I’ve finally figured it out.
It’s not that the Penn basketball team is untalented.
The problem is that Zack Rosen is too good.
If you’ve been to a Penn basketball game in the last three years, you know who Zack Rosen is. He’s the one with red hair and a motor that doesn’t stop. He’s the one with jackrabbit quickness and wolfpack tenacity. He’s the playmaker who gets his points and distributes, elevating the play of his teammates.
Those teammates are also measured against the foil of Zack — and that’s a position that very few players in Division I basketball would want to be in.
After the Quakers defeated Manhattan, coach Steve Masiello called Rosen one of the best guards in the country, “bar none.”
Just good press conference etiquette, right?
Masiello is just one of a string of Penn opponents’ coaches who have described Rosen as one of the best guards in the country. It is becoming undeniable fact.
Let’s look at some numbers. Rosen is currently shooting 58.5 percent from three-point range — fourth best in the country. He actually makes fewer shots from inside the arc than out, percentage-wise.
At this point for Rosen, driving to the basket is mathematically irresponsible. Think about it: three point shots are 50 percent more effective than two-pointers.
The Quakers have a fever — and the only prescription? More Zack Rosen.
Against Villanova, Rosen attempted four three-point shots and made three of them. At the rate he’s shooting, why not jack up a few more?
Sure, the percentage might take a bit of a hit, but in the first half, when Penn was struggling from three-point land, Rosen might have rescued them with a long ball or two.
At times, the Quakers may look to Rosen for that “swag,” he said they lacked. Then the good things will start snowballing. The Quakers lost the first half badly against Villanova. They won the second half, but not by enough to win the game.
He had another classic Zack Rosen game with 21 points, six rebounds, and three assists. The obvious conclusion is, ‘Rosen did his job, other players didn’t step up and that’s why they lost.’
But maybe Rosen could have single-handedly gotten the Quakers into the locker room down 10 instead of 18. Rosen is so good that he could have done it. Is that a ton of pressure on one guy? For sure.
Can Rosen handle it? Yes, he’s that good.
ETHAN ALTER is a junior history major from Los Altos, Calif. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com