Friday, March 7, 2014

Endless Winter

It was at this time a week ago that the greater Princeton metropolitan area was bracing for yet another winter storm. This one was supposed to be a bad one, with 10-14 inches of snow expected Sunday into Monday.

Everywhere TigerBlog went, the weather again was dominating the conversation. How much more would there be for this endless winter, as opposed to the much more preferable Beach Boys album, "Endless Summer."

Think about the differences between the two. "Endless Summer" conjures up thoughts of the beach, the sun, warmth, fun, surfing, beautiful sunsets over gentle evening oceans - all of it.

The album by the Beach Boys was originally released in 1974 and is something of a greatest hits album. And oh are there great hits on it.

Consider some of the 21 songs: "Surfin' Safari," "Surfer Girl," "The Warmth of the Sun," "Surfin' USA," "In My Room," "I Get Around," "Don't Worry Baby," "California Girls," "You're So Good To Me," "All Summer Long" and "Good Vibrations."

TigerBlog is a huge Beach Boys fan and has always been, going back to his first two favorite bands, the Beatles and the Beach Boys. He had already memorized several Beach Boys songs before he ever head of Bruce Springsteen.

There's always been something great about the images TB gets from the Beach Boys and their music, even if it is California and not the Jersey Shore.

You can contrast that with endless winter, which features blackened snow that has seemed to be lingering forever. And this was before the foot or so that was supposed to come down Sunday night.

When TB woke up Monday, he expected to find an email from the gregarious Dan Day, who has been sending out the messages to the waiting University community of yet another snow day. TB figured it would be at least a delayed opening.

But nope. Nothing from Dan.

Then he looked out the window and saw a small coating of snow, barely covering the ground. Maybe there was an inch. It was hardly worth shoveling, though TB did. And, for about the 10th time this endless winter, he wondered if he was putting the shovel down for good.

This week was clear and cold, but no new snow showed up. Today's high is supposed to be 42 - which means you have no excuse not to come see Princeton-North Carolina men's lacrosse at 5:30 on Sherrerd Field - with the 50s expected this weekend and early next week, with a high of 57 come Tuesday.

Is winter ending? Hopefully.

Of course the 10-day forecast does list highs dropping into the 30s at the end of next week, but who knows. Maybe, just maybe, the worst of it is over.

It's very possible that this has been the worst winter that TigerBlog can remember. Maybe there were some that were worse, but he can't really remember too many of them.

It's just in time too. The winter athletic season is winding down, and the spring season has seen teams spending way too much time either stuck indoors or heading out into brutal conditions to practice.

This weekend is the last weekend of travel-partner basketball in the Ivy League. It's also the weekend that conference tournaments start to heat up.

The Ivy League has something much better.

On the men's side, Yale hosts Harvard tonight, where a win would give the Crimson the outright league title. On the other hand, a Yale win would put a ton of pressure on the Crimson tomorrow night, when they play at Brown while Yale hosts Dartmouth.

Maybe it will go to the final night, with Harvard in need a win to avoid a one-game playoff. Or Harvard will earn it on the second-place team's home court in Game 13 of 14.

Either way, a legitimate champion is being crowned.

The women's side is even more dramatic, and it could actually present Jadwin Gym with something it's never seen before.

Right now, Princeton and Penn are tied for first at 9-2, followed by 9-3 Harvard. Princeton and Penn host 6-6 Cornell and 3-9 Columbia, while Harvard is home for Yale and Brown.

Both Princeton and Penn can be kicking themselves for losing to a team near the bottom of the standings, as Penn lost at Dartmouth and Princeton lost last Saturday at Brown. Both losses were somewhat stunning, though they fall into the category of "when shots fall or don't fall."

Imagine for a minute that those had been opening round Ivy League tournament games. Would that have made any sense at all, to eliminate two teams that battled all year for a championship because of one bad night? 

As it turned out, neither team can be all that upset, since both have the one big upset. Had they both won, the situation would still be the same as it is now, other than the fact that Harvard would be mathematically eliminated were Princeton and Penn both 10-1. Harvard, in fact, is 8-0 against the rest of the league and 1-3 against Princeton and Penn.

Should Princeton and Penn sweep this weekend, then Harvard would in fact be eliminated, even if the Crimson also sweep. And should Princeton and Penn sweep, then there would be something Tuesday in Jadwin that the building has never seen in its nearly 45 years:

A winner-take-all regular season finale.

It's never happened in the building for the men or the women. There have been plenty of win-or-there-will-be-a-playoff, but there's never been winner-take-all.

Of course, there's no guarantee that there will be one Tuesday night either, when Penn is at Princeton at 5:30 for the women and 8 for the men. Hey, shots could fall and not fall again.

If it comes to it, though, Tuesday would be a huge one, an exciting one.

And, because there's no tournament, a legitimate one.

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