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Team preview: Penn

For the most comprehensive previews available on all 335 Division I teams, order the "Bible" of college basketball, the 2012-13 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 1-877-807-4857.

COACH AND PROGRAM

Penn had plenty to be proud of last season. The Quakers won 20 games for the first time in five years. Their shot at winning an Ivy League championship came down to the final conference game of the year. And they made their first postseason appearance since 2007, advancing to the CBI quarterfinals.

For a team just two years removed from a six-win season, this was a dramatic improvement. But for a program that routinely won Ivy titles in the past, it wasn't enough. Coach Jerome Allen certainly didn't want to see his players patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

"A lot of people say we had a great season," Allen said. "But from my standpoint, we felt like we had a disappointing season because we didn't reach our ultimate goal. … All that stuff is fine, and I get the process, the incremental improvements, but in terms of changing the culture, I was pleased that the guys were disappointed. I was much more happy about that, that they weren't content."

Allen, who as a player was a part of the Quakers' successful past, understands it takes a lot more than just wearing a Penn jersey to win championships. And he's been trying the last couple years to instill an ethos of hard work and accountability into his young charges.

Penn Quakers

"The expectations that we put upon ourselves are realistic, even though some may say they're far-fetched," Allen said. "I'm not crazy. I get it. We went from six wins to 13 to 20, and that's all great. I just really want to get the guys to understand that at the end of the day, it's the University of Pennsylvania and we expect to win. But that goes back to if you expect to win, then we hope that you have the habits to match that expectation, and that's really where all the work has been put into building those habits."

Despite all Allen has done to reinvigorate the program, it likely will be difficult to replicate last season's success -- especially given how much Penn lost.

No one knew better what it took to win than Zack Rosen (18.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.4 spg), the unanimous Ivy League player of the year. Rosen nearly single-handedly willed his young teammates -- two-thirds of the players on last season's roster were freshmen and sophomores -- to a conference title.

"Zack was kind of the cornerstone of changing the culture and reinventing this program," Allen said. Rosen, Tyler Bernardini and Rob Belcore "were great in establishing how hard you had to work night in and night out."

But now that Rosen, Bernardini and Belcore are gone -- and with them 57 percent of the Quakers' scoring last season -- Penn must find not only players who can put points on the board but also ones who are as devoted to making the Quakers successful.

"It's not that it should be their charge to try to replace them as far as on the court," Allen said. "They just need to try to replace them as far as their level of commitment to the program."

The biggest concern is who will take over Rosen's spot at point guard.

"Who knows? I'm trying to be Penn's point guard. I'm forging my [eligibility] documents," Allen said with a laugh before adding, "A number of guys are in the mix."

Point guard Alexis Moore transferred to Penn from USC after last season but will sit out this year under NCAA rules.

The job could go to 6-3 junior Miles Cartwright (10.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.1 apg), although he is too valuable as a scorer to ask him to also run the offense. But don't be surprised if he fills that role occasionally.

Cartwright, who has averaged in double figures his first two seasons at Penn, is the only returning player with a double-digit scoring average. He has the ability to create his own offense and is equally adept at driving to the rim as he is shooting jump shots.

"He does a little bit of everything for us on the perimeter," Allen said. "I'm excited to watch him develop and take more responsibility in terms of leading the group."

After Cartwright, who was on the floor more than 33 minutes a game last season, Penn's roster has a huge drop off in experience. The rest of the returning players averaged less than 19 minutes a game last season.

Fran Dougherty (4.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, .490 FG), a 6-8 junior forward who along with Cartwright spent his part of his summer playing basketball in Europe, has developed into a solid post player.

"He had a tremendous summer, buying in to the weight room," Allen said. "Everyone who has seen him play in summer league, open gym, has said how much he has matured and how much he's taken on the responsi-bility of patrolling the middle for us."

Henry Brooks (4.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg) started 24 games as a freshman but averaged less than 15 minutes a game. The 6-8 sophomore forward was slowed by his recovery from tearing his ACL in March of his senior year in high school. Allen is looking forward to having a healthy Brooks in the lineup.

"I'm just hoping his sophomore year he can be a little bit more relaxed and develop in terms of where his natural progression would have taken him had he not gotten hurt," Allen said.

Steve Rennard (3.7 ppg, 1.2 rpg), a 6-2 junior, is another candidate for point guard, though he is better known as a 3-point specialist and defensive stopper. Allen called him "one of the biggest surprises on the team last year. … I'm not sure we would have won 20 games without him."

After missing his freshman season with a back injury, 6-7 junior forward Marin Kukoc (2.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg) made a solid debut last year. His ability to shoot the ball from long range will help stretch opposing defenses, but Allen would like to see more effort from him on the defensive end.

Give Larry Loughery credit for sticking with basketball. The 6-6 forward and only senior on the roster has played a total of 19 minutes the last three seasons and only 78 minutes in his entire career. He didn't play at all last year.

"He's had a career where he's struggled with injuries throughout," Allen said. "I hope he can remain healthy for this season."

Dau Jok (0.5 ppg), a 6-4 junior guard, shoots the ball well but needs to work harder on defense.

Cameron Gunter (0.9 ppg, 0.4 rpg), a 6-9 junior forward, is long, athletic and runs the floor well.

Camryn Crocker (0.7 ppg) has a good feel for the game and is a good passer, but the 6-3 sophomore guard struggled as a freshman to adjust to the speed and physicality of the college game.

Simeon Esprit (0.4 ppg), a 6-6 sophomore small forward, is a defensive specialist.

Patrick Lucas-Perry (0.3 ppg), 5-11 sophomore guard, could battle for minutes in the backcourt.

Greg Louis, a 6-7 sophomore forward, had hip surgery in November and missed all of last season.

A pair of freshmen -- 6-1 Tony Hicks (St. Rita/Chicago, Ill.) and 6-0 Jamal Lewis (Sidwell Friends/Washington, D.C.) -- could vie for the point guard job. Hicks is more of a scoring guard, while Lewis is a versatile guard who is productive on both ends of the court.

"It will be interesting to see how fast they pick up the system," Allen said.

Julian Harrell (Loyola/Los Angeles, Calif.), a 6-5 forward, is a well-rounded player, while 6-10 center Darian Nelson-Henry (Lake Washington/Kirkland, Wash.) will add depth to the frontcourt.

BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS

BACKCOURT: B-

BENCH/DEPTH: C

FRONTCOURT: C

INTANGIBLES: B-

Between the number of untested players on the roster and the lack of an experienced point guard, Penn is going to have a difficult time trying to replicate its success from last season. Even so, Penn faithful should take heart, because the Quakers do have talent.

The problem is because most of that talent spent last season deferring to the seniors, no one is quite sure who will emerge as a major contributor. And because every defense is going to focus on taking Cartwright out of the game, other players are going to have to assert themselves or Penn will struggle.

The sooner the Quakers can figure out what everyone's roles are, the sooner they will be able to move forward.

Penn faces an uphill battle as it tries to retain a place in the upper half of the league standings. No Ivy team other than maybe Yale lost as much as the Quakers did. Penn wants to win the league every year, but that goal seems like a stretch this season.

For the most comprehensive previews available on all 335 Division I teams, order the "Bible" of college basketball, the 2012-13 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 1-877-807-4857.