Around the Ivies
To witness Riegel in front of a crowd at Lavietes Pavilion was to watch Rembrandt at his canvas. Riegel had an intimate feel for when to make noise (always) and how to make it (obnoxiously). Better yet, he convinced everyone else to get loud with him—and when they didn’t follow a chant, he maintained his composure and kept yelling. Riegel may have had an acute cotton allergy judging by the swiftness with which his shirt would come off, but this body was not on display for that cute Kappa girl in the third row. It was there so that you—yeah, YOU, UP THERE—would be inspired to get on your feet, cast aside all social norms, and stomp around like an ape for two hours.
At this week’s media conference, Saunders’ numbers prompted an interesting comparison to the last Harvard player to record such a stat line: that sacred object of Crimson reverence, Jeremy Lin ’10. ESPN’s Jack McCluskey summed up the debate in an article on Tuesday, noting that Saunders, like Lin during his senior season, is currently in the Ivy League’s top 10 in nine different statistical categories. But unlike Lin, Saunders is given the assignment of guarding the opposition’s best perimeter offensive player in virtually every game Harvard plays, using his speed and length to block driving lanes and disrupt shots.
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.
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.
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.