It feels like déjà vu all over again.
For the second year in a row, the Princeton men’s basketball team is emerging from its exam break at the top of the Ivy League standings and looking primed to make a run for an Ivy League title after sweeping arch rival Penn in back-to-back games to open the conference season.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Exactly one year ago, the 2018-19 Tigers stood in exactly the same position. That Princeton squad of a year ago started conference play by sweeping Penn in back-to-back games and then beating the New York schools on the road to start the Ivy campaign at 4-0. Hopes of an Ivy League title began to rise until calamity struck and Princeton lost the services of one of its transcendent stars, Devin Cannady. Without their senior co-captain, the Tigers slumped through the rest of the Ivy season, losing six of their final 10 regular season games and finishing a disappointing third in the conference standings.
It was all going so well for Penn.
After getting pummeled at the Palestra by a Princeton squad that had started the season 1-7 six days earlier, Penn was making the adjustments it needed in the Jadwin Gym rematch.
Penn made its first two threes after going just 3-for-23 from deep in the last meeting. Princeton had dominated inside at the other end of the floor six days prior, but Jarrod Simmons was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time ever to help man Penn’s frontcourt, scoring the game’s opening bucket and blocking Penn-killer Richmond Aririguzoh in the paint early.
8-0 Penn. 10-2 Penn. The team that beat Alabama and Providence and went toe to toe with Arizona and Villanova finally feasting on a team that had started the season 1-7.
Mike Tony’s excellent breakdown of Saturday night’s Penn-Princeton collision leaves little left unsaid, but let me add some comments from the Tiger perspective for the sake of context.
No one expected either team to dominate the other, although the early line favored the Quakers by 10. As game time approached a lot of people grabbed the points moving the line to seven or less by tip-off.
Shockingly, the score was tied on only two occasions in the first three minutes. From that point on Penn managed to get within four just once, with 3:48 remaining in the first period. Schwieger then found another gear, canning eight of his career-high 27 in the closing moments of the first half. A Jaelin Llewellyn three-pointer helped as well, as the Tigers ran the lead from four to 12, 39-27, at the end of the half.
PRINCETON – The Tigers welcomed intrastate rival Monmouth to Jadwin Gym Tuesday evening in what has become a most entertaining series.
Last year, these two teams struggled to score against each other in what looked at times more like a street fight than a basketball game. A late Devin Cannady three-pointer gave the Tigers a 60-57 win. Mitch Henderson and his Hawk counterpart, King Rice, each arrived in their current positions in 2011. They have become good friends over the years as well as rivals on the court.
Tiger fans were treated Tuesday evening to something they have sorely missed this young season: an exciting nail-biter of a college basketball game. The Arizona State Sun Devils capped off an eastern swing seeking revenge for last year’s remarkable upset at the hands of the Tigers in Tempe. In the end ASU got its revenge, but not before the Tigers pushed them into the final seconds with the outcome very much in doubt. A long baseline three by ASU’s Khalid Thomas inside of five seconds left settled the matter, 67-65.
Our George Clark (Toothless Tiger) caught up recently with Princeton coach Mitch Henderson, who is entering his ninth season at the Tigers’ helm.
In Part 1, Henderson reflects on last season, what Myles Stephens said to the team after their Ivy League Tournament appearance at Yale, Jaelin Llewellyn pushing through injury and fatigue to have a “great year” as a first-year last season, Richmond Aririguzoh’s work ethic and much more:
In Part 2, Henderson talks about Ryan Schwieger being able to do a little bit of everything, discusses the incoming class of first-years, previews the team’s 2019-20 schedule, looks ahead to including an upcoming change to Princeton’s academic calendar that will impact future Ivy League scheduling and much more:
Princeton’s roller-coaster regular season ended in calamity this weekend. In a season of ups and downs, the Tigers saved their worst for last, losing back-to-back games in convincing fashion at home to Brown and Yale. After surrendering an astounding 25 turnovers to Brown on Friday night, the Tigers completely collapsed on Senior Night, losing by 22 points on Saturday to Yale, 81-59. It was the most lopsided loss by a Princeton team at home to Yale in program history.
Seeing it through
Brown notched an outstanding 67-63 win at Jadwin Gym, hanging on after nearly surrendering a 60-47 lead with 2:17 left. Brandon Anderson was the best player on the floor off the bench, posting 21 points and three steals in just 28 minutes, his trips to the foul line and jumpers setting back the Tigers any time they got even a modicum of momentum. Brown’s defense shut Princeton down early and often, holding the Tigers to 0.79 points per possession and collecting a whopping 25 turnovers from the hosts.
A depleted and dispirited Tiger squad faced off with an amped up Brown Bear quintet last night at Jadwin. The Bears came in with a chance to play themselves into next week’s Ivy Madness. Their 67-63 wire-to-wire smackdown of Princeton sends them to The Palestra with their tourney aspirations very much alive. The winner of tonight’s Brown-Penn meeting will be in the tournament. Their wins on Friday night against teams already in the field eliminated Cornell, an ironic end for Brian Earl’s dreams on the night his Big Red defeated Harvard, the probable No. 1 seed.