Penn basketball begins its winter break slate with a matchup against a Marist squad that has won two straight games after starting the season with nine consecutive losses. The Quakers will look to end both the Red Foxes’ winning streak and their own losing streak. Here is a Three Up, Three Down for the Red and Blue’s bid for their third win on the year.
Penn’s Defense- Penn has struggled on the defensive end this year, but there is good news coming its way just in time for Christmas in the form of Marist’s offense. Marist is 346th in the country in both scoring offense and field goal percentage, putting up impressively bad numbers on the offensive end. Penn has given up at least 73 points in every game this year, but the Red Foxes have broken that scoring total just once on the season.
Miles Cartwright- After a lackluster performance against Wagner in which the senior captain fouled out in just 14 minutes of playing time, it is time for the point guard to get out of his funk and lead the Red and Blue. Even in the loss, Cartwright was impressive from behind the arc, which is fortunate for Penn, as Marist has the worst three-point defense in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Henry Brooks- Brooks has struggled at times this year with foul trouble, accumulating over three fouls per game. But with one of Penn’s starting forwards injured (see below), it’s Brooks’ chance to step up and take on a bigger role in coach Jerome Allen’s rotation. Expect to see the junior forward play above his season averages of 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per contest against the Red Foxes.
Darien Nelson-Henry- Nelson-Henry was hurt in practice this week, suffering a concussion. The sophomore center is out indefinitely and will leave a hole in the Quakers’ frontcourt. The 6-foot-11 big man led Penn with 7.4 rebounds per game in its first eight games and will be sorely missed unless Brooks and others can step up in his absence.
Penn’s road woes- Not only are the Red and Blue on a three-game losing streak, they are also on a three-game road losing streak after winning its first game away from the Palestra this year. With three straight road games beginning the winter break schedule for Penn, it’s going to be tough for Quakers to escape the shadow of that skid. Home may be where the heart is, but for Penn, the road needs to be where the wins are.
Tony Hicks- Hicks has shot just 3-for-19 in his last two games, so something needs to change if Penn is going to rely on the sophomore guard to be its leading scorer. In the Quakers’ most recent game, the second-year guard turned the ball over seven times and Allen gave the ball to freshman Tony Bagtas in the final seconds of regulation instead of Hicks. In order to beat Marist, Hicks needs to be someone Allen can go to at the end of the game.