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W. Basketball vs. Tennessee Credit: Riley Steele , Riley Steele

On Friday and Saturday, 600 miles apart, Penn men’s and women’s basketball took the court, facing wildly different opponents and producing two dissimilar losses.

But the one constant between both teams are the growing pains that come with young squads.

The women’s squad had inevitable issues of inexperience at the point after the graduation of Alyssa Baron and Meghan McCullough, the team’s primary ballhandlers that each averaged north of 32 minutes per game during the 2013-2014 season .

So of course there was going to be a learning curve, and when the Quakers took on the No. 4 team in the country, it was going to be displayed for everyone with a subscription to the SEC Network to see.

Yet while the Red and Blue’s freshmen point guards displayed their youth at times, both Anna Ross and Beth Brzozowski were also two of the bright spots during the Quakers’ defeat. Each had a solid handle of the offense and exhibited their ability to make plays on the drive, scoring at the rim or dishing out.

Each gained confidence as the game went on, as Brzozowski began to take control on play after play down the stretch. She even pulled up and drained a three right in front of a Lady Vols defender.

“I give them a lot of credit,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “They challenged themselves. They played against a tremendous opponent, and they held their own.”

While my fellow editor Holden McGinnis pointed out that both will need to adjust to the pace of the college game, they have more than enough time to do so with a plethora of games before Princeton in January.

And on the men’s side, there didn’t seem to be any lack in confidence from the freshmen.

Point guard Antonio Woods publicized his athleticism with his open court handles while draining some key three-pointers. Fellow guard Darnell Foreman was one of the loudest players on the hardwood while playing solid on-ball defense. Forward Sam Jones’ propensity for the three-ball shone through within 10 minutes of the opening tip.

And while Mike Auger wasn’t able to find a basket, he was active on the glass and made his presence known despite three turnovers.

Sure, each of them had their flaws, just like Ross and Brzozowski. And it may be a while before all of Penn men’s basketball’s freshmen are playing to their true potentia — that room for improvement makes this weekend that much more impressive.

“I definitely see a lot of room for improvement, but to the team’s credit and especially the young guys, we get down double digits early and ... they didn’t panic. They stayed poise and kept competing ,” coach Jerome Allen said.

“We don’t use our positional timeline as a cheap crutch not to win the basketball game but ... I did like some of things I saw out of the young guys.”

This year isn’t going to be smooth sailing from the start. That hasn’t been the modus operandi for either basketball program in recent years and they don’t need to start now. Nonconference play will be useful to work out the kinks and get this freshmen class to have the confidence of upperclassmen.

And because of these growing pains and the eventual maturity of each freshman, there is tremendous upside on the horizon for Penn’s basketball squads.

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