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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This Week on 33rd Street: Feb. 8

On its opening weekend of Ivy League play, the Penn basketball team pulled off a big win against Columbia before falling to lowly Cornell the following night, losing Fran Dougherty for the season in the process. Heading into this weekend's tilt, against Yale and Brown at the Palestra, the Red and Blue will also be without Steve Rennard. Senior Sports Editor Mike Tony and Sports Editor Ian Wenik give you their lastest take on the state of the Quakers:

This Week on 33rd Street: Feb. 8 from dailypenn on Vimeo.

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.

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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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.


Reports question whether Penn basketball suspensions due to alcohol

Yesterday we reported that a highly reputable source told the Daily Pennsylvanian that Miles Cartwright, Henry Brooks, Tony Hicks, Darien Nelson-Henry and Steve Rennard were all suspended for Penn basketball’s game at Delaware on Dec. 21 after failing random drug tests. Now the Daily Pennsylvanian is hearing from various sources that alcohol may have played a role in the suspensions.  Our original sources, though, maintain that positive drug tests triggered the suspensions.

However, alcohol is still a banned drug according to the NCAA Banned Drug List.   As reported yesterday, the Penn Athletics Compliance Office's 2012-13 Review of Rules and Regulations Governing Intercollegiate Athletics states that “those found to have used banned or street drugs "shall be declared ineligible for further participation in regular-season and postseason competition," but does not clarify whether this is a University or NCAA policy. The guide also states that “Student-athletes who abuse alcohol or who possess or consume alcohol illegally may have their eligibility suspended.”

Alcohol would constitute a drug violation that would force Penn to follow NCAA Bylaw 10.2, which, as noted yesterday, requires schools to follow their own institutional policies and protocols for drug violations if they have them. Penn Director of Athletic Communications Mike Mahoney told the Daily Pennsylvanian yesterday that the suspensions were coach Jerome Allen’s decision, and it is this NCAA Bylaw that would allow him the latitude to decide the penalty for the players’ use of banned drugs. Mahoney also neither contested nor confirmed yesterday’s report.

We’ll continue to report on the suspensions as more news breaks.

Megan Soisson also contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.

SOURCES: Penn basketball suspensions due to failed drug tests

A highly reputable source has told the Daily Pennsylvanian that Miles Cartwright, Henry Brooks, Tony Hicks, Darien Nelson-Henry and Steve Rennard were all suspended for Penn basketball’s game at Delaware on Dec. 21 after failing random drug tests. The official word after the game was that these five players were suspended for violating team rules, which Penn coach Jerome Allen did not elaborate on in his postgame press conference.

Two sources close to the team did not comment specifically on the reports that five players failed drug tests, citing that Allen had told those with knowledge of the incident to say only that "it was a disciplinary action that [Allen] took due to them not following a team rule." Penn Director of Athletic Communications Mike Mahoney also did not comment on the reports of failed drug tests.

Many unknowns still remain, including when the tests were administered, what drug(s) or masking agent(s) were identified from the test, when Allen notified the players of their suspensions and whether the tests were administered by Penn or the NCAA.  A failed drug test administered by the NCAA would result in the players losing one full year of eligibility effective on the date the urine sample was given. The NCAA does not require schools to drug test their players, nor are those schools required to report the results of drug tests to the NCAA.

However, 90 percent of Division I schools have their own drug-testing programs independent from the NCAA. Additionally, NCAA Bylaw 10.2 requires schools to follow their own institutional policies and protocols for drug violations if they have them.

The Penn Athletics Compliance Office's 2012-13 Review of Rules and Regulations Governing Intercollegiate Athletics states that Penn "does not promote drug-testing of its student-athletes except when there is cause or suspicion of abuse." The guide does state that those found to have used banned or street drugs "shall be declared ineligible for further participation in regular-season and postseason competition," but does not clarify whether this is a University or NCAA policy.

Mahoney told the Daily Pennsylvanian that he assumes the drug policy being enforced is "at University-level," and he does not think the NCAA has authority to decide what punishments are given on alcohol or drug-related matters. Mahoney added that coach Allen "has been in touch with his superiors," who "are aware of the reasons for the suspension and support him on his decision."

Penn Assistant Director of Athletics/Compliance D. Elton Cochran-Fikes was not available via phone and did not immediately return an email asking to clarify Penn's policy.

Two sources close to the team have also said that they expect the suspensions to be lifted for all five players for Penn’s next game at Wagner on Saturday. The matchup would mark the suspended group’s first game action since the Quakers’ 68-55 home loss to Villanova on Dec. 8. The decision to play the five after a one-game suspension would suggest that the reported drug tests were not administered by the NCAA.

We’ll continue to report on the suspensions as more news breaks.

Megan Soisson also contributed to the writing and reporting of this article.

Game 10: Delaware – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly


THE GOOD – Greg Louis’ performance                                                                                 

After playing very few minutes throughout the season’s first nine games, the redshirt freshman put up a double-double by halftime, eventually finishing the game with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Louis served as a nice complement to Fran Dougherty, helping establish a nice flow for an offensive attack that allowed Penn to jump out to a strong start despite some of its top producers sitting on the bench.

THE BADDelaware’s second-chance points                                                               

Delaware took 81 shots (that's more than two per minute), and 22 more than the Quakers, with most of those attempts coming as second-chance opportunities. With 24 offensive rebounds on the game, the Blue Hens outscored Penn 33-9 in second-chance points, a difference that proved to be the game. The Blue Hens shot basically the same percentage as the Quakers on the night, but due to the amount of chances they were provided, the Blue Hens took this one quite easily.

THE UGLY  – Five suspended Quakers                                                                              

Little is known as to what Miles Cartwright, Tony Hicks, Henry Brooks, Steve Rennard and Darien Nelson-Henry did to justify an indefinite suspension from the squad. Coach Jerome Allen said following the game that he had known “for a while” and that he’d take the suspensions “one game at a time.” Whatever did occur, the incident doesn’t bode well for an already struggling Quakers squad as it transitions into Ivy League play after the break.

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

More nuggets from Steve Rennard

Photo courtesy of Penn Athletics

I wrote a piece for the paper today about the emergence of sophomore guard Steve Rennard in Penn's starting lineup. There were some bits that didn't make the dead-tree version but are worth sharing, so here are a few more nuggets from Rennard:

You've got a really quick shot and are able to get shots off despite tight defense. Have you been working on that?

Yeah. Ever since I was little, I had this one trainer, Mike Rice, he was the coach of Robert Morris [and current Rutgers coach], he was my trainer and that was one of the things he emphasized most was quick release — 'be fast but don’t rush' — ever since then I’ve been trying to get my shot off quickly. But once I got to college I didn’t really know what that meant. It’s a whole 'nother level.

You've hit some pretty clutch shots over the last few weeks, do you like getting the ball in those situations?

Absolutely. Obviously the confidence comes in knowing how much work you’ve put in. I’ve been trying to get up as many shots as possible before practice so when I do get in the game I feel confident in myself that I can make those shots.

That corner spot right in front of the Penn bench [see photo above] has become your favorite shot. What is it about that spot?

People say that they don’t like the corner for whatever reason — I don’t know, if the backboard's not behind it. It’s a circular net. The only reason why people don’t like the corner shot that I can think of is they don’t practice it. Every shot is the same to me. I just try and practice every spot just in case. I never know where I’m going to be on the floor, so I don’t want to not like one shot less than the other.