Defense may win championships, but you need offense to get there.
In the past few years, Penn men’s basketball has come to possess one of the most explosive offenses in the Ivy League under coach Steve Donahue. After consistently finding themselves in the top three in points per game, the Quakers are now the League’s leader in the category.
As the season began, the Red and Blue came in with an incoming class of five freshmen to fill the shoes of the outgoing class of six seniors — the likes of Antonio Woods and Max Rothschild. Nevertheless, the offensive strategy remained the same for Donahue and the Quakers.
“Our offensive goals are always the same. We want to take as good of a shot as we can get. It doesn’t matter if it takes five seconds, ten seconds, or 15 seconds, but the goal is to get a great shot,” Donahue said.
However, there’s much more to Donahue’s philosophy on shot selection than meets the eye.
“We try to get a layup or dunk. That’s the first thing always. If we can’t, we try to get fouled doing it. Our second objective is an in-rhythm three, standstill. If we don’t get one of those, we’ll try to get an offensive rebound and create those situations,” Donahue said.
But what about the mid-range jumper? For Donahue, it’s simple: stay away from them. Why?
“Well, they’re low percentage shots,” Donahue said.
Leading the way for the Red and Blue offensively is senior forward AJ Brodeur. As the backbone of Penn’s offense throughout his career, Brodeur has led the team in scoring three times. Additionally, he has led the Quakers in assists and field-goal percentage once. This season, the senior is on track to lead the team in these categories once again. Currently, Brodeur is fourth in the Ancient Eight in points per game with 17.2, second in assists per game with 4.5, and fourth in field-goal percentage at 50.7%.
While the Quakers have relied on its veterans for offensive production, the newcomers have proven to be just as essential to the offensive success. Freshman guard Jordan Dingle is not far behind Brodeur. In Dingle’s first season for Penn, the freshman standout is seventh in the Ivy League in points per game with 14.7 and sixth in field-goal percentage at 42.4%.
“I’ve been very pleased with the freshmen and what they bring to the offense, especially Jordan. He’s been able to do things that we haven’t had in a while in terms of getting to the rim and creating his own shot, “ Donahue said.
With such depth, it’s no wonder why the Red and Blue are so dangerous on offense. As there are four freshmen contributing valuable minutes and four players averaging double figures, Donahue cites the team’s versatility as their greatest strength.
At the halfway point of the season, the Quakers find themselves in the bottom half of the League defensively. If Penn hopes to make a late-season push, they will need to rely on their offense.
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