It was just two weeks ago that The Empire published an article titled “2015-16 season a complete turnaround for Penn.” It was justified after the Quakers had just trounced a gritty and talented La Salle basketball team. Since that game, the team from West Philadelphia has struggled mightily, losing three straight games, two of them against teams with sub-.500 records.
There have been many reasons for their lack of success, but the main problem has been a lack of efficient scoring and inconsistent play.
Yes, against Lafayette, the team managed to rack up 86 points. It was the defense that failed them this game as they surrendered 92 points. But the team struggled to score at the beginning of the game (31 points in the first half), which has been a common sight for Penn recently.
Against La Salle, the Quakers were down by 10 at one point in the first half. Granted, they did claw their way back into the game, but getting down by such a margin is hard to come back from. In other matchups they haven’t been so fortunate.
Versus the Pac-12 team, Washington, Penn couldn’t slow down the Huskies from the jump, as they managed only 30 points at halftime. Then three games later against Navy, they accumulated a mere 25 points at intermission.
This was all capped off by their last matchup against George Mason, where they only managed 16 points in the first half. This problem has plagued them, so it has come to no surprise that they have lost 3 of the last 4 games.
The bottom line is, Penn cannot be successful if they continue to get off to slow starts. In most of the games, they’ve played admiringly to get back into the game, but it hasn’t been enough. Part of the reason why they have struggled in the infant stages of contests has been their early inconsistent shooting.
Coach Steve Donahue puts an emphasis on shooting three pointers. Much of Penn’s offense revolves around the ability to sink three point shots and consistently shoot around the 40% mark. But this hasn’t been the case before the first half.
In the first halves of the Lafayette and Navy games, they made only one first half three pointer in each. This set them down by double digit points early on. Not only is this unacceptable for any team, but for a squad that lives on three pointers, there is no way Penn can win consistently without a complete game effort.
All in all, Penn has the potential. They have the talent, experience, and ability. But if they continue to dig themselves huge holes to fill in the late minutes of the game, the Quakers will once again be looking at a sub .500 season. The team needs to find a way to get going earlier because they don’t have enough talent to fight back from double digit leads every single outing.
And who knows? If Penn starts to perform better in the early parts of games, we could be looking at a team that competes with the top of the Ivy League.
Photo: University of Pennsylvania