Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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Trying to explain Zack Rosen

Zack Rosen's performance was the main talking point after Penn's 69-60 win over Delaware at the Palestra last night.

Trying to explain Zack Rosen

Gallery Image 5
Penn's Zack Rosen tries to dribble past Delaware's Khalid Lewis during last night's game at the Palestra. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Not for the first time - and not for the last, I suspect - Zack Rosen's performance was the main talking point after Penn's 69-60 win over Delaware at the Palestra last night.

The Quakers guard turned in another outstanding effort, scoring 29 points despite making only one of seven three-point attempts. Rosen was 7-for-12 from two-point range and a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line.

After the game, Penn coach Jerome Allen and guard Rob Belcore - who had a fine night himself with 11 points and 10 rebounds - were asked to describe Rosen's performance so far this season.

Allen, being one of the great point guards in Penn history, had quite a bit to say. So did Belcore, who's been roomates with Rosen since for all four of their years in Philadelphia.

I thought I'd share their remarks with you. I found them pretty interesting.

Jerome Allen:

I'm a tough critic. So especially from a point guard's standpoint, I think I reflect back on the possessions when he didn't make the right play, more so than the possessions that he does.

Obviously, I love Zack. He does a lot for us. He wants to be coached, and he can take my criticism. He responds, and he is an outstanding leader.

To be quite honest with you, you'd be hard-pressed to find a young man throughout the country that's giving what he's giving to us. And if you do find him, he's a pretty good ballplayer.

Rob Belcore:

He's like no one I've ever met, honestly. Every day, in everything he does. If you go in his locker it has the Plato quote, I don't know it, about excellence every day.

[Allen interrupted Belcore to note that the quote came from Aristotle, not Plato: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."]

But that's what Zack does. Honestly, you want to know Zack Rosen? Follow him through the course of a day. Look at what he does in the morning: he gets up and makes his bed every day. And then he's in every single class.

Every single thing he does, he pursues excellence. And it's something that, as someone who is nowhere near as excellent as him, I really admire.

I had a flashback to 2007 as I transcribed Belcore's quotes after getting home from the Palestra.

I remember very well having a hard time believing that Ibrahim Jaaber was going to win the Geasey Award for Big 5 player of the year. He was an outstanding player for Penn, but not until very late in the season did I think his skills really translated to a higher level.

Part of that was because prior to Jaaber, no Penn player had won the Geasey Award since Tony Price in 1979. Not Jerome Allen, or Matt Maloney, or Michael Jordan, or Ugonna Onyekwe.

But Jaaber did get the award, and there weren't too many complaints about it. 

Now Rosen is in the spotlight, and there's a very good chance that Penn won't have to endure another 28-year drought for a Geasey Award winner.

Rosen is having a truly extraordinary season. He has scored 15 or more points in each of Penn's 10 games so far, and in six of them he scored more than 20 points. In addition, he has registered five or more assists in five of the 10 games, including two games with 10 each.

It's impossible to know whether Rosen will be able to keep up this kind of pace all season. So far, though, it's been impossible to not be impressed by his accomplishments.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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