The next time you have an occasion to peruse the Penn men’s basketball roster, look a little closer.
You’ll notice the team suffers from a complete lack of juniors. While I still maintain that the Class of 2013 is the best to ever grace Penn’s campus (Amy Gutmann doesn’t lie), we as a class are dreadfully underrepresented on the team.
It wasn’t always this way.
Remember Malcolm Washington? After his freshman season he decided to leave the team.
Tommy Eggleston? Cut. (Still a Penn athlete, though!)
Australian star Sean Mullan? Cut.
Carson Sullivan? Transferred after just one semester, ostensibly to be closer to home.
Brian Fitzpatrick? Transferred to Bucknell.
And thus, 2013 was purged from the Penn basketball team.
The implications of this dearth of juniors will become most apparent next year. No juniors in 2012 means no seniors in 2013. ‘Senior leadership’ is an overused term in the sports world, but whatever it entails, the Quakers will not have it.
Many of this season’s close wins have been attributed to the senior leadership, composure and close-game experience that Penn has enjoyed this season. To the extent that this factor is significantly borne out of game outcomes, close contests may slant the other way in the coming year.
Sophomores Miles Cartwright, Steve Rennard, Marin Kukoc and Fran Dougherty will be the most experienced players on the team next season. They will form the new core.
Compared to seniors at other Ivies, they’ll have significantly fewer minutes under their collective belt. They’ll be asked to exhibit the maturity and leadership traditionally associated with the senior class a year early.
Coach Jerome Allen likes to talk about how he has 200 minutes in his pocket for every game. Five players on the floor at a time multiplied by 40, for the length of each game. The math checks out.
Seniors Zack Rosen, Rob Belcore, Tyler Bernardini and Mike Howlett currently eat up just under 110 minutes per game on average. Production aside, that’s quite a large chunk to absorb. And I don’t have to convince anyone about how important or how central these four seniors have been to Penn’s program since they arrived on campus.
Losing valuable seniors, and their cumulative years and minutes of experience, is something teams go through on an annual basis. It’s a difficult process for any team.
The transition to the 2012-13 season will, however, be one of the most difficult Penn has ever faced. The quality of the graduating class coupled with a vacant class ensures this hardship.
Blame it on 2013.
ETHAN ALTER is a junior history major from Los Altos, Calif. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com.
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