Nittany Lion Basketball is Going Back to Rec Hall
For one night in December, the rims will be rocking again in Rec Hall.
It’s long been rumored (and long been lobbied for by those of us with a particularly strong connection to the place), and on Wednesday, it became official: The Nittany Lions will host Princeton on Saturday, Dec. 14, in the gym the program called home for nearly seven decades. The announcement was made by athletic director Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g, who was flanked in the Bryce Jordan Center media room by current Nittany Lion coach Patrick Chambers and by Bruce Parkhill, the man who led Penn State to some of its finest moments in Rec Hall.
The return to the old building has been a long time coming. Chambers said they’ve been working on it for at least a year, figuring out the logistics of playing a basketball game in a building that is no longer set up for hoops. That means a portable floor being brought in and set up in the days before the game, figuring out ticketing allotments, and the smaller but no less vital details—Will there be enough parking? Will there be enough bathrooms?—familiar to anyone who remembers packing into Rec Hall for basketball back in the day. But they figured it out, and for Chambers, the motivation was simple.
“We listened to our fans,” Chambers said. “We listened to our alums. We listened to our former players. We heard you.”
For guys like me—a front-row season-ticket holder for two seasons in the mid ’90s—the nostalgic pull of Rec Hall is obvious. It was great to see Parkhill, who was so terrific to talk to last year for our feature on the ‘93 Penn State-Indiana game, at the podium and clearly excited about the game. But the real treat is seeing how people with little or no connection to Rec Hall as a hoop venue are just as excited. Andrew Jones ’11, the former Nittany Lion big man who returned to the program in June to work as a graduate assistant (and who played all his home games in the BJC), tweeted “I still can’t believe this game is happening!!! Bittersweet but awesome nonetheless.” And current students like Maddy Pryor and Darnell Brady, members of the Nittany Nation student supporters section, were at Wednesday’s press conference to unveil the “Return to Rec” banners. They can’t wait.
Neither can I. Now if only I can get my old seats back in the front row…
Ryan Jones, senior editor