1) If Penn played the Flying Dutchmen 10 times, how many games would the Quakers win? Answer: At least nine. 2) If Penn played the Flying Dutchmen 10 times with Graham in the lineup, how many games would the Quakers win? Answer: Nine at the most, given that freshman power forward Paul Romanczuk probably would not have exploded for 18 points had some of his minutes gone to Graham. The moral of this story? Graham, a good guy, who was liked and respected by his teammates, did woefully little to make his presence felt on the court. Now that he has quit the team, telling coach Fran Dunphy he had lost interest in playing basketball, the real overarching question is this: Will anyone really notice he's gone? Likely answer: No. Going into the year, the Quakers desperately needed an enforcer for their frontcourt. Tim Krug, the first big man to come to mind for most Penn fans, was not going to be the one to fill that role. Krug is a small forward playing center, at least on the offensive end. He is more comfortable spotting up near the top of the key in most of Penn's offensive sets, hoping to get an open three-point shot or shake his defender with his patented shot-fake and drive. What Penn needed was an Eric Moore-type, someone who could bump, scrap and scrape for rebounds and get tough inside points on a consistent basis. We had seen nothing from Graham over the course of his first two seasons to indicate he could make such a contribution. But we gave him the benefit of the doubt because he had played such limited minutes. But while guys like Donald Moxley and Garett Kreitz emerged from the shadows of the bench to become key performers, Graham languished in the same passivity, the same timidity even, that marked what little time he saw the past two seasons. His stats through 11 games -- including seven starts -- tell much of the story: Just 3.5 shot attempts and 1.6 trips to the free throw line per game; 3.6 points and 2.4 boards per contest; 0 blocks. If there were a stat for "ball touches," he would be pretty near the bottom in that category as well. He was simply unable to get himself into the flow of the offense consistently. The biggest problem, though, was not the paltry numbers. It was his all too evident lack of intensity. The laid-back expression he wore was symbolic of the way he played. You know that look of Ira Bowman's when he's playing defense -- the wide eyes and open mouth that are the hallmark of a guy just waiting to pounce? That's the opposite of Graham, who almost seemed to be smiling whenever he was playing. Some guys, like the 76ers' Derrick Coleman, are good enough to prosper on occasion even without giving 100 percent of themselves every time out. Graham was not blessed with those kinds of skills. Like Moore last season, he was not the most talented player on the floor by any stretch. But he did not possess Moore's fire, and therefore was not nearly as effective. After two games, Graham was benched in favor of Bill Guthrie. Guthrie was as ungraceful a player as there was before leaving the team after four games with academic problems. But he blocked shots, forced turnovers and gave his body. So does Romanczuk, who heard the cheers whenever he came off the bench for Graham. His numbers were hardly any better than Graham's before he blitzed the Flying Dutchmen for a career-high 18 last night. But he just seemed to want it more, constantly going for rebounds and diving for every loose ball in sight. He could blossom into the enforcer the Quakers currently lack. Every time Dunphy grimaced and sat Graham on the bench after a blown defensive assignment, poor shot selection or a failure to grab an easy rebound, the game became less and less fun for the South Florida native. Some guys might react by working harder to overcome their shortcomings. But Graham decided he would be better off not playing at all. That's his prerogative, and no one should condemn him for exercising it. Why spend three hours a day on something you don't enjoy? If he is not having fun, he likely won't be motivated to play any better, anyway. Why hang around and be a detriment to the team by giving less than 100 percent of yourself because you're unhappy? Maybe time off is just the thing he needs. It is not out of the question that he could come back next year a new and better player. So Graham did the right thing. He walked away. Unfortunately, it was the best basketball-related move he's made all year.Comments powered by Disqus
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