Free tickets for Penn-Harvard next Friday

Ask any Penn basketball player about the highly anticipated Harvard game next Friday night and they'll tell you one thing: We're focused on Yale.

But with the Quakers on the Connecticut-Rhode Island road swing this weekend, Penn Athletics is gearing up for what may (depending on this weekend's results) be the biggest Ivy game Penn has played in some time at the Palestra. If all goes according to the Quakers' plan, the Cathedral will host the meeting of two Ivy-unbeatens, one of which has sat in the ESPN Top-25 for some time now. And we all remember the last time a ranked Ivy team showed up at the Palestra.

So after a successful bid to get students to come out to see Penn-Princeton last Monday, Penn Athletics is looking to once again pack the Palestra for the Crimson. This email was sent out this morning advertising free tickets to students:

This is a great idea — raise some money for a good cause, inspire a little class rivalry and school spirit & get students down to the Palestra for a massively important game. But it's hard not to be reminded of Athletic Director Steve Bilsky's comments in the DP earlier this week about the necessity for giving tickets a price:

DP: Have you thought about getting rid of the price for student basketball tickets?

A lot of people have asked us that. I happen to think … that having a price puts value on it and actually improves attendance, rather than hurts it.

Anecdotally, if you’re in your dorm and it’s February and it’s a miserable night and all you have to do is walk in for free, you might not go.

Obviously, this promotion is not quite the scenario that Bilsky paints in the quote above, but Penn is giving away free student tickets — if only for one game. The Athletic Department has been successful in recent weeks with promoting the basketball program. We'll see how this experiment works out on Friday the 10th. Until then, there are still two games to be played.

Chuck Bednarik statue to be unveiled Nov. 19

bednarikThe long-awaited Chuck Bednarik statue is finally coming to Franklin Field. Wednesday, Penn Athletics announced that the formal dedication and unveiling of the statue will take place November 19 before the Quakers' final home game of the season at 1 p.m. against Cornell. According to a press release, "the statue will be located inside Gate 2 on the North side of Franklin Field, and will be complemented by a collage honoring the history of the Philadelphia Eagles during their time playing at Franklin Field (1958-70)."

Bednarik played for Penn from 1945-48, starting at center and linebacker for three seasons. Known as "Concrete Charlie," he earned first-team All-America honors his first two seasons, then won the Maxwell Award and finished third in the Heisman trophy race during his senior year. After graduating, Bednarik was chosen as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played 14 seasons for the Eagles -- with home games at Franklin Field -- and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.

The press release also detailed information about the statue's sculptor, official Basketball Hall of Fame sculptor Brian Hanlon, and the fundraising efforts that ultimately brought the statue to Franklin Field:

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Your voice on The Line

As promised, today I put down my thoughts in ink on what should be done about The Line. While researching, I was reminded of the column I wrote almost exactly a year ago today, calling for Penn to do more to make The Line relevant. A year ago, I suggested more small changes that could draw in more students. This time around, I said that it is time to pull the plug on the event, which is no longer relevant to students on campus.

A spirited discussion sprouted up in the comments on my article today. I wrote today that if The Line is to happen in the future, it should happen organically, just as it started, without Penn Athletics dragging it limping through this rough patch. But I'll put the question out to Buzz readers: How do you think Penn can fix The Line, if it can be fixed at all?

The Line is still coming

nethatWith The Line fast approaching, the Red and Blue Crew is out trying to drum up support for its biggest event of the year.

Today they were out on Locust Walk in front of Steiny-D with a basketball hoop, handing out prizes to anyone who could make a shot. The giveaway? These ridiculous net-hats with a Penn logo. Because when it's cold outside, I want a novelty hat of very loose mesh. Thanks, Penn Athletics!

Jokes aside, my man Kevin Esteves gave a good outlook of the annual event in his DP article today, talking to men's basketball captain Zack Rosen, who has been an outspoken leader in terms of trying to get students interested in athletics.

“We play Friday, Saturday night in the Ivy League — a lot of the campus doesn’t know that," Rosen said. "[Getting a good turnout] would be a major start in the right direction.”

Top 10 Plays from the Battle for I-95

The magic was back in the Palestra last night as Team Philly and Team Melo took the court for the highly anticipated duel. The boys from the City of Brotherly Love defended their hometurf though, as guys like Tyreke Evans and Kyle Lowry stole the show from LeBron, Carmelo, and CP3.

In case you missed it, here are the top 10 plays, from Ball is Life.

Live blog: The Battle for I-95

Game day has finally arrived and the Palestra should be rocking tonight, as Hakim Warrick leads his team Philly squad in a scrimmage against Carmelo Anthony's Team Melo. NBA stars LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul will also be in the house, suiting up for Team Melo. Follow all the action on our live blog below beginning at 5:30 p.m.:

Iverson “supposed” to play in Battle for I-95?

Well, so much for that rumor dying down.

The possibility of 76ers great Allen Iverson playing in Sunday's Team Melo vs. Team Philly "Battle for I-95" at the Palestra is looking more and more likely after published a report this morning. ESPN New York's Ian Begley quoted a "source with knowledge of the game rosters" that said Iverson is "supposed" to play in the game.

Rumors initially spread because Iverson is reportedly hosting an event on Saturday at a Philly night club. The addition of "The Answer" would give Team Philly some star power to counter Team Melo's LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.

Game organizer Rahim Thompson continues to respond to questions about Iverson's participation with "no comment." But it appears we're in for some surprises once 6 p.m. on Sunday arrives. We'll keep you posted as we find out more.

Mano-A-Mano Volume VII: Special Philly-Melo edition

ManoAMano1This segment started with a simple debate over whether a Big Five foe had pro potential. Maybe we were grasping at straws, judging a prospect based on one game against Penn, or maybe we're just NBA junkies searching for the slightest opportunity to write about our beloved Association. As fate would have it, the NBA players are now coming to us. And how else would we respond but to return Mano-A-Mano to its roots for Volume VII with some heated hoops talk? Let's just hope our debate lives up to the hype of this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition...

Question 1: Who will own the night at the Palestra's Team Philly vs. Team Melo event a.k.a. "The Battle for I-95"?

Kevin Esteves: I’m going to go with “The Durantula,” but not for the reasons that immediately come to mind. Yes, KD made the summer his personal showcase by dropping 66 at Rucker and 59 against Team Melo. And, yes, he’ll be the best pure scorer on the floor. However, I don’t think that alone makes him such an easy pick. Durant won’t get nearly as many touches as he did when he was the alpha-dog on his DC Power team that played in Harlem or the Goodman team that played against LeBron, Melo, CP3, and Co. This time, he’ll be paired alongside Carmelo — who will want to show out as the de facto captain — LeBron and CP3 (he’ll be throwing lobs all night, but still). Even if this game turns out to be a track meet, I don’t anticipate KD getting enough touches to just hang 66 on Philly. That said, I still think he’ll steal the night because this kind of exhibition fits Durant’s game perfectly — a free-flowing, up-and-down style that will allow KD to operate in space and hoist up countless threes against what I anticipate will not be a world-class defensive effort. He also has the right swagger and attitude to go into any gym and dominate — he reportedly said, “I do this,” after his historic performance in NYC — because he genuinely loves to play and compete. So if Durant can get it going, knock down a few threes in a row (especially if this game is somehow close by the end) he’ll have the crowd on its feet and we’ll all be left buzzing about how easy he makes the game look.

Brian Kotloff: And if the game takes on the free-flowing style you expect, who will shine more than the world's greatest all-around talent, LeBron James? The league's best athlete -- and maybe the best athlete the sport has ever seen -- will be unleashed in a fast-paced, high-flying showcase like this. But that's not the reason I'm taking LeBron. Above all else, I think LeBron will steal the show because he has to steal the show -- it's his time. Don't think for a second that seeing Durant own the headlines with his epic summer league tour hasn't gotten King James' competitive juices flowing (I know, I know -- this thinking didn't work out so well with his Decision to play sidekick to D-Wade, but here's a second chance). That's the beauty of basketball: the stage gets bigger and the game becomes a business, but the playground mentality never leaves. Even if they're on the same team, you know KD and LBJ will try to one-up each other. And I expect LeBron to re-establish himself as the NBA's alpha dog by dominating this game with his scoring, passing, rebounding and overall athleticism. People love to hate him, but the man has the swagger to take over the gym, too. I think his charisma (and of course, talent) will help him own the Palestra on Sunday night.

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Freshmen at the Frank

We've had our doubts about you, freshmen class, but you've impressed so far. Check out this video of the Class of 2015 spelling out their year on the Franklin Field turf during the NSO athletics picnic:

Penn Tradition 2015 from Lisa Marie Patzer on Vimeo.

Kobe Bryant unlikely to play in Battle for I95

As soon as Hakim Warrick said he has "a few all-star surprises" up his sleeve for the Team Philly vs. Team Melo game, rumors swirled about Lakers star Kobe Bryant potentially joining his hometown team. After speaking with Kobe's marketing manager Jerry Foyer this afternoon, however, I can tell you that it's safe to count Kobe out of the September 25th event at the Palestra.

Foyer said Bryant has a European tour scheduled for that week and he will thus be out of the country until the end of September -- which explains the "other obligations" Warrick mentioned to The tour is scheduled to take him through Turkey, Greece and Italy, where Kobe will run youth basketball clinics.

According to Foyer, Bryant, a Lower Merion High School (Pa.) graduate, has not even been contacted about participating in the Battle for I95. "He actually brought it up today," Foyer said, but the two "didn't go into depth" about the possibility of playing because of the prior commitment.

It's an unfortunate scheduling conflict, because Bryant's participation would have taken the exhibition to an even higher level (if that's possible). As is, the star power is heavily weighted toward Team Melo, with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul already in the fold. Recently committed Chester native Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings) will at least give the Philly fans a hometown hero to root for, but Kobe playing at the Palestra would have been a sight to behold and would have certainly helped his shaky relationship with fans in this city.

If anything, though, Kobe's packed schedule shows how improbable this turn of events truly is -- the game's organizers were able to bring international superstars onto our campus. Pretty amazing.