Return to Rec: Q&A with Brian Allen
On Dec. 10 and 12, Penn State will participate in the second installment of “Return to Rec.” Created in 2013, the event honors the history of the program. From 1929-1996, Recreational (Rec) Hall served as the home-court for the Penn State men’s basketball team. While the venue was not large, it did give the Nittany Lions an advantage due to the compactness of the stands and the close proximity of the fans to the court.
From 1986-1989, Brian Allen served as the floor general for the Lions. As a senior, “BA”, as he is affectionately referred to by the Penn State community, was a vital part of an impressive 20-win season. During that campaign, he averaged 6.9 points per game, 1.9 assists per game, 2.1 rebounds per game, and a team-high 1.1 steals per game. As a player who left his blood, sweat and tears on the court, Allen knows quite a bit about Rec Hall and agreed to answer some questions leading up to the “Return to Rec” games.
Jon Gross: Talk a little bit about your overall experience playing basketball at Penn State.
Brian Allen: I have had nothing but fond memories of playing basketball for Penn State. First, I acknowledge that a Division 1 scholarship is a rare gift, and I tried to make the most of it. I am definitely still reaping the benefits of having played basketball for Penn State. While we were not that good when I arrived, we were pretty solid by the time I left, which is what I am proudest of. I had a strong class in Tom Hovasse, Bruce Blake, Christian Appleman, and Ed Fogell (who actually had to redshirt one year). I am still close to all of them. Penn State Basketball went on a four-year run of 20-plus wins until we transitioned into the Big Ten. Lastly to attend such an amazing University with amazing athletes in every sport is something I will always treasure.
JG: What is your favorite memory of Rec Hall?
BA: My favorite memory of Rec Hall is the energy of having the fans on top of you. It was really easy to feed off of. I would “interact” with the fans since they were so close. Loved that!
JG: Do you think that Rec Hall, even though it is smaller, gives Penn State more of a home-court advantage than the Bryce Jordan Center?
BA: I think both venues offer a home court advantage when sold out. The vibe of Rec Hall was/is pretty hard to duplicate. There are only a handful of Division 1 venues left like that. Of course, if I had a magic wand, I would have the fans closer to the court like Crisler Arena (Michigan) or Breslin (Michigan State). But, when it is sold out, which I believe will be normal soon, it is boomin’.
JG: What are some differences between the program when you played and the program now?
BA: Besides the obvious change in conferences, I would point to my freshman year. As mentioned, we weren’t very good, so we made an effort to make a lot of friends and market ourselves so people would come to the games if nothing else because they knew us. Coach Parkhill was such an X and O genius and taught physical toughness, so he was able to put us in a position to win even when we were up against superior teams on paper. I see a lot of the same things in Coach Chambers. Add to that the Class A amenities provided to the team, and it enhances recruiting. We used to fly in the little prop planes. Thankfully for the team now, that is not the case.
JG: What are your thoughts on the future of the program?
BA: I couldn’t be more excited about the future of the program. I love Coach Chambers and his staff, and what they have been able to do on the recruiting trail the last couple of years. Coach Chambers has also showed immense respect for those of us who were a part of the program in the past.
Jonathan Gross is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism and international politics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.