Dan Solomito is a junior, but for the first time since he's been at Penn, the first Sunday of spring break will mark nothing besides, simply, the first Sunday of spring break. That's because Penn's name won't be called during the NCAA Tournament's Selection Sunday. "It's definitely going to be tough," Solomito said. "It's kind of a reality check, a wakeup call." It's time to pick up the pieces of the 2000-01 Penn men's basketball team's season, for the players to look ahead to next year. For the first time in Solomito's career, it's not time to gather as a team to celebrate and watch the pairings announced, unless the Quakers want another reminder of Tuesday. "There's nothing more fun in college basketball than sitting around with your teammates and watching the selection show come on and having your name come up," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "We won't get that opportunity, but hopefully we can think about it and use it as a real springboard for our season next year." A springboard is a fine metaphor, because there's nothing this team would rather do more than bound ahead into '01-02. The Quakers, heavy preseason favorites, sputtered to a 5-5 record in their final 10 Ivy games this season, losing twice to rival Princeton, costing themselves a chance to three-peat as Ivy champs in the process. "It was just a tough loss to take. It was difficult to deal with," senior forward Jon Tross said of Tuesday's 16-point loss at Jadwin. Tross, who has one more year of eligibility, is one of 11 returnees for Penn. What lies immediately ahead? For Dunphy and the coaching staff, it's a waiting game on recruiting. As an Ivy coach in March, Dunphy was predictably vague. "We'll try to target some needs that we have and then just try to put it all together," he said. "Hopefully we'll do well recruiting wise and it'll be a real positive year for us next year." And what are those needs? "I think all of them," Dunphy said. "We need a couple of guys up front and we need some help at the guard spot." Which is not to say that Dunphy does not expect big things out of the 11 returnees, to say nothing of highly regarded Elon transfer Andy Toole, who will be eligible next season. "Andy's a great player. We expect a lot from him," Dunphy said. "He'll be able to play basically both guard positions, and so he'll provide some scoring for us, some playmaking, and hopefully some leadership as well." Toole will add both depth and experience to a backcourt returning starter Dave Klatsky, sparkplug Solomito, steadily improving freshmen Jeff Schiffner and Duane King -- a sophomore who missed most of the season with injury but has demonstrated athleticism and scoring ability in flashes. With two of the graduation losses coming inside -- Geoff Owens and Josh Sanger -- next season will be critical for sophomores Ugonna Onyekwe and Koko Archibong. And expectations are high for freshman Adam Chubb. "He played significant minutes this year, so we'll look forward to having him be stronger and really even more ready than he was this year, just from the experience he gained," Dunphy said. Chubb shined at times, made rookie mistakes in some games, and did not appear altogether in others. That was typical of everyone in a Penn uniform, though. "Inconsistency," Dunphy said. "That probably was the defining characteristic of our team." Solomito, who felt the team finally started to get its "stuff together" towards the end of the season, does not plan to dwell on this year's 12-17 campaign. For now, though, it's almost Tournament time again, except Sunday's not going to mean much to the Quakers, besides being the second day of a week-long vacation. "Most college kids would probably tell you spring break is one of the greatest experiences of their lives," Solomito said. "I'd trade it in a second to be able to go to the Tournament."Comments powered by Disqus
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