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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Scouting Report: Brown Edition

Familiar Foe: A month ago, Penn picked up its second Ivy League victory against these same Brown Bears at the Palestra. Miles Cartwright led the way with a career-high 28 points, while Tony Hicks added 15 as the Quakers won 71-48 in a rout.

Since We Last Met: After the loss to Penn, Brown was struggling, as the squad had started out 2-4 in Ivy play. And it didn’t get much better soon after, as the Bears proceeded to lose two of their next three, including a close three-point loss to Cornell. But coach Martin and the Bears have turned it around, having won three straight heading into the matchup with Penn in Providence. The first two wins, which came against Dartmouth and Cornell, came by a combined 28 points, but Brown needed a little more work for a road victory against Columbia at Levien Gymnasium. After a late Lions rally tied the game at 58, the Bears inbounded near midcourt with 1.1 seconds remaining. They ran a play that looked to be designed for junior guard Sean McGonagill to get the final shot, but instead set a back screen for Tucker Halpern to hit a buzzer-beating three pointer to sink Columbia.

Leading the Charge: So if Brown is playing well, the question becomes, thanks to who? The Bears are heavily reliant on their starting five since the team only played eight players in its recent road trip to Cornell and Columbia. That starting five – McGonagill, Halpern, Rafael Maia, Cedric Kuakahmensah, and Matt Sullivan – have been the keys to Brown’s winning streak, each averaging over 25 minutes a game on the season. McGonagill, who is fourth in the Ivies in points and assists per game, has been strong in the three-game stretch, averaging 11.7 points and 3.3 assists per contest. Halpern had a game-high 22 points against Cornell and Sullivan has put up at least 16 points in each of the three wins. Maia and Kuakahmensah have been strong in the post, averaging 9.3 and 6.6 rebounds per contest, respectively.

Sizing it up:

Scoring: PENN- Neither Penn nor Brown has been particularly impressive at putting the ball in the basket this season, ranking sixth and seventh, respectively, in the Ivies in scoring offense. And while Penn put up 75 points to beat Harvard last week and has the recent offensive surge of Tony Hicks, Brown has two of the top four scorers in points per game in the Ancient Eight while also having had its own 84-point outburst against Cornell. This one is pretty even, with a slight edge to Penn based on the 71 points the Red and Blue registered in the first meeting.

Rebounding: BROWN- While Darien Nelson-Henry looked strong down low against Harvard, the Quakers now face a much better frontcourt team than the Crimson. Maia and Kuakamensah are first and second respectively in rebounds per game in the Ancient Eight, and the Bears are second in offensive rebounds. Additionally, Brown is third in rebounding margin, while Penn is dead last.

Beyond the Arc: PENN- This is a close one statistically, as the two teams are within two points of each other in three-point percentage. But the Quakers displayed in the first meeting that they can hit treys very well, going 9-for-15 from three-point range. And the Quakers have weapons off the bench to make long-range jumpers, including Dau Jok and Patrick Lucas-Perry.

Bench: PENN- Speaking of the bench, this category is all Quakers. While the Red and Blue had just nine points off the bench against Harvard, their reserves can absorb a lot more minutes than Brown’s small three-man bench. With players like Jok, Lucas-Perry and Greg Louis, the Quakers can give their starters a spell while still providing quality minutes, something Brown doesn’t always get outside of their starters.

Defense: BROWN- The Bears have only allowed their opponent to score 70 points or more three times in conference play, and have held their past three opponents to 57.7 points per game. On the other side of the court, the Quakers have struggled defensively, ranking seventh in scoring offense, while allowing Harvard to drain 10 shots from beyond the arc Saturday.

Game 28: Harvard – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Good Bad & Ugly

FULL RECAP // BOX SCORE 

What a difference a night makes. After fizzling away Friday night against Dartmouth, the Quakers were back with a vengeance, getting the underdog victory over Harvard, 75-72. In a league of upsets, a truly dominant team has yet to emerge, though the Crimson had come into the weekend looking like the cream of the crop of the Ivy League, before being swept by Princeton and Penn. In front of a crowded Palestra, despite it being spring break, the Quakers avenged a loss in Cambridge from earlier this season, and just like the second matchup against the Crimson last year, came away with the win.

THE GOOD: The freshmen

The rookie Quakers — Darien Nelson-Henry and Tony Hicks in particular — controlled the court tonight and led Penn to its win. Nelson-Henry brought in 18 points on the night on an 8-for-13 performance from the field, which was in addition to 11 rebounds — three of which were offensive — and three steals. Hicks, who led the Red and Blue in scoring, went 9-for-17 to rake in 24 points for the Quakers as well as three steals, four boards and a team-high five assists.

THE ALSO GOOD: The Quakers’ defensive effort

Though the Crimson went on a run in the second, Penn kept Harvard to 26.1 percent shooting in the first half. Though four Harvard players scored double-digits, including a 20-point performance — 10 of which came from the free throw line — from sophomore forward Wesley Saunders, the usual executers were kept to low shooting percentages. Sophomore center Kenyatta Smith was limited to 2-for-7 shooting, senior guard Christian Webster went 5-for-14 and freshman guard Siyani Chambers was kept to 1-for-5 in his 40 minutes of play.

THE BAD: Fouling

The most memorable of the fouls was junior forward Dau Jok’s unnecessary last-second foul as Chambers was bringing down the ball to finish off the first half. But this was just one of many. The Quakers quickly went over the limit in both frames. In the first half, Penn made it to the bonus with seven minutes and 25 seconds left, reaching 12 in the frame, while in the second it reached this point with nine minutes and 59 seconds left after jumping to six quick fouls beforehand and 13 total in the second half. It seemed as though there was constant whistling coming from the referees. The Crimson raked in 24 points on 33 opportunities at the charity stripe.

THE UGLY: Three-point coverage down the stretch

Though the Quakers maintained the lead throughout the game, a win started to look questionable as Harvard started making shot after shot from beyond the arc. The Crimson went 8-for-11 from three in the second half, after just going 2-for-10 in the previous stanza. The Crimson were notching almost every opportunity for a trey during this frame, with junior guard Laurent Rivard leading the way, going 4-for-4 from beyond the arc during the second half. In the final five minutes and 41 seconds, the Crimson brought in 15 points from three-point shooting, including notching two in the final 13 seconds. Harvard actually outscored Penn, 46-37, in the second half but the Quakers had built up a big enough cushion in the first to maintain the lead until the final buzzer.

Game 27: Dartmouth – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Good Bad & Ugly

 

 

 

 

 

After a 17-point loss to Columbia to finish last weekend, Penn looked to reverse its momentum and beat last-place Dartmouth. But tonight, the script was flipped, as the Big Green beat the Quakers for just the fourth time at the Palestra since 1959. Here is the Good but mostly Bad and Ugly from a night to forget for Penn men’s basketball:

THE GOOD: Dau Jok makes it rain

After Penn fell behind by double digits early in the second half, the team needed a spark from its inconsistent bench. And Dau Jok was just the player to provide that spark. After hitting a three in the final minute of the first half, Jok reeled off three shots from the beyond the arc to close in on Dartmouth in the final frame. While Jok didn’t lead the Quakers in scoring (that honor, once again, went to Tony Hicks, who led the team with 23 points), the junior captain went 4-for-4 from the field and was one of the few bright spots for Penn.

THE BAD: The (failed) attempt to contain Dartmouth’s freshmen

The matchup featured just one senior combined between the two teams so it was up to the underclassmen to make something happen. And opposite Tony Hicks, it was Dartmouth’s Alex Mitola who was the star of the game. With the game tied at 61 in the final 90 seconds, the freshman guard took over, hitting two free throws before getting a game-sealing And One layup that got the Dartmouth bench fired up. The Quakers once again failed to make the necessary plays to win a close game, and another factor was Big Green freshman forward Connor Boehm, who provided 15 points and six boards off the bench.

THE UGLY: The utter lack of a crowd

It is pretty hard for a 7-19 team to attract much excitement. When you add in the fact that Penn was on Spring Break and facing the even-less exciting Dartmouth, you have a perfect storm of attendance futility. Just 1867 people (officially) came to the Palestra on Friday night to see the Quakers’ latest loss. It felt like even fewer people were in attendance as even the players noticed. Miles Cartwright said, “There was no energy in the building tonight from a crowd standpoint, so when that happens, we have to bring our own energy and we didn’t do that tonight.”

Game 20: Cornell — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Good Bad & UglyJust a night after securing its first conference win of the season, Penn took Cornell down to the wire at the Palestra before falling in anticlimactic fashion. With 2.7 seconds remaining, the Quakers were set to inbound the ball from the baseline, down 71-69. But they never got a chance at a last shot, as they suffered a five-second violation call just as Cameron Crocker inbounded to Darien Nelson-Henry underneath the basket, and the Big Red walked away with a 71-69 victory. With the loss, Penn sinks to 4-16 and 1-2 in Ivy League play.

THE GOOD: Three-point shooting gives Penn a chance to win.
Despite entering the game dead-last among the Ancient Eight in three-point field goal percentage, the Red and Blue lit Cornell up for 12 threes and shot exactly 50 percent from distance. It's become clear that giving minutes to Dau Jok and Patrick Lucas-Perry adds marksman accuracy to Penn's offense and complements Nelson-Henry's play inside. The two sophomore guards shot a combined 7-for-12 from the field, and Lucas-Perry led the Quakers in scoring with 14 points.

THE BAD: No inbound, no overtime.
The bad of this really starts before Penn even has a chance to inbound the ball. After Cornell scores with 10.5 seconds left to make the score 71-69, Cartwright drives the ball up the floor and takes the ball left, driving toward the basket. Just as he goes into the air for a leaning, left-handed layup, Jerome Allen calls timeout, leaving the Red and Blue just 2.7 seconds left. Why Allen didn't call timeout as soon as Cartwright crossed half-court is truly a mystery. Then, the play Allen draws up is fruitless, and Crocker fails to get the ball in. The Quakers' coaching staff needs to be better in the clutch for Penn to have a chance down the stretch.

THE UGLY: Fran the Man goes down again.
After missing eight games due to mononucleosis, Fran Dougherty went down with some sort of upper body injury in his second appearance since returning. He was later spotted wearing a sling with tape reaching from his upper arm to his wrist. No word on whether the junior forward will miss any time, but his absence would be a serious blow to Penn's chances to make a run in the Ivy League.

Mano-a-Mano: Which Quakers can be clutch?

ManoAMano11-1In this week’s Mano-a-Mano, basketball writer John Phillips and Senior Sports Editor-elect Mike Tony debate who should have stepped up with the game on the line on Tuesday night against Lafayette.

 
John Phillips: This is a new year for Penn basketball. Zack Rosen isn’t coming in to take that last shot, to be the clutch player that the team needs. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to forget about seniority, and more importantly, about closing experience.

 
Miles Cartwright is the leader of this team. The only other player an argument could be made for is Fran Dougherty, who wasn’t on the floor Tuesday night. Cartwright has been in tough games throughout his career, especially during last year’s Ivy League run, when every game was a must-win. He watched Rosen, and more importantly, he learned from him.

 
And while Penn coach Jerome Allen said last night that Tony Hicks made the right call by dishing the rock to a wide open Steve Rennard, if Cartwright drove that hard to the hole, he would have finished the job himself.

 
Mike Tony: Unfortunately, though, Cartwright’s experience in closing games this season hasn’t been acceptable. He literally fumbled a game-winning opportunity against Drexel and has only led the Quakers in scoring in five out of 14 games this season.

 
You dance with who brung you, and in this case, Allen was right to ride the lineup that brought Penn back from the dead against Lafayette. You say he would have finished the job if he had drove hard to the hole, but where has that killer instinct been? Not at Wagner, where he froze up in the closing seconds and had to heave up a desperation trey at the end of regulation that had no chance.

 
You’re right, this is a new year for Penn basketball. So for a team that can’t buy a win, you reward those who are at least getting you close to one. Against Lafayette, that was Darien Nelson-Henry and Dau Jok, not Cartwright.

 
JP: After the team’s loss to La Salle, it became clear (or clearer) that this team needs a player to step up, take care of the ball and make players better.

 
During the first half against Lafayette, that was Cartwright. He was attacking the hole with the veracity that he lacked early in the season. Sure, Nelson-Henry’s ability to run the pick and roll effectively can’t be denied, but it takes two to tango, and Cartwright was handling the Leopards in the same fashion that Tony Johnson was picking apart the Quakers on the other side of the floor.

If it had just been on gamewinning opportunity, then allowing Hicks to have that last chance is okay. But when you have two possessions under 35 seconds remaining and Hicks has already failed to convert the first, you have to consider giving the ball to Cartwright, who has clearly learned from his previous mistakes.

 
MT: This offense needs to be more aggressive, so it’s great that role players like Nelson-Henry and Hicks stepped up to take a combined 19 shots from the field, and most importantly, make 11 of them.

 
When your go-to guy only shoots six times from the field, someone else needs to pick it up, and that tandem did. Why go to the same player that has let you down multiple times this season with the game on the line when there are other hot hands to go to?

 
JP: Nelson-Henry cooled off as time went on, and though Hicks shot the ball well (who didn’t?), his decision-making instinct hasn’t been honed. Choosing to pass to Rennard, who was one of only three players who shot under 50 percent for the game, was not the right choice if, as you say, the offense needs to be more aggressive. Cartwright showed he knew when to attack and when to defer last night.

 
MT: Rennard was wide open in that situation; it’s hard to fault Hicks there for finding the open guy. Just go with what’s working when nothing else is. At that point, it was Hicks, Nelson-Henry, Jok and Louis who were working. Cartwright will have more opportunities to shine in late-game situations, but the future is now. It’s time to embrace it.

 
Verdict? Mike wins this one. The Quakers came into 2012-13 eager to embrace a new identity as an ensemble rather than the Zack Rosen Show. And it’s only as an ensemble that Penn will start winning games again.

 

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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Game Seven: Binghamton — The Good, Bad & Ugly

Penn turned around its five-game losing streak by grabbing a 65-54 win over Binghamton. The Quakers are now 2-5 on the season and hope to take their momentum to State College when they face Penn State this Saturday.

FULL RECAP // BOX SCORE

THE GOOD: Dau Jok's career high eight points. Yes, Fran Dougherty had another big night, recording a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. But it was Dau who received the greater applause when the two came off the court in the second half. Jok had a career-high 8 points for the Quakers in 12 minutes. On a night where Penn shot 35% from the field, Jok shined shooting a perfect 3-for-3. I expect to see more of Dau's sweet stroke in upcoming games.

THE BAD: Outrebounded again? Penn was last in the Ivy League in rebounding margin coming into the game and they won't be moving up the rankings after last night. They
were outrebounded 49-39 and registered a pitiful eight offensive rebounds. Other than Fran Dougherty, who had 13 rebounds, no Quaker had more than five. Only one Quaker, freshman Darien Nelson-Henry, had multiple offensive rebounds. If Binghamton center Roland Brown didn't have early foul trouble, the Bearcats may have pulled this one out.
Brown, who fouled out in the second half, had 5 points and 7 rebounds in just 11 minutes of play.

THE UGLY: The Palestra scoreboard. With 1:03 left in the second half and Penn winning 62-50, the scoreboard malfunctioned at the Palestra. Binghamton's players and fans were quick to voice their complaint that their score was off. Binghamton's leading scorer Jordan Reed, a Philadelphia native, was particularly upset that his stat line only showed 15 points when he had earned 16. It took the scoreboard operators a few minutes to fix the problem. A rare complaint by visitors about playing in the Palestra!

Red and Blue Scrimmage: Room for Improvement

While the fans that came early for Penn men's basketball season tickets saw a strong offensive performance Saturday, the Quakers still have room for improvement.

After the team came outside Saturday morning to thank fans in The Line waiting for season tickets, they put on a three point show for the first scrimmage of the year. The game featured a plethora of three pointers from junior captain Dau Jok and sophomore Patrick Lewis-Perry, along with head coach Jerome Allen working a double shift as he also took over as referee for the 20 minute scrimmage. The scrimmage ended with a close 39-37 finish that resulted in a victory for the Miles Cartwright-led blue team.

The opposing team was led by Jok, who drained six three pointers, including four in the first five minutes of the second half. With only one senior on the team, Jok, Cartwright and fellow junior Fran Dougherty have taken over as captains this season. However, despite his quality offensive performance, Jok critiqued his own leadership and the team’s defensive action.

“I wouldn’t say we played well at all because defensively we gave up a combined 80 points, which is a lot. We are a team that is predicated on defense and to win we have to play defense,” Jok said. “In terms of the leadership, we just try to get guys' encouragement but I think we have a lot of work to do.”
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Penn hoops picks up its first commit

On the same day Penn basketball announced its captains (Miles Cartwright, Fran Dougherty and Dau Jok), FOX Sports's Josh Gershon is reporting that the men's basketball team picked up its first commit of the 2013 class in center Dave Winfield II. 

The 6-foot-9, 260-pound center from southern California is a student at Harvard-Westlake in North Hollywood. His father, Dave Winfield, is a hall-of-fame baseball outfielder who played in the MLB for 23 seasons. He went to the All-Stars 12 straight times from 1977-1988 as a San Diego Padre and New York Yankee.

Here's a quick 30-minute YouTube clip of Winfield at Harvard-Westlake (#35). Link if video embed doesn't work.

This one is 51 minutes if you have more time —