Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Deep Breath

TigerBlog has two more thoughts about the Super Bowl.

First, Katy Perry was pretty good, even if she's not TB's favorite singer. TigerBlog isn't a huge fan of the over-the-top Super Bowl halftime show - now copied by just about every one of the top sporting events in the country except the NCAA men's lacrosse final - though he gets that it's not going away anytime soon. And Perry was fine.

Second, back to that last call. TigerBlog firmly believes that the two biggest downfalls of most coaches on that level are 1) ego and 2) credit vs. blame.

If Seattle gave the ball to Marshawn Lynch and he ran it in (or if he tried twice and couldn't get in and Seattle lost), then nobody is going to say a word about the play call. It'll be all about the defense of the Patriots.

If the slant pass is complete for the winning touchdown, then what is the narrative? What a genius Pete Carroll is. He threw it when everyone was expecting the run. Pete Carroll. Super genius.

The more that TB thinks about it, the more he thinks that was what Carroll was actually thinking when he gave away a Super Bowl.

Okay, enough about that.

Let's talk about the weekend in Ivy League basketball.

And let's start with the women.

If you go to the women's basketball page on ESPN.com right now, you'll see a rather familiar place - Jadwin Gym. Yup, there is Jadwin, with the story "The Princeton Predicament."

The story basically wonders what seed a 30-0 Princeton team would get and if that 30-0 team would be able to play at home in the NCAA tournament.

The accompanying "bracketology" has Princeton at home, right here in Jadwin Gym. It has the Tigers as a sixth seed, hosting No. 11 Northwestern, with Albany and Louisville also here.

So let's all close our eyes and imagine Jadwin Gym with those four teams here for the NCAA tournament next month. How cool would that be?

It makes TigerBlog wonder how many people would be here. Would it fill the building? Unlikely. But still, it would be one of the best events Princeton would have hosted in all the time he's been around.

Okay, now let's all open our eyes and take a deep breath.

Right now, Princeton is 3-0 in the Ivy League and 19-0 overall. The Tigers are ranked 18th in the AP poll and 21st in the coaches' poll, and they came off of a 20-day exam break to beat Harvard by 50 and Dartmouth by 18. 

They are clearly putting together something special here.

On the other hand, here's the deep breath part. Right now, Princeton is 3-0 in the Ivy League. Yale is 4-0. Penn is 3-1 - but the Quakers are the defending champion and a team that turned a 31-point loss to Princeton in the Ivy opener last year into an 16-point win over Princeton in the season finale. Cornell - here Saturday after Columbia comes to Jadwin Friday - only has one loss in the league as well.

Yes, Princeton will be favored in every game the rest of the way. But there are a lot of nights left, including, in all probability, one or two on which shots won't be falling. Then what?

And how about this? Even if Princeton thumps everyone between now and March 10, what if Penn does the same? What if that last game is a 13-0 Princeton team against a 12-1 Penn team? That would be extraordinary.

TigerBlog's point is that it's a bit too early to stamp 30-0 and home for the NCAA tournament in stone. On the other hand, it's not too early to enjoy what this team is doing and how it's doing it.

So get to Jadwin this weekend and see it for yourself.

Then there's the men's race.

Yale is also 4-0 on the men's side, followed by 3-1 Harvard and 2-1 Princeton. Columbia and Cornell, who host Princeton this weekend, are both 2-2.

Princeton had a frustrating 75-72 loss to Harvard Friday night in a game that seemed like it was between three and eight points the whole way. Princeton spent the whole night, as TigerBlog thought during the game, "pushing the rock up the hill," or, as Ben Hazel said after, "chasing its tail."

Watching the game Friday night, TigerBlog couldn't help but think about how young Princeton is (with a freshman, three sophomores and a junior in the starting lineup and more freshmen and sophomores who have played key roles at times. TB does want to say that Hazel, a senior whose playing time was limited in the beginning of the year, has really come on strong of late.

Harvard's starting five against Princeton included two seniors and two juniors, and it would have had another senior had Kenyatta Smith not been hurt. That's a big plus.

TigerBlog is interested in the Harvard-Yale score Saturday night in New Haven. A Yale win would be huge, as Harvard would suddenly be two back and in need of help to get back in the race. A Harvard win restamps the Crimson as the favorite.

And Princeton? What Princeton can do now is sweep this weekend on the road and be part of a three-team pack at the top as the league race nears the midway point.

There's a long way to go in both races. It's not too early to talk about 30-0, but it is too early to expect that it will definitely happen. On the other hand, it's too early to say that men's race is just Harvard and Yale.

Deep breaths, everyone.

No comments: