Silcox | Penn focus undeterred by Crimson
February 6, 2011, 9:17 pm · Updated February 7, 2011, 12:00 am·
A loss like this sets a fog over campus thicker than the real one that lifted an hour before tip-off Saturday night.
It settles in the moment Harvard recovers that blocked Zack Rosen buzzer-beater, the moment 6,000 Penn fans realize there will be no double overtime victory, no post-game revelry at Smokey Joe’s and no swagger carrying a 4-0 Ivy team to dreaded Princeton on Tuesday.
No, instead it’s dreary Princeton — for the fans, at least.
But for the Quakers, there is no haze. It’s a resolute focus that marks this team as they trudge toward Tiger-town.
“Emotionally, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” senior co-captain Jack Eggleston said after the Harvard loss. “Obviously this one was draining: double overtime, tough loss. But it’s Princeton. First place in the League. It’s Princeton. Going to Jadwin Gym. It’s Princeton. This is the team we have a running count of the record in the southeast corner of the gym. Don’t worry about us emotionally.”
This team is much improved emotionally not only from last season, but even from December, when — after a close loss to then-No. 12 Villanova — it was a sulk-fest that defined the post-game attitude.
Perhaps it’s because the Quakers realize that for the first time in far too long, they are there, competing with the top of the Ancient Eight.
After Friday’s rout of Dartmouth, the players suddenly saw why they came to Penn — for a season like this.
“There’s nothing better than this,” senior Tyler Bernardini said Friday.
“This is it,” Rosen said, shaking his head with a grin. “This is it. Finally.”
“This is how it was supposed to be,” Bernardini added. “When I came here, they just came off an Ivy League title. This is how I thought my four years were gonna go here. Unfortunately they haven’t.”
Maybe that perspective was a little easier to see after a 31-point win than a 1-point loss, but the feeling is still there. Though things did not go as Bernardini and his teammates planned Saturday night, the team sees that there is no time for reflection — not with Princeton around the corner.
“There’s so much basketball to be played in our league,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker. “We think it’s going to be a long horserace.”
After this weekend, nobody’s bets are safe. Giddyup.
CALDER SILCOX is a junior science, technology and society major from Washington, D.C., and is Senior Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. His e-mail address is silcox@theDP.com.