PRINCETON — Jerome Allen was asked if there was anything to his Penn
team losing seven of the last eight meetings against archrival
“Is that your way of saying we’re a bad team?” the coach asked.
Maybe not a bad team, but one that is certainly struggling
following a 65-53 defeat to the Tigers in the Ivy League opener Saturday
night at Jadwin Gym. The Quakers fell to 2-13 overall.
“To be completely honest with you, not only being a participant in
this rivalry but as a player, the other thing is, I question how hungry
we are to compete for a championship,” Allen said. “Not necessarily
every year, but just today. Not really putting too much emphasis on
we’ve lost seven out of eight times, but somebody might look at this as
some type of motivation.”
Allen thought his team played with a lack of energy. Only freshmen
Tony Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry reached double-figures, finishing
with 16 and 11 points, respectively.
The Quakers dug themselves a 20-point hole early in the second half after Princeton came out of intermission on a 9-0 run.
“Play better than the first half,” said Allen of the second-half strategy that didn’t quite work out.
“I think it was a lack of effort, like coach was saying,” Hicks said.
“Not playing with enough sense of urgency to understand this game is
very important. We don’t have a conference tournament so every Ivy game
is important. We just didn’t come to play.
The coach took the blame for that himself.
“I’ve been placed on this platform to prepare this team to win,”
Allen said. “I think I have to do a better job of understanding who we
are and where we’re at, and try to tie things together from there.”
Right now, Penn is missing leading scorer Fran Dougherty, who hasn’t
played in the last five games because of mononucleosis. He’s averaging
15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
Those numbers are hard to replace, especially with three freshmen on the floor most of the time.
“I would have loved for us to have him tonight,” said Allen, adding
that he has no timetable for Dougherty’s return. “There’s a reason they
call it a team sport. We have to do a better job of collectively coming
up and filling that void.”
Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said he expects a much different Penn
team when the two meet again in the season finale March 12 at the
By that time, the Tigers may be playing for the NCAA tournament berth.
And how the Quakers would love to play spoiler the way Princeton did a year ago.
“I know when we see those guys in March, that’s going to be a much
different team,” Henderson warned. “I see their record in front of me,
but they’re bubbling, and I can tell, they’re going to be OK.”