Friday, February 14, 2014

How To Kill A Mockingbird

Miss TigerBlog's friend Sonali is the nicest kid you'll ever want to meet.

She's also among the smartest. Like MTB, Sonali is a top all-around student.

More than English or social studies, though, MTB and Sonali are math/science kids, which is always good to see among girls, who traditionally have been steered away from those areas. In fact, TigerBlog could see either one of them ultimately as a doctor or an engineer, like Sonali's dad, an engineering professor at Penn.

Of course, regardless of intelligence, every now and then everyone says something that doesn't come out right. Even TB does it, as hard as that might be to fathom.

Last Saturday night, TB was taking the two girls to Princeton to see the men's basketball game against Cornell. Along the way, they were talking about books they were reading and later would have to read, and TB mentioned "A Catcher In The Rye," which neither had even heard of yet.

This started the conversation down the path of other books that they'd come across in high school, and Sonali offered up this classic of literature: "How To Kill A Mockingbird."

As she said it, she knew there was something wrong. TB pointed out that there is no "How" in the title, and that it's a riveting story about race, not a hunter's guide.

MTB offered up her take on "How To Kill A Mockingbird" with this: "Chapter 1. Get a gun."

Anyway, Sonali is way smarter than TB ever was or will be. And she good-naturedly played along with her little editing of Harper Lee's title.

They are fairly typical middle school girls, Sonali and MTB. They love to go to the movies. They are tethered to their phones, especially Instagram. Everything to them is an inside joke.

And of course they don't want TB sitting anywhere near them at a basketball game. That's okay. TB gets it.

Princeton beat Cornell 69-48 last Saturday night, and the highlight of the game was a behind-the-back dribble/layup move by freshman Steven Cook, who came to Princeton from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill. Can you name the Princeton All-Ivy men's basketball player who also went to New Trier?

Princeton's win over Cornell was interesting in that more than half (35 of 69) of the team's points came from freshmen. Cook had 13, Spencer Weisz had a team-best 18, and Pete Miller had four.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, the game the night before didn't go as well, as Columbia rallied with two late three-pointers to defeat the Tigers by one.

This weekend, Princeton was able to get out ahead of the storm and head to New England, where they will take on Brown tonight and Yale tomorrow night.

At the same time that Princeton was beating Cornell, Yale changed the entire face of the Ivy League race with its 74-67 win at Harvard. Suddenly, instead of an undefeated Crimson team that was two games clear of the field, now there are four teams with one or two league losses.

Harvard and Yale are both 5-1, while Brown is at 4-2 and Penn 3-2.

Yale has six games between now and when it plays Harvard again on March 7. Should Yale lose a game to Harvard between now and then, it'll likely be faced with the prospect of having to beat Harvard in New Haven and then again on a neutral court in a playoff, meaning it would have to go 3-0 against the Crimson to get to the NCAA tournament.

This means that the pressure is on Yale every night, with two games against Princeton and Penn and one against Columbia and Cornell before it plays Harvard again. This is why TB loves the fact that there is no Ivy League tournament, because these games would be fairly meaningless if all that mattered was a three-day run in early March.

And yes, TB gets it that Princeton is probably out of it, with a 1-4 record, and yet would have as good a chance as anyone if there was a tournament. Still, TB loves the way the regular season means everything, rather than nothing.

Look at American, coached by Princeton alum Mike Brennan, whose assistant is fellow alum Scott Greenman. The Eagles are 11-2 in the Patriot League, tied with Boston University for first. And does it matter? Nope. Whoever wins the tournament is in the NCAA tournament. Whoever doesn't isn't. Regular season champion? So what.

By the way, neither of those two went to New Trier High School. That Princeton basketball alum is actually Rick Hielscher, a two-time first-team All-Ivy pick.

On the women's side, there is essentially a three-way tie for first, as Harvard, Princeton and Penn have one loss each (Harvard has one more win, having swept its travel partner). Yale, whom Princeton hosts tomorrow after taking on Brown tonight, has two league losses.

All three teams at the top have played each other once, and each is 1-1 against the other two. The average scoring margin of those three games, by the way, was 23.3 points.

The three go head-to-head again next weekend, when Penn is at Harvard a week from tonight and Princeton is Harvard a week from tomorrow night. Princeton ends the regular season March 11, when it again hosts Penn.

This weekend is big for a different reason, in that none of the three can afford a slip up along the way. Harvard, who beat Yale 58-57 last weekend, hosts Columbia and Cornell this weekend.

Again, the lack of a tournament makes it much better, at least for TigerBlog.

Think about how little these games would matter if it was all about seedings for a tournament.

Instead, you get incredibly important games, incredibly important possessions, every weekend.

Nobody will win an Ivy League basketball championship this weekend. It's possible someone will lose one.

1 comment:

CAZ said...

How to Kill a Mockingbird... CLASSIC!