Men’s basketball: On to New Haven

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Payne Whitney Gymnasium will host the Ivy League playoff game between Princeton and Harvard March 12. (Wikipedia)

Princeton coaches don’t often draw the attention of ESPN’s talking heads, but after the men’s basketball team’s March 5 loss at Harvard, head coach Sydney Johnson ’97 provided a little commentary fodder by keeping his team on the bench to watch as Crimson fans stormed the court, celebrating the home team’s share of the Ivy League title. Johnson explained that “it’s important to see other people celebrate. You want to be that team.”

 
On Twitter, ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, who was at the game and whose fan loyalties lean unabashedly toward Boston, called it a “new reason to hate Princeton” and compared Johnson to John Kreese, the cold-hearted, antagonistic coach from the Karate Kid movies.
 
On Pardon the Interruption, co-hosts Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser praised Johnson’s move as “brilliant” (Wilbon) and “a master-stroke” of motivation (Kornheiser).
 
How has Princeton responded? So far, pretty well. The Tigers bounced back from the Harvard game, rallying from an eight-point deficit in the second half at Penn March 8 to beat the Quakers 70-58. That earned Princeton a share of the Ivy championship for the first time since 2004 and set up a March 12 playoff against Harvard at Yale’s Payne Whitney Gymnasium. The winner earns the Ivy’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
 
Click here for playoff ticket information.
 
UPDATE (March 9, 1:55 p.m.) According to GoPrincetonTigers.com, "Princeton’s allotment of tickets for the general public has been sold out, though there are still Princeton student tickets available for $5 with student ID through the Princeton ticket office. No tickets will be sold on-site at Yale, as all tickets were divided between Princeton’s and Harvard’s ticket offices."
 
UPDATE (March 9, 4:12 p.m.) Student tickets are now sold out as well.

One thought on “Men’s basketball: On to New Haven

  1. Lawrie

    Forcing your team to watch the other team celebrate has been used by coaches for ages, more so in junior amateur leagues. I’m surprised the media reacted with such surprise. It can go wrong for the more emotionally invested players though and really get them down on self-confidence. As you report, seems to have worked fine in this case.

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