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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Interesting, Tough, Basketball Weekend

Hard to pass up court side NBA seats, where I had the privilege of sitting last night for part of the 76ers-Mavs game.  While the Mavs scored 42 in the first and looked like they were going to break all sorts of records, the 76ers fought back mightily, a tribute to the coaching of Brett Brown and the leadership of Thad Young and Michael Carter-Williams.  While Dirk Nowitzki still has it, Vince Carter sadly does not, but the Mavs had plenty of weapons and outlast the 76ers, who did pull within four to 77-73 before running out of gas because they had only seven eligible players.

After depleting their roster to win the Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker sweepstakes, the hometown hoops team fielded a team of Thad, MCW and the Pips.  In all seriousness, the players played hard -- they just weren't good enough.  Sitting court side gives you a unique, special experience, and one of the best was watching Thaddeus Young interact with young fans during the warm-up after half-time, at one point tossing a ball to one of the kids I had with me and saying, "Here, do you want to shoot it?"  Perhaps if the 76ers were fighting for a playoff seed Young might have been as relaxed, but it struck me that as the 76ers re-build their squad they'll need a veteran leader.  I have liked Thad Young since they drafted him years ago, and he probably is the guy to shepherd the young players and help lead them on their journey, ultimately after a few drafts, deep into the NBA playoffs.  Already, he is someone special.

So that was Friday night, a night of great food (the seats also are tied to some good culinary options), good basketball (it was entertaining) and even better company.

Late this afternoon, I coached my rec league team, and, sadly, we ran into a buzz saw.  We were short three players, including our second and third leading scorers (who also are two of our best defenders), and we ran into a buzz saw.  We needed to play a precise game in order to be close; they decided to hit almost every shot they took (a la Shawn Marion the night before, who was 11-14 from the floor and hit every runner he took).  Instead, we ran out of gas after halftime, we turned the ball over and didn't hit our shots.  We went into the game 5-2, although the combined winning percentage of the teams we beat was something like .200 while the combined winning percentage of the teams that beat us was .850.  Translated, it was hard to tell how good we are -- we have good kids, some very good athletes, but not much size, and some 8th graders are just pretty big.  We were close after one, down twelve at the half and twenty after three.  Turn out the lights, the party was over.  Ouch.

And that led to this evening, where we traveled to Jadwin Gym at Princeton to watch the Tigers host Harvard, which is battling Yale for the top spot in the Ivies and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.  Happily, Tiger fans learned early that the Tiger women avenged a loss to Harvard on the road in Cambridge to take the lead in the Ivies, and perhaps that karma spread to the men's team.  The Tigers led at the half, although an ominous sign was that after being down double digits the Crimson came back near the end of the first half.  And then the second half was all Harvard -- the Tigers stopped shooting well, and Harvard shot better, and Harvard's better athleticism showed.  The Crimson showed why they are a force, both in the Ivies and outside it, and in the end it was they who won by double digits, dismantling the Tigers.  What had once looked like a promising season for Princeton (they were 11-2 before the Ivy season began) has turned into a league nightmare -- the Tigers are 6th in the Ivies.   Double ouch for the day.

I did refrain from trying to toss my napkin into our garbage can in the kitchen from ten feet after I got home from the Princeton game and had a snack.  I was fearful that a Harvard guard would steal it or that I would toss up an air ball.


Anonymous George Clark said...

Take heart, Sportsprof, for this was expected to be a reloading year in Jadwin. The early season success fanned the flames of expectation out of control. Three freshman are getting a lot of minutes. One of these, Spencer Weisz, has a good shot at ROY. He can score, he rebounds, and he is a tenacious defender. Harvard's Rivard did not score Saturday night, over 34 minutes, surely the longest dry spell in his career. Denton Koon's injuries have him on the shelf, but he'll be back with at least two kids ready to play right away next season. If Brase can play facing the basket the Tigers should compete next year. A swing of just 15 points in 5 of the losses and the Tigers are contenders this year.

9:21 AM  

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