(In the interest of completing our Season Preview series, please forgive the serious tardiness of this final entry…)
In 2011-12: 20-12, 10-4, 3rd place
A Look Back: Princeton had an up and down non-conference slate in “11-”12, falling to the likes of Morehead State, Elon, and Siena while knocking off teams like Buffalo, Rutgers, and Florida State–nipping the Seminoles in a 3OT instant classic in which Ian Hummer had a monster 25 points and 15 rebounds. By the time the Ivy season rolled around, it seemed as if Princeton was coming into form.
But the Tigers dropped three of their first five conference games (all of which were on the road): at Cornell, at Penn, and at Yale, to quickly fall out of the title race. But Hummer and Co. really got rolling over the second half of the conference season, dealing Harvard its first loss at Jadwin in February and reeling off a sweep of Columbia and Cornell at home to move to 6-3 and set up a season-saving opportunity at Lavietes. It was not to be though, as Harvard overcame a ten-point deficit to even the season series at one. Effectively eliminated, the Tigers played their best ball of the season down the stretch, winning their last four, including a convincing victory over archrival Penn to deny them a piece of the Ivy crown. Hummer recorded a double-double with 18 and 10 and the Tigers earned a berth in the CBI. Princeton hung 95 on Evansville in Round 1 behind a career-high 31 from Doug Davis on sizzling 9-11 (5-6 from three) shooting. Princeton”s season, though, ended in the Tigers” next game at Pittsburgh.
Players to Watch: Ian Hummer, Senior- Hummer is the consensus preseason pick for Ivy POY. His value to this team can”t be overstated. Hummer finished last season ranked in the league”s top 10 in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game, blocks per game, FG%, and steals. All-around stud.
Will Barrett, Junior- Barrett sat out last year, but his return has been a boon to the Tigers already this year. The 6″ 10″ forward provides Princeton with size on the defensive end and can shoot from range (52.6% from three so far this year). His three in the closing seconds buried Buffalo in the Tigers” opener.
TJ Bray, Junior- Bray is the guard that makes this team tick. He”s the only player on the team that plays more minutes than Hummer, and his shooting woes this season have really hurt the Tigers. Hopefully, the Lafayette game is a sign that Bray is back on track (7-9 FG) because he had been ice cold (20.6%) from the field before that contest.
Clay Wilson, Sophomore- Wilson plays the role of the gunner. The 6″ 3″ sophomore is shooting 44% from deep and isn”t afraid to launch. He”s reached double figures in three of the team”s five games thus far, while sinking only one 2 pt. FG this season.
Key Remaining Non-Conference Games: December 8th vs. Drexel, December 22nd vs. Bucknell, December 30th at Akron.
the league taking a step back this year, the Tigers will be in the thick of the title chase. While last year, Princeton was faced with a daunting start to the conference season with five straight away games to kick things off, this year”s squad will host its first five Ivy tilts at the friendly confines of Jadwin Gymnasium. This should allow the Tigers to hit the ground running and create some separation at the top of the standings. The meat of their Ivy schedule occurs in mid-February with consecutive games at Harvard (Feb 16th) and at Columbia (Feb 22nd). If Princeton can steal one of those, they should be in good shape. Personnel-wise, Hummer needs to stay healthy and Bray needs to break out of his shooting slump. We know this team can defend well with its size (Pomeroy lists Princeton as the 2nd tallest team in the entire country), so creating enough offense when teams hone in on stopping Hummer will
be the key. When all is said and done, I expect 10-11 wins for
the Tigers and a top-two finish.