I understand this is a basketball article. So what then do these three seemingly disparate entities have to do with each other? Allow me to explain.
RG3, a rookie quarterback, arrives at a formerly woeful organization and, overnight, changes the culture of his team with his confidence and preternatural talent. On the other hand, there is Eli Manning: also a tremendously gifted quarterback, but during his first few years in the Meadowlands, Eli didn’t change very much. With every pass that sailed over a receiver’s head or fluttered toward their feet, the boos rained down from the tough New York crowd. Eli at times looked lost, out of control, overwhelmed, bewildered. Occasionally though, he would have a game that showed that he indeed had great potential: a flash of brilliance amidst the chaos of his first few years. Regardless, the postscript is well known by now: RG3’s career accomplishments, no matter how well he performed this year, remain to be seen, while Eli, the formerly befuddled rookie, has two Super Bowl MVP trophies and is probably on his way to the Hall of Fame.
Most people, or athletes for that matter, are not RG3. Even Eli, a #1 NFL draft pick and an extraordinarily talented athlete in his own right, needed several years to find his game on the professional level. In my mind, the youthful Quakers at this stage are akin to a young Eli Manning. They need time to find themselves at the collegiate level. Coach Allen talks often about “the process,” and just like Eli’s career, the process obviously takes time, but I see it slowly taking shape.
Ironically, the most encouraging sign for Penn was the 57-70 loss to #17 Butler on the road. The undersized, shorthanded, Quakers, without their leading scorer and a four man freshman rotation, were in it until the very end.
Sure, they were heavily outrebounded and committed far too many fouls, but any other year, a “good” Penn team probably would have lost by a similar margin to a ranked opponent. (FYI: The Daily Pennsylvanian sports blog had predicted a 30 point blowout with Butler scoring over 90. In fact, the Quakers kept the Bulldogs below their 75 point scoring average and held their leading scorer to only 6 points, 12 below his average.) A flash of “brilliance?” I think not, but still an extremely admirable showing for what is basically a freshman-centered team. In addition, because of illness, scandal, or injury, Coach Allen has no set starting five. However, this instability in the starting lineup has had a positive secondary effect. Young players who might otherwise be on the bench, like Jamal Lewis, Tony Hicks, Greg Louis and DNH are getting valuable playing time and much needed on-court experience.
So just imagine where these guys will be two or three years from now. Not only will they be seasoned, but they will also be deep at almost every position. I can’t wait.
Naturally, the 2-11 record is extremely discouraging, but the
losses, none of which were ridiculously lopsided, feel very different than the ones during Glen Miller’s years of futility. Like Eli, I believe these players have great potential, but don’t take my word for it. Take Butler’s coach and hardcore basketball junkie Brad Stevens” view of the Quakers after last week’s game.
“I knew it was gonna be hard tonight because they”re really well coached, and those guys run a lot of great
stuff. They”re getting better every game, and also they”ve been in most every game, and that”s usually the sign of a team that”s ready to break through.”
Incidentally, Coach John Giannini said exactly the same thing after the LaSalle game. Now with Ivy play approaching, break out time is hopefully near. Sure, I wish the Quakers were playing like RG3, but for the long run, I’d take Eli’s career any day.
Stay Red and Blue my friends.