PROVIDENCE, R.I.--Joe Carrabino brought the ball up the court. The fact that he usually touches the ball only to shoot or pass did not faze him or anyone watching the game. Saturday night against Brown, Carrabino could have played guard.
In one of the weirder games of the season, the Harvard men's basketball team defeated the Bruins Saturday night, 80-76. While Carrabino was bringing the ball up, the two real guards and one ball-handling forward ran down court to set up for the last six minutes of play. Then one of them decided that Carrabino was really a forward.
Earlier, on the fan bus, his roommates had decided that the junior was really a hero. Amidst the murmurs of a handful of Harvard Band members, four cheerleaders and a couple of dozen fans, their enthusiastic cries were the only disruptions of a quiet journey. Everybody else was saving it up for Brown.
The game itself had started on an odd--uh, note. At Brown's Marvel Gym, the visiting Harvard Band played the national anthem, because Brown's band was at the Eastern Women's Swimming League Championships. "We have a good chance of winning," one fan explained. Presumably, Brown basketball didn't have the same choice.
And once the contest got started, peculiar officiating stood out as yet another bizarre factor. Luckily for Harvard, the game was called the same way on both sides. Well, sort of. Pat Smith, Carrabino, and Bob Ferry all got whistled for walking in the first few minutes of the contest. Arne Duncan was charged with two fouls before 10 minutes had elapsed.
At one point a Brown fan decided the officiating needed some inspiration, so he blew his own whistle loudly enough to stop play. Threatened with a technical foul and a police monitor, the Bruin fans quickly settled into virtual silence.
The refs also spaced out late in the first half, when Monroe Trout was fouled and was to go to the line for two shots. Duncan had already sunk one when one of the officials remembered which player he had sent to the charity stripe.
Trout had been shooting free throws that bounced off the back of the rim, so maybe the Crimson figured another man could do a little better. The senior co-captain sent two shots--you guessed it--to the back of the rim.
The other co-captain Ken Plutnicki, played a strong defensive and offensive contest and could have taken incredibly intense Brown freshman Todd Murray or any of his taller counterparts to the hoop, but only did so in spurts.
In fact, the entire team worked in spurts, moving into an unknown Twilight Zone, then beaming back to Marvel. While Harvard fans displayed "Go For It. Crimson" signs and kept waiting for their squad to blow the lid off the Bruins' home gym, the Crimson seemed a bit listless after its victory at Yale the night before. But as tried as the squad appeared, they did muster the energy to keep Brown in the contest.
After the relatively quiet bus ride to the game, the road trip back to Harvard displayed all the leftover energy. As the Band sang tuneless melodies and then attempted to "Shake Rhode Island," it occurred to me what a long, strange trip it had been.