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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.