They say losing builds character, winning breeds confidence and leaders are born, not made.
So after captains Jack Eggleston and Zack Rosen suffered through a 6-22 season last year, carried the team through it all and have now led Penn to its first three-game winning streak since 2009, how do you describe that duo?
High-character, confident leaders just doesn’t seem to do it justice.
That much was evident at the Palestra Saturday night, when Jack and Zack willed a team that wasn’t playing its best basketball to an 80-78 overtime victory over Brown.
And not surprisingly, Eggleston and Rosen’s footprints were left on this game from the opening tip all the way through the extra period.
With the Quakers down eight and under five minutes remaining in the first half, Rosen sensed it was his time to score.
So he did.
Back-to-back three-pointers and three free throws later, the point guard had scored nine of the team’s final 11 points of the half.
Although Penn still entered the break with a seven-point deficit, Rosen’s run prevented the Bears from extending their lead to double digits.
In the second half, it was Eggleston’s turn.
He found his team down eight again, this time with just over nine minutes to go. The senior scored 12 points — matching all of Brown’s output over the final nine minutes — during crunch time to help send the game into overtime.
Fittingly, it was a vicious dunk by Eggleston off a thread-the-needle pass by Rosen that highlighted the extra period.
When it was all said and done, Eggleston had scored 13 of the team’s final 20 points, while Rosen had proven vital in facilitating the offense.
Naturally, both captains downplayed their own performances afterward, while crediting the success of the team to the others.
“I thought Jack made huge plays left and right, and I was just happy to be watching,” Rosen said.
“We’ve got two guys like Zack and Miles [Cartwright],” Eggleston countered. “They command a lot of attention.
“[Teams] just leave me wide open,” he continued. “I’m just a guy nobody worries about, so I sit out there and do the easy part, which is just knocking down open shots.”
But contrary to their words, there was no spectating by Rosen, and Eggleston certainly didn’t play an “easy part.”
The pair put the team on their backs when it needed to be carried. Ultimately, they did what captains do.
Part of being a captain is raising your level of play in crucial games, something Eggleston has done recently.
Over the Quakers’ last three wins, Captain Jack has averaged 15.3 points and 11.7 rebounds, while shooting at a sizzling 66.7 percent.
Rosen, meanwhile, has changed his offensive style — from dominant scorer a year ago to facilitator now — in order to set up his new favorite targets on the wing, senior Tyler Bernardini and freshman Cartwright.
But again, that’s what captains do — whatever it takes to win — a point not lost on coach Jerome Allen.
“One of the things I’m on Zack about is just being … a facilitator, being a scorer, being a leader, being a tough guy,” Allen said. “He wants to do all those things because he wants to win.”
After Saturday’s postgame interviews, with friends and family hanging out on the Palestra floor, Rosen shouted, “Conor, let’s go!” — presumably to get senior Conor Turley to regroup with the team. Eggleston, meanwhile, low-fived a youngster shooting hoops before heading out.
Seeing that leaves the impression that not only are these two guys great players, but also great faces for the Penn program.
But then again, that description doesn’t quite do it justice either, now does it?
KEVIN ESTEVES is a junior communications major from the Bronx, N.Y. He is the Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. His e-mail address is esteves@theDP.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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