RALEIGH, N.C. -- After losing two games that were very winnable this weekend, Penn men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy had just one apt description for his team. "I think we're getting exactly what we deserve," Dunphy said. "We're a work in progress." The Quakers certainly lacked polish in their opening losses to North Carolina State and Fordham, but not at the positions that seemed to be question marks coming into the season. The Penn backcourt had two solid nights. Sophomore David Klatsky looked very capable running the point for the Red and Blue. He had five assists in both games, and shot a blazing 4-for-6 from three-point range against the Rams on his way to a career-high 15 points. The night before, Klatsky put up six points, but really made his presence felt on defense with a career-high four steals. "It felt good to be out there running the [point]," Klatsky said. The other half of Penn's starting backcourt, senior Lamar Plummer, returned to the Red and Blue with immediate results. He hit four three-pointers in each game, including a pair against the Wolfpack that tied the game for Penn early in the second half. It was enough to make N.C. State coach Herb Sendek reconsider his choice to use a zone against the Quakers. "We really had our hands full trying to defend them," Sendek said. "They shredded our zone defense." When the Wolfpack went back to a man-to-man set, Penn's long-range attack naturally suffered. The onus was once again on the Penn frontcourt to perform. That frontcourt, led by sophomore Ugonna Onyekwe and senior captain Geoff Owens, is supposed to be the strength of the Red and Blue. But both men were far from fantastic in either game. After two games, the Penn power forward and center are shooting a combined 38 percent from the field. Onyekwe is 10-for-27, and a fair amount of his made shots were dunks. By comparison, Plummer shot 44 percent from three-point range. Onyekwe did score 14 points against N.C. State and 10 against Fordham, but the Quakers need more out of him, especially if he's taking 13 or 14 shots in a game. "It hurts us a great deal," Dunphy said. "We're going to him. He's a talented, talented guy. Once he starts finishing inside, that'll bring a lot to us." Onyekwe's fellow Mercersburg Academy alumnus, Adam Chubb, may have been the most impressive Penn big man. He scored a team-high 17 points and pulled down six rebounds in 20 minutes Saturday. Chubb, like the rest of the Quakers, played well in bursts, but was not consistent. "We did a lot of little things wrong," Plummer said. "When we start to do those little things, we'll win games." There were plenty of flashes when the Red and Blue looked like they probably will as the season moves along. Penn made an 11-2 run early against Fordham, and put together a 9-2 run at the start of the second half to seemingly start to pull away from the Rams. The Quakers jumped out to an 8-2 lead against N.C. State, and put together an 8-0 spurt at the top of the second half against the Wolfpack. "I don't think [we're] as far away [from consistency] as it looks," Owens said. "We've had really good stretches, just a little inconsistency right now. We've just got to put those stretches together for a full 40 minutes, and we'll be OK." Inconsistency was what doomed the Quakers this weekend. Far too often, they would counteract a good play on offense with a very bad one on defense. The Red and Blue hurt themselves further by getting into foul trouble, and also did not make enough of their own foul shots. Fordham outscored Penn 30-18 at the charity stripe, but only took five more free throws than the Quakers did. It's hard to say just how far away the Quakers are. If the backcourt can play as solidly as it did this weekend, all the Quakers will need will be for the forwards to start hitting their high percentage shots at a high percentage. Owens thought they were just around the corner. Dunphy predicted that it would be January before this team really knows what it is going to be all about. The growing pains will be agonizing to watch, as they were on Friday and Saturday night, but once these Quakers do come together, they will be fun to watch, and they will win plenty of games.Comments powered by Disqus
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