On Friday, Penn basketball will get a glimpse of its “Sixth Man” — the fans — in action for the first time this season.
The Quakers and the Red and Blue Crew will host “The Line,” an annual tradition at the Palestra, where students will have the opportunity to purchase season tickets and meet both the men’s and women’s teams.
Registration for the event begins at 6 p.m., an hour before participants will have the opportunity to watch the Penn volleyball team take on Princeton.
After that, “The Line” will be divided into two parts: the pep rally and the sleepover.
All students are invited to take part in the rally, which will feature performances by the Penn student band, Penn Cheer and the Quaker Girls. There will also be various competitions throughout the night, including a burrito-eating contest and an attempt to break a Guinness World Record for the largest game of “Knockout” ever. To close out the night, a basketball cinema classic, Space Jam, will be screened on the Palestra’s new video scoreboard.
Only those participants who sleep over at the Palestra, however, are eligible to obtain a guaranteed spot in the student section of the arena as part of their season ticket package —17 games for $50.
The option for students to forego the sleepover is one of the biggest changes that has been made to this year’s Line, and it has the approval of one of the program’s most outspoken leaders, point guard Zack Rosen.
“The positive side of not having to sleep over is hopefully … more people will come out and at least spend some time in the Palestra, have a good time, get the free stuff,” he said.
The emphasis on getting more and more people in the Palestra, whether for the full night or not, has been made in a concerted effort to ramp up student attendance — an issue the senior guard readily admits.
“I think it’s ultra important [to get fans in the gym]. That’s what makes the experience what it is,” Rosen said. “To me, it’s an issue because people don’t even know where the Palestra is located.
“We play Friday, Saturday night in the Ivy League — a lot of the campus doesn’t know that … [Getting a good turnout] would be a major start in the right direction.”
Rosen’s coach, Jerome Allen, understands what a spirited fanbase can do for a team. Allen played before raucous crowds on a consistent basis while leading Penn to three-straight titles from 1993-95.
“It made the experience that much better,” Allen said. “Yeah, we won basketball games, but really, if you can’t share your success with anyone, are you really successful? So my approach going forward is I try to encourage these guys as much as I possibly can to just stay involved on campus, get to know your fellow classmates.”
The men’s team will play in its annual Red and Blue scrimmage at 10 a.m. the following morning, likely with the hopes that participants will stick around to see what brand of basketball this team can offer.
In Rosen’s eyes, that brand is simple.
“The foundations of Penn basketball have been built on defense, and effort, and grit and toughness … I think that people in this city and at this school enjoy that kind of style of play where it’s just tough, nasty, get after it type of basketball.”