As a followup to Mike Tony’s excellent summary of last night’s Ivy League skirmishes, I offer some takeaways from the Tigers’ hard-fought win against Cornell at Jadwin Gym.
Richmond Aririguzoh (RA) turned in a season-best performance in Ithaca, scoring 20 points without a miss from the field in an overtime thriller. In a pregame conversation, Mitch Henderson was effusive in his praise for the Trenton product, stating flatly that he considers the 6’9″ junior the league’s best at his position.
Brian Earl was determined to prevent a repeat of the first game. He deployed two and sometimes three defenders on the big fellow. As a result RA was held to seven points, although he did corral eight rebounds. Earl won that battle but lost the war.
Devin Cannady’s status going forward is shrouded in mystery. RoundBallDaily.com reported that he is scheduled to appear in municipal court on Monday. It’s not known whether his absence from the team is related to his legal issues. If he has, in fact, played his last game as a Tiger, it will be a sad and almost tragic end to an outstanding career in which he was a key contributor in Princeton’s magical run to the Ivy championship in 2017. This season, the Tigers are 3-3 in the Ieague play with Cannady in the lineup and 3-0 without him.
Jaelin Llewellyn has begun to show what made him one of the most anticipated recruits to arrive at Princeton since, well, Cannady. He is the unquestioned floor leader, a tough job for any player, let alone a freshman. His scoring last night and in last weekend’s win against Dartmouth was crucial. While he is not yet a lockdown defender, he is achieving incremental improvement in each outing. Llewellyn’s coach is extremely bullish on his prospects.
Schwieger made eight shots in five fewer attempts than Llewellyn needed to make six. His posting up against shorter defenders, a successful tactic in the first game in Ithaca, was employed last night as well. He got to the free throw line frequently, canning five of seven from the charity stripe. When Earl went all in against RA, he was inviting Schwieger to join the party. The sophomore from North Carolina responded brilliantly.
Jerome Desrosiers, the Canadian sophomore by way of Northfield Mt. Hermon, is flying under the radar. Last night he contributed a very efficient 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, notching his first career double-double. He has stepped up his game of late and promises to be a major factor for the Tigers in the final stages of the Ivy campaign.
Henderson was asked in the postgame media scrum how the Tigers have had more success in containing Matt Morgan over his career than any other Ivy quintet. The Ivy’s leading scorer was held far below his average in both games this year, including last night’s season-low of 12. He smiled broadly and responded simply, “Myles Stephens.” It has been a real treat to watch these two go at it for four years. Morgan will end his career as the second leading scorer in Ivy history and, in my view, should be the 2019 Ivy Player of the Year.
Last night’s win was especially encouraging to Henderson, accomplished as it was without much offense from RA and Stephens. His sense is that his club will play its best basketball in March, which is, of course, the goal of every coach. Defense has been the key factor in the Tigers’ wins, most of which can be described as “ugly.” This team has no single identity, relying on contributions from players far down the bench almost every night. If there has been a constant other than Stephens’ defense it has been RA scoring from down low. Last night, the Tigers showed they can win without that component.
Columbia, an overtime winner last night at The Palestra, arrives at Jadwin with a score to settle. The Tigers held the Lions to just 43 points in Manhattan a few weeks ago. After a slew of heartbreaking losses, the Lions got the last shot to fall against the Quakers. They believe that the shoe may well be on the other foot now. A win for the Tigers will virtually assure them of a berth in Ivy Madness. It should be a great show.