Mano-a-Mano: Who should be steering the ship for Penn basketball?

ManoAMano11-1In this week’s Mano-a-Mano, basketball writer John Phillips and Senior Sports Editor-elect Mike Tony debate who should take the reins at point guard for the Quakers.

John Phillips: I think that, as long as this team still wishes to compete in the Ivy League this season, Miles Cartwright should be the team’s point guard. In coach Allen’s mind, it seems as though the main choice is between Cartwright and Jamal Lewis, and Cartwright needs to be given the chance to be the leader that this team so severely needs.
He’s not a true point guard, no, but he does know the other Ivy teams better than any freshman (obviously), and so he gives the team the best shot. I’d spell him with Crocker, who has shown an ability to be a good point guard, but lacks the other attributes needed to be a consistent player.

Mike Tony: Why not try Tony Hicks at the point? Hicks is averaging 2.14 turnovers per game to Cartwright’s 3.36, and Hicks’ ballhandling has looked better as of late. Princeton coach Mitch Henderson was right when he complimented his ability to drive left after the Quakers’ loss to the Tigers.

Without a go-to offensive big man at the moment, Penn needs aggressiveness at point guard. It shouldn’t be his position alone, but give the keys to the guy who’s driving things right now.

JP: If we’re going to talk about aggressiveness, then Cartwright is still your guy. Opponents are shooting five more free throws per game than the Quakers, and when the team is losing games by close margins, those five shots add up.
While Hicks has been better of late, he’s still only gotten to the line 20 times this season. Cartwright is the most aggressive player on the team, having gotten to the line 81 times. In addition, he’s shooting 84 percent from the stripe, the second-highest percentage on the team.
Since the assist-to-turnover ratios of both players are basically equal, being able to produce in any way possible becomes of the utmost importance, and if that’s the case, then it has to be Cartwright.

MT: First of all, Hicks wasn’t the guard who attempted just seven field goals at Princeton. Cartwright was. But it’s not just about aggressiveness. It’s about position fluidity.
Miles came in to this season ready to take over the point. Cartwright’s dad told me before the season started that blossoming into a complete point guard was the development he wanted to see the most from his son this season.

That hasn’t quite materialized, and it’s time to give Hicks a shot at the wheel. Maybe Miles will step up his aggressiveness even more as the team’s primary wing option, because he’s clearly still the Quakers’ most valuable offensive asset at this time. I would agree that we need to see more court time for Crocker as well.

JP: Hicks showed that he can get to the basket against Princeton on a night when shots weren’t falling for Cartwright. But I can’t help but think that Hicks plays best when he’s able to focus on scoring rather than also needing to worry about distributing.

MT: It’s the freshman factor that works in Hicks’ favor in terms of who should be starting at the point. Hicks needs his freshman confidence bolstered right now. He spoke of nerves and playing tentatively on the team’s behalf after the Princeton game, which suggests he could benefit from a starting role and greater offensive control, which he’s increasingly earning. Put the ball in his hands at the start of every possession so he can blossom into Penn’s playmaker for years to come. Hicks can still run the point on Cartwright’s team.

Verdict: Even though Hicks will surely become a great player in years to come, this one goes to John. This season, from the outset, belonged to Cartwright, and the season hinged on his ability to produce. Until the season is officially in the tubes, Cartwright has to be the one steering the ship.

2 thoughts on “Mano-a-Mano: Who should be steering the ship for Penn basketball?

  1. Unfortunately Cartwright and Hicks are in the same boat. John had it right when he said that Hicks is best when he can focus on scoring, rather than distributing the ball, but the same applies to Miles too.

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