Soon after their son Monnie went to Penn State to play basketball, Monroe and Jackie Brown invested in a Jeep.
"The first year he was up there, we missed the Atlantic 10 Tournament. We couldn't get there because it snowed," said Jackie Brown, who rarely missed a game when Monnie was earning All-Metro and All-County honors at Aberdeeen High.
In the two years since, the Browns have put more than 55,000 miles on that Jeep following the Nittany Lions from New England to Florida.
A few days ago, the Browns set out in another snowstorm for Syracuse, N.Y.. to watch their son, now a Junior, play the biggest game of his life. It also turned out to be the biggest win.
Penn State upset UCLA, 74-69, Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The last time Penn State qualified for the tournament, Monnie wasn't even born.
Monnie scored 10 points and played excellent defense, especially in the second half. He hit three free throws and came up with a critical steal late in the game.
Before he even got to Syracuse. Monnie, 20, was confident that the Lions (21-10) had a chance to upset fourth-seeded UCLA (23-9).
"They're supposed to be real good," said Brown last week. "But after watching some game tapes, we're pretty excited...and they're not giving us any respect."
Monnie earned some respect by finishing with five assists and four steals. When his roommate, Freddie Barnes, sat out much of the game in foul trouble, Monnie turned in a fine performance at point guard.
Monnie's performance under pressure didn't surprise former Aberdeen coach Bob McCone, now an assistant at Johns Hopkins. 'For us, he was a leader and a clutch player for three years. You don't do that well in high school, then move up to the next level and forget it all. He's a winner.
Monnie, who holds down a 2.9 grade-point average while majoring in business logistics, will try to help the Nittany Lions pull off another upset this afternoon against 12th-seeded Eastern Michigan (25-6), an upset winner Friday over Mississippi State.
The 13th seed in the East Region. Penn State had qualified for the tournament by winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
"It feels great." said Monnie, after the Lions earned their automatic bid. 'We were trying for three years to get there, and to finally get it done, it's a lot of fun."
Last year. Monnie had a total of 16 points and eight rebounds in Penn State's semifinal loss and consolation game win in the NIT at Madison Square Garden.
A member of the Atlantic 10 All-Freshman team in 1988-89, Monnie has averaged 9.7 points and 4.5 assists this year. His career total of 353 placed him fourth on Penn State's all-time assist list.
But Monnie's specialty has always been defense. Penn State coach Bruce Parkhill said he considers Monnie one of the East's best defenders. Going into Friday's game, Monnie was averaging 2.5 steals a game, and his season total of 74 led the Atlantic 10.
"I always told him defense is easy to do. It just takes a lot of hard work." said Monroe Brown, who coached his son as a youngster. "He learned to keep his eye on the man and the ball. Now, he always has to guard the best shooter on the other team."
Whether his son won or lost in the tournament, the elder Brown was just happy to have the chance to watch. A few years ago. Monroe Brown suffered a severe electrical shock while working as a lineman for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
"[The NCAA tournament] was one of his [Monnie's] dreams," said Brown. 'At first, I thought it was a little far-fetched, but as they went along, I saw it was in their grasp. It's a big thrill just for them to get that far, and it's a big thrill for me to see it."