It’s not always a bad thing if you play yourself.
On Saturday, both Penn basketball programs offered a glimpse into their state of affairs with the annual Red and Blue Scrimmages at the Palestra. The pair of intrasquad scrimmages offered a tuneup with the start of the seasons just three weeks away.
Beginning with the women’s side, fans got a chance to see a squad returning all five starters — and it was the starters who controlled the day. Junior guard Lauren Whitlatch and senior forward Sydney Stipanovich logged 12 points apiece — Whitlatch all from range.
But it was a rookie who led the way as Phoebe Sterba scored a game-high 13 points for the Blue squad, getting sharing a team with all of last season’s starters as the Blues walked away with a 63-42 win.
“Phoebe can spread the floor. ... She’s not afraid to shoot the ball, she can pull up and shoot it, she’s really progressed,” women’s coach Mike McLaughlin said.
As the Quakers come in to 2016 the likely favorite when the Ivy League preseason media poll comes out, the integration of the squad’s newcomers — like Sterba and center Emily Anderson — could well be the difference in living up to those expectations with so many known quantities returning to the roster.
Sophomore Ashley Russell led scoring for the Red squad, putting up 10 points in the second half as McLaughlin confirmed her spot among the team’s top tier.
“She’s going to be in our rotation,” McLaughlin said. “She finds her way to the ball, she looks really good and practices really well.”
For the men, freshman Devon Goodman made an early impact with the Blue squad, scoring 11 of his squad’s first 20 points. Goodman’s performance coupled with junior transfer Caleb Wood to propel the Blues to an 87-85 win, scoring 19 points to go along with a game-high 30 from Wood.
“It’s almost like the moment doesn’t bother [Wood] at all,” men’s coach Steve Donahue said. “He just plays basketball — he’s one of those kids that just enjoys it.”
With Coach Steve Donahue splitting his returners between the two squads more than McLaughlin, play stayed relatively tight early until a long run by the Blues offered some separation before 19 second-half points for the Reds from sophomore Jake Silpe helped narrow things again. Leading the way for the Red squad was sophomore Jackson Donahue with 25 points.
Other than Silpe and Donahue, it was freshman Ryan Betley who produced the scoring for the Reds, putting up 16 points including a put-back that brought the game within two in the final 10 seconds.
“I think from starting two weeks ago until today, [Betley and Goodman] have made great progress,” Donahue said. “I think they both have great potential. ... Honestly, I’m seeing stuff a this point that I thought would take a couple months with how they both played.”
In his first pseudo-game since transferring to Penn, junior Matt MacDonald added 16 points for the Blue, including 10 at the line.
The women will open up the year on the road at Duke on Nov. 13, two days after the men kick things off on the road against Robert Morris.
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