Penn basketball has played 207 games and gone more than seven years since its last NCAA Tournament appearance. Since that time, there has been just one better than .500 finish, in addition to one coach fired and back-to-back 20-plus loss seasons for the first time in Penn history.
Suffice it to say, this program is in need of a makeover.
And it has already undergone some of that necessary change. Gone is another senior class that couldn’t win an Ivy title along with four underclassmen who left the program for assorted reasons. Joining the program is one of the more promising freshman classes in coach Jerome Allen’s tenure.
Understandably, the team wants to stress the process and not the results this year. That makes perfect sense with a young roster that was projected to finish seventh in the Ancient Eight in the Ivy preseason poll.
But there will need to be results this year alongside the all-important process.
Quite simply, the Quakers can’t lose 20 games again this season. They can’t finish sixth in the Ivy League again.
No, 2014-15 needs to be the beginning of Penn’s turnaround. A turnaround in both the team’s win-loss record and its personnel.
In terms of personnel, there can’t be any more distractions coming from this squad, on or off the court. No more mass exoduses from the program. No more punches thrown at opposing players.
Watching the team in the preseason, there is no doubt that the squad has a different aura around it, a positive outlook with a full commitment to the program from every player.
And that’s half the issue solved right there if each of Allen’s players continue to buy into the program.
But all of this positivity can come crumbling down if a few losses start piling up. We won’t know whether this year’s Red and Blue will be a true beacon of hope for the program until their first losing streak.
When times are bad, personalities clash. Fingers get pointed. The periphery that Allen wants to block out gets a little bit louder and harder to ignore.
And how the Quakers respond to a few consecutive losses will tell you a lot about whether the ship is sinking or sailing just fine.
Just like the last two years, there are pieces in place, even with the graduation of key seniors like Miles Jackson-Cartwright and Fran Dougherty .
Tony Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry are a year more experienced and a year wiser. Matt Howard could have a strong role at guard. And the freshman class has the potential to be a real difference maker not just a few years down the road , but right now.
But the last two years also didn’t go as planned. You can chalk it up to injuries, lack of maturity or inconsistency, but whatever is to blame, one thing is clear: The last two years were unacceptable for the Red and Blue.
After all, Penn basketball is known for Ivy League titles. It’s not like anyone is going to hang something up in the Palestra to recognize consecutive losing seasons next to the 1979 Final Four banner.
And new Athletic Director Grace Calhoun understands that she will be judged in part based on how this marquee program performs, especially after a lack of Ivy titles coming from fall sports. She knows that many alumni aren’t close to satisfied with the program’s direction.
So if the Quakers don’t produce results this season — results that show another NCAA appearance is on the horizon and not in the distant future — there will be a different kind of change coming to the program.
But unlike last season, it won’t involve the players.Comments powered by Disqus
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