What’s scary about Penn basketball in 2013-14 from the fans perspective?
Sports Editor Ian Wenik: There’s a lot to like about Penn this season, but there’s plenty for Quakers fans to lose sleep over, as well.
For starters, there are question marks around both of Penn’s senior standouts. Can [Fran] Dougherty make it through this season fully healthy? The image of Fran grabbing his arm in agony once again is a terrifying prospect. And it seems that for every Brown game that [Miles] Cartwright has, there’s a disappearing act — like last year’s season finale against Princeton, when he went 2-8 from the field — in another game that would make H.G. Wells proud. He needs to become more consistent down the stretch to justify coach Jerome Allen’s confidence in him.
Consistency has been an issue for Tony Hicks as well. It seemed as if his shot would disappear at times last season. Perhaps it was part of just adjusting to the college game. Perhaps it was something else. Long-term, I think Hicks will be an incredible asset, but expectations need to be tempered for him until we see how he handles nonconference play.
There are plenty of other old habits that have the potential to plague this team: Henry Brooks getting into foul trouble. Jamal Lewis’ lack of development on the offensive end of the floor. Steve Rennard leaving his shot in 2011-12. But what may be scariest of all is the possibility that Allen never finds the lineup that can put all of Penn’s pieces together.
Finding that elusive “magic” lineup was impossible for Penn last year, as Allen tried all sorts of combinations (remember when Simeon Esprit got a start?) to varying degrees of success.
What’s scary about Penn for opponents?
Sports Editor Steven Tydings: If I were an opponent of an Ivy League squad, I would be very scared that Penn could finally put it all together. Last season, we saw the pieces. We saw the total dominance that can come from Fran Dougherty in the post. We saw Miles Cartwright being able to score at will when needed, especially, as Ian said, against Brown.
We saw fantastic games from the freshman tandem of Tony Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry, who the Quakers hope will carry over their solid play from the end of 2012-13 into 2013-14.
Add in the timely three-point shooting of Patrick Lucas-Perry along with a new set of freshmen — led by crafty point guard Tony Bagtas — and you have a really strong roster. The exact kind of roster that beat Harvard last year and could certainly challenge the cheating Crimson again this season.
The key then would be coach Allen finding the right mix of Bagtas, Hicks, Cartwright and others in the backcourt to team up with arguably the Ivy League’s top frontcourt combo of DNH and Dougherty. The team has enough depth on the bench to give the Quakers’ forwards a spell while still providing a spark, led by juniors Henry Brooks and Greg Louis.
But overall, it comes down to Penn’s top four players from last season — Carwright, Hicks, Dougherty and Nelson-Henry. If they can be both consistent and healthy, the Red and Blue will definitely be able to live up to its predicted second-place finish in the preseason Ivy media poll … if not one spot higher.
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