The Quakers have certainly seen better days. A storied program that plays in the Cathedral of College Basketball, Penn went just 9-19 a season ago for its third straight season with nine wins or less.
Following a 20-13 season in 2011-2012 - Jerome Allen's second full season as head coach - the Quakers began a rapid demise, culminating in Allen's dismissal at the end of last season.
Under new Coach Steve Donahue, the Quakers will look to rebuild and begin to contend in the
Ivy League again in the coming seasons.
Coming off a terrible season, Penn wasn't set to lose any players of importance. Until October 30. That is when the school announced that their leading scorer from a season ago, Tony Hicks would not play for the Quakers in his senior season.
In his junior season, Hicks averaged more than 13 points per game for a dismal Quakers squad. The school did not announce a reason for why Hicks would not play this season, but he will apparently stay at the school and graduate in May.
Regardless of the reason for Hicks sitting out this season, expect to see him most likely utilize the graduate transfer rule for next season and leave Penn.
Key Returning Players: C Darien Nelson-Henry (8.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG); G Antonio Woods (8.4 PPG, 3.8 APG, 2.3 RPG); G Matt Howard (8.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG); F Mike Auger (5.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG)
A 6-foot-11 senior, Nelson-Henry has been decent so far in his collegiate career and has a fantastic beard. With Hicks now suddenly gone, Nelson-Henry will be relied on as more of a leader and the Quakers will need him to help make up for some of the lost scoring as well. The 265-pounder out of Washington has plenty of potential, but will need to be more consistent in 2015-2016.
In his freshman campaign, Woods started 15 games and led the Quakers in assists for the season. He earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors on five separate occasions, but also shot just 37.6 percent from the field and 27.7 percent from three. If Woods can up his shooting percentage a bit and continue to distribute the ball, he should be a solid piece for the Quakers.
Howard increased his minutes per game by nearly 20 minutes a season ago and saw his points per game increase from 2.1 as a freshman to 8.4 as a sophomore. Penn will look for the junior to continue to grow and increase his subpar 32.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc this season.
Auger was held scoreless in his college debut against Delaware State a season ago, but would follow that with a 10-point game against Rider and an 18-point outing against Lafayette. Auger would then miss the next six games due to a foot injury and unfortunately would not return to his prior form afterward. The freshman would average 5.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game for the season, but would not hit double-digits in scoring in a game after returning from injury.
Key Additions: Coach Steve Donahue; G Jake Silpe (Fr., Cherry Hill East)
After yet another lousy season in 2014-2015, Penn axed Coach Jerome Allen and hired former Quakers assistant coach Steve Donahue to replace him. Donahue was head coach at Cornell from 2000-2010, compiling a 146-138 record and making it to the Sweet 16 in 2010. He would then depart for the Boston College head coaching gig, where he went just 54-76 in four seasons before spending last season as a TV analyst. Donahue will look to inject new life into a program that has certainly seen better days.
Silpe, who scored 1,577 points in his high school career, led Cherry Hill East to the New Jersey Group 4State Finals as a senior and was named South Jersey Player of the Year by the Courier Post and Philadelphia Inquirer. The 6-foot-2 guard should see some solid minutes as a freshman and could be a decent contributor on a young Quakers squad.
The Quakers have a nice balance of youth and experience. Under a first year coach, there are sure to be growing pains, but there is no reason to believe that Penn can't be better than last year and begin to compete in the Ivy League in the next few seasons.
Losing Tony Hicks this close to the start of the season is a big blow, but will also open up minutes for younger players to develop, which will better serve the program in the long run.
With that said, the Quakers have brought in strong freshman classes the past two years and if some of those young players develop quickly, Penn could put together a respectable season in 2015-2016.
By: Kyle Babcock
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