A tense impatience hangs over the women's basketball team following its first Ivy and third overall loss in as many tries, 74-66, at Penn Saturday. The team has something to prove and wants desperately to prove it. It has size and talent, and seems to have desire, but so far it also has a big fat zero in the win column.
It wouldn't hurt so much if the team didn't have the potential. When you're bad--truly bad--losing can even become a source of pride. Like if you live in New Orleans you can wear a paper-bag loser mask and call your team the Aints and get a big charge out of the whole thing--really enjoy being in last place.
But the hoopsters are not ready for loser masks, not by a long shot. They know that a couple of rebounds here, a little more intensity there, and their 0-3 record could have read 3-0.
"We know we're a better team than the way we've been playing, it just seems that when we play against aggressive teams we get rattled," coach Carole Kleinfelder said yesterday, adding that "we have to start getting a little aggressive ourselves."
Rattled they were Saturday in Philadelphia. After waving goodbye to an early first-half lead, the Crimson spent the remainder of the game playing catchup ball.
But they never could catch up, thanks mostly to an uncooperative basketball. Nothing would go in. It was as though the ball had a mind of its own--as though it had money riding on the game and was determined not to let Harvard beat the spread.
Normally fine shooters like Nancy Boutillier and Janet Judge went two for 12 and two for nine, respectively, in field goals. Ann Scannell and Kate Martin--who led the hoopsters with 15 and ten points--had to make 29 field goal attempts and 13 free throws between them just to tally 35 points.
On the whole, Harvard came off with a miserable 23-per-cent shooting average, compared with the Quakers, who sunk just under half their field goals. Harvard's 28 free-throw points were all that kept it in the game.
Kleinfelder also noted sloppy play under the boards. "They were playing a spread-out game and were conceding the inside to us--we just weren't able to take advantage of it."
Although the early games have proved unsatisfactory for the hoopsters, they have ample opportunities during the remaining 20 games to turn the tide.
"It's much too early to get discouraged," Martin said yesterday, adding, however, that "We really need a win right now."
The Crimson will try to break the losing streak tonight in its home opener against Boston College.