Still smarting from the second-half smackdown at Duquesne on Tuesday, the Tigers packed their bags for a Saturday tilt at San Francisco’s Chase Center, the new home of the Golden State Warriors, in the first men’s college basketball game there. While the Tigers’ injury woes are not as serious as the Warriors’, they would miss Ryan Schwieger, who left Tuesday’s game after six minutes, amid an 82-72 defeat.
Princeton (0-2) coach Mitch Henderson started California freshman Ryan Langborg in Schwieger’s spot. It took the kid seven seconds to show why Henderson fell in love with him. His three-pointer started the evening’s scoring. Just as they did in Pittsburgh, the Tigers played sharply in the first half, exchanging leads with the taller Dons into the 20th minute. Two late layups sent the teams into the locker room with the Dons leading 41-35.
The Dons (2-0) are coached by Todd Golden, a holdover from Kyle Smith’s staff. Smith, the former Columbia coach, left after last season to take the reins at Washington State. Golden got the promotion, becoming one of the youngest skippers in Division I. Smith moved on after rebuilding the once legendary Dons program into a very respectable and competitive organization. Three of his returning players, Jamaree Bouyea, Charles Minlend and Jordan Ratinho, combined for 50 of the Dons’ 85 points against the Tigers, as each played 30-plus minutes.
USF got off to a fast start in the second half, maintaining double-digit leads through the first 10 minutes. On this night, however, the Tigers would not go away. Led by the cutting and slashing of Jaelin Llewellyn, the Tigers stayed within hailing distance of the Dons. Llewellyn’s career-high 24 points, mostly in the second half, enabled Princeton to get within six late in the half. The Dons held on for the 10-point win.
Richmond Aririguzoh turned in another impressive performance, scoring 14 points and grabbing six rebounds in 31 minutes.
Langborg made the most of his 24 minutes, canning two of three from deep, gathering six rebounds and adding an assist. Jerome Desrosiers demonstrated his tremendous value coming off the bench, hitting two long-range bombs in three attempts. In all candor, Drew Friberg had a very difficult night after setting career highs in minutes and scoring on Tuesday. He managed but one field goal in 10 attempts, including 0-for-5 from deep. He did lead the team with a career-high nine rebounds in 36 minutes, a clear demonstration of his coach’s confidence in his play. Leaving out Friberg’s stats, the team shot fairly well, 25-for-48, with six threes in 13 shots. Free throw shooting (13-for-21) can now be classified as a trouble spot. Twelve turnovers is an improvement after 17 at Duquesne, but Henderson is far from pleased.
In all, 13 Tigers saw playing time, including freshman Tosan Evbuomwan, who proved to be more than a mouthful for WPRB announcers Derek Jones and Noah (The Captain) Savage. Both rosters present nightmares for broadcasters. It was fun to listen to Jones and Savage struggle to pronounce the names of USF’s Khalil Shabazz, Toavi Jurkatamm, Remu Raitanen and Ryuny Dzmitry. At times, Savage sounded like a man with a mouthful of mashed potatoes.
Two games into the young season, the Tigers have not come close to establishing a defensive identity. You simply can’t yield an average of 87 points per game and expect to succeed. On offense, one statistic stands out in a most un-Tiger like way: Princeton managed only seven assists on 26 baskets. Much work remains to be done, something Henderson would be the first to acknowledge.
The Tigers make their home debut on Wednesday against a familiar Patriot League foe, the Lafayette Leopards.