(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Could this Be the Year for Princeton Men's B-Ball Team to Return to the NCAA Tournament?

Tiger fans are rubbing their good-luck charms on this one. The Tigers trounded Columbia on the road on Saturday night, only to edge out Cornell on Saturday night on Kareem Maddox's jumper with ten seconds to go. They are 7-0 in the Ivies, but they have 5 of their last 7 on the road, including potentially tough contests at Harvard, Yale and archrival Pennsylvania.

It has been a long drought for Princeton, and the road won't be an easy one. Penn has some talent and always gets up for Princeton. Yale has some good athletes on the perimeter and played a great game in Jadwin Gym a few weeks ago (I thought that Yale's James Jones outcoached Sydney Johnson). Harvard has 11 freshmen and sophomores and a ton of talent, both inside (Keith Wright, among others) and outside (deadeye shooter Laurent Rivard, among others). They have had some trouble closing out opponents (and "some" means relatively minor, in that they have one league loss -- at Princeton), but they are very good.

That's the thing about the Ivies -- there is no conference tournament, so every night is like a playoff game. While last night's Villanova-Pitt contest had great intensity, both teams will make the NCAA Tournament based upon their records -- regardless of how they fare in their conference tournament (and assuming that neither falls flat on its face in the next 2-3 weeks). But that's not the luck of the Ivies -- come in second and you're done for the season in all likelihood. Think there's not pressure on a weekend game after a long bus ride in Hanover, New Hampshire against a second-division Dartmouth squad? Think again. The Big Green will be lying in the weeds waiting to ambush your top-of-the-league squad and send you reeling. They've done it before and they'll do it again, because for them games against the league's front runners are their version of the Big Dance. And the last time I checked, they do sell glass slippers in northern New England.

There is a lot of basketball left to be played. Sure, you'd rather be Princeton at 7-0 to Harvard's 7-1, but a lot can happen over the course of the next three weekends. Put on your seat belts and helmets, Tiger fans, there's a lot of good basketball left to be played.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about "closing," Penn has had terrible luck with three overtime losses to Princeton, Cornell and Harvard. But this is, as noted, a league where any team can ambush these days--witness Princeton's 10 point road loss to Brown. Still P-ton is in pretty good position to win the league, though I suspect the Tigers will lose again enroute to that glory.... And for "fighting Quaker" fans, we hope one of those losses will be at the Palestra.

N.S. in N.O.

7:53 PM  
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