Conventional wisdom holds that this weekend's full slate of games will clear up the muddled Ivy League basketball race. But then again, conventional wisdom hasn't exactly been reliable this year. This weekend, the Penn and Princeton men's basketball teams welcome Dartmouth and Harvard to the Palestra and Jadwin Gymnasium. Just two weeks ago today, the Ivy League basketball race went haywire when the Quakers and Tigers travelled to New England to face these same two teams. The Quakers were spanked by the Crimson and the Tigers by the Big Green, as the perennial Ivy league leaders each received their first conference loss of the season. Fast forward two weeks. Both Penn and Princeton have three Ivy League losses and are locked in a three-way, first-place tie with traditional Ancient Eight cellar-dweller Yale. The Quakers (9-15, 6-3 Ivy League), in addition to trying to hold onto at least the first-place tie, will also be playing their final two home games of the year this weekend. "I think that every coach will tell you the same thing -- every game is of critical importance," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "I thought we were emphasizing trying to win each game on the road the last two weekends as well, but Columbia played well, and Harvard played well and we came up short in both of those weekends." Indeed, the Crimson played extremely well in their victory over the Quakers. Led by senior Dan Clemente's 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting, Harvard (12-10, 5-5) picked up a win over Penn for the first time in four years. "We didn't do a good job of containing Clemente, or Elliot Prasse-Freeman, for that matter, the first time around," Dunphy said. "But we had an opportunity in the second half, when I think [the Crimson] were stuck on 41 points for a while. And we had something like five tries in transition, but we were not able to convert them and get back into it. So this will be a big test, seeing how we respond this weekend." After that loss earlier this year, the Quakers responded in a big way the following night, handing Dartmouth (7-16, 2-8) a 13-point loss. The Quakers were trailing the Big Green by five at halftime and came out slowly in the second half. But Dunphy called a timeout shortly after the break, and that -- coupled with the defensive switch of sophomore forward Koko Archibong on to Greg Buth, Dartmouth's leading scorer -- seemed to do the trick, as the Quakers pulled away for a relatively easy 75-62 win. "I'm sitting here trying to figure out what to do about that," Dartmouth coach Dave Faucher said of the Archibong-on-Buth matchup. "Archibong is 6'8" with long arms, and he really responded to the task and got out on Buth [last time]. So we may try to set some more picks for Buth to free him up, but I don't know." Dunphy wasn't even sure that he would start the game with Archibong guarding the Big Green senior tonight. "I think each game dictates a different kind of strategy, and periods in each game dictate different strategies," Dunphy said. "I would love it if we had a defensive stopper, someone who you just say, 'Go out there and defend that guy and don't let him touch the ball or make it difficult to score.' But I don't think that's part of our makeup as a team. "Maybe Koko did a good job on Greg Buth the last time up in Dartmouth, and I hope that he can do it again if we switch him to guard Buth again." Nevertheless, the Quakers will have their hands full with The Big Green tonight and the Crimson tomorrow, as those teams try to salvage part of their Ivy seasons, and the Quakers try to keep their heads above water.Comments powered by Disqus
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