After two blowout wins, the Quakers know they can still improve on offense by turning the ball over less. As the Penn men's basketball team enters the heart of its Ivy League schedule, the Quakers are encouraged by their six-game winning streak, but they know that there is still plenty of room for improvement. "The most important place we could get better is offensive execution," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "We need to make better decisions shooting the ball and maintain better control of the ball by not turning it over as much." Despite Dunphy's concerns, over the past six games the Quakers have shot a respectable 44.5 percent from the field. And this past weekend, Penn shot 46.4 percent in wins against Ivy rivals Brown and Yale. Turnovers, however, have continued to be a problem for the Quakers as they have averaged 11 giveaways during their current six-game winning streak. · While offensive production might be something Penn needs to improve upon, their tenacious defense has been stellar. Ivy opponents have scored an average of just 42 points per game against the Red and Blue, and the Quakers are allowing a scant 46.5 points over the past six games. Penn's best defensive performance of the year thus far came last Friday against Yale. The Quakers allowed the Elis to shoot a ridiculously low 23.7 percent from the field and held them to a meager 36 points. On that same night, Penn women's basketball forward Diana Caramanico scored 38 points all by herself against the Yale women. In addition, although the Quakers are trying to cut down on turnovers, they are still taking it away more than they are giving it away. Over the past six games, Penn's opponents are averaging just over 12 turnovers a game. · Last season, the Quakers were riding a similar winning streak going into their first meeting with this weekend's opponents, Harvard and Dartmouth. During the 1998-1999 season, Penn had won nine in a row heading into their showdowns against their rivals from northern New England and extended that streak to 11 by convincingly beating the Big Green and the Crimson. Against Dartmouth last season at the Palestra, Penn guards Matt Langel and Michael Jordan scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, as the Quakers went on to win 79-67. The next night against Harvard, Penn center Geoff Owens tallied a double-double, netting 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. The Quakers had a 12-point halftime lead and doubled that in the second half, winning 81-56. The Quakers have a right to expect decent competition from Harvard this season as the Crimson welcomed back their best player, Dan Clemente, this past weekend against Cornell and Columbia. Clemente, who was expected to miss the rest of the season with a detached retina, scored 24 points against both New York teams to garner Co-Ivy Player of the Week honors along with Langel. The Harvard junior averaged 18.5 points in two games against the Quakers last season. "Having Clemente back will give Harvard a big boost," Dunphy said. "And Dartmouth is a very talented team, they just got off to a slow start." The Big Green were supposed to compete for the Ivy title, but have struggled mightily all season with a record of 6-13. · When Langel was named Co-Ivy League Player of the Week for the past week, it was the first time he had won the award since the 1997-1998 season. He was last given this honor for an outstanding performance against Harvard when he scored a career-high 32 points, including six three-pointers. Langel hit a career-high eight times from beyond the arc against Brown on Saturday. Last season, he was named Honorable Mention All-Ivy and was named twice to the All-Ivy honor roll. Langel's backcourt counterpart, Michael Jordan, has already been named Ivy League Player of the Week twice this season. · While the Harvard and Dartmouth games are of utmost importance, there is always a fear that players are looking past these games due to the upcoming game at archrival Princeton next Tuesday. Dunphy maintains that the Quakers are concentrating on the task at hand. "If I hear of any player looking past these games, they will find themselves on the bench," he said. Penn split the season series with Princeton last year, losing a heartbreaker at home 50-49 before winning the final game of the season 73-48.Comments powered by Disqus
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