BETHLEHEM, Pa. — By this point in Jerome Allen’s coaching career, it should come as no surprise that he wants his team to be known as a defensive one.
So it’s no shock that Allen is not concerned with having only two productive scorers in juniors Miles Cartwright and Fran Dougherty.
“Our problem,” Allen said, “is defensively, we can’t defend the ball. Plain and simple.”
After giving up two late-game leads in the last three days, Allen is concerned about the defense.
And rightfully so.
The Quakers’ collapses down the stretch, according to Dougherty, are a product of Penn’s lack of defensive focus.
“It’s just focusing at the end of games, not letting your man go by you,” Dougherty said. “Our focus obviously wasn’t on that end of the court. It was on the offensive end, and that’s not going to win you games.”
After going on a 12-0 run midway through the second half Monday against Fordham, the Quakers undeniably let up defensively.
It was the Rams’ Branden Frazier who capitalized on the unfocused defense, draining a three to cut the Quakers’ lead to two with 3:11 remaining. It was Frazier again who was clutch at the charity stripe, making both shots after an Allen technical with 1:34 to play and two free throws down the stretch to put Fordham up one with 15 seconds to go.
In an ideal Allen defense, Frazier never gets away from his man, and the Red and Blue don’t relinquish a lead with the clock ticking down.
But of course, Allen will say that’s because games don’t come down to the final possessions. Games are a culmination of plays throughout the entirety of 40 minutes.
More importantly, he’ll say, offense doesn’t win games.
Penn’s offense hasn’t won games, and it certainly hasn’t been balanced. Once again, Dougherty and Cartwright carried the Quakers with 20 points apiece. Freshman Jamal Lewis was Penn’s third-leading scorer with just seven.
Allen played 13 guys, yet for all of the switches and combinations, the Red and Blue bench only came away with 11 points.
You know what’s coming next.
Allen wasn’t looking for offensive production from the numerous subs in and out — he was looking for the right group of five defensive stalwarts.
“At the end of the day we just have to find guys that are committed to defending,” Allen said. “I’m going to continue to play guys until I find the right guys that just want to get after people and stop people from getting in the paint.”
For now, he’s still searching.
MEGAN SOISSON is a senior health and societies major from Mechanicsburg, Pa., and is Senior Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. Her e-mail address is Soisson@theDP.com.
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