For One Night, Basketball Was Back in Rec Hall
It wasn’t like I remembered, back when I was an undergrad and they played actual basketball games in Rec Hall. But walking into the old gym Wednesday night for Penn State’s Hoops Madness event, I still felt something like nostalgia.
It felt pretty good.
Hoops Madness worked on a couple of levels, reminding old guys like me what a great building Rec Hall was (and might still be, someday…) for basketball, while hyping up students for the upcoming Nittany and Lady Lions seasons. Not much is expected of the men this season, but there’s plenty of excitement about new head coach Patrick Chambers and his high-energy style. The women, meanwhile, enter the 2011-12 season as favorites for the Big Ten title.
On Wednesday, the teams came together in front of a few thousand fans in Rec Hall, where they showed off their dance moves, traded half-court makes (Tim Frazier and Maggie Lucas each drained a 45-footer on their first try), and chucked t-shirts into the crowd. The hope, of course, is that all that enthusiasm translates into more fans at the Bryce Jordan Center when games start later this month.
The highlights: The Lady Lions’ team dance routine was pretty impressive (although they weren’t able to do it with the lights off, which, going by the glow-sticks the players wore, was part of the plan), the guys’ new gray uniforms look terrific, and Brooklyn-based rapper Fabolous put on a late-starting but high-energy set that the students seemed to love.
There was also the impromptu dunk contest, which gave me a chance to embarrass myself by trying to take low-light action photos, the success of which hinged on expertise and photographic equipment I simply don’t have. I messed with the settings on our office Nikon and took a bunch of shots that didn’t turn out at all—and one that sort of did. I lightened the exposure afterward and ended up with the photo at right of Frazier—all 6-foot-1 of him—dunking over a couple of teammates (click to enlarge). The shot’s flaws are too numerous to mention, but I think it looks pretty cool.
Here’s hoping for many more highlights this season, which starts sooner than you think. The teams host back-to-back exhibition games this Saturday at the BJC, with the Lady Lions tipping off against Bloomsburg at 2 p.m. and the men facing Slippery Rock at 4. Admission for the doubleheader is free.
Ryan Jones, senior editor