Hi Harvard, my name is Kevin Howard.
I remember last week that you beat Princeton at home to win a share of the Ivy League title and celebrated by storming the court. That was nice but you didn’t win your league championship outright.
You still needed a Princeton loss to Penn on Tuesday to secure that birth in the tournament for your celebration to be valid. Well look what happened.
Princeton took care of business in Philly to setup a play-in game versus you guys in New Haven, Connecticut today in just a few hours. Don’t think for a minute that Princeton forgot what happened at Cambridge last week.
As your fans stormed the court Tigers coach Sydney Johnson made his players sit on the bench and watch the celebration. He kept his team there to watch and stew at the sight of premature ecstasy.
You see Johnson knew that his team’s season wasn’t over. He knew that the Tigers next game at Penn was very winnable, as the Quakers had been suffering from an unusually lackluster season, which had the Ivy League power under .500. Your celebration was a tool that Johnson sought to use to motivate any player on his bench that felt like their season was done that afternoon.
Did it work? Early on, not really as Penn took a 4-point lead into halftime and made it an 8-point advantage early in the second half. Then Kareem Maddox took over by scoring 21points as part of a huge second half as Princeton hit the paint, got to the free throw line and buried the Quakers for good.
They showed resilience in a time of need and came through when it mattered. Maybe the were thinking about their fans in the stands being let down, maybe they saw the NCAA tournament slipping through their grasp, or maybe they thought about that sight last Saturday of one thousand Crimson fans pouring on to the floor to celebrate a title that wasn’t yet theirs.
“It was painful, real painful,’’ senior Dan Mavraldies said. “I hope they didn’t have a camera on me because I got pretty emotional.’’
Imagine the other 12 guys. Pain can be used for motivation. The common theory in pro sports is that you have to lose it before you can win it. The Pittsburgh Penguins core went through that versus the Red Wings, Jordan’s Bulls went through it against the Pistons and Princeton got a taste of it last week versus you Harvard.
So now comes today. Princeton will take the floor with the thought of last Saturday’s Jubilation in Cambridge still in their head. They will be motivated, they will be focused and they will be ticked off. Here’s hoping Harvard that your celebration wont be all for naught.
The NIT has already said there is no guarantee that the loser will make their tournament. So this really is all for nothing. Hopefully you guys truly do win the Ivy League title, because there would be nothing more embarrassing than celebrating a championship that wasn’t fully yours to begin with.