In their season opener against Robert Morris last Friday, Penn basketball took an early lead and never looked back, running away with a 67-50 win.
This Saturday, Penn will be facing a very different type of opponent as the Quakers (1-0) will fly down to Miami to take on the Hurricanes (2-0), one of the most highly touted ACC programs.
While Miami certainly has a bigger and more talented roster than any team in the Ivy League, the Quakers and their coaching staff are looking at this game as an opportunity to test their abilities against one of the nation’s best squads.
Despite the added excitement, the Red and Blue have spent the week preparing like they would for any other opponent. The know the Hurricanes have tremendous size and length, and do a fantastic job of pushing the pace of the game and getting to the foul line. The Quakers will have a lot to handle on the defensive end of the floor.
“It’s a great opportunity for everyone to play an ACC game, especially in their place. To go down there and play that type of opponent in their arena, I sense, has the guys excited. They’re locked in,” coach Steve Donahue said. “Miami makes you take a lot of tough shots because of their length, so our decision making at the rim has to be really good."
For freshman AJ Brodeur, the season opener was a bit of a surprise, even to himself. He finished the night with 23 points and 11 rebounds, becoming the first freshman in Penn history to have a double-double in a collegiate debut.
Brodeur knows that this weekend’s matchup with the Canes will be a much more difficult test.
“They’re really talented, really athletic, really long. They’re definitely going to be one of the best teams we play all year,” he said. “Having them as our second game of the year is a good way to set the tone for what we need to work on for the rest of the year. “
The freshman also looks at his debut performance as an expectation, not an anomaly, even in the Quakers’ toughest matchups.
“The first game really boost my confidence,” he said. “It’s easy for freshmen in their first game to have jitters or shakes but performing like I did, I set the bar for myself. I want that to be the baseline for what I do for the rest of the year. I want to have a double-double every game and I expect to have a double-double every game. And that’s my goal alongside winning every game. “
Along with belief in his own abilities, Brodeur is quite confident in his team’s ability to compete with the best. If the Quakers do find a way to upset the Canes on Saturday, Brodeur will not be the overly surprised.
“We know how talented and physical they are but I don’t think that it is going to affect the way we prepare or our mentality going into the game. For us it’s just another game. And like every other game, we expect to win. I think that if we play the way we do at Penn basketball, we have a really good chance.”
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