Penn all-time moment No. 11: A Final Four ‘first’


We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Warning – the following post is NOT a Princeton article. It’s just a break from the Princeton countdown we’ve been doing.

Winston Churchill once said that if the British Empire were to last a thousand years, the Battle of Britain would be its finest hour. As far as I can see, ol’ Winny had it easy. I mean, what is British history anyway?  Chaucer, afternoon tea, the Magna Carta, David Beckham, Shakespeare, the Hundred Years’ War, and Wham! at Wembley Stadium are mere footnotes in the evolution of the human species.  (I did in fact attend the 1985 Wham! Concert in my freshly coifed Flock of Seagulls hairdo and furtively wept at George Michael’s moving rendition of “Careless Whisper” – totally awesome.)  Naturally, with a feeble heritage like this, one could easily elucidate its finest hour.

I, however, have been tasked with an immanently more daunting mission: chronicling the Top 10 Moments in Pennsylvania Basketball’s glorious history.  Where to begin?  The third-ranked 1971 team? The Final Four?  25 Ivy Titles?

Despite their great run as of late, this isn’t the duplicitous and nouveau riche Harvard Crimson. This isn’t the “blink and you’ll miss me” Cornell Big Red.  It isn’t even the, yawn, Princeton Tigers. This is Penn basketball: the 11th winningest team in NCAA history with a hoops legacy as rich and vast as mankind itself.  Thus, in honor of the Big No. 11, I give you the AQ’s “special” Top Eleven Moments in Penn Basketball History:

March 24, 1979

On the eve of the biggest game in Quaker history, Wharton senior Shelly Gittleman of Bronxville, New York sneaks into the Palestra after midnight and deflowers his girlfriend, a Princeton coed, at midcourt. Although technically not a “seminal” moment in hoops history, a loss for Princeton on the Cathedral floor is still a loss.


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