Once upon a time it was Dave Wohl, Jim Wolf and current Athletic Director Steve Bilsky Penn had to replace, following a 28-1 season in 1971 when much of the year the Quakers looked like the best team in all the land. Then it was Tony Price, Bobby Willis and Timmy Smith, cornerstones of the 1979 team that fell to Magic Johnson and Michigan State in the Final Four.
Now, it’s happening again. Penn coach Jerome Allen–star of Quaker teams than won 48 straight Ivy League games and three titles in the mid 90s — has to fill the void left by the departure of Zack Rosen, Tyler Bernardini and Rob Belcore. But, coming off a season in which they narrowly missed winning the Ivy title for the first time since 2007, Allen says there’s no reason to feel sorry for them. That’s just the natural order of things.
Besides, this year might turn out better than people think.
“I like this group,” said Allen, who saw the Quakers rally from a 22-point first half deficit past UMBC 80-75 in their opener Friday. “There’s lot of talent and we’re deep.
“We’re not using the fact that we don’t have a senior as a cheap crutch to not get it done.”
Guard Miles Cartwright, Penn’s leading returning scorer (10.8), who had 21 vs. UMBC is expected to carry much of the load. He should get help from returnees Fran Daugherty, Henry Brooks and Steve Rennard. But if the UMBC game is any indication of what to expect, the Quakers could also get a lift from starting freshman guard Tony Hicks and reserve Patrick Lucas-Perry, who scored 13 and 15 respectively.
The Quakers go right back at it tonight vs. Delaware in the pre-season N.I.T, and will play 13 games before the Ivy season gets underway in January. By then Allen should have a better idea what he has and if Penn has a chance to unseat Harvard.
No matter what happens, though, coaching his alma mater and passing on the lessons taught to him from former NBA teammates Kevin Garnett, Reggie Miller and Ray Allen makes Jerome Allen cherish his job.
“I’m living a dream,” said Allen.