Wisniewski | There are no words for Penn basketball


Quakers' weak performance vs. Dartmouth leaves Jerome Allen struggling for answers...again


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Camryn Crocker misses a dunk early in the first half for Penn, which lost, 69-64, to Dartmouth on Friday night at the Palestra.

Photo by Joshua Ng


Think the level of frustration has reached a boiling point for the Penn basketball team?

Let’s ask coach Jerome Allen.

“Questions.”

No first thoughts? All right, no problem, we’ll go right to questions.

First, you guys got off to yet another slow start against the Big Green, in which you were down, 15-3, following seven turnovers and three missed layups in only the first seven minutes of play. What happened?

“I have no explanation.”

How about Dartmouth’s freshman guard Alex Mitola, whose and-one layup to put the Big Green up, 66-61, with 22 seconds to play? He put in a solid 14-point effort the first time you guys met on Feb. 16. What did he do well?

“He made plays.”

Camryn Crocker missed what should have been an easy two points when he went for the dunk at a crucial point in the first half. What’s your first reaction to that?

“He was trying to make an aggressive play — not the first guy ever to miss a dunk.”

What do you say to your team after an effort like tonight? After an ugly loss as historically bad — it’s only the fourth time Penn has ever lost to Dartmouth at home since the formation of the Ivy League — as this one?

“What would you say?”

Well, I’d be disappointed with the slow start, with the limp to the finish. With 18 turnovers and 23 personal fouls.

“Disappointed, you say?”

***

That’s all Allen was willing to offer following Penn’s 69-64 loss to Dartmouth on Friday night.

So yeah, it’s pretty clear Penn’s level of irritation has reached the boiling point. In fact, it’s not just boiling, it’s overflowing. And it’s pretty clear why.

First, Penn has shown little signs of improvement. Every time the Quakers have taken a step forward, they’ve followed up with two in the opposite direction. It used to be giving up offensive rebounds that was the problem. Then it was turnovers, or points in the paint. Friday night, it was turnovers again — 18, which led to 27 Big Green points.

That made the difference. But it wasn’t all.

Missed opportunities were yet another game-changer. The Quakers missed seven layups on the night — 14 gimme points. Even if they had missed just six layups, it would’ve been a different ballgame in the final stretch.

And then there was Crocker’s missed dunk. It came at the 11:49 mark of the first half and would’ve pulled Penn within five at 15-10. Instead of laying the ball in easy — the closest trailing Dartmouth player wasn’t even within 10 feet — the 6-foot-3 sophomore went for the big play. He had no business doing so.

Yet that’s still not even the worst of it. Think of what a loss to Dartmouth means for the program.

A Big Green win at the Palestra has occurred just four times since 1959. It’s now happened twice in Dartmouth’s last five visits, but Friday was the first time during Allen’s tenure. The Quakers entered Friday having won 30 of their last 32 meetings with the New Hampshire school.

Make no mistake — Penn is a young team. But the Big Green, now 7-18 and 3-8 in conference play, are not good. And you know what? They’re just as young as Penn.

Maybe Allen’s right. Guess there really isn’t much to say after all.

MIKE WISNIEWSKI is a senior classical studies major from Philadelphia and former sports editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be reached at dpsports@thedp.com.

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