Seventeen wins in two seasons. Four members of last year’s team have graduated. Another four players are gone for various reasons. A projected seventh-place finish in the Ivy League this year.
Luckily for Penn basketball, all the negativity surrounding the program is external. Inside the Palestra, the atmosphere pervading Jerome Allen’s players is one of positivity, optimism and belief.
And it starts with two of the four seniors on the roster.
Although neither scored more than 10 points last season, it’s not a stretch to say that Cam Crocker and Patrick Lucas-Perry are the two players on Penn’s roster most integral to the Quakers’ success this year. Given the ugly nature of various aspects of the Red and Blue’s 2013-14 campaign, veterans with the ability to keep a team balanced are especially valuable for Allen these days.
Coming off a 2012-13 season in which he led the Quakers in three pointers and played in all but one game, Lucas-Perry was the first of many Penn players to deal with injuries a year ago, playing only five games.
The leg injury bug also bit Crocker, who managed to play in only six games himself before missing the rest of a season that featured only eight wins for the Red and Blue.
“It was tough for both of us because you want to be out there with your team,” the Los Alamitos, Calif., native said. “But we still had to find a way to support the team and support each other.”
As both players attempted to come back from their injuries, the then-junior duo managed to offer an important presence to the squad even when they weren’t able to step on the court.
“Coach Allen tells us all the time that we’re tied together as a team, and you need to be excited when someone else is out there, even if it’s in your spot,” Lucas-Perry added. “But if they do well, you have to be excited. I feel like everyone on the team feels that vibe.”
Despite their injuries, both seniors have recovered and continue to try and work their way back into Allen’s regular rotation, but both Crocker and Lucas-Perry realize that their contribution to this year’s team also goes beyond how much they contribute to the box score.
“The reason why we made them captains is more because they have embraced their time at Penn and have embraced their roles as students first,” Allen said.
Who has been the inspiration for Lucas-Perry and Crocker’s actions over the past several months? The highly-decorated recent graduate Dau Jok.
“You just learn to be like Dau, on the court and off the court,” Lucas-Perry said. “He’s just a very extraordinary person.”
In years past, the Red and Blue have relied on their captains to not only function as the team’s leaders but also as the primary scoring and rebounding forces on the squad. Yet for individuals like Crocker and Lucas-Perry, they — like Jok before them — are simply trying to create a winning culture within the program.
“It’s our last hurrah, so I’m embracing every second of what we have left,” Lucas-Perry said. “But more importantly, it’s been great to be a leader, foster relationships and be a mentor to the underclassmen.”
And as leaders, both seniors know exactly what’s expected of them: to be the players that do whatever it takes to get Penn basketball back on track.
“We just want to win,” Crocker said. “Whatever the team needs us to do in order to win, that’s what we’re going to try and do.
“At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.