Penn 95, Long Beach State 79 quotes & notes

Penn Coach Steve Donahue – “I thought the first half was as good an offensive half as we’ve played. At the same time, I was disappointed in our defense, but give Long Beach credit; they played great this whole tournament. They came back from 17 to beat Providence, they played Wake [Forest] really hard, and very pleased with that. We played defense in the second half for the most part, and the offense continued which is great to get away with a win.” (On the balance of teams in the Wooden Legacy Tournament, and thoughts on three tough games) “We when scheduled this, there’s a lot of reason, but the first thing is it’s an incredible opportunity to be on national TV; ESPN 2 and the [ESPN] U. That’s a big thing for us. These guys come to Penn for that type of opportunity, and then to play the caliber teams of UCF, Arizona, and Long Beach on a neutral site. You don’t normally get that opportunity. It’s usually on their home court and that’s difficult to win. It’s been a great tournament for us, we had three seniors, and as you saw three freshmen, that have really stepped up and helped us as well. We play back-to-back in our league, so to play a back-to-back situation here is another thing we looked forward to. These are experiences that help us in so many ways. But more importantly, for these guys, it’s another chance to be together for six days and really get to have fun with each other; hopefully that builds your team going forward and get you prepared outside the basketball part of it.” (On the fifth straight game with double-digit 3’s, and if shooting more 3’s should be the game plan) “We’ve struggled with percentages over the last couple years. We’ve had stretched where we didn’t. AJ touched on it. We have not taken a mid-range jumper all year; the only team in the country. I just have a hard time with my brain allowing that to happen. That being said, if you don’t have someone like AJ to put so much pressure on the defense at the rim, then you’re not going to get open shots; and I think we have kids who can make them. He had 20 assists in the last two days; that’s a 6’8” center. I’ve been saying this a lot, he’s as good an all-around basketball player as there is in the country at any level. I play him 35-40 minutes, he rarely gets in foul trouble, he leads in scoring, rebounds, assists, blocked shots; he’s played everything. He allows us to compete with Arizona. If we don’t have him, we don’t compete with Arizona, let alone the Villanova’s and hopefully the really good teams in our league that we have to play this year.”

Penn Forward AJ Brodeur – (On fewer shot attempts, but doing well in other stats for the team) “When I go into pretty much any game, it’s never for me more of ‘this is what I’m going to do’ because when you go out into games especially in tournament settings when you have a short window to study what the other team’s going to do, you have to be versatile. That’s the type of team that will win games in these tournaments. Coming out and seeing that my role to win by how much we did today would be limit the shot attempts and find my teammates open for shots, which is what I do because I draw so much attention on the inside. Because of that scoring threat, it opens up my teammates like it did today to knock down all those 3’s, and I’m just thankful they were able to knock them down.” (On Penn making several 3’s if a function of bad Long Beach defense or good Penn offense) “I think it’s more of a function of our system. Our offense is designed to get either a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer like we did a lot today, or a layup around the basket. I think today was a good showing of what the end goal of our offense really is; to get those open shots. By the nature of a 1-3-1 zone or 2-3 zone that they were playing today is to clog up the middle. By penetrating the middle, it opens up all the winds for those catch-and-shoot opportunities.” (On the progress of the team over the three games this weekend) “We just got a little tougher, I think. At the end of the day, we’re going to have to play like we did in the second half for 40 minutes going forward. I don’t think we’ve played a complete game yet in our season, and that’s going to have to change when we go forward. We have Villanova coming up on Wednesday and before you know it league play will be coming around and that’s a completely different monster. We took great steps in showing what kind of team we can be in terms of toughness.” (On AJ’s evolution as a freshman, and his thoughts on Penn Guard Jordan Dingle and Penn Guard/Forward Max Martz performance as freshmen) “I just remember the speed of the game, and how different it was from high school. Everyone plays tough. You get a combination of every high school’s best teams’ players onto one college team. I don’t think most freshmen are used to being an option, rather than the main go-to guy. But I think these guys have done a great job adjusting to the speed of play and slowing down. It’s easy to get sped up and I know that happened to me throughout my entire freshman year. I was trying to move too fast making freshman mistakes like people do. But they’re still learning, they’re still making those types of mistakes, but you can definitely see their growth as players.

Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson – “If you would have told me when the week started that we were going to have a Big East win and play the way we did; I think I would take it. That being said, when you get into these games against these good opponents it’s hard to say that to yourself, but I think this team is growing and has made a great jump offensively in the last week. These three games we seem to be more comfortable knowing where guys are at. We had 20, 19, and 16 assists which are all easily the three highest games we have had that way. We’re not a young team but an inexperienced team and we were like a mouse eating the cheese in the first half. We were trying to outscore a very good offensive team and we just never got them out of sync. When we did, we struggled getting the rebounds out of there. That’s what’s going to happen when you get into these tournaments and you let teams play to their identity. We made it look to easy for them and just didn’t have enough resistance on that end of the court.”

“It’s disappointing that we are still struggling with the same lessons a lot. We seem to start the second halves slow against these veteran teams. They obviously have some urgency into their game the second half and we just stood around settling for jump shots. Early in the game we had a good start offensively when we got the ball inside. That 7-0 start to the second half really shows the mental state of their team vs ours right now. We just thought we were going to continue the same way and they said no it’s not going to be. They not only turned it up offensively, but they forced a couple turnovers in the first couple minutes and really took control of the game at both ends of the court. After nine games that we’ve played I think we have had to call timeout four or five times in the first two minutes of the second half just to get them back.”

Improving with more experience – “You can talk about mental toughness or the starts but there is no substitute for experiencing that. To know what is coming and think we have been here before, we are not going to let that happen again. Even experience from the Providence game of being down nine with three and a half to go and having the confidence to comeback. Unfortunately, today I said that to them with seven minutes left and Penn came out with a 9-0 run which is what good teams do. We come here to play really good teams and we accomplished that because all three teams were quality teams.”

Team listening more than past teams – “I think that’s the great thing about having new guys. They really want to do what you ask them to do and 90% of the time they are locked in and going. We are still struggling with that during adversity, fatigue, and desperation. Like the second half there. The differences between now and two weeks ago is they get it back together. They finish the game playing the right way again where as Arizona, they caved us in, and we could never get it back together. It’s a journey and unfortunately with a group like this there will be some growing pains. Having said that, the schedule is not built for the timid, its built for guys to challenge themselves mentally and as a group to stay together. I have great confidence in them as I tell them all the time, I am really excited in this team and I just hope they had as much confidence in themselves as I have in them as a group.”

On Jordan Roberts energy off the bench – “Everybody wants to start, and he was struggling early. It was a mutual decision for him to wait and see the game for a few minutes before he comes in. I don’t know how many games he has been coming off the bench but sometimes it takes pressure off the guys to just worry about their own game. I think he is slowly starting to find his game back and same with Drew Cobb. I tell them all the time let’s not worry about who’s starting but who’s finishing the game. It has been really good in this tournament that Jordan (Roberts) has been able to finish games for us. There are all kinds of choices and that’s what I tell the guys the good news is that I have choices. Romelle (Mansel) gives us a great motor, great energy. Joshua (Morgan) is getting better every game and Trevor (Irish), I think he has gotten a lot more confidence from this tournament.”

On Drew Cobb – “We are not going to know until we get an X-Ray tomorrow, so we are not sure. We think it’s more the foot than the ankle, but it is definitely lower leg.”

4-team tournament next year – “I’m bummed. I love these tournaments and all the opportunities. I believe it is 12 or 13 wins that we’ve had at Long Beach State since I’ve been here against power 5 conferences and I would say over half are in this tournament where you get to play on a neutral court. It is just a great opportunity for mid majors to play people on a neutral court and see where your guys truly stack up. When you go on the road it is not a true barometer as far as how you stack up. ESPN has been so gracious with this tournament and they have to do what’s best for them, so I certainly understand. I would love to be a part of these every year.”

Long Beach State guard Colin Slater – “I would say it’s a privilege to have adversity. Any obstacle gives us the opportunity to grow and be better as people and as players. Every challenge we meet we are going to meet it head on and continue to get better.”

Chemistry on the court – “I don’t think that is something that could be quantified. I think it’s all based on experience and getting comfortable. Once you get some success with moving the ball and knowing the big is going to be here every single time. You have to take into account that we are a very young team with some transfers as well, so we are still figuring things out during the game. I would say it’s based off of feel and after we get more success, it will continue to grow and get better.”

Wooden Chips
• The 95 points by Penn was the most scored in a Wooden Legacy game since Portland lit up the scoreboard for 96 in 2016… that mark also ties for the fifth most ever in a game in this tournament’s history.
• Both teams shot at least 50% FG, the ninth time that has happened in a Wooden Legacy tournament (and second time in 2019).
• Penn set a Wooden Legacy record by attempting 36 3pt-FGs, after previously tying the tournament record in their last game with 34 attempts… the school record for attempts is 39 (done twice).
• Long Beach State’s Chance Hunter poured in 21 first half points, the most points ever scored in the first half of a Wooden Legacy contest and tied for the eighth most points in any half.
• This was the first ever meeting between these two teams.

Penn (5-3)
• Penn made 15 3pt-FGs, the second most ever in a Wooden Legacy game behind only Washington State’s 16 in 2017… that was also just one shy of the school record of 16, done twice (last on 2/21/03 vs. Harvard).
• Before today’s game Penn had won 16 straight and 31 of the last 32 when shooting at least 50% FG.
• Penn had 27 assists, which was just one shy of the all-time tournament record… in the three games of this event, Penn handed out 65 assists, the third highest total in tournament history.
• Freshman Jordan Dingle scored 21 points, the fourth time he has had at least 20 points… he scored 19 in the second half alone, the second straight game he has done so, tied for 17th most by a player in a half of a Wooden Legacy game.
• Devon Goodman tied a career high with seven assists… he added 16 points, his 15th career game with 16+ points (Penn is now 12-3 in those games).
• Freshman Max Martz entered the game having shot 4-13 3pt-FG in his young career and had a total of 20 points… today he made 5-6 3pt-FGs and scored 17 points.

Long Beach State (3-6)
• Long Beach State never allowed 95 points in a game last season, but has now done so twice in the past week.
• For the second straight game, LBSU lost despite outshooting the opponent, just the 10th time LBSU has lost in the last 51 games when having a higher FG% than the opponents.
• LBSU is now 3-0 when holding teams to 65 or fewer points, and 0-6 when allowing 69+ points.
• Long Beach State allowed 15 3pt-FGM for the first time since 12/19/16… the Beach won a game for just the second time in the last 37 times when allowing an opponent to shoot at least 50% FG.
• Chance Hunter led all scorers with a career-high 24 points, his third game with LBSU of at least 20 points.
• Freshman Joshua Morgan extended his streak to four straight games (and five in his career) of scoring at least 10 points, as he contributed 15… for the tournament Morgan shot 17-25 (.680) FG.