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Tuesday News:

Averaging an 18 point and 10 rebound double-double on the weekend, Ian Hummer retained Ivy League Player of the Week status.

One writer's take on Harvard's five most painful losses to Princeton.

Future Tiger Amir Bell battled through foul trouble as East Brunswick topped Trenton for the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 championship. The Bears advance to the state semis tomorrow vs. Atlantic City.

More on Princeton recruit Henry Caruso and Serra falling to Mitty in the Central Coast Section Open Division title game.

Chris Young is playing catch-up in the Washington Nationals' camp.

I don't believe I'd ever seen this picture of Princeton's bench celebrating after beating UCLA in the 1996 NCAA Tournament before.

Speaking of photos, the Associated Press has 10 of them in a collection from last Friday's game.

Coco said,

March 5, 2013 @ 10:12 am

RE: Harvard's Five Most Painful Losses

The student journalist wrote, "As he fell down to his left, [Douglas] Davis put up an off balance shot that had no right to drop."

What a difference perspective makes. Those of us who enjoyed watching DD for years would probably say that "he did it again." Granted, it was at a spectacularly important point in the game/season, but hardly what any Princetonian would call "falling down to his left." Just yet another clutch performance. Happily.

Adam Fox said,

March 5, 2013 @ 10:59 am

The student journalist also called Jeremy Lin Harvard's "best response" to Bill Bradley.

I guess its comedy hour at The Crimson.

Jon Solomon said,

March 5, 2013 @ 11:11 am

There was also a certain Crimson defender to evade...

Coco said,

March 5, 2013 @ 11:36 am

Well, as long as I am being critical, do have to wonder how # 2 & 4 made the list, in both instances, the Crimson were huge underdogs. Granted, the drubbing they took on both occasions may have been painful, but hardly surprising.

Now about their failure to win in Jadwin since 1989; in my mind, that should be very painful. Fight Fiercely, H'vahd.

Jon Solomon said,

March 5, 2013 @ 11:42 am

In 2001 the Crimson were one stop away from becoming the first Ivy team to sweep a Penn/Princeton weekend in TWELVE YEARS.

Hello, Kyle Wente.

Harvard would lose their next four in a row.

Princeton would win the Ivy League.

Peter Carry said,

March 5, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

I don't have the box score for that Feb 1964 game available to me right now, but what the person who compiled this list doesn't tell us--probably because he didn't do enough research to find it out--is that, if my memory serves, when Bradley left the game fairly early with the outcome not in doubt, he had scored something like 39 points, which was more than than the Harvard team had amassed to that point. I believe there may also have been a game in which Bradley had 52 against the Crimson.

Steven Postrel said,

March 5, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

Here's to inflicting a couple of more painful losses on them next year. (Note the tenuous optimism about the rest of this season.)

Steven Postrel said,

March 5, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

Speaking of our Cambridge friends, this Crimson article about the weakness of their undergraduate educational culture compares Princeton favorably to Harvard.

This readership may be especially interested in the comments to this aritcle because a (presumed) Harvard community member (under the moniker "I Love Dean Lewis") asserts that the school's recent basketball admissions and success constitute the "broken windows" of the University's educational neighborhood--a visible sign of neglect and disorder. I don't know how representative that view is around Harvard, but I suspect the writer is not unique. A second commeneer ("A Different Set of Rules") points to Amaker's recruitment of Chambers starting in middle school (reported in the NYT) as another signal that something is amiss, in that Amaker allegedly would not have been able to justify such a time commitment prior to seeing a PSAT unless he knew the admissions office would be pliable no matter the score.

Just some straws in the wind that may or may not be significant, but worth noting.

Daniel Maass said,

March 5, 2013 @ 7:11 pm

Well if we're going to pile onto The Crimson I might as well join in. I remember seeing a while back that Harvard recruited a guy who had only played JV in high school (I'm pretty sure it was Camden McRae) as an obvious AI ploy. Is there anything in the rules (other than pride and self-respect) that prevents schools in the Ivy League from recruiting players who have 0 chance of ever making the roster? Could Harvard (or anyone else for that matter) see one of their applicants with a 1600 SAT dribbling a basketball on a playground and say that he was a "recruit?" It seems like a pretty obvious loophole - is Harvard just the most shameless in exploiting it? I would be interested to see a followup to the 2008 NYT article to find just how much the recruiting landscape has changed, but I doubt they'd be able to get much information considering that the League office keeps their AI data under wraps and Amaker isn't likely to say anything. What I would pay to be a fly on the wall during one of his recruiting pitches...

George Clark said,

March 5, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

The recruit is Camden McRae. After leaving(?) the team he joined a club team and has become its point guard and leading scorer. It's about time we piled on this recruiting nonsense in Cambridge. If the League office keeps its AI data "under wraps" how is it that Stemberg, the president of the Harvard FOHB, can be quoted (The Crimson, 3/7/12) as follows: "You look at the AI---I haven't checked this year---but the last few years, you look at the AI of the recruited kids coming in, it is unchanged from the Sullivan years" in attributing Harvard's success to the "change in financial aid." If the FOPB has access to AI data I shall be surprised. In my opinion SJ's decision to move on was based in part on his perception that he would not get the kind of administrative cooperation that Amaker demanded as a condition of taking the job. Of course, the best response to this is the one Ian and company delivered Friday night. And if we must do it again we shall.

Steven Postrel said,

March 5, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

"Of course, the best response to this is the one Ian and company delivered Friday night. And if we must do it again we shall."


BTW, I'm not at all sure they really are doing anything by the Charles that I would consider wrong. And some of their in-University critics are likely to be anti-athlete on principle, a position all Ivy communities harbor whose objectivity may be lacking. So as far as I'm concerned, following this stuff is a matter of getting intel on what we can expect competitively rather than of stoking moral outrage. If some of these smoke puffs turn out to be signs of a real fire, of course, I'll be as prepared to hose them down with righteous judgment as the next partisan alum.

George Clark said,

March 5, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

Steven-not sure I follow your argument. I have always assumed that the "Princeton Basketball" brand was built by the commitment of a very special coach who gave his professional life to this institution. He knew what the rules were going in and he succeeded within them beyond any reasonable expectations anyone could have. He has been in a very real sense the mentor of every one of his successors (and the AD). The Ivy League is unique because of its values and because of the "social contract" its members make with each other. Boosters passing the hat to pay the coach beyond what the University's compensation policies permit, for instance, is outside the spirit of the Ivy compact, if not the letter. Chasing a kid around a middle school is but another "puff of smoke." And where there's smoke......To dismiss this criticism as nothing more than biased carping is disingenuous.

Coco said,

March 6, 2013 @ 11:18 am

I take some comfort in comments such as "the response to this is the one Ian and company delivered Friday night. And if we must do it again we shall."

But I hasten to remind others that the Harvard squad we played this season was also absent two starters, who took the year off. Their return next year, plus those scholar-athletes we saw this season, will make for quite a challenge. Especially since we will be without the services of Ian Hummer."

And we still have three games to go.

Mike Knorr said,

March 6, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

Putting the '64 game on that list does appear to be a joke. I don't remember the details of that game but if a game from that era should be on the list for Harvard fans I would think it would be 1966. Harvard led most of the way and had a chance to win it at the wire only to have Ed Hummer and Robby Brown block a shot by Kieth Sedlacek (sp?). John Haarlow scooped up the loose ball and threw one in from half court at the buzzer. If I were a Crimson fan, that one would have hurt more than the '64 game.

Steven Postrel said,

March 6, 2013 @ 6:52 pm


1. I don't want Princeton to overemphasize sports in general or basketball in particular. I am a huge fan of "The Princeton Way" of doing things in basketball--that's why I take such an interest in the team.

Part of that Way is that the school attracts athletes who are very serious about basketball. They have put in countless hours to develop their skills and play games; much of their identity and social life revolves around the game; and they came to Princeton rather than another Ivy primarily for basketball reasons. (The same is true for the recruits Princeton loses to the other Ivies.) Many of them go on to play professionally and many others end up coaching the sport.

And we, the fans and alumni who support the team, see nothing wrong with that. If nothing else, it has created a pool of potential alumni coaches for the school, and more than that their sense of multi-generational identification with Princeton basketball, not just the university, has been acknowledged and celebrated frequently.

Of course, these athletes all are Princeton students and meet the same academic standards as the rest of the student body. But let's not pretend that their focus is similar to the general run of non-athletes on campus. The language of coaches and players alike makes it clear that while academic achievement is a critical, non-negotiable constraint, that's what it is for most of the athletes in the program. (I've often thought that colleges should have Schools of Performance that include music, dance, acting, and athletics and let students major in all of those, but that's a discussion for another day.)

2. My point about anti-athletic bias was simply that you can find people in the Princeton community--apparently including former president Bowen--who would prefer that the school cease athletic admissions preferences of any kind and stop trying for excellence in sports. Therefore, that you can also find internal critics of the program at Harvard is not dispositive, but merely suggestive, that Amaker is using more body english than is appropriate. I want more evidence--the equivalent of a "tilt" light and the loss of a ball--before I would ask him to be removed by arcade management.

3. The Ivy schools have an agreement in place that they believe allows them to pursue excellence subject to some constraints. It does not mandate that all schools go to the limits of what is allowed to compete. The same kinds of evidence now being used to impugn Amaker say that before his arrival Harvard basketball admissions were stricter than Princeton's or Penn's. Was Princeton therefore violating the spirit of the Ivy agreement in the Frank Sullivan years? I don't think so. Ditto for coaching salaries.

4. The Chambers story doesn't conclusively prove undue laxity in basketball admissions at Harvard because a) Amaker took an interest in the kid before he took the Harvard job, b) he may have had a good guess that Chambers was strong academically, and c) maybe he allocates 5% of his recruiting time to longshots who could really move the needle for him. I admit that it does kind of smell, however.

5. The stories of stacking the AI with faux "players" who never see the floor are more disturbing if true. The solution to this, which I would favor even without any evidence of Harvard abusing this practice, is to eliminate the averaging aspect of AI. Just set a minimum. (In a world without administrative frictions you could try the amusingly complex notion of weighting the AI by minutes played, but I'm trying to stay in the realm of reality.)

6. I don't think that anything Amaker is doing (that I know about for sure) is going to greatly tilt the competitive balance of the league. I've gone into this a bit over at the Basketball U Ivy boards, but in a nutshell: We've been hearing about the wonders of his recruits now for more than a couple of years and he's yet to produce a team as good as Cornell's Sweet Sixteen edition or many of the recent good Penn and Princeton teams. Furthermore, his stockpiling of talent seems to mostly make his practices more competitive because lots of these touted recruits barely see the floor. Finally, his program to date has not been very good about developing players once they're in the program--guys like Wright, Casey, Rivard, and Curry have been very good when they got on campus and not much better after that. Saunders and, to a small extent, Smith and M-M are exceptions but I don't know if it's just a matter of them getting more PT because of the Curry/Casey sit-outs.

7. Just as a matter of trying to counteract my own natural prejudices in favor of Princeton and against Harvard I prefer to be objective about the difference between what I believe is going on and what has been proven and also between things that Harvard is doing to get ahead that are alarming and things that I would have no problem with Princeton doing (or that Princeton already does).

8. Finally, I do admit to being emotionally ambivalent about Harvard. I actually enjoy nothing better than seeing the Crimson cut corners and still lose to the Tigers, especially when Princeton does it with better teamwork and player development. So so as long as they don't blatantly cheat on the Ivy agreement, they're kind of giving me what I want with their arriviste approach. Maybe that's also tamping down my outrage level.

John Poole said,

March 7, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

I'm with Mike Knorr on the 1966 game. I remember a surprisingly tight game with Harvard in Dillon Gym. At some point in the second quarter, to our great relief, Gary Walters stole the ball and dribbled straight down the court directly at the basket. Rather than a conventional layup, he popped the ball up without a jump and in FULL stride just before reaching the basket. It dropped softly through the net.

I have tried that shoot several times since then and found it nearly impossible to make.

John Poole said,

March 7, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

PS to Steve Postrel:

Your remarks echo my sentiments about the recent evolution of Harvard basketball and how we should view it. I couldn't have expressed them better.

George Clark said,

March 7, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

With one more comment this post will reach 5th all time on the "Most Commented" posts! C'mon somebody out there...jump in!

Daniel Maass said,

March 7, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

I am adding a meaningless comment to this post in order to inflate our stats much as Harvard adds recruits with high AI's it knows can't play in order to inflate theirs.

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