Penn hopes to challenge Harvard for Ivy League supremacy

FILE PHOTO Penn's Fran Dougherty: 'I think we are going to shock a lot of people with how good we are going to be this year.'
FILE PHOTO Penn's Fran Dougherty: 'I think we are going to shock a lot of people with how good we are going to be this year.'
Posted: October 25, 2013

HARVARD not only won the Ivy League last season. Tommy Amaker's team upset New Mexico in the NCAA Tournament. Now, seniors Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, who left school last year after starting the previous season, are back to join all that young talent, including Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers.

Harvard got all 17 votes in the preseason poll to win the league again. The Crimson really does look great on paper. So why play the season?

Penn plans to play the season. Jerome Allen's team lost 22 times last season after finishing just behind Harvard the season before. Allen played a bunch of freshmen. He wished he could have played then-junior big man Fran Dougherty the whole season. He was heading for All-Ivy before getting mononucleosis and then suffering a bad right elbow injury (dislocated and torn ligaments).

Allen and Dougherty are confident, conceding nothing.

"I really, really like this team," Allen said. "The core of the team has been through enough adversity to the point that they're ready to take off. If we stay healthy, I think we've got a chance to be really good. It's hard for me to say, because I played for guys that coached the details. It's OK to just go out and voice your expectations."

His expectations are to win the league.

"We'll gladly be the underdogs," Dougherty said. "I think we are going to shock a lot of people with how good we are going to be this year."

Penn was picked second in the poll, barely ahead of Yale and Princeton in a tight pack.

Penn opens at the Palestra on Nov. 9 against Temple, but the big house will look a bit different, and the house next door looks a lot different.

The media seating, always on the side of the benches, has been moved across the court to accommodate a new seating configuration.

Next to the Palestra, a new basketball center, complete with coaches' offices overlooking a shiny practice court, has risen from what was Hutchinson Gym.

"Nowadays, these kids believe what they see, so having the Palestra, on top of having our own facility to go up and down on, says a lot," Allen said. "Now, we've got to win some games."

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