ETHAN ALTER | Penn’s season far from disappointing
March 12, 2012, 10:01 pm · Updated March 14, 2012, 11:40 pm·
Ellen Frierson | DP
For Jerome Allen, the word that sums up the Penn men’s basketball season is “disappointing.” And though the season is not quite over, Allen made sure to communicate that disappointment in his press conference following the Quakers’ loss to Princeton Tuesday night.
As head coach, he’s certainly entitled to his opinion — criticizing his team when he feels they deserve criticism and downplaying its success to emphasize work that remains to be done has become a kind of modus operandi for Allen since his mid-season promotion to head coach in early 2010.
To characterize this season as disappointing, however, is a disservice to a Quakers team that exceeded expectations and more importantly, made Penn fans believe again.
I understand Coach Allen holds his team to the highest standard. I understand that the goal is to win the Ivy championship every year and that not achieving that goal could be called “disappointing.” That said, if Allen wants to remember this season as largely negative — as a letdown, as a disappointment — he will be one of the few.
This was a season in which the Quakers forced the greater Penn community to care. It was enough of a shift that some of the older students were taken aback. I heard some variation of, “Wait, we care about basketball?” more than a few times.
In my time at Penn, I have never seen so much excitement generated by a Penn sports program as the men’s basketball team did this year. And I’m not leaving out the football team’s back-to-back Ivy titles or the women’s lacrosse team’s consistently high national ranking.
As Jerome Allen would undoubtably say, work, as far as changing the culture of the team and the basketball culture at Penn, remains to be done. I agree with Coach on that point. But we’ve heard enough of that from the man himself.
For the first time since 2007, Penn is playing in a postseason tournament, albeit the College Basketball Invitational. It’s time to appreciate how far the Quakers have come and to recognize the seniors. Led by Zack Rosen, they pulled the team through a very tough four-year stretch and left it in a position to excel even after they are gone. These seniors never hung a banner from the Palestra rafters, but their legacy will be borne out in Penn’s ongoing mission to climb back (from 6-22 just two years ago) to the top of the Ivy League.
Every Quakers fan and player is disappointed after what happened last Tuesday in Princeton. But a bad loss at the end does not make a disappointing season.
After a brief hiatus, Penn basketball is back on the map. No opponent wants to play the Quakers in the Palestra.
The Quakers beat everyone in the Ivy League at least once and proved that Penn is still a basketball school.
No one is suggesting the team rest on its laurels, but “disappointing”?
I think not.
ETHAN ALTER is a junior history major from Los Altos, Calif. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com