A Mandira of Basketball

Sure, it's hard to find good TV as the writer's strike continues and "Heroes" and "Chuck" run out of episodes... but don't fret, sports fans! ESPN2's got a doozy of a college basketball game for you tonight. Check these deets:

In one corner, meet one of the fastest-starting North Carolina teams in their storied history, the nation's current #1-ranked squad. In the other--playing host--is an Ivy League bottom-feeder, which was most recently knocked 'senseless' by a fringe top-25 team.

Who scheduled this game for a national audience? A Princeton alum? 104-67 sounds generous.

There's still reason to watch the slaughter game, however: To see a college basketball star that doesn't get much prime-time exposure. Thankfully, said luminary isn't lumbering Tyler Hansborough or shot-happy Wayne Ellington or whoever's put up 20 for the Tar Heels in their most-recent game.

No, gang--it's the building that you've got to check out. The Palestra. A hoopshead's mecca. Filled with more history than even Duke's much-lauded Cameron.

Of course, while it's a guarantee that ESPN announcers will pan around the building--waxing nostalgic--as the Penn Quakers are getting clobbered, an arena's magic doesn't always show through the screen, especially when a game's out-of-hand. Sometimes you have to be there.

One person who was there--who had to work to get there--was ESPN scribe Kieran Darcy. Sure, the Leader's Page 2 section is oft-lacking, but Darcy's story is pretty powerful. The guy goes from JV walk-on to playing one minute on the varsity squad his senior year. To say much more would be to ruin Darcy's tale, but as he takes us on his journey, we get to witness the majesty of the Palestra as he viewed it: A dream worth striving for, his entire college career.

Nick Horvath played 1,000 more minutes for the Duke Blue Devils, and he never wrote anything so poetic about being a Cameron scrub.

In the high chance that Penn won't keep the score close and its fans won't make the Palestra rock tomorrow night, here's a clip of happier times and better Quaker teams. Watch those first two buckets--students waving their hands, jumping, screaming--and tell me again why the NCAA championship is played in a cold, impersonal arena rather than a tiny bandbox.

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posted by Doctor Dribbles @ 03:47,


At December 4, 2007 at 4:36 PM, Blogger Jarrett Carter said...

I f'n despise Sylar.


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