For nearly a century, the Palestra has stood for college basketball. Now, the building is back hosting college games for the first time since COVID-19 hit.

Penn’s women’s basketball team cruised to an easy victory Tuesday against King’s College, marking the Quakers’ first win at the Palestra in 626 days. Afterward, the Penn men’s team defeated Lafayette to close out the doubleheader in its first game there in 619 days.

Results aside, just entering the building was enough to make former longtime custodian Dan Harrell emotional. After all, things were starting to feel normal again.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

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Early Birds

Who is this guy, you ask? It’s who Nick Sirianni held up the other day as the ultimate example of what he means when he compliments DeVonta Smith as, quite simply, “a football player.”

Meet Ron Snyder, who in the 1980s was the lefty quarterback of the Southwestern High School football team that Sirianni’s father coached in Jamestown, N.Y. Sirianni was the ball boy and used to play catch with Snyder. When columnist Mike Sielski tracked down Snyder, he was surprised to be name-dropped by Sirianni all these years later.

Speaking of Smith, who had a standout game with two touchdowns against the Broncos on Sunday, he’s also impressing former Eagles president Joe Banner with his traits as a difference-making wide receiver.

Extra Innings

Imagine having the National League Cy Young Award winner and MVP on the same roster. Not counting players who won both awards, that scenario has happened 19 times in baseball history, and it has always added up to a playoff berth for their teams. The Phillies might break that streak in the next two days.

Right-hander Zack Wheeler, who led the NL in innings (213⅓) and strikeouts (247), will find out tonight if the votes went his way for the Cy Young Award over Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes and Los Angeles’ Max Scherzer. And on Thursday, Bryce Harper will learn if he captured his second MVP award. Phillies president Dave Dombrowski says missing the playoffs won’t sting even more if they sweep the awards, but it is an indication of the work that needs to be done this offseason to surround their stars with more talent.

Next: The National League and American League Cy Young Awards will be announced tonight at 6 on the MLB Network. The MVP will be revealed Thursday night.

Off the Dribble

We’ve had plenty to say about Ben Simmons and the Sixers here at The Inquirer. But we haven’t heard directly from the fans much since the NBA season started in October. With that in mind, Sixers beat writer Keith Pompey kick-started his mailbag and brought back the outside input he received last season, back when things were a little bit more rosy.

So what type of feedback did he receive? Fans asked what we expected. They want to know about Simmons’ fines, when he will be traded, and more. Catch up on their inquiries and Pompey’s answers here.

On the court Tuesday night, the shorthanded Sixers dropped a 120-85 decision to the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. It was their fifth straight loss.

Next: The Sixers play the Denver Nuggets at 9 p.m. Thursday as they continue to truck through a long road trip.

On the Fly

The Flyers will be without defenseman Ryan Ellis for the time being, as the club announced Tuesday that the summer acquisition has been placed on injured reserve. Nick Seeler, who has filled in for Ellis during his spell on the sidelines, was called up to replace Ellis.

Speaking of Seeler, check back in later this week as Giana Han talked to him about what it’s like to be a seventh defenseman in the NHL and someone who is always living out of a suitcase.

The news on the ice was more positive Tuesday night, as the Flyers won a thrilling 2-1 game over the Flames in overtime thanks to a Cam Atkinson goal. Kevin Hayes scored his first since his brother Jimmy passed away, pointing to the sky in tribute, and Carter Hart stopped 33 shots for the win.

Next: The Flyers are back at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday to take on the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the game can be seen on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Fleet Street

Capitolo Playground at 9th and Federal Streets was the site of a groundbreaking Tuesday for a renovation project that includes grass soccer pitches. The renovation is being funded in part by the Union’s charitable foundation, hence the appearance of Phang with some youth players at the event.

Meanwhile, the United States men’s national team added a point to its World Cup qualifying quest.

Worth a look

  • Cats come alive. Villanova beat Howard by 21 points, but the game for the heavily favored Wildcats was a bit too close for comfort for much of the contest.

  • Lower bowl. College sports writer Joe Juliano was also busy following Penn State football, as the Nittany Lions have lost four of five games and now are expecting to play in a less desirable bowl game after a 5-0 start. The rough stretch has left coach James Franklin having to address whether his name being discussed for job openings has been a distraction.

  • A captain already. Speaking of Penn State, it’s among the college programs to have offered a scholarship to Archbishop Wood defensive lineman Eric Gardner Jr., whose first season at the school has shown that he can be a team leader.