PHILADELPHIA– Not too many people affiliated with the Purdue Men’s basketball program were familiar with the history and lore of The Palestra, located on Penn’s campus.
“I didn’t know this gym would be as small,” Purdue guard Braden Smith said. “I’ve never heard of it, I’ve never seen it, just being here was really nice and cool to see.”
Fletcher Loyer, however, knew the aura of the place.
Loyer’s father, John Loyer was an assistant coach with the Sixers and Nets for a combined six seasons (2005-09 with the Sixers, 09-11 with the Nets), and Loyer lived out in the West Chester area for a good amount of his childhood years.
He would frequent PCOM (Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine), where the Sixers would practice before their state of the art facility was built in Camden.
“It was sweet, obviously it’s a historic gym but it’s very heavily Penn State,” Loyer said. “It was a fun atmosphere to play in, it was loud and they brought a great crowd.”
Penn State certainly made it a game in the first half, feeding off the energy from the crowd.
But it just wasn’t enough as Purdue pulled away from the Nittany Lions by a final score of 76-63.
“This is big time man, this was cool,” Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter said to me. “When we came in for shootaround, it gave me something to do during the shootaround I can walk around and read everything and leading up to a game is probably the hardest thing for a coach. The Palestra is a big time place, I’ve only seen it on TV and watching games here, it’s like one of those old school field houses, I’m glad we did it, I’m glad we played here and I’m glad we played well.”
Played well the Boilermakers did indeed. Big man Zach Edey finished with a game high 30 points on a much smaller Penn State team.
“I think it was a great atmosphere for them,” Edey said. “Even though this building is not the biggest they really packed it, it got really, really loud, because it’s such a small building, they went on some runs and got really into it.”
Us in the area are familiar with the history and acknowledge The Palestra as a special venue and one of the cathedral’s of College Basketball. Hopefully games like this show the country what kind of special place we have in the area.
“Personally I loved it, just to see the crowd was awesome and one I’ll remember for sure.” Smith said.