a PAW web exclusive column by Wes Tooke '98 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
March 13, 2002:
Off the rim
The basketball team inspires another rant . . .
Yale? I mean, seriously. Yale? Of all the 200-odd Division I men's
basketball teams in the country, Princeton has to have its NCAA
Tournament hopes ended by a bunch of purple-clad preppies who (worse
yet) are going to outwork, outhustle, outmuscle, and just generally
take us behind the outhouse to the tune of 76-60? Are you kidding
I hardly know where to begin. It's a one-game playoff against Yale
at the Palestra for the right to play Penn for the automatic NCAA
bid, and roughly 50 Princeton undergraduates bother to make the
hour drive south to Philadelphia. Once again, are you kidding me?
I mean, what was the big conflict in Princeton, New Jersey, on a
Thursday night? Were they screening back-to-back episodes of "Survivor"
at the Student Center? Was Tiger Inn serving free milk and cookies?
Did the Student Government enlist Yanni for a special one-night-only
The game itself was even more pathetic than the undergraduate student
body. Princeton managed to be down 37-25 at the half a couple
of years ago Yale used to think it had been a pretty good outing
if they managed 37 points in a game. But being behind by 12 paled
beside the fact that the boys-in-purple were outrebounding us 22
to 6. Once again (and I hate to belabor this point) we're talking
about YALE. Not Kansas. Not Maryland. Not even Holy Cross or University
of Nebraska-Cow Lick. $#*% Yale.
If I had been coach Thompson, I would have pulled a full Bob Knight
in the locker room. I would have pounded the blackboard, strangled
a power forward, and screamed: "Am I going to have to sit around
here for the next nine months knowing that our season ended with
a loss to Yale? I'm not going to let you people do that to me!"
And when I let them out of the locker room and they promptly let
the Yale lead swell to 48-30, I would have tossed a chair, gotten
ejected, thrown a section of the bleachers, and then delivered a
long, rambling, obscenity-laden post game rant.
But Thompson is a gentleman, and he stuck around to watch the whole
game. And now we're faced with that impossible and timeless question:
Can I root for Penn in the NCAA Tournament and still respect myself
in the morning. I understand that I ought to root for the Ivy team
both to protect our automatic bid and to ensure higher seeds
in the future but rooting for Penn is like watching the history
channel and hoping that the Nazis can break through at the Battle
of the Bulge. It just goes against nature. Furthermore, it pains
me just to watch a team as stupid as Penn. Talk about a waste of
we're talking about a squad that managed to annihilate
Princeton twice (and they beat us as badly as one basketball team
can beat another) yet managed to lose three (three!) games in the
Meanwhile, the Tigers are trotting off to the NIT to play a filthy
Louisville program led by the insufferable Rick Pitino. (An aside
to English majors: Has there ever been a worse book in world history
than Pitino's screed on how to be a winner? Discuss.) But no matter
how poorly that game or any game after it goes Tiger
fans can console themselves with the fact that the last game of
the season will not, in fact, be a loss to a team clad in purple.
We can breathe again.
You can reach Wes at email@example.com