Around the Ivies
When we last convened, dear Around the Ivies reader, the Ancient Eight was filled with high drama. Heading into the final weekend of conference play, Harvard and Princeton were jockeying for position atop the standings with a bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line. After the Crimson took care of business at home against Cornell and the Tigers laid an orange stripy egg all over the Providence floor, the title remained in Cambridge.
Stress is an all-too-familiar phenomenon around Cambridge, Mass., this time of year. Stray more than 10 steps into the Science Center, and you’re bound to hear someone wailing about a midterm, a paper, or an extra five minutes of section. Wah, wah, wah.
In last week’s Around the Ivies, I offered a salute to the Ivy fans that come out to support their teams and hurl abuse at their more athletic peers. This week, I’d like to give it up for the players, struggling through the end of a physically and emotionally taxing basketball season while still hurdling the same general academic obstacles that the rest of us face.
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.
Presumably, this is how the discussion in the Harvard men’s basketball locker room went prior to the team’s game last Friday against Penn:
Crimson Coach Tommy Amaker: “…and, you know, we’re going to need our big guys to step up. Jonah has been doing it all season. Steve, we’re going to need a little more consistency out of you. And Kenyatta, I mean…you were a three-star recruit, top twenty in the country at your position, so it’s time—“
This week, the world saw an event come to pass for the first time since 1415, igniting widespread mourning, speculation of scandal, and spiritual crises: The Crimson failed to cover a conference basketball game live.
Yea, verily I say unto thee, a winter tempest prevented our heroes from emerging from their stronghold city of Cambridge to undertake the long, wicked road to Sheol, or, as it was renamed by its later inhabitants, Ithaca. The incident will remind longtime readers of that early 15th century spring day, when beat writer Sherman the Bold was waylaid on his route to Old Haven by a troop of marauding raiders. “Sword wavin’ Old Haven,” Sherman was said to mutter as he expired on the lonely highway.