So, you might’ve seen the highlights of the court storming last night and saw that moron student seemingly tackle Battle. I have come to confess and defend my actions. But first, let’s get to how it all happened.
I have student season tickets. General admission seating or whatever so you sit wherever you can when you get to the BJC. I had dinner with some friends before the game, so I had my friends I go to the game with save me a seat. They informed me that they were getting to the BJC at 7 pm. The gates opened at 8 pm. I was excited and surprised by my friends’ enthusiasm and assumed I was going to get some legit court-side seats. Wrong. I got to the BJC at roughly 8:40 pm. I never really understood the story he gave me as to why we weren’t court-side, but regardless, my seat was beside our pep band. Y’know, those 2 seat rows? Actually, they turned out just fine because the basket for the most part wasn’t in the way, and I was actually sitting right by the Illinois tunnel. Ironically enough, I flashed them the universal choking sign whenever they came out, since it’s pretty well known how much that team has choked recently. Who knew I was such a psychic at the time?
So there I am sitting about 10 rows up behind the basket and beside the pep band. As soon as Battle’s game-winner dropped, I noticed that the students on the side were going to storm the court while Battle was running around like a ‘lunatic’. I didn’t have the aisle seat, I was on the inside. So as soon as I saw what was going to happen, (I haven’t gotten confirmation on this part) I’m fairly certain I pushed my friend Alan, who was sitting next to me, out of the way and I charged down the aisle. I managed to be the first one in line at the bottom to rush the court. During the last timeouts, I was bitched out by a BJC usher like 20 times despite being no threat whatsoever to coming onto the floor compared to the hundreds of kids on the side. I was also planning out my next actions. I told my man Ben, who made his way beside me, that I was going straight for Battle. I told him that being near Battle would be guaranteed airtime on ESPN, which I was right. Although, I don’t think I admitted to him my man-crush for the player who has continued to put my beloved program on the map, and that was certainly another reason for my plans.
So if you ask me, Mike Tisdale’s futile full court heave was his best play of the night. He threw it at the perfect angle – right in my direction. Obviously it came up a few yards short, but it put Battle right there in front of me. Now I scouted out the situation before the in-bounds occurred. I noticed 4 cameramen were going to be in my way right in front of me. So I timed the snap count and shot through the A-gap faster than Paul Posluzsny ever could. Actually I probably shouldn’t use a football reference if I want to legitimately defend what happened next (I swear I didn’t tackle him).
I don’t know where Mike from BSD got that picture from, but it’s absolutely epic. No, that’s not Casper the Ghost, that’s me. While I’ll admit the paleness of my PA dutch skin, but this brightness I would also like to attribute to the BJC lighting and the contrast to Battle, himself. Also, come on, I’ve spent all winter in State College, where am I going to get a tan? Hollywood Tans? You’ve got to be kidding me. Now obviously you can tell that I was the first one to come in from the baseline. All the other students in this picture are coming from court-side. A side note, one of the four cameramen I split must have taken this incredible picture. Now let me tell you, it looks like Battle’s smiling. He most certainly was not. He was terrified for his life as soon as the buzzer sounded. He turned around and either saw this incredibly pale dude who was probably about to jump through the roof, or he saw the gigantic horde coming behind me. I would hope it’s the latter because I consider myself at least a normal looking dude. But I would have to bet I can get embarrassingly ugly through my emotions while watching Penn State basketball games.
So I bear-hugged him for all of about 3 seconds before I came down from cloud 9. This situation I quickly found myself in made me reevaluate what exactly I was doing with my life at the moment. Here I am hugging this incredibly sweaty dude who clearly wanted no part of what was going on and was physically exhausted. While I was thinking this, disaster struck. All of a sudden, my hero was on his ass on the floor. First off, I want to swear to you, none of Battle’s fall was my fault. I’ve seen the ESPN video evidence. It looks like I straight up took him down. But I’m telling you, it all happened because some other scrub fell, who tripped up Battle. I could have sworn that there were like 3 or 4 students who fell along with Battle. I saw no evidence of this on ESPN, so I dug deeper into the 3 second clip. I’m asking you all to checkout evidence for yourself in super slow motion if you can and make your own analysis. Don’t watch Battle or me, watch everyone else. As soon as our scene occurs, while Battle’s falling, you’ll see another black guy in a black jacket to Battle’s right rising up. He was getting up from his fall, but he wasn’t the one who started it all. The real culprit has yet to make his appearance. Want to know why Battle got up so quickly? Because he landed on this dude and used him as a springboard with our help. We got him back up on his feet in like .6574 seconds. Now when Battle gets back on his feet and gives me the look of ‘I’m going to beat your ass’, watch the culprit’s head pop-up between Battle’s arm and the dude in the black zip up hoodie. He literally is on the screen for less than .5 seconds, so you gotta look hard and have superior DVR skills. I took this picture just to help you out and give you the dude to look out for.
You can make your own judgments, but I’m telling you. I’m an innocent, diehard PSU basketball fan who seized the opportunity to give his favorite player the biggest man-hug, hoping to justify the awkwardness of the action through the team’s astounding victory. I was not the one who put Talor Battle at serious risk. In fact, I could be considered a hero for helping him out, along with the random dude in last year’s student section t-shirt and the aforementioned dude in the black zip-up. I swear as soon as Battle slipped, the words out of my mouth were “Oh shit, get him up, get him up”.
If you need more evidence, I found this youtube clip.
Now you’re going to have to have some serious observational skills to watch this. Understandably, the filmer was shaking, so it’s tough to follow the action. I recommend start by watching Battle, then keep your eye on him. Battle was one of the 2 PSU players who knocked away the pass. He was the smaller one, obviously, and in front when they both hit the ball (I want to say the other guy’s Ott, but I’m not sure). First, watch the dude who comes in out of nowhere and hugs him. If you watch it closely enough, I think it validates my Poz comment. I’ve never ran so fast in my life. Now I hugged him so excitedly that we made our way through the whole lane in like 4 steps. We split through those three Illinois players. Then you should be able to see some sort of pileup on the floor. That’s what Battle fell over, not me.
This whole story was quite the experience. It’s so bizarre but surreal for me at the same time. I felt so guilty last night, I wrote a fairly lengthy apology to Battle on Facebook. Just to set the record straight, I called no homo on the hug. He responded with ‘lol thanks man its cool’.
Obviously I will never forget this game, but this story will probably make this game my all-time Penn State basketball experience. It’s been so awesome seeing the publicity I have received for being ‘the toolbag who almost killed Talor Battle’. Probably the coolest part was hearing David Jones (thanks to my FOS subscription), my favorite sportswriter, ask Battle, my favorite player, ‘What does it smell like in there, when you get mobbed?’
Battle’s response also validates my story:
“Man, I got tripped in there. They took my legs out. So I was like, yo man, let me get out of here.”
Now how was I in position to take out his legs? Sounds like the work of someone who was already on the floor. But anyway, got out of there he did. As soon as I got that look, I knew I should let him go. He fought his way off the court, while I continued to get engulfed in the mob and took part of the celebration.
Through the aftermath, not only did I have many cameos on Sportscenter today, but even Andy Katz called the action out in his blog:
Illinois’ defense was a sieve when it came to stopping Penn State’s Talor Battle’s drive to the hoop with under a second left to beat the Illini. Great scene after the buzzer, but, please folks, let the home players get out alive. Battle looked scared as he was getting swallowed up by the white-shirted, enthusiastic Happy Valley throng.
I will never forget that frightful face for the rest of my life. What a game. What an experience.