Duke highlights men's basketball break slate
Coach Jerome Allen will take team to Cameron Indoor for New Year’s Day game on ESPNU
December 11, 2011, 11:28 pm·
Megan Falls | DP
There’s no break for Penn men’s basketball.
The Quakers will remain busy as they are set to play five games over winter break — three of which are on the road.
“These 12 days over break will give us an opportunity to look at what we’re doing well, what we’re not doing well and kind of clean up,” senior Zack Rosen. said. “As far as the games go, we’re trying to get back to what we started out doing.”
After a scorching start, Rosen in particular will look to get back on track. The point guard has shot a combined 1-for-14 from three-point range over Penn’s last two games.
Classmates Rob Belcore and Tyler Bernardini have picked up the slack. Belcore scored in double digits in back-to-back games for the first time in nearly two years, while Bernardini poured in a career-high 29 points at UCLA.
Penn’s next game against Marist (4-5) on Dec. 23 will be the team’s first after a nearly two-week rest for finals, but motivation will be easy to find — the team will be out to avenge last year’s 66-57 loss to the Red Foxes.
Not long after Christmas, Penn will head to North Carolina to face Davidson (6-3) to kick off a three-game road trip. The Quakers toppled the Wildcats last year in their season opener at the Palestra with a 69-64 win.
On New Year’s Day, the Quakers will play legendary coach Mike Kryzewski’s No. 5 Duke (9-1), likely the most talented team the Red and Blue will face all season, especially with standout guards freshman Austin Rivers and senior Seth Curry on the Blue Devils. Penn played at Cameron Indoor Stadium two years ago, also over winter break, and suffered the worst loss in program history, 114-55.
Penn will then conclude its road trip against Lafayette (4-5) and former Penn assistant coach Fran O’Hanlon, before hosting La Salle (7-3) in a Big 5 game at the Palestra the day before classes resume.
The schedule offers some challenges for the Quakers in terms of their opponents as well as in the number of games, but this year’s squad has shown that it is resilient and more than willing to take on what lies ahead.
The Red and Blue currently sit at 5-6, but played power conference opponents Villanova and UCLA to close games, and took Temple to overtime.
“Sometimes shots are going to fall, sometimes they’re not and you can’t rely on that to be our number-one indicator of success,” Rosen said. “Our team is doing well putting defending first and we need to keep defending because it’ll give us a better chance of winning all those games.”
Though it may be too soon to make any such predictions, these five games over winter break could be an indicator of how well the team will fare during the Ivy League season.
With the Ivy opener against Columbia coming just three days after the game against the Explorers, playing well over winter break could push the Quakers to gain some momentum going into Ivy play.
But Rosen is not placing any special significance on these next few games but rather, understands the importance of making the most of every opportunity.
“Practice, games, film sessions, weight room, last summer — it all factors in when we play,” Rosen said. “Everyday is important for preparing for the Ivy League season.”