Saturday, March 09, 2013

Harvard Rooted for Yale Last Night. . . and Got the Result it Wanted

Princeton was 1 up on Harvard in the loss column in Ivy men's basketball.  Win out, and the Tigers would go to the Big Dance.  All that they needed to do was win three road games -- at Yale, at Brown and at Penn.  In the Ivies, especially in a year when many teams are playing .500 ball in the league, that's still a tall task.  

Princeton traveled to New Haven to face an otherwise forgettable Yale team -- a sub .500 team that has lost more than it has won.  Forgettable, perhaps, to everyone but the Yale faithful, the Yale men's b-ball family, and the relatives of those who play men's b-ball for Yale.

And Princeton.

Scroll down and you'll find a post within the past month where I offered that Yale's James Jones is a coaching genius.  He's not that, at least overall, but he's a good coach who has given Princeton fits over the years.  His team did so again last night, beating the Tigers for the second time this season and now putting arch-rival Harvard in the "driver's seat."  The Crimson are 10-3 in the league with 1 to play; the Tigers are 9-3.  You can read a short wire-service blurb about the Tigers' loss here.

Just when the noted shoe manufacturer Allen Edmonds offered college fans the opportunity to customize their shoes in school colors, the Tiger faithful must be nervous.  While the shoemaker makes a fine pair of shoes, the point was to buy them to celebrate March Madness -- that is, your own team's madness.  So, what looked like a good opportunity as late as early Friday evening looks like a much taller task now.  Win at Brown -- where it's always tough, win at Penn, where it's even tougher and where the underachieving Quakers will make their year if they can knock out Princeton (and avenge their own loss at Jadwin last year that knocked Penn out of a chance at the tournament) and then beat Harvard in a playoff, presumably at Columbia.  

What a difference a day makes.  

Then again, if the Tigers take one game at a time, anything is possible.  They need to re-group tonight, take Brown, and then worry about the Penn Quakers at the Palestra next Tuesday. 

Doable?  Yes.

Hard?  Of course.

Somehow, Yale hoops has proven to be to Princeton what Newman was to Seinfeld.  Out there, difficult, and usually rises up when you really don't need them to.  You can just imagine the average Princeton fan saying last night, while shaking his head, "Yale."  And then grimacing.

Penn because of history, Harvard because of the current roster of talent -- both would be understandable.



And to think of it, some of the Elis most fervent fans last night were wearing Crimson.

Ivy hoops sometimes makes for strange temporary alliances.