About a half-hour before one of Penn basketball’s typical Tuesday evening practices, assistant coach Ira Bowman was counting out Greg Louis — literally.
Again and again, the senior forward was sprinting off the baseline, turning, and firing off midrange jumpers. An odd routine for a player whose 6-foot-7 frame is usually positioned closer to the rim.
The marathon session certainly paid off for Louis in the Quakers’ last game. Against Marist, Louis retraced his steps from practice on the opposite end of the floor and replicated that perfect shooting form on successive possessions to give the Red and Blue a 4-0 lead.
As it turns out, the contest against the Red Foxes was the perfect opportunity for Louis to show off the latest tool at his disposal. Penn led wire-to-wire against the Red Foxes and captured its third straight victory.
“It has been part of my arsenal, it just kind of was in the reserves for a while,” Louis said postgame before briefly pausing.
“For a couple years.”
It’s been a long time since the Quakers have seen this kind of production from Louis. His freshman and junior campaigns were both washouts due to injury.
Yet teammates and coaches have raved at the work that the senior has put in over the course of offseason workouts. Louis has always been a physical presence, but looks like he’s in the best shape of his life, clichéd as that may sound.
So far, the statistics back up the eye test. Louis is shooting 64.9% from the field, by far the most effective rate of any Quakers player that has seen action in all eight games so far this season. His 18 offensive rebounds are the second-most on the team.
Three Penn wins in a row have ensured that those efforts haven’t been in vain after a 0-5 start.
But Louis — and the rest of the team — isn’t about to declare the job of rebuilding the program over after getting on a winning streak in nonconference play.
“We have loftier goals,” he said.
An upset against Vanderbilt tonight would certainly be one of those higher accomplishments Louis is talking about. The Commodores aren’t Villanova, but they are the only Power Five opponent that the Red and Blue will play this year.
A win would give Penn’s resume some more credibility as it nears Ivy play — the Quakers’ three wins have all come over teams with RPIs over 300.
Perhaps more importantly, it would prove that coach Jerome Allen, Louis and his teammates have used this 13-day layoff as time well-spent.
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