Long ago in a black and white world, in a time before LEDs, LCDs, flat screens and the electronic mugging that is pay-per-view, big time heavyweight boxing was routinely broadcast on network television. In November 1982, Howard Cosell was the announcer for the mercilessly one-sided match between Larry Holmes and his opponent, Randy “Tex” Cobb of Philadelphia. As Cobb’s blood spattered across the screen in front of millions of Americans that night, I thought I heard Cosell utter, “Oh, this is…it’s just…it’s ‘brutilation.’”
Brutilaton. A classic Cosell malapropism which I think means both brutal and mutilation. (Following the bout, Cosell was so horrified by the fight that he retired from broadcasting boxing permanently.)
After watching the Quakers bludgeon their way to yet another loss against an uncharacteristically poor Villanova squad, I thought of Cosell’s manufactured word. It was indeed
brutilation. They brutalized the Wildcats while mutilating the game. It didn’t even look like basketball. (The cheesy smugness of the announcers didn’t help either. “Well Ross, this game has taken almost as long as one in the NFL, two hours and thirty two minutes. I’m gonna miss my train.”) Another painful contest in which my beloved Quakers struggled mightily with field goal percentage, poor defense, turnovers and, of course, fouls. Penn is now in the top five nationally in committing fouls. They almost beg the opposition to don suits of armor before taking the court. (However, Henry “The Hatchet Man” Brooks somehow made it through Saturday evening’s contest without his usual DQ. I suppose during a season like this, one must be thankful for the little things.) Worse still, with Fran Dougherty the sole shining light in this awkward and ungainly season effectively neutralized over the last few games, no one has stepped up to fill the yawning scoring vacuum. The entire team plays but no one scores. There are obviously big problems everywhere and I’m exhausted just thinking about them, so where are we now that Ivy play is less than one month away?
I have seen most of The League play so far this year and with the exception of the Crimson, I think I am being extremely generous in saying that overall it is an extremely unpolished group. (BTW, to all the Cornell fans who still think it’s 2010: Wake up Dudes, you”re no longer the 90 lb. mathlete who hooked up with the hot blonde cheerleader on prom night. The pink post orgasmic haze should have cleared by now. Let’s start dealing with reality. The Sweet Sixteen was almost three years ago. Jeff Foote is now playing for the Azerbaijan Llama Jockeys. Things have changed. Now you’re a big fat, 50 year old accountant with a wife, a mortgage and three kids. Let it go already!) In this instance, the Quakers have an excuse; they’re essentially playing with a glorified high school team every time they take the floor. Princeton may be one of the tallest teams in the nation, but Penn is one of the youngest—no seniors, five juniors (most of whom are role players). Even the sophomores, because of injury or roster depth, barely saw any action last year. Also, unlike some of the freshman players on Yale, Brown and Columbia, none of the Penn frosh has distinguished himself as completely ready for the college game. So as shot after shot clangs off the rim and opposing players head