Phillips | Hot or cold, Cartwright leads Penn basketball
March 8, 2013, 10:19 pm·
Amanda Suarez | DP
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — After last weekend, it was easy to think freshmen Tony Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry were the Ivy League’s newest odd couple.
In this fantasy, Hicks would put up 20 points, while Nelson-Henry would pound the inside for a near double-double every night. And joyful praise would commence after every victory.
Going forward, on some nights – perhaps even the majority of nights – that’s the way it will be over the next three years.
But as flashy and important to the Quakers’ success as Hicks and Nelson-Henry have proven to be over the last two weekends, junior guard Miles Cartwright is the leader of this team until he graduates. Without question.
That doesn’t mean he is always as consistent as coach Jerome Allen would like.
In fact, there are two sides of Miles Cartwright.
There’s the side that was seen in the first half, the one that drains long jumpers like they’re layups.
In the first half, Cartwright went 7-for-10 from the field, including three shots from downtown that he made despite hands in his face, or in one case, being pushed by a defender.
And then there’s the side that becomes quiet in the face of defensive pressure. In the second half, Cartwright shot the ball just three times, making only one shot.
But when the game was on the line, first with Penn down six with 1:42 remaining, and next with less than a second left on the clock, Cartwright took the ball – and game – into his own hands.
In both instances, Cartwright was fouled on a three-point attempt. At the end of the game, he even expected to be fouled.
When the pressure’s on, others may want the ball, but Cartwright demands it. Before the final inbounds play, Cartwright insisted that he take the final shot.
It didn’t matter that he was having trouble getting open due to the pressure that Brown threw at him after his explosive first half.
For Cartwright, being a leader isn’t about shooting percentage or the number of threes he’s drained in his defender’s face.
It’s about knowing when his team needs him. Knowing that the Quakers have yet to sweep an Ivy League weekend yet this season. Knowing that losing a game in which Brown committed 18 first-half turnovers would stall this team’s momentum.
And so he made sure to get to the line.
For the first two of his three free throws at the end of the game, Cartwright stood at the free throw line, with four Brown defenders standing on the block. The rest of the Quakers were standing behind half court.
Such an image isn’t symbolic of the fact that Cartwright alone makes the Quakers tick. But it does mean that, in crunch time, he wants all the pressure. All eyes need to be on him. It doesn’t matter whether he is 3-for-17 or 9-for-11.
Some day, that very well may be Tony Hicks. But that’s a long-term projection.
For now, Cartwright knows to follow his coach’s process and focus on the next game.
Cartwright understands that before these Quakers can be ready to compete for a season, they must show the ability to put together two good games of basketball in a row.
Tomorrow night, he may come out cold, be shut down for three quarters.
But if the Quakers are in it at the end, you can be assured Cartwright won’t just ask to get the ball into his hands.
He’ll demand it.