Around the Water Cooler: Shall We Dance

Published by Robert S Samuels on March 08, 2011 at 3:11AM

Two big stories dominated the Ivy League this weekend. First, Emma Watson announced that she would take a temporary leave of absence from Brown. But the Harvard men’s basketball team (almost) made up for that loss. Facing a do-or-die situation, Harvard chose the former, riding to its first-ever Ivy League championship. Shockingly, other teams played over the weekend too. In squash, Harvard dealt with an unexpected loss, while a Princeton player became the first American to win it all in two decades. Take a break from those midterms, as we explain it all in another edition of Around the Water Cooler.

So in case you haven’t heard, Harvard had a pretty good week in men’s basketball. After beating Penn, 79-64, the Crimson came back the following night and, in the biggest game in program history, beat visiting Princeton, 79-67. The contest received national coverage, with airtime on ESPN3 and a number of tweets by Bill Simmons (who, in the best tweet of the night, wrote, “No. 33 from Princeton just killed a puppy”).

Of course, Harvard’s ticket to the big dance hasn’t been punched quite yet: Princeton has to lose one more game. The Tigers travel to the Palestra tonight to face off against Penn (7 p.m. on ESPN3). With a win over the Quakers, the Tigers and Harvard will duke it out one last time in a one-game playoff on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Yale.

But, not everything this past weekend went so swimmingly for Harvard. In women’s basketball, Harvard fell to Princeton, 68-59, at Jadwin Gym on Saturday night. With the victory, the Tigers clinched the Ancient Eight crown for the second year in a row. The women of Princeton have been dominant at home, winning their last 22 at Jadwin.

In more bad news for the Crimson, Harvard No. 1 Laura Gemmell lost for the first time in her college career to Yale No. 2 Millie Tomlinson the finals of the CSA Individual National Championship. Worse, Gemmell failed to take a single set from her Bulldog opponent. Last year’s national champion, Gemmell, now holds a career record of 32-1.

From start to finish, the tournament belonged to Tomlinson. Though the seventh seed coming in, the Derbyshire, U.K., resident didn’t lose a set all tournament en route to her first Ramsay Cup.

On the men’s side, Princeton’s Todd Harrity cruised to the individual national championship, making him the first American to take the Pool Cup since Jon Bernheimer ’90 won the title for Harvard.  Harrity’s finals victory over Cornell’s Nick Sachvie concluded an undefeated season for the Princeton number one, who suffered his last loss to Colin West ’10 in the 2010 individual championship.

Harvard’s freshman phenom Gary Power had a tough tournament, falling in the round of 16.