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Freshman guard Jake Silpe has been thrust directly into the spotlight for men’s basketball, starting all six games so far. He will look to improve on his three assists and four points per contest.

Credit: Thomas Munson , Thomas Munson

With finals fast approaching, many Penn students are already hoping for some late-semester academic fireworks to salvage their GPAs. But we aren’t the only ones on campus with something to prove. Only a handful of competitions remain for Penn’s winter sports teams before the semester wraps up, and there’s a lot of unfinished business to take care of before Dec. 19 rolls around. So who has the most to prove before winter break?

Sports Editor Laine Higgins: From a sheer scheduling standpoint, the 18 days between now and the end of finals are imperative for women’s basketball. The Quakers are slated to face just three teams — Navy, Saint Joseph’s and 33rd Street rival Drexel. And while securing a win over Saint Joe’s is undoubtedly the most important task for Penn given the Big 5 implications the game carries, all three games matter.

Why? Because after the Quakers return from their romp in Hawaiian paradise at the beginning of the new year, every single game matters. From Jan. 9 to the end of the team’s regular season schedule in March, there are no easy opponents, as every team hails from either the Big 5 or the Ancient Eight. That means the easiest time to add tallies to the win column is now, before the opponents get fiercer and the conference standing reverberations from either a Red and Blue win or loss grow stronger.

Sports Editor-elect Tom Nowlan: I’m gonna answer with two players: men’s basketball freshmen Jake Silpe and Jackson Donahue.

Donahue and Silpe were the two crown jewels of the highly touted 2019 recruiting class and were expected to make a major impact right away in University City. So far, at least from a statistical standpoint, the two have disappointed: Silpe, despite starting all six games to this point and averaging the fifth-most minutes on the team, is averaging only four points per game. And, what’s more concerning, the Cherry Hill, N.J., native is notching only three assists per game despite being expected to play the role of the team’s go-to distributor.

Donahue, meanwhile, has been a total non-factor; he’s only played 20 total minutes this season, chipping in meager 1.2 points per contest.

To be sure, the men’s hoops squad has had a quite impressive 4-2 start to this season. If Silpe and Donahue can come into their own over the next month, the team will be quite formidable going into Ivy play.

Sports Editor-elect Tommy Rothman: I’d say that Penn wrestling has the most to prove in the final days of 2015. The Red and Blue will be heading to Penn State to participate in the Nittany Lion Open this Sunday. The Quakers are off to a good start this season and performed well in their home gym recently at the Keystone Classic.

Lorenzo Thomas and C.J. Cobb have been excellent individually, but they’ll face some of the nation’s top wrestlers in their respective weight classes. May Bethea came out of seemingly nowhere to win a title in the Keystone — can he follow it up this week? Penn State has the No. 2 team in the country right now, and the rest of the field should boast some impressive teams as well, so the entire Penn team should be in for a tough test to end the semester.

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