CHESTERTOWN, Md. — "To play the game is great … to win the game is greater … But to love the game is the greatest of all."
That plaque resides inside the Palestra, the "Cathedral of College Basketball," on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. This January, the Washington College women's and men's basketball teams will look to make it their own as they play their counterparts from Dickinson College as part of a special five-game slate of Centennial Conference games in the facility that day.
The Conference announced that five regular-season games will be played at the 8,722-seat facility on Sunday, January 14, 2018. Gettysburg and Ursinus will play a double-header beginning at 11:30 a.m., while Dickinson and Washington College will also play a doubleheader with the opening tip scheduled for 3:30 p.m. for the women's game and 5:30 p.m. for the men's game. McDaniel and Muhlenberg will cap off the day with a men's contest scheduled for 7:30.
Washington College will be planning a special alumni gathering in conjunction with the games. Details about that gathering, as well as ticket prices and more information from the conference office, will be available at a later date.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for not only our student-athletes, but our entire Washington College Athletics family," noted Washington College Director of Athletics Thad Moore. Our student-athletes will compete in one of the most historic basketball venues in the country, our coaches will be able to raise the profile of their programs, and our alumni, parents, and friends will be afforded a unique chance to support our teams and the College as a whole."
"The history of the Palestra for basketball fans is unmatched and will provide a wonderful opportunity for our students," said Centennial Conference Executive Director Steve Ulrich. "They will play under the same roof as Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Julius Erving, Bill Bradley, Bob Lanier, Patrick Ewing, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. We are also excited to showcase the Centennial Conference and Division III basketball for prospective students in the Philadelphia area, as well as alumni and friends of our institutions."
"The Palestra has the acoustics of a big bass drum. It's a basketball echo chamber where every sound is amplified, where 100 people sound like a thousand, where a thousand sound like 10,000 and where 9,000 sound like nothing you've ever heard before. When the bleachers are full and the games are good, this is the best place to watch a college basketball game in America. There are other great gyms, other great crowds, certainly better places where you'll see better teams. But they are not the Palestra." - Joe Rhodes, Dallas News, 1986
"This is a basketball cathedral." - longtime Philly and New York scribe Dick "Hoops" Weiss.
"It's so small, with the court below street level, that it's easy to drive past the entrance on 33rd Street without even noticing it. Because of its rectangular shape and because it's so small, there are no bad seats in the Palestra. Sure, they're uncomfortable — most don't have chair backs — but none has a bad view. Fans sit almost on top of the court on all four sides. When they walk through the tiny lobby and across the narrow hallway to their seats, most will pause at the famous plaque with the sign that reads: "To play the game is great. . . . To win the game is greater. . . . But to love the game is the greatest of all." - John Feinstein, 2014