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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Reminiscing with former Penn guard Scott Kegler

COURTESY OF LAUREN KEGLER | DPFormer Penn basketball three-point specialist Scott Kegler (center) has coordinated Saturday morning pickup hoops sessions at the Palestra for over a decade. Andy Baratta (left) has also coordinated the games in the past. Michael Root (right) is one of many participants in the tradition, which dates back to 1989.

COURTESY OF LAUREN KEGLER | DP
Former Penn basketball three-point specialist Scott Kegler (center) has coordinated Saturday morning pickup hoops sessions at the Palestra for over a decade. Andy Baratta (left) has also coordinated the games in the past. Michael Root (right) is one of many participants in the tradition.

I caught up with former Penn guard Scott Kegler earlier this month for a story on the long tradition of Saturday morning pickup sessions at the Palestra. 

But we also talked about the upward trajectory of Penn basketball from his freshman year of 1991-92 to his senior year of 1994-95, and how a program that had single-digit wins before the Class of '95 came on the scene won the final 43 Ivy games of Kegler's Quakers  career. Here's the '90s rise of Penn basketball as "Kegs" remembers it:

"When we showed up, the team wasn’t very good. The year before they were 9-17. It was coach Dunphy’s either second or third year, I can’t remember. And so it was intense. The team wasn’t any good, we weren’t any good. We wanted to be good, we didn’t know how or if we’d be any good. And the first year, it was just a struggle. We all were competing against each other for playing time. Our freshman class was Jerome [Allen], Eric Moore, Shawn Trice, and me. All those guys wanted to play. We were just beating each other up in practice. Jerome was playing, Shawn was playing, Eric was playing, I was playing a little bit. And we got better.

We beat Penn State that year in Hershey [87-86 2OT on Jan. 25, 1992]. It was a funny game because we won the game in regulation, we went into the locker room, we were celebrating, changing our clothes. The referees came in and said the game’s not over. Something happened, there’s still time left on the clock, you’ve gotta come back out and play. So we had to come out on the floor and play a couple of seconds to win. But that was a big win for us because it was a Big Ten team, a scholarship school and we win, let’s build on that. We were in the Ivy League hunt until we played at Yale, and Yale had this guy named Casey Cammann, and we lost and that really put us out of contention.

We lost to Princeton and we lost to Yale, so we knew we couldn’t win. We watched the game video - coach Dunphy was so mad - we watched the video all the way from New Haven to Brown. He’s slamming the overhead bins. And we practiced the next day at Brown hard. He lined us all up on the sideline, rolled the ball out on the floor and it was a game of if you could dive on the floor and get it first. We were running sprints, we won that night.

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The Roundtable: What Harvard’s NCAA win means for the Ivy League

Courtesy of espn.go.comSophomore All-Ivy first-team guard Wesley Saunders led the conference in scoring at 16.5 points per game.

Courtesy of espn.go.com
Sophomore All-Ivy first-team guard Wesley Saunders led the conference in scoring at 16.5 points per game.

Update: Coach Jerome Allen declined comment on Harvard's NCAA upset through Athletic Communications Director Mike Mahoney Monday.

In this edition of The Roundtable, six of our editors past and present ask what Harvard's win means for the Ancient Eight heading into the 2013-14 season, plain and simple:

Former Sports Editor Mike Wisniewski: Harvard's win is obviously good for the league. Why wouldn't it be? It's not like they ran away with the title -- the competition across the board was incredible this year, even though it was pretty certain Harvard or Princeton would end up winning it. It's a shame -- for the league, that is -- that the Crimson couldn't put in a more respectable performance against Arizona, but knocking off New Mexico was impressive enough. That would have been the upset of the tournament had Florida Gulf Coast not stolen their thunder.

Associate Sports Editor Steven Tydings: It is beneficial to the Ivy League in the sense of money since the league will get money from the victory. But it also hurts Penn in terms of image. You have a program that just six years ago was the class of the conference and getting the better players like Ibby Jaaber, Mark Zoller, Zack Rosen, etc., but is now 9-22, and hasn't won a title in six years. Now Harvard appears to be light years ahead, as they not only win a tournament game but also have a strong recruiting class and two players (likely cheaters) returning to make next year's team the favorite to run away with the conference, making it likely that Miller's final recruiting class with Cartwright/Dougherty will go without a title and leave coach Allen with little to nothing on his resume and a team full of just his players in 2014-15, for better or worse. Continue reading

Penn v. Harvard postgame presser

After Penn's 75-72 victory over Harvard Saturday night, coach Jerome Allen spoke about the sense of desperation and urgency he saw in his team. Top scorers Tony Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry talk about their performances and what it meant to play in a big-game atmosphere in a packed and energized Palestra.

Postgame presser: Jerome Allen and Paul Cormier

We spoke to head coaches Jerome Allen and Paul Cormier after Penn's 69-64 loss against Dartmouth. While a disappointed Allen said very little, Cormier was proud of his young team who pulled through at the end for the victory. On Tony Hicks, who scored 23 points tonight, Cormier said, “He’s someone we’re going to have to reckon with for the next three years, and quite frankly, I’m not looking forward to it.”

Game 25: Cornell – The Good, Bad & the Ugly

Good Bad & Ugly

Facing Cornell on the road at the Newman Arena in Ithaca, N.Y., the Quakers avenged a close loss from earlier this month behind freshman guard Tony Hicks’ 29-point eruption, getting the 79-71 win. Penn started out hot, jumping to a 25-13 lead, but the Big Red answered with a 30-14 run of their own to close out the first frame. Down 43-39 at the half, the Red and Blue dominated the second half, taking back the lead early on and never surrendering it again.

THE GOOD: Miles Cartwright’s well-rounded performance

The junior captain played like the leader everyone expects him to be, and he really did everything against Cornell. Cartwright racked up 15 points, nine assists, six boards and two steals. He also led the Quakers in playing time, with 34 minutes on the court. The only downside? Try 4-for-11 shooting and three turnovers. But that’s fine, because trying too hard is better than not trying at all.

THE BETTER: Tony Hicks’ season-high 29 points

Oh wait. Rather career-high, since he’s only a freshman. Hicks showed off what he’s capable of, hitting 11-for-18 from the field, which included making five of his six attempts from beyond the arc. The rookie secured Penn’s second best point total of the year — only behind Fran Dougherty’s 31-point show in a 62-53 loss against Fairfield on Nov. 12.

THE BAD: Henry Brooks fouls out … again

12 minutes. That’s exactly how much playing time Brooks got tonight, despite being in the starting lineup. The sophomore forward was subbed out after racking up two fouls in the first five minutes. He came back at the start of the second half, only to get subbed out yet again after two fouls in five minutes. When Allen finally decided to let him back in, Brooks made the most of it by turning the ball over and immediately reaching his fifth infraction of the night. Too bad for him, as his stat line of four points, three rebounds and two assists doesn’t look too bad for the short amount of time he actually spent on the court.

THE UGLY: Penn’s abysmal performance at the end of the first half

After Cartwright made two free throws that put the game 25-13 in favor of the Quakers, it looked like it would be an easy ride for Allen and co. That was before Cornell terrorized Penn for the last ten minutes of the first frame, scoring 30 points in that time period, which included 12 by guard Nolan Cressler. The Red and Blue surrendered five treys and also committed six turnovers during those ten minutes, and for a moment it looked as if it was going to turn into a blowout for the home team. That never materialized, as the Quakers kept it close and then reversed the situation in the second half, but this won’t happen against Princeton or Harvard.

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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Three Up, Three Down: Dartmouth Edition

Three Up Three DownThe Quakers go from Cambridge to Hanover as they face Dartmouth to finish out their weekend back-to-back. Here are some predictions for tonight's contest:

Three Up-

Penn’s defense: After allowing Harvard to shoot 52.3 percent last night, it is hard to imagine that the Quakers couldn’t improve on the defensive end. Additionally, they move from the Ivy League’s highest scoring offense in Harvard to the lowest scoring offense in Dartmouth, making it much easier for the Red and Blue. Expect Penn to hold down the fort defensively as it tries to get a split this weekend.

Miles Cartwright: In the Quakers’ two conference victories this season, Cartwright has been their one constant. The junior guard has put up 50 combined points in Penn’s victories over Columbia and Brown. If the Quakers want to compete with the Big Green, they will need Cartwright to have another strong performance Saturday night. While he may not put up 25 points against Dartmouth, his steadying presence would go a long way towards a Red and Blue win.

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Game 23: Harvard – The Good, Bad & the Ugly

Good Bad & Ugly

 

 

 

 

FULL RECAP // BOX SCORE 

THE GOOD: Cam Gunter

Never thought Cam Gunter would go in this category, did you? But after a 10-point, nine-rebound performance in just 15 minutes of play that saw Gunter grow up in the face of a Harvard frontcourt that was surprisingly on its game all night long.

THE BAD: The Boston Block Party

Fifteen blocks for Harvard made for one of the longest nights in recent memory for the Quakers offensively. The game was basically a highlight reel of Miles Cartwright and company driving into the lane only to get stuffed by sophomore center Kenyatta Smith, who had 10 blocks of his own.

THE UGLY: How Harvard won

Harvard came in with a killer team three-point percentage, but it didn't need to rely on the long ball against Penn. Even with Harvard's No. 2 and No. 3 leading scorers Siyani Chambers and Laurent Rivard struggling offensively, the Crimson still imposed their will on the Quakers, especially inside, where Smith jump hooked his way to a 20-point explosion. (He had 68 points in 18 games this season before Friday.) Jerome Allen said Darien Nelson-Henry had "zero presence defensively" and that his poor defense was a "function of effort," not his injury. A bit of coachspeak perhaps, but still legitimate disappointment at an interior defense that buckled whenever it was pushed. Forget "small ball," this was just the Crimson's weakness (their bigs) having their way against Penn.

 

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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