Tony Hicks named Ivy League Rookie of the Week

HICKS!!!Tony Hicks’ Empire State success has not gone unnoticed.

After scoring 48 points combined against Cornell and Columbia last weekend, Hicks was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on Monday.

Hicks came out of the gates on fire against Cornell on Friday, scoring 15 of Penn’s first 17 points before finishing with a career-high 29 points. On Saturday, he led the Quakers with 19 points at Columbia as he went 8-for-15 from the field.

The freshman has been consistent for Penn in Ivy League play, leading the team with 13.8 points per game during the course of the Red and Blue’s nine-game Ivy slate.

Hicks is the third Quaker freshman to receive the Ancient Eight’s rookie of the week, following the lead of Jamal Lewis and Darien Nelson-Henry.

Over/Under – Dartmouth Edition

OverUnder15 minutes for Cam Gunter – UNDER

The junior forward had a career night Friday against Harvard, scoring 10 points and grabbing nine boards in just 15 minutes of play. Off of a breakout performance like that, the fans might expect to see more of Gunter. But for the most part, Gunter was forced into action due to Henry Brooks’ foul trouble and Darien Nelson-Henry’s limited minutes coming back from injury. Both of those players should see more minutes tonight, which means less court time for Gunter.

60 points for Dartmouth – UNDER

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Mano-a-Mano: A Tale of Two Games

ManoAMano11-1In this week’s Mano-a-Mano, Associate Sports Editor John Phillips and Senior Sports Editor Mike Tony debate which weekend game showed us where the Penn men’s basketball team is really at: Columbia or Cornell.

John Phillips: The Quakers are not going to win the Ivy League this year. Let’s not fool ourselves. But this isn’t a team I would want to run into if I were Princeton or Harvard.

And that’s because the Friday night edition of the Red and Blue was a better representation of how they’ve been playing on the whole rather than the squad that appeared (and failed to at key moments) on Saturday.

The Quakers’ youth has started to blossom. Darien Nelson-Henry has proven to be a huge offensive asset for the Quakers, while coach Jerome Allen has finally figured out the amount of playing time that Jamal Lewis and Tony Hicks each should receive.

Meanwhile, Miles Cartwright is finally learning when to score and when to distribute, a clear sign of leadership. And perhaps most important of all, the team is getting stronger despite the absence of Fran Dougherty from the lineup.

Mike Tony: But it’s hard to say the Quakers are happily evolving into a new squad when we saw the same old team collapse Saturday night against Cornell.

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Three Up, Three Down: Cornell Edition

Three Up Three DownWith the Quakers coming off an upset win over Columbia to open their first Ivy weekend of the season, we take a look at who's hot–and who's not–as the Big Red come to town.

Three Up-

Miles Cartwright- The junior captain stepped up as a leader when the Red and Blue needed him the most Friday, pouring in eight points in the game's final two minutes to ensure that a nine-point second half lead wouldn't go to waste. Additionally, Cartwright was able to minimize his turnovers, a positive trend that he'll need to keep up against a Cornell team that averages seven steals a game.

Steve Rennard- After seemingly being left for dead, the junior was able to revitalize his season against Columbia. In 29 minutes of action, Rennard was able to score seven points on 2-4 shooting, including his first made three-pointer since a win over NJIT on Jan. 17th. If Rennard can maybe, just maybe, recapture his shooting touch from last year, the Quakers will only benefit from having yet another outside scoring threat.

Henry Brooks- Much like Rennard, Brooks was able to reverse an early-season bad habit on Friday night. In 28 minutes of action, the sophomore forward managed to keep himself out of foul trouble against Columbia's rangy big men, hearing only two calls against him on the night. Additionally, he showed some nice range in going 2-for-4 from the field, including one shot that was just inside the three-point line.

Three Down-

Patrick Lucas Perry's minutes, again- Where was he? If people thought that PLP had turned the corner after his sterling performance against Temple, they were wrong. Lucas-Perry received 15 minutes of playing time, but it seemed like far less, as he never seemed to establish much of a presence for himself on the court. The sophomore wound up going 0-for-2 from the field, and only managed to pick up a single rebound.

Every freshman not named Darien Nelson-Henry- It was a rough night for most of the Quakers' youngsters. Jamal Lewis tallied one assist, two turnovers, and a whopping three fouls in only seven minutes of action, earning him a comfortable spot on the bench. Tony Hicks scored eight points, but went 1-for-5 from the field. And, in keeping with tradition, Julian Harrell never even had a chance to take his warm-ups off.

The rims in the Palestra whenever Fran Dougherty shoots- Playing for the first time in a month following a bout with mononucleosis, the dynamic junior wound up going 1-for-5 from the field in 18 minutes off the bench, but his stat sheet could have looked a lot better. Dougherty had shot after shot take the exact wrong bounce at the exact wrong time, spoiling some sharp inside post and isolation moves by the athletic forward.

Over/Under – Cornell Edition

OverUnder10 points for Fran Dougherty – UNDER

Fran won’t see significantly more minutes just a day after returning to the floor, which is bad news for his point totals. Doc will need to get into a rhythm as the season goes on, but he’ll also have to do it, at least for now, in limited minutes. He looked off, with a lot of the shots that were falling consistently for him in the early part of the season just rimming out on Friday.

10 minutes for Jamal Lewis – UNDER

I’m thinking with my heart more than my head here, because unless you turn in a performance like Lewis did on Friday (two turnovers, three personal fouls) in the seven minutes of playing time that he received against the Lions, it’s hard not to get at least 10 minutes on the floor when you’re the team’s starting point guard.

But Tony Hicks was passing rather effectively last night, even though some opportunities didn’t get converted, and if Jerome Allen pulls Lewis out of the starting five, he won’t get 10 minutes on the court.

10 assists for the Quakers – OVER

Last night was pretty pathetic from a passing perspective, as the Quakers only had six assists the entire night. That won’t be good enough as they go into the rest of the Ivy schedule, and I think they can amend their issues.

Darien Nelson-Henry is getting better every game, and the better that he gets, the more attention that will be focused on him, thus allowing openings around the perimeter, and space for guards to drive and dish.

FIve offensive rebounds for the Quakers – OVER

Last night’s abysmal performance on the boards won’t be repeated again. While Fran is still finding his shooting touch, his timing on the defensive end last night wasn’t terrible, and it’s bound to improve going forward.

Five blocks combined for Dougherty and Nelson-Henry – Under

Last night, Fran and DNH both had monster blocks that really helped Penn maintain momentum going forward. The chances of that happening again this season are relatively low, which is a shame for fans. While DNH has surged on the offensive end of the floor, defensively he has struggled at times, so being able to see him rise up and almost throw one out of bounds should give fans hope, but their combined five blocks last night was a fluke more than anything.

Three Up, Three Down: Temple Edition

After Saturday's loss to St. Joseph's, the Quakers take to the road to face off against Big 5 rival Temple, led by former Penn head coach Fran Dunphy. Here are some predictions for the final non-conference match up for the Red and Blue this season.

Three Up-

Darien Nelson-Henry: Over the past five games, the freshman big man has averaged 13 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Nelson-Henry’s progression has been easy to notice, especially in the second half against St. Joseph’s, where the Quakers ran the offense through him in the post. Look for more of the same against Temple, especially since the only players above 6’9 for the Owls, Jimmy McDonnell and Devontae Watson, have combined for just 4.2 minutes per game.

Three point defense: Penn’s defense behind the three point arc on Saturday was well below par, giving up 11 three pointers and letting St. Joe’s take over the game. However, Temple is a very different Big 5 team, as they are 14th in the Atlantic 10 in three-point percentage, giving the Quakers a better chance of limiting long-range opportunities.

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Three Up, Three Down: St. Joseph’s Edition

Three Up Three DownOn Thursday, Penn basketball broke their eight-game losing streak in a close and admittedly ugly 54-53 victory over NJIT. Up next, the Quakers will (not really) go on the road for a Big 5 matchup against St. Joseph's at the Palestra, for which the Hawks are the official home team. Here are some predictions for the Quakers' third Big 5 contest of the season:

Three Up-

Darien Nelson-Henry: In his first career start on Thursday against NJIT, Nelson-Henry had somewhat of a coming out party. He recorded his first collegiate double-double and was a huge factor in Penn’s vast improvement on the boards. The turnover problems are still there, but the Quakers will need to rely on DNH to be a presence in the paint, especially if Henry Brooks finds himself in foul trouble again.

Penn's bench contribution: St. Joseph’s Halil Kanacevic will miss his third straight game due to a death in the family. With him out, the Hawks won’t have a single bench player who averages more than 10 minutes per game. The Red and Blue will look to take advantage of their much deeper bench, as coach Allen has 10 players fit who average double-digits in minutes per game.

Patrick Lucas-Perry: While just about everyone else on the team underperformed against NJIT, Lucas-Perry was a rare bright spot. PLP scored eight points in only nine minutes on the court, including Penn’s final five points to grab the victory. So Perry has now been a driving force in two of the three Penn wins of the season — NJIT and UMBC.  Expect more minutes for the diminutive guard as the Quakers will need all the help they can get to shut down an explosive St. Joe’s backcourt.

Three Down-

Penn turnovers: At some point, there really is nowhere to go but up. Or down, in this case. The Quakers turned the ball over a ghastly 26 times against NJIT, but expect that number to be significantly lower on Saturday. St. Joe’s only causes its opponents to commit 10.9 turnovers per game this season, while hopefully coach Allen will have made some tweaks to who handles the ball for Penn and how they do it. 

Jamal Lewis: With the recent emergence of Tony Hicks, Lewis has seen his minutes drop in the past few games. His performances have also dropped: 0 points off just two shots against Princeton and NJIT. This won’t have gone unnoticed by coach Allen, who should give emerging players like Lucas-Perry more minutes. 

Penn rebounding deficiencies: Kanacevic’s absence for the Hawks also hurts them on the boards. St. Joe’s will miss his 7.2 rebounds per game, especially as Penn has been steadily improving in the rebounds department. Against NJIT, Quakers won the rebounding battle 41-24, the highest margin ever under coach Allen.

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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Red and Blue Scrimmage: Takeaways

The Quakers basketball team took the court for the first time this season Saturday morning with an opponent they know very well — themselves. The scrimmage featured 11 of the 16 players on the roster with Steve Rennard, Jamal Lewis, Simeon Esprit, Keelan Cairns and Larry Lougherty sitting out.

Three of the four freshman participated in today's game. Darien Nelson-Henry saw time at center and played well defensively and added six points and a handful of rebounds as well. Tony Hicks started for the white team alongside Nelson-Henry and had six points with a handful of assists and a couple of rebounds.

However, as coach Jerome Allen later admitted, the most impressive performance belonged to Julian Harrell. Although Harrell showed up on the stat sheet fewer times than his classmates, his hustle and defensive play earned his coach's respect. The focus for this team will be defense, and with a number of good shooters and good guards, those who can defend will see the most time on the court.

— Nick Greiner