It was a scene Penn players will never forget, winning the outright Big 5 title with Saturday’s 78-70 win over St. Joseph’s at a packed Palestra.
Yet for senior guard Jake Silpe and his Penn teammates, as special as it was winning the school’s first City Series crown since 2002, it’s also yesterday’s news.
The Quakers (12-6, 0-2 Ivy League) now get back into their Ivy League schedule, with the final 12 games against Ivy opponents.
“We need to come to practice with our backs against the wall, in desperation mode,” Silpe said earlier this week before practice. "We are 0-2 in the Ivy league. We have our work cut out for us.”
So, as much as Silpe savored being a key part of this Big 5 title, there is no more reminiscing about winning one championship, when the goal is to earn another.
“That’s over,” he said about the Big 5.
Now it’s exclusively Ivy League competition, six straight weekends of the grueling Friday-Saturday back-to-backs.
Penn dug itself a hole by losing on consecutive weekends to Princeton to begin its Ivy League season. The Quakers then snapped a four-game losing streak by winning, 77-70, at Temple and then followed that up with Saturday’s win over St. Joseph’s.
Silpe has been a big part of it Penn’s success this season, especially the last two games. Bringing plenty of energy and offense off the bench, he hit 3 of 3 three-pointers in the second half in the win over Temple.
On Saturday, the former Inquirer South Jersey player of the year from Cherry Hill East scored 13 points in 21 minutes off the bench, hitting 3 of 5 from three-point range.
While Penn would like to win the Ivy League regular-season title, the first goal after the 0-2 start is being among the four teams to earn a berth in the conference tournament.
The Quakers shared last year’s regular-season title with Harvard and beat the Crimson in the Ivy League championship.
The Ivy appears more balanced this season than in the recent past. Each of the eight teams has played two league games and only Princeton and Yale are 2-0.
Penn visits Cornell (9-9, 1-1) on Friday, then travels to Columbia (6-10, 1-1) on Saturday.
Facing Cornell means stopping senior guard Matt Morgan, who has scored 2,065 points and is averaging 23.3 points this season.
“He is a leader on the team, and, to win, we have to defend him well,” Silpe said.
Columbia is coming off Saturday’s 73-70 win over Cornell with 6-3 sophomore Gabe Stefanini earning Ivy League rookie of the week honors after recording 24 points, eight rebounds, and five assists against the Big Red.
While Penn is past celebrating its Big 5 title, the Quakers are feeling a lot better about things after the last two wins.