By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team will return to the court on Wednesday night as the Quakers host Delaware State at the Palestra.

Penn hasn’t played since December 9th when the Quakers went into Dayton and surprised the Flyers, 78-70. The victory improved Penn to 8-4 on the season with eight wins in their last ten games.

“I think we’re all happy with our progress,” Penn head coach Steve Donahue tells KYW Newsradio, “in particular, after the first two games where we kind of stubbed our toe a little bit out of the gates. Since then we’ve been very good, contributions from different guys, very consistent on the defensive end throughout the games, great rebounding numbers and taking care of the basketball.”

 

One of the impressive things about the Quakers is their depth. The same five players have started all 12 games for Penn, but Donahue has had many different players step up off the bench at different times throughout the season. In the win over Dayton it was senior Sam Jones making his presence felt as he buried five of six three-point attempts in just 13 minutes of work.

“I use the analogy, we have a big bullpen,” Donahue says. “We’ve got a starting rotation that can go five innings, it’s great. Then we have a bunch of guys that we can put in there – Jackson Donahue, Caleb Wood, Sam Jones, even Jarrod Simmons as a freshman, Dan Dwyer, Matt MacDonald. The ability to do that is a strength for a coach. The difficult part, which is why you don’t see it very often, it’s a hard thing for a kid to accept, what his role is and be comfortable with it. I think all those guys are very comfortable coming in and knowing what their role is, in particular being a shooter. Typically guys like to be out there, get warm; these guys do not have that luxury. I explain to them, in Sam’s case, in Caleb’s case, if you’re open, you’re shooting it. I think that enables us to really be a stronger team. Because our top five are probably our best all-around players, but these other guys make us a better team and if they’re willing to do that, I think we can be a really dangerous team with those kind of guys.”

The Delaware State team that Penn will host on Wednesday will bring a 2-12 record into the Palestra.

“Well, they’ve played a hellacious schedule,” Donahue says. “Tons of road games, high-quality opponents. They lose to Pitt on the last possession, they lose to Delaware in overtime. They’re actually an older team, too. Three senior starters, a junior college transfer and a freshman point guard. Good length, good athleticism, crazy mixing up the defenses. You’re going to probably have to play really good offense at time, because they change it up so well, you’ve got to be consistent and you’ve probably got to make some shots to beat them.”

Penn and Delaware State have split two all-time meetings.

Wednesday night’s game starts at 7:00pm.

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