Seven lousy points. Seven! That is all that separated Lamar Stevens from holding the title of Penn State basketball king. That in and of itself put a dagger in the heart of Penn State fans everywhere. Equally upsetting was the news that the Big Ten Tournament and March Madness were cancelled because of the rapidly spreading coronavirus (COVID – 19) pandemic. Health and safety for everyone first and foremost without question, but you have to feel for a guy that means so much to our hoops program.
Not just for Lamar mind you, but for everyone that had a hand in the so-called ‘climb’ as Pat Chambers labeled it over the years, including the fans who cheered for the team when times were lean and seats were empty. Nittany Lion fans opened the flood gates until the BJC was at capacity this year, as the team rose as high as No. 9 in the country before settling in for a fifth place tie in the toughest conference in America.
We spent Thursday morning getting hyped for a match up with Indiana only to watch the conference pull the plug and by mid-afternoon, the remainder of basketball season was canceled. For the good of everyone of course, as anyone who watched the first round Indiana vs. Nebraska game can attest to. The Cornhuskers head coach struggled with illness on the bench the entire game before checking out with time left on the clock. Fred Hoiberg was diagnosed with nothing more than the common cold later that night, thankfully, but it was a sobering reminder that the world of sports had officially taken a back seat to real-world problems.
So what we’re left with is a baseball team that was off to its hottest start in years; a lacrosse squad that was well on its way to another run at the Final Four; regular Big Ten season champs unable to take the next step in hockey; an empty parking lot for Blue-White on April 18th, and a big, bad case of March Sadness as common sense and vigilance prevail. We’ll never know how the Nittany Lions would have played in the Big Dance, but in the big scheme of things, it doesn’t matter as long as we have each other to cheer them on again once this passes! Little solace for Lamar Stevens and those crummy seven points but if it’s any consolation, we will always know he was a true leader of the climb.