Oh, what a difference a week makes.
Heading into the Columbia game, junior forward Fran Dougherty was back from his bout with mononucleosis, and the Quakers were well-rested after an eight-day break from game action.
It hasn’t taken long for the injury bug to bite back.
CSNPhilly has reported that Dougherty will likely miss the rest of the season with the dislocated elbow that he sustained against Cornell on Saturday. Coach Jerome Allen reportedly taped a segment for CSN’s Big Men on Campus in which he said that Dougherty was likely out for the year. Dougherty was still sporting a sling at Wednesday’s practice.
And now you can add junior guard Steve Rennard to the injured list.
Rennard injured his right foot at Monday’s practice, and his foot is now in a walking boot. Allen declined to comment to the DP on either injury at practice Wednesday, but he told CSN that Rennard had torn his plantar fascia, the tissue of under the arch of the foot.
What we also know is that Penn’s injuries couldn’t be more ill-timed. The Quakers had more momentum than they had enjoyed in a long time after playing Temple tough on the road and trumping Columbia at home.
The consequences of Dougherty’s eight-game absence before returning last weekend have been well-documented, but what will Rennard’s absence mean for Penn?
Rennard had been having a disappointing season, shooting less efficiently from beyond the arc and averaging more turnovers per game than he did a year ago. His 4.2 points per game this season are also just 0.5 more than his 2011-12 scoring average, indicating that his role within Penn’s offense hasn’t expanded much even with an additional year of experience.
These injuries, while unfortunate, could actually be just what the doctor ordered.
Rennard’s potential absence should only encourage the Quakers’ offensive aggressiveness going forward. Penn has relied too much on the three lately, and Rennard has always been a part of that problem — 72 percent of all shots Rennard has taken this year have been threes.
Meanwhile, Penn launched 24 treys against Cornell, 18 at Temple and 21 against St. Joseph’s. Even if sophomore guard Patrick Lucas-Perry can continue his hot streak from downtown, that’s not a winning formula for everyone else, since Penn still ranks just sixth in the Ivy League in three-point field goal percentage.
“Some days the ball’s going to go in, some days it’s not,” Allen agreed Saturday after the Cornell game, when the Quakers shot 12-for-24 from beyond the arc. “I think our three-point field goal percentage is kind of like fool’s gold.”
But enough about Rennard. Let’s talk about Fran.
Losing Doc is probably the last thing the Quakers needed, and yet it’s familiar territory for them. What does Penn need now that Fran the Man is out of commission?
Penn needs the Miles Cartwright who looked fiercely aggressive at Temple and against Columbia.
Penn needs the Tony Hicks who made his patented left-hand side drives through the paint look easy at Princeton.
Penn needs the Henry Brooks who has emerged as a more efficient offensive weapon and more disciplined defensive presence in Fran’s absence than he ever did with Fran at his side.
In other words, if Fran’s absence forced the Quakers’ other major players to attack the hoop more in Penn’s motion offense before his all too brief return, then it should do the same now.
So the answers to at least some measure of Ivy success for the Quakers in 2012-13 aren’t stuck on the bench. They’re waiting in the paint for whoever has the playmaking gumption to go get them.
MIKE TONY is a junior English and history major from Uniontown, Pa., and is senior sports editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.