Watching the Quakers has not been enjoyable thus far, but The Ancient Quaker is encouraging Penn

fans to be patient with this young squad.

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

one by one to the bench seeking medical attention, what’s a Quaker fan to do?


I still believe.  I don’t believe in this year, but I believe Jerome Allen knows how to coach. I believe Darien Nelson-Henry is still a stone hands donkey but is slowly morphing into a centaur. (As unsure as he looks, in my opinion, he’s still much further ahead than Fran Dougherty was as a freshman.) I believe Henry Brooks, Tony Hicks, Greg Louis and their other hack-prone teammates will finally discover their inner round ball “chi” and with this new found inner peace, cease doing their collective Ken “The Animal” Bannister impersonations. I believe someone will finally step up and once again find the sweet stroke that at one time made him a prep school star. I believe that as bad as the Quakers have been (and they’ve been bad), they still have been competitive in almost all their games. I believe that building a champion is a process and this is only the beginning. Hey, Princeton lost to a D-III school three years before winning the Ivy crown. So I believe the pieces are already there, they just need time (ample time) to be molded.

It’s probably going to be another long winter in Philly, but as Hall of Fame coach and Jerome Allen mentor Larry Brown recently said about his SMU Mustangs, “Better get us now, because in a few years we’re comin’ for ya.” (Of course, SMU is 8-1 so I’m not exactly sure what he’s referring to.) Sooner than you think, the Quakers will be coming for the League.  Then, like so many times in the past, another banner will be raised to The Palestra rafters and brutilation will have turned to celebration.

Stay Red and Blue my friends.

16 thoughts on “Brutilation”

  1. I think the rant was directed at one particularly vocal Cornell fan who– while singing the praises of Cornell this week– insisted, among other outlandish claims, that Harvard has the second-worst defense in the league. Most Big Red fans I’ve encountered have a much more realistic world view and see Cornell as a young team, not so different from Penn, but probably a year ahead in the rebuilding cycle.

  2. I think that is an unfair rant against Cornell. Clearly, the only person who believes it’s still 2010 is the Cornell Basketball Blog. Please don’t lump us all in with him.

  3. May I interject into this debate about Cornell fans who may or may not think it’s still 2010? I’m speaking from personal experience as a former 147-pound mathlete who did in fact hook up with a hot blonde cheerleader on prom night. Today, I’m not fat or an accountant, but I do qualify for Ancient Quaker’s stereotype as I am a 52-year-old carrying 182 pounds, a wife, a mortgage and a young child. Here’s a word of advice and forewarning for all those readers who are still many years away from this situation: If someday you are fortunate enough as I am to have made it to middle age (many of my friends were not), one of your primary pastimes will be reminiscing about all the hot tail you got as a younger man. Make those years count, my friends, because they’ve got to last you a long, long time.

  4. Mr. March is correct. Penn and Cornell are like the Olsen twins this year: young,unattractive and career wise both have definitely seen better days. Friends of the Big Red, I feel your pain (if you had about 21 more titles). Oh BTW, good luck with Duke.

    And To Mr. Foote….beware of saddle sores. I love you Man!

  5. I stopped checking this site just long enough to visit the fabulous new Barclays Center for something called the Winter Hoops Festival. The Fordham Rams are the latest mediocre mid-major quintet to humiliate the Tigers, who managed to squander a double digit lead in the last three minutes, a phenomenon becoming distressingly familiar to the Princeton faithful. While the AQ can look to the future, yours truly must contemplate the distinct possibility that we may be throwing away Ian Hummer’s senior season, in which he nevertheless remains the odds on favorite for the Ivy POY award. Glad you are back, AQ. You must feel that you are in a battle of wits with opponents who are unarmed! See you on January 12.

    • Yes,your squad looks bad I agree. Quite frankly the only thing that separates Harvard from the rest of The League is Siyani Chambers. Without him The Crimson look like, well, the Tigers.

      As for your witless comment, I’m not sure what you mean. But Mr. Lattin above (incidentally I believe his name is actually spelled “Latin”), seems like he’s a few beers short of six pack. Eh, state school grad. What can you say?

      The 12th then….
      The AQ

      • What would the Crimson look like but for “the scandal”? And what will they look like next season when the disgraced return to join Chambers and the blue chip big man? These are not pleasant questions to consider. Perhaps the League’s center of gravity has moved north irretrievably. For God’s sake, AQ, tell me I am wrong!!!

  6. Mr. T, IHO has vested me with enormous power so I can say this with the utmost certainty: yes,it is so.

    Please wipe your tears and may I now direct you to one of my earlier posts and you will see how I feel.

    Otherwise allow me to lend you some comfort in this season of need for both our teams. The path of righteousness is a long and tortuous one. It is often bedeviled by thoughts hopelessness and acts of impotence……ahh, who am I kidding. We’re all hosed for the foreseeable future.

    The AQ

    • The question is whether we are witnessing a tectonic shift or simply a swinging of the pendulum toward Cambridge. When the scandal hit last Spring (too late for Rosen to win a title) the conservatives at Princeton sat back and smugly declared that, having assured us Harvard’s rise was of the “flash in the pan” variety, we ought to relax,”… everything is under control.
      See what ‘creative recruiting’ hath wrought!” I took the competitive chase for last year’s crown, and Harvard’s early tournament exit, as evidence that the Crimson team was far from the League’s historic elite, that perhaps predictions of an Ivy League dynasty in the making were overblown. But the 2013-14 Crimson may set a new standard of greatness as the Quakers and Tigers are left to vie for the Trans-Delaware Trophy, henceforth to be awarded to the Ivy League runner-up. If Hummer’s father and uncle had not been Tiger heroes in their day I can’t imagine that he would have brought his ‘once in a generation’ talents to central New Jersey. Without him I would hesitate to suggest what this team might be, but consensus choice as Ivy favorite does not leap to mind. A forlorn season awaits, promising no more than joint commiseration with the AQ and two wins against Dartmouth.

      • Toothless,

        As someone who was also in attendance at the Barclays on Saturday, I understand your concern. The Tigers looked like a one-man show. The entire offense relies so heavily on Hummer and his ability to penetrate. Princeton was capable of moving the ball efficiently and getting the ball into the paint against Fordham, but the inability to finish was troubling, no doubt. They sure get blocked a lot for such a tall team. There is also a disturbing lack of quickness on this squad.

        Now here’s why you should be a little more optimistic- there’s very little speed outside of Cambridge (and Ithaca actually…) in the league. As long as Hummer stays healthy, this flawed Princeton squad should be in the mix in such a down year for the league. Let’s not forget, the Tigers lost to bad Elon, Morehead St, and Siena teams last year before cranking out 9 of 10 in league play at the end of the year; and in 2011, the Tigers fell to Presbyterian in non-conf before winning the league. All is not (yet) lost.

        • Thank you, Mr. March. I hesitate to criticize individual players (although sorely tempted) because, after all, they are kids trying like hell. Henderson has not been able to establish a consistent rotation, as the team has struggled inside and out. This week brings no relief, even with two games at Jadwin, against Rider, who did not surrender the lead last year until the end of regulation only to lose on a buzzer-beating 3 pointer in overtime, and Bucknell, perhaps the best team we shall meet all year (other than Syracuse). I fear a 4 team scramble in the Ivy League….for SECOND PLACE.

          • No, the four-team scramble for second place takes place next year.

            The 2013-14 iteration of the Harvard Crimson will look like the Wehrmacht in its 14-game home-and-home tournament against Poland, Holland, Belgium, France, Greece, Norway and the Sudetenland.

            Harvard’s biggest concern in the 2014 Ivy schedule will be keeping its cumulative margin of victory LOW enough to prevent the League from re-examining its AI policy with regard to men’s basketball.

  7. A discussion of the AI would be very worthwhile. My understanding is that a schools are free to apply the AI in any manner each deems appropriate among the sports teams in which it participates in the Ivy League, except for football. When Amaker was hired by Bob Scalise an institutional decision was made to allocate AI spots favorably to the basketball team at the expense of other sports. It would not surprise me if Cornell treated its hockey program similarly. I don’t know what the League can do, but I’d love to hear some suggestions.

    • Long term, the only stable equilibrium that I can think of is Ivy men’s basketball going to a banding system similar to what football does.

      The mechanics will be more cumbersome than with football because basketball does not have the large number of players to create one set of bands which can be applied every year in an identical fashion. Instead, basketball will probably have to implement something like this: Over the course of a four-year recruiting cycle, each school can only admit and enroll two players whose AI score is less than 180, only four players whose AI score is less than 185 and only eight players whose AI score is less than 190.

      I would designate AI slots as filled as soon as a student is admitted and enrolled. If the new system only counts players actually on the roster, there will be continuing pressure on each coach to release any low-AI player who is not performing sufficiently well on the court to tie up his AI slot. A comparable phenomenon, though exactly reverse, exists now at Harvard where high-AI boosters are admitted and enrolled but then quickly released.

      Unfortunately, treating men’s basketball as just another non-football sport for AI purposes ignors the reality that cutting corners and pushing the AI envelope has a singularly huge payoff in basketball. Treating basketball the same as squash and fencing is naive. Harvard has crossed the Rubicon and, short of an AI revision such as my idea, I doubt that Scalise and Amaker will voluntarily come back from the dark side.

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