Game #9-384: Brown Bears at Pennsylvania QuakersFebruary 9, 2013 7:00 pm
"Make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come."
- Chinese Proverb
PHILADELPHIA - I could sit here and talk to you about Penn basketball and their remarkable second half against Brown Saturday night at the Palestra, outscoring the Bears by 25 points in the final 22 minutes on the way to a 71-48 rout, what might be the highlight of the season for a team that came in at 4-17, had been destroyed by injuries, and hadn't blown anyone out all season.
Maybe I could discuss Miles Cartwright, a TMM favorite, who scored 28 points for the Quakers, despite not having footwear on that was any different than any of his teammates.
Or I might write about a disappointing evening for first-year head coach Mike Martin and Brown, who could have been 4-0 in the Ivy League entering the weekend (2-2 with a pair of overtime losses) before being humbled by Princeton and Penn, not the first time Brown (or a few other Ivy teams) have left the Princeton-Penn road trip with their tail between their legs.
The story of Martin is interesting, too, he was a Penn assistant for the past six seasons before going back to his alma mater as one of the youngest head coaches in Division I. Or the Palestra, of course, with its lack of chairs for teams and ancient walkways that all tell a story of college
basketball days gone by.
But the story of Saturday night at the Cathedral of College Basketball really had nothing to do with college basketball at all. The Red Panda stole the show.
TMM Season 8 MVP Jen Ahearn, a Penn alum and one of their most devoted fans (she was here on this night, wasn't she?) alerted me that the Red Panda was making an appearance on Saturday night, but - typical me - I completely forgot.
As Red Panda (a red panda is actually a raccoon-like animal
found in China, by the way, not a bear) took the court at halftime, I had never seen her in person, but I had seen her on YouTube and read the article I just sent you to. But what was amazing to me, is that in the Palestra, very few people knew who she was.
Or maybe Krystal Niu is that good. I listened to the crowd in my section show skepticism as she took the floor on her unicycle. As the article portrays, I found it amazing that she doesn't even have an assistant, needing someone from Penn to throw her the plates she would need. The first flip of her foot pushed the plate onto her head. "How did she do that?"
As you probably know, she was just getting started. By the time she was headed to the final corner of the court, the buzz around the Palestra - even with the place less than half-full (still a pretty good Ivy League crowd for a struggling team) - was palpable. Everyone hung on the edge of their seats. She couldn't keep going, could she? By the final flip, the crowd - almost collectively - had their mouths open in anticipation. Red Panda flipped and the plate stuck on top of her head. Barely.
She quickly turned away in her unicycle and dismounted before the final plates had a chance to tip over. As she waved to the crowd and walked off the crowd, Red Panda got a standing ovation and minutes after she left, there was still a buzz, all one guy sitting near me could say was, "Wow!".
Ivy Hoops Online Tweeted: "Red Panda goes 6/6 and the place explodes! Standing O at the Palestra followed by groans as teams return."
As the game got out of hand, I went to search for Red Panda, but there were no autograph sessions or meet and greets, she was likely long gone. I was left to wonder - as others had before me - how a Chinese woman with a unicycle and a bunch of plates could entertain people so thoroughly for five minutes. And how, after thousands of performances over more than a decade, people can still have the same reaction to what is basically the same act.
Maybe there is no answer. As I've mentioned several times this season, maybe the biggest problem we have in the current sportz culture
is that we think too much about what we're watching. How does that relate to what this team will do in the future? Can the coach put different players in different positions to make things better? And, of course, that whole problem of one team being a winner and one team being a loser.
We are about to embark on the most exciting month we know, heading into the Championship Fortnight followed by someone, somewhere pulling a Red Line upset (the final Red Line upset ever?) we never expected.
But let's not lose sight of the journey along the way.
at PENNSYLVANIA 71, BROWN 48
BROWN 8-12 (2-4) -- S. McGonagill 5-16 2-3 12; M. Sullivan 6-14 1-2 15; T. Halpern 1-6 2-2 4; R. Maia 2-7 6-8 10; C. Kuakumensah 2-6 1-2 5; T. Ponticelli 1-2 0-0 2; J. Sharkey 0-1 0-0 0; J. Schmidt 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-52 12-17 48.
PENNSYLVANIA 5-17 (2-3) -- M. Cartwright 9-13 5-5 28; P. Lucas-Perry 3-5 0-0 8; T. Hicks 4-12 6-6 15; D. Jok 2-5 3-4 8; H. Brooks 1-5 0-0 2; G. Louis 3-7 0-0 6; J. Lewis 0-2 0-2 0; C. Crocker 0-2 2-5 2; C. Gunter 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 23-54 16-22 71.
Three-point goals: BRWN 2-13 (S. Albrecht 0-5; T. Halpern 0-4; M. Sullivan 2-4; S. McGonagill 0-4; J. Sharkey 0-1), PENN 9-15 (M. Cartwright 5-6; D. Jok 1-3; P. Lucas-Perry 2-4; T. Hicks 1-1; J. Lewis 0-1); Rebounds: BRWN 27 (S. McGonagill 7), PENN 34 (M. Cartwright 7); Assists: BRWN 9 (T. Halpern 3), PENN 14 (M. Cartwright 5); Total Fouls -- BRWN 16, PENN 14; Fouled Out: BRWN-None; PENN-None.