At this time of year, the factoid closest to the front of most people's minds about the Ivy League is the lack of a conference tournament. (Indeed, I wrote about this yesterday.) This state of affairs is a matter of frequent controversy among fans, though I admit to being pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. Conference tournaments are lots of fun, I'd definitely go if there was one, and I like the idea that "each team has a chance." Is that worth the cost in money, time, etc.? No idea.
The longer I follow the league, though, the more I am convinced that another of its quirks is actually much more significant -- the Friday/Saturday schedule of back-to-back games every weekend during the conference season.
I was thinking about this Saturday night when I watched the Quakers warm up in their away uniforms in the Palestra, which they wore while Columbia wore its home unis, meaning neither team would have to launder Friday night's uniforms on Saturday.
I was thinking about it again as both teams started the game moving slowly, committing ugly fouls and uglier turnovers. I knew both teams were capable of playing much, much better than this.
And I was thinking about it again when a personal, non-shooting foul was called, followed by a media timeout, during which the foul apparently morphed into a flagrant one. Who knows. If it's Saturday in the Ivy ... the most in-demand refs are probably working somewhere else.
However, even through fatigue and lack of focus, an Ivy Saturday can still contain moments of inspiration and precision.
Penn and Columbia stumbled into overtime, Penn largely thanks to the play of complementary players such as Steve Rennard and Columbia due to the efforts of Meiko Lyles and Mark Cisco. The teams were again tied with about three seconds remaining in overtime, and Penn was taking the ball out of bounds under the far basket. Miles Cartwright received the inbounds pass and sprinted across the midcourt line, where he stopped -- and Penn called its final timeout with 1.5 seconds remaining. I immediately, almost instinctively, questioned the wisdom of this decision. Why not let the thing play out before Columbia could set its defense? We all knew Zack Rosen was going to take the last shot.
Instead Penn ran a play it had never practiced and that coach Jerome Allen freely admitted he'd copied from Butler's Brad Stevens. Rosen was in motion, but as a screener. Hot-shooting Rennard moved too, headed for his favored corner shooting angle. Cartwright threw a perfect lob over it all to a cutting Fran Dougherty, alone under the basket. He might as well have been in that layup line.
Columbia still had half a second on the clock but wasn't able to get a good look, and that was the end.
Get prepared, it's gonna be a party tonight.
at PENNSYLVANIA 61, COLUMBIA 59 02/18/2012
COLUMBIA 14-12 (3-7) -- I. Sykes 4-10 1-6 9; M. Lyles 5-9 4-4 17; B. Barbour 1-6 4-4 6; M. Cisco 4-12 4-6 12; A. Rosenberg 3-5 2-3 10; B. Staab 2-3 1-1 5; C. Crockett 3-6 0-0 9; V. Green 0-1 0-0 0; N. Springwater 0-1 0-0 0; C. Osetkowski 0-1 0-0 0; J. Daniels 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-45 15-18 59. PENNSYLVANIA 15-11 (7-2) -- Z. Rosen 5-16 1-2 14; M. Cartwright 3-5 1-2 8; S. Rennard 5-6 0-0 13; R. Belcore 2-5 0-0 5; H. Brooks 3-5 0-0 6; F. Dougherty 3-4 0-0 6; M. Howlett 1-1 1-2 3; T. Bernardini 1-3 0-0 3; C. Crocker 0-0 0-0 0; M. Kukoc 1-2 0-0 3; S. Esprit 0-0 0-0 0; C. Gunter 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-48 3-6 61.
Three-point goals: COLU 8-17 (C. Crockett 3-5; B. Barbour 0-1; M. Lyles 3-6; A. Rosenberg 2-4; N. Springwater 0-1), PENN 10-19 (T. Bernardini 1-2; R. Belcore 1-2; Z. Rosen 3-7; M. Cartwright 1-2; M. Kukoc 1-2; S. Rennard 3-4); Rebounds: COLU 25 (M. Cisco 6), PENN 24 (Z. Rosen 6); Assists: COLU 9 (B. Barbour 8), PENN 17 (Z. Rosen 5); Total Fouls -- COLU 13, PENN 19; Fouled Out: COLU-None; PENN-H. Brooks.