Tony | Princeton showed the jury’s still out for Penn basketball
March 13, 2013, 12:59 am·
Carolyn Lim | DP
Now that Penn basketball finished just its second season in the last 22 with single-digit wins, the question becomes, what was missing for the 2012-13 Quakers?
While conventional wisdom holds that the Quakers will make leaps and bounds with more experience in 2013-14, the reality is that nothing is guaranteed.
No one could have predicted that Fran Dougherty would contract mononucleosis and sustain a season-ending elbow injury in the same year. And no one could have predicted that a team which was palpably excited at the start of the season to spread the offensive wealth in Rosen’s absence would have just two players averaging at least nine points per contest heading into the final game of the year.
Coach Jerome Allen knows to take nothing for granted.
“Next season is not promised to anyone,” Allen said. “Fran Dougherty probably thought he was gonna play this entire season. You cannot assume that you’ll have another opportunity.”
And anyone who saw Tuesday night’s Penn-Princeton box score saw what was missing.
While Tony Hicks may have scored 22 points, no other Quakers even got to double digits. Hicks’ offensive one-man show in the first half (scoring 17 of Penn’s 32 first-half points) faltered when he notched just five more points the rest of the game.
The Quakers never developed offensive depth on a consistent basis. Whether it was the Fran Show or the Miles Show or the Tony Show, some Penn player always seemed to be shouldering too much of the load at once.
Contrast that with Princeton, who had four players in double figures at the Palestra and developed the depth throughout 2012-13 that the Quakers never had.
“I think we started off the season a little one-sided,” Princeton senior forward and Ivy Player of the Year candidate Ian Hummer said. “I think one or two players were having to carry the load a little more than usual. [But then] a lot of guys stepped up. If you can get consistency out of three players a night, it causes a lot of problems because you can’t just focus on one or two players.”
The Tigers had four players averaging at least nine points per game coming into Tuesday, and that’s the kind of depth Ivy teams need.
But which of the Quakers will display the killer instinct that Rosen had night after night? Will Miles step it up in his senior season?
He certainly didn’t fill those shoes with enough regularity this year. Scoring eight points in two games versus Princeton is a pretty damning stat. The players who matter most have to dominate the games that matter most and Princeton qualifies for that category.
And who will make sure the Quakers don’t get blown away at the end of games like they did Tuesday, when Penn got outscored 24-10 in the final 8:29?
The loss to Princeton epitomized the Quakers’ season-long lack of offensive depth and finishing power, and the jury is still out for next year’s prospects.
So the takeaway from the Princeton loss is that nothing is guaranteed, except for the fact that next season is the ultimate litmus test for this program. It’s a challenge that Allen, Cartwright and company relish. And it won’t take very long to see whether the pieces missing this year ever get found.
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 tony@theDP.com