It appears the facelift of the Penn men’s basketball team’s bench next season is finally complete.
The coaching changes continued last week, as the Penn Athletics department announced that Rudy Wise has been named the Quakers’ newest assistant coach.
Wise joins recently-hired Dan Leibovitz and Mike Martin to complete Jerome Allen’s trio of right-hand men after John Gallagher departed for Hartford.
“Many storied coaches have sat in my position and have gone on to do and continue to do great things,” Wise said. “Knowing that, it was a no-brainer to take full advantage of this opportunity.”
Much of Wise’s prior experience in coaching has come alongside the man he called “a mentor of mine,” none other than former Penn coach and Temple’s current lead man Fran Dunphy.
Wise has been a fixture at Dunphy’s Summer Basketball camps — where he first met Allen, who was invited to give a speech to the camp’s attendees — over the past few years and just last summer, he helped oversee workouts for Temple’s men’s basketball program and the city’s top high schoolers.
“I’ve been very impressed with the kind of person that Rudy is and how he is with young people,” Dunphy said. “I think he’ll do a terrific job at the University of Pennsylvania.”
Wise, a graduate of Lake Forest College (Ill.), also served as a graduate assistant to Jay Wright on the Villanova bench during the 2006-07 season.
He even has a touch of international experience, having coached the Forenex Espana Summer Sports Clinic in Spain.
With that said, Wise will be tasked with perhaps his biggest challenge thus far: helping Allen steer the Quakers back in the right direction.
Last season, the Red and Blue dropped their first seven games of the season, a historically poor start which prompted the firing of then-head coach Glen Miller. Allen, an assistant coach at the time, was quickly named interim coach.
And while Allen managed to get his team to play better basketball during the latter half of the season, Penn finished with a subpar 6-22 record overall.
Wise characterized the Quakers’ struggles as “part of what every institution across the board has endured at one point or another.”
Still, he maintained that the coaching staff is “hungry” and “eager” to begin the program’s next phase, which, Wise said, starts this summer with offseason training.
“We plan to work tirelessly to make sure that we get the best and put the best product out there on the floor night-in and night-out,” he said.
According to Wise, his role in accomplishing that goal will involve many facets of the program’s operation, from “on-the-court coaching to implementing practice and game plans to scouting and recruiting.”
He will also serve as the head JV coach, which could prove to be a vital position considering that the roster size may exceed 20 players, and several of those players may have to play on the JV team.
Last week, rising sophomore Brian Fitzpatrick, who averaged 9.4 minutes per game during his freshman year, cited the increasing roster size as a factor in his decision to transfer to Bucknell.
“I just can’t imagine what next year’s going to be like. Just imagine practice. You only play 10 guys on the court, so you have 13 guys waiting to get in? It’s crazy; it’s really crazy,” Fitzpatrick told The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Wise echoed All-Ivy point guard Zack Rosen’s sentiments in response to Fitzpatrick's comments, calling the large roster “a good issue to have.”
“It just comes down to who’s gonna work the hardest,” the new coach said. “I think the numbers will take care of themselves. That’s why the responsibilities have been placed upon me to manage and oversee a JV team.”
And though difficult decisions lay ahead for Wise and the rest of his staff, at the very least the newest addition to the bench seems to be on the same page as his new boss.
Allen asserted “we will get it done” at his introductory press conference, and Wise seemed even more sure.
“We will establish and create something great going forward,” he said.
SP Sports Editor Brian Kotloff contributed to the reporting of this article.Comments powered by Disqus
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