Monday, February 7, 2011

One Right, One Wrong

There was something missing from the Super Bowl yesterday, and it was evident from the opening kickoff.

It just didn't feel like a Super Bowl should feel. TigerBlog's theory is that the game has been morphing for awhile into something akin to New Year's Eve and that once the moment rolls around, it's anti-climactic.

Or maybe it's because this game featured two really good teams, rather than two great teams. Or, even better, a great team against a really hot team, like when the Giants beat the Patriots a few years ago.

Or maybe there's just too much around the game - like the commercials and the halftime show - that the game itself gets overshadowed.

As an aside, TB thinks that the commercials are trying way too hard to be clever, and the result is that fewer and fewer of them are achieving the goal.

Anyway, the game yesterday was nothing special. TB spent more time thinking about the "America's Game" series version of the game than the game itself, wondering who would be on it, wondering how they'd make the game seem way better than it was.

There were many years where the Super Bowl was a blowout, but lately that's changed. In fact, close games to the end are the norm now.

But even with that, as Pittsburgh came out onto the field for the final drive with a chance to win the game, TB was, well, asleep. He woke up in time to see the Steelers fizzle, and that was that. Rather than watching any of the celebration, TB instead changed the channel just in time to hear young Henry say: "If Paulie moved slow, it's because Paulie didn't have to move for anybody."

In fact, the best part of this Super Bowl was TigerBlog's prediction from Friday, the one that read: Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 21.

TB had the right team and the right score for the winning team, and he came reasonably close to the score for the losing team. It was certainly better than last year's prediction of Colts 34, Saints 24.

It was certainly better than his prediction at the first media timeout of Friday night's Princeton-Harvard men's basketball game. At that point, Princeton trailed 12-4, and TB turned to the person next to him and said "this might not be Princeton's night."

Usually, TB isn't impressed by what happens in the first few minutes of a basketball game. The team that comes out on fire can't possibly sustain that, and in many ways, getting off to a great start can doom a team, because once the air goes out of the balloon, everything is out of whack.

A team that comes out and shoots 10 for 11 to star the game and builds a 30-12 lead after 10 minutes isn't going to score 120 points and win by 72, and when the shots start to not fall, the team with the lead often loses its confidence and instead goes into "hold on" mode.

That's not what happened in the first few minutes Friday night. Harvard came out with great intensity and just looked like it was an express train zooming through a station.

Princeton, though, spent the rest of the first half slowing the train down and scratching its way back into the game. It was 30-29 at the half after Douglas Davis was fouled shooting a desperation three just before the final buzzer and made all three shots, and then Princeton turned into the Acela to start the second half.

It took the Tigers 4:43 into the second half to from down one to up 11. At that point, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker called timeout, and Jadwin Gym erupted as loudly as it has in years and years.

Harvard managed to make a game of it, using some clutch three-point shooting in the final minute to twice make it a one-possession game, but Princeton got clutch foul shooting from Dan Mavraides and Ian Hummer to win 65-61.

The Ivy League title was hardly won by the Tigers here this weekend, not with 10 league games remaining, including all seven road games. In fact, it is somewhat amazing to think that two Division I teams (Princeton and Penn) still haven't played a league road game yet.

And, if you're a Princeton fan, you have no way of knowing if Harvard's double OT win over Penn Saturday night helps or hurts in the long run, because you don't know how either of those teams will do the rest of the way.

What you can say is that the league race appears to be between those three teams and possibly Yale, if only because the Bulldogs at 4-2 in the league have the other three at home (and Harvard at Harvard this Friday).

Of course, Princeton has a huge game tomorrow night, when Penn comes to Jadwin for the 223rd meeting in the series. A Tiger win keeps Princeton as the lone unbeaten team in the league and gives Penn a second loss; a Quaker win means three teams with one loss each and gives Princeton a loss to a team Harvard has beaten.

Still, Friday night was a great night at Jadwin, with a large, loud crowd in attendance and a big win by the home team.

It came on a night when the Tigers looked like they were about to be run out of the building, but instead it turned into a big win.

Championships - like games - aren't usually won by making an abnormally high number of shots.

They're won with toughness, the kind Princeton showed Friday night.

1 comment:

CAZ said...

Now go home and get your shine box!