A Snowstorm and a Basketball Game

Last night snow began to fall in State College. Thanks to insomnia I was awake to witness the accumulation until 5:30 this morning. At that time we had a bit more than a foot on the ground. Today I heard totals between 14″ and 16″ for the snowfall in State College. It is a tough snow to measure because it is light and tends to drift.

Soon after noon I grabbed my camera and walked to campus. It was brisk and bright. Only a  few brave souls had walked the bike trail before me along with several cross country skiers.

The bike trail under snow.

On campus snow removal was in full swing. From outside the Bryce Jordan Center I could see Tussey Mountain and Mount Nittany. I’m sure today was a great day at Tussey.

Tussey Mountain on a snowy February day.

The Penn State Nittany Lions played the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Lions came into the game with a ten game losing streak, still looking for their first conference win. Combine a struggling team with inclement weather and you have the recipe for an empty building. The official box score lists the attendance at 10,291. This is like Danny DeVito listing his height at six feet. This number must have come from tickets sold, for there were closer to 2,000 people there than 10,000.

The Bryce Jordan Center during the game.

When the game started I was sitting in the first row in the second level and I had eight sections to myself. I hoped to get some pictures through the backboard from that vantage point, or at least some shots with the shooter lining up with the basket. In the second half I moved down beside the Blue Band.

Talor Battle at the free throw line.

Three minutes and nine seconds into the game Penn State lost the small lead they had been flirting with. From that point on they would never lead again. The team struggled all game long to get clean looks at the basket. Battle went 3-7 from the free throw line and 7-19 from the field. The Gophers dominated the inside.

The Lions wore throwback uniforms. I thought they looked good, especially the blue keystone on the shorts that contained an S.

Battle attempts a three-point shot.

While I was sitting by the Blue Band in the second half the Nittany Lion kept running close by. I’m very impressed by the gymnastic feats the Lion is able to pull off. The moves are solid, not to mention the fact that the guy is wearing a bulky mascot suit.

Run, Lion, run!

Ralph Sampson III played for the Gophers. He played a solid game and finished with a double-double.

Ralph Sampson III on the court.

Instant replay was needed twice during the game. The first time was to determine how much time was left on the shot clock after a messy sequence in which Penn State lost control of the ball. As the referees crouched down to look at the tiny little monitor I couldn’t help but wonder why they do not have a better screen.

The referees review a shot clock decision (on a tiny screen).

This game featured a few firsts for me. In the second half Chris Babb hit a three-point shot while being fouled. I was very excited; I thought I was about to witness the first four point play I have ever seen in person. And Babb bricked the foul shot like Shaq. It wasn’t even close.

Another first was seeing Tubby Smith draw a technical foul. Technically the technical was called on the Minnesota bench, but it was Smith’s actions that were primarily responsible for the call. I’ve never in person seen a foul called on a player not on the court.

The final first was seeing a legitimate buzzer beater. Lawrence Westbrook had the ball in his hands with just a few seconds left and a tie game. He stepped to his left and shot a 19 foot jumper, his release occurring with less than one second left. The buzzer sounded as the ball floated home. The most dramatic of finishes. Replay was used to confirm the shot was released in time.

The Gophers celebrate the victory.

Westbrook (#20) is congratulated by teammates.

The picture above captures a lot. The Gophers celebrate. Ed DeChellis and Tubby Smith are both staring at the referees (located just off the frame) as they review the shot. A Penn State player squats dejectedly on the court in the upper right corner.

Now Penn State is 0-11 in the Big Ten. That is a bad year.

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