It's a symbolic gesture but a pretty large one in the life of a college student. Going into this season, Penn's men's basketball team made a pact: no social media this season, all season.

No Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Snapchat?

Quakers coach Jerome Allen first broached the idea to junior guard Tony Hicks, one of two returning starters. They began the ban a couple of weeks back.

"I agreed with it, absolutely," Hicks said. "We would be able to come together more, be more of a team. It would be a sacrifice. I think it can definitely help, just in terms of not being up all night, being focused on what we're supposed to be focused on, school and basketball."

Also, he said, it could shut out outside noise - "guys writing things about us, the good and the bad."

After an 8-20 season, drastic measures are called for at the Palestra. The Quakers are picked seventh in a strong Ivy League and will have a lot of new faces on the court. Even Hicks, the leading returning scorer, will have a new role, playing some point guard for the first time in his life. He said he's excited.

"I spent as much time as I could working on strictly ballhandling," said Hicks, who led Penn by scoring 15.9 points a game last season but had more turnovers than assists. He knows that the Quakers will be a work in progress, with only himself and junior center Darien Nelson-Henry back from the typical 2013-14 starting lineup.

"I have to be patient in terms of getting everyone else involved and getting it back later in the shot clock," Hicks said. "Coach still wants me to be aggressive, push the ball. I just know I have to play with a better pace, keep my teammates in mind first and foremost."

Former athletic director Steve Bilsky gave Hicks a good role model, he said, in former Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier. He watched a lot of tapes of Napier.

In addition, look for freshman guard Darnell Foreman, from Pitman High, to have the ball in his hands. The Quakers also are hoping for big things from sophomore guard Matt Howard, with freshman guard Antonio Woods also expected to see time, along with senior guard Camryn Crocker. In the frontcourt, look for senior forward Greg Louis to join Nelson-Henry.

Ask Hicks what happened last season, and he'll tell you he thought the talent was there. "I think we just didn't jell the way we should have," he said, ". . . We weren't all connected and we weren't all bought-in."

Hicks has a reputation as a gym rat. One recent morning, he said, he sat in Penn's locker room at the Palestra, changing into workout gear, eating a quick protein bar.

"Then I hear a ball bouncing in the gym," said the Quakers junior guard. "I said, 'Hopefully, this isn't what I think it is.' "

It was. One of Penn's women's players had beaten Hicks to the shooting and rebounding machine out on the floor. Hicks moved next door to the practice gym. The Palestra is his favored destination every morning - "absolutely, it's the best gym" - but there was another machine next door to help him get in his shots.

As for their phones, Hicks said this year's Quakers will use them as phones. And group texts are OK. Any pushback from teammates?

"At first, but not verbal pushback," Hicks said. "You see it on the faces, like, 'Wow, we're actually going to do this.' "

Penn at a Glance

Last season: 8-20; 5-9 Ivy League, tied for sixth.

Coach: Jerome Allen (56-85 in five seasons).

Roster

No.   Name   Pos.   Ht.   Wt.   Year   

1   Shawn Simmons   G   6-4   170   Fr.

2   Antonio Woods   G   6-1   180   Fr.

3   Darnell Foreman   G   6-1   175   Fr.

4   Jamal Lewis   G   6-0   160   Jr.

10   Darien Nelson-Henry   C   6-11   265   Jr.

11   Tony Hicks   G   6-2   180   Jr.

13   Dylan Jones   F   6-8   215   So.

14   Matt Poplawski   G   5-10   165   So.

15   Camryn Crocker   G   6-3   170   Sr.

21   Matt Hanessian   G/F   6-6   215   Jr.

22   Mike Auger   F   6-7   225   Fr.

23   Greg Louis   F   6-7   215   Sr.

24   Matt Howard   G   6-4   185   So.

30   Patrick Lucas-Perry   G   5-11   165   Sr.

34   Sam Jones   F   6-7   175   Fr.

40   Dan Dwyer   F   6-8   225   Fr.

November

15 Delaware State. . . 4:30

18 Rider. . . 7

22 Lafayette. . . 7

25 at Temple. . . 7

29 at Wagner. . . 4

December

3 at Navy. . . 7

6 at Binghamton. . . 2

9 Marist. . . 8

22 at Vanderbilt. . . 7

30 at La Salle. . . 7

January

10 at Princeton. . . 5

13 at Niagara. . . 7

17 Villanova. . . 7

21 Monmouth. . . 8

24 St. Joseph's. . . 7

30 Dartmouth. . . 7

31 Harvard. . . 7

February

6 at Cornell. . . 7

7 at Columbia. . . 7

13 Yale. . . 7

14 Brown. . . 7

20 at Harvard. . . 7

21 at Dartmouth. . . 7

27 at Brown. . . 7

28 at Yale. . . 7

March

6 Columbia. . . 7

7 Cornell. . . 7

10 Princeton. . . TBA

Home games in bold

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@jensenoffcampus