Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
In the runup to the 2012-13 Penn basketball season, it was well-known that a number of inexperienced, younger players were going to have to make some fairly significant contributions if the Quakers were going to make a push at the Ivy title.
Often referenced was freshman guard Tony Hicks, a Chicago native whose ball skills and scoring ability had him starting in his Quaker debut on Friday night against Maryland-Baltimore County. Junior guards Dau Jok and Steve Rennard were also sure to see a large increase in minutes, as was sophomore forward Henry Brooks.
Almost nobody mentioned Patrick Lucas-Perry, who played just 28 minutes last year, scoring a total of four points and never seeing more than five minutes in a game his entire freshman season.
Lucas-Perry opened a lot of eyes around the Palestra in the Quakers’ 80-75 win over the Retrievers, playing 17 minutes and scoring 15 points but more importantly serving as a big defensive spark off the bench.
“If not for him I’m not sure we would have been victorious tonight,” Penn coach Jerome Allen said afterwards. “The one thing that I appreciate is that when his number was called, he was ready.”
By the time Lucas-Perry entered the game, with six minutes remaining in the first half, the Quakers had already dug themselves a 38-20 hole, a lead that would grow to 42-20 with 5:08 to play before halftime.
He started with a pair of free-throws, and followed that up with a steal and a 3-pointer. Then another steal, leading to a Darien Nelson-Henry layup, and a third that ended in a pair of Camryn Crocker free-throws. After a pair of Retriever buckets, it was Lucas-Perry with a 3-pointer and jumper, cutting that 22-point gap to a 14-point deficit at halftime.
“He brings a lot of energy off the bench, he’s really fast, has a lot of speed and a lot of athleticism, and he can shoot the ball as well as anybody,” junior Miles Cartwright told CoBL after the game. “Patrick’s one of my closest friends on the team so we talk about this all the time, and he’s a very confident kid…I knew he had a great fall and I knew he was gonna come out here and really show out.”
Lucas-Perry continued his hot play in the second half, picking up another steal (giving him five for the game) and hitting two late layups as Penn held off UMBC. While the 15 points were second on the team only to Cartwright’s 21, he told CoBL that he was more proud of his work on the other end of the court.
“Because of the game, I think the five steals and the one charge,” he said, “because that’s what we’re about–making stops on defense–and that translated to offense.”
A speedy guard more thought of for his quickness and ball-handling than his sharpshooting ability, Lucas-Perry had opened some eyes with four 3-pointers in Penn’s Red & Blue scrimmage last week. Jok and Rennard were expected to be the Quaker’s main threats from 3-point range this season, but that thinking might have changed in a lot of fans minds after opening night.
“If you come to any of our practices, the one player who’s making the most shots, it’s Pat,” Cartwright said. “Pat is really hard to guard because he’s quick, you gotta play his drive honestly, but he can really shoot the ball which makes him a great threat.”