In its season opener at the Palestra against UMBC, Penn entered the game burdened by a long series of question marks: What would this squad look like Zack-Rosen-less? Could this young squad hold its own, despite only returning 43 percent of last year's minutes? Can the team beat the Retrievers for a fourth consecutive year? The Quakers answered by orchestrating an inspired second half comeback and securing their first victory of the year, 80-75.
THE GOOD: Comeback from being down 22 points.
With 5:08 remaining in the first half, the Quakers stared down a 22-point deficit, 42-20, primarily as the result of a 15-0 run by the Retrievers and five Penn turnovers over a four-minute span. However, the Red and Blue turned around and outscored UMBC 14-6 to end the first half, and they continued the onslaught in the second behind a stellar 15-point performance from Miles Cartwright. Most importantly, Penn did not panic when it got down early and made all the necessary adjustments with enough time to take back the game, which demonstrated wisdom beyond this young team's years.
THE BAD: Fifteen first half turnovers.
This does not come as a shocking surprise, since it’s characteristic of an inexperienced squad to try to do too much in its opening game of the season. The Quakers protected the ball much better in the second half, giving up the ball just six times, but there are still some lingering questions about who will handle the ball in the backcourt, after Tony Hicks and Camryn Crocker both accounted for three turnovers. Penn had better control Cartwright bringing up the ball, so the Red and Blue may look to him to play some point guard this season. However, the worst offender in turnovers was Fran Dougherty, which brings us to “The Ugly.”
THE UGLY: Fran Dougherty trying to catch the ball.
Dougherty turned the ball over a team-high four times, all of which are exemplified by one play from this game: Penn is inbounding the ball from the baseline and a pass goes out to Dougherty, near the three-point line. Since Doc isn’t much of a threat from that range, he is wide open. However, when the ball approaches Dougherty, he acts like he’s never seen a basketball before (i.e. pretty confused), and the ball slips through his hands out of bounds. Though Doc scored some crucial points against UMBC, the Quakers will need him to, well, catch the ball this season.