Princeton (64) Vs. Penn (49) 02/06/17

#46 in Operation 351.  13% complete.

 

Happy 90th Birthday to the Palestra! Opening night was on January 1, 1927 with Yale playing Penn. A celebration was also held for one for college’s longest rivalries – Princeton and Penn. The night started off right with a piece of birthday cake served in the lobby. I circled the entire gym taking in the numerous pictures of coaches and players who graced the Palestra over the years. It was especially satisfying to see Uconn’s own Jimmy Calhoun, Geno Auriemma and  Toby Kimball honored on the walls.

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To mention all the greats who played here would take pages but I did feel the ghost of Wilt Chamberlin from Overbrook High dunking as I headed to my seat. For those on a similar mission to mine, the Palestra is on our bucket list as a must see. This is Penn’s home court and located right in the middle of the campus. Some tidbits to note:

  1. Penn has had 22 undefeated Ivy League seasons in the Palestra.
  2. There are just two NCAA Division 1 programs that entered this year with more wins in their current home venue (Washington and Butler).
  3. Penn and/or Princeton won at least a share of the Ivy League title all but three years from 1959 to 2007.

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This was an 3 day/2 night trip that included some sightseeing of the historical venues that are a must see in Philly. The Liberty Bell, U.S. Mint, Independence Hall and the Philadelphia Art Museum were on the docket. Below is a picture of the famous Rocky scene where he runs up the steps of the art museum. A recreation from these tired legs from walking for two days prevented me from recreating the scene.

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Heading into the game, Princeton was 3-0 in the Ivy while Penn was 0-3. Despite the loud Penn crowd, the results were as expected. Princeton is a very good three point shooting team. I would not want to meet this club in March. Though lacking a true big man underneath (aren’t all IVY teams lacking this?), they pass the ball around quickly looking for an open three. Spencer Weiss of Princeton was on fire with 22 points hitting numerous threes.

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Kudos to the large Penn student section who were cheering loud to the end. I like to highlight “firsts” as I see them. This was the first time that both pep bands showed up for a game. There is always a lesson in geography on these trips. I did not know how close Princeton in New Jersey was to Penn with less than an hour drive between the schools.

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It was very cool that a souvenir poster was handed out to celebrate the birthday. Cross this one off my bucket list!

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That is a wrap!

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Robert Morris vs. Long Island University (Brooklyn) 02/02/2017

#45 of Operation 351    12% complete

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I will be giving out two awards on this trip.

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Award # 1- This school has the coolest pep band. Led by an enthusiastic band leader who gyrated and urged the students into some soulful and explosive music during the game, the pep band was worth the price of admission which was free (details later).

 

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Award # 2- This was absolutely the worst gym on my travels so far. There were no signs anywhere leading up to the building. Perhaps I entered on the wrong side but I had to ask numerous times where the gym was. When I get there, I walk into a non-descript entrance where there is a buffet going on in a crowded hallway. I asked again and followed some stranger to an obscure elevator off to the side riding up a couple of floors. I attempt to follow him and buy a ticket. This particular entrance did not take cash. When the girl attempted to explain to me how to go the right way, she became very confused. She said “Hey don’t worry about” and let me in for free.

I usually like to walk around at half time but got very lost bumping into stairwells and classrooms as I did so. There was no place to walk around as in most arenas. Again, I will apologize if I was not looking hard enough but it should not be difficult to enjoy the ambiance of a college basketball arena. Somewhere there was a concession stand but I never did find it.

If you look above, I was staring at a white wall with one banner hung in the middle. This space is crying for a mural or something to spice it up.

Sorry LIU I am sure you are a great school but this arena needs some TLC.

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LIU came in with a much better record (14-9) than Robert Morris (7-16) but the game was back and forth. Robert Morris had the better guards but could not match the size of LIU underneath. Both teams fought hard as you will see in a typical NEC game with 15 lead changes. The game went down to the last minute with Robert Morris pulling off the road upset.

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I was very impressed with RMU sophomore guard Isiah Still. He led all scorers with 21 points. His penetration skills and scoring in the paint kept LIU off balance all night long. I will be watching him over the next 2 years.

So if you are every in this area which a couple of blocks down Flatbush Ave. near the Barclays Center, stop into Juniors for the best cheesecake ever. I can still taste it!

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On to the Palestra Tuesday night!