Roundtable: Who should be Penn’s starting point guard in 2013-14?

In this week’s roundtable discussion, our editors ask who should be Penn basketball’s starting point guard in 2013-14:

Associate Sports Editor Steven Tydings: This one is tough. While Tony Bagtas told me he is going to “run the team” next year, I think this is a two-man race between Miles Cartwright and Tony Hicks. When Cartwright was running the point effectively, the team played some of its best basketball, and I’d have to think that coach Allen will give the soon-to-be senior the first opportunity to win the job.

That being said, Penn’s best player in the second half of the season was clearly Tony Hicks. His performances at Cornell and at home against Harvard showed he has the potential to be one of the next great point guards in Penn history. But at the same time, I don’t think he should be the point guard to start the year. Cartwright should be given the chance at point guard to start the year. He may not stick. And that’s why it’s important that Hicks is there.

Former Sports Editor Mike Wisniewski: Jerome Allen needs to put the guy there who runs the offense best. My guess is that guy will end up being Miles, at least in the beginning of the year. But if they start the Ivy season and begin losing games, and at that point it becomes clear to the team (because it will probably already be clear to everyone else) that Penn will not win the Ivy League, it will be time to once again look to the future, something Miles will not be a part of.

In that situation, why not give Hicks or Bagtas the bulk of the work to better develop the team for 2014-15? Realistically, Penn won’t be in it next year, but with the young crop of guys they have — if developed properly — they could be in contention the year after next.

Associate Sports Editor John Phillips: I think we’re forgetting about Cam Crocker, who started every game going down the stretch at the point. He had the highest assist to turnover ratio on the team and showed the true passing skills that Cartwright and Hicks don’t naturally have.

But the reason that he should run point over Cartwright or Hicks is really due to what Cartwright and Hicks can do when they are not running the point.

Hicks thrived when he moved without the ball, and Cartwright performed better during the season when he could ease into a contest. When he has the ball in his hands from the opening tip, he tries to do things too quickly. What started to work as the season progressed is that three-guard lineup, with Cartwright, Crocker and Hicks all out on the floor at once. If Cartwright started heating up, then he would start taking the ball up as the game went along.

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Three Up, Three Down: Yale Edition

Three Up Three DownThe past week has been full of ups and downs for the Quakers - an upset win over Columbia to a disappointing defeat to Cornell to the reemergence of Miles Cartwright to the likely season-ending injury to Fran Doughterty. Here are some predictions for the ups and downs likely to happen when Penn takes on the Yale Bulldogs on Friday at the Palestra:

Three Up-

Jerome Allen: If there was ever a time for coach Allen to step up, this weekend is it. Allen has been criticized often this season for his team’s lack of discipline and costly mistakes, but he has the chance to prove his doubters wrong if he can pull off a victory or two this weekend without Fran Dougherty and Steve Rennard.

Patrick Lucas-Perry: Over the season, the diminutive sophomore guard has slowly but surely made his claim to be a more integral piece in coach Allen’s plans. The Penn offense needs a spark from somewhere, which is exactly what PLP can provide. His fantastic three-point shooting cannot be ignored, and PLP should at the very least be the Quakers’ first option off the bench.

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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.

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Over/Under – Wagner Edition

OverUnderOur second Over/Under focuses on Penn's battle with Wagner. Who's over and who's under?

15 bench points for Penn – Over
Penn has had fewer that 15 points from its bench just three times this season. But Penn's 83-60 loss at Delaware marked the lowest total of the season with just nine. This was due to the fact that Penn lacked three starters and dressed just seven players. The key to bench contribution will be based on how many players are back in uniform. If all three of the suspended starters return, Jamal Lewis, Dau Jok, and Camryn Crocker can move back to the bench where they provide a combined 10.3 points per game. Freshman Tony Hicks, averaging another 5.1 points per contest, would be an important addition to the bench should he be allowed to return. Even if all the suspended players plus the injured Simeon Esprit are again unable to play, Penn needs more of a contribution from the reserves in order to compete and improve upon its average of 62.2 points per game, good for 285th nationally.

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Layup Line: Quick hits on Penn basketball

Random observations, musings, opinions, etc. on Penn basketball...

  • I have to start this about Zack Rosen, don't I? He continues to amaze. The current numbers, as Kevin detailed in his column: 22.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 59.3% shooting, 65.4 percent from three (17 for 26). At the moment, he's statistically the best three-point shooter in the country.
  • The thing that I can't get over about Rosen's shooting thus far is that these haven't been wide-open, or even open, shots. Defenses are completely focused on him, yet he continues to launch from several feet behind the line, often with a hand in his face and/or the shot clock running down. In other words, the degree of difficulty is through the roof. But everything he does on the court, it seems like he's done a million times before -- probably because he has. So, as Kevin wrote, "the incredible look(s) routine."
  • Rob Belcore seems like he's in three places at once when he plays defense. No one works around ball screens better than him, and no one hustles more. Tyler Bernardini should take a lesson from Belcore when it comes to closing out on shooters, too...
  • The past two games have shown that Miles Cartwright may be the key to this season. Kevin and I have discussed multiple times that Cartwright brings a driving ability that no one else on the team has. When the offense breaks down, you need someone like Cartwright to get into the lane and possibly draw a foul. In Saturday's win over Robert Morris, Cartwright pulled off several baseline drives leading to acrobatic layups that just cannot be taught.
  • Coach Allen and several players hyped up big man Fran Dougherty as the breakout player from the preseason, but the first four games have shown that Dougherty is still learning. Offensively, 3.5 turnovers is way too high a number for a big. He needs to be more assertive when he catches the ball inside. Defensively, he's the rock in the middle that the Quakers need to challenge shots and close out possessions with rebounds, but he's been up-and-down in that respect so far. Obviously, he still has plenty of nonconference time to put everything together, and I think he will.
  • It's not only Dougherty that has room to grow. With the benefit of youth, the Quakers have significant upside that can be tapped into over the course of the grueling nonconference slate. Between Doc, Henry Brooks, Camryn Crocker and Marin Kukoc, I could see the inexperienced guys gaining confidence along the way and really breaking out by the time Ivy play rolls around. The potential of those four guys, to me, is one of the biggest factors working in Penn's favor.
  • Gotta love Dau Jok -- I've never seen a bench player with more energy. He always looks the most engaged in the game, always is the first to greet his teammates after timeouts, and always keeps guys loose and spirits high.
  • Final thought: Homecourt advantage is finally returning to the Palestra, however gradually. Saturday, I saw a group that really fed off the energy of the crowd and savored the comfort of their hallowed ground -- Belcore, Cartwright and senior big man Mike Howlett, in particular. Cartwright seemed to love every second of Saturday's home game, as he frequently waved his arms to pump of the crowd. Howlett, meanwhile, was Penn's enforcer, scrapping with Robert Morris players down low, and having crowd noise to support guys like that makes for an intimidating environment.

Layup Line: Quick hits on Penn basketball

Random observations, musings, opinions, etc. on Penn basketball...

  • One of the keys to tonight's Temple game will be reacting to the Owls' intense defense. Against UMBC, Penn's offense was efficient when it was able to slow things down and get into its sets. But when the Retrievers cut off passing lanes or forced players out of position, the Quakers struggled to improvise and find quality shots with the clock running down. Temple does that better than anyone Penn will face this season.
  • We definitely saw the "counters to counters to counters" that Temple assistant Shawn Trice informed Kevin about for his cover story on Jerome Allen's influences (READ IT IF YOU HAVEN'T YET; READ IT AGAIN IF YOU HAVE). Often, the point would dribble to one side and initially look for the wing cutting to the rim. If that wasn't there, the other wing would be coming off a screen on the other side. And even when that wing got the ball, the big underneath would either set a pick or cut to the hoop.
  • Zack Rosen did on the basketball court what Aaron Rodgers has done on the football field this season: unbreakable focus and nearly flawless execution. Even more impressive about his 26-point, 10-for-16, put-the-team-on-my-back performance? He turned the ball over just once, despite handling the ball for most of the time he was on the court -- using 23.5% of Penn's possessions, according to Quaker Ball.
  • Interpret it as you wish, but Penn outscored UMBC by 16 during the 21 minutes Rob Belcore was on the floor compared to +8 for Fran Dougherty and +6 for Mike Howlett. My take: at least against UMBC, which didn't have much size inside, Belcore was far and away the difference defensively.
  • As anticipated, Allen used a three-guard lineup featuring freshman Patrick Lucas-Perry alongside Rosen and Miles Cartwright. Over a five-minute, first-half stretch, the lineup was outscored by seven points. The group needs time to gel, but it could be the difference in a few games this season.
  • My No. 1 takeaway from Friday's opener was that Allen has the benefit of depth and versatility this season, which he didn't have last year. He will be able to adjust his team's style depending on the matchup, and can also try to force matchup problems himself. Mainly, playing Belcore or sophomore Marin Kukoc (who missed last season due to injury) at the 4 allows him to have a very mobile defense and forces opposing bigs to the perimeter on offense. Yet with Howlett, who was extremely solid and efficient at UMBC, and sophomore Cam Gunter, Allen can also go with a more traditional lineup if an opponents' size is a factor (like tonight against Temple and 6-10 center Michael Eric). Howlett and Kukoc will be vital to this effort, forming a quality bench along with freshman Camryn Crocker.

Positional Breakdown: Shooting Guard

In the days leading up to Friday's Penn basketball 2011-12 season opener at UMBC, the (newly redesigned) Buzz will break down how the Quakers are shaping up at each position. After taking a look at the floor general position yesterday, we predict what to expect out of the 2-guards.

THE PLAYERS: 

Sophomore Miles Cartwright is easily the most dynamic player in Penn's backcourt. He is extremely crafty and his ability to penetrate the lane and finish at the cup makes him a uniquely talented player on this roster. His ball-handling ability as a combo-guard also allows point guard Zack Rosen to play more off the ball, making life a little bit easier for the senior captain.

Sophomore Dau Jok: The 6-4 two-man came in last year with the label of three-point shooter, but he did not see much action (35 minutes total over 12 games played). We've been told he's put a lot of work in the gym to bulk up his lithe frame, but it remains to be seen where he'll figure into the rotation.

Freshman Simeon Esprit: The London native has great size for an Ivy League shooting guard at a lanky 6'6. His height and length could prove to be a major advantage on the defensive end. From the little we've seen of him, he appears to have a smooth game on the offensive end with the ability to shoot the ball from the outside and penetrate.

Freshman Cam Crocker: The 6'3 combo-guard was previewed in our point guard piece, but as Brian said, the scoring lefty will likely play off the ball at the 2 as someone who, like Cartwright, can handle the ball when needed.

THE MINUTES:

Cartwright, having started the team's last 19 games a year ago (33.8 minutes per game on the season) will get the lion's share of minutes at the 2. A guy like Esprit could see some time if Coach Jerome Allen wants to throw a bigger lineup out there (Then again, a small forward like Tyler Bernardini or Rob Belcore could also slide to the 2). The competition between all three not named Cartwright will come down to who can most effectively provide that inside-outside threat to complement Rosen.

OUTLOOK:

This will be one of the more dynamic positions Penn has, just because of the depth in the backcourt. The combination of Rosen-Cartwright will obviously be the most potent, but with the ability of guys like Crocker and Lucas-Perry to handle the rock, each of these four guys could conceivably shuffle between the 1 and 2 (although given Lucas-Perry's size, he's going to fit more as a point). Cartwright provides the Quakers with a penetrator who can draw contact and get to the FT line when Penn needs to stop the bleeding (his 100 FT attempts ranked 2nd on the team last year). His speed and quickness also makes him a threat to get in the passing lanes defensively.

 

 

Positional Breakdown: Point Guard

In the days leading up to Friday's Penn basketball 2011-12 season opener at UMBC, the (newly redesigned) Buzz will break down how the Quakers are shaping up at each position. Today, we start with the team's strongest spot: point guard.

THE PLAYERS:

Senior Zack Rosen, the only three-year captain in Penn basketball history, is the Quakers' engine. And when your coach is a former star point guard, you are going to be asked to do a lot. The 6'1 Rosen has shined individually the last two years, earning first-team All-Ivy honors in both after averaging a combined 16 points and 4.9 assists. He enters this season fourth among Penn's all-time assists leaders with 415. The challenge for the New Jersey native this year -- and for any point guard, for that matter -- will be to balance his explosive scoring ability with the need to set the table and distribute to his teammates. It's not just about the assist numbers, but about being a leader, being the smartest player on the court, and making sure all five players are in the right spot. Plus, we all know that the only stat that matters to Rosen and Allen is wins.

Sophomore Miles Cartwright has the potential to be even better than Rosen. As a freshman, "Meezo" made a huge splash (11.7 points, 3.0 assists per game) and became a mainstay in the Quakers' lineup, starting the last 19 games. While he qualifies as a combo guard, the 6'3 Cartwright's size is attractive at the point guard position. He will be asked to run the show when Rosen needs a rare rest and when Allen wants to give a different look, with Rosen off the ball. The jury is still out on whether Cartwright has the ability to handle point guard duties on offense, but he certainly has the potential to shut down opposing point guards on the defensive end.

Freshman Patrick Lucas-Perry appears to be a natural-born point guard based on scouting reports and the little we've seen of him at scrimmages so far. His high basketball IQ should allow him to learn the offense faster than most. The biggest challenge for the 5'11 speedster out of Michigan will be to use his quickness to his advantage without playing out of control.

Freshman Camryn Crocker could be the lefty version of Cartwright. But like Cartwright, he will likely be asked to play off the ball during his freshman season.

THE MINUTES:

Rosen has ridiculous endurance, and Cartwright isn't too far behind. Though the Quakers have the benefit of tremendous depth this season, don't expect too much of a change from the near-complete games the two played during the Ivy League schedule in 2010-11. Our best guess for the freshmen is that Crocker will play almost exclusively off the ball, and Lucas-Perry will serve as a change-of-pace spark off the bench for somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes per game.

THE OUTLOOK:

With four potential lead guards, this backcourt is so talented that the key will be mixing and matching to find what combinations work. Rosen and Cartwright proved they can play together -- Rosen's knock-down shooting blends well with Cartwright's slashing game -- so it will be up to Lucas-Perry and Crocker to adapt their games accordingly. Playing three of these guys at once could provide Allen with an intriguing lineup when he wants to press on defense and speed up the game. But from a point guard perspective, not much creativity is needed when the Quakers have the best one in the league in Rosen, who Allen called "probably" the best on-and-off-the-court leader in the country.

Observations from the Red & Blue scrimmage

The No. 1 takeaway from Sunday's Red & Blue scrimmage should be that the basketball team is in the very opening stages of its season -- practices began nine days ago, to be exact. However, we haven't gotten a look at the Quakers since March, so any opportunity to see the progress of the team and individual players in valuable. As you read these notes and observations from the scrimmage, keep two things in mind:

1. Players can make dramatic jumps (forward or backward) or changes to their game depending on their summer's work. Zack Rosen ended his freshman season as a pass-first point guard who was not a scoring threat -- he shot 28 percent from three and 35 percent overall -- and returned as a dead-eye sophomore shooter (42% from 3).

2. This early in the process, everything should be taken with a massive grain of salt. These are observations strictly from this one 30-minute scrimmage that served more as a showcase for fans, teaching time for coaches, and learning time for players. Without further ado...

  • As Cal tweeted on our @DailyPennSports twitter feed (follow us!), "Red and blue scrimmage in two words: Fran Dougherty." Dougherty showed post moves he didn't possess last season, as well as newfound confidence and maturity. He provided the blue team with a consistent post presence inside and remained patient in surveying the floor after catching the ball. He had nice touch on his shots inside and used his body well. On defense, he looked mobile in guarding pick-and-rolls on the perimeter and communicated well as the team's center. Each of the players we talked to afterward said "Doc" made the biggest improvements over the summer, bulking up to be more physical inside (though Fran himself said he didn't add any weight). Either way, this could be the team that allows coach Jerome Allen to play "inside-out" -- a point he always preaches -- and Doc could be the key to that.

Penn Men’s basketball officially announces class of 2015

No surprises here: Penn Athletics officially announced its incoming freshman class for men's basketball, and it's the same six we've known about since the end of the spring semester.

Three guards: Camryn Crocker (Cypress, Calif.), Simeon Esprit (London, England) and Patrick Lucas-Perry (Grand Blanc, Mich.); and three forwards: Keelan Cairns (Belfast, Ireland), Greg Louis (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and Henry Brooks, (Fairburn, Ga.) will make up coach Jerome Allen's newest class.

Many of the freshman are already on campus and some played with a few of their future teammates in area summer league basketball games. According to Director of Athletic Communications Mike Mahoney, the basketball coaches will not make the freshmen available for interviews until preseason begins in October, so don't expect to hear much from them for the next few weeks.

The one name not on the list is Philly forward Xavier Harris, who committed to Penn last year but had to decommit this summer. Harris is reportedly taking a prep year at the Peddie School (coincidentally, near Princeton, N.J.) and plans to come to Penn in the next recruiting class, according to the Inquirer's Keith Pompey:

Xavier Harris, a recent Constitution graduate, will attend a prep school next year instead of going to Penn as originally planned.The 6-5 forward hopes to bring up his SAT score and enroll at Penn in the fall of 2012. He decided to take the prep school route over accepting scholarship offers from Boston University, Vermont, Robert Morris, and Monmouth. Harris is leaning toward spending his prep year at the Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J.

The release from Penn with a short quote from Allen and bios of each incoming player is copied after the jump.

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