Things were looking up for Matt Howard .
Penn basketball’s then-freshman guard, after an up-and-down start to his rookie campaign, was showing some serious signs of improvement last season. Against Cornell and Columbia, he scored seven and eight points off the bench, respectively, in two big wins for the Red and Blue.
And then the injury bug hit.
Just as it seemed the young guard was turning the corner, he was forced to miss the final nine games of the season.
But going into his sophomore year, Howard has not let the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the end of last season get him down.
“He’s worked on his body. He’s worked on his skill set,” coach Jerome Allen said. “None of these guys are the perfect player or have reached their potential, but he’s shown significant growth.
“And I’m excited for him. I think he’s put the work in to be a more consistent contributor.”
As Allen noted, he has done so by recommitting to his body, and the results have been noticeable. Howard now appears to be stronger physically and more prepared to make it through the grind of a long college basketball season.
And if he is able to stay healthy, he has plenty of tangible skills to work with. Throughout his time at Penn, he has shown an uncanny propensity to make shots from long distance.
Despite these skills, though, teammates have been impressed by his willingness to be a team player.
“He’s a guy who’s going to do what it takes to win,” senior captain Patrick Lucas-Perry said. “And he’s going to play his role the best he can, whatever coach Allen needs him to do.”
Allen has taken notice of Howard’s emergence, and he fully expects it to translate onto the court this year.
“We’re counting on Matt to have more of a role in terms of contributing on both ends of the floor,” he said. “We talked about it at the season meetings last year, and to his credit, he really stepped up.”
With several important upperclassmen from last year parting ways with the program, the Red and Blue will count on the underclassmen to produce, and Howard will be looked upon to lead the way.
“The sky is the limit for him,” senior captain Camryn Crocker said. “He doesn’t even know how good he can be yet. And that’s what we’re trying to instill in him.”Comments powered by Disqus
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