Phillips | A hard, long look into the mirror for Penn basketball


The problems the Quakers are facing are no longer on Jerome Allen


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With Julian Harrell, Tony Bagtas and Henry Brooks now off the team, Penn basketball coach Jerome Allen faces an uphill battle in 2014-15 to put a competitive squad on the floor.

Photo by Henry Lin


I t’s been well documented.

Coach Jerome Allen’s team has been awash in poor decisions both on and off the court for the last two seasons.

On Monday night, the problem came to a head, as The Daily Pennsylvanian confirmed that freshman Tony Bagtas , sophomore Julian Harrell and junior Henry Brooks were off of the team.

It has been clear for months that change needed to come to a team that went 17-42 over the last two seasons, and with the removal of those three players from the program, Allen has clearly had enough with the undisciplined, at times apathetic, nature of his squad.

The move can be viewed through two lenses. Either Allen should be praised for finally taking steps to improve the character of his team, or the move can reiterate yet again just how lost this program is.

A source close to the team believes it’s the latter.

“I think everyone just needed to look in the mirror a little bit harder at themselves and realize exactly what they’re here for and how they’re going to go about it. I really don’t think it was much of a coaching thing,” the source said. “The coaches did as much as they could. They were doing their job and the guys weren’t doing their job to their full potential.

“And usually, when that happens, things don’t go your way.”

Watching a team from afar is always a difficult endeavor, as problems are visible, but the reasons remain mysterious. With this move, however, it seems that there are some answers.

Yes, Allen should have better considered the character of his recruits before bringing them in. Clearly, he did not fully contemplate how his on-paper roster would translate to the real world. And that’s not just on the court, but at practice, in class, in the weight room and when watching film. As he is wont to say, that’s on him.

The fact that he denied comment on a move that should (or could, if spun right) reflect well on the program is a different issue entirely, and serves as yet another misstep. Even when Allen is right, he’s wrong.

But at a certain point, players must be accountable in their own right. Look at the seniors who are leaving.

Fran Dougherty returned two summers ago as a player reborn after working in the gym day in and day out to improve as a player. It was clear from watching Miles Jackson-Cartwright play that there was no one on the court who cared more about the result. And Dau Jok , who could have been 1,000 different places at any given time because of how many activities and organizations in which he is involved, gave full effort as a teammate during his four years on the team.

It is unfair to harp on each player’s individual grievances. As is clear after a decision such as this one, it is hard to know what led these players to these points.

But what is clear is that these players who will no longer don the Penn uniform weren’t up to the challenge of doing everything that it takes to be collegiate basketball players. They didn’t treat that uniform with the same level of respect as Allen himself did.

So going forward, in terms of talent, Allen is worse for wear. Losing a proven player in Brooks, or young talents such as Harrell and Bagtas who never reached their full potentials, hurts the program. Losses are going to come in loads next season, unless sophomores Tony Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry kick their level of play into the highest possible gear.

But, at the very least, Allen will know that these players that he has assembled want to play for Penn. And that’s not just on the court, but at practice, in class, in the weight room and when watching film.

With this move, the remaining players on the roster will receive the opportunity not simply to look into the mirror, but a look into their own futures.

Allen has made his stance clear: If someone isn’t willing to give 100 percent, that person doesn’t have a place in the program.

His point has now been well documented. Going forward, it’s on the players.

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