Posts tagged ‘Bruce Parkhill’
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
The Nittany Lion basketball team is in Bloomington on Wednesday to take on No. 7 Indiana, which I’ll use as another excuse to expand on our feature on the ’93 Indiana-Penn State game that appears in our January/February issue.
As I’ve mentioned, I was in the front row for that game, as I was for nearly every game during the ’92-93 and ’93-94 seasons. We were right across from the visitor’s bench, standing—always standing, of course—about 18 inches from the court. For much of the tape from that ’93 game, I can see myself and my friends jumping, yelling, and occasionally getting held back by a student auxiliary officer. (What, I was gonna run across the court and tackle Bobby Knight?) What I remember almost as clearly as that game is what my friends and I did afterward.
Back in Snyder Hall that night, my fellow front-row residents—Greg Galli ’96, Guy Licata ’96, Doug Schoenly ’96, Rob Scott ’96, and Chad Weihrauch ’97—and I were an emotional mess. We felt like we needed to do something, and we finally settled on writing a letter to Bruce Parkhill expressing our support. (As Parkhill made clear when we spoke last year, we were hardly the only ones—he still has the dozens of letters he received from around the country in the weeks after the game.) I don’t remember what we wrote, but I remember the handwritten reply, on Penn State basketball letterhead, that we received via campus mail a few days later.
Pretty cool, huh?
But one of my favorite memories from this game is not actually my own. It comes from Loren Crispell ’00, who was a local eighth grader at the time and now works as the marketing manager for the Nittany Lion basketball program. I quote Loren in the story that appears in the magazine, but I didn’t have room to include this terrific story about how some of his friends ended up at the game:
I was born and raised in State College, and games at Rec Hall were events. Indiana coming to town was something that everybody had waited for. Everybody pointed to that game. You’d have the “General” in town, the history, all of it. That was something everybody anticipated from the moment we joined the Big Ten.
I went to Park Forest Middle School, and three or four of my friends got off the bus at school that morning and immediately turned and started walking toward campus. They were skipping school to go to Rec Hall. They went into the men’s room at Rec Hall, which was open then, and camped out all day in the stalls. They read magazines to pass the time, and they just waited. Once the doors opened for the game that night, they were in the building. To me, it just underscored how big that game was, how much people wanted to be part of that experience.
I remember I had a French test the next morning. My parents kept asking me if I was ready. I kept saying ‘Oui.’ Little did I know that game would occupy the whole night.
I’m pretty sure Loren’s out in Bloomington as I write this. Next time I see him, I’ll have to ask him how he did on that test.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Late Monday we got word that former Penn State basketball coach Dick Harter had died of cancer. Harter coached the Nittany Lions for just five seasons, from 1978–79 until 1982–83, but he posted a 79-61 record in that span and set the table for some of the more successful teams in Penn State history. Harter also worked as head coach at Oregon, Rider, and Penn before becoming a long-time NBA assistant. He was 81.
On Wednesday, rumors we’d been hearing since the weekend were confirmed: Monroe “Monnie” Brown ’92, a standout on the Lions’ early ’90s teams, was dead at 41. Brown starred for Bruce Parkhill’s squads that posted four straight 20-win seasons, a run highlighted by a trip to the 1991 NCAA tournament, where the Lions posted an unforgettable first-round upset of UCLA. Brown, who also spent a season as an assistant to Jerry Dunn in 1995-96, had battled drug problems through much of his life; Dave Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News wrote a compelling remembrance of Brown, whom he covered on those great teams.
Ryan Jones, senior editor