By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Jerome Allen has always won. He won at Episcopal Academy. He won at Penn. So this is all new to Allen, standing there on the sideline as coach of the Quakers, watching his young team sputter and try.
Penn is 3-15 and 0-1 in the Ivy League. The Quakers have reached this destination with a starting lineup that doesn’t include a senior—and a roster without a senior on it. So Allen grits his teeth and absorbs the losses. He doesn’t like it. He doesn’t want to hear about moral victories.
Yet you have a sense something is building here, something good. And the architect is Allen.
“Jerome’s doing a great job there,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy, after the Owls’ escaped with a 76-69 victory over Allen’s Quakers at the Liacouras Center Wednesday night in a Big 5 classic. “Penn’s coming along. They played well tonight. I thought they outplayed us. We were fortunate enough to win, but I like a lot of what Jerome is doing and where he’s taking that program.”
Dunphy should have that keen insight. He was the long-time, and highly successful coach of the Quakers before moving on to Temple.
As for Allen and the Quakers, he’ll keep trudging forward. The Quakers have a lot of build on, with 6-foot-11 freshman center Darien Nelson-Henry, who dropped 17 on Temple on 7 of 10 shooting, and junior Miles Cartwright, who scored a team-high 21 points on 6 of 14 shooting.
Penn gave Temple all it could handle. The Quakers, as they have all season, battled and pushed the Owls to the brink, before Khalif Wyatt took over and almost singlehandedly won the game for Temple.
Still, Allen didn’t want to hear about “coming close” and “battling.” Just as the Quakers did in an 85-83 loss to Lafayette, when they were seemingly out of the game, trailing 75-60 with less than eight minutes left, when Penn went on a torrid 21-6 run to tie it at 81 before losing.
Penn led throughout the first half of the Lafayette game as they did throughout most of the Temple game.
“It really doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Allen, after the Quakers fell for the 10 th time in their last 11 games. “We play the game to win. I coach to win. At the end of the day, we lost the game and it’s a direct function of what we did not do. That has to be our mentality.”
Penn won’t be going anywhere this season. The Quakers sit at the bottom of the Ivy League, though watching them against Temple, seeing how they battled back against Lafayette, and with Allen pushing them, the sense is that Penn will rise again.
You also get the sense Allen feels this team will never quit.
“We’ll regroup, we’ll respond,” Allen said. “One thing that I can say has been consistent is that these guys give effort. They might not play the smartest of basketball at times, but they play hard. I’m just going to try and match some things with that effort and go out and see where we fall.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.