Looking at Penn
Not only does Penn have the bigger roster turnover in the city this season, but the Quakers also lose the most impactful player in the City 6 last season with Zack Rosen’s graduation.
Rosen was “Mr. All-Everything” for the Quakers last season. Coach Jerome Allen’s squad rode the lefty point guard’s back to a 20-win season that culminated with a loss at Princeton that prevented the surprising Quakers from getting into the league’s one-game playoff for the Ivy’s NCAA berth.
Along with Rosen, who averaged 18.2 points and provided immeasurable leadership, the Quakers waved goodbye to seniors Tyler Bernardini and Rob Belcore. The trio averaged more than half of Penn’s points last season (37.6 of 65) and Belcore provided the muscle in the middle.
What’s left are three very good returning players in Miles Cartwright, Fran Dougherty and Henry Brooks, some reserves like Dau Jok and Steve Rennard, who may step up, and a host of talented newcomers.
What can go right?
Cartwright, a junior, will emerge into the go-to scorer who will make up for the absence of Rosen. The 6-foot-3 guard showed flashes last season, particularly when I watched courtside as he lit up Rider for a career-high 27 points – one of three times he eclipsed 20 points last season. Penn didn’t need his scoring last season, but certainly does this time.
Dougherty, a strong inside player whose minutes were inconsistent last season, will be a reliable threat in the paint. He notched double-digits three times last season, including the impressive 14-point output against La Salle.
Brooks, a 6-8 forward, is a real talent who was a bit contributor last season. For the Quakers to have success, they will need someone to break out and the sophomore from Georgia has the skill set to do it.
Penn’s incoming class will live up to its hype.
What can go wrong?
As much as his statistics, which were impressive, Rosen was an on- and off-court leader for the Quakers. Replacing his numbers will be tough enough, but replacing his presence and force of will may be even tougher.
The Quakers will need to find a go-to voice, something Dougherty mentioned on Saturday following the team’s intrasquad scrimmage. Allen is a forceful leader and Rosen was an extension of him on the court last season. Who will be that player this season?
For all their billing, freshmen are freshmen. And it’s particularly tougher for rookies in the Ivy League, as getting adjusted to the educational demands can’t be easy. I have heard nothing but good things about Jamal Lewis, Tony Hicks, Julian Harrell, and Darien Nelson-Henry, but they are freshmen. If you’re counting on rookies to make your season, you’re making a mistake.
With its Big 5 games leading the way, Penn always plays one of the Ivy’s toughest nonconference schedules and this season will be no different. A tough schedule can prepare a team for league play. In the case of a young team, however, that type of slate could negatively affect confidence.
What will happen?
Allen’s demanding style will keep Penn in games, but the Quakers, who were picked to finish fifth in the Ivy preseason poll, won’t put heat on league favorites Princeton and Harvard. This season will be about rebuilding and finding the pieces that fit best together to make a legitimate run at the league title in 2013-14.
More Penn coverage:
-Read the Penn season preview by staff writer Teddy Bailey HERE.
-Follow all of Philahoops’ Quakers coverage on the Penn page HERE.