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Following nearly six seasons at the helm of Penn basketball, Jerome Allen will not return to the program next season. In light of Allen's firing, The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with former Red and Blue player and Class of 2012 graduate Rob Belcore. 

On the firing of coach Jerome Allen:

Rob Belcore: I’m not going to say that [the losing] was because of a failure on Jerome’s part. If Jerome Byron Allen can’t get you to put forth the effort that you need to win ... I’m not sure anybody can. I am extremely saddened to hear that he's been fired and if you look at the record on paper ... I can’t say it’s not justified. I certainly, I wish to God it wasn’t the case. Jerome has been a mentor to me – as a man and how to live. I love his son and I know his family really well. So it really hurts. I know there is a lot of guys there who want to win, want to do the right thing.

On the team's struggles in recent seasons:

RB: There’s a code amongst players that you’re always supportive of the players, that the players are always doing their best, that you’ve got to support your teammates, that they’re your brothers and all that. And I really do believe in that. But it’s frustrating to see them struggle like they have since I left.

But while I support the kids -- and they’re all really nice kids -- it’s [still] the same plays, it’s the same coaching mentality, it’s everything that Jerome taught me, that we executed. And of course people will say ‘the coach’s job is to communicate effectively and inspire the kids to do what it is he wants. But anyone who played with me will tell you I didn’t play the way I played because coach motivated me to play that way, I played that way because it’s something that was inside of me. I see a lot of guys on the team right now who are a lot more talented than I ever was and I just don’t know where the disconnect is.

On the challenges a team going through a coaching change faces:

RB: Being at Penn for four years, I played with a lot of different guys. I mean, when I was there, there were a lot of [former coach Fran] Dunphy recruits, and me. There were Dunphy recruits, [former coach Glen] Miller recruits, and Allen recruits. So I saw quite a breadth of different people who all came to play basketball at Penn and one thing that I’d say to everybody on the [current] team, and what I’ll say the next time I see them: You really have to look in the mirror and ask themselves if being college basketball players in what they want to do. That was my complete and only identity at the University of Pennsylvania. There’s wonderful benefits of being a student at the University of Pennsylvania, but I think the players really need to look themselves in the mirror and ask if they want to be college basketball players.

On what Penn basketball players need to do moving forward:

RB: I will be the first person to admit, when I first came to the University of Pennsylvania, I had no idea what it meant to be a member of the Big 5, to play in Philadelphia, to play in the Ivy League. I had no idea what any of that meant. I was just a kid from Chicago who didn’t really know anything about Philadelphia and Philadelphia history. And I think there are a lot of people on the team now who don’t know what Penn means or how much of an honor it is. I think if they take a step back and have some self-awareness, have some awareness about the situation they’re in, they’ll look at themselves and say, ‘I didn’t put forth acceptable effort.’ And again, they’re going to need the strength of character to put forth a stronger effort in the future.

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