Andrew Koob (@AndrewKoob)
Due to a violation of team rules, the Penn Quakers were missing four of their five top scorers in Friday night’s game against Delaware. Only able to play seven players, the Quakers were forced to give plenty of minutes to players not used to getting a lot of time on the floor. That’s when Penn forward Greg Louis stepped up for his team.
In a 83-60 loss to the Blue Hens, the Quakers went with a much different look, giving Louis and guards Camryn Crocker and Dau Jok the start. Miles Cartwright, Henry Brooks, Steve Rennard, Tony Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry, who have started a combined 28 games and averaged a combined 31.4 points this season, all sat out due to a violation of team rules.
No one benefited more from the starting lineup change than Louis, who before Friday’s game averaged 3.3 points in 10 minutes. With previous career highs of eight points and three rebounds, the sophomore forward scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the first half alone. Louis finished the game with his first career double-double, scoring 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting, and grabbing 11 rebounds.
“Coach gave me an opportunity to play, I just wanted to go out and help us get a win and perform, as simple as that,” Louis said. “Before the game, I was extremely happy because I knew I would have an opportunity to play after sitting out the entire year last year. I was in a good place, but I just wish we could’ve gotten the win, that would’ve made it better.”
“At halftime, one of my assistants pointed out that, whatever his numbers were, he almost surpassed what he had total for the year,” Delaware coach Monté Ross said. “That’s what you worry about when guys get an opportunity to step up and they play free and I thought he was terrific tonight, he really drove us in the first half and got layups and that sort of thing. I thought we did a much better job on him in the second half because we had a better feel for what he could do and that sort of thing, but I thought he was terrific in the first half.”
The new-look Quakers started off hot, opening the game with a 14-4 run that spanned the game’s first six minutes before the first sub, guard Patrick Lucas-Perry, came in for Louis. Forward Fran Dougherty led the charge for Penn, scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds during the stretch. Dougherty finished the game with 18 points off of 8-of-14 shooting (57.1 percent) and nine rebounds.
The hot start didn’t last long, as the Blue Hens went on a run of 11-2 in the first half and 18-6 to start off the second half to pull away from the short-handed Quakers.
“I guess we felt a little more tired in the second half,” Dougherty sad. “The first half, we came out strong and in the second half, we didn’t have the first step that we had in the first half, though I don’t think that was the case. It comes down to focus on defense and, when teams go on runs, you can’t keep letting that team push further and further, which has been troubling for us throughout the season.”
Along with Louis, who also set a career-high with 35 minutes, numerous Quakers had career-highs in minutes played due to the shortened roster. Lucas-Perry, with a previous high of 17 minutes, and Crocker, with a previous high of 27 minutes, were on the court for 20 minutes and 33 minutes, respectively.
Following the suspension of the five players, Penn coach Jerome Allen believes the shortened lineup had no effect on his team.
“No challenge,” Allen said. “We had a game plan and we expected to go out and execute it. It’s a team sport, so whether seven guys play or 15 guys play, I expect the guys to go out and impose their will on the opposing team.
“Right now, we’re just taking it one game at a time and we didn’t have it tonight.”