Thursday, November 26, 2015

New life for an old tradition

We could talk about any number of storylines from Drexel's 77-56 blowout win over Penn at the Palestra last night, but one stood out to me above all the rest.

New life for an old tradition


We could talk about any number of storylines from Drexel's 77-56 blowout win over Penn at the Palestra last night.

We could talk about Drexel's remarkable offensive efficiency (at least by the standards they've set in recent years), averaging 1.18 points per possession on 56 percent shooting from the field.

We could talk about Penn's similarly drastic offensive woes, highlighted by the seven-plus minute stretch at the start of the second half without a field goal scored. That was the decisive period of the game, no question - and it is not a good sign that it was the second straight Quakers game in which their offense fell silent for a long period.

If you don't mind, though, I would like to focus on another aspect of what we saw. On a typically cold November Saturday night, a bipartisan crowd of 6,879 fans turned up the heat inside the Palestra and gave the occasion a terrific atmosphere despite the lopsided score.

I understand, and sympathize with, Dragons coach Brusier Flint's desire to get more home games for his team. It is a problem faced by mid-major basketball programs across the country, and Flint's cause is a perfectly noble one.

But let's be absolutely clear: a night like this could not happen at the DAC. It is a great venue for Drexel basketball, and a great venue for its size no matter the program. A city game deserves a grander stage, though - especially when that stage is all of a five-minute walk from the visiting team's campus.

It should be noted that the Drexel students seemed to contradict themselves during the second half. Early in the end of the second half, they unveiled a rollout that said, "SUCH A SHAME WE CAN'T BEAT YOU AGAIN NEXT YEAR SINCE YOU ONLY AGREE TO LOSE IN YOUR OWN BUILDING." By the end of the game, they were chanting "This is our house!"

I have a hunch that if the Dragons are to win in the Palestra, then it can't really be that hard to convince the people who matter to keep the game there.

This night was about more than just the DAC Pack, though. In addition to the wall of gold in the east stands, there was a sea of red and blue in the west stands the likes of which I haven't seen in years. For as much work as Penn has to do on the court, we all know that the program has work to do off it as well.

If the students really are coming back now, that is a good sign. We'll see if it remains the case on Tuesday, when the Quakers host Lafayette. That will be a bigger test, as it is on a weeknight and not long before the Thanksgiving break begins.

At the end of last night's game, we were treated to another fun moment: the Drexel students threw streamers to celebrate their win. Granted, it was partly to fire a barb at the Penn students, who have given the old tradition new life. Drexel's streamers were accompanied by a rollout stating, "HEY PENN, WE'LL TAKE CARE OF THE STREAMERS TONIGHT." They certainly did.

In light of that, it is worth posing this question: wouldn't it be great if we could have that after every city game? Streamers have a special place in Philadelphia basketball lore, and it means something that a new generation of fans has been able to have the experience for themselves.

I am under no pretense that I might be able to influence the people who actually matter, but I do think it is a discussion worth having. Now that Penn and Drexel have shown that throwing streamers after the final buzzer does not run afoul of NCAA rules, do you want to see the new tradition spread across the city? I hope you'll share your thoughts in the comments.

In the audio player below, you'll hear from players and coaches at Drexel and Penn. Before we get there, though, we must nost the tremendous performance by La Salle center Aaric Murray yesterday. In the Explorers' 79-74 win over Morgan State, Murray finished one blocked shot short of a triple-double in blocks, rebounds and points. Here was his final line:

A. Murray

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About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Jonathan Tannenwald
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