The Jerome Allen chapter in the storied history of the Penn men’s basketball program has officially begun.
And despite already leading the team through 21 games as interim head coach, questions still remain about how exactly that chapter will read.
Many of them are unanswerable. More question marks seem to linger over the Quakers now than at any point in the program’s history.
Jerome Allen’s resume as a collegiate coach offers little indication of how successful he can be. While he presided over Penn’s worst defeat in program history, a 114-55 shellacking by Duke, he also led the Quakers to their first victory over a ranked team in 11 years on Feb. 12 against Cornell.
Additionally, the ascendancy of Cornell and Harvard, coupled with the Big Red’s postseason success this year, leaves the Ivy League picture as hazy as ever.
But one thing is sure: the road ahead won’t be nearly as rocky as the Glen Miller era.
For one, Allen’s pedigree at Penn is as impressive as anyone out there. He led the Quakers to their last NCAA tournament victory and was the most recent Penn player to be drafted to the NBA.
That may be the reason why Allen’s status in the eyes of alumni and players is uncanny.
His standing among the Penn basketball world was apparent from the line of alumni waiting to greet him at the Red & Blue Scrimmage in November, and from the crowd of players standing around watching him attempt a dunk during The Line.
But the reasons Allen is so esteemed extend well beyond his success on the basketball court.
“Jerome’s talents and accomplishments in life are noteworthy and familiar to the Penn community,” Athletic Director Steve Bilsky said in a press release. “What isn’t as well known, until you spend time with him, is the humility that coincides with his pride.”
From eye contact during interviews, to going out of his way to attend alumni pregame dinners, Allen treated his role as the face of the program equivalently with his role as coach of the team.
So while questions about his potential for success on the court may abound, Allen has already proven to be a perfect fit off it.
If he succeeds, the joy will be all the sweeter because he’s so well-liked. If he struggles, the reaction will be disappointment.
But either way, it’s better than the anger that marked the end of the Glen Miller chapter. Hopefully this one will read a little easier.
NEIL FANAROFF is a senior economics major from Potomac, Md., and is former Design Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be contacted at email@example.com.