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Geoff Owens expects to once again be a dominating force down low. (Andrew Margolies/DP File Photo)

Shoulder to the chin -- it wasn't Lamar Plummer's dream "welcome back" greeting. After taking a leave of absence from Penn and the men's basketball team last semester, the senior guard officially returned to the court Saturday in the Quakers' first practice of the season. But Plummer was out again as quickly as he had come back. He left the court dazed with a light concussion after a teammate's shoulder made contact with his chin. Plummer, who averaged 2.3 minutes in six games last season, was still able to practice with the team on Sunday and Monday. But Plummer continued to feel the effects of the collision and was forced to roam the sidelines yesterday as the Quakers returned to the court following their Tuesday off-day. "I've been having headaches from time to time, and I was feeling very sluggish," Plummer said. Plummer, who launched three-pointers after practice yesterday, hopes to return to the court today. Despite the physical bump in the road, though, his return has been smooth. "I still feel like I'm a part of the team," the six-footer said. "I don't feel like a newcomer at all. I actually feel like a veteran that just had a long injury. "I think that being back here, the team looks up to me as being the older guy." Compared to his backcourt-mates, Plummer is, far and away, the old wise man. With last year's All-Ivy starting backcourt -- Michael Jordan and Matt Langel -- lost to graduation, the only other Penn guard with more than spot duty under his belt is sophomore David Klatsky. And while Plummer will be looked upon to provide backcourt leadership, Klatsky will lead by default. He may only be a sophomore, but he's the point guard. "It's definitely different," Klatsky said. "Last year, I'm in there with Mike and Matt. I'm trying to get them the ball, just trying to keep away from them. Now it's my ball; I'm finding guys. It's my team now. Now I have to make sure everyone's involved." Of course, a bulk of Penn's leadership will rest on the shoulders of fifth-year senior Geoff Owens. But the 6'11" center isn't exactly known for being outspoken on the court. "Geoff's not the most vocal leader we've ever had," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "But he's as respected as any leader we've ever had, and that's as important as anything." Except for Plummer's slight concussion, Penn has managed to escape injury thus far. "Number one, everybody's pretty healthy, which is a big concern as you start to get into the full practice schedule," Dunphy said. Conditioning is a top priority at this stage. Dunphy had his players panting in yesterday's practice as they struggled through suicide runs at the conclusion of practice. Dunphy also made his team take four stabs at a difficult 60-second layup drill. "Our conditioning needs to improve," Dunphy said. "That's why we're trying to do [the lay-up drill] at the end of practice. If you can concentrate when you're tired, then you have a pretty good chance of being ready to play in the [end of the game]." But the Quakers are beginning to form at least an outline of the team they hope to be. As expected, turnovers were a problem in yesterday's scrimmage, but between the miscues, flashes of the solid team that is expected to dominate the Ivy League were hard to miss -- Duane King finishing on a fastbreak, Ugonna Onyekwe blocking a shot, Owens sinking a baby hook. "We're coming along," Klatsky said. "We might be a little out of shape, but I think we're starting to gel pretty well."

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