Wisniewski | Dougherty was the only bright spot in Penn loss
November 13, 2012, 11:49 pm·
Ellen Frierson | DP
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Penn coach Jerome Allen doesn’t believe in small victories.
He didn’t want to reflect on junior captain Fran Dougherty’s 31 points and 10 rebounds following Penn’s 62-53 loss to Fairfield on Tuesday afternoon. He wanted to look past the stat sheet, past Dougherty’s 13-for-21 day from the field, past his six offensive rebounds, his two blocks and his strong defensive effort.
“I can give you 10 plays that Fran had that he didn’t execute,” Allen said.
But in reality, not all losses are created equal. And while it’s understandable for Allen to be frustrated by two losses in as many days — and it’s worth noting Penn didn’t compete in either contest — the improvement the 6-foot-8 big man has made since last season is something the coach has to be pleased with, if he’ll admit to it or not.
With Zack Rosen now gone, Penn needs a leader. Many assumed it would be Miles Cartwright, who fouled out for the second consecutive night Tuesday after scoring just nine points.
While Cartwright certainly still has time to step up, he hasn’t done so in the early going — Fran’s been the man.
It all started over the summer, according to his teammates, when he added a three-pointer to his arsenal. He also improved on his midrange jumper, which showed Tuesday when he sunk several with ease.
“He worked his ass off,” fellow captain Dau Jok told The Daily Pennsylvanian before the season began. “He’s a guy that leads by example, and what I mean by that is he sprints hard, he does the right things, handles ball screens … He’s gotten better in every way imaginable, and he’s going to have a great year.”
Jok’s prediction has been spot on thus far. Through Penn’s first three games, Dougherty has scored 20.3 points and pulled down 9.0 rebounds per game. He’s shot 23-for-41 from the floor (56 percent) and 3-for-11 from beyond the arc (27 percent).
A year ago he averaged 4.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and shot 49 percent from the floor. He never even attempted a three.
“Some of the moves he has in the arsenal, I don’t think anybody can stop him,” Jok said. “I think he’s the most skilled post man in the league.”
The effort’s there too, as evidenced when he missed a free throw halfway through the second half — his first significant error of the night — but hustled down to the defensive end in time to deny Fairfield forward Marcus Gilbert’s layup attempt.
Jerome Allen may not believe in “small victories,” but Dougherty was definitely Penn’s on Tuesday night. The Quakers’ roster is filled with young talent, and he just happens to be ahead of the learning curve.
When his teammates catch up, watch out. This small victory could lead to some big Ivy League wins.
MIKE WISNIEWSKI is a senior classical studies major from Philadelphia and is Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be reached at wisniewski@theDP.com.