The Rutgers Scarlet Knights men’s basketball squad is playing its home games without fans in the stands due to the coronavirus pandemic. That was the case during Tuesday’s game against the Syracuse Orange.
Just like countless other sports teams across the country and the world, Rutgers is doing what it can to create some kind of quasi-game day environment in its otherwise sterile arena through artificial, yet creative, means.
Rutgers is employing rows of cardboard cutouts in some of the seats to inject some visually virtual life into the stands. The New Jersey-based university brilliantly utilized characters from “The Sopranos” in a nod to how the state served as the home setting for the titular character’s family, among others, on the iconic HBO show.
Starting with Tony Soprano (portrayed by the late James Gandolfini, who was incidentally a Rutgers graduate), the Sopranos cutouts also included wife Carmella and oddly haired henchman Paulie. Daughter Meadow, nephew (and one-time drug-addled dog-killer) Christopher and consigliere Silvio round out the crew.
Even better than the perfectly fitting pop culture nod, the No. 21 Scarlet Knights capitalized on their pseudo-intimidating home-court advantage to upend the Orange by a score of 79-69 to improve to 4-0 and snap a 13-game losing streak to its former Big East rival.
Rutgers Basketball’s official Twitter account made note of “The Sopranos” sight in the stands on Wednesday morning while celebrating the big victory in a delightfully Soprano’s-like way.