The men’s hoops team showed its fans a lot this weekend.
On Friday against Yale, the Quakers showed that they can play a steady, 40-minute game of good basketball, leading the whole way and beating a solid Ivy team.
Then on Saturday against Brown, they showed grit and scrappiness in a come-from-behind overtime victory on a night when they weren’t playing their best.
The only thing Jerome Allen, Jack Eggleston and company cared about doing this weekend was getting two Ivy wins.
But in achieving that, what they really did was reveal an important turning point in the team’s development.
They’ve figured out what it takes to win.
“I was proud of our guys because we faced some adversity,” Allen said after Saturday’s dramatic 80-78 triumph over the Bears. “To our guys’ credit, they just kept battling, kept battling and kept battling. I thought for the most part we took a step forward tonight.”
It may seem a bit counter-intuitive to consider a near-loss to Brown at the Palestra a step in the right direction, though the Bears came in at 7-10, 0-3 Ivy, including two losses to a Yale squad that the Quakers had dispatched fairly handily just one night earlier.
Factor in the absence of senior Peter Sullivan — Brown’s leading scorer who injured his shoulder in Friday’s bout with Princeton — and you may have been inclined to expect a double-digit ‘W’ for the Red and Blue.
But in the Ivy League, no games are guaranteed (breathe easy, Dartmouth).
As Eggleston said — a truism he heard from Allen, who heard it from legendary former Temple coach John Chaney — “You don’t win 14 games, you win one game 14 times.”
The notion resounded with the senior and the rest of his teammates this weekend — especially on Saturday night, when a shallow bench didn’t quite leave Penn’s starters fresh. On nights like these, it can be easy for teams to come out flat like the Quakers did.
A year ago — heck, even earlier this season — such evenings spelled doom for the Red and Blue (see: loss to Marist). It would certainly not be for lack of effort, but they just couldn’t seem to snap out of that funk when the going got tough.
On Saturday, they showed the focus and resolve to figure out what they needed to do to pull out a victory.
“We really came together and said, ‘We’re going to win this game on defense,’” Eggleston recalled.
Although the shots weren’t falling and the first-half defense had been atrocious — the most points allowed by halftime since last year’s rout against eventual national champion Duke — the Quakers managed to clamp down and allow just 31 points in the second half and overtime.
“That’s how we’re going to get it done,” Eggleston continued. “That’s how we’re going to win games in the Ivy League.”
Of course Penn has known that tough ‘D’ turns into ‘W’s — that’s old news. What’s changed is the ability to dig deep enough to put that mindset into action when it matters most.
“We definitely showed a lot of maturity in sticking with it and staying the course,” junior Zack Rosen said.
Now they’re on course to contend for an Ivy League title.
NOAH ROSENSTEIN is a senior political science major from Hollywood, Fla., and is former Online Managing Editor and Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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