A rivalry traditionally filled with drama had little in a rout by Penn With the clock winding under four minutes at the Palestra last night and Penn thoroughly dominating Princeton on the hardwood, there was little left to do but celebrate. So Quakers senior guard Matt Langel did exactly that by firing a perfect lob pass to Geoff Owens, who rammed it home with a reverse dunk. That got the standing-room-only crowd into the act, as the first chants of "Undefeated" began to echo in the very rafters where another Ivy League Championship banner will soon be lifted. When the final horn sounded, the scoreboard read 73-52 in favor of the Quakers. More important to the hundreds of fans rushing the floor and the players they were about to embrace was the Quakers' Ivy League record -- a perfect 14-0. After so many classic battles in recent years, this latest Penn-Princeton showdown was relatively short on drama. Princeton (19-10, 11-3 Ivy League) led, 3-0, two minutes in after Spencer Gloger knocked down an open three from the top of the key. But by the first television timeout with 14 minutes, 42 seconds to play, Penn (21-7, 14-0) was ahead, 4-3. The Quakers would never trail again. Penn was up by at least 10 points for the entirety of the second half. "The game was lost right in the beginning," Tigers coach Bill Carmody said. "We got some pretty decent looks early and missed them." Princeton not only opened the game by shooting a frigid 1-of-10 from the floor, but was also hurt by two quick fouls to both starting forward Ray Robins and sixth man Nate Walton. That left lots of room for drives to the bucket by Penn's Michael Jordan and post moves from Owens and Ugonna Onyekwe. Penn outscored Princeton 20-0 in the paint during the first half. "There was a lot of dribble penetration, and we either made the choice to stop the penetration or try to stop the pass," Tigers sophomore center Chris Young said. "When they get the ball that deep, it made it easy to score." Princeton, meanwhile, did its best to make the Palestra's west basket look like a rigged carnival game, making just four of its 20 first-half shots and limping off to the locker room down, 26-13. Penn tried to shut the door on Princeton with an 8-0 run to start the second half. The Quakers' inside game continued to work to perfection, helping to open the floor for perimeter shooting by Langel, who followed a bagel in the first half with 11 second-half points. The Quakers shot an Ivy-season best 56.6 percent from the field for the game -- not bad against a Princeton defense that is ranked sixth in Division I field-goal percentage defense (36.2 percent). But this being Penn-Princeton, one team can never completely dominate the other, and last night was no exception. Coming out of a timeout with 7:30 to play, Gloger knocked down a three off a feed from Young to bring the Tigers within 10. Two free throws by Onyekwe and another bucket by Gloger made the score 55-45 with five minutes to play, but that would be as close as Princeton would get. "When they cut it to 10, we knew we needed to stop the run," Jordan said. However, he and Dunphy both dismissed the notion that the team was having flashbacks to last year, when Penn lost a 27-point lead to the Tigers. Seven straight points by the Quakers did more than stop the run -- it effectively ended the game. A three-pointer by Langel off a feed from Owens with 3:44 left capped the run. The Quakers ran the lead all the way to 24 before Jordan, Langel and fifth-year senior Frank Brown were called to the bench one final time in their home and Ivy League careers. That left the floor to senior Mike Koller, the fourth recruit from the fall of 1996 along with Jordan, Langel and Owens. Koller, who has played JV the past three seasons, suited up for tonight's finale and made the most of his opportunity by making one of two free throws with 23 seconds to play. While the loudest ovations were given to the seniors last night, they were not the only ones on display. Onyekwe put the final touches on his case for Ivy League Rookie of the Year by throwing in 20 points in 39 minutes of action. Owens, who will apply for an extra year of eligibility following the season, added 14. "[Owens] was as relaxed and poised as I have ever seen him," Dunphy said of the center, who uncharacteristically dished six assists while grabbing only three rebounds. Following the game, it was time for both teams to begin pondering the contests that might lie ahead. For Princeton, they will wait for the NIT pairings to be announced and hope to be one of the 32 invitees. For the Quakers, up next is an assured first-round game in the NCAA Tournament. As for what seed the Quakers will get, Dunphy said most predictions he had seen put the Quakers as a No. 12 seed. But the last words on the future were best left to the player most responsible for getting them this far. "We like winning," Jordan said. "We want to keep it going as long as possible."
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Georgia Tech might have had its way with the Penn women's tennis team, 9-0, last weekend, but it was the Quakers who got the taste of a landslide victory yesterday when they trampled Seton Hall, 8-1, at Penn's Levy Tennis Pavilion. "We swept them in singles," Penn senior co-captain Anastasia Pozdniakova said. "When I came off the court, half the team was done already." Pozdniakova had no trouble wiping the hardcourt with her singles opponent, 6-2, 6-2, in the No. 2 position. At No.1 singles, Penn junior Shubha Srinivasan swept Pille Arike in straight sets, 6-3,6-2. Though Srinivasan predicted her victory early in the match, Arike was no easy opponent. "She was very consistent," Srinivasan said. "I had to wait for the right ball [to get points]." Penn sophomore Jolene Sloat played No.3 singles and handily defeated Evelyn Macko, 6-1,6-1. Penn's Louani Bascara and Rochelle Raiss also easily won their matches at No. 5 and 6 singles, respectively. Not all of the Quakers had such easy matches, though. Penn senior co-captain Elana Gold lost her first set in disappointing fashion but rebounded to eke out a hard-fought three-set victory. "[Elana] picked it up after the first set and realized she was better than the other girl," Penn junior Lenka Beranova said. "She fought her way through with her mental toughness." After winning all six of the singles matches, Penn had already clinched the match but still had three doubles matches to play. The Quakers won the doubles point after the duos of Beranova and Raiss and Srinivasan and Niki DeCou won their matches, 8-3 and 8-4, respectively. Beranova recently began playing with Raiss, a transfer from UCLA. She believes their individual strengths complement each other extremely well. "She and I make a great team," Beranova said. "We have the same level of intensity. We're like one when we're out there." Srinivasan believes a strong start helped her and DeCou in the end, when their opponents began to make tougher shots. "It's very important to play intense at the beginning," Srinivasan said. "Tennis is all about intensity." At No.1 doubles, the pair of Pozdniakova and Bascara faced the Pirates' Arike and Judy McAuley. Though Pozdniakova and Bascara kept their opponents racing around their end of the court and made a number of tough shots themselves, the Pirates tandem eventually won the battle, 8-6. "We had a lot of chances we didn't capitalize on," Pozdniakova said. "We made some mistakes we shouldn't have, but it gives us something to work on." That the sole Pirate victory was in doubles was no surprise to Seton Hall coach Tracy Zawicki. "We always do better in doubles," Zawicki said. "Doubles is our strength. It's disappointing to lose [6-0] in singles. I know how tough Penn is because we played them last year, but I thought we'd give them a better match in singles. It's upsetting." Penn coach Michael Dowd was surprised that the Quakers won by such a robust margin, especially since the Pirates recently beat Ivy opponent Brown. Dowd believes that even though Penn lost to both nationally ranked Georgia Tech and Clemson last weekend, playing such high-level teams gave the Quakers valuable experience that helped lead them to victory yesterday. "We saw how much we've improved," he said. "We got a lot of confidence today." Both Dowd and Beranova noted the Quakers remained especially focused during their matches yesterday. "It's important to stay focused, even when you're up 5-0, because you never know what kind of player your opponent is going to be," Beranova said. "This match will help us be prepared for the Ivy season, so we can kick some butt."
Unlike last weekend against Brown and Yale, Penn did not have a huge height advantage against Princeton -- the Quakers' starting five was only one inch taller than the Tigers' starting five. But it sure did not seem that way, judging from Penn's dominance inside last night. For nearly 24 minutes, the Quakers held Princeton scoreless in the paint. Nate Walton's layup 3:47 into the second half was the first shot the Tigers made inside. In fact, aside from a 15-footer by Chris Young in the first half, Princeton had done all its scoring up to that point on three-pointers and free throws. And, in the same time period, 24 of Penn's 34 points had come from the paint. "It's always a plan of ours to go inside first," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. But the Quakers were not the first to test the area around the basket. After winning the opening tip, Princeton fed the ball immediately to Young, their 6'11" center. And, as a harbinger of things to come, Owens swatted the Tigers sophomore's first shot of the game. Penn's Michael Jordan and Ugonna Onyekwe committed turnovers on each of Penn's first two possessions, but the Quakers were indeed able to get the ball inside on offense on their next two possessions. Owens first hit Jordan on a cut for a layup to give Penn its initial two points and scored himself on a three-foot hook over Princeton forward Ray Robins on the Quakers' next trip down the floor. Last month, Princeton forward Mason Rocca almost single-handedly kept Princeton in the game with 16 second-half points when the Tigers and Quakers matched up in Jadwin Gymnasium. But Rocca was in street clothes last night, sidelined with tendonitis in his ankle. And his replacement, Robins, had all sorts of trouble with Penn -- both on offense and defense. Robins scored just two points on the night and was held to a mere 15 minutes of playing time after picking up three early fouls while guarding Owens. Like he did at Jadwin, Tigers coach Bill Carmody had a forward guarding the Penn center. At Princeton, it was Rocca on Owens, while last night, Robins had the difficult assignment of stopping a player several inches taller than him. Carmody, however, did not second guess himself. "I thought it would have been worse the other way," Carmody said. But it was pretty bad for the Tigers anyway. On the night, Owens scored 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting. And, more surprisingly, the Penn big man showed an uncanny ability to find an open teammate inside, as he dished out a career-high six assists. "I think it's always nice to have that kind of presence in there making good decisions," Dunphy said. "I can't say that that's one of the big fella's strong points, but he certainly did a great job at it tonight." Onyekwe, meanwhile, scored 20 points of his own, including four dunks -- two in a 20-second span late in the second half. Owens and Onyekwe combined for four blocks and three steals, but Carmody did not blame all of his team's shortcomings inside on the Quakers' defense. "We did what we wanted to do offensively," Carmody said. "We just didn't put the ball in the basket. I didn't think their defense bothered us tonight like it did at our place." But whether it was Penn's defense or their own volition, Princeton struggled mightily inside in the first half -- hitting just 1-of-7 shots inside the arc. The second half was a little different inside, as Walton's ability to penetrate and tenacity on the boards helped to close the gap between the frontcourts. But despite Walton's 14 points and nine rebounds in the final 20 minutes, Penn won the scoring battle in the paint, 40-14. "Nate was the only guy that seemed to have life out there," Carmody said. But, like Robins, Walton was hampered by foul trouble and fouled out with 22.7 seconds remaining. The key big man for Princeton was supposed to be Young. But last year's Ivy League Rookie of the Year had not practiced in the last four or five days due to tendonitis in his ankle and had a quiet 16 points on the night. "Chris, he has a sore ankle, but he wasn't moving very well in there," Carmody said. That, in addition to Penn's defense, made it hard for Princeton to find their big man in the post most of the game. And when they did find Young, Owens was often there to at least alter his shot. When Owens was not in the game, the Tigers did have some success on the inside, but not nearly enough to make a difference in the end result.
Penn students are running parties Thursday nights at Envy. It's late Thursday night and strobe lights atop the dimly lit dance floor of Envy are pulsating to the rhythms of Pakistani bhangra music, each flash illuminating a party scene rarely matched at Penn. As the music takes an international journey through Latin dance, American hip hop and European house, College sophomore Lourenco Bustani seems to have forgotten the 25 hours of work he and his collaborators have put into creating that moment. "Seeing 900 people dancing together to Pakistani music or European trance and appreciating it all," Bustani said. "That's when our work pays off." Bustani belongs to a partnership of Penn students, known as Pachanga and Le Monde, that has broken into the Philadelphia club scene by throwing a series of increasingly successful Thursday night parties at the Olde City nightclub Envy. Since October, the group has hosted six parties -- each of which have lifted hordes of Penn students away from Thursday night cocktail parties and transported them onto the dance floor of one of the most popular clubs in the city. For Bustani and the rest of Pachanga and Le Monde, that's precisely the point: To work to bring together as wide a variety of students as possible. "We want to give Penn something different to do, acquaint the students with different cultures and bring together different groups at Penn. We think throwing parties is the way to do that," Bustani said. The crowds initially came through word-of-mouth, with the students' circle of friends bringing their friends, who, in turn, brought their friends. Today, with the parties bringing in students with backgrounds ranging from Pakistani to Latin American and everything in between, the question is not how many will come but how many will be left at the door. Bustani said he even had to turn away 300 people at a recent party. The focus on diversity is hardly lost on the partygoers. "The mix of music -- Latin, European, American -- it represents what Penn is like: A mixture of different cultures," College freshman Jonathan Fernandez said at a recent party. According to the organizers, one of their biggest challenges is avoiding the boredom factor that can occur when one group puts on party after party without adding variety. So, as a result, Pachanga and Le Monde work to keep the audience on its toes by bringing new attractions, dancers and themes -- a recent party was titled "Climax," for instance -- to their events. The fact that the number of people attending their parties has steadily increased from each party to the next is, the students say, testimony to the effort they put into keeping their events lively. "The last time I came, it wasn't this crowded, so this must be a good party," fourth-year Penn Medical student Noam Harel said as he gazed down at the packed dance floor. Led by Bustani and Engineering senior Andro Nodarse, Pachanga teamed up last fall with College senior Omer Ghani and his group of Pakistani students, Le Monde, to start their venture. Luckily, they had experience on their side. Pachanga was started six years ago by a former Penn student named Carlos De Miguel. De Miguel, as a freshman, noticed that the Philadelphia club scene lagged somewhat behind those of cities like Miami and New York. He decided that a party scene with a touch of international flavor would perfectly complement Penn's social life. Nodarse joined De Miguel during his freshman year, and the two began moving their parties into local clubs. Le Monde started out two years ago with a huge bash at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in 1998. Earlier this fall, the two groups decided to consolidate their resources and tap into the downtown party scene. The newly formed Pachanga and Le Monde went straight for the top by trying to land a gig at Envy. As college students instead of proven Manhattan playboys, they discovered that throwing huge parties downtown involved more than lots of advertising and alcohol. "Many of the clubs don't see a vested interest in working with university organizations," Bustani said. After hours of negotiations, however, Pachanga and Le Monde stuck a deal with the club ownership. They succeeded, perhaps, because some of the students involved had already been noticed by those in the city's club scene. "We saw a party that they threw somewhere else. We loved it when they contacted us," Envy's former Promotional Director Kelly Meddick said. Other then Pachanga and Le Monde, Envy does not allow other groups to regularly throw parties at the club. That the party organizers are able to pack a crowd so eclectic makes it difficult for Envy's owners to refuse a partnership. "It's a more diverse crowd than what we have on Friday and Saturday. It's brought us into different groups? than what we usually get," Meddick said. Pachanga and Le Monde are currently working on their annual Spring Fling Extravaganza, which they hope will solidify their legacy here. "We want to build an institution at Penn," Bustani said. "Penn is definitely a party school. It's the right place to do it."
Last weekend, Penn's top three men's squash players headed to Williams College to square off against this season's best players in the National Intercollegiate Squash Racquets Association Individual Championships. Penn, coming off a fifth-place finish in its bracket at the NISRA Team Championships, sent junior co-captain Peter Withstandley and sophomores John Griffin and Roberto Kriete to the individual tournament. The trio began play Friday morning in Williamstown, Mass. Withstandley, who managed a 5-9 record this season at the No. 1 position for Penn, was matched up against Harvard senior Tim Wyant, the tournament's No. 3 seed. Wyant was selected as an All-American for the fourth time this season. Withstandley fell to Wyant 3-0 in match play this season and was defeated again by the same margin. Withstandley was edged again in the consolation round by national champion Trinity's Rohan Bhappu. Kriete, who competed at the No. 2 spot for Penn this season, faced off against Williams' Win Tangjaitrong, a second team All-American this year. Like Withstandley, Kriete lost his match in three games. A similar fate befell Griffin, losing 3-0 to Harvard's Shondip Ghosh. This loss set up an intra-squad matchup in the consolation round, pitting Griffin against teammate Kriete on Saturday. Griffin, after falling behind Kriete 2-1, came back to win in 5 games. The victory made Griffin the sole member of the Quakers trio to move on past the first round of the consolation bracket. Griffin took the court Saturday against Trinity's Rohan Juneja in what turned into a five-match seesaw effort. Griffin took the first game, 15-9, followed by a second game loss by the same score. They also split the next two games, Griffin winning the first and Juneja winning the second. In the fifth and deciding game, Juneja won the final point at a 14-14 tie to clinch victory and a berth into the next round. In overall tournament play, Princeton's Peter Yik, winner of the Pool Trophy as the season's national singles champion, defeated fellow first team All-American Preston Quick of Trinity to take the tournament championship. Trinity's Jonathan Smith won the consolation bracket.
Mandy West plays in her final game tonight for W. Hoops For her last practice as a member of the Penn women's basketball team, Mandy West was late. Due to a midterm, the 1998-99 Academic All-Ivy and Academic All-Big Five honoree missed stretching and running some warmup drills with her teammates in preparation for the Quakers' (17-10, 8-5 Ivy League) season finale against Princeton (9-18, 6-7) at the Palestra at 5:30 p.m. West's final Palestra appearance, however, will be about nothing more than pride for the Quakers. Last Friday, Penn entered its final Ivy weekend against Brown and Yale one game behind Dartmouth in the Ivy standings with an outside chance at winning its first-ever title. The Quakers dropped both those games and fell to third in the league standings despite West's valiant efforts, crushing the hopes of a season that had looked bright just weeks before, when the Quakers stood at 6-0 after defeating Harvard to take sole possession of first. Now, West will just be trying to end her two-year Penn career with a win over the Tigers. The senior guard arrived in Philadelphia relatively late in her college career, as she transferred to Penn after spending her freshman and sophomore years at Boston College. "I think it was a great decision," the Quakers second-leading scorer and tri-captain said of her decision to transfer. "I've gotten the best of both worlds, I've had fun with basketball, and I'm walking away with an Ivy League degree. I don't regret my choice at all." First-year Penn coach Kelly Greenberg is delighted to have inherited a player like West. "From day one, she was very receptive to [our coaching staff] and really bought into us," Greenberg said. "And I've always felt very comfortable with Mandy and her humor. I've only been with her a year, and I'm sad." The usually even-keeled West, who broke 1,000 points as a Quaker on Friday night in a loss to Brown, found herself getting a little emotional on the eve of the final game of her collegiate career. "I didn't expect to be sad," she said. "I didn't really expect to be thinking about it that much but, even today, I thought about it." West has made the most of her second and final Ivy League season, though. She has had three 30-point games, the first one against Princeton, in the first game of the Ancient Eight season, when she scored 31 in a 92-82 Quakers win. Her second and third 30-point efforts came this past weekend when she scored a career high 35 at Brown and fell one short of the newly established mark the next night against Yale. "She's playing great right now," Greenberg said. "Saturday night she just flat out took over the game. The AD from Yale came up to me and said that he's never seen a female basketball player like her. I knew he was right. I mean she's just unbelievable." Greenberg hopes that West can take over tonight's rematch against Princeton in the same manner. "This is only my second Princeton game, but I realized in the first one how emotional it is," Greenberg said. "I think they only had one win or something, and it didn't matter. They played harder against us than anyone [had] up to that point. So, I quickly learned what it meant to be Penn-Princeton, that records don't matter, and names don't matter and numbers don't matter. "I think this game is huge for our future and it's huge for Mandy West. All of our underclassmen really have to realize what they have to give [tonight] for Mandy." West's fellow tri-captain, Diana Caramanico, also wants to send West out on a winning note. "This past weekend was really disappointing," Caramanico said. "It sort of left a pit in my stomach, and I'm sure it did for other people on the team as well. I plan on going out on a winning note, especially for Mandy." But what comes after Princeton, after college? "First of all, as a player, I don't know if there's a better shooter out there, and I'm talking in the country," Greenberg said. "I've said it to a few people recently, that if WNBA people aren't looking at her, they're crazy. She'd be a fabulous backup guard on any team. She's in the gym all the time, and she's a great competitor." Greenberg hopes that that competitive edge will be the legacy West leaves with the Quakers. "I hope that? this group of girls will take a large chunk of Mandy West, and I hope that chunk is going to be her fierce competitiveness," Greenberg said. "Even if Mandy was playing against that water bucket, she'd want to beat it." West attributes a great deal of her success this year to the fact that she rediscovered her love of the game after playing for Greenberg and her staff. She also has reconsidered attempting to play professionally. "Last year at this time, if you'd said you'd pay me this much money to play, I would've said no," West said. "I was ready to just sort of take my last year of playing and move on with the next aspect of my life. This year has really changed everything, and it's brought back my love for the game. I'd love to play for a couple of years before going back to school." However enticing she finds the prospects of a pro career, West has concentrated on enjoying the time she has left as an amateur. "My biggest goal this season was to have fun," West said. "That, I've accomplished. These coaches are so much fun to play for, and playing with these guys has been awesome. "I really haven't focused too much on [going pro], especially during the season. I really do hope to play next year, I'm not sure where I'll end up," West said. "I'm not depending on the WNBA, but to go overseas, really to play anywhere, would be great."
John McAdams, the Palestra's public address announcer, makes a living with his voice. For 19 seasons, he has been a fixture at the mike, reminding fans that the Palestra is "college basketball's most historic gym." But even McAdams' smooth voice quivers just a little bit when he recalls his first impression of the Palestra in 1956. "Wow! You look up at the ceiling, and you say, 'What a place!' You walk in there, and you just look around, you see everything -- the big high ceiling, the scoreboard, the stands?. Wow." Almost a half century later, little has changed. It's 11:45 a.m. on a Saturday, seven hours before tip-off, and the Yale team has just filed into the Palestra for its morning shoot-around. Dan Harrell, the Palestra's caretaker, watches the wide-eyed Elis take in their surroundings. The Yale players, five of them freshmen, remove their warmups in a reverent silence. "I can tell when an Ivy League team comes in if they're young," says Harrell, 56, who has worked for Penn since '89. "Because when they walk in, the players look up. They look around and they know they're someplace special." As the fifth-oldest gym still in use, the Palestra doesn't have the distinction of being the dean of college arenas. With a capacity of 8,700, it's hardly the biggest facility. It doesn't have luxury boxes or a jumbotron scoreboard or even comfortable seats. What it has, though, is more character than any other arena in the country. And no one challenges McAdams when he calls it college basketball's most historic gym. In its 73 years, the Palestra has hosted more games and more visiting teams than any other gym. It hosted the first NCAA Eastern Championship in 1939 and has since played host to 50 NCAA Tournament games. But mere numbers aren't what makes the Palestra so special. "If you throw that subject, the Palestra, out at people in Philadelphia -- actually at anyone with a connection to East Coast basketball -- they just start to rhapsodize about the place," says Alex Wolff, a longtime Sports Illustrated writer who first became acquainted with the Palestra as a Princeton student in the late '70s. "Everybody just feels they have a piece of the building?. Everybody has warm feelings about the place." Talk to anyone who has played or coached in the Big 5. To anyone who grew up within a trolley ride of Penn and spent their winter evenings at Palestra doubleheaders. You hear the same thoughts, the same warm feelings. "I don't think there's any question that it's magical and special," Penn coach Fran Dunphy says. Dunphy often brings the key to the Palestra with him when he speaks to groups. "I'll say how fortunate I am to have this [key] and that the Palestra is my place of work every day -- that's very special." "It's the best building in college basketball," says St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli, a native of Southwest Philly. "I know that people would say Cameron [Indoor Stadium at Duke] and Pauley Pavilion [at UCLA] and places like that, but to me, [the Palestra's] synonymous with a noise level that doesn't exist anywhere else." With its arched ceiling and huge rafters, the Palestra has been likened to a giant bass drum, where the noise resonates like no place else. "It's so loud, that sometimes you can't decipher if people are cheering for you or against you," says Penn Athletic Director Steve Bilsky, who captained the 28-1 Penn team of '70-71. "It's loud and it's ricocheting off the walls and, as a player, it just propels you to be more juiced up and play better. At Big 5 games in particular, when the crowd is split down the middle, the noise is incessant. "When it's right, and both teams have their share of the crowd, you have noise the entire time," Martelli says. "It's really spectacular. I've never been anywhere else like that." The Palestra served as the exclusive home of the Big 5 and its doubleheaders -- synonymous with streamers, roll-out banners and city bragging rights -- from 1955 to 1986. The rivalry between Penn, Temple, St. Joe's, La Salle and Villanova thrust Philadelphia into a role as the nation's leading basketball city, with the Palestra as its focal point. In 1986, the five schools signed a 10-year pact continuing the round-robin but with a catch -- games would be held at each school's respective gym, closing the book on a storied chapter of the Palestra's history. In 1991, the dagger was driven deeper into local hearts when Villanova successfully petitioned to halve the schedule, ending the round-robin. "It's unfair to students today that they've never been to a Big 5 doubleheader at the Palestra," Harrell says. "Sometimes you have something, you don't realize how lucky you are until it's gone." Through it all, though, the Palestra stood like a portal to another era. Times changed, but the gym stayed the same. Whenever two Big 5 schools tangled at the Palestra, the magic would return, at least for a night. Last May, however, area fans erupted at the surprise announcement that the Big 5 would return to a full round-robin. While the Palestra only sees a share of the games, many view the rebirth of the Big 5 as a victory for everything the Palestra stands for, a reaffirmation of an era when local rivalries were more important than TV contracts, conference requirements or 20,000-seat-arena gate receipts. "['Nova] came to find out that you can play a Big East schedule and play in all these big arenas and be on TV all the time," Wolff says, "but there's nothing like coming into that building on a cold winter's night, making the walk over from 30th Street Station? and being in there for a couple hours and getting that energy." It is that energy that lured Wolff to the Palestra from Old Nassau as an undergraduate. "I was so taken with the place that I would come down from campus, the way if you go to school in New Jersey you can either go to New York and to a jazz club or to Philly and to a college basketball game in a temple, in a cathedral." To thousands, the Palestra serves as both a fan-luring mecca and a shrine to another era, of both basketball and America. Martelli chalks up his days taking the trolley to doubleheaders as a different age, when "parents could trust they could send their kids somewhere, and everything was going to be alright and you were going to get home safely." The Palestra stands as a time capsule in a changing world. A mere glimpse of the building is enough to send shivers down the spine. "As bad as things get in your life, you come here and you feel young again," Harrell says. "Things aren't as bad." So many great games have been played at the Palestra that picking one as most memorable is impossible. But ask anyone who has spent more than a few evenings on the Palestra's wooden bleachers and you'll be met with a flood of stories that make no mention of final scores. "It's every moment," Harrell says. "It's game time, when you can feel the place come alive. It's just a feeling." Martelli laughs when he thinks about a game between the St. Joe's Hawks and the Fairfield Stags in the mid-'60s. "Some friends of mine and I were running up and down in the portals, and we went near the Fairfield student section and started yelling, 'What the hell's a Stag?!' A couple of college students who'd had a few libations before the game ran down and started chasing us -- these college guys were chasing seven sixth-graders through the corridors of the Palestra. That's something that I will never forget." Jack Scheuer, an Associated Press writer, has been getting paid to watch games at the Palestra for 40 years -- he used to read Bob Vetrone's copy back to the Evening Bulletin for $2.50 a game. "I thought I was overpaid, I loved being there so much." Scheuer is still amazed by a pre-game shooting performance he saw over 30 years ago. As fans counted audibly, Princeton's Bill Bradley hit 22 -- or 26, depending on whom you ask -- straight jumpers. Wolff loves the bomb scare story. The capacity crowd was evacuated prior to a game in 1965, but immortal play-by-play man Les Keiter continued reporting from an empty gym. "It was almost like the captain refusing to abandon ship -- he was going to go down with the thing," Wolff says. "That's part of the Palestra legend -- there are all these wonderful stories you don't hear about any other building." They are the stories that make the Palestra into what Harrell calls a "living museum." They are part of what makes it the most quintessential of college gyms, the pulse that makes this building so different from the flashier new arenas that appear more suited to professional teams than college ones. At 73 years old, the Palestra is very much still alive. "That's the heartbeat right there -- it's a living thing, this building, when the basketball bounces," Harrell says, hearing the echoes from the court reverberate through the gym. The Palestra is frequented by a stream of former players and old fans. They walk the concourse and peer into the dusty trophy cases. They climb the bleachers. They tell stories to their children or grandchildren of what it's like to watch a game on a cold winter night, a feeling that Wolff describes as "human electricity passed from elbow to elbow" when 9,000 fans are shoe-horned into the bleachers. Harrell sees it every time an ex-player comes back. "You can just tell when a guy comes in, if he played here," he says. "And I never bother them, because they're 20 years old again." As much as the old place is alive, Harrell swears that there are spirits at the Palestra. "She's seen one of the ghosts down here," he says, holding a picture of his daughter Erin, 17, a basketball player at West Catholic. "She was shooting here one day and said, 'Daddy, I always thought you were kidding me, but I looked over and there was a guy in a plaid shirt. I shot and looked back and he was gone, but I know he was there.' So ever since then she believes me. It's true though." Mostly, though, the spirits make themselves felt and heard but not seen. Tony Crossen, an electrician who has worked at Penn for 39 years and at the Palestra for 25, agrees with Harrell. "If you're walking through there at night you can swear that you hear somebody walking behind you or somebody talking or a crowd noise. It's definitely haunted." Still, Crossen can point to a few explanations. Renovations to the Palestra altered the air flow of the original design, creating a circulation problem that causes doors to slam and the concourse, on occasion, to howl. "You can feel the strong wind," Harrell says. "To me, that's like the spirit of the building trying to get back to where it was." Walk through the front doors of the Palestra, past the lobby and into the main concourse. Adjust your eyes to the dim lighting, soak in the musty smell of concrete and wood, of floor varnish and sweat, of basketball -- 70 years of basketball. Look at the dusty photos. Stare through one of the portals and look up at the iron rafters, the sky blue ceiling. But don't enter the gym. Turn to the wall on the front concourse, where there is an old bronze plaque. It reads: "To win the game is great? To play the game is greater? But to love the game is greatest of all?" On paper, it's the kind of saying that sounds a little too mawkish to inspire awe. But hanging on the wall of the Palestra, it makes your pulse quicken and your throat well up. The Palestra is not nearly so much about basketball as it is about collective emotion, about the stories and memories of generations of fans who have shared a love for an old mass of concrete and steel. "This is home to a lot of people. Somebody wrote a book years ago that you could never go home again -- you move on in life and you can never go back to the old neighborhood. But you can come back to the Palestra," Harrell says.
Point guard Michael Jordan will play the final home game of his illustrious career tonight at the Palestra. There will be no comebacks for this Michael Jordan. There will be no more games at the Palestra. And unlike teammate and fellow senior Frank Brown, Jordan will have no fifth year of eligibility. Instead, when the final buzzer sounds after tonight's Penn-Princeton game, Quakers senior Michael Jordan will make his final postgame trek to the Palestra locker room. Except for the NCAA Tournament, his storied career at Penn will be over. But what a career it's been. Jordan's name is now a staple in the Penn record books. He is in the top five in school history in career points, three-pointers attempted, three-pointers made, assists and steals. But, somehow, those numbers fall short of revealing Jordan's true legacy. To get a better idea, let's go back to the 1996-97 season, Jordan's first in a Penn uniform. The Quakers were just a shell of the team that had won the previous four Ivy League championships. Jerome Allen and Matt Maloney -- two future NBA players who made up one of the top backcourts in Penn history -- had graduated in 1995. Without them, the remaining Quakers posted a less-than-stellar 17-10 record the next year. While that team was good enough to share an Ivy championship with Princeton, the vacuum of graduation would suck away the rest of the players that made up the dominant Penn teams of the mid-'90s. Into this untested roster came Jordan. He was viewed by many as the next Jerome Allen -- a little less athletic, a little more skilled. He was the guy who was supposed to carry the torch of Allen and Maloney, a torch held briefly by Ivy League Player of the Year Ira Bowman in '95-96. And Jordan did carry that torch. Sure, his hold on it was tentative during his freshman year, when Penn finished fourth in the league and two games under .500 overall. Sure, he may have nearly dropped it a few times in his 17-12 sophomore season. But Jordan kept that torch burning, and now his team has been able to brand two Ivy League titles into the record books. Back in April of 1996 -- five months before Jordan arrived at Penn -- his high school coach, Abington Friends' Steve Chadwin, gave Jordan possibly the highest praise a point guard can receive: "His best attribute is that he makes his teammates better," Chadwin said. And, time and time again, that became evident in Jordan's four years with the Red and Blue. True, Jordan will lead the team in scoring for the third consecutive year. But, more demonstrative of his impact on the team, Jordan will also top the team in assists for a third straight time. One gets the feeling that, if he needed to, Jordan could score 25 points a game. But instead, Jordan plays the role of distributor on offense and tenacious defender on defense. "There's stretches every single game we played here where he strapped the rest of the team on his back, scored a few baskets in a row or hit the shot we needed," Penn center Geoff Owens said. And Jordan is never more in his element than in the final minutes of the game. "When it comes crunch time and we need a tough basket, we're probably running everything through him," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. But running everything through Jordan most often means that the Quakers point guard isn't the one taking the shot. While Jordan's slashing layups certainly are a large part of his game, more often, visions of Jordan drives and kick-outs to fellow senior and backcourt mate Matt Langel for a three-pointer will dance in the heads of Penn fans when they recall the Quakers' No. 23. Langel, too, will see his final action on the Palestra floor tonight. For four years now, his lethal outside shot has been the dagger for many a Penn opponent, as the Quakers' guard stands just two three-pointers behind Garret Kreitz for second all-time in Penn history. Langel will close his career with well over 1,100 points, a 40 percent three-point percentage and a place in one of the best backcourts to wear Penn's Red and Blue. Debates will rage over which duo was the best since Steve Bilsky and Dave Wohl graced the Palestra court 30 years ago, but Jordan seems to give the nod to his predecessors. "What'd they [Allen and Maloney] win, three championships together?" Jordan said. "We only have two." That, in a sense, sums up Jordan's definition of success. He'll be first team All-Ivy League for the third consecutive time and seems a lock to be Ivy Player of the Year, but Jordan is the first to dismiss his individual accomplishments. "All that stuff is all well and good and fine, but I just want to focus on going 14-0 and all the team goals," Jordan said. In many ways, Jordan has been married to this team since his first practice with the squad three and a half years ago. With his arrival came lofty expectations -- expectations that he would be the man to lead Penn back to the Big Dance. "For anybody to do what he has done, in terms of coming in and basically being a significant other from day one, is not the easiest thing to do in anybody's program," Dunphy said. When things have gone right for Penn these last four seasons, Jordan has often received the majority of credit. When things have gone wrong, the Philadelphia native has taken more than his share of the blame. However, Jordan tends to downplay his impact to Penn basketball. "I'm just a member of this team," Jordan said. "I didn't carry the team." But most would agree that the Quakers would have much less of a chance of celebrating back-to-back championships without Jordan at the point. "[Jordan] was a star in every sense of the word -- his personality, how he played on the court," Owens said. "He's just someone that will be sorely missed around here." But Jordan will not be the only player stepping foot on the Palestra tonight for the last time in a Penn uniform. Langel and Brown -- who has scored 404 career points himself -- will also be playing their last Palestra home games. "[Today is] not a fun day for me," Dunphy said, "see[ing] those guys walk out there and represent the last time they'll be playing in a Penn uniform at the Palestra."
Ask any member of the Penn women's lacrosse team how she felt when first taking the field against Old Dominion on Saturday and she will give you the same answer -- nervous. The game was just a scrimmage -- the first of 11 the Quakers would play over the weekend at the College of William and Mary -- so it had no bearing on records or statistics. Still, there was plenty riding on the 25 minutes of competition. It was Penn's first game under new coach Karin Brower, and the team's first chance to turn things around after last season's disappointing 1-12 performance. "I think that going out there everyone was a little nervous that we weren't going to play well and that our confidence would be shot," Penn senior tri-captain Brooke Jenkins said. Penn's first-year coach made her debut at her alma mater, the College of William and Mary -- the place where she earned All-America status as a player just eight years ago. "I think she was a little nostalgic. She would be like, 'Oh, this is this and that is that' and she would just go off a little bit," junior goalkeeper Christian Stover said. "It was kind of cool to see things from her perspective since she went to school there and coached there for a little bit." But the Quakers got over their butterflies quickly and defeated Old Dominion, as well as their next opponent, Richmond. Penn's upperclassmen had not achieved back-to-back wins since 1998, with last year's team claiming just one victory against Columbia. Of course, Penn did not look much like last year's squad, with 13 freshmen wearing the Red and Blue and a new coach pacing the sidelines. Jenkins said Brower's style differed from former coach Anne Sage's in several respects. "In the past, we had no coaching on attack," Jenkins said. "[Sage] would just be like, 'Go down there and set up whatever you want,' but [Brower] tells us, 'I want you to run this, this and this,' so it's more structured -- which is good." Brower mostly played her starters in the first two contests, but by the third game against Shippensburg, every member of the Quakers was getting into the action. In fact, Brower put out freshmen-only teams for several of the scrimmages. "They really didn't play timid," Stover said. "Maybe in the first couple minutes of the first scrimmage they did, but then they came out completely dominat[ing] over people who have had more experience then they've had." One freshman really made a name for herself -- literally. Crissy Book from Coatesville, Pa., defended her opponent so closely that Penn's assistant coach Amy Sullivan started calling her 'the White Shadow.' "I guess [the White Shadow] is a cartoon or something," Penn senior tri-captain Lee Ann Sechovicz said. "[Book] would come out of nowhere and get the ball away from her player every single time. She'd either intercept it or take it away from her." Brower described Book as deceivingly fast and very composed with the ball. Judging by Sechovicz's reaction to the freshman's play, Book just might have deceived her own teammates before last weekend's showing. "She'd started to come out in practice, but we never saw her full-force like that before," Sechovicz said. Jenkins' performance was another promising sign for Penn. The senior, who tore her ACL playing field hockey last season, said that her knees held up throughout the whole weekend of competition. "She had a little problem mobility-wise defending the clear, but she knows where to go, and she came up with a lot of balls just from being in the correct position," Brower said. With such a young squad, Jenkins' on-field presence will be crucial in leading the Quakers attack this season. "The upperclassmen have been here, so they know how to push us along," freshman Kate Murray said. "Offensively, I look up to [Jenkins] because she knows a lot about college-level play." Brower said that even though the Quakers successes were "off the record" last weekend -- from the initial wins to the final victory over Division III powerhouse The College of New Jersey -- there was still much to gain from the scrimmages. "I think the best thing is that they came back with a little bit of confidence. They came back believing that all of the hard work they've been doing is going to pay off eventually," Brower said. "That was really positive. I think they feel they're ready to take on their first game." The Quakers' season officially begins on March 14 when they face American University in Washington, D.C.
Bassey Adjah, Ruthie Neuhaus and Liz Eittels finished highly in their respective events. The four members of the Penn women's track team who qualified for the ECAC Championships headed to Boston to take on some fierce competition in the final meet of the indoor season. Senior Ruthie Neuhaus, juniors Ami Desai and Bassey Adjah and sophomore Liz Wittels met the difficult qualifying standards in their events during the season to earn the right to compete in the prestigious meet. Neuhaus, Adjah and Wittels each took 10th place in their events. Desai came in 24th place in the pole vault. The previous weekend, Penn competed in the two-day Heptagonal Championships. Having the ECACs, the only other two-day event of the season, right after Heps undoubtedly left the Quakers athletes a little fatigued. "This was sort of like the calm after the storm," Penn assistant coach Tony Tenisci said. "Those girls all had great Heps, and it was really difficult to have to come back and compete in another two-day event the next weekend." Tenisci believes that mental rather than physical fatigue might have hurt the squad the most. "We definitely weren't as charged up and as energy-packed as for Heps," Tenisci said. "They were on the other side of their emotional peak, so it was very hard to get yourself motivated to try and gear up for another performance." Neuhaus, the only competing Penn senior, recorded a leap of 37'11.5" in the triple jump to place 10th, while Wittels turned in a jump of 10'11.75" for her 10th-place finish in the pole vault. Neuhaus might have placed higher in the event were it not for a botched landing on one of her jumps. "Ruthie jumped really well, but she had a bad landing on her third jump," Tenisci said. "She could have advanced if that had not happened." Adjah turned in a personal record of 18'7.75" in the long jump. There was, however, some controversy over the measurement of one of Adjah's jumps. "We thought that they might have measured one of my jumps wrong," Adjah said. "A lot of people said that it looked like my best jump, but that's not how they measured it. There obviously isn't anything I can do about that now, so I'm kind of just forgetting about it." Hopefully for Penn, Adjah, Wittels and Desai, who are all planning to return next year, gained some valuable experience from competing against such a skilled field. "I thought that it was a great experience to see what the next level is all about," Tenisci said. "It was a real honor to be in that group, and our kids just went out there and did their best." With the indoor season complete, the team's attention now turns to the upcoming outdoor season. The Quakers will have a break of several weeks before the outdoor season's first meet on March 26. "We really don't have any time to rest right now," Adjah said. "With spring break coming up, we need to take advantage of all the time that we have."
Having already clinched the Ivy League championship, M. Hoops hopes to cap a perfect league slate tonight. When the men's basketball teams from Penn and Princeton meet for the 202nd time tonight at 8 p.m., the fact that the Quakers have already clinched their second straight Ivy League title and trip to the NCAA Tournament goes right out the Palestra's ancient, paint-covered windows. The Quakers (20-7, 13-0 Ivy League) know that the Tigers (19-9, 11-2) will come with everything they can muster and that a Red and Blue win will bring something that Penn's senior trio of Michael Jordan, Matt Langel and Frank Brown have never experienced -- an undefeated season in the Ancient Eight. "It's nice to have won the championship," Langel said. "But being undefeated in the Ivy League has been a goal of ours from the beginning of the year." The Penn Class of 2000 has history on its side. Tonight marks the eighth time since the inauguration of official Ivy play in 1956-57 that Penn and Princeton have met in the final game of the regular season when one of the teams has already clinched the title. The league champion has emerged victorious from each of the seven previous meetings. That fact is somewhat misleading, however. On March 3, 1998, the last time this scenario came about, the roles were reversed and coach Bill Carmody's Tigers sported a near-perfect 26-1 record and a staggering No. 8 national ranking. Penn was 17-11, 10-3 in the Ivies and, on the surface, an obvious underdog. Forty minutes of basketball later, the score was knotted at 66. It took Princeton an overtime period to finally put the Quakers away, 78-72. What was supposed to be a coronation turned into a mutiny, further reinforcing the fact that the drama of this 97-year-old rivalry transcends wins, losses and league championships. "You can never call a Penn-Princeton game meaningless," Penn center Geoff Owens said. "You can almost throw out any incentive, any NCAA Tournaments, the Ivy League championship? and it's still going to be seriously intense." Penn currently boasts a 15-game winning streak -- the second longest in the nation -- and has won 20 consecutive Ivy games, dating back to a calamitous 50-49 collapse at the hands of the Tigers on February 9, 1999, at the Palestra. There have been a few shaky moments along the way in this Ivy campaign, the most notable of which was Penn's narrowest of wins at Harvard, 62-61, on February 26. Still, the Quakers, who have pretty much been healthy throughout, have tripped but never fallen. The Tigers, on the other hand, were decimated by injuries earlier in the season. With their second-leading scorer, freshman swingman Spencer Gloger, and sole senior, Mason Rocca, out of the lineup, the Orange and Black fell to lowly Yale, 44-42, before facing Penn for the first time. A 55-46 Quakers victory gave Princeton its second Ivy defeat and virtually sealed their bridesmaid status. Since that loss at Jadwin Gymnasium on February 15, the Tigers have disposed of their Ancient Eight competition in very convincing fashion. Princeton has beaten each of its six subsequent Ivy foes by double digits. The Tigers average margin of victory in this span is 21.5 points, compared to just a 14.7 average margin for the Quakers. Even if this is all too little, too late for Princeton, the Tigers' recent exemplary play makes tonight's Penn senior night all the more intriguing. Although fifth-year senior Brown was part of a 1995-96 squad that managed to beat the Tigers at home, Jordan and Langel have yet to notch a Palestra victory over Princeton. Tonight's game gains added significance because of this string of bad luck. "We would like to go out on a positive note," Jordan said. "I'm gonna miss playing college basketball. I'm gonna miss playing with these guys. Obviously, this is going to be a special night." The past decade of this rivalry has not been kind to the home team, however, as the visiting Ivy power has won 11 of the last 19. Still, this crop of Quakers has a better chance than most to break the mini-slump at home. Jordan sits comfortably in third place on the all-time Penn list with 1,571 points and is second in career assists with 463. Meanwhile, Langel has compiled 1,169 career points and has a very good chance to move into 19th position tonight, as he needs just 11 points to move past Paul Romanczuk. In addition, with just four three-pointers, he can tie Garett Kreitz at second place with 199 treys. Brown, who is ending his five-year Penn roller-coaster ride in style, is also coming off a 16-point barrage in the Quakers' victory over Yale this past Saturday. Barring an NIT bid for the Tigers, tonight will mark Rocca's final contest in a Princeton uniform. The rough-and-tumble big man was able to play 33 minutes against Penn in February, scoring 16 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, but has played a grand total of 28 minutes since then. Youth will complement the outgoing experience of both of these teams tonight as well. Particularly interesting will be the showdown between Gloger (12.1 ppg) and Penn's Ugonna Onyekwe (11.2 ppg), two of the league's premier rookies.
John Sinclair conceived the idea of the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show about 30 years ago. Today, though, Sinclair is anything but a "sweet transvestite." Sinclair, who has since become a rabbi and now goes by the name of "Yaakov Asher," discussed his career transformation from producer and actor to rabbi and inspirational speaker before a crowd of about 20 students at Vance Hall on Thursday. Decades ago, while working as an actor in London and Hollywood, Sinclair said he never would have imagined himself as a rabbi. While working on the musical Hair in England, he and a friend came up with the idea of staging a "a science-fiction rock-and-roll musical." He made a deal with his friend that he would produce the stage musical if his friend agreed to write it. The result was the ever popular Rocky Horror Picture Show, which routinely draws devoted fans -- many of whom come dressed as their favorite characters from the film and bring assorted props -- to midnight screenings of the film in select theaters around the country. Before the production of the film in 1975, Sinclair opened up the first 24- track studio in New York, where Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody became the "magic hit." By 1976, with The Rocky Horror Picture Show still bringing in loads of money and four platinum music albums under his belt, Sinclair said he was enjoying an extravagant life. But he was far from content. "Is that all there is? Is this what people go crazy for?" Sinclair rhetorically asked the audience. It was about this time in the mid-1970s that Sinclair read The Shell, a Yiddish novel that relates the story of one man's return to his Jewish roots. The book, Sinclair said, would ultimately inspire him to inspect his own spirituality and return to Judaism. From then on, Sinclair said, he has pursued Judaism passionately, learning more about its religious tenets and practicing the beliefs that he had left behind in his childhood. Choosing God over Hollywood was by then an easy decision for Sinclair, who said he feels more fulfilled now than ever before. "People think that they're going to be happy by having material success, but I'm much happier now," Sinclair said. "I have a real feeling of contentment through the Torah and how the Torah tells us to live." Having experienced life from two radically different perspectives, Sinclair said he now desires to share his experiences with others. After the talk, several audience members said they attended because they had heard Sinclair was a charismatic speaker with an interesting story to tell. "He was inspirational," College freshman Risa Small said. "I really enjoyed how he would act his stories out. He's very talented." "He said things very humbly. He was open-minded and not at all preachy," College freshman Beno Freedman said. "That's not always the case with these things. His story was interesting, even in a non-religious way." The event was organized through the Hillel Outreach committee. College senior Matthew Wieder, who organized the talk, said, "It is of utmost importance that the 7,000 Jews on campus realize that no matter how far removed from Judaism they may be, as was the case with Rabbi Sinclair, it is never too late to learn more about their religion."
The Penn men's basketball team wasn't the only team on campus winning a league title this past weekend. The Penn men's club hockey team battled back from a 1-0 deficit in the third and deciding game to defeat Temple 2-1 for the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference championship, putting the wraps on a very dramatic best-of-three series. Temple routed Penn 8-2 in the first game of the series, but Penn answered with an 8-3 drubbing the following night to set the stage for the winner-take-all third game at Lehigh. "We came out flat [in game one]," Penn sophomore Whit Matthews said. "The next night Temple didn't play worse, it was just that we came out on fire." In game three, Temple beat Penn goalie Pat Baude to open the scoring a little under seven minutes into the game. That was the only time Sunday afternoon that the Owls would solve Baude, who stopped 42 out of 43 Temple shots. Game three proved to be a goaltending duel as Temple goalie Mike Palermo was just as dominant as Baude. Palermo stopped an unbelievable 65-of-67 shots. With only 3:32 gone in the second period, the Quakers finally knotted the game at 1-1 on an unassisted goal by Matthews. Matthews tapped a face-off draw through the opposing center's legs and then beat Palermo through the five hole to put Penn on the scoreboard. The game remained deadlocked until Penn captain Joe Merrill scored what would prove to be the championship winning goal. Merrill's goal came with 12:20 left in regulation. Penn freshman Jeff Bagnoli, who is also a member of the Penn varsity sprint football team, found Merrill right on the doorstep and Merrill banged in his own rebound to give Penn its first-ever DVCHC Championship.
After a 15-month search, Professors Michael Fitts became the third internal candidate to be named to a deanship this year. Law Professor Michael Fitts was named the new dean of the Law School yesterday, ending a 15-month search and marking the third time this academic year that the University has selected a candidate from within its own ranks for a top-level position. "Michael Fitts has superb academic judgement and proven leadership and administrative skills," University President Judith Rodin said in a statement. "We are absolutely delighted that he has accepted this new assignment." In February, Rodin appointed Patrick Harker to head the Wharton School, and she named Eduardo Glandt to the Engineering School's top post in November. Fitts succeeds former Law School Dean Colin Diver -- who stepped down in August after a decade of leadership -- and will replace Interim Dean Charles Mooney. In an interview yesterday, Fitts said he expects his new job to be both a challenge and an opportunity, as he prepares to enlarge the faculty and increase the school's endowment. "I like institution building," Fitts said. "I like hiring faculty. I like building programs. I like speaking with alumni." Over the next few years, Fitts said he hopes to hire between seven and eight new professors as well as expand the Law School's interdisciplinary reach, strengthening ties with the University's other professional schools. And, in the process, he said he will be able to improve the school's standing in various academic rankings. Currently the Law School is ranked 12th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. "We have to take [the rankings] very seriously and I take them seriously," Fitts said. "As we expand the faculty and expand the endowment, it can only help us." The announcement is the culmination of an exhaustive search, that ranks among the longest in the University's history. The search that landed Provost Robert Barchi took 13 months, and 16 months were required to select School of Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel Preston. "The conclusion was terrific," said Wharton Vice Dean Richard Herring, who chaired the Law School dean search committee. "But if we had gotten the decision at six weeks, we would have been all the happier." A West Philadelphia native, Fitts graduated from Harvard University in 1975, where he was elected Phi Beta Kappa. He later received a law degree in 1979 from the Yale University Law School. While at Yale, he served as editor of the Yale Law Journal. Before coming to Penn in 1985, Fitts worked as an attorney advisor for the Office of Legal Council at the U.S Justice Department and served as a law clerk for former University Trustee Leon Higginbotham, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court. But while Fitts comes with a distinguished legal and academic background, he has never before been a rainmaker. "I have not done a lot of fundraising," Fitts said, unfazed by his inexperience at what has become a priority for most deans these days. "But I have a great product to sell -- an excellent law school with a lot of opportunities." According to Herring, Fitts' genuine enthusiasm gave the committee confidence that he could raise money. But it was his experience as the chairman of the Law School personnel committee at a time "when it did its best hiring in years" that made him stand out from the more than 100 candidates the committee reviewed. Although the nationwide search process dragged on for more than 15 months, Herring said Fitts was identified as a candidate right away. "If you went around the table that first day, [Fitts] was on the list. It was an obvious choice," Herring said. "But Fitts said that he wasn't willing to do it." According to Herring, before Fitts finally agreed to be considered late in the search process, the committee had reviewed a diverse group of candidates -- including practicing lawyers, other law school deans and six internal faculty members. Herring would not reveal the names of any other candidates the committee considered. As they narrowed their selections during the fall, Herring said the committee met more frequently -- conducting almost 80 hours of off-site interviews -- and meetings became more intense. "It was as rambunctious a committee as you will find, but we were all very collegial," Herring said. Herring said the committee submitted its final list of between three and six candidates to Rodin and Barchi in late December. The two then met privately with the individuals on the list before deciding on Fitts in early February. Although he never attended Penn, Fitts' connection to the University runs deep. His father,William Fitts, was the chairman of the Surgery Department in the Medical School. And his grandfather, Joseph Willits, was the dean of the Wharton School.
About 150 people gathered to remember the West African immigrant, killed by four N.Y. police officers. On College Green last night, the United Minorities Council and the Greenfield Intercultural Center co-sponsored a candlelight vigil in memorial of Amadou Diallo, the West African immigrant who was shot to death in 1998 by New York City police officers who mistook his wallet for a gun. The four officers were acquitted of murder charges two weeks ago, to the dismay of many who saw it as another example of police brutality against African Americans. About 150 people, including students and professors from Penn and several nearby colleges, gathered on College Green. "As playing the role of representative of many people of color on this campus, it's very important that we make an overstatement against the injustice, and we bring it to the awareness of all Penn students," said College junior Archana Jayaram, the political chair of the UMC. Speakers at the event included University Chaplain William Gipson, Director of the Police Advisory Commission in Philadelphia Hector Soto, Political Science Professor Joao Resende-Santos and other audience members who wished to voice their concerns. Many of the speakers stressed the relevance of Diallo's death to their own lives, emphasizing that what happened to Diallo could have happened to anyone else when prejudices prevail. College sophomore Michelle Watson, the editor-in-chief of The Vision, Penn's independent black newspaper, told of how her mother bought tapes from Diallo, who was a New York City street vendor. "I know a man who lived on the same block three doors down," said Know Iself, a sophomore at a local school who addressed the crowd. Several visibly angry audience members discussed the prevalence of racial stereotypes and the detrimental effects they can have -- which, they say, provides a breeding ground for the Diallo case and other similar incidents. "I'm just frustrated. I'm just really upset," said UMC Chairman Jerome Byam, a College junior. "Before I open my mouth, someone has an opinion of me. I work hard, but people don't just look at me that way -- and I'm upset." In the beginning of the vigil, Gipson encouraged the crowd to heed the callings of Diallo's mother -- to "pray and fight" in order to prevent future racial injustices. Discussing the significance of holding such an event in the heart of a college campus, Wharton senior Sammy Sugiura, the chairman of the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, said, "The most important thing is to remember that these incidents do happen in the U.S. -- a lot of these victims don't have a voice to defend themselves. "The vigil is not only a way to bring light to the tragic way he died, but a way to educate everyone not only about his death, but of other hate crimes that occur," he added.
Princeton might have taken the Ivy League title away from the Penn men's fencing team this season, but the Quakers got revenge when they edged the Tigers by one point and took second place at the Intercollegiate Fencing Association championships at Yale over the weekend. While fencing powerhouse St. John's won the men's three-weapon overall competition in addition to finishing first in both the sabre and epee events, Penn was second to the Red Storm in the overall and with the sabre. The Quakers finished fourth with the foil, one spot behind St. John's again. Penn's most impressive win came from junior sabre Mike Golia, who placed first in the individual sabre championship. Golia started out with a less-than-stellar performance on Saturday, a day when the Quakers fenced against 12 schools during a tiring 13-hour day at Yale's Lanman Center. "Going in there, I just wanted to beat a couple of people," Golia said. "I never thought I was going to win this competition because there are some really tough fencers." Golia barely made it to Sunday's individual tournament. To qualify for Sunday, he needed to finish in the top six in the elite sabre A pool -- and he ended up sixth. On Sunday, twelve fencers -- six from the A pool, four from the B pool and two from the C pool -- competed in a round robin. Eight moved on to compete in the final round robin. Once again, Golia was the last seed. But in the final round robin, Golia went 7-0, never allowing his opponents more than three touches. "On Sunday a lot of people came up to me and said, 'I've never seen you fence better,'" Golia said. "I just fenced a great day on Sunday." Golia's most memorable victory on Sunday was over the Red Storm's Ivan Lee, a member of the junior national team who beat Golia on Saturday. "Anyone watching those two guys fence would have no question that fencing was an athletic sport," Penn coach Dave Micahnik said. "It was an extraordinary bout." Golia wasn't the only Quaker who qualified for the individual championships on Sunday. Sophomore sabres Daniel Vincent and Jeff Lee both made it to the second day, but were ousted in the preliminaries of the round robin. Penn junior foilist David Cohen, who won the foil competition last year, also qualified for the individuals. This year, Cohen only finished fourth -- but he did beat Columbia's Jed Dupree, who won the foil event. In the epee, Penn sophomore Jim Benson won seven bouts and just missed making the individual tournament, and sophomore Scott Eriksen went 5-1 before he had to withdraw due to a pulled hip flexor. Eriksen was replaced by Penn freshman Javier Garcia-Albea, who made an impressive IFA debut by winning approximately two-thirds of his bouts. Eriksen wasn't the only injured Red and Blue fencer. Despite fencing with a previously sprained ankle, senior captain David Liu, a foilist, won 10 of his bouts on Saturday and nearly made the cutoff for Sunday. "It was a decent performance," Micahnik said. "With a few more bouts here and there we might have got a higher score, but I don't necessarily think we would have had the balance to beat St. John's." And while Micahnik is happy about placing second overall, he still knows that the Quakers could have done better. "We didn't win everything there, so I'm not satisfied," he said. "That's just the way it is."
Star triple jumper Tuan Wreh did not compete because of a hamstring injury from Heps. Consider how difficult it is for a team to sweep through the 64-team field in the NCAA basketball tournament. Now consider doing it with just three people in your starting lineup and your leading scorer sidelined with an injury. The Penn men's track team faced similar odds at last weekend's IC4A championships at Harvard when the Quakers sent just 18 men to the tournament, while top programs such as champion Georgetown sent in excess of 30. To make matters more difficult, Penn's star jumper, Tuan Wreh, made the trip to Boston but did not compete due to a nagging hamstring injury, which he initially suffered during his record-setting jump at the Heptagonal Championships the previous week. Georgetown's Nathan Rollins, who won the triple jump event, only outdistanced Wreh's Heps mark by 3 1/2 inches, suggesting that, if healthy, Wreh would have had a terrific shot at scoring some points for Penn. These circumstances rendered the Red and Blue unable to legitimately compete with the region's elite teams as Penn finished in an eight-way tie for 36th place in the enormous 104-team field. Penn athletes did not have visions of IC4A glory heading into the competition, as they acknowledged their lack of depth. "I think the only disappointment was that we didn't send more people there," junior pole vaulter John Church said. "I don't think we really expected to make an impact at ICs." Especially after having participated in Heps the prior weekend, admittedly the most significant meet of the indoor season to most Quakers, Penn came out somewhat flat in Cambridge, Mass. "Most Heps teams don't do very well [at IC4As]," said junior pole vaulter Josh Coleman, who agreed that the team's performance was not that big a disappointment, given the situation. Though the Quakers do not appear overly concerned with their outing, an occasional lack of focus continues to hamper the progress of the team and is causing inconsistency. "I just sort of lost it mentally for the first time this year," said Church, who is confident that such a lapse will not recur in the outdoor season. Even despite a possible lack of intensity, Church, as well as senior vaulter Bob Reynolds, still put forth solid efforts. Reynolds placed sixth with a clearance of 16'1", while Church finished seventh, clearing a height of 15'9". "As a unit, we did pretty well," Church said. Coleman, though, actually ran into some difficulty as he found out just how deep and challenging the IC4A field was. "The opening height was actually my PR, so I didn't do that well," he said, indicating that a career day would have been mandatory to advance. With the exception of Wreh and senior thrower Matt Pagliasotti, who are both still awaiting potential berths in this weekend's national championships, the rest of the Quakers can now turn their attention to something they hold in even higher regard than either indoor Heps or IC4As -- the outdoor season, which commences with the Quaker Invitational on March 25. The Red and Blue feel ready for the new season and will welcome the opportunity to host the majority of its spring meets, including Heps, after traversing much of the East Coast throughout the winter season. Though excited about its prospects, Penn is careful to not be overly optimistic. "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves and start making predictions," Church said.
Sarah Bruscia broke her own school record on the uneven bars for the Quakers, who easily topped Wilson. On a day that saw another school record broken and a new personal best set, the Penn gymnastics team's seniors said goodbye to Hutchinson Gymnasium in commanding style. The Quakers' total of 189.125 points dwarfed Wilson's 175.450, and Penn's four seniors ended their careers at Hutchinson in the same fashion they started them -- with unprecedented success. "As freshmen, they came in and helped lead a team that in '95 and '96 had recruiting difficulties," Penn coach Tom Kovic said. "They helped lift the program to the next level." Consistent with season-long performances, Penn's beam team provided the most outstanding routines of the meet. Turning in an outstanding performance on beam, Penn junior Sarah Bruscia broke her own school record of 9.825, established last season, with a meet-high 9.850. "Sarah's performance was simply brilliant," Kovic said. In addition, senior Joci Newman established a personal best score on balance beam with a score of 9.800 in her last regular season meet at home. "I'm glad that it happened here. It's just a good ending. I don't have any regrets with this team," Newman said. Penn captain Lizzie Jacobson contributed two solid routines in her return to the lineup after sitting out all last season with a knee injury. "Lizzie's just heroic comeback on bars and beam was just fantastic. She's worked so hard to get back into the lineup and she demonstrated that today," Kovic said. More significant than the loss of solid gymnastics scores, however, will be the new absence of leadership that the seniors have provided throughout the season. "They are one of the most motivational and spirited classes," Penn sophomore Lauren Hittner said. "We're going to miss their presence a lot." The meet did not go as smoothly as the Quakers had planned, with injuries and illness affecting the lineups. Junior Jenn Capasso is day to day with a hyper-extended knee, and junior Kelly Haberer is still bothered by her sprained foot ligament. "I stuck the landing on bars [at Saturday's meet], and my foot really hurt. I'll be on bars next weekend, but I'm probably done vaulting for the season," Haberer said. Sophomore Sarah Tudryn, crowned Ivy Classic champion on uneven bars in last week's meet, was out with the flu. But, despite the absence of some of the Quakers' most solid gymnasts, the team put together a strong, consistent effort. "With some people out today, the people that stepped into the lineup really stepped up for us," Penn senior Kirby Thorpe said. Up next on the agenda for the Quakers is the Wolfpack Invitational this Saturday, hosted by North Carolina State. "[The meet] is going to prepare us for ECACs. It's in the championship format and we're going to be competing against some of the top teams in the country," Kovic said. "We look forward to meets like this because it's such a high level of competition. Ivy and ECAC rival Yale will also be competing at the meet, providing another chance for the Quakers and Elis to renew their rivalry. "It will be exciting to see Yale again, which will help us for ECACs," Penn senior Becky Nadler said. Saturday's invitational will be the last chance for the senior Quakers to lead their team to another solid performance before ECACs.
The Roots and Ben Folds Five will share top billing at the annual concert. Melding an unusual combination of harmonious piano rock and rhythmic hip hop, Ben Folds Five and the Roots will share center stage at this year's Spring Fling concert. The Social Planning and Events Committee, which announced the co-headliners last night, said negotiations for a smaller opening band are still in the works. By having the two groups co-headline the event on Friday, April 14, the concert's organizers hope to please a larger range of Penn students than in past years, when only one or two types of music were represented. "Our goal is to get a mix, since music is such a matter of taste," said SPEC concerts co-director Ari Jaffess, an Engineering senior. "I think a lot of people will be excited for these two bands." Tickets will go on sale on Locust Walk starting March 27. Tickets bought in advance will cost $15 for PennCard holders and $23 for the general public. There will be a yet-to-be-announced surcharge on tickets bought the day of the show. The concert will be held on Hill Field, rain or shine. For the last three years, the event has been moved inside to the Palestra because of adverse weather conditions. Ben Folds Five, a unique guitar-free piano trio, was formed in 1993 by pianist and singer Ben Folds. The group made a mainstream name for themselves with their hit single "Brick" in 1997. Their 1997 album, Whatever and Ever Amen, went platinum. Since then, they have also released another album, titled The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, which did rather poor commercially. The Roots, a Philadelphia-based rap and R&B; group, was formed in 1987. With no turntables or disc jockeys, the group is known for its use of live instrumentation at concerts and has in recent years exploded from the underground club scene to achieve critical success and widespread popularity. Drummer ?uestlove and rapper Black Thought -- who met while enrolled in Philadelphia's School for the Creative and Performing Arts -- have been called crafters of "organic hip hop." Their latest release and first live album is The Roots Come Alive. Off that album, the hit single "You Got Me" with singer Erykah Badu earned the group a Grammy in the category for the best duo performance. The Roots' other albums include Organix in 1993, Do You Want More!!??! in 1995 and Illadelph Halflife in 1996. Last year's Spring Fling headliner was the punk-ska band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. They were joined by Run DMC, D-Generation and Clowns for Progress. "These bands are more current than past year's bands," Jaffess said. Bands that have headlined Fling in past years include Violent Femmes, Cypress Hill and A Tribe Called Quest. The theme for this year's Spring Fling is "Fling Me Baby One More Time," inspired by teen-queen singing sensation Britney Spears' hit song.
Departing from the proceedings of traditional Undergraduate Assembly meetings, the UA on Sunday night held a special program with more than a dozen United Minorities Council members to discuss community service and minority representation in student government. The UA and UMC combined forces in Logan Hall and broke up into small groups -- each with two UMC members and four representatives from the UA -- to tackle how the groups can together address student government representatives and community service initiatives. "The UA does not represent accurately the school. We don't have enough minority representation," UA Chairman Michael Silver, a College senior, told the roughly 40 students assembled for last night's meeting. He added that the small groups should "start talking about how these organizations can pool their resources." After spending nearly an hour brainstorming, discussing and debating different initiatives the UA and UMC could put forth, the small groups came back together to pool their ideas. Among the proposed community service projects for the two organizations were culturally infused service initiatives, mentoring the student governments of local high schools and working together for Habitat for Humanity. But the students also spent time addressing how to recruit minority students to run for the UA and, once those students decide to run, how to help get them elected. The small groups suggested that the UA educate UMC constituent groups about different candidates that directly pertain to their interests, hold more UA and UMC joint meetings and co-sponsor more events. "Even when minorities run, they don't get elected. We don't know why that is," Wharton and Engineering sophomore and UA member Michael Krouse said last night to his small group. He added that the election of the next UA this spring may generate more voters -- including minority students -- because students will be able to access ballots electronically through Penn InTouch. UMC members echoed the need for undergraduates, minority or not, to understand the impact of the UA on student life. "We have to extend the idea that this is something that will affect you," College junior and UMC member Kevin Chan said last night. After the special session with the UMC, the UA returned to its traditional agenda. The group passed a $1,500 budget request for Change for Change, a project that will provide students with small plastic cups to collect spare change and, at the end of the year, pool it with other members of their college house, fraternity or sorority. The change collected will be donated to Upward Bound, a program to help Philadelphia high school students gain admission to four-year colleges and universities. The UA also passed a resolution supporting a new funding plan for Student Health Services that will prevent students insured by Penn Student Health Insurance from having to pay a Clinical Fee twice, as the current plan mandates.