St. Joe's smothers Princeton, but there's still a silver lining for Tigers

The Tigers suffered their second straight loss on the road against a talented St. Joe’s squad that, like Stony Brook, features a future NBA player in DeAndre Bembry. An AAU teammate of Spencer Weisz, Bembry led the Hawks in most categories, including a game-high 26 points. With his tall and very athletic frontcourt mates, he established a disruptive and intimidating presence around the basket, blocking a number of Tiger close-in looks, and affecting a number of others.

The final margin, 62-50, is somewhat skewed by the “march to the free throw line” tactic of the last two minutes. Make no mistake, however, St. Joe’s was clearly in control after the first five minutes.

For the Tigers, the offensive story line is dictated by the miserable shooting from the field. Princeton managed to convert on a paltry 29 percent, including 9-for-33 from beyond the arc. Spencer Weisz’s early season woes can now be labeled “a slump.” He is obviously pressing as he tries to work out of it, and it shows up in his technique. He misfired on all eight of his shot attempts, something that he hasn’t done since middle school (if then) and something that will not happen again, certainly not at Jadwin.

The Tigers did outshoot the Hawks, 66-57, but made three fewer. The Hawks scored 12 more points on free throws than the Tigers, accounting for the final margin. Love that home cooking!

The silver lining in this cloud is the Tigers’ defensive best online casino intensity, very much in evidence over 40 minutes. The same St. Joe’s team that scored 52 in the second half at Columbia last Friday managed only a few more against the Tigers in the whole game. The Tigers will not face a frontcourt this big, this talented and this athletic in the Ivy League outside of  the Sears-Sherrod juggernaut in New Haven. (Warning: Things may get ugly against Maryland next week!)

Assistant coach Brian Earl was philosophical after the game. The coaching staff came up with an offensive scheme that created a great many “looks” that were desired, both inside and out. Superior athleticism inside wreaked havoc on our shooters and the failure to knock any down from outside put a great deal of pressure on the defense. The fact that the defense responded with an effort that  was almost enough to win, and clearly enough to keep the Tigers in it, was a source of pride to Earl and the rest of the staff.

Bottom line: The Tigers will benefit from a solid night of competition against a very good team on the road. They will head to Tennessee a little wiser and a little better prepared going forward. And that’s what these tough December games are all about.

I arrived in time to see the St. Joe’s women sneak past a very good Penn team.  The Tiger women may have their hands full with the Quakers.