princeton 4, Penn 3

Men’s Tennis (9-7)
Old Dominion 7, Penn 0
Penn 4, St. Bonaventure 3
Penn 6, St. Joseph’s 1
Penn 6, Rutgers 1
Rice 7, Penn 0
Penn 7, Lamar 0
Army 5, Penn 2
Penn 7, Navy 0
Columbia 6, Penn 1
Cornell 5, Penn 2
Penn 6, Temple 1
Princeton 6, Penn 1

Women’s Tennis (12-4)
Va. Commonwealth 4, Penn 3
Penn 7, Binghamton 0
Penn 6, Old Dominion 1
Penn 7, Seton Hall 0
Penn 6, Maryland 1
Penn 5, Pepperdine 2
Fresno State 4, Penn 3
Penn 4, Rice 3
Penn 6, Temple 1
Penn 6, Cornell 1
Penn 7, Columbia 0
Penn 6, Princeton 1