The magic number is down to two. Should Penn push The Streak to the half-century mark (by no means a sure thing against two tough opponents on the road) the question people will ask is just how historic an accomplishment is it. In truth, 50 straight wins is so obviously remarkable that its place in history need not be the subject of an entire debate. Just how can we appreciate the absolute impressiveness of what coach Fran Dunphy's program has accomplished? Saying the Quakers have won 50 league games in a row sounds good, but does it really capture the sheer longevity of The Streak? Three straight perfect Ivy seasons is great, but it just seems so understated. Maybe this will work better: Let's try to appreciate this achievement by taking a look at just how much things have changed since The Streak began. Let's flash back to March 7, 1992. No current Quaker was on the Penn roster. Ira Bowman was a freshman point guard at Providence, Grand Rapids Mackers guard Matt Maloney was just getting ready to transfer out of Vanderbilt to Penn and the NBA was just a twinkle in the eye of a freshman Quakers guard named Jerome Allen. · Already eliminated from Ivy title contention, Penn was preparing for a meaningless season finale at Cornell. The previous evening, March 6, Columbia had topped the Quakers, 71-66, killing Penn's hopes for a possible NIT bid. With the game tied at 56 and a little over three minutes to play, the Lions' Russ Steward drilled a three-point shot that essentially decided the game, as Columbia hung on to win at the free-throw line. · On campus, the only connection either Judith Rodin and Steve Bilsky had to Penn were as prominent alums. Squeeze and Blues Traveler were rumored to be coming to Spring Fling. The third floor of Speakman in the Quad was seriously flooded when a student set off a sprinkler head. Carney's Pub, a bar at 3608 Chestnut Street, was prohibited by the University from showing an erotic dance act. Gymnastics won its second-straight Ivy League title. Wrestling began its rise from mediocrity under coach Roger Reina by finishing seventh of 14 teams at the EIWAs. Having yet to sink into the abyss from which it is only now climbing out, the men's swimming team finished a solid eighth out of 17 teams at the season-ending Easterns. · Princeton would top the second-place Quakers by three games to clinch its fourth-consecutive Ivy League men's basketball title and NCAA Tournament berth. But Tigers coach Pete Carril would suffer his fourth-straight first-round disappointment 13 days later against Syracuse, as the Orangemen gutted out a 51-43 win. · The college basketball regular season ended that weekend with the major conference tournaments and the NCAAs yet to come. Top-ranked Duke was poised to win its second-straight national title, while a group of freshmen calling itself the Fab Five was just hoping to make some noise for Michigan. The All-American team just announced was laden with future NBA stars: Duke's Christian Laettner, LSU's Shaquille O'Neal, Ohio State's Jim Jackson, USC's Harold Miner and Georgetown's Alonzo Mourning. · Some things just don't change. The Chicago Bulls were already well ahead of the rest of the NBA field and were zeroing on their second-straight championship. Michael Jordan would win his second straight MVP award. The Lakers were managing to stay above .500 in their first season without HIV-infected Magic Johnson. · Looking beyond sports, Bob Kerrey had just dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, leaving Paul Tsongas, Tom Harkin, Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton to fight for the bid. It didn't really matter, since George Bush, still basking in the euphoria of the Persian Gulf victory a year before, was a sure bet to get re-elected in November. Some things really don't change. As the campaigns heated up, Hillary Clinton had to defend against allegations of unethical actions. Gov. Clinton of Arkansas was charged to have improperly funneled state money to his wife's law firm. · The Silence of the Lambs was about to sweep all the major awards at the 1991 Oscars. The Cosby Show and Johnny Carson were still fixtures on NBC. In Ithaca, N.Y., that March 7 night, the Quakers set The Streak in motion, blitzing Cornell, 92-79, behind 31 points from prize freshman Allen (who, somehow, would go on to finish only second to Princeton's Rick Hielscher in the Ivy League Rookie of the Year voting). Penn's Ivy record was 9-5, a major improvement. Said Dunphy after the win: "We played well and accomplished a great deal for our program. Hopefully we'll keep that going in the future." You could say he got his wish.Comments powered by Disqus
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