A View from Antiquity: Quaker Fans, Consider the Tiger

The following essay appeared in the IHO Mailbox yesterday. The author of this piece is not affiliated with Ivy Hoops Online, but we always welcome and encourage outside contributors and readers to share their opinions and thoughts. 

What could drive a Penn fan to pull for their hated rivals? Harvard, it seems. (Photo Credit: penngazettesports.com)

By The Ancient Quaker

Ladies and gentleman of Pennsylvania do not hate me. I am as loyal and grateful a Quaker as any of you. I donate generously to the annual giving, married a woman with more Penn degrees than Amy Guttmann, and even named one of my sons Benjamin after our great founder. (We didn’t really name him after Big Ben but you catch my drift.) So why would I ever root for the hated and haughty Tigers and their Mickey Mouse Halloween colors?

Allow me to explain.

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Crimson Clip Hawks in Comeback Win

Kyle Casey scored 20 second half points to help Harvard overcome a double-digit halftime deficit against St. Joe's. (Photo credit: thecrimson.com)

After Saturday’s 74-69 win over St. Joes, Harvard assistant coach Yanni Hufnagel tweeted, “Best win I’ve been a part of. Period.” That statement—surprising as it is coming from a coach who’s helped engineer 56 wins for the Crimson—conveyed how richly satisfying the comeback against the Hawks was.

In a game reminiscent of last year’s 24-point comeback against Brown, Harvard withstood an unreal shooting display in the first half (19 of 24 from the floor, six of nine from deep). St. Joe’s guards Carl Jones and Langston Galloway and forward CJ Aiken had their way with the Crimson defense early on. Many of the buckets were the result of good offense (it seemed like the Hawks had success with post ups and kick outs in their four-out, one-in sets that dragged Keith Wright out on the perimeter), but more than a few just had me shaking my head in disbelief (long, turnaround jumpers from Jones were particularly crushing).

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Department of Redundancy: Harvard Beats BC

Laurent Rivard led the way with 18 points, as the Crimson picked up a road win at Boston College for the fourth straight year. (Photo credit: thecrimson.com)

Everyone was surprised that Conte Forum sold out. Generally, the only traveling acts that fill the stands at BC are UNC and Duke. But curiosity got the best of the Eagle faithful, and they came out in droves to see their surprisingly capable neighbors from Cambridge take the court.

It made for a weird atmosphere. The Eagles are a bad basketball team; a kick to the teeth is just too inevitable for fans to muster much enthusiasm. Still, a 14-3 run to start the game brought some life to the crowd. I left for a few minutes with BC leading 20-11 to give a ticket a friend, and when I got back to my seat, the score was tied.

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Common Opponents Analysis (Updated 1/4/12)

The transitive property is not the most reliable method for comparing teams, so despite what Elon says, we're not ready to put Dartmouth ahead of Princeton in our Power Poll.

With about six weeks of play in the books, we thought it was time to look back at the league”s common opponents to see if we could glean any knowledge from what”s happened on the court so far. Everyone knows that the transitive property carries limited weight in sports, but it”s still interesting to see how a team fares against multiple conference foes. Without further ado…

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Reconciling a Moral Victory: Penn State 74, Cornell 67

Cornell lost another close game to a Big Ten opponent, but we learned a lot about the Big Red's depth going forward. (Photo Credit: centredaily.com)

Let me preface this by saying, I’m tired of moral victories. I can deal with them to a point, but after that line is crossed, it’s just an excuse for not finishing games. Illinois and Penn State are not your typical opponent on an Ivy League schedule, I get that. However, once the ball is tipped, it doesn’t matter what name is on the front of the jersey. What I saw was two winnable basketball games.

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Cornell Finds Its Defensive Identity in Illinois

Stifling defense and opportunistic shooting almost led Cornell to a victory over Illinois. Can the Big Red repeat that formula to find success against their Ivy foes? (Photo Credit: baynews9.com)

There isn’t a player in the Ivy League that can break down a defense like Brandon Paul and simultaneously shoot over any guard at 6″ 4″. There also isn’t a player that can shoot the three-pointer from thirty feet and possesses the ability to go by you with a lightening quick first step like D.J. Richardson.  There definitely isn’t a player in the Ivy League like Meyers Leonard who is over seven-feet tall and also has range that extends near the three-point line and a solid back-to-the-basket game befitting a potential NBA lottery pick.

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Tweet of the Week

In this series, we examine the wisest, most insightful, and profound Twitter musings of our favorite Ivy scholars who also happen to play basketball.

The line between a brilliant idea and an obvious one is tenuous. You can chase a supposedly smart thought around your brain only to look up and realize that

somewhere you crossed the line into stupidity. It happens all the time, and this week it happened to Harvard freshman Wes Saunders.

The nature of language has long fascinated scholars like Wes: how does air manipulated by our mouths into sound waves transform into meaning? How is this the case in every corner of the word? Linguistics, which served as a launching point for the careers of such luminaries as Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker, brushes up against every discipline from philosophy to sociology. It is so fundamental to our lives that we hardly ever think about it. Thankfully, we have Wes to remind us of language’s awesome power. 

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IHO's Mid-December Power Poll

Harvard coach Tommy Amaker is probably dancing because his team is #1 in IHO's first Power Poll of the season. (Photo Credit: AP)

Welcome to the first IHO Power Poll (based on games through 12/16/11). Please note that these rankings are based off of our best guesses of how the Ivy League picture will sort itself out. We always love to hear your gripes and whines in the comments below.

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Yale Mid-December Evaluation or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bulldogs

Yale fans may have been frustrated after the loss to Quinnipiac, but the Bulldogs have pulled it together and chalked up five wins in a row behind Mangano, Willhite, and Morgan.
“……if we was flying any lower why we'd need sleigh bells on this thing… but we got one little budge on them Rooskies. At this height why they might harpoon us but they dang sure ain't gonna spot us on no radar screen!”

When Major T.J. King Kong said those words back in 1964, it's likely he wasn’t referring to the 2011-12 Yale men's basketball team. That said, if any team is flying way under the radar, but quietly performing up to the high expectations presented to them, it is Coach Jones' Yale Bulldogs.

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Piece by Piece, Cornell Slowly Putting It Together

Coach Bill Courtney has to be pleased with what he has seen from his previously unproven squad. The Big Red are 3-4 with a couple of nice wins heading into the Finals layoff. (Photo Credit: syracuse.com)

“We’re building something here. We’re building it from scratch. All the pieces matter,” Lester Freamon proclaimed to Prez in HBO’s hit series, The Wire. “All the pieces matter,” a simple adage, rings true with what Head Coach Bill Courtney is trying to accomplish with his young team; a team that builds, day by day, game by game. The 13-day intermission between Cornell’s win over Lehigh and its matchup with Albany on Friday night comes at the perfect time. Courtney has a chance to slow down, take a step back and use what he has learned over the team’s first seven games to grow.

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