Dump the ball inside. With the graduation of the starting backcourt and starting small forward from the 1999-2000 Penn men's basketball team, the returning anchors for the Quakers squad this season are in the paint. And getting the ball down low to senior center Geoff Owens and sophomore forward Ugonna Onyekwe may just be key to survival for the Red and Blue as they try for a third consecutive League title. * Center: A second team All-Ivy selection a year ago, Owens returns to the low post for Penn with an added offensive burden on his shoulders this winter. The 6'11" senior captain averaged 9.0 points last season, but his strength clearly lay in the 7.3 rebounds he pulled in and the 54 shots he rejected on the defensive end. Owens is now the Quakers' all-time leading shot-blocker, and should prove a menace to all opponents -- so long as he can remain injury-free and improve upon his 51 percent career average from the free-throw line. Backing up Owens at the five-spot will be fellow senior Josh Sanger. A 6'8" banger whose strength also lies more on defense than on offense, Sanger will likely see spot time for the third consecutive season. * Power Forward: Penn has a devastating weapon at the power forward spot in the 6'8" Onyekwe. Between leading the Quakers in scoring in the NCAA Tournament with 17 points against Illinois, and throwing down a 360-degree dunk at Princeton that still inspires talk, Onyekwe dominated the league a year ago. This year, the sophomore will be called upon to up the 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game he snared as a frosh. Onyekwe is joined in the frontcourt by another graduate of Mercersburg Prep -- Adam Chubb. The 6'10", supremely athletic freshman will likely come in off the bench and see action at both center and power forward. And after a game-high 19-point performance in an exhibition game on Monday, expectations are rising for Chubb before he even plays one minute of college ball. Battling back after a freshman campaign that never got off the ground when he injured his ankle, 6'8" sophomore Andrew Coates will also be a candidate for time in the paint. Whether Coates sees much action, though, depends largely on the ability of Owens and Onyekwe to stay out of foul trouble -- Penn's big men combined to foul out seven times last winter. * Small Forward: The likely starter at swingman for Penn is 6'8" sophomore Koko Archibong. The Pasadena, Calif., native started 12 games for the Quakers a year ago, but saw limited action after suffering a concussion against Drexel and the subsequent re-emergence of then-senior Frank Brown. With a year of experience under his belt, Archibong will look to ride his unorthodox shooting style to more than the 3.2 points per game he averaged as a freshman. Archibong also impressed in Penn's exhibition game last Monday, going for 11 points and two blocks. Others likely to vie for minutes at small forward include 6'7" junior and fan favorite Dan Solomito and little-used 6'8" senior Jon Tross. Limited action the past few seasons has not allowed the pair to fully demonstrate their court-savvy, but with a relative youngster starting at the three, anything can happen -- especially if injuries rear their ugly heads. * Shooting Guard: Heading into fall practice, this was the one true question mark for the Quakers. With no clear heir apparent to the long-range threat of Matt Langel at shooting guard -- unlike at small forward or at point guard -- it seemed likely that senior Lamar Plummer and sophomore Duane King would duel it out for the starting nod. But a preseason foot injury to the 6'5" King has sidelined him until at least December, and Plummer looks to have the inside track to be the Opening Day starter at the two for the Red and Blue. The 6'1" senior is coming off a leave of absence from school that caused him to miss the Quakers' last 23 games of the 1999-2000 campaign. Plummer's familiarity with Dunphy's offense and his MVP play this summer in the Sonny Hill League, though, should help to ease his reintroduction to the lineup. Plummer averaged 4.3 points per game in both his freshman and sophomore campaigns. During his sophomore season, he was hobbled by an eye injury that had effects on his game all year. Also in the running for some court time are 6'4" sophomore swingman Harold Bailey and 6'6" newcomer Jeff Schiffner. Depending on the recuperation time for King, and Plummer's readaption to the Penn offense, the playing time of this pair could vary. Schiffner showed his long-range ability in Monday's exhibition game, hitting a pair of second-half treys as part of his 12-point outburst. * Point Guard: Make no mistake about it -- this is David Klatsky's team for the next three years. Generously listed at 5'11", this diminutive sophomore is anything but small on the court. Klatsky saw a copious amount of playing time as a freshman, averaging 21 minutes per game off the bench as a ball-handling specialist. The sophomore's 52-to-33 assist-to-turnover ratio as a freshman is a good sign, but the major question surrounding Klatsky is whether he can turn his 4.0 points per game into a more fearsome number. The sophomore racked up eight assists and nine points -- including a game-opening three-pointer -- in Monday's exhibition, which can only be taken as a good sign. Klatsky has shown definite signs of sure-shooting ability, but he hasn't yet been placed in a game situation where he's needed to produce. Expect Plummer and six-foot freshman Charlie Copp to see some minutes at this position as well, especially early in the season when the Quakers are trying to establish a rotation for when Ivy play comes around. Copp did distribute four assists on Monday night, though he averaged a shooting-guard-esque 26 points per game in high school -- meaning Klatsky may be the one true point guard on the Penn roster. * Coaches: Fran Dunphy returns this winter to patrol the sidelines of the Palestra for the 12th consecutive season. Owning a record of 194-105 at the helm of the Quakers, Dunphy is second only to Lon Jourdet in all-time victories for the Red and Blue. Former Penn assistant Steve Donahue left this past summer to assume the top spot at Ivy rival Cornell, but fellow assistant Gil Jackson returns for his 12th season by Dunphy's side. With Donahue's departure, volunteer assistant coach Dave Duke has been promoted to the other full-time assistant slot.Comments powered by Disqus
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