Game Preview: Princeton at Pitt (CBI Quarters)

You almost get the feeling that the CBI is putting something in the water.

A day after Princeton went off for 95 points against Evansville (a score I never thought I”d write while covering this year”s Tigers), Pitt scored 81 in a rout of visiting

Wofford. Granted, it”s probably got less to do with the water and more to do with high-scoring teams playing new opponents without much advance scouting, but either way, the point is that defense has been at a premium so far in the tournament.

With all due respect to Evansville and a very good Missouri Valley Conference, the Pittsburgh Panthers represent a whole different breed of challenger for the Tigers. Say what you will about Pitt”s stumbles in the Big East, but this is still a team that was ranked in the Top-25 in both the coaches” poll and the AP

and had a great record in non-conference play before the Big East gauntlet. While clearly not the same team that earned a one seed to the Big Dance last season, Pitt is not a team to be taken lightly in the CBI.

(Brief storyline digression:

outside of the Impossible Dream of an All-Ivy Tournament Championship, there would be at least some poetic justice in letting Pitt and Butler, the team that knocked the Panthers out of the NCAA tournament last year, duke it out at some point. But since both Penn and Princeton would have to lose to make that possible, we will, of course, be rooting vehemently against this narrative. Now back to the preview!)

The Panthers made it rain against a relatively hapless Wofford squad, with a season-high 14 three pointers. But while that number might appear concerning for a Princeton team that just allowed Colt Ryan to set up camp and snipe from the outside in its last contest, the Pitt box score actually offers some modicum of hope for these Tigers. Namely, Pitt made only one free throw the entire game, suggesting that this is a Panthers team that likes best online casino to do its scoring on the outside without tangling down low. That”s actually great news for the Tigers, who have been good at defending the perimeter so long as the opposing team isn”t able to generate easy looks via dribble-penetration. If Brendan Connolly can keep his hands up and use his mean face to deter the Panthers

from even setting foot inside the arc, Princeton has a chance to cool the heels of these Panthers.

On offense, the Tigers can”t rely on another Doug Davis shooting clinic to improbably lead them to victory. Their best bet on offense is a balanced attack led by Ian Hummer, who has proved he has the court vision and instincts to either pass to the cutter out of the high-post or generate his own offense by taking his man one-on-one. Princeton probably won”t have the same kind of second-chance opportunities it was able to generate against a diminutive Evansville squad, so high-percentage chances are going to be especially crucial (look for master of offensive efficiency Mack Darrow to see a good deal of touches in this contest).

All in all, Pitt presents a significant challenge for Princeton, and while a Tigers/Panthers showdown might be a dead heat in the animal kingdom, on the court Pitt has the edge. But don”t count the Tigers out yet. This plucky Princeton squad can smell Quaker around the corner, and while a victory over the Panthers looks improbable on paper, some cold shooting by Pitt and some signature Princton offense might just be enough to make it to the semis of the CBI.

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5 thoughts on “Game Preview: Princeton at Pitt (CBI Quarters)

  1. If the Tiger’s somehow find away to scratch out a win against the Panthers, and Penn bests Butler, it will be interesting to see where the rivals end up playing in the semifinals. I can see Quinniapac traveling to the Palestra, but Butler ? Give me a break ! If the Ivy League duo out smart their opposition monday nite, the Quakers need to board a bus and take a trip up 95…afterall, weren’t the Tigers homeless enough this year ?

  2. Nice report. Minor point: It’s been defense that’s been at a premium (i.e., scarce and therefore expensive); there’s been a glut of offense.

  3. Many, many thanks to the boys for a wonderful, memorable season. I tuned into the Princeton-Penn game fully intending to root for the Quakers. But on the Tigers’ very first trip down the court, I discovered that it is absolutely impossible to root against this group: only one legitimate star, with a rotation of six or seven role players who play beautiful team offense and defense.

    It’s amazing to watch the same ingredients which won in the 40s playing for Carril and which won in the 60s for Johnson now win in the 70s and higher for Henderson. This year’s iteration of the Princeton Offense is a worthy successor to its long line of predecessors. Beautiful to watch, only at 78 rpm instead of 33.

    It’s a shame that the schedule sent a first-year coach still adjusting to his role and his team (and vice versa) on the road for his first five Ivy games. I think that, by the end of the season, this group of Tigers was the second-best team in the conference and not much less than a 50-50 bet against Harvard on a neutral court. All in all, that is a considerable achievement for Coach Henderson.

    Harvard will of course be favored to three-peat next year but I fully expect Princeton to win at least a share of the title, with the same 50-50 chance in a playoff. If it comes down to the final minute, the Tigers will probably win. I’ve seen enough of Coach Amaker’s in-game decision-making to like our chances.

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