Though the Penn men’s basketball team has lost a few stars, the Quakers insist little will change without them.
Last season was Penn’s most successful in recent memory as the Quakers eclipsed the 20-win mark for the first time since 2007 and fell one game short of an Ivy title.
This season, the Quakers will aim to build on that success despite losing starters Zack Rosen, Tyler Bernardini and Rob Belcore.
The campaign begins Friday night at the Palestra against UMBC, a team the Quakers downed in last season’s opener, 59-45.
Beyond the common opponent, the Red and Blue expect many other similarities to last year’s team.
“I don’t really expect a lot to change except the faces,” senior captain Miles Cartwright said. “We still have the same principles, same strategies, offensively and defensively.”
Despite some similarities, Allen is quick to dismiss any comparison to last year’s team.
“It’s the 2012-13 Quakers and it’s a unique team,” Allen said. “I’m not thinking about last year at all because frankly, it’s a completely different team.”
Like the Quakers, the Retrievers are also in a period of transition, featuring a new head man, Aki Thomas, who took the position of acting coach on Oct. 10.
As a result, Allen is not sure what to expect.
“They have a new coach, a new system, some new players,” he said.
But the Retrievers are bringing back most of their talent from last season. While the Quakers are returning just 43 percent of their minutes, UMBC will return 83 percent.
Included in the 83 percent are three scorers who averaged double digits last season: forward Chase Plummer and guards Ryan Cook and Brian Nellner.
The Retrievers also added center Brett Roseboro, who transferred from St. Bonaventure and is expected to improve the squad’s inside presence.
Plummer, a second-team All-America East selection last season, scored 15 points and added nine rebounds in last season’s loss to Penn.
But the Quakers aren’t as focused on their opponent as they are on themselves.
“It’s not so much what they’re going to run or their style of play,” Allen said. “We should start to think about us and not allow other teams to impose their will upon us.”
Given that the Quakers are returning just one of their top four scorers, Miles Cartwright, one would expect they are concerned about offensive production.
But Cartwright and his teammates are confident.
“We lost some huge components last year, but I think we have the same level, maybe a little more talent on this year’s team,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll have any problems offensively. I think we have a lot of guys who can score.”
In fact, Allen thinks Penn’s inexperience may be a positive.
“Sometimes when you’re inexperienced, you don’t know how to act in certain situations and your natural instincts take over,” he said.
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