Andrew Koob (@AndrewKoob)
Penn Quakers Season Primer
Coach: Jerome Allen, 4th season (39-43, .476)
Last Year: 20-13 (11-3 Ivy League), CBI Second Round (Butler, 63-53)
Key Losses: Zach Rosen (18.2 ppg, 5.2 apg), Tyler Bernardini (12.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Rob Belcore (7.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
The Quakers lose two of their most prolific scorers in Rosen (third in school history) and Bernardini (10th), who scored a combined 3,179 points over the last four years. Rosen also leaves Penn as the program’s leader in assists, games started and minutes played. Bernardini was a threat from beyond the arc, placing sixth in 3-pointers made (199) and fourth in 3-pointers attempted (542) for an average of 36.7% from three. Belcore finished last season with the fifth-most steals in a season (58).
New Faces: Tony Hicks (South Holland, Ill./St. Rita), Jamal Lewis (Springdale, Md./Sidwell Friends), Julien Harrell (Los Angeles, Ca./Loyola), Darien Nelson-Henry (Kirkland, Wash./Lake Washington)
The Quakers bring in four freshmen that could contribute right away, especially in 6-foot-2, 170 pound guard Hicks and 6-foot-11, 265 pound center Nelson-Henry. Hicks did well in Penn’s scrimmage and Nelson-Henry has dropped at least 20 pounds since the start of the Delco Pro-Am over the summer. Lewis, who sat out Penn’s Red & Blue scrimmage, could be the future at point guard while Harrell is an extremely athletic 6-6 forward who could get on the floor this year for his defensive ability alone.
(Young Quakers: for more on Penn’s youth, read Andrew Koob’s feature story, with quotes from Jerome Allen)
Starting Backcourt: Miles Cartwright (10.8 ppg, 2.1 apg), Steve Rennard (3.7 ppg, 0.9 apg), Dau Jok (0.5 ppg, 0.4 rpg)
Cartwright returns as the Quakers’ leading scorer on a team that will miss the impact the seniors brought on and off the court last year. With Rosen and Bernardini graduating, the junior guard will be looked upon to lead this young team that doesn’t have a senior on scholarship. The 6-foot-3, 175 pound junior only contributed 5 points in the Red vs. Blue scrimmage, but was one of the few bright spots on the defensive end for the Quakers.
Rennard is a 3-point specialist on a team that features a lot of players that can shoot from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-2, 175 pound junior shot 38.3% from long range after missing the start of the season with a torn ligament in his non-shooting hand. With the absence of Rosen, Rennard will look to contribute as both a point and shooting guard.
Jok impressed with his 3-point accuracy in the Red & Blue scrimmage, draining six from deep for all of his game-high 18 points while leading the Blue team. He has improved drastically in that area, after only hitting 1-of-8 (12.5 percent) from beyond in limited minutes last year. The 6-foot-4, 180 pound guard could easily see the same role that Rennard saw last year, waiting for drive-and-kicks to find him wide open on the perimeter.
Both Jok and Cartwright (along with Dougherty) were named co-captains earlier and will be looked upon to carry this team to a second consecutive winning season, the first streak since former Quaker and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy did it with five straight winning seasons in his final five years at the Palestra.
Starting Frontcourt: Fran Dougherty (4.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg), Henry Brooks (4.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
When you have so many shooters, it’s nice to have someone who can not only get high percentage shots in the low post, but can set up the shooters nicely. Dougherty can do both, shooting 49.2 percent from the field. The 6-foot-8, 225 pound junior and co-captain is the returning rebound leader for the Quakers, who didn’t have a player average over five rebounds per game last year.
Brooks, while starting 24 games last year, will get a chance to prove himself and bump his scoring average now that Rosen and Bernardini have departed. The 6-foot-8, 215 pound sophomore shot 43 percent from the field last year. Even though he started in those 24 games (and saw action in all but one), Brooks did not make a big impact on the stat sheet as he recovered from an injured ACL, but that could easily change with another year of experience under his belt.
Bench: Nelson-Henry, Hicks, Lewis, Cameron Gunter (0.9 ppg, 0.4 rpg) , Simeon Esprit (0.4 ppg, 0.2 apg), Patrick Lucas-Perry (0.3 ppg, 0.1 apg), Camryn Crocker (0.7 ppg, 0.7 apg), Greg Louis (missed last season with “femoroacetabular impingement”)
While some of the new faces for the Quakers can step in right away and contribute, Penn will have plenty of young guards that can light a spark off the bench. None of these guys made a big impact scoring the ball last year, but through the summer and the brief amount of practices, they’ve certainly taken a step forward. Lucas-Perry is an interesting piece, a 5-foot-11, 165 pound sophomore guard that can shoot and simply outrun his defenders. The speedy guard scored 12 points off of four 3-pointers in the Red vs. Blue Scrimmage.
Louis, who has yet to see any game action for the Quakers, is finally healthy and ready to contribute in his sophomore season. The 6-foot-7, 215 pound forward, according to Jok, is completely healthy and looking to make a big impact for Penn this season. If the work Louis has put in during the summer pays off throughout the season and he continues to stay healthy, he’ll enjoy being the first guy off the bench for the Quakers.
Three Games to Watch: vs. Drexel (11/17), @ Princeton (1/12), @ Harvard (2/15)
Drexel, right across from Penn’s campus, presents an early-season challenge that will give the Quakers a good indication of where they stand in terms of the City 6 in a rivalry that renews after taking a season off last year. Penn gets a crack at their biggest rivals and the team that knocked them out of contention for the Ivy League Crown in the final game last year when they head to Jadwin Gym to play the first of two games against the league-favorite Tigers in early January. Harvard, last year’s Ivy League champs, still present a challenge, even with the suspensions of star players Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry.
Keys to Success:
1. Replacing Legends: Rosen and Bernardini were two big reasons the Quakers were so successful last year in getting the first winning record since the 2006-2007 campaign where they went 22-9 in former coach Glen Miller‘s first year. Co-captains Cartwright, Jok, and Dougherty will be looked upon to steady the ship and start a new streak and a new era in Penn basketball.
2. 3-point Shooting: Penn shot the lights out in their scrimmage, hitting an overall 14 3-pointers in two 10 minute halves. Cartwright shot 34.8 percent from beyond the arc last year and Jok displayed his shooting ability all summer at the Delco Pro-Am. If the Quakers can shoot the ball from deep with consistency, they may not have to rely on their defense every game.
3. Defense: On the other side, the Quakers gave up 14 3-pointers and almost 80 overall points in their scrimmage. Allen was not at all pleased with his team after that showing, saying that they had a lot of work to do in such little time. For a 3-point shooting team, not everything will fall, and on days when nothing will hit (and that will happen at some point in the season), Penn will have to rely on its defense to weather the storm.
Oct. 27: Slimmer Nelson-Henry impresses at Penn scrimmage
Aug. 9: Cartwright to be a critical piece for Quakers
Jul. 21: The unlikely Quaker: Tony Hicks prepares for Penn
Jul. 18: Penn finally has a center in Darien Nelson-Henry
Jul. 16: Penn’s Greg Louis at the end of road to recovery
Jul. 10: Penn’s Rennard poised for breakout season
Jul. 3: Young Quakers have chance to make impression
CoBL Division I 2012-13 Season Primers: | Drexel Dragons | Delaware Blue Hens | La Salle Explorers | Lafayette Leopards | Lehigh Mountain Hawks | Penn State Nittany Lions | Penn Quakers | St. Joseph’s Hawks | Temple Owls | Villanova Wildcats |