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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What's your Ivy team's New Year's resolution?

New YearIt’s New Year’s Eve, and that means New Year’s resolutions abound. If the Ivies could have one doable New Year’s resolution each, here’s what they would be, along with the likelihood of each team making good on that resolution (Ivy power rankings included).

8. Penn (3-7)Get the freshmen substantially more minutes

Sam Jones is averaging 6.1 points in just 15.1 minutes per game so far this season and has proven himself to be the kind of sharpshooting threat Penn has been missing for a long time, shooting an eye-popping 45.9 percent from beyond the arc. Yet Jones logged just 10 minutes at La Salle last night. He must be in coach Jerome Allen’s doghouse, but he has to play more regardless.

Meanwhile, now that Mike Auger’s back from a foot injury, he has to play more too. He’s just seventh on the team in minutes per game despite being second in rebounds and third in points per contest. Freshman guard Antonio Woods is actually logging more minutes than anybody due to junior guard Tony Hicks’ chronic foul trouble, but he’s just one of many frosh that will have to pick up the slack if Penn is to make a run at the top half of the conference.

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IHO Awards of the Week – Dec. 15

The week that was in Ivy roundball, rankings included:

8. Penn (3-5)

Three wins in a row vs. teams whose KenPom rankings add up to 970 (Navy: 322, Binghamton: 340, Marist: 308)

7. Dartmouth (3-5)

Nice 21-point win at UMass-Lowell, but Dartmouth really has become Gabas Maldunas, Alex Mitola, Connor Boehm and a bunch of guys. That trio accounted for 50 of the Big Green’s 67 points in a loss at Jacksonville St.

6. Princeton (3-8)

More losses than any other Ivy. Princeton lost by 14 to St. Peter’s, which Brown beat by 12 in the Bears’ season opener, so the Tigers fall below Brown here. Still, an outstanding first half at Cal showed that the Tigers are capable of much more. Untapped upside still looms large for Princeton.

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Penn basketball dealing with deja vu

It wasn’t deja vu until it was.

For a while, it was another vision entirely, this 2014-15 Penn basketball team.

Who was this Darnell Foreman with the uncanny floor vision? This Sam Jones with the spot-up sharpshooting? This hustle and offensive rebounding tenacity across the board?

Penn trailed 14-5 early but got it together to build a seven-point lead with eight minutes to play at home against Delaware State, one of the worst teams in Division I last season.

And that’s when the deja vu set in. The rebounds started drying up. Jones’s shots started rimming out, giving him a 3-for-11 night from the field. Foreman continued controlling the point but not the ball as Tony Hicks took over, settling for and missing perimeter shot after perimeter shot as the second half wore on. Then Hicks airballed a three-pointer in the final minute, missing what would have been a game-winning shot as time expired and failing to successfully take the game into his own hands in overtime.

It became the Tony Hicks show, and it didn’t work. Sure, Hicks’s stat line was fantastic – 31 points, five three-pointers, five rebounds and three assists. Sure, this game could have easily went either way.

But it didn’t. It slipped away once again, this time to a no-name visitor that lost more games last season than even Penn.

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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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