As this Ivy non-season progresses, we thought it’d make sense for us to do an Ivy Hoops Online contributors’ roundtable looking ahead to next season, assuming there is one:
The mood in Jadwin Gymnasium last evening as the Tigers squared off against the Columbia Lions was different than usual, almost subdued. Perhaps it was the miserable weather, or perhaps it was the prospect of a meaningless game against the cellar-dwelling Lions.
In reality, the distracted atmosphere in the building was the product of the minute-by-minute developing story of the nationwide spread of the coronavirus, which has now reached the east coast and central New Jersey.
The Tigers claimed one of the four slots available in the Ivy League Tournament with a 71-49 thrashing of the Brown Bears in Providence last night. The key to the win was a signature defensive effort reminiscent of some of the best Tiger teams in the long and illustrious history of the program.
Princeton focused on the Bears’ formidable “Big Three” of Brandon Anderson, Zach Hunsaker and Tameneng Choh, holding the talented trio to a combined 33 points on 12-for-39 shooting from the field. No other Bear player scored more than six.
The game did not start out as a Tiger rout. Brown jumped out to a 5-0 early lead, but two Jaelin Llewellyn threes restored order after five minutes. Jerome Desrosiers and Drew Friberg came off the bench to spark a 9-0 Tiger surge giving the visitors an 18-10 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the opening period. Later, Desrosiers would feature prominently in a 13-0 Tiger run leading to a 40-28 halftime advantage.
Drew Friberg continued his hot streak in the second half. His long three at the 17:05 mark maintained the 12-point Tiger lead, but sparked a 14-0 run to put the game away. With eight minutes left and the score 56-33, Princeton coach Mitch Henderson was able to reach far down the bench.
The typically wild weekend road trip to Boston and Hanover is over, and the Tigers survived with one of their goals, a berth in Ivy Madness, well within their grasp. We may well look back on this trip as the time Jaelin Llewellyn’s total game was on display at an absolutely crucial juncture for his team. Recognizing the need to step up in the absence of Ryan Schwieger, Llewellyn courageously embraced the challenge and, to put it mildly, delivered.
On Friday at Harvard, Llewellyn almost single-handedly kept the Tigers in the game to the last seconds, leading the scoring with 22 points. If he has had a weakness this season, it has been his inefficiency from deep. He takes more three-pointers than anyone else, but came into the weekend converting an unacceptable 25%. His 21 points on Saturday night gave the Tigers the spark they needed, and included 5-for-7 from beyond the arc. The final score, 65-62 Princeton, tells very little about the game.
The Tigers enjoyed a nice bounceback effort against the Columbia Lions Sunday afternoon in New York. Suffering no ill effects from a desultory outing in Ithaca, five Princeton players reached double figures, led by Jaelin Llewellyn (19) and Ryan Schwieger (18), in an 81-74 victory at Levien Gym.
Richmond Aririguzoh made an emphatic statement for the visitors with 16 points and a team-high four assists, after suffering his worst performance of the season against Cornell. Using his great strength effectively, the senior made eight shots in nine attempts.
Jerome Desrosiers and Drew Friberg continued their excellent bench contributions with 10 and 11 points respectively, combining to make nine buckets in 14 attempts.
The Lions (6-16, 1-5 Ivy) quickly gained the lead at 5-0. Fears that the Tigers (10-9, 5-1) might dig themselves into a deep hole as they did the previous day were quickly dispelled by RA. It took the Tigers nearly eight minutes to claim their first lead but after they finally did on a Friberg three-point play, they would not relinquish it for the balance of the afternoon.
The lead was eight at the half. The Tigers managed double-digit leads in the second stanza, but Mike Smith almost single-handedly kept the Lions’ hope alive. The league’s leading scorer burnished his All-Ivy credentials with 30 points, canning 14 buckets in 25 tries.
The Tigers shot 55% from the field and a most satisfying 17-for-18 from the charity stripe. Llewellyn drove to the basket repeatedly drawing fouls in the process. He was a perfect 10-for-10 from the line.
The weekend split matched Yale’s record sending the Ivy co-leaders into a crucial showdown at Jadwin Gym Friday night. Brown’s weekend sweep keeps its title hopes aflame heading into the weekend against the Ps.
Saturday night in the Ivy League … you just never know!
The Tigers canned 13 three-pointers Saturday evening against the visiting Harvard Crimson. They needed every one of them, plus two Richmond Aririguzoh free throws with 3.9 seconds to go, to hold off the relentless Crimson, 70-69, before the largest home crowd in recent memory.
Tiger basketball fans got a rare opportunity to watch both their men’s and women’s teams in a doubleheader Sunday. The women continued their amazing start with a 40-point thrashing of New Hampshire, 77-37. The Tigers’ Player of the Year candidate Bella Alarie enjoyed her 37th career double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds in just 21 minutes. Earlier this week the Tigers reached the USA Today Top 25 and received seven votes in the AP rankings. The Ivy slate opens on January 11 at The Palestra.
For the second year in succession Princeton faced off against the Iona Gaels on a neutral court. Last season in Atlantic City, the Tigers overcame a double-digit Iona lead in the second half when then-freshman Drew Friberg came off the bench to make three long-range bombs. Last night, at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, with Net-In-Waiting Devin Cannady at courtside, the Tigers followed a similar script in even more dramatic fashion.
Two struggling New Jersey clubs squared off Saturday afternoon in Stratis Arena on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University. The Knights, defending champions of the Northeast (NEC) Conference, had stumbled to a 2-7 early record. The visiting Princeton Tigers sported a similarly dismal 1-7 mark, including two buzzer-beating losses at home to ASU and Monmouth.
Analytics guru Ken Pomeroy projected a one-point Princeton win. The Tigers may have blown a Pomeroy circuit board as they pulled away in the second half, cruising to an 80-65 win, the 150th in Mitch Henderson’s head coaching career.