Game #9-286: Lafayette Leopards at Pennsylvania QuakersJanuary 8, 2013 7:30 pm
What new can be said about an arena so mystical, it is called a cathedral; so important it inspired a book
; and so influential it is emulated hundreds of miles away
This was the challenge facing me in recapping my first game at the Palestra, and the answer is: nothing, or at least nothing that does justice to its awe-striking nature. Plenty of ink has been spilled deconstructing every aspect of this treasure of Our Game, on these pages and elsewhere, and I encourage the uninitiated to explore them. But for now, let's put the arena aside and explore what happened on its court.
Fortunately, for those that enjoy scoring outbursts, this Brain Explosion Series contest was oodles of fun. Lafayette and Penn were both incredibly efficient shooting the ball, posting eFG% marks of 68.4 and 65.4, respectively. (For reference, Creighton is the most offensively efficient team in the country by this metric, and the Bluejays have averaged a 61.3 eFG% through 17 games.) Or in less stat-geek* terms: lots of jumpers swishing, lots of layups falling, and even an #omgivydunx
Lafayette had six players finish in double-figures, but it was senior Tony Johnson who provided the rhythm to the visitors' attack. A point guard recording 25 points with only four assists may seem like a ball hog, but Johnson simply took advantage of what his teammates provided him on this night. On several occasions, he found the right man from the point, only to have that man draw a double-team before driving-and-dishing it back out to a wide-open Johnson for the free look (most of which he sunk). This was of course the smallest of sample sizes against a 2-12 team, and I haven't seen him otherwise this season. If this is how he leads the Leopard offense on most days, however, Johnson could well make them a threat in Patriot League play.
As far as the home side is concerned, a fellow TMM9 attendee (Hi, Jenn!) has already published her (excellent) writeup of Penn's inspirational story, South Sudanese native Dau Jok. Jok's 18 points paced the Quakers and included five while his team fought back from a late 15-point deficit to tie before ultimately falling short on a missed superhoop try at the buzzer.
* For the record, I'm totally a stat geek, and could spend 1,000 words spewing numbers in this fashion. But that's what BBState is for.
In early November, I attended an NIT Tip-Off doubleheader in Charlottesville, VA. The first game was unmemorable as Virginia ran past Fairfield, but when it ended and the home contingent left en masse, a friend and I found ourselves accompanied in the cavernous 15,000-seat major-program arena by approximately 50 others, including the play-by-play guys and the security crew. The rest were mostly families of the second game's squads, Delaware and Penn.
After taking the opportunity to sit courtside in the first half, we made our way to Penn's 20-person-strong "side" in the second. When the Quakers fell behind by 20 or so, we took our adopted fandom further, starting DE-FENSE chants expecting full well to be the only ones making noise. And for a few seconds, we were--I got the feeling the Penn crowd thought these outsiders were making fun of their team--until, unexpectedly, their bench joined in, at first tepidly, then enthusiastically. It was a great moment. I remember thinking simply, "How cool!" The Quakers lost that game, but I left John Paul Jones arena with new-found admiration for their intensity when confronted by a massive deficit in front of practically no one.
Fast forward to this game, where Jenn told me at halftime that Penn's bench always joins in their crowd's chants. I paid attention in the second half, and there they were, to a man, shouting "Let's go Quak-ers!" with the rest of us. How cool!
And now for something completely different. While I was expecting the Palestra to be alluring, the conviction and passion of Penn's band was a pleasant surprise. Also, they have xylophonists!
And a guy who just holds up a big cymbal!
LAFAYETTE 85, at PENNSYLVANIA 83
LAFAYETTE 7-10 (0-0) -- M. Sullivan 5-20 8-9 20; S. Hinrichs 4-8 1-4 10; J. Ptasinski 2-6 4-5 10; T. Johnson 10-14 5-6 25; D. Trist 6-9 5-5 17; L. Giese 3-4 2-4 10; B. Scott 4-7 1-2 11; A. Flannigan 0-0 0-0 0; Z. Rufer 1-1 0-0 2; N. Musters 0-0 0-0 0; L. Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-49 18-26 85.
PENNSYLVANIA 2-12 (0-0) -- S. Rennard 2-6 0-0 6; D. Jok 6-9 2-2 18; M. Cartwright 5-7 0-0 10; T. Hicks 3-7 4-4 10; D. Nelson-Henry 7-11 3-5 17; C. Crocker 1-1 2-2 4; G. Louis 3-3 4-6 10; H. Brooks 4-6 0-0 8; J. Lewis 0-1 0-3 0; P. Lucas-Perry 0-1 0-0 0; C. Gunter 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 31-52 15-24 83.
Three-point goals: LAF 7-15 (L. Giese 2-3; J. Ptasinski 2-5; S. Hinrichs 1-2; B. Scott 2-5), PENN 6-14 (M. Cartwright 0-1; D. Jok 4-7; S. Rennard 2-5; P. Lucas-Perry 0-1); Rebounds: LAF 25 (A. Flannigan 5), PENN 21 (D. Jok 7); Assists: LAF 16 (J. Ptasinski 5), PENN 22 (M. Cartwright 8); Total Fouls -- LAF 20, PENN 21; Fouled Out: LAF-None; PENN-None.
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