Although I feel compelled to write something about our head coach being fired, there is little I can add that hasn’t already been said elsewhere.
A stellar man of character, universally loved on campus, superb athlete and Penn hoops legend (probably the finest Ivy League player I’ve ever seen), who was to resurrect our program following the Glen Miller disaster. Objectively, the results never materialized. Why? Who knows? It is impossible to speculate. Perhaps outside of the team’s inner sanctum, no one will ever know. Regardless, I don’t think anyone would argue that he was given more than a fair chance to succeed.
As ESPN”s Jeff Goodman first reported, Jerome Allen has been fired from his post as Penn’s head coach, an inevitable, Shakespearean ending to a marriage that saw much more sickness than health over Allen”s tenure. The writing had been on the wall for seasons, and after he coaches on Saturday against Cornell and Tuesday against Princeton, Allen will relieve his post. The Daily Pennsylvanian reports that M. Grace Calhoun informed the coach that he had been relieved of his duties on Monday, following his squad”s third-straight weekend in which the Quakers were swept.
Allen’s time as Penn’s head coach was a tragedy indeed. For starters, on a personal level, anyone who knows Allen personally speaks to his high character, that he is a wonderful person who people trust. And Jerome Allen, the man – who came from a rough part of the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, who has a family and kids – just lost his job after continually coming up short for years, which is never an easy thing to endure for anyone.
But now that the story of Jerome Allen, the coach, has come to its end, he deserves just as much sympathy as he does criticism.
There has been much talk in the past several years, particularly this season, about how much or little support Penn Athletics has received from the university.
It must be noted that the problem for Penn Athletics isn’t the inability to spend. According to data from the Office of Postsecondary Education, Penn’s annual expenses since 2004 – the start of Amy Gutmann’s presidency at Penn – average out to 30,644,364, the highest average in expenses in the Ivy League in that span:
One of the most august positions in world economics is held by Penn’s founder, Benjamin Franklin. This is because besides being the consummate Penn Man —philosopher, humorist, inventor, publisher, Ambassador to France, politician, author, scientist and, of course, whoremaster — Big Ben’s portrait graces the front of the $100 bill. As the Ivy basketball season winds down with Pennsylvania”s once equally august hoops program firmly in the cellar, Penn President Amy Gutmann should reach into her $9.6 billion endowment, pull out a hundy, and take note.
Penn Athletics announced today that junior guard Tony Hicks was suspended by coach Jerome Allen for Penn’s games at Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend. The Daily Pennsylvanian reports that Hicks did not travel with the team to New England.
Observers say Hicks twisted the hand of a Brown player in what appeared to be a sign of poor sportsmanship, which followed Hicks getting charged with a technical foul with 6:22 remaining in a 71-55 home loss to Brown for arguing with an official.
I have seen a lot of Penn Basketball over my lifetime. Thus I must say Dave Zeitlin’s great piece in the Pennsylvania Gazette about the 2005 Penn-Princeton game, filled me with much wistful melancholy.
First, a confession: I was more than 100 miles away from the Palestra on game day. Instead of being in the stands, I was sitting in my car on that cold, rainy night in Rockaway Beach Queens near JFK Airport listening to the Princeton broadcast as it faded in and out across my car radio. Unimpeded by the tall buildings of Manhattan and beamed over a frigid New York Bay, I knew from years of experience that this secluded landmark could adequately receive a reasonable but faint signal from the New Jersey hinterlands. To get to my vantage point I took a 20-mile detour on my way home from work. If that’s not fandom I don’t know what is.
For the next three weeks, there will be no shortage of people calling for Jerome Allen to be fired and replaced as Penn basketball’s head coach. The reasoning is simple: With Allen at the helm over the past five and a half seasons, the Quakers have gone 63-99 and appear on their way to another below .500 season along with a third straight bottom half of the Ivy League finish.
But no matter the reasons his many detractors will provide for his ouster, there are definitely reasons to keep Allen aboard for next season. The following isn’t an opinion piece advocating for Allen but simply lays out the main factors Athletic Director Grace Calhoun will have to look into before making her final decision after the season.
“One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.” Aristotle.
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.
Generally, it’s a question asked in philosophy classrooms across the country by students wearing ugly plaid sweaters, and knit caps on their heads.
The only similarity between Penn coach Jerome Allen and the typical hipster philosophy student is the glasses, but last night, after his team won its first Big 5 game in three years against St. Joe’s, Allen was asking the same question.
And it’s a fair one to ask about this Penn squad, albeit troubling when coming from the man who should know better than anyone else. The Quakers’ effort seems to fluctuate from night to night. When the Palestra has been packed recently, against Villanova last weekend and against the Hawks last night, Penn brings a higher level of energy. Then, when no one is around to watch, the Quakers lay eggs, like the one they laid against Monmouth on Wednesday.
Last night, their leader, Tony Hicks, went from taking zero shot attempts in the first half to shifting completely in his approach in the last twenty minutes of the contest, driving to the rack at will. Darien Nelson-Henry took control in the second half, but missed two free throws late that could’ve put the game away sooner for the Quakers.
But “Who are we?” may not be the right question to ask, because it doesn’t solve the Quakers’ problems. In fact, when looking at the difference in regards to level of performance from night to night, it’s quite clear who the Quakers are: an inconsistent squad, both on the micro and the macro level.