Friday, February 3, 2017

Back To Basketball

Before diving back into Ivy League basketball after a three-week absence, TigerBlog would like to talk about some broadcasters first.

Let him start with Brent Musburger, who is leaving broadcasting after more than 50 years behind the mic. How can TigerBlog best put this? Yeah. He thinks Musburger is one of the five worst broadcasters he's ever heard.

There was a time that TB liked Musburger, and that was back on the NFL Today in the 1970s. Back then, the pregame show was a half-hour, and the best part was when the camera would go to each different stadium for that day, as Musburger famously said "you are looking live ..."

Of course, that was a long time ago. Ever since, Musburger has basically ruined every game he's done that TigerBlog has tried to watch. TB would hate looking forward to seeing a game, only to find out that Musburger would be calling it.

There's so much not to like about Musburger. The main problem TB always had was with the way he just gushed over everyone and everything, one superlative after another, offering little context or, in some cases, the remotest sense that perhaps not every athlete on every team was a great human being. In fact, it's possible that when these problems manifested themselves once again with the way he praised Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon - who is seen on tape punching a woman - that hastened the end of his career. Or, it's possible that the powers that be finally realized that he was painful to listen to.

So too is another longtime staple of the airwaves, Chris Berman, a Brown alum on top of everything else. There was a time when Berman was great and creative. Then he just became his own caricature and kept going further and further down the unwatchable path. It's been years since TB hasn't simply turned off anything that involves Berman.

On the other hand, there is Anish Shroff, who works at ESPN. Shroff is a very good young broadcaster who works hard, is very prepared, has no annoying "shtick" and is very personable.

Anish was recently promoted to the top role for ESPN's national men's lacrosse broadcasts. It's an outstanding hire for the network, and lacrosse fans are lucky that they'll have Anish to listen to starting this season.

So congrats to Anish. He'll pair with, among others, Ryan Boyle, the former Princeton All-America who could be the best lacrosse announcer TB has ever heard. Then again, TB would have been able to predict that when Ryan played here. He has a great combination of overwhelming knowledge and the ability to project that knowledge to the viewer by taking the viewer inside the mind of the player in the moment as the play and the game unfold.

Okay, having said that, now it's time to get back into Ivy League basketball.

It's been about a hundred years since Princeton played a basketball game, on the men's side or the women's side. Well, actually 20 days, but you get the point.

TigerBlog pointed out on the radio during Princeton's last men's basketball game - in case you forgot, it was a 66-58 win over Yale on Jan. 14 in the second game of a doubleheader that saw the women beat Yale 74-62 - that when you're facing as long a layoff as the Princeton men and women were that you can take no momentum from what happened just before the break if you win but you could have the result of that game hanging over you the whole time if you lose.

So where are the teams now? Well, the women are home to Dartmouth tonight and Harvard tomorrow night, while the men are on the road at both. The women's games tip at 7 tonight and 6 tomorrow, while both men's games are at 7.

Tomorrow night is also National Girls and Women in Sports Day at Jadwin. Gates open at 5.

The women are 1-2 in the league, one of four teams in the league with one win. There are two others who are 2-2 (Brown and Cornell) and then two who are unbeaten, at least for a few more hours, as Harvard (4-0) is at Penn (3-0).

This, of course, is Year 1 of the Ivy League tournament, where the top four teams in the league will reach the semifinals at the Palestra in five weeks. Princeton needs to emerge from the crowded pack to get there.

One thing about the women - they have the home games this weekend and then seven of their final nine league game will be away from home.

As for the men, they are the lone Ivy unbeaten, at 3-0, followed by Harvard, Yale and Columbia, all at 3-1. Cornell, coached by former Tiger Brian Earl, is 2-2, with Brown and 1-3, Penn at 0-3 and Dartmouth at 0-4.

Clearly, the Ivy tournaments will accomplish one of the things that they are setting out to do, and that's to make the heart of the regular season more important for more teams. Whether you're pro-tournament or anti-tournament, you would have to admit that should Princeton lose to Harvard tomorrow, it's shot at finishing first in the league would basically be gone, but it's chance to finish in the top four and reach the tournament - and then possibly the NCAA tournament - would be very much alive.

On the men's side, the same applies to Penn. it's going to be hard for the Quakers to win the league; it's not far-fetched to see them make a run to the tournament, which, of course, is on their home court.

So,  again no matter what your take on it, there's no denying that there will be more games that make a real difference this year than in any other year.

Of course, for Princeton, men and women, playing any game at all right about now would be welcome. And they get to do it this weekend, 20 days after they last played.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I once encountered Musburger when he was a spectator at the US Open at Winged Foot in the early 1980's. He had his entourage wall him off from any riff raff who might dare to engage him in conversation or, heaven forbid, ask for an autograph. I didn't care for him then as a broadcaster, for reasons you describe, and I loathed him after that episode.