I suppose I would be remiss if I did not comment on Saturday night’s game.
The Penn-Princeton rivalry is, and always has been, special. In fact, as I recall our games at both the Palestra and that drafty, geodesic aircraft hanger in New Jersey, my ears still ring. Saturday’s contest was indeed no exception in our shared history as the Quakers finally showed a flash of the kind of team that everyone (including me) thought they could, would, and should be. The Tigers are a decent team (I stop short of classifying them as “a good team” because, after all, it’s the Tigers), and Penn, along with the much-vilified Jerome Allen, should be congratulated for taking them down in exciting fashion. The Red & Blue somehow managed to do everything they hadn’t done during most of their brutal and disappointing non-conference schedule, namely: rebound (42-25), defend, and play a full 40 minutes of hoops. Still, they almost gave the game away by once again beating themselves with costly fouls and turnovers. Their bench play was also better but, in general, remained mostly invisible. Princeton, for their part, happened to have an off night from the three point line, a usual strength of their team, thus validating the axiom, “live by the three, die by the three.” Tonight, they died. [Ed. note: This is what’s possible when you shoot over half of your attempts from behind the arc– 50.7%, the highest percentage in the country– you are bound to have off nights like that.]
As pleased as I am about defeating Princeton, I still don’t know what to make of these Quakers. After Saturday, one is tempted to say that Penn has an absolute chance to win the Ivy Title. On the other hand, the only thing truly consistent about them over the last two frustrating seasons has been their inconsistency. They usually follow a good performance with a flop, the tell tale sign of an immature team. What is clear, however, is that their future success or failure will most likely run through “The Big Hyphen,” DNH. If he, Doc, MJC, and Tony Hicks can remain healthy, anything is possible.
This might be the most hotly contested title in League history and I am expecting an exciting season. If this game is any indication of Penn’s potential, it should be a good one. My father once told me, “One swallow doesn’t make the spring.” Hopefully for Jerome Allen and his young Quakers, with this win over a hated rival, it may at long last be the thaw.
Stay Red and Blue my friends.