The case for Jerome Allen

(Laurence Kesterson/AP)
(Laurence Kesterson/AP)

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.

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More than just growing pains are holding back Penn basketball

There will be a lot written and said about Penn’s growing pains throughout this season.

People will lament coach Jerome Allen’s ability to develop young talent, watch as freshmen like Mike Auger and Antonio Woods develop good and bad habits and yell when Sam Jones heats up from three one night and can’t knock one down the next.

But all of that won’t matter one bit if the elder statesmen of the team don’t clean up their own bad habits.

Allen admitted following Penn’s loss to Rider on Tuesday night that he wanted to get these freshmen, so vital to the development to the Quakers’ program and Allen’s job security, some winning experience as soon as possible.

The only problem is, his veterans, the players who should be carrying the team, are inhibiting the growth that the freshmen have been able to experience over the course of two games.

Had junior Darien Nelson-Henry been able to close out Delaware State in the waning minutes on Saturday night, Woods, Auger, Jones and Darnell Foreman would have experienced what it feels like to win in their first collegiate game.

But what happened on Tuesday didn’t just rob the freshmen of a winning experience. It put them in a position where it was hard for them to develop.

Read moreMore than just growing pains are holding back Penn basketball

Penn Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition

Now or never season for Jerome Allen? Now or never season for Jerome Allen.

That being said, this is a very young roster as seven of Penn’s top 10 scorers from last season are gone, which means that Penn’s nonconference play may not be as telling as it was a year ago when it was clear very early on – like, the season opener – that the Quakers were in trouble. This roster needs time to gel, and it will have to gel before the program starts stringing together wins with any consistency. So it’ll be a while before we can properly evaluate what pieces Allen is working with here.

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RG3, Eli, and the Quakers

The Ancient Quaker comforts himself and other Penn fanatics by urging perspective and looking optimistically at the improving youth on this blundering 2-11 squad.
The Ancient Quaker comforts himself and other fanatics by urging perspective and looking optimistically at the improving youth on this blundering 2-11 squad.

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.

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