Monday, March 7, 2016

On Carril Court

TigerBlog sat in the Jadwin Gym East stands, under the basket, at around 7 Saturday evening, as women's basketball warmups before Princeton-Dartmouth went on in front of him.

That he was able to do that at that time is a testament to all of the people who seemingly perfected the art of putting wrestling mats on the basketball court and then pulling them back off as if they were never there.

Carril Court was a busy place this weekend, with the EIWA wrestling championships and two women's basketball games.

The highlight for the Tigers at the EIWA meet was Brett Harner, who won the 197-pound championship, making Harner the first Princeton wrestler to win since Greg Parker in 2003.

In all, Princeton qualified three wrestlers for the NCAA championships, which will be held March 17-19 at the World's Most Famous Arena. That's Madison Square Garden, by the way.

Joining Harner (189) will be classmates Jordan Laster, the fifth-place finisher at 141 who will be making a second straight trip to the NCAAs, and Ray O'Donnell, the fourth-place finisher at 285 who will make his first trip.

As a team, Princeton finished fifth, its best finish since 1978. Again, TigerBlog cannot say enough about the job that Chris Ayres has done with Princeton wrestling.

Back in the arena where TigerBlog works, TigerBlog was in the East stands, marveling at how many people gave their time to turn the arena over from wrestling to basketball. He figures that it's easier to turn a building from hockey to basketball and back, since he figures that's more mechanized.

This was just about a bunch of people carrying really heavy mats around, so that Princeton could host the NCAA-qualifiers for wrestling on the last Ivy basketball weekend. The women's game Saturday was pushed to a 7:30 tip to give time for the turnover, but really the basketball game could have gone off at 6:30. That's how efficient the mat pullers were.

As an aside, longtime ticket manager Stephanie Sutton reminded TigerBlog that all basketball games - men's or women's, Fridays and Saturdays - used to start at 7:30. TigerBlog had forgotten that, though when Stephanie mentioned it, he remember the late starts and the long discussions it took to move them up.

While TigerBlog sat in the stands, he was watching a game on his phone - something that he still marvels at, by the way. The whole technology thing. Every now and then it's still fascinating to think about how much things have changed since TB first started here.

Anyway, the game he was watching was the Yale-Columbia men's basketball game.

After its loss to Harvard Friday night, Princeton's only road to the Ivy League championship required a Columbia win over Yale. The Bulldogs had already clinched at least a share of the title Friday night, but the game in New York City didn't figure to be easy.

It was the last game for Columbia's strong senior class, and it was at home. Yale, though, got out to a big early lead, and Columbia was never able to make it all the way back. Princeton hammered Dartmouth, but the championship went to Yale.

There will be no Ivy League playoff games this season.

Yale has clinched the men's championship, even before Princeton and Penn play tomorrow night. The Tigers will look to finish what has been an outstanding regular season on a high note and then hope to be in the conversation for the Ivy League's first at-large bid to the NCAA tournament or if not then the NIT.

As for the women, both Princeton and Penn won twice this weekend, against Harvard and Dartmouth, by a total of 70 points. As a result, the two enter tomorrow night's game with identical 12-1 league records.

In other words, it's winner take all.

Just for a bit of housekeeping: the women's game is at 5:30, and the men's is at 8. Both games can be seen on ESPN3.

As for what the winner is taking, that would be two huge prizes - the Ivy League championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

There has never in the entire history of Ivy League men's basketball been a winner-take-all regular-season finale. It's never happened.

The game tomorrow night will be the third WTA in Ivy League women's basketball history.

The first was in 1995, when Dartmouth defeated Harvard. The other was two years ago, when Penn defeated Princeton. Neither of those two games was close.

In the 1995 Ivy season, Dartmouth defeated Harvard twice. Two years ago, Princeton defeated Penn and then Penn won the rematch.

That's your limited historical analysis. None of it matters.

Tomorrow's game will have a playoff feel to it, obviously. The winner of the game won't be the best team in Ivy history, but the loser could make a case for being the best runner-up ever.

Not that anyone wants to be that.

After a hugely busy weekend, it'll be a huge Tuesday on Carril Court. It'll be a championship Tuesday for either the Princeton or Penn women.

Such events haven't come up too often in Ivy basketball. Make sure you don't miss it.

1 comment:

Stuart S said...


If you go back to the mid-80s, the basketball games began at 8PM--that was great for those of us who were undergraduates at the time...we could attend an 8PM game and roll out just in time to catch a 10PM movie on campus or hit the parties on the Street.

Now, with young kids with bedtimes, 8PM starts would be impossible. I am grateful for all the 6PM starts that have been on the schedule.