Before and after his home coaching debut, Jerome Allen shared a big embrace and a few words with Fran Dunphy.
It was an iconic moment — not just the meeting of mentor and protege, but also the link between the past and future of Penn basketball, with Dunphy passing a torch that may have eluded Glen Miller entirely.
The way Allen described the exchanges fully displayed the new look guiding the Quakers.
When asked what Dunphy said during their brief exchange, Allen casually responded, “he told me their entire scouting report.”
And just like that, in his first 90 seconds of postgame tape, Allen told more jokes than Miller did in over three years.
Allen wasn’t done holding court for the atypically large swarm of reporters in the Palestra bowels — and this was after a 15-point loss.
What was it like returning to coach in the arena where he played so well in the ’90s?
“Well, I almost tried to sub myself in,” the interim head coach said. “But once I touched my head, I realized that if I don’t have any hair, I don’t have any eligibility, either.”
It’s not just that Allen has a sense of humor, which will undoubtedly help him deal with the media, alumni and Penn community at large — three constituencies well beyond Miller’s comfort zone.
It’s also not just the dapper outfit the 37-year-old was wearing — or that Allen’s suit jacket, unlike his predecessor’s, remained comfortably on his shoulders throughout the intense affair. Indeed, whereas Dunphy was hardly afraid to throw around an expletive or two, last night, Allen stayed cool and collected.
After co-captain Zack Rosen’s layup attempt didn’t fall, he and his coach locked eyes and Allen displayed a big, “aw, shucks, that’s a shame” grin.
When Rosen was called for a questionable foul later in the second half, Allen took a few steps onto the court towards the referee. Then he turned around and whispered quietly to himself, “Oh my god.” That was the extent of his reaction.
These Quakers looked and felt a lot different than they did last month, when they certainly couldn’t hang with a top-25 team. That stems from the top. The gameplan may be similar, but the players have thrown their support behind Allen in a way they never seemed to do for Miller.
“It’s just been a lot of discipline, a lot of suicides, a lot of running,” Rosen said of the changes since Allen took over. “But it’s coming.”
As Rosen spoke, Allen began laughing, showing a camaraderie absent from most of the past three years. The rapport between Allen, the former star point guard, and Rosen — the man who outhustled a 6-foot-11 center for a loose ball and sliced Temple’s defense with bounce passes and long outlets — will likely define the program’s next two years, should Allen get the full-time gig.
“We kind of need to be on the same page. He’s an extension of my left arm, and I’m an extension of his right arm,” Allen said. “He wants to be coached. And that’s probably the best thing about him.”
Early in the first half, the Temple band unveiled its first rollout: “Not Even John Q. Could Save Your Team.”
Maybe not. But the affable Allen, synchronized with his star players, just might be able to do the trick.
DAVID GURIAN-PECK is a senior from New York majoring in political science and business and public policy. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.Comments powered by Disqus
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