For Penn men’s basketball, it’s out with the old and in with the new.
Having lost several key players — either due to graduation or other reasons — from last year, the Red and Blue will look to a talented freshman class to help get the program back on track and moving in the right direction.
The Quakers feature a hefty freshman class of six, larger than any other class on the team. However, it hasn’t taken long for two Penn youngsters to rise to the top: guard Darnell Foreman and forward Mike Auger .
Listed at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds , Foreman is not exactly an imposing physical presence. But only a couple months into his college career, he carries himself like a seasoned veteran.
Foreman has already emerged as a ball-handling workhorse and a leader for this young Penn squad. In one particular practice, coach Jerome Allen could be heard exclaiming that despite his lack of experience, Foreman was already directing traffic on the court.
“[I’m] just bringing a lot of energy, no matter what I’m doing,” Foreman said. “And just learning while I’m leading.”
In practice, he has also shown his confidence shooting the ball and creating offense for himself when necessary.
The departure of the graduated Miles Jackson-Cartwright has raised some questions as to who will be Penn’s primary in-game ball-handler. While Foreman seems like one logical answer to this question, the freshman has remained open-minded about his role on the team.
“With Miles leaving, it’s an opportunity for someone to step up, whether it’s one person or a group effort,” Foreman said.
“I think Darnell and Antonio [Woods, a fellow freshman] are capable of handling the ball, and they will,” Allen added. “What we don’t want to do is put all the pressure on young men who haven’t played one game yet in their college careers.”
Unlike Foreman, Auger looks nothing like a freshman. In fact, with his 6-foot-7, 225-pound , athletic frame and mature features, the young forward looks more like someone in his mid-20s.
Auger has already shown what he can do with this grown-man frame, making a myriad of skillful offensive plays in the post and impressing more than any other freshman at the recent Red and Blue Scrimmage.
“I think I ran the floor well and got to the right spots at the right times,” he said. “I’m just trying to do the things I know I can do every day, like play hard and get rebounds. So I’ll start there, and if I make a couple shots here and there, it’s a bonus.”
However, Auger has shown no signs of letting this early success get to his head. At practice, he often shows his propensity for studying the game, asking more questions than most other members of the Red and Blue.
“I’ve been trying to watch a lot more film [than in high school],” he said. “I’m just trying to prepare myself mentally.”
Foreman and Auger are the most likely freshmen to make an immediate impact on the court for the Quakers, but for the group — which also includes forwards Sam Jones and Dan Dwyer and guard Shawn Simmons — adjusting to the new environment takes a true team effort.
“We’re like a big family,” Foreman said. “We joke around. We push each other. And we all have a common goal ... to bring something to the team.”
Allen, for one, has taken notice.
“It’s a pretty good group, I must say,” he said. “From the time they’ve spent in Philadelphia — whether it’s summer or preseason — they’ve totally mirrored what Penn basketball should be about.”
So whether or not they see significant playing time this season, Penn basketball fans should keep an eye on these freshmen.
Because the future of the program rests on their shoulders.Comments powered by Disqus
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