Friday, my beloved Quakers fell, in The Cathedral no less, to bottom feeding Dartmouth; marking only the fourth time since 1957 that Penn had failed to defend its home floor against The Green. With this new loss, I had finally reached the nadir of my fandom. Since the agonizing debacle in Morningside Heights the week before, I hadn’t eaten and had shunned all manner of personal hygiene. With my unshaven face, fetid halitosis, and baggy clothes, I bore a striking resemblance to the Unabomber (except the Unabomber was probably better looking). At about midnight, stunned, bewildered and “ridin’ a high a mile wide” courtesy of my personal physician and our friends at Hoffman-LaRoche
(the makers of Valium and other fine benzodiazepines), I walked briskly out into the cold March night. It was then that I began to seriously question my team, Jerome Allen, and my strong belief that the Quakers were better, much better, than the harsh criticism that has been mercilessly leveled upon them over the last three months. But now it looked like the detractors may have been right all along. On this night, Pennsylvania Basketball had managed to attain something far worse than a mere loss to a bad team– they had finally achieved Ivy irrelevance. After decades of dominance, this stark realization sickened me. To make matters worse, the Tigers, our ancient rivals and a group only a few years removed from their own brief interlude with hoops incompetence, had just beaten the upstart Crimson in their race for yet another championship. As I collapsed onto the icy sidewalk a hefty wave of nausea, no doubt born out of jealousy, overwhelmed me. Then in the midst of my despond, I felt something warm run down my leg. I had urinated in my pants.
On Saturday I awakened to a gray dawn, a dry pair of trousers, and the blogoshere alight with the possibility of a Princeton-Harvard playoff in, of all places, The Palestra. Loyal readers of IHO, I can tell you that this would never happen. This is because I am privy to the fact
that Governor Ed Rendell ’65 secretly enacted a law (128 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 726 (2009)) strictly prohibiting the illicit transport of any “Thomas Amaker run athletic organization” across state lines for the “sole propose of a playoff to the exclusion of the University of Pennsylvania.” There was no need to worry however. Saturday night, a motivated and energized Penn squad defeated the Crimson: suffocating defense, solid rebounding, run and gun—in short, classic Quaker Basketball. The freshman tandem of Hicks and DNH (both of whom have future Captain written all over them) had their skills on full display before a national television audience. Harvard could not cope with Penn’s size, quickness and wave after wave of substitutions which eventually wore down their smaller, road weary line up.
Jerome Allen’s strategy (hatched mostly out of absolute necessity) of giving almost every player floor time across the season had finally paid off mightily. As Captain Miles Cartwright aptly said afterward, “We grew up.” There is still much more for these young Quakers to learn and this week’s road trip to Yale and Brown, as well as the annual finale with Princeton, will surely test them once again. They remain wildly inconsistent, so much so that Coach Allen bluntly admitted after Saturday’s contest that “I don’t know who they are.” I don’t know who they are either, but this win will hopefully be the beginning of what they can eventually become.
Stay Red and Blue my friends,