AROUND THE IVIES: Salute to the Fans of Ivy Hoops
Ivy League basketball will get some decent exposure this weekend, with two games set to air on national television. The players will receive the vast majority of the attention, and rightly so, but I’d like to take a moment to give it up for those other Ivy students ready for their moment in the spotlight: the fans.
It’s one of the things that makes college basketball different from the pro game—a condensed atmosphere filled with (sometimes) well-lubricated college students looking to burn off a little stress. Our own columnist, Catherine E. Coppinger, captured “the racket” that was the decidedly unfriendly atmosphere at Payne Whitney Gymnasium on Saturday, complete with angry bros and naughty chants. Princeton and Penn, the traditional powers of the conference, can always be counted on to create raucous home atmospheres, and Harvard is starting to approach their level. Take a gander at a few “I Believe” YouTube videos from Lavietes Pavilion if you’re not convinced.
Even lowly Brown, sitting at sixth place in the Ivy standings, can get rowdy on occasion. The Bears lost to Harvard on Friday despite the best efforts of their rabid student section, which I had the privilege of witnessing in person. Though held silent for much of the first 30 minutes by the miserable product on display—going 1-for-14 from three with 19 turnovers can do that to a crowd—the Brown faithful was quickly whipped into a frenzy by an on-court t-shirt giveaway. A mini-hoop dunk contest featuring three local eight-year-olds further emboldened the Bear Den, until its members felt confident enough to lob a series of taunts at a follically challenged member of Harvard’s squad: “RO-GAINE, RO-GAINE,” and “A-A-R-P!” among them. Inspiring stuff.
Oh, the wonderful freedom granted by diffusion of responsibility, allowing us to feel morally indifferent to loudly and rudely criticizing the manner in which someone pursues his or her passion. Would I ever belt out a “You’re terrible!” during a chemist’s struggles with a stubborn strand of messenger RNA? If I was in the midst of a crowd of other screaming apes, I just might.
YALE at COLUMBIA
You’ve got to give Yale forward Brandon Sherrod a lot of credit for not quitting the game of basketball after Harvard sophomore Wesley Saunders’ posterizing thunder dunk nearly killed him. It takes quite a bit of strength to internalize and come to grips with that sequence of events: “I was a victim of the most mortifying play my sport has to offer in front of friends and family at the hands of my archrival. It was then viewed across the country on an immensely popular television program. And I’m okay with that.” Sherrod’s mental resilience was further on display later in the game when he picked up a technical foul for clapping in the face of Crimson point guard Siyani Chambers after blocking his shot.
BROWN at CORNELL
It’s a two-game road trip for the Bears, which generally portends two disastrous losses. Brown is 3-10 on the road this year, as compared to a surprisingly decent 7-4 home record. Perhaps the Bears owe their relative success at the Pizzitola Sports Center to those aforementioned students. Unfortunately, no self-respecting human would dare venture too deep into Ithaca without a compelling reason, and spectating at an insignificant basketball game just fails to qualify.
DARTMOUTH at PENN
The Palestra has hosted prouder matchups than this one. Show some respect, Dartmouth. At least take your boots off before you come on the floor.
HARVARD at PRINCETON
I don’t think I’ll get much resistance when I say this is the most important game of the Ivy season. The game will be televised on ESPNU, which is a bad omen, if you’re into that sort of thing. Harvard has yet to break the “Curse of ESPN,” losing every game it has ever played on the Worldwide Leader’s family of television networks. Maybe that’s because ESPN will only air Ivy games it knows will be extremely competitive. Or maybe it’s witchcraft.