Prior to Sidney Crosby's first game back in the NHL after almost a year out, Penguins enforcer Steve MacIntyre said, "My job is to make sure [Crosby's] transition back to hockey goes smoothly." Translation: "Anybody who messes with him will be looking at me from his back on the next shift." Crosby is the superstar, the franchise player, and MacIntyre has made it his mission to protect the most important player on the team.
Seeing as how Justin Reilly was already referring to Zack Rosen as "the franchise" when Rosen was a senior in high school, I don't think the Crosby/Rosen comparison is too much of a stretch. The problem for Penn in the loss to Wagner was that nobody assumed the role of Steve MacIntyre. Coach Hurley obviously knows what a tremendous player Rosen is and wanted to make things as tough as possible on him. Wagner doubled him in the back court to make somebody else bring the ball up. They doubled him in the front court to make him give it up. They pestered him all night, leading to two frustration offensive fouls.
Despite managing 23 points on the night, Rosen got nothing easy. All of his made shots were heavily contested. Since heavy pressure on Rosen will likely become a common theme this year, the Quakers need to find ways to protect him and make things easier on him. One way to do this is to try to catch his defender with a transition ball screen. Running into Rob Belcore at full speed would surely make any guard keep one eye over his shoulder the next time he is guarding Rosen in the back court.
The other solution is to keep teams honest by really looking hard for the screener any time Zack is involved in an action. Whether he is the recipient of an on- or off-ball screen, Rosen is likely to attract the attention of both defenders. That means whoever set the screen will be open for a moment. As teams key more and more on Zack, it will be interesting to see if the supporting cast can step up and convert the opportunities that will be presented to them.