Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and of course all our readers who eschew the gender binary!
We're wrapping up the regular season here in New York with an evening visit to Levien Gymnasium on the grounds of Columbia University, where the Lions hope to spoil the heretofore undefeated season of the Princeton Tigers. As is customary when chronicling the athletic endeavors of the Ancient Eight, your intrepid blogger will attempt to elevate the level of her writing to suit the academic excellence of these two schools.
We're up in row Q at Levien, having been assigned to the Princeton side of the court. It's already bustling half an hour before tip. There are a lot of people in orange and black, and a lot of alumni showing their pride.
I believe several members of Leslie Robinson's family, including her father, have joined us this evening. Since security hasn't been amped up and I haven't been strip-searched, I'm assuming Aunt Michelle will not be coming.
The Columbia band has chosen to wear their most formal gear for this game. I suppose that makes sense. You dress up for Saturday night, right? I don't understand the pink foam whales people are wearing on their heads, though.
Columbia's Senior Day preparations include balloons in the shape of the seniors' numbers. For some reason, the jerseys are also reversed. Perhaps that reflects Columbia's awareness that Princeton fans are likely to outnumber Columbia fans.
I love the faded shadow effect of the inlaid center court logo, though the giant trademark symbol detracts from the effect.
There is a young woman in a Harvard sweatshirt in the Princetonian section. Lost, related, or just trolling?
After a short disappearance, the Columbia band has marched into the gym. Bonus points for the violin.
Very sweet of the announcer to take the time to introduce each member of the color guard.
At halftime, Princeton is up 36-23, but the Tigers have underwhelmed against a Lions team that's in transition from Nixon's seniors to Glance's recruits. Blake Dietrick leads the Tigers with 11, while Tori Oliver leads the Lions with 10.
The Princeton fans have flags, but have mostly been quiet, except for the older gentleman next to us who's enjoying the game quite a bit.
Princeton turned up the defense in the second half, but they did not look like a team that could threaten in the NCAA tournament tonight, nor did they look like a team that's undefeated. Ominous for the road ahead.
The Tigers went deep into their bench in the second half, so we got to see a fair number of their reserves. Leslie Robinson was physical, as well as foul-prone (though in her defense, one of those calls was a very poor one). Vanessa Smith showed some pretty moves on the inside and facilitated the fast break. Taylor Williams played long stretches in the second half and couldn't quite take that next step in the post- lots of foul trouble, especially on the defensive end. Mariah Smith made some nice defensive plays.
I love, love, love the way Michelle Miller reads the ball off the rim on missed jumpers. She tracked long rebounds really well. Amanda Berntsen is super fast- she accelerated and attacked beautifully. Annie Tarakchian came through with threes at the right time and smashed a second half block so fierce that one of the Princetonians behind me was impelled to scream, "NOT IN MY HOUSE!" (I did have to remind him that this was, in fact, not his house.) She's sneaky good on the glass, too. Alex Wheatley had shots on the inside that she should have hit, but she was solid down low overall. Blake Dietrick was very impressive, showing speed and solid game management. I suspect she was in with the deep reserves to keep them from running up the score- Princeton was looking to keep scoring until the last few seconds, though they did run clock. I like her all-around game.
Princeton ran a motion offense that showed flashes of pure beauty, and was sticky on defense, switching between a tight man and a zone.
Jillian Borreson's brief appearance was at the end of the first half- I think Stephanie Glance was using her for a little height. Camille Zimmerman showed speed and mobility for a big player- the guy behind us (who I think was a youth coach) was really impressed with her. I question her ball security, though. Columbia got unremarkable minutes from their bench, for the most part- better than I would have expected from their record, but not statistically relevant.
Campbell Mobley got the start because it was Senior Day, and that's pretty much all we saw of her. Miwa Tachibana also didn't start the second half after starting the game- the tiny guard was hot from the field, but couldn't keep up with Princeton's speed. Sara Mead found ways to get to the line and was solid for the Lions. Amara Mbionwu hit the boards, but I don't know if she was looking to shoot, or if any shots she intended to take were off offensive rebounds that she never grabbed. Tori Olvier showed some fantastic moves and was the bright light for Columbia.
Actually, that's a pretty harsh assessment. The upperclassmen on this team, for the most part, are not up to the par of Princeton or Penn, or even Yale. The underclassmen, on the other hand, show a lot of potential and stood their ground against the Tigers. I'm looking forward to a resurgence in Manhattan.
Lousy, lousy refs. No game-changing calls, but lots of bad procedural calls and no-calls. I expect refs doing Ivy games to be able to count to two.
I think Princeton was looking ahead to Penn and to the tournament. In a year or two, Columbia will make them regret that kind of attitude.