It’s a marathon schedule for Penn basketball. If you’re the average Penn student, you probably don’t know which games are most watchable. Not to worry! We’ve got you covered. Here are three of Penn’s must-see contests this year.
Nov. 22 at Iowa
The marquee showdown of the Quakers’ nonconference slate, the Red and Blue will fly out to the Midwest to take on a Hawkeyes squad helmed by former Penn player and assistant coach Fran McCaffery.
McCaffery’s squad is fast and deep, led by senior guard Roy Devyn Marble, who averaged 15 points per game last season.
The real story, though, is the reunion of Penn senior guard Dau Jok with his little brother, Peter, a freshman guard at Iowa and the Hawkeyes’ only true newcomer.
Both refugees from war-torn Sudan, the game takes on deeper meaning for the Joks, who have never faced each other on the basketball court.
“I’m very excited because it’s symbolic of how far we have come as a family,” Dau said. “I’m very happy for [Peter] and I want him to be the best player possible…it’s just that night, I need that win.”
That may be a tall order against one of the Big Ten favorites, though.
Dec. 29 at Rider
Penn plays a whopping four teams from the MAAC this year, none more dangerous than the Broncs. In coach Kevin Baggett’s first year running the team, Rider made a surprising run to the MAAC quarterfinals before falling to Fairfield.
Much of the Broncs’ offense will revolve around senior forward Daniel Stewart, a Philadelphia native who last year ranked fourth in the conference in rebounding and seventh in field goal percentage.
Stewart’s presence will be a big challenge to Penn’s forwards, and interior players like Henry Brooks and Darien Nelson-Henry will have to step up on defense to contain the third-team All-MAAC selection.
“I like where [our frontcourt is] at,” coach Jerome Allen said. “I think they’ve worked hard from last season until now, they’ve improved their overall skill on the floor, but I think, more importantly, the group in itself…they’ve matured from a mental aspect.”
Feb. 21 vs. Harvard
No team in the Ivy League has gotten more preseason press than the Crimson, riding high after their upset over New Mexico in the NCAA Tournament last year.
Harvard received 46 votes in the preseason AP Top 25 Poll, and with Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry back from their one-year withdrawals after a cheating scandal, the squad appears to be more dangerous than ever.
But does all the hype mean that Penn will be extra motivated to take down a Crimson squad they split the season series in 2012-13?
“I would hope not,” assistant coach Ira Bowman said. “I would hope that you’re driven just by yourself, not off of … somebody else’s accolades. I think Harvard’s done a great job and they deserve all the accolades that they received, but I also know that no league titles are won in the preseason.”
February’s matchup will go a long way towards determining if the pundits were right.
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