The popular question surrounding Penn basketball this season is how will the Quakers replace Zack Rosen, Tyler Bernardini, and Rob Belcore. Saturday’s Red and Blue scrimmage at the Palestra gave Penn fans some answers.
Team Blue defeated Team White 39-37 in a 20 minute scrimmage in front of 300 (or so) Quaker fans. Dau Jok (18 points: Team White), Patrick Lucas-Perry (14 points: Team Blue), and Fran Dougherty (12 points: Team Blue) led the way scoring-wise. Miles Cartwright wasn’t a huge factor in terms of scoring, but looked well-conditioned and ready to go for Penn’s opener on November 9th against UMBC.
After a few weeks of practice, it was the first time that coach Jerome Allen saw the team in a fluid game.
“In a setting like this (practice), we do some much starting, stopping, explaining, and teaching,” Allen said. “Sometimes you get away from the flow of the game. We put them in a setting where they’re going up and down (the court). Check their mental posture and physical posture.”
The main concern entering the 2012-2013 season was scoring, but after today’s scrimmage, the concern may be about Penn’s defense.
“Was the defense bad, or the offense good?” Allen, a stickler for defense, asked. “Forty points in a twenty minute game. We’re not that good that we can play games in the 80’s and expect to win. I appreciate some guys making shots, but on the flip side, I think that it’s a direct function of our defensive effort.
“Is the cup half empty or half full? The way I see it, is that there’s nothing in the cup at all, from a defensive standpoint.”
Junior and co-captain Dougherty joined in on the importance of defense, saying that it’s the main focus of his team. Dougherty also assessed where he is at the moment.
“I think I need to be more vocal out there, and to be better in help situations,” he said. “There’s a lot of young guys out there, and we need to teach them the motions that they may not be comfortable with yet.”
The freshman saw their first glimpse of live action at the collegiate level, with Tony Hicks, Julian Harrell, and Darien Nelson-Henry playing in Saturday’s scrimmage. Jamal Lewis did not play, as the Sidwell Friends graduate is battling the flu.
“We got some talent, from top to bottom, particularly on the defensive side,” Allen said about the incoming freshmen.
One bright spot of the scrimmage was Nelson-Henry. A center, Nelson-Henry is listed as 6-10, 265 pounds, but said that he lost around 20 pounds over the summer. The Kirkland, Washington native turned down offers from various Division I programs out west to come to Penn. He showed good hands while playing in the paint, and looked very capable at shooting the basketball.
As the season nears, Allen and the Quakers will start the prepare for their opener against UMBC on Nov. 9th.
“Two weeks from the first game,” Allen said. “I wish we had more time.”
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