Penn State travel tales: Pickup basketball vs. Jay Paterno
We love Penn State night games on the road, mostly for the pickup basketball opportunities afforded to the beat reporters (most of us now soaring into middle age).
And today in the Chicago suburbs — before Penn State’s game against Northwestern — was about as perfect of a day for outside pickup basketball as possible in mid-October.
Especially here, when the fickle winds off Lake Michigan begin to blow hard and cold.
Anyway, we bought a ball, found a court and convinced Penn State quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno to join us once again.
It was State College vs. The Rest of the World.
Team State College featured Paterno, Brian “Stretch” Siegrist from Penn State sports information, Nate Bauer from Blue-White Illustrated and Jeff Rice from the Centre Daily Times.
Team ROTW featured myself, Joe Posnanski from Sport Illustrated, David Jones from the Harrisburg Patriot and Donnie “Big Bear” Collins from The Scranton Times.
We were being done in by size, youthfulness and fame even before we started.
But we tried.
Posnanski, who is writing a book about Joe Paterno, nailed a key shot to help win one game. Jones kept firing away from the outside when we were gassed. And Collins kept plugging even with a bad foot.
(Plus, I gave Collins the first nickname he’s ever had).
Meanwhile, I was full of energy and lots of turnovers.
But I did get Jay to tell the story again about how his Dad tried to guard Bob Cousy when they were in college about a zillion years ago.
Joe was playing for Brown. Cousy was starring for Holy Cross.
Of course, Joe didn’t fare so well.
He has all of the instincts and court awareness and a decent turnaround jumper on the baseline, despite some mobility issues.
And he cracked some good jokes, comparing his offensive skills to the Lions’ troubles in the in the red zone. He threatened to write about all of us at statecollege.com.
But in the end we succumbed to their size and youthfulness, losing two out of three.
And the famous son?
He hit the final shot of the day to end it.
More: Check out more travel tales — including a Mexican culinary gem at an airport — on the Nittany Nation blog.