Crunch time for the Quakers
February 29, 2012, 11:07 pm · Updated March 1, 2012, 1:59 am·
Three games in five days for Penn to seize the day.
With less than a week remaining on the Quakers’ schedule, it’s crunch time for Jerome Allen and his men as they look for the program’s first Ivy League championship since 2006-07.
“I could ask for more,” Allen said. “I’ll take the position that I still don’t think we’re playing our best basketball and that’s what we’ll be pushing for until the season ends.”
The Red and Blue have three chances to polish their game as they get set to play two of the Ivy’s top four teams. On Friday, the Quakers (17-11, 9-2 Ivy) take on Brown (8-21, 2-10,) who had its best performance of the season on Saturday, beating Columbia by 16 points.
The next night Penn plays host to Yale (19-7, 9-3) who is the only team other than Harvard to beat the Quakers in league play this year. Led by All-Ivy center Greg Mangano and Austin Morgan, the Bulldogs defeated the Red and Blue, who were coming off a big win over Princeton, 60-53.
Allen’s team can ill afford to be caught flat-footed after Saturday’s emotional win.
“[The game against Harvard] was only huge in the sense that it was the next game on our schedule, and those on the periphery would place Harvard in such great stature,” Allen said. “But for us, we expected to win because we tried to connect to the preparation. If we prepare the right way … we can beat anyone in this league.”
After the weekend, Penn will have only two days to rest before playing Princeton (16-11, 7-4). The Tigers are winners of five of their last eight games.
For Allen’s senior leaders, Saturday will mark their last game at the Palestra. And he is nothing but proud for the way they helped turned around a Penn program that finished 6-22 after Allen took over the head coaching position midway through the 2009-10 season.
“When you get in at ground zero, you put the work in and build this infrastructure to get it to a certain point, these guys really bought into what I was saying,” he said.
— Sushaan Modi