"Too hyped to do school work so I will keep reading the nonsense on Sudanese diaspora list serve."
Game #9-281: Lafayette Leopards at Pennsylvania QuakersJanuary 8, 2013 7:30 pm
Not your usual college-athlete-Twitter-feed fare.
"In my opinion - in the end - the university will have benefited more from having him than he will from having attended Penn."
Not your usual coach-speak.
"In my view, war [in South Sudan] is inevitable. The question is merely when and whether the international community will be willing to intervene given the atrocities likely to occur if the last civil war, which left nearly two million dead, is any indicator."
Not the kind of opinion you usually find on an ESPN blog.
Penn has three captains this year, all juniors: Miles Cartwright, Fran Dougherty, and Dau Jok. Cartwright and Dougherty's selections weren't especially surprising. Jok's, however, wouldn't have been predictable from the numbers. Before Penn's game vs. LaSalle on Jan. 5, he had 37 points. Career points. That's also how many minutes he played in the entire 2011-2012 season. Although it's presumptuous of an outsider to write as though you know a team's dynamic, it's safe to guess that Jok was probably chosen for his off-court leadership.
His story isn't unfamiliar to those who follow the program, and certainly others have told it compellingly: born in what is now South Sudan, the world's newest country, itself born out of conflict, Jok and his family left Sudan after his father, a prominent local leader, was killed when Jok was six years old. They ended up in Iowa, where Jok, who had grown up playing soccer with balloons covered in bandages, was exposed to basketball, and eventually came to see it as his ticket to an education.
This isn't to suggest that the outcome was foreordained, or that Jok's path to this place has been easy. The impulse of the 6-year-old to grab hold of an AK-47 upon seeing his murdered father is unlikely to simply be left behind. And a life of violence is certainly possible in the United States, as it is elsewhere.
Considering this, changing the course of a society seems like an impossible task. Yet we know change happens. Since arriving at Penn, Jok has made it clear this is his goal - to help change the course of events in South Sudan. For now, this takes the form of the Dut Jok Youth Foundation, named after Jok's father. Jok's goal is to change history by changing the children of South Sudan, through the thing that changed him: education. According to UNICEF, less than 10% of children in South Sudan currently complete primary school. The seed money for Jok's foundation came from an award from Projects for Peace, which challenges college students to "design grassroots projects ... which promote peace and address the root causes of conflict among parties."
In 2011, Jok and a group of his fellow Penn students (including teammate Zack Rosen) traveled to Rwanda to study a youth village set up to help orphaned children in that country achieve some of the same goals Jok has for children in South Sudan. That conditions in South Sudan did not permit him to make the trip there from Rwanda to visit family as planned underscores the challenges ahead.
On Tuesday, Penn took on Lafayette. Perhaps not surprisingly after I concluded that Penn was a pretty decent defensive team, both teams apparently agreed not to play any defense in this one (or, as the official Penn recap said, "[t]he offense came a little too easily for both sides"). Five Quakers finished in double-figures; six Leopards did too, though, and Lafayette, which held and then lost a big lead in the second half, was able to hold on for their first ever win in the Palestra.
Penn's leader in points, though, was none other than Dau Jok, with 18, and he led the team with seven rebounds, too. I've noticed that a Jok three-pointer elicits a special cheer from the student section, though I haven't worked out quite what it is yet. It gets a louder than normal cheer from me, too.
And, not to fall down on my job: Miles Cartwright sneaker watch. TMM was well-represented at this game, coincidentally, and I had the pleasure of meeting up with one other #TMM9 writer (Hi, Dom!) and several 800GP writers at halftime, one of whom characterized these as "some sort of hybrid Nike Free/bowling shoe."
LAFAYETTE 85, at PENNSYLVANIA 83
LAFAYETTE 7-10 (0-0) -- M. Sullivan 5-20 8-9 20; S. Hinrichs 4-8 1-4 10; J. Ptasinski 2-6 4-5 10; T. Johnson 10-14 5-6 25; D. Trist 6-9 5-5 17; L. Giese 3-4 2-4 10; B. Scott 4-7 1-2 11; A. Flannigan 0-0 0-0 0; Z. Rufer 1-1 0-0 2; N. Musters 0-0 0-0 0; L. Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-49 18-26 85.
PENNSYLVANIA 2-12 (0-0) -- S. Rennard 2-6 0-0 6; D. Jok 6-9 2-2 18; M. Cartwright 5-7 0-0 10; T. Hicks 3-7 4-4 10; D. Nelson-Henry 7-11 3-5 17; C. Crocker 1-1 2-2 4; G. Louis 3-3 4-6 10; H. Brooks 4-6 0-0 8; J. Lewis 0-1 0-3 0; P. Lucas-Perry 0-1 0-0 0; C. Gunter 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 31-52 15-24 83.
Three-point goals: LAF 7-15 (L. Giese 2-3; J. Ptasinski 2-5; S. Hinrichs 1-2; B. Scott 2-5), PENN 6-14 (M. Cartwright 0-1; D. Jok 4-7; S. Rennard 2-5; P. Lucas-Perry 0-1); Rebounds: LAF 25 (A. Flannigan 5), PENN 21 (D. Jok 7); Assists: LAF 16 (J. Ptasinski 5), PENN 22 (M. Cartwright 8); Total Fouls -- LAF 20, PENN 21; Fouled Out: LAF-None; PENN-None.