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Men's Basketball Wins against Harvard Credit: Andrew Dierkes , Andrew Dierkes

Chemistry is commonly called the study of matter. But for Penn basketball, chemistry is more the study of change.

And after a 9-22 season, the Red and Blue are back in the lab as they try to cook up the right formula for a winning squad.

Since the Quakers didn’t have any seniors in 2012-13, Penn returns everyone from last year’s squad and gets the chance to bounce back as a team.

“We were definitely disappointed with last season, but we had to face adversity and that helps us to get even better than we were before,” junior forward Henry Brooks said.

The 2012-13 Quakers were also working with a whole new group of assistant coaches. With a year of experience under their belts, coach Jerome Allen is confident that his staff can get Penn where it needs to go.

“Going into year two, we’re not perfect, but we’re better in terms of continuity from where we were last year,” Allen said.

“[It’s] the same thing in life. I’ve been married 15 years, and I think I know my wife a lot better today than I did in year two or year five.”

And while Allen and his staff are using the continuity to their advantage, so are their players.

After not living up to their own expectations last season, the Red and Blue upped their focus level, working together over the summer in Philadelphia to improve as a cohesive unit.

“We hit the weight room hard. That was one big thing — we knew we had to get stronger,” Brooks said. “Last season, with us getting outrebounded a lot, we knew we had to get stronger as a team.”

After a summer working together on campus, the team took a trip to Italy in August. While the Quakers didn’t face particularly difficult competition overseas, the Red and Blue used the trip to grow closer as a group.

“It was everything for us. We came so close together,” junior guard Camryn Crocker said. “We were already a close group, but there’s something about being [outside the country] and being able to experience that together as a team.”

But outside of changing team chemistry, the players are also trying to balance the components in each of their individual games.

“I definitely wanted to become more aggressive offensively knowing myself, scouting myself, seeing how teams play me,” Crocker said.

“They know I like to distribute the ball and kind of always look for the assist, so I looked to develop my outside shot more.”

And Crocker has already been able to display that improved jumper, draining a three in Penn’s Red and Blue Scrimmage on Oct. 26.

Meanwhile, Brooks is looking to better his own game, trying to limit the foul trouble that consistently plagued him last year.

“It is just a matter of not getting discouraged,” he said. “If I get in foul trouble, I see some things in the film like what could have stopped the referee from giving me a foul call.

“That has a lot to do with my conditioning or even being quicker and faster on defense.”

Overall, the team is working on upping its level of consistency from a year ago. The team split all six of its Ivy doubleheaders last season and was unable to sweep any weekends, as is necessary for a championship team.

But with the entire team back together — a year stronger and closer — Allen believes the Quakers can change their fortunes from a year ago and come out on top in the Ivy League.

“The core of this group has been through enough in terms of learning how to run, all the details, defending, closing out games,” he said, “To the point where I truly believe if we take care of the things we’re supposed to take care of, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be where we desire to be at the end of the season.

“And when I say that, it’s not in third place, and it’s not in second place.”

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