Heading into this weekend, there is an abundance of important men’s basketball storylines to follow in the Ancient Eight. After hanging on by the skin of its teeth last week against Princeton, can Yale continue its stellar play on the road? Can Harvard take down Princeton in Jadwin for the first time since the Game Boy was released? Will Cornell get its second win against Division I competition? What DOES the fox say?
However, I want to take this space to tackle a more important basketball question: Why is there no basketball Beanpot?
On a campus with the most varsity sports in the country, it is easy to overlook the achievements of certain teams. For example, let’s take a random team—call it Harvard team X—and let’s look at what it’s done in the past couple seasons.
Team X won an Ivy League title last year. A solid start in and out of the conference buoyed expectations for a team that people didn’t expect to be better than last year’s squad.
Cinderella is leaving Salt Lake City battered, bruised, and—in the case of freshman point guard Siyani Chambers—without one of her teeth. After a shocking 68-62 victory over New Mexico on Thursday, the story was very different for the Crimson Saturday night against the Arizona Wildcats in a 74-51 loss.
Playing junior tennis in Texas, I vividly remember a stretch my sophomore year of high school where in nine of 10 tournaments—spanning almost three-quarters of a year—I lost in the second round every time. Although very different sports across the board, watching the Crimson Saturday I saw a lot of same the problems.
For Harvard coach Tommy Amaker, drawing the University of New Mexico in the NCAA tournament is a flashback his senior year of college. The national Defensive Player of the Year, Amaker was the lone starter returning from a Duke squad that made the tournament final in 1986. Back before Duke was Duke, with Blue Devil coach Mike Krzyzewski not yet the household name he would become, Amaker played a starring role for the 1987 Duke squad.
In the tournament, Duke easily advanced in its first two games, dispatching Texas A&M, 58-51, and Xavier, 65-60, to reach the Sweet Sixteen. There, awaiting Amaker and the Blue Devils, was current New Mexico coach and Indiana Hoosier guard Steve Alford. Alford had averaged 22 points a game for Bob Knight’s Hoosiers and would go on to lead the team to a national championship that year, topping Amaker’s squad, 88-82, in their clash.
This team was supposed to be defined by the scandal.
This team’s only senior averaged sixteen minutes a game last year.