W hen Penn basketball ended its season against Princeton on March 11, it did so with a resounding thud.
Single-digit wins for the second consecutive year, including a decrease in overall victories. Tied for sixth in the final Ivy League standings. Winless against the rest of the Big 5. A mere two wins away from the Palestra.
The numbers alone emphasized a disappointing campaign, one that failed to live up to the preseason expectations of an improved team with the potential to finish near the top of the conference standings.
Here’s the problem: Things didn’t exactly get better once the season concluded. Despite the fact that head coach Jerome Allen was not fired, top assistant coach Scott Pera left the program to join Mike Rhoades’ staff at Rice.
That proved to be only the beginning of the Quakers’ issues this offseason.
Immediately after forward Ryan Singer , one of Allen’s incoming recruits, decommited from Penn, freshman guard Tony Bagtas was arrested and kicked off the team. Throw in the fact that the Red and Blue have since seen two other players — junior Henry Brooks and sophomore Julian Harrell — leave the program for unknown reasons, and Penn’s offseason hasn’t been any better than its regular season.
For starters, it’s downright unacceptable that Allen and the rest of the athletic department have refused to comment on the departures of three players from one of the most prestigious programs in basketball history. You’d get some sort of explanation if that happened at Kentucky. At Duke. At Michigan State. At Harvard, even.
Yet while Penn’s coaches and players have remained tight-lipped about the program’s internal issues since the end of the season, the Red and Blue’s resiliency in recruiting has done some talking in its own right.
Based off Penn’s abysmal season in 2013-14, many expected the Quakers to struggle generating quality players for next year’s freshman class. Singer’s decommitment and the loss of eight players from last year’s team — either through dismissal, transfer or graduation — likely didn’t help matters.
But in the past week alone, Penn has received commitments from both point guard Darnell Foreman and power forward Dan Dwyer.
Dwyer’s ability to play away from the basket and knock down mid-range jumpers in a way that Brooks was never able to do consistently will add an intriguing ripple to Allen’s offense in the coming year. He will also function as a complimentary piece in the post alongside center Darien Nelson-Henry.
Foreman, on the other hand, could serve as Bagtas’ replacement in the backcourt off the bench. In Penn’s three-guard lineup, Foreman will be able to not only score on his own, but also find open teammates while allowing Tony Hicks to play more at the shooting guard position.
Those two players, along with Mike Auger, Sam Jones and Antonio Woods — the squad’s other three recruits — have helped the Quakers put together an intriguing incoming freshman class.
Who knows how much better things can really get for Penn basketball this offseason? After all, it will take more than a few recruits to set the Quakers up for a successful turnaround next year.
But while Allen and company remain quiet, at least the team’s recruiting of late says something, and it points to Penn doing everything it can to move away from the stains of recent months.Comments powered by Disqus
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