Jaffa perfect host for Altoona-BG
I am writing about Mike Boytim’s column Sunday (“BG deserves homecourt edge, too”) on the Bishop Guilfoyle-Altoona basketball game.
As a former Marauder of the class of 1975, we were the first BG team to play Altoona at the AAHS Fieldhouse. The year before, as was tradition, we played Altoona at the Jaffa Mosque (now Jaffa Shrine Center).
Getting a ticket for a BG-Altoona game when I played was like winning the lottery. The Jaffa was always packed to the rafters, and the rivalry was intense.
Entering the court at the Jaffa for warmups made the hair on your neck stand up. The adrenaline made you feel like you could jump through the roof.
Then next year at the Fieldhouse, although always an exciting atmosphere when playing Altoona, was just not the same.
The Jaffa had an atmosphere of a big-time college basketball arena, and the noise with the fans so close to the court made it even better.
Over the years, for whatever reason, the rivalry became a home-and-home affair. This should have never happened, and the game should have continued at the Jaffa.
The atmosphere was lost at least at the Fieldhouse.
There was always an electric feeling playing at BG to a packed house every home game when I played. Our fans were fantastic.
I now understand there were no tickets (actually just 100) available for the Altoona fans. That should never happen in this rivalry.
I am not blaming BG for wanting this home game. They are only playing the schedule they were provided to play, but the mistake way back with the first game at the Fieldhouse was already made.
It’s nice to see this rivalry start to have the attention it so rightly deserves again. It’s like the Duke/North Carolina rivalry.
Now we need the administrations and athletic departments to come together and return this rivalry to its rightful home — the Jaffa Shrine Center.
Will Chambers build off this season?
While watching a recent Penn State basketball game, a couple of thoughts came to my mind.
Many people have said over the last few years that the Bryce Jordan Center was not a good venue for basketball, and that is why people did not attend.
My view always was that if you had a winning team you would not have to drape the upper seating level, and this is presently being proven.
There was no doubt in my mind that this year’s team would be the best in recent years due to its talent and depth.
This should be the team under Pat Chambers to get to this year’s NCAA, but can this continue into next year?
This leads to my second thought.
Last year’s team was believed to be the one to make the NCAA, but Tony Carr decided to go pro, and we saw what that did to the team.
It has taken Chambers nine years of recruiting to make the NCAA, but he has not proven that he has created a winning program.
Next year’s team will be minus Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins, so will the same thing happen similar to when Carr left?
Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another nine years for a winning program and huge crowds filling the seats at the Jordan Center for basketball.