The mood in Jadwin Gymnasium last evening as the Tigers squared off against the Columbia Lions was different than usual, almost subdued. Perhaps it was the miserable weather, or perhaps it was the prospect of a meaningless game against the cellar-dwelling Lions.
In reality, the distracted atmosphere in the building was the product of the minute-by-minute developing story of the nationwide spread of the coronavirus, which has now reached the east coast and central New Jersey.
The game itself did little to divert the attention of the crowd as the Tigers beat the Lions with relative ease, 81-58. In the first seven minutes the Tigers flattened the floundering Lions, 16-4. At the half the Tigers doubled up the visitors, 42-21. Princeton (14-12, 9-4 Ivy) continued to pour it on in the second period, as Henderson was able to clear his bench. When the clock mercifully ran out the Tigers had scored 81 points, 45 of which were produced by a season-high 15 made three-pointers. In all five players reached double figures: Jaelin Llewellyn (12), Drew Friberg (11) Richmond Aririguzoh (10, including 4-for-4 from the field) and Ryan Langborg (10). Overall, the Tigers shot 50% from the field and grabbed 40 rebounds.
The Lions (6-23, 1-12) played like a team knowing they would not have to practice any more this season. Of their 58 points, the redoubtable Mike Smith scored 27. He will be taking his talents to another Division I program next year as he is eligible for a graduate year any place other than the Ivy League.
Reaching my hotel shortly after 9:00, I noticed immediately something amiss. Usually a hotbed of social activity on weekends, the parking lot was nearly empty. The only person in the cocktail lounge was Frank, the bartender, who fortunately had an ample supply of ice cubes. He told me that numerous business groups had cancelled conferences for the next two weeks and the Friday night comedy show, usually a sell out, drew at most 20 people.
The status of next week’s Ivy League Tournament is very much in doubt at this moment, although no announcements have been made by the league office. Harvard University yesterday released a memo to the University community advising that its personnel avoid crowds of more than 100. The NBA has floated the possibility of games without fans. At least one college basketball playoff game, a Division III contest at Johns Hopkins will be closed to the public.
Each day, almost each hour, brings news of the continuing spread of the virus across the United States. The nature and extent of the outbreak may not be known for many weeks, if not months. The President’s hunch that the death rate will be much lower than the medical and scientific community has estimated is hardly reassuring. His desire that the passengers onboard a quarantined luxury cruiser moored near San Francisco remain there in order to avoid “the numbers doubl(ing)”
is a perfect example of leadership in failure. In fact, the administration’s efforts to deflect and misinform the public have been exceeded on the international scene only by the Iranian government.
We can say that the Tigers will conclude the regular season on Saturday evening against one of the Tigers’ all time greats, Brian Earl and the Cornell Big Red. The annual senior night festivities will honor Richmond Aririguzoh, Jose Morales and the often injured Will Gladson. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Both Tiger teams will suit up next weekend in Cambridge. The men will face the host Harvard Crimson as either a No. 2 or No. 3 seed, depending upon the outcome of tonight’s Yale-Harvard game.