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EASTON, Pa. -- One month ago, I saw the Penn men's basketball team, and I saw failure. The Quakers had just lost to Yale in New Haven, Conn., and they looked tired, beleaguered and without vigor. Saturday night -- 29 days later -- I saw heart, pure emotion and an undying camaraderie. As time expired in Saturday night's Penn-Yale game, Quakers' fan-favorite Dan Solomito heaved the ball high in the air towards the overhead scoreboard at Lafayette's Kirby Sports Center. When the ball crashed down to the floor, Penn had finally completed its slow, uphill climb to the top. It was a bleak Friday night in New Haven when Penn dropped to 2-3 in league play, but on Saturday the Quakers proved they were the best the Ivy League had to offer with an easy 77-58 victory over the Elis. "It just showed a lot of our character. After that Yale loss, we knew we had to pretty much win out to force a playoff," a giddy Andrew Toole said in the post-game press conference. "It took a lot of hard work, a lot of heart, a lot of courage... it speaks volumes about our team." It certainly took hard work. The Quakers reeled off ten straight wins, and each of them came in a must-win scenario. How hard does a team have to work to go from the bottom of the Ivy League barrel to the Big Dance? Let's talk about heart. In four years at Penn, senior Dan Solomito has rarely seen a meaningful minute. But at the conclusion of Saturday's game, you couldn't find a happier person in that gym. Through a mass of ecstatic Red and Blue supporters, Solomito gathered his team by the foul line for Penn's traditional pre-game ritual of hopping and singing -- this time with a little more emphasis. A few minutes later, the senior cut the final piece of net and climbed up on the rim, the net hanging from his neck. He yelled and cheered and celebrated as teammates, fans and photographers swarmed below. Solomito was on top of the world. How's this for courage? With just under seven minutes left in the game and Penn holding a comfortable 20-point lead, Jeff Schiffner got tangled up with Elis center T.J. McHugh going for a rebound. Bodies collided and Schiffner ended up crumpled on the floor with a bloodied eye. Dunphy and the trainer rushed out to their swingman's side, and led him to the safety of the bench. Moments later, the predominantly-Penn crowd erupted as Schiffner pumped his fist toward the stands. He was bloodied and bandaged, but his heart was fine. Hard work, courage and heart -- surely the deciding factors for a team with 25 wins, a Big 5 title, an Ivy League championship and an upcoming appearance in the NCAA tournament. When I saw the Quakers celebrating at Kirby, I didn't see last year's woeful, non-cohesive unit. I didn't see the team that collapsed against Davidson and Columbia this season. I didn't even see the team that sleepwalked to less-than-pretty victories over Delaware and Lafayette. I saw a team that never gave up. I saw a team that had the resolve to go on a timely 10-game winning streak to save a season that could have so easily failed. I saw a team filled with talent and guts. I saw a jubilant bunch of men who deserve to keep this 2001-02 season alive. I saw true champions.

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