Penn basketball looks to bounce back with Delaware
The Quakers look to get back to .500 against the Blue Hens and sophomore standout Devon Saddler
December 6, 2011, 11:46 pm·
Alex Neier | DP
It’s not every day Penn faces a nationally ranked opponent. While the University of Delaware isn’t exactly high up in the standings, Blue Hens sophomore guard Devon Saddler is.
Saddler ranks second in the nation in scoring at 24.7 points per game.
“Obviously, he’s done a tremendous job for them thus far, scoring the basketball,” Penn coach Jerome Allen said. “I think our responsibility is not to shut him down, per se, but to make him work for everything that he does get, and it’s going to be a group effort.”
The Quakers are hoping to extend Delaware’s winless road season when they host Saddler and the Blue Hens Wednesday night at the Palestra.
“To be honest, it’s more about what we do,” senior guard Tyler Bernardini said. “[Saddler] could have 55 points, but if we win, that’s what we care about. We care about the win at the end of the day.”
Although Delaware (3-3) is coming off a 70-61 home win over Drexel, the Blue Hens are 1-12 all-time on Penn’s home court.
But in order to keep the trend alive, the Quakers (4-5) must contend with not only with Saddler, but also with junior Jamelle Hagins. The forward, who enters averaging a double-double in points and rebounds this season, will be on the Red and Blue’s radar.
“They have a bunch of guys who are playing extremely well,” Allen said. “So our main focus can’t be on Saddler — it has to be on just making Delaware work for everything that they get.”
Hagins averages 10.3 boards per game, so the Quakers will have to work even harder to improve rebounding and get back to a .500 record.
Against Villanova, Penn’s starting five totalled just eight offensive rebounds, compared to the 12 by the Wildcats’ starters.
“It’s something we kind of struggled with a little bit this year,” Bernardini said. “I guess the best way to rebound from this loss would be to get better at rebounding.”
Allen added that the Quakers will focus on “smaller details” and must string together a complete game in order to get the win.
“I just think the group in general needs to finally put a 40-minute game together where we execute on both ends of the floor — all 15 guys,” Allen said.
While all 15 may not have had a hand in Penn’s 78-68 victory over Delaware last year, Zack Rosen and Miles Cartwright certainly did their part.
The two guards kept Penn in the game, combining for 50 points. Cartwright had a standout game with 20 points — 12 of which came after halftime — while Rosen scored an astounding 26 points in the second half alone.
“Zack needs to score 30 points in the second half,” Bernardini joked. “I think we’re right there. We’re close to being a really good team. We just need a little bit of extra effort, extra focus and concentration, and I think we can achieve that.”