When it comes to Penn basketball, the Jerome Allen years have unfortunately inured me into believing the ancient Greek’s wisdom. (As for quoting Aristotle, this is “Ivy Hoops Online,” not Big 10 or SEC Hoops Online, otherwise I’d quote a Kardashian. I therefore make no apologies for my pretension.) Saturday night’s win over St. Joe’s is, of course, gratifying. Any win at this point is.
However, Penn should have also beaten both Princeton and Villanova. Any reasonably coached team would, and should, have taken advantage of the poor shooting of these opponents and put the game away. Instead these 2014-15 Quakers demonstrated all of the hallmarks of their recent predecessors, namely: lack of poise, impatience, and, the veritable signet of all of Jerome’s squads — incessant turnovers and fouls. Thus, despite the immediate giddiness of beating a Big 5 rival, my mood is instead tempered. I’ve now seen this many times before, like last year in shocking Princeton or ambushing Harvard in 2013, or even knocking off No. 25 Cornell before their Sweet Sixteen run. What I have learned over these last few extremely painful years is the true hallmark of Jerome’s teams is their inconsistency.
Once a season, the team pulls it together, brutally teases its ardent fan base, and flashes some potential, only to quickly return to a more permanent normalcy of disarray and dysfunction. Saturday night is a perfect example. The only reason the Quakers won was because St. Joe’s out-Penned Penn in shooting just 34 percent (21 percent from three) with 25 fouls. Regardless, I’ll take it.
As the Ivy season begins in earnest next weekend, I am neither cautiously optimistic as I have been in years past, nor am I pessimistic. Beaten down from years of losing to terrible teams, to paraphrase yet another famous philosopher, I just am. At the post game press conference Coach Allen said, “I don’t know who we are.” Funny, he used the exact same line after beating Harvard two years ago.
“One day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.” Maybe Allen doesn’t know who they are, but I do.
Stay Red and Blue my friends,
ADD: The Big A bears a striking resemblance to DNH. Coincidence? I don’t think so.