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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Penn Shocks Cornell

Basketball is a great game. College basketball is a kids' game (even though adults from time to time try to interfere with that notion). So that means that kids can do extraordinary things -- both good and bad. Cornell got off to such a good start that pundits were equating this year's Big Red teams as among the best of all Ivy teams ever. That's what the prominence of a recent, excellent team does -- fades the memories of those great teams that preceded this one.

The same Cornell team that also beat then-Number 1 Kansas in Lawrence lost to a 3-15 (going into the game) Penn team in Philadelphia last night, 79-64. Pick your verb -- stun, upset, shock -- because that's what Penn did. The Quakers went into the game with their worst team in God knows how long, a team beset by injuries and not nearly as long on talent as the ones their coach, Jerome Allen, played on. Yet no one told them that at 3-15 they were supposed to go through the motions and cave in, but, kids being kids, you have to believe that the Cornell Big Red probably thought that they could handle the Quakers pretty easily.

Penn showed the Ivies that they still have plenty of grit in them, and Cornell showed them that a loss to Princeton tonight and they're about to become Ivan Drago to an aging, but cagey, Rocky Balboa. The reason -- the Tigers are (quietly) 5-0 in the Ivies, and Cornell is 6-1. A Princeton win and the Tigers are 2 up, albeit with 8 games (which is a lifetime in the Ivies) on the Big Red. Of course, the Big Red will be fired up and determined to avenge their loss against Penn, plus they'll be fighting for their lives, so to speak, in the Ivies. Yet, they have to play Princeton in Princeton, and Coach Sydney Johnson's team is having a pretty good year. Princeton has a unique opportunity tonight -- it has one its top rivals on the ropes, and it has a great opportunity to wound Cornell's title hopes significantly tonight.

Meanwhile, Penn hosts Columbia, a 10-point loser at Princeton last night. The Quakers are fired up and should be primed to damage the Lions tonight, but, kids being kids, it could well be that Penn falls flat and the Lions get a rare win in Philadelphia. The reason? All Ivy kids play for pride -- almost all aren't going to play basketball after college. Columbia will be fired up to knock off the team that knocked off nationally ranked Cornell -- that's the way all schools -- including the Ivies -- work.

All this makes for great watching tonight in Princeton and Philadelphia.


Anonymous Steve said...

Ivan Drago, eh? As a Soviet heavyweight, he was both Big and Red!

I can see Coach Donahue to Sidney Johnson at the pregame handshake: "I must break you."

3:47 PM  

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