It was an all too eventful winter break for Penn men’s basketball.
A highly reputable source told The Daily Pennsylvanian last month that Miles Cartwright, Henry Brooks, Tony Hicks, Darien Nelson-Henry and Steve Rennard were all suspended from the Quakers’ game at Delaware on Dec. 21 after failing random drug tests. Cartwright, coach Jerome Allen and Penn Director of Athletic Communications Mike Mahoney all denied comment on the report.
Later, The Daily Pennsylvanian learned from various sources that alcohol may have played a role in the suspensions. Alcohol is still on the NCAA Banned Drug List and our original sources maintain that positive drug tests triggered the suspensions.
Regardless, either offense would constitute a drug violation that would force Penn to follow NCAA Bylaw 10.2, which requires schools to follow their own institutional policies and protocols for drug violations if they have them. This NCAA bylaw would allow Allen the latitude to decide the penalty for the players’ use of banned drugs.
The Quakers caught a lot of flak for their drug violations, in addition to their woeful season record, but now they can make it all go away by doing just one thing.
Just think, if Penn beats Princeton, the Quakers will find themselves 1-0 in Ivy play and resurgent after strong showings against Lafayette and Butler. With a clean Ivy slate and in a conference with Dartmouth (3-10) and Yale (5-11) vying convincingly for Ivy bottom-dwelling status, the Quakers will still have a shot at shaking up the Ancient Eight. Junior forward Fran Dougherty will eventually return from his bout with mononucleosis too.
If the Quakers lose to the Tigers, everything goes 180 degrees in the other direction.
Penn would be 2-13 with a loss to Princeton, which would put them just one loss short of the 2-14 start to the disastrous 2009-10 campaign that saw former Penn coach Glen Miller canned and Allen hired.
A loss to Princeton would also be a loss to a beatable team. The Tigers lost to Wagner and Drexel earlier this season in similar fashion to the Quakers. In fact, Princeton is a beatable team on a Penn schedule full of beatable teams that the Quakers somehow haven’t beaten.
And if that doesn’t change Saturday, a negative tone will be set for the rest of Ivy play. That’s why the Quakers are looking at this game as more of an Ivy opener than a rivalry game. That’s why this game is the single most important game of Penn’s season.
And that’s why beating Princeton, as always, changes everything.
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