Game 15: Princeton — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Good Bad & Ugly

Penn had a rough start to the Ivy season with a 65-53 loss at Princeton. The Quakers (2-13) never found an offensive rhythm as they fell for the fourth straight time at Jadwin Gym. The Tigers (7-7) have now won seven of the last eight games against the Red and Blue.

THE GOOD: Tony Hicks getting more playing time. Though there was not much good to come out of this game, the freshman guard played a career-high 30 minutes against Princeton. Though there is still a lot of room for improvement in Hicks' game, he was the only player able to gain some momentum for the Quakers. He scored a career-high and team-high 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half. His continuous improvement is something Penn fans can be excited about.

THE BAD: Miles Cartwright's shooting. The junior captain had just six points against the Tigers, as he went 1-for-7 from the floor. As Princeton extended its lead in the second half, Cartwright tried to do too much on his own and took some bad shots. This is the second consecutive game in which Cartwright hasn't hit double digits.

THE UGLY: Penn's perimeter defense. Princeton shot 11-for-22 from beyond the arc behind junior guard T.J. Bray's six threes. The Tigers' quick ball movement had the Red and Blue chasing and time and time again, Princeton players were wide open on the perimeter. Bray led all scorers with 23 points, and the Tigers are now 5-0 when he reaches double-digits.

16 thoughts on “Game 15: Princeton — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

  1. Would it have hurt to switch to a man to man defense on occasion? Sure looked like we were a lot quicker than the Tigers (if not bigger). It might have negated at least some of those wide open threes that Princeton kept hitting. Just asking...

  2. The ugly: Coach Allen. The team came out completely flat in a big game. And then after halftime, they came out flatter! His rotations make zero sense, we don't close out threes, and the team shows no energy or poise.

    Defended Jerome a lot last year and think he's done a nice job recruiting, but at some point it comes time to execute.

  3. Hey, I hate the losing too but give the guy a break. He's lost 2 assistants, the league MVP, 3 seniors, and now has a glorified high school team of mostly freshman and a leading scorer out with mono. He didn't win last year just because Zach went nuts on the league. It is extremely difficult to get Freshman players to buy into any collegiate level program. The only guy who I think is really successful at it is John Calipari but his overall talent level is much higher. I agree Allen has his shortcomings as do we all but think about it, would any other coach win with this team?

  4. Once again - its unimpressive, unispired, and unacceptable.
    Sure Hicks looks like he can play but every game the others make mistakes on both ends, there is no discipline, and there is no defensive transition

    Everyone defended Allen in December -- saying he needs to find the right combinations. Its not working.

    He seems vastly overmatched.

  5. Permit the oft used metaphor of checking the wake to determine where a vessel is heading:

    1) The much-respected coach of the program's "crown jewel" team - and the Ivy's top BB program - is rumored to have been forced out over money and or personal issues, taking his staff with him.
    2) Against warnings not to, the AD unilaterally hires a rival (Brown) coach, with little if any consideration for another rival (Cornell) coach, who as assistant at Penn contributed to its then current success. The Cornell coach proceeds to win 3 straight Ivy titles prior to moving on.
    3) Within 4 years the former Brown coach manages to break the program to pieces; and the AD fires him in mid-season - a highly unusual move both at Penn and the Ivies. The AD states this extraordinary measure was taken as BB has a special place within the Penn athletic program and in the hearts of the Penn community.
    4) The AD's solution is to appoint a volunteer assistant coach - and beloved former Penn great, but with no coaching experience - as "acting head coach" while a search would be taken for the real deal. At the time that move was labeled a cynical "strategic distraction" to fend off his own critics.
    5a) It was pointed out the AD had already in effect hired the permanent head coach, as he would have little choice passing over the Penn great. No evidence of a search was ever seen, and the acting coach with no coaching experience, was named head coach at a heralded event.
    5b) During the event the AD promised this coach would soon restore the program to its rightful glory. Penn fans speculated whether "soon" would be 1 year, 1 recruiting class, 3 years etc.
    6) Meanwhile, Zack Rosen (the former Brown coach's recruit) kept Penn in a modest upward trajectory, and solidified his own position as an all-time Penn great by leading a mediocre team to a run at the Ivy title.
    7) In year 3 1/2, and during a period in which recruiting losses to Harvard in particular were highlighted, we were finally informed Penn had recruited the best Ivy class, and the 2nd best class the previous year. Regrettably, evidence on court of such has been sparse, and amid a 2-11 season it's mostly in the eye of the beholder.
    8) The coach has turned out not to be a coaching prodigy, is facing criticism, and patience is requested as he is on his own learning curve; lost his entire staff during the past off-season; has a very young team with no seniors; and one of its better players is out with mono. All true; but after 3 1/2 years Penn BB is little closer to restoration to former glory then it was 3 1/2 years ago.
    9) Meanwhile Princeton has won 1 Ivy title, is competing for another, Harvard has the top program, and Columbia & Cornell have markedly improved (and power ranking wise rank higher than Penn).
    10) Accountability: In the live blog post it was offered that I'm giving JA a pass that I never gave Miller. True! Miller broke the program; JA is trying to rebuild it, a much tougher task. JA was naive in believing he was up to the job without any prior coaching experience, and is now getting OJT. He does have the responsibility to "step up".
    11) Charitably speaking, the team and program remain a work in progress; but to what objective?

    @Ted & @Mark I respectfully point out that on the emotion spectrum sadness is well beyond anger and frustration. It is sadness I feel for this program, much as I've come to feel sadness for Penn rowing, squash, swimming, wrestling, tennis, fencing et al. We show up, win a few against lesser opponents, and once in a very long while pull off an upset. But in general Penn teams are largely irrelevant! All that said, I don't begrudge the hopeful.

  6. EN nails it with his timelline. This is completely unacceptable. The spiral can be blamed on the Bronzed One but at the same time.......

    What was his risk by elevating Allen?
    *Former star player coming to the rescue
    *Removing the devisive Miller
    *KEY POINT > Promoting Allen at a bargain basement cost
    *If Allen succeeds, he gets a raise from peanuts to standard
    *If Allen fails, the program was already set back due to Miller and there was a cost savings during the down years

    Believe me, I am not the least bit sympathetic to Allen - he is NOT the right man for the challenge. But he should not have been put in that spot by the BronzedOne. But the move to elevate Allen could be viewed as a shrewd move for the reasons above.

  7. Ernie,
    Spoken from the heart, as always. Speaking for the BB program only, again I say we should reassess at the end of this season, as far as the program's direction and JA's coaching.

    If you get a chance, review the 1991-92 BB season (Jerome's freshman year) for possible optimism for the future. There are many similarities (excluding the absence of a legit point guard), right down to the scheduling, logisitics and result of the 1st Princeton game, although on an admittedly somewhat smaller scale.

  8. FOJL - Is the commitment ($$$ for assistant coaches, support, recruiting budgets, and other factors for any successful program) still there? Or is there too much hope for success being built on the cheap?

    Ted - I don't have granular detail for addressing the '91-'92 season. What I do know is that back then the two Ps represented Ivy BB, and the other six largely just showed up. Today Harvard is the indisputable lead program, followed by daylight and then Princeton, Columbia, and Cornell/Yale in that order. Penn's is likely above Brown and Dartmouth's programs.

    JA faces a far tougher challenge than Fran Dunphy had back then, albeit with less preparation and experience. So sure, wait for season's end to assess the BB program; as already stated, I don't begrudge anyone doing so. As for scheduling, Doc's mono, point guard etc., these IMO are small issues. Who does the point guard dish to who can shoot 3s? Where's the defense and teamwork. BTW - While being in not-begrudging mode, I also don't begrudge the 2-11 record; I do fault the manner of those 11 Ls.

  9. well, actually it's 2-13 now. And yes, it's not 1992, but Dunphy's 1st 2 teams were pretty gruesome.
    But I'm not sure the parts aren't there for this team to build on. My problem with JA is his adjustments on the fly (or lack thereof). It looks like he can recruit.

  10. There is a lot I like about Jerome as the head coach, and I would not entertain the thought of making a change this season or next. He has represented the program well publicly and, it appears, to top recruits.

    But the results this year have not been acceptable. And the Princeton game was a touchstone of several things that are not working. I will not say the players gave any thing less than a strong effort; the problem for the team was strategic. That was one of the poorest gameplans I've seen against Princeton. Zone defense? Pin-downs on the ball handler? These are cardinal mistakes against the Princeton system, and Mitch Henderson's team exploited them masterfully. Princeton did what Princeton does. The Penn staff must have expected a surprise, for whatever reason.

    It appears the assistant coach turnover has impacted the game preparation. Not having experienced players certainly doesn't help either. Bottom line is this is a 2-13 collection of parts that does not know how to fit together. (... that turns the ball over constantly. ... that loses focus on offensive possessions. ... that is undisciplined defensively and gives away games by letting the opposition feast at the free-throw line.) If this ever becomes an actual basketball team, no doubt the talent is there to be competitive. These players could compete to win the Ivy League next year. If Jerome is a great coach -- the right coach for Penn -- they will.

  11. Ernie
    Here is my attempt at capturing the backstory around the funding.
    And the backstory behind the backstory
    From what I am hearing, the funding is not there.

    Example

    Look at Danny Leibowitz.
    He was brought in to "help Allen" with the X+Os -- after all he had prior D1 experience . When given the chance to go to the NBA, he jumped. Wasn’t even a question.

    Of course, this is not a Penn problem only. Sidney Johnson left Princeton for better $$$$$ at Fairfield

    The ADs can blow all the smoke up our asses about endowments and the "John L. Rockwell Head Coach" crap (as Seltzer says ad nauseum) -- the salaries are NOT where they need to be.

    The only way they get there: Cut other programs.

    Its a vicious cycle.

    To Penn’s credit, we have avoided this trap. But given the competing needs for dollars…..that day might come soon enough.

    So perhaps funding also validates the AD's decision to promote Allen a few years back....

  12. JS 10:06 post neatly exposes the current sentiments and dilemma of Penn BB:

    1) One view holds that JA has recruited a talented crop of recruits the past two years.
    2) Another view holds that JA is the right coach for Penn BB.

    With a 2-13 record both views appear contradictory and can't coexist. So either the recruits or JA are not as good as advertised! That said, I'm with JS and don't favor a coaching change for his and other reasons - including the financial considerations pointed out above by FOJL.

    A gratuitous observation re coaching, and tip of the hat to Princeton: Since Carrill, they've managed to transition within the Princeton family smoothly and successfully. Even when Joe Scott proved a disaster, they transitioned out relatively smoothly, and Sydney Johnson came in and won a Ivy title before moving on.

    Mitch Henderson has taken over and could conceivably win a title this year. But note: a) All (Carmody, Thompson, Scott, Johnson, and Henderson) were experienced prior to taking on the Princeton head coach role, including having been assistant coaches at their alma mater. Clearly this is part of their designed approach, which eliminates having to make it up and temporize as events dictate. Not rocket science!

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