Grab some extra kleenex, aspirin and chicken soup on your way to tonight's game at Briggs against Brown. The Harvard women's basketball team isn't feeling too well.
Only seven players practiced yesterday. Sure, it might be that nasty flu that's been going around, but Head Coach Kathy Delaney Smith has a different theory.
"Maybe it's just Brown that makes us sick," Delaney Smith said.
The first time Harvard faced Brown this season, a first-place Ivy League record hung in the balance. The Bears played phenomenally and handed Harvard a 77-64 loss. Since then, the Crimson (12-8 overall, 7-2 Ivy) has slipped to two and a half games behind Brown's league-leading 10-0 record.
(Hot tip to fans: invest in Extra-Strength Tylenol.)
But even though Harvard would rather not play the role of the underdog, the Crimson knows that the pressure is definitely on Brown.
And there's no cure for that.
"We have nothing to lose," said sophomore Tammy Butler, the Ancient Eight's leading scorer (20.0 ppg) and rebounder (11.4 rpg). "Everyone's trying to stop Brown now."
The Bears are very good--they have the opportunity to become the first Ivy team to finish a season undefeated in over a decade with three games to go.
Harvard is the second-best team in the Ivies. Unfortunately, it looks like the Crimson isn't in top physical form this week.
Among those popping vitamin C and decongestants are senior Co-Captain Debbie Flandermeyer, who will nevertheless be playing "regardless," and sophomore guard Nicole Cronk. But don't underestimate the Crimson's mental game--something that could be the deciding factor in this battle.
"We only had seven players at practice today, but that's not going to stop us. We're up, we're intense and we're enthusiastic," Delaney Smith said.
"We can beat them--they're not a better team," junior forward Katie Phillips said.
In addition to developing the mental edge for tonight's contest, the Crimson has devoted much time to honing their defensive strategy.
"We're going to play 40 minutes of defense, not 36, not 38," Delaney Smith said.
"Brown uses an unorthodox triangle and two defense, and we've also been working on adjusting to their game."
The Bears feature Martina Jerant, a two-time Ivy player of the week and a 6:5" center who averages 14.8 ppg and 8.0 rpg average.
"We're going to stop Jerant, and we're going to stop the drive from the perimeter," Delaney Smith said. "We're ready to play, and we really want Brown."
And don't forget--this time, the face-off is going to be at good old Briggs Cage, where Harvard sports an 11-1 winning margin.