S ince the end of the dreadful 2013-14 season for Penn men’s basketball, we’ve seen three players and two assistants leave the program. But we’ve also seen coach Jerome Allen go to work.
While things seemed to be crumbling around him, Allen kept on moving, introducing his former Penn teammate Nat Graham as his assistant while adding four recruits.
And looking at the four recruits (incoming freshmen Darnell Foreman and Dan Dwyer as well as rising high school seniors Jule Brown and Jackson Donahue), they each address an important area of need for the Red and Blue as they filter in over the next couple years.
Foreman, a point guard, will look to fulfill the role that Tony Bagtas unceremoniously vacated — point guard of the future. Dwyer has the potential to be a solid forward in a team lacking depth in the frontcourt after rising senior Henry Brooks joined graduated forwards Fran Dougherty and Cameron Gunter as former Quakers.
But the real jewels (pun very much intended) are Brown and Donahue.
By all accounts, Brown has the potential to be the small forward Allen has never had, playing well within the three guard system while having the desire to play defense just as well.
And Donahue addresses one of the biggest needs in said three guard system, pinpoint three-point shooting. The 6-foot-1 guard is the strong shooter that Allen hasn’t been able to recruit before.
All of this to say that Allen knew exactly what was wrong with his program and is taking steps to fix it.
But when you are simply laying and waiting for the 2015-16 season, there is something wrong.
That’s because you can’t ignore the losing. In case you haven’t noticed, Penn’s most visible program hasn’t been able to crack double digit wins for two years while recording more than 20 losses in consecutive years.
So it is all well and good that Allen finally seems to have turned around his recruiting woes, but it is far too late to matter unless we see losses turn to wins this winter. Another losing season won’t be enough to save the current coaching staff.
As much as Allen’s predecessor is hated by Penn’s fan base, Glen Miller began to turn things around in recruiting by the end of his tenure as well.
It was Miller’s final recruiting classes that provided the core of Allen’s best team, with Zach Rosen and Rob Belcore thriving under a new coach long after Miller was fired.
That very well could be Allen’s fate. This isn’t to say that Brown or Donahue will be the dynamic leader that Rosen was, but they do provide hope for the not so distant future.
So much like his predecessor, Allen is well on his way to turning around Penn basketball and providing the next solid core for the Quakers. But that core likely won’t be his to coach for very long.
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