After playing their first five Ivy League games on the road (and 12 of their last 13 games away from Central New Jersey), the Princeton Tigers finally return to Jadwin Gymnasium to face Dartmouth on Friday. Princeton is looking to get back to .500 in Ivy League play after losing to Yale in New Haven last week, while the Big Green is still searching for its first league win of the season.
History is not kind to DartmouthвЂ™s hopes of notching a minor upset against the Tigers this weekend. As noted by the Dartmouth basketball website with a sort of grim determination earlier this week, since Jadwin Gym opened in 1968, the Big Green has won only 3 of 43 games at Princeton. The Tigers have won the last four meetings with Dartmouth, and have yet to lose back-to-back games in the Ivy League this season (granted, theyвЂ™ve also failed to win back-to-back games against their Ivy competition, which doesnвЂ™t bode well for HarvardвЂ™s visit Saturday night, but thatвЂ™s a concern for an entirely separate blog post).
But even though Dartmouth has been confined to the cellar of the league so far this season, there are signs of hope in Hanover, green shoots of promise poking their way up through the dank topsoil of mediocrity. Freshman forwards Jvonte Brooks and Gabas Maldunas have played large roles for the Big Green, stepping up on both ends of the court. Brooks has demonstrated offensive savvy far beyond his years вЂ“ he boasts the fourth-best free throw rate in the country (measured as FTA/FGA), which means heвЂ™s getting defenders to leave their feet and finding a way to draw contact. Maldunas has been solid on the glass and on the block for the Big Green, giving them an inside presence thatвЂ™s especially important when the rest of the front court consists of swing men like Brooks and tweener John Golden, also a freshman whoвЂ™s been pressed into starting duty for head coach Paul CormierвЂ™s team.
Princeton, meanwhile, continues to search for its identity after five games in the Ivy League. The defense is still there, especially against conventional Ivy League half court offenses, with Princeton posting one of the stingiest outside shooting percentages of any team in the nation. But the Tigers still donвЂ™t have
much of an offensive plan when Ian HummerвЂ™s off the court, and mercurial center Brendan Connolly continues to show just enough in short spurts to posit himself as the solution to PrincetonвЂ™s rebounding woes without actually playing well enough to be anything but a frustration. Reserve Ben Hazel has seen his minutes bumped in recent matches, including 30 minutes of online casino play against Yale, cannibalizing freshman Denton KoonвЂ™s looks from earlier in the season.
Last year, Princeton swept the season series against Dartmouth, including a 68-53 blowout at home. Does the Big Green have what it takes to seriously Even stars on one hand endow representatives of horoscope for gemini zodiac sign with inconstancy of intentions, on the other hand, fate perpetually sends them probations, having surmounted which horoscope for gemini finally acquires stubbornness and purposefulness. compete now that the Tigers have returned home after their long hiatus? LetвЂ™s take a look:
Keys to the Game
Dartmouth isnвЂ™t a tremendously tall team вЂ“ theyвЂ™ll be giving up size across the board against Princeton, especially at the point guard spot, where the 6-2 Tyler Melville will likely match up against 6-6 T.J. Bray. Their best chance against the Tigers will be if they make Princeton shoot deep outside jumpers and foul hard when Tiger players attempt to drive to the basket. Princeton shot its way out of a victory in New Haven last week, going 4-21 from downtown and making just a third of their shots overall for the game. The streaky nature of living and dying by the trey-ball has bitten the Tigers a few times this season, and Dartmouth has to hope the trend continues. Meanwhile, at the charity stripe, Princeton is shooting only .645, a surprising number considering the Tigers offense lacks a true center and features five players who shoot the three at a reasonable clip. Princeton will walk all over Dartmouth if they can get easy layups on backdoor cuts and baskets in the paint, but if the Big Green can limit them to threes and frees, theyвЂ™ve got a shot.
After battling it out with the top half of the league over the past few weeks, the Tigers must be licking their chops at the chance to face Dartmouth. The keys to the game for Princeton come down to turnovers and rebounding. Dartmouth does not move the ball particularly well and has struggled in its offensive sets вЂ“ the Big Green has yet to enjoy an Ivy League game with more
assists than turnovers. That means that Princeton should look to actively pressure the ball and force turnovers, even more so than usual, and try to get some cheap buckets in transition. Defensive stops without a shot are especially important for the current incarnation of the Tigers, who have been susceptible to offensive rebounds and second chance points. If Dartmouth has a few possessions early where they turn the ball over without even getting off a shot, this game could get out of hand in a hurry.
Sorry, Dartmouth, but PrincetonвЂ™s finally home and theyвЂ™re looking for redemption. Expect a big game from Ian Hummer, matching up against one of the freshman forwards for Dartmouth, and donвЂ™t be surprised to see a big bounce-back game by former Ivy League Freshman of the Week Denton Koon, whoвЂ™s lain fallow for the last few weeks after a blistering start to the season. The Tigers will prove to be too much for the visitors to handle and will move to .500 in the Ivy League for all of 22 hours before inevitably losing to Harvard the next night.