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Somewhere deep in the heart of New Jersey, Princeton men's basketball Coach Pete Carril will be snickering today when he opens his sports page and checks out the Harvard Brandeis result.
He'll see the final score--Harvard 52, Division III Brandeis 46--and he'll smile, lean back and think, "It's the same old Harvard team after all. The same one that lost its home opener last season to New Hampshire by 19. This time around, they couldn't even handle a school from that 'powerful' league, the UAA [University Athletic Association]."
Rumours were circulating around the Ivies that Carril and the Tigers--who have won four Ivy titles in the 1980s, including last year--may be heavily challenged this year by Dartmouth and Harvard. But the Crimson barely beat Brandeis on its home court last night.
And the low score indicates that the Judges managed to take the Crimson out of its favorite fast-tempo style of play. "Perfect," thinks the Princeton mentor, who's reknowned for his ability to win games with inferior talent by slowing the tempo of the game down to a pace that wouldn't allow even Bob Hope to lose his breath.
Challenge...what challenge? Harvard isn't any challenge.
He'll snicker, alright. But maybe he'll take a little closer look at the boxscore and his snicker will begin to wane. He'll notice Harvard's leading scorer, Ron Mitchell, pumped in 17 points--on 8-for-13 shooting from the field--and pulled down seven rebounds. He'll see that Mitchell took charge of last night's game. And in the back of his mind, he'll remember Mitchell as the "recruit that got away" two years ago.
Maybe Carril will notice that the Crimson actually trailed by six points at halftime, and then turned around and outscored the Judges, 33-21, to pull out the victory. "Hummm, pretty impressive for a team that would fold after falling behind in the first half last year," Carril might think, no longer sporting that snicker.
He might notice Harvard Co-Captain Fred Schernecker was only 2-for-9 from the field last night and scoff. But then he might notice in the description of the game that it was Schernecker's three-point jumper with two minutes remaining in the game that gave the Crimson a comfortable six-point margin.
"Hmmm, very impressive for a player struggling from the field to hit a clutch shot," Carril might mutter under his breath, now frowning. "The Crimson always seemed to miss the big shots at the end of the game last year."
Carril might be surprised at the pleased words of Harvard Coach Peter Roby and Roby's repeated allusions to Princeton.
"I'm really pleased with the way the game went," Roby said after last night's game. "That helps us against Princeton. It just shows our guys that when teams try to slow it down and you're relentless with your pressure, you can get them to crack."
Carril might blanch a little if he reads that. Or this.
"There were only a couple of times when we forced it, and that comes from frustration because they want to get it going," Roby added. "Those are things we can point out on film and learn from. That's what happens against Princeton. You have to beat them down the floor."
And Carril might close his paper and think about what he's going to say to his team at practice today. Maybe it'll go something like this, "Guys, we've got a lot of work to do before the Ivy season starts. We have to prepare for Penn, Dartmouth, Yale...(pause)...and Harvard."
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