Roundtable: What's the status of Penn's frontcourt in 2013-14?
October 30, 2013, 1:48 am·
Ellen Frierson | DP
Fran Dougherty is back, Darien Nelson-Henry has a year of experience under his belt, and Henry Brooks is still shooting jumpers from the top of the key. Welcome to the Penn frontcourt of 2013-14! What can we expect from them this year? Our roundtable debates.
Sports Editor John Phillips: I don’t think that Fran Dougherty and Darien Nelson-Henry will have much trouble gelling together as Jerome Allen’s 1-2 combinations. Dougherty showed incredible flashes early last season, and Darien Nelson-Henry stepped up in a big way during the Ivy slate. You wouldn’t know by the way that Allen talks about either of them, but if Penn has a shot in hell at competing for an Ivy title, it’ll be on the backs of DNH and Doc just as much as it’ll weigh on Tony Hicks and Miles Cartwright. Having big men who can make an impact in the Ivy League is what ultimately makes a team strong, and if those two can live up to their potential, then Penn will be right in the race.
Sports Editor Steven Tydings: This is going to be the year of the frontcourt for Penn basketball, for better or for worse. DNH is going to be counted on to provide close to a double-double each game and Dougherty, if healthy, should be the offensive, defensive and overall emotional leader for the team. Sure, we’ll see a fair share of Hicks, Cartwright and Tony Bagtas, but the team’s frontcourt will decide wins and losses. Outside of DNH and Dougherty, it will be important to see if Henry Brooks can avoid perpetual foul trouble or if one of the freshmen — Dave Winfield or Dylan Jones — can provide some sort of immediate impact. Overall, I think Penn has the best frontcourt in the Ivies and will be a force to be reckoned with in 2013-14.
Associate Sports Editor Riley Steele: I had a chance to see the team in action this past weekend at their annual Red and Blue Scrimmage, and while the play wasn’t incredibly efficient, there were quite a few flashes of potential from a few of the big men. I particularly liked what I saw from Dylan Jones, a 6-foot-8 freshman who could take over the game. Jones is a monster inside, and he played nice defense on Dougherty and the other bigs during the scrimmage. Though Nelson-Henry didn’t participate in the scrimmage, it’s almost a certainty that this frontcourt will be led by its veterans — senior Dougherty and sophomore Nelson-Henry, as well as junior forward Henry Brooks. That being said, I feel like Jones and even Cameron Gunter will have to play an important role in Penn’s success this season.
Sports Editor Ian Wenik: I’m stunned that no one’s mentioned Greg Louis yet. Finally fully healthy after missing all of his freshman year, Louis’ raw athletic ability and solid frame should earn him some decent minutes this season. But with Louis finally getting a chance to establish himself in the rotation this year, I think that’s going to have a ripple effect on the rest of the frontcourt. For starters, I think that Brooks is going to see a serious drop in playing time, especially if he can’t improve his efficiency in the post (or kick his fouling habit). I also don’t think that Winfield isn’t going to really get that much playing time as a freshman in a front line as deep and solid as Penn’s. Give him a year or two.