Quakers, Show Some Heart

A somber AQ takes Jerome to task for failing to instill some moxie into this year's Quaker gang.
A somber AQ takes Jerome to task for failing to instill some moxie into this year’s Quaker gang.

Dear Jerome,

As I sit here, trying to forget what I witnessed this afternoon, I have decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. After all, it’s a long season and your team has only played 3 games. Besides, any team can have a bad day. A day when there seems to be a lid on the basket, the defense falters and the floor leadership fails. That’s OK. I’ve seen enough basketball over the years to understand the capriciousness and vagaries of the sport. Still, as this young season unfolds, I wish to tell you that I am disturbed. Not just because of the rising number in the loss column and the equally unsettling lack of overall team growth, but because from where I stand, the 2014 Quakers are not at all lacking in overall talent. Nor are they lacking in numbers, physical size or, now, even experience. What disturbs me the most is their lack of one essential quality all winning athletic programs seem to possess—their lack of moxie. Moxie. A New England Indian word which is defined as: courage and aggressiveness; nerve. Also, skill; know-how

So then, where is the Quakers’ swagger? Where is their grit? Where is their…moxie? You know what I’m talking about because you displayed these attributes as well as anyone who ever put on a Penn uniform. I remember well how your Quaker teams, no matter how far behind you were on the scoreboard, simply refused to lose. Then, just to rub in it a little when you finally had your opponent by the throat, you’d showboat with a few behind-the-back passes. With the exception of one coach, all of the Penn teams since your playing days have had it. Just a few years ago, Zack Rosen had it. So then, where is this indispensable feature in your current charges?

Thanks to the Ivy Digital Network, I can now fill my nights with watching Penn’s competition as they too wind their way through the nascent non-conference hoops schedule. The early returns: Yale should have beaten Rutgers—but showed moxie. Brown should have beaten Providence—but also showed moxie. And Columbia, the butt of so many jokes by arrogant Penn fans over the years (as well as everyone else around The League), took #2 Michigan State, in East Lansing, to the wire –but showed incredible moxie. Kyle Smith’s Lions, although heavily outgunned by a national power, remained patient, poised, fearless, and stayed within themselves to the very end of the game. Even today in Cambridge, the 16-time and defending Ivy Champion Pennsylvania Football Team, revealed the heart of a true champion by coming back from a 38-0 pasting in the 3rd quarter, to nearly win the game in the final minutes. Alas, although they were only playing “for pride” with no shot at the Ivy Title, and eventually lost 38-30, they too displayed moxie in a defiant defeat. (In fact, it would have been the largest comeback in college football history.)

I know you are fond of saying there are “no moral victories”, but even you cannot deny that what the Lions, the Bears and the football team nearly accomplished is indeed truly inspiring. Penn State is not Kentucky, and neither is Temple for that matter. Both teams were imminently beatable. But if your team has to lose, I’d much rather see them go down in this bold and rebellious fashion, then the disjointed, disorganized, meek, and downright painful way they lost today.

The 2014 Quakers are still young and there are still many games to play before the Ivy schedule starts. I think there is still ample time to pull it all together.

Impart to these young men what evidently comes naturally to you and I’m sure the rest will follow. I do not pretend to know anything about coaching Division I basketball, but I do know that I, for one, believe in you. I always have.

 

P.S. Loved what you wore today.

 

Stay Red and Blue,

The AQ

4 thoughts on “Quakers, Show Some Heart

  1. Thanks, AQ, for the commentary. I have a few thoughts and would certainly appreciate the comments of more experienced and enlightened fans—–

    As tough as the two loses were this week, there were some positive signs for the Quakers.

    After falling behind to Temple by 15 with about 8 minutes to go, the team showed great heart to take a two point lead with just under 2 minutes to go. Unfortunately, the next three trips up court went poorly and sealed the defeat.

    Darien Nelson-Henry had two double-doubles in his first two games. Yesterday, he had 21 points, including 11-11 from the line against Penn State.

    Tony Hicks has been solid, especially against the stronger competition. Fran Dougherty, Henry Brooks and the overall team rebounding seem to be improving with each game. Even the fouling, which was so horrible last year, has seen improvement this first week.

    For me, with my inexperienced views, the team has not put in a complete 40 minute effort, especially on the defensive end. Also, while the team has several strong and/or experienced members (DNH, Hicks, Dougherty, Jackson-Cartwright and Brooks), there has been a total drop-off after that core. There has been no real offensive or defensive productivity from the third guard position.

    While I do feel that the above issues will be corrected over the next few games, including PLP finding his outside shot, my biggest concern is with Co-Captain Jackson-Cartwright. This is his third year in the starting lineup and the second being the team leader. He has very good skills and has had several outstanding games during his career. However, I feel he often disappears for large stretches of games and has trouble with consistency.

    This pattern seems to have continued during this first week. J-C had a great game against a lesser opponent in Monmouth, but had tougher results against the two stronger teams (Temple and Penn State). For Penn to truly be successful, he needs to be the leader, both with his results and his attitude, for the full 40 minutes each and every night. I have not seen this over the last few years, but can only hope that the “moxie” from his former teammate, Zach Rosen, and his present coach, Jerome Allen, rubs off for him and his team.

  2. RB,
    I agree with all but i am not as sanguine. The team as a whole has looked dysfunctional and the overall lack of growth from all of the players (perhaps with the exception of DNH and Hicks) is disturbing. They play poorly, at the moment at least, as a team. Witness the crisp passing and “never say die” attitude of both Yale and Brown last week and the Quakers look nothing like that. Getting behind early is also once again fast becoming their trademark. A terrible pattern most often seen during the dark years of GM. (I can’t even say his name.) This is all bad as the League around them has matured in talent, numbers and overall skill.
    As for MJC, disappearing for the a few games and then dropping 20 or 25 has been his routine since he was a freshman. He is a very good player but terribly streaky and, I think, a mediocre to a poor floor leader. Clearly, the trick is to get DNH, MJC, Doc and Hicks to play to their abilities all at the same time. (Then it doesn’t matter when Brooks fouls out.)
    I am hoping for the best but fear the worst. We’ve heard this “lack of desire” type comment far too often since Jerome has taken over. As much as I like Jerome ( and his custom made suits), clearly there is something wrong with his didactic approach. Now that I think about it, I don’t ever think the team’s desire was ever questioned when Dunphy was the coach. These teams lost, but they died trying. That’s what we need now.

    Enjoyed your question,
    The AQ

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