Watching Penn's Dan Solomito confidently hit a trio of three-pointers on Saturday night was a little like watching Mario Mendoza hit for the cycle. Solomito is a pretty solid college player, a big guard with a good nose for the basket. But his name -- or, more precisely, the Palestra chant of "Sol-o-mi-to" -- has an undesirable connotation for the 6'6" swingman. Unfortunately for the Quakers junior, his last name has been synonymous with garbage time over his three seasons in red and blue. When Penn would build a hefty lead, the fans in the student sections would start chanting his name as a signal that the game was out of reach. Solomito's not the second coming of Pete Maravich, but he doesn't deserve that chant anymore. His three-of-five shooting from behind the arc against St. Joe's should be taken as a sign to the Palestra fans to cut it out -- he's a nice player who can provide a spark if Fran Dunphy's team needs one. But that's the problem with Penn right now -- that description of Solomito could fit nearly all of Dunphy's charges. This is a team full of players who can show definite signs of excellence, but it's a squad without an ace-in-the-hole, without very much that it can rely on night in and night out. In other words, as the Quakers head into the meat of their Ivy League season, they can't be very sure which of their numerous weapons will fire in a given contest. This means that their Ancient Eight campaign is a difficult thing to predict. The Quakers have enough firepower to blow away the rest of the league, but they are also inconsistent enough to drop some of the close ones. I'd say 14-0 is more likely than 10-4, and 12-2 sounds about right. But that's pure speculation. And given the unpredictability of Penn this season, it's just plain half-baked. Lamar Plummer has been Penn's most consistent offensive threat in this, his senior season. The shooting guard, who is averaging 15.8 points per game, has demonstrated great range en route to an Ivy League-leading 59 three-pointers. When the Red and Blue are in need of a big shot, Plummer's the guy who gets the first look -- and for good reason. On Saturday night, it was Plummer's jump shooting that helped Penn hang tight with the Hawks down the stretch. In addition, it was a gutsy Plummer steal deep in the St. Joe's end with 1:34 left that evoked the most hope in the Penn faithful. That said, there's no doubt that Plummer lives and dies by the jump shot. If the ball's not falling for him, there really isn't too much else that he can do for the Penn offense. The Quakers' second-leading scorer, Ugonna Onyekwe, has been downright explosive at times this season -- he's had three games of 20 or more points. But there are other nights when Onyekwe looks uncomfortable on the court, especially on the offensive end. Last night was one of those. Asked about Onyekwe's sub-par 3-for-15 shooting from the field last night, Dunphy was clear: "He hasn't shot well all year.," Dunphy said. "Just the little things like at the end of the game we were down five we didn't necessarily need him shooting that three, but he's still learning how to play. He doesn't have a great sense of every situation." Sure, Onyekwe's athleticism will doubtless make a number of Ivy League forwards look like middle-schoolers this season, but he's not the kind of player that a team can bank on in the last two minutes of a tight game. Penn center Geoff Owens also has the ability to make waves offensively. Heading into Saturday night's game, he was shooting a very impressive 64.8 percent from the field. He had 10 points last night, but he felt he could have done more. Up and down their lineup, the Quakers sport players that can bite you when you're not looking. And they do it in different ways every night. Opponents wouldn't expect Adam Chubb to hit a three-pointer like he did last night in the second half, but he did. The Hawks probably didn't gameplan against Solomito's outside touch either. With this season's Quakers, opposing coaches can't ever be sure which of Penn's weapons will surface on a given night. As a result, other Ivy League teams have to be a combination of hopeful and fearful when they face off against the Quakers -- hopeful of an upset on an off night and fearful of what Penn can do if it puts things together.Comments powered by Disqus
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