After years of debating and voting on the efficacy of an Ivy League Tournament, the first one is in the books.
And it certainly has engendered much discussion amongst the Ivy faithful, given its prominence on the ESPN family of networks this past weekend (ESPNU for the semifinals and ESPN2 for the final).
From a national perspective, not so much, despite the fact that the venerable college basketball writer John Feinstein was one of the media members in attendance for the Saturday session. With that said, here is an attempt to grade the event in different categories:
Venue: How can anyone quibble with the Palestra? It is the best basketball facility in the Ivy and one of the five best in the country, when one includes Hinkle Fieldhouse, Madison Square Garden, Pauley Pavilion and Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Ivy staff did its best to cover up many of the Penn logos, but all the banners in the rafters made it clear that Penn has a distinct presence in the facility.The Palestra looked very spiffy and neat, to say the least.
Press treatment: The media room was as stocked with food and press materials as any of the top media rooms in the country. The interview area was a perfect size and the staff was very helpful and knowledgeable.
Fairness: Now we get into a more dicey area.
On Saturday, the facility was almost filled, despite student spring breaks. With that, Penn claimed about 50 percent of the fans, Princeton 35 percent, Yale 10 percent and Harvard five percent. More Princeton fans showed up than any other student group. Penn and Princeton marketed the event quite well to students and alumni.
The fairness factor really didn’t impact the Saturday games, with the obvious caveat that if Penn had hit a free throw and won in regulation, then the Ivy would have sent either Yale or Penn to the NCAA Tournament and would not nearly have been represented by the best team in the league, Princeton.
Yale was at a decided disadvantage both in time to prepare and fan presence on Sunday at noon, with Daylight Saving Time being a factor. There is no reason why the games could not have been played on Friday and Sunday or Thursday and Saturday, as one former Ivy administrator suggested. Perhaps a few less fans would have shown up on a Thursday or Friday, but the teams would have been better rested for the tournament final and the NCAA turnaround.
There is no Ivy facility better than the Palestra and the only other facility big enough to house the crowds would be Jadwin. Plus, there is far more to do in Philadelphia than in Princeton.