Around the Ivies: The Ballad of Touchdown the Bear

My apologies, dear reader: there is simply too much to say about Ivy basketball this week to give you anything more than a pithy introduction. Harvard and Yale are tied at the top of the league, Brown, Princeton, and Columbia, are still in the mix, and the Crimson travel to the Killer P’s this weekend. I’m interested to see what the headline guy or gal comes up with for this—how about “Writer, Though Handsome, Neglects Duty”? That ought to work. Onto the games.


This should be a fun one. Columbia forward Alex Rosenberg is coming off of a 53-point weekend, including a career night against Harvard in which he put up 34 in a double-overtime loss. The Ivy League’s second-leading scorer, Brown guard Sean McGonagill, has slowed down a bit, going eight-for-30 in two games last weekend, but at least we know he won’t be shy. I’m hoping for some reckless threes and lots of points.

Pick: Brown



I have never been to Penn’s home arena, the Palestra, and if I were to inform a veteran college basketball writer of that fact, I would inevitably get some variation of the following:

[Writer swivels head, checking suroundings; takes massive backward step to clear space; waves all limbs in a counterclockwise spiraling motion] “You haven’t been to the PALESTRA?! You HAVE to go to the Palestra! I mean, my God, it’s the PALESTRA!”

The Palestra—known as “the Cathedral of College Basketball”—occupies a special place in college basketball lore because of the uniqueness of its structure and the fact that it is nearly 90 years old and has played host to important basketball games for just about all of its history. But my expectations have been built so high by all the gushing I’ve heard over the years that they’d have to trot out James Naismith arm-in-arm with Yoda for a pregame fête to live up to the hype.

Pick: Harvard


Hey, Cornell got its first Division I win last weekend! The Big Red nearly blew it by coughing up a 15-point lead in the space of five minutes, but it held on for a 70-67 win over Dartmouth. But have no fear: with dates against Yale and Brown this weekend, Cornell should quickly return to its getting-blown-out ways. The Bulldogs will cruise to set up their Sunday showdown with Columbia.

Pick: Yale


In considering what to say about such an inconsequential game, I am reminded of the efforts of our collegiate papers’ news sections, which occasionally are forced to use very generous definitions of “news” in order to fill up their pages. Take this story from The Daily Princetonian: “Princeton says no injuries due to ice, but students report falling.” Or as it could alternatively have been titled, “It is winter.” The recently elected President of our own paper, Samuel Y. Weinstock, also got his start tackling hard-hitting seasonal stories. In his Pulitzer-winning “Yard Services Recycle Leaves into Mulch,” Weinstock dove into the gripping underworld of regional leaf collection, even interviewing a worker “moments after climbing down a ladder from the roof of Wigglesworth Hall.” Sometimes, during a low moment, I will call to mind the image of an intrepid young Crimson reporter asking a sweaty dude on a roof if he can interview him for a story. (“And, sir, could I trouble you for that middle initial again?”) And then I will smile.

Pick: Princeton