This summer, some of Penn basketball’s best pulled a “LeBron” of sorts.
Looking to expand their games as much as possible, junior Miles Cartwright, his fellow classmate Fran Dougherty and sophomore Renee Busch took their talents, not to South Beach, but across the Atlantic.
Cartwright and Dougherty traveled from court to European court, playing ball in Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels, while Busch joined the Great Britain squad at the U-20 FIBA Championships.
Last season was a learning experience for all three players involved. A loss to Princeton in the last game of the Ivy League slate booted the men from forcing a playoff against Harvard, while Busch and the women struggled to a sixth-place finish in the Ancient Eight.
Through the difficult end to the season, as well as Penn’s poor 2010 campaign, Cartwright learned “what it takes to be successful,” by watching coach Jerome Allen and former Penn captain Zack Rosen.
Going into next season, Cartwright will be expected to lead a Quakers team that will enter 2012-13 having lost the brunt of its offense with the departure of Rosen and Tyler Bernadini.
Thus, during his time overseas, Cartwright worked on his leadership abilities.
“It was a great experience, to be with a group of guys that I’ve never met and kind of bring them together,” Cartwright said. “That was the most important thing for me.”
Busch’s focus wasn’t so much on leadership — junior Alyssa Baron serves as the Red and Blue’s core both offensively and defensively — but on strength.
“Last year, seeing the physicality of the game, I realized I needed to get a lot stronger physically,” Busch said.
Ironically, however, the type of strength Busch developed during her time playing with Great Britain was more mental.
“I learned to stay level-headed over the course of a game,” she said. “I was thinking a lot about changing speed rather than going too hard all of the time.”
Busch, a Weybridge, England, native, had played in Europe before, so she was familiar with the differences in the style of play.
“Centers and forwards step out and shoot threes,” she said. “There’s a flow to the game.”
This rhythm intrigued Cartwright, who learned just as much from watching the European players as he did during his time actually playing in the game.
“After playing against those guys, interacting with some of the players overseas, most of the guys talked about moving without the ball,” Cartwright explained. “One guy we played against scored 40 [points] with ease, and I watched that and asked him how he did that, trying to learn how to be more efficient.”
For Cartwright, the biggest adjustment was seeing the types of players that performed well in the European game. While the American game is about athleticism and dribble moves, the European players whom Cartwright encountered focused on the fundamentals.
Busch put it best, explaining there are “a ton of very smart players, ones that wouldn’t necessarily make you think [they were] basketball players.”
As Cartwright could tell you, having watched Rosen for years, looks can be deceiving.