Princeton’s defense coming together at right time after sweep of Penn

Once again, Mike Tony has posted an excellent recap of Penn’s frustrating outing at Princeton Friday night. It might be worthwhile for Tiger fans to consider the significant elements of the sweep and what the implications may be going forward.

Read morePrinceton’s defense coming together at right time after sweep of Penn

Princeton notches two wins in women’s and men’s doubleheader

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.

Read morePrinceton notches two wins in women’s and men’s doubleheader

Princeton completes momentous comeback over Iona in Brooklyn

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.

Read morePrinceton completes momentous comeback over Iona in Brooklyn

Princeton men’s basketball searching for consistency, identity and leadership

One month into the 2019-20 season, the Princeton men’s basketball team is off to its worst seven-game start against Division I competition since the 1984-85 season, in which it started 0-6 and then 1-6 against Division I teams. The Tigers opened their 2019-20 campaign with five straight losses before finally shooting their way to a win at Bucknell last Saturday. Princeton fell flat in the second half against the Drexel Dragons Wednesday night and lost again on the road.  The Tigers’ 1-6 start echoes the frustrations of the 1979-80 team, which also struggled out of the gate at 0-5 and finished the nonconference schedule with a 4-11 record.

However, that Tigers squad of 40 years ago scratched its way to a tie for the Ivy League title before falling in a playoff game by a single point to Penn.  Can this year’s team come together in similar fashion once Ivy League play begins?  Here is my assessment of what ails the Tigers at the halfway mark of the nonconference season.

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Princeton nipped late by Arizona State, though Tigers are clearly improving

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.

Read morePrinceton nipped late by Arizona State, though Tigers are clearly improving

Princeton rally falls short versus Lafayette with stiffer competition straight ahead

On Tuesday the stage was set for the Tigers to make a positive early-season statement, a home opener in a “winnable” game against nearby Patriot League rival, Fran O’Hanlon’s Lafayette Leopards.

The Tigers made a statement, but it was a decidedly negative one.

Read morePrinceton rally falls short versus Lafayette with stiffer competition straight ahead

Princeton done in by second-half collapse at Duquesne

The Ivy League launched the 2019-20 campaign with an impressive 5-2 men’s record on opening night, highlighted by Penn’s nail-biter at Alabama, 81-80. (Dartmouth was idle.)

The evening’s lowlight occurred at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, where the Tigers collapsed in the second half, losing to A-10 foe Duquesne, 94-67.

Read morePrinceton done in by second-half collapse at Duquesne

Princeton bows to Brown, 67-63

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.

The Tigers took their floor without Ryan Schwieger, their leading scorer over the last four games. He is reportedly “day-to-day” under concussion protocol. Of course, the season’s leading scorer, Devin Cannady, took a leave of absence from the university.

Read morePrinceton bows to Brown, 67-63

Harvard pushes past Princeton, 78-69

Spirits were high at Jadwin Gym as last night’s battle for second place between the Tigers and Harvard got underway before a hyped up home crowd and a national TV (ESPNews) audience. Most knowledgeable observers and the oddsmakers predicted a one-possession game in the final minute, the type of game in which home court advantage might be crucial. For the most part, the somewhat limited success Princeton coach Mitch Henderson has enjoyed against Harvard coach Tommy Amaker has been at home.

Both teams experienced lackluster performances last week. The Tigers lost twice on the road (Yale and Brown) while the Crimson were stretched to the limit in a triple overtime win at home against Columbia, followed by a second-half collapse against Cornell on Saturday. Amaker surprised the Ivy community with a rare public putdown of his team, calling his players’ performance against the Big Red “selfish.”
The shoo-in All-Ivy point guard unleashed a Niagara Falls of scoring last week, including 45 against Columbia, almost willing his team to the win last Friday night.
The following Friday night, Aiken’s work against the Tigers would again prove decisive in a 78-69 victory for the visitors, in which Aiken outscored Princeton 20-19 himself in the final 8:10.
A fast start by the constantly improving Richmond Aririguzoh (RA) pushed the Tigers to a 15-8 lead after seven minutes. Undeterred, Harvard used some excellent ball movement and timely shooting to turn things around quickly. The Crimson reclaimed the lead, 21-19, with 9:33 remaining. From that point, Noah Kirkwood, a dazzling freshman talent, and Justin Bassey stymied the Tigers over the next three minutes, extending the visitors’ lead to 32-25. Jaelin Llewellyn’s lone three-pointer for the evening, followed quickly by a Sebastian Much bomb, one of 4 for the Californian, enabled the Tigers to get within one point, 33-32, at the break.
Aiken’s nine and RA’s eight were high for each team at that point. Henderson was quite satisfied with the defensive work of Myles Stephens on Aiken. Once again, Stephens was assigned to the opponent’s best player. Perhaps ominously for the Tigers, Devin Cannady’s first start at home following his three-game suspension was not going well. He was 0-for-4 from beyond the arc and 0-for-1 from the line. For all that, the Tigers were encouraged by the fact that the statistical battle was a virtual standoff through he first 20 minutes. Harvard’s six made free throws to three for the Tigers accounted for the slim Crimson advantage on the scoreboard.
Harvard controlled the play early in the second half, seizing a 42-37 lead after three minutes. A Much-needed (forgive me!) three-pointer kept the Tigers close. His tough layup at the 13:38 mark restored the lead for the Tigers and spurred a five-minute spurt by Princeton tom its largest lead of the evening 54-48 with 8:33 remaining.
With the Tigers holding a one-point lead at the 13:13 mark, Aiken crumpled to the floor in apparent agony. He had twisted his right ankle and was helped to the bench. Fortunately for the Crimson, he was back on the floor in less than a minute.
His presence turned the game around in a way observers will not soon forget.

An Aiken layup cut the lead to four with 8:10 left. RA countered with a layup. On the next Crimson possession, Aiken found himself isolated on Jose Morales. His eyes widened. With the clock running down, Aiken launched a long three-pointer. Morales committed the cardinal sin, sending Aiken to the line to complete the four-point play. Over the next three minutes plus, Aiken posted 11 points, propelling Harvard to a 10-point lead, 70-60, with 3:53 to play.
The Tigers eventually cut Harvard’s lead to 70-64 but would get no closer.
Aiken’s 24 second-half points showcased another phenomenal performance in his team’s successful effort to hold on to a share of second place in the Ivy standings at 5-2. The Tigers third straight loss leaves them at 4-3, still very much alive in the Ivy race.
For Princeton, RA shared scoring honors with Cannady (15), and both Tigers added three assists. Defensively, Aririguzoh held Chris Lewis to nine points in 18 minutes and Henry Welsh to none in 15. Sebastian Much had 14 points in 19 minutes. Jerome Desrosiers pitched in with seven points and five rebounds, all in the first half. He appeared just briefly in the second stanza. Cannady and Llewellyn combined to shoot 2-for-12 from deep. Harvard’s 10 threes to eight for Princeton spelled doom for the home team.
Looking ahead to tonight’s encounter with Dartmouth, one expects RA to get more touches and Morales less. A win tonight may be a critical component in the Tigers’ bid to return to Ivy Madness. A loss turns a promising start to the Ivy season into a desperate struggle to remain relevant.

Cornell fights back but falls to Princeton in overtime

Despite a comparatively quiet night from Matt Morgan, the Cornell Big Red were able to overcome a 10-point second half hole to force overtime against the visiting Princeton Tigers.

But unlike last season at Newman Arena, Cornell couldn’t put the Tigers away in extra time, as Princeton won its seventh straight game to improve to 12-5 (4-0 Ivy) and remain first in the conference, while Cornell dropped back to .500 at 10-10 (2-2) and still very much in the Ivy Madness picture.

Read moreCornell fights back but falls to Princeton in overtime