Princeton men’s recruits look to help team return to form in 2018-19

Even though the Princeton men’s team lost Ivy Player of the Year Spencer Weisz, first team All-Ivy Steven Cook and 25 game starting center Pete Miller from the undefeated regular and postseason Ivy champions of 2016-17, last year’s team was still expected to challenge for the 2018 Ivy title. Selected third in the preseason media poll, the Tigers trailed Yale by three points and Harvard by only eight, while picking up three first-place votes. With returning first team All-Ivy and conference Defensive Player of the Year Myles Stephens, honorable mention All-Ivy Devin Cannady and a resurgent Amir Bell anchoring the back court, Princeton entered the season optimistic that the new frontcourt would develop by the start of league play to give the team a shot at a repeat.

Early-season losses to Butler, BYU, St. Joseph’s, and Miami contributed to a 2-5 start for the Tigers. They rebounded in the later part of the non-conference schedule, including a 103-93 overtime victory at USC, to pull even at 7-7 by the start of the Ivy schedule. Despite an opening game loss at the Palestra to an improved Penn, Princeton found itself at 3-1 in league play, following an overtime win against Yale. The Tigers then, unexpectedly, went 0-7 with three overtime defeats and losses to each of the previous year’s lower division teams. After two wins against Dartmouth and Brown, Princeton entered the regular season finale with a solid shot at the fourth spot in the Ivy Tournament.  The Tigers got the necessary Harvard win over Columbia, but they lost by four to Yale, in their fifth overtime game of their Ivy season. In 2018-19, the Orange & Black (13-16, 5-9 Ivy) will look to put last year’s fifth-place effort behind them and show the rest of the conference that they belong in the league’s upper division.

Read morePrinceton men’s recruits look to help team return to form in 2018-19

Ivy weekend roundup – Feb. 2-3, 2018

Now that we’re at the point of the season where the conference standings really start to loom large, the IHO Power Poll goes away and we drill down each of the Ivies by their order in their standings.

First, though, some observations about an unusually exciting Ivy slate of games so far. The Ivy League, per KenPom, ranks first among all 32 Division I conferences in close game percentage, or percentage of games decided by fewer than four points or in overtime, with 11 of 23 games falling in that category. The Ivy League ranked 20th in that category last season, 25th in 2016 and next-to-last in 2015, so hope you’re enjoying the uptick in close contests.

This season’s Ivy slate has been unusually kind to the home teams so far too. The Ivy League also ranks first in Division I in home win percentage, as 18 of 23 hosts have been victorious so far. Interestingly, the league ranked last in Division I last season, when home teams went just 28-28 in conference play. The Ancient Eight ranked 15th in home win percentage in 2016 and 26th in 2015, so this season’s frequency of success for home teams has been unusual too. Since Penn and Princeton are going to be hitting the road down the stretch, the league’s home-win percentage could go back down some by the time the season is over.

Read moreIvy weekend roundup – Feb. 2-3, 2018

Princeton’s 12-day road trip ends on a high note

The Tigers capped off a hugely successful 12-day swing to the West Coast and beyond with a workmanlike 77-63 victory over the host Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Monday to conclude their their three games in the Diamond Head Classic. Only a two-point loss to Middle Tennessee State  in the tourney opener marred the Tigers road trip record of 4-1. Princeton finished its out-of-conference schedule at 7-7.

Read morePrinceton’s 12-day road trip ends on a high note

Princeton splits two nail-biters in first two games of Diamond Head Classic

The Tigers came into the opener of this Christmas tournament hosted by the University of Hawaii as slight underdogs to the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State, winners of games in the last two NCAA tournaments, including a monumental upset over Michigan State in 2016.

In a game the Tigers led by as many as seven and never trailed by more than four, it took a big-time play by the Raiders’ great guard, Giddy Potts, to break the last tie with two seconds to go. The final: Middle Tennessee State 69, Princeton 67.

Once again the Tigers played quite well from the outset, leading 28-23 at the break. This was perhaps as good as the defense has shown over a 20-minute stretch all season. The Raiders are very well-coached, boasting a deep, talented roster, featuring size, strength and speed. They fully expect to make another deep run for Conference USA laurels.

Read morePrinceton splits two nail-biters in first two games of Diamond Head Classic

Fresh off USC win, Princeton to square off in Diamond Head Classic

The Tigers take Hawaii … and are slated to face Middle Tennessee State at 5:30 p.m. EST on Friday in the Diamond Head Classic.
(Princeton Men’s Basketball Facebook page)

On Friday, the Tigers open play in the Diamond Head Classic on the beautiful island of Oahu in the 50th state. Their first foe in a “three games in four days” format is the very strong Conference USA representative, Middle Tennessee State, a frequent Big Dance contestant.

Coming in with a record of 7-2, including wins over SEC teams Mississippi and Vanderbilt, the Raiders have their own version of the big three, Nick King, Giddy Potts and big man Brandon Walters. These three play a lot of minutes and score a ton of points. Middle Tennessee State is currently ranked 67th by the esteemed Ken Pomeroy, high enough to warrant a 65 percent chance to beat the Tigers (128th) on a neutral court.

Read moreFresh off USC win, Princeton to square off in Diamond Head Classic

Ivy men’s hoops roundup – Nov. 27, 2017

1. Harvard (3-4)

The Crimson did something on Friday that Princeton couldn’t do last Saturday: beat St. Joseph’s. Sans Seth Towns and Corey Johnson due to food poisoning, Harvard raced out to a 23-9 lead in the first 10 minutes and got a boost from sophomore guard Bryce Aiken’s 8:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is impressive considering he had 13 turnovers in the first three games of the season (seven at Holy Cross). Sophomore frontcourt stalwart Robert Baker notched 14 points, 11 boards and three blocks against the Hawks in the Wooden Legacy Tournament. Harvard may have gotten blown out early versus St. Mary’s in the same tourney on Thursday, but Harvard’s 4-for-21 (19 percent) three-point shooting performance seems like an aberration.

Sunday night brought a 70-61 win for Cal State Fullerton over Harvard, a game in which the Titans attempted nearly three times as many free throws (30) as the Crimson (11). The Crimson’s interior defense got gouged at Titan Gym.

Read moreIvy men’s hoops roundup – Nov. 27, 2017

St. Joseph bests guest Princeton as Tigers lean heavily on their “big three”

PHILADELPHIA – The Tigers invaded the decidedly unfriendly confines of Hagan Arena on the otherwise welcoming campus of St. Joseph’s University on Saturday evening. Mitch Henderson continues his search for an effective rotation, realizing that his freshmen will need to undergo an ordeal by fire early in this new season.

He chose  a veteran-laden starting lineup in Philadelphia, going with seniors Amir Bell, Alec Brennan and Mike LeBlanc, along with juniors Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens. Will Gladson, the 6’10” sophomore, missed his third game due to injury.

Read moreSt. Joseph bests guest Princeton as Tigers lean heavily on their “big three”

BYU downs Princeton at Jadwin Gym, 65-56, following Henderson’s ejection

PRINCETON – The Tigers played a wild and weird game last night, opening its home schedule against BYU of the West Coast Conference. Having defeated Gonzaga in Spokane three times in three years, the Cougars were not likely to be intimidated by the hangar-like atmosphere of Jadwin Gym. They weren’t.

With 7:38 to go in the second half, the Cougars’ Zac Seljaas, perhaps the best outside shooter in BYU history, canned a long three to give his team a 48-43 lead, prompting Mitch Henderson to call a 30-second timeout.

Bad move.

The Tigers coach, for some reason not apparent to onlookers, went full Vesuvius on the officials. He was clearly bothered by his team’s treatment by the referees, a state of affairs he determined to be particularly galling at home. The nearest official found Henderson’s breach of decorum to be itself galling and worthy of two technical fouls, sending Henderson to the locker room and the Cougars’ best free-throw shooter, Elijah Bryant,  to the line for four shots. Of course, he made all four, breaking open what had been a close, if somewhat sloppily played, contest.

Read moreBYU downs Princeton at Jadwin Gym, 65-56, following Henderson’s ejection

Princeton hangs on at Bucknell, 72-70

The Princeton Tigers, college basketball’s nomads, finally wrapped up the traveling portion of their preseason slate at the Sojka Pavilion on the campus of Bucknell last night. Needing a win against a tough opponent, the Tigers got it, grinding out another hang-on-at-the-end 72-70 decision against the perennial Patriot League contenders. It was the Bison’s first loss at home this season. Frankly, the game was not as close as the final score might suggest. This was an impressive performance by the Tigers.

Read morePrinceton hangs on at Bucknell, 72-70

Princeton Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition

Princeton, as usual, is the conference wild card. No single star player. Several key components of last year’s CBI qualifying team gone, including T.J. Bray and Will Barrett. Few standout seniors.  And today we reported that Denton Koon is out indefinitely with a MCL injury.

And yet, Princeton enjoys significant depth and a reliable frontcourt with 2013-14 Ivy Rookie of the Year Spencer Weisz and Hans Brase coming back. This doesn’t seem to be a very athletic roster, and I’m not as high on Princeton as others, especially now that Koon is out. But let’s start with the positives first. Even though Barrett made 111 treys as a junior and senior, his long-range production won’t be missed too much because, as you’ll read below, there are plenty of young guns on this team who can make up for that kind of sharpshooting.

Read morePrinceton Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition