It isn’t a feeling you get often.
Penn men’s basketball won the Ivy League Tournament, securing a ticket to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 11 years. And it was glorious.
The Palestra crowd — overwhelmingly in support of the “away” team — erupted with each Penn bucket. I have no idea how the science of this works, but you could literally feel the ghosts of the Cathedral come to life in the game's final moments.
Old-timers always wonder what it would be like if these walls could talk. Today, they did.
Those same old-timers drone about how sacrilegious the mere idea of an Ivy Tournament is. Enough of that. Today, the Quakers added enough history to the building to last a lifetime.
“This was incredible … I’ve never experienced anything like that in my coaching career. It was just so much fun. I took a moment a couple of times and thought, ‘I can’t believe I’m in this. This is incredible — this environment, this high-level play, it was just amazing,” coach Steve Donahue said.
As amazing as the paranormal activity was, the physical activity on the court matched it every bit.
It all started with Darnell Foreman. When Penn went down by 13 early in the first half, it was Foreman who had an answer. The senior scored 19 points on seven field goal attempts, missing only one shot in the entire half. Foreman’s performance spawned a 24-0 Penn run that eventually won the Quakers the game.
Foreman supplied one of the big, legendary moments as a part of that run. Down by one, in the dying moments of the first half, Foreman drilled an NBA-range three-pointer to beat the buzzer while being double-teamed. His reaction was to sprint down the runway to the locker room Bo Jackson style.
The senior guard is the most knowledgeable of the history of the program among the current crop of Quakers. He has waited four years to be a part of a winning team, and when it finally came together, he knew exactly what to do.
In a recreation of one of the Palestra’s most iconic moments, Mike Jordan sitting on the hoop after the victory, Foreman climbed onto the rim and waved the liberated net over his head.
“Especially being a guard, you look at the past history of guards that played, the great guards — the Ibby Jaabers, the Jerome Allens, even going back to ‘Booney’ Salters — you want to be those guys,” Foreman said. “You want to be on the wall, you want to be in the Palestra, you want to be in the new atrium. You want to have that history, and now, the team has it.
“I wanted to be like Mike Jordan. You walk in the gym every day, and you walk past Mike Jordan and other guys who have done that. You just think to yourself like, 'Man, I want that opportunity’. I just took advantage of it.”
The jubilation of the moment is not lost on anyone affiliated with these Quakers. They’ve worked too hard not to enjoy this moment. During the post-game festivities, and at the press conference, Foreman could be seen cradling the Ivy League trophy in his arms. He didn’t stop caressing his newest friend until he left it for his coach — but was later seen leaving the Palestra and walking down Walnut with it firmly in tow.
At one point during the post-game press conference Foreman interrupted his teammates with an important question of his own.
“Hey, don’t that sound good?” He asked. “Ivy League Champions. Say it again. Say it one more time. Ivy Champions.”
“I honestly thought — I didn’t think we could do it,” Donahue said.
This moment will not be forgotten for a long, long time. It will be up on the walls in the museum-like hallways of the Cathedral before long.
“This team is going to be remembered as the team that stopped the drought,” Foreman said.
Stopped. That means there’s more to come.
Theodoros Papazekos is a College sophomore from Pittsburgh, Pa., and is a Sports Editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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