P enn basketball fans, it is time to commence freaking out: The Quakers are going to finish seventh in the Ivy League.
Oh wait, that’s just the Ivy League Preseason Media Poll, so you might want to hold onto your horses.
Sure, the media poll accurately reflects expectations for the Ivy teams this year: Harvard is supposed to reign supreme once again. Yale and Columbia are expected to battle for second. Princeton and Brown seem to be in the middle of the pack.
And the voters don’t have much confidence in Dartmouth, Penn and Cornell, the squads expected to finish in sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
Don’t get me wrong: If I had a vote, it’s not like I would be putting Penn first. That would be tough to justify with the existence of Harvard All-Ivy guards Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders.
But don’t put all of your faith in preseason polls; instead, wait to see the actual product take the floor.
And of all the teams in the Ancient Eight, the Red and Blue just might be the most unpredictable.
The program has had significant turnover from last season. The Quakers had a few players leave the program and graduated five seniors, including Miles Jackson-Cartwright and Fran Dougherty, the team’s second and third leading scorers, respectively.
Dau Jok is gone as a leader. Julian Harrell and Henry Brooks won’t be providing minutes off the bench.
Yet Penn will play on. Forget who is gone; they aren’t coming back. The focus should be on the players still in the program.
But even the players still in uniform have changed since we last saw them.
Take junior guard Tony Hicks, for example. He has proven he can score, leading the Red and Blue last year in points per game.
But by all accounts, Hicks has brought a new level of intensity into this season and has taken on the role of leader.
That’s before you add in healthy seniors Camryn Crocker and Patrick Lucas-Perry , both coming off injuries that eliminated most of their junior seasons. And that’s not to mention Matt Howard , whose freshman year came to an end due to injury just as it seemed to be breaking out.
This year’s freshman class is the most unpredictable thing about this team.
Those voting in the media poll haven’t seen Sam Jones shooting threes. They probably haven’t gotten a chance to see Antonio Woods or Darnell Foreman run the point. They haven’t watched while Mike Auger and Dan Dwyer make moves in the post.
College sports are volatile. A fourth of the roster turns over each year. Someone can go from limited reps to team leader in a year. And injuries can change everything.
So sure, you can freak out about the media poll. Or maybe it didn’t change your opinion because you are already comparing the 2014-15 Penn Quakers to a sinking ship.
But I urge you: Wait until you see a game. Wait ’til you see two. Heck, the Quakers have 10 games before facing Princeton to start Ivy play, so you might as well watch all 10 of those nonconference tilts.
After all, seeing is believing. A preseason poll doesn’t change that.Comments powered by Disqus
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