Remember the scene in "Annie Hall" where Woody Allen sneaks away from the New York literary-scene bash to watch the Knick game? His soon-to-be-ex-wife discovers him watching TV and demands to know what's so fascinating about "a bunch of pituitary cases trying to stuff a ball through a hoop."
There are very few Harvard basketball players who could possibly be mistaken for pituitary cases, but the underlying question remains: What's so fascinating about a bunch of bowlegged guys trying to stuff a ball through a hoop?
Allen's answer is that it's physical, and that can hardly be denied. But basketball players--team and club alike--demonstrate a level of psychological sophistication that probably couldn't be achieved at Harvard Stadium or Bright Arena, both scenes of the most hysterical outpourings of support Harvard fans can demonstrate.
They're lonely over at Briggs Cage. The men's varsity basketball team, recently recovered from a mini-slump and playing exciting if not technically perfect ball, drew fewer people to last Thursday's game than visitor St. Anselm. Saturday night, a game against Vermont came down to the final second of overtime. It was heart-stopping--for the couple of hundred hearts watching.
Also at Briggs, the Classics' Harvard Basketball club is one of the most talented and spirited groups you'll see in Harvard athletics. Those basketball talents include a refugee from the varsity and a couple of stars of the 1981-82 Ivy j.v. championship squad along with an ex-oarsman, an ex-varsity baseball pitcher and a varsity volleyball player, to name a few. That's physical--and as exciting as a local schoolyard contest.
"Physical" is definitely the word for this squad. Committing more fouls and three-second violations than the varsity, moving a little slower, gasping a little more, the undefeated Classics (6-0) are in it for the fun of the sport. Not for the glory, certainly, judging from turnouts smaller than the rosters at the last two home games.
Both teams have a brief break now. The Classics resume home play Wednesday, January 11 against the Harvard j.v. The varsity takes its show on the road during winter break--to excited crowds in New York, California and New Hampshire--returning to desolate Briggs on January 6 and 7 for back-to-back contests with perennial Ivy powers Penn and Princeton--who are each sure to have a few hundred fans of their own on hand. Mark your calendar now.