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Penn Red & Blue Scrimmage Observations

10/25/2015, 12:30am EDT
By Josh Verlin

Tony Hicks (11) and the Quakers held their Red & Blue scrimmage on Saturday afternoon. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

Penn held its annual Red & Blue scrimmage at the Palestra on Saturday, giving us our first look at the 2015-16 Quakers.

I was going to try to do three or five observations from the whole team, but instead I've decided to just run through the roster and give my thoughts on how everybody looked today; no statistics were kept, so I'll guess at a few things.

Head coach Steve Donahue certainly has more talent to work with than has been on Penn's roster over the last few years, but it'll take a few months until we really see just how competitive they'll be in the Ivy League. Based on the play of several freshmen and sophomores, though, there's plenty to look forward to in West Philadelphia.


Mike Auger (Soph./PF)--It was a fairly quiet afternoon for Auger, a 6-foot-7 forward who's expected to be a regular member of the frontcourt rotation this year if he doesn't start. He doesn't have quite the outside shooting abilities of some of the other bigs on Penn's roster, which means his role will be slightly different than several of his teammates, and it also means this wasn't the best venue for him to showcase any improvements he might have made from a year ago.

Jackson Donahue (Fr./G)--One of two players on the roster whose best asset is his 3-point shooting, Donahue took until the second half to finally connect from deep. Though he can play some point guard and certainly isn't a bad secondary or tertiary ball-handler, he's well behind several other guards on the roster in terms of his play-making abilities right now, so it'll be his ability to get free for shots and knock them down that'll determine his minutes for now. When he was able to get around a screen and into the lane, he made several nice kick-out passes and has a very good understanding of the offense.

Dan Dwyer (Soph./PF)--There's always that one player on Ivy League rosters who goes under the radar in the offseason, and Dwyer might be that guy for Penn this year. The 6-8 forward didn't see a lot of playing time last year, and hadn't been particularly singled out by the coaching staff as a player to watch moving forward. But if his effort on Saturday is indicative of how his preseason has gone, Dwyer will earn minutes; he was one of the more harder-working big guys in posting up, and was able to score on a few hook shots while using his footwork to break free for a layup or two.

Darnell Foreman (Soph./G)--Foreman had a slow start to the game offensively, missing badly on an early 3-point attempt, though he did frustrate Hicks into a number of difficult shots on the other end. The second half went better for Foreman, who was much more aggressive with the ball in his hands. His defense will earn him minutes, but if he can't be an offensive weapon for the Quakers, it'll be tough for him to stay on the floor for long stretches on a team that's going to need buckets from everybody.

Tyler Hamilton (Fr./SG)--An attacking wing guard, Hamilton will struggle to see minutes this season thanks to the presence of several upperclassmen who have similar skill sets. It took him until the second half to make his presence felt, but he had several good takes later on, getting to the line on a pair of occasions. Didn't really see enough from him to get a great read, but he's a year away from any significant contributions just because of Hicks and Howard's presence to begin with.

Tony Hicks (Sr./G)--Speaking of Hicks, it was a rough first half for the Quakers' leading scorer the last two years, who couldn't find the bottom of the net with several difficult shots. He got going plenty in the second half, taking his defender off the bounce at every opportunity and finishing several tough layups, as well as a jumper or two. With better scorers around him, Hicks needs to continue to pick and choose his attacking spots a little more effectively, but there's no denying his ability to score the basketball.

Matt Howard (Jr./SG)--Howard sat out with a mild ankle sprain; he's not expected to miss any regular-season time and should return to practice within the next few days. One source on the team said if it was a regular-season game, Howard would likely have been okay to play.

Dylan Jones (Jr./PF)--I'm still not exactly sure what Jones' role will be this year. He's an athletic 6-8 forward and has face-up ability out to 15 feet, which he showed by hitting a baseline jumper, but he was maybe the third or fourth-most productive forward on the day, and that's been typical of his career thus far. There's a role available as a high-level rebounder and shot blocker, but it's not clear whether he really fits into Donahue's offensive system.

Sam Jones (Soph./SF)--After making more than 43 percent of his 3-point attempts as a freshman, Jones is expected to be one of the team's gunners this year, and he did exactly that. Jones' shot wasn't hitting at a high rate this afternoon, but his role is clear--find a spot behind the arc and pull the trigger whenever he has an inch of room, which is usually easy to do considering he's 6-7. He did have a nice follow-up of a teammate's miss that resulted in an easy bucket, but other than that all of his looks (around 5-6) came from 3-point range.

Jamal Lewis (Sr./G)--After averaging nearly 20 minutes in 54 games as a freshman and sophomore, Lewis missed last season with an undisclosed medical issue, but the 6-0 guard looks like he's back and healthy for his final year of college. He had a decent stretch in the second half, with a 3-pointer and a layup or two, but that was about it. It'll be tough for Lewis to crack the guard rotation in a significant way, with Donahue having more talented upperclassmen and promising young players he's trying to get as much experience as possible, but he'll probably see a few minutes here and there.

Matt MacDonald (Jr./SG)--A transfer from Fairleigh Dickinson, MacDonald won't be eligible to play in a real game in a Penn uniform until next year, but Quaker fans got a sense of what the 6-5 wing guard can do. He was productive especially in the first half, hitting a corner 3-pointer and making a few nice drives, and will fit in well as a combo '2'/'3' who brings size and savvy to the perimeter.

Collin McManus (Fr./F-C)--He's still got work to do in terms of his mobility and reading/reacting defensively at the Division I level, but McManus did plenty of good things as well. At 6-10, he can step out and knock down a 3-pointer, and he wasn't passive around the glass either, scoring through contact a few times and winding up at the line for some freebies as well. Still behind a few of the other forwards on the team, so it's unclear how much he'll contribute right away, but he's got tools and as he adjusts to his body more he'll develop into a good Ivy player.

Darien Nelson-Henry (Sr./C)--Donahue is determined to make his 6-11, 270-pound big man a key focal point of his offense for the one year he has him, and though it might not have been on purpose that the Quakers' Blue team went to Nelson-Henry on each of its first three possessions, it certainly drove the point home. There's no reason that the Washington state native with a soft touch belying his rugged frame and beard couldn't average a double-double with his array of scoring moves, and he easily had 12-16 points in his team's win. He's still not the most athletic big man in the Ivy League or the most mobile, but he's in the best shape he's been in in years and should have his best career season.

Max Rothschild (Fr./PF)--The Quaker coaches have been high on Rothschild all preseason, and it was easy to tell why almost immediately. The 6-8 forward had easily 12-14 points, almost all of which came on post-up situations against a variety of his teammates; he's got great touch around the rim and drained a nice 10-foot fadeaway as well. Rothschild also battled hard on the defensive end, playing solid against Auger and McManus in the post and fighting for second-chance rebounds.

Jake Silpe (Fr./PG)--During the first half, the 6-2 guard from Cherry Hill East was the best player on the floor, and it wasn't really close. Silpe had nine points, five assists and three steals in the first half alone, spending a decent deal of the second half on the bench as his Blue team cruised. But his opening run was very impressive, with four assists alone to Rothschild and a few other nice drive-and-dishes that resulted in either a good shot or a hockey assist; he also hit a slick step-back 3-pointer over Hicks and had some fast-break buckets as well. Most importantly, he showed an ability to get something done in late-shot-clock situations, which the Quakers will need this season and beyond.

Antonio Woods (Soph./G)--Solid game for Woods, who didn't do anything spectacular or surprising but showed why he'll be one of the team's offensive focal points this season. The solid-bodied 6-1 sophomore is a true combo who's equally comfortable on the ball as he is off it, though he played a lot of PG in a backcourt along with Hicks in this particular game. Woods does a good job of probing the defense and getting into the foul line area, where he can decide whether to continue attacking or kick out to a teammate.

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