For many Penn students, Sunday’s Ivy League Championship was the first Penn men’s basketball game they’ve ever been to. As disappointing as that is, I’m not writing this to shame all the bandwagoners.
I’m writing this to welcome everyone aboard.
Don’t get me wrong — making it to March Madness is 100 percent the team’s accomplishment, and the team’s accomplishment only.
But there’s also no denying the impact of Penn’s student section. From the opening tip until the nets were cut down, we made ourselves heard. The Quakers' 24-0 run to end the first half and start the second certainly would not have happened on the road.
Even coach Steve Donahue agrees.
"The fans have an impact on the outcome," Donahue said after the game. "When [the Palestra]’s like this and it rocks, there’s nothing like it. It was definitely a factor today."
The fans were loud all game and turned the Cathedral of College Basketball into the most hostile “sanctuary” in the nation.
Here’s just a few of the best chants and one-liners I heard (and may or may not have said a couple of myself):
- About Darnell Foreman: “Build that man a statue outside the Palestra.”
- To Harvard’s Seth Towns who had scholarship offers from multiple Big 10 schools: “Should’ve gone to Michigan.”
- “Trust the process.”
- “Harvard was my safety school.”
- "Let's party on Broad Street!"
And what makes all of this even sweeter is that Sunday's game against Harvard — and Penn's entire season — was a total team effort.
For the first half, senior captain Darnell Foreman couldn't be stopped. He singlehandedly kept the Quakers in the game with his 19 points.
And then how many points did Foreman score in the second half? Zero.
But it didn't matter, because his teammates were there to pick him up. Penn's super sophomores — AJ Brodeur and Ryan Betley — finished the game with 33 combined points, and when Harvard made one last run to take the lead with just minutes remaining, senior Caleb Wood responded with back-to-back threes to put the Red and Blue back on top.
In a few days, the Red and Blue will play again in March Madness for the first time in over a decade. It's crazy to think that the last time Penn went dancing occurred before iPhones existed, when George W. Bush was president, and when most of Penn's current players were still in the second or third grade.
Let’s watch our Ivy League school upset a national powerhouse. It could happen: Ivy teams have won five NCAA Tournament games since 2010. This weekend could see a sixth.
You won't want to miss watching Penn men's basketball now that it's great again.
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