Tiger Takeaways from Princeton men’s basketball’s Ivy Madness semifinal loss to Brown

Princeton coach Mitch Henderson paces the sideline in the final minute of his team’s 90-81 upset loss to Brown in their Ivy League Tournament semifinal matchup Saturday. (Photo by Steve Silverman)

A valiant comeback by the Princeton men’s basketball team came up short at Levien Gym on Saturday afternoon as the No. 1 Tigers fell to the No. 4 Brown Bears, 90-81, in their Ivy League Tournament semifinal matchup Saturday. Here are three takeaways from the shocking end to Princeton’s magical Ivy League season:

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A two-banner weekend could be in store for Princeton basketball

Every basketball season at Princeton begins with the same goal: Win an Ivy League championship.  This weekend, both the men’s and women’s programs have an opportunity to accomplish their primary mission by winning at least a share of the regular season Ivy League title.  All they have to do is close out the regular season with a win over their most enduring rival, the Penn Quakers.

With championships on the line for both Princeton teams, let’s take a look at the prospects for each program winning a new banner and earning the right to cut down the nets on Saturday:

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Tosan in the pros: Evbuomwan nabs two-way deal, minutes with Detroit Pistons

When Ivy Hoops Online last left Tosan Evbuomwan, he was in the mildly perilous spot of playing out a 10-day contract, no future NBA home secured.

Worry no longer; Despite the Memphis Grizzlies letting him leave after four games, Evbuomwan quickly signed a new 10-day deal with the Detroit Pistons and subsequently was converted onto a two-way deal in Detroit announced Friday.

Two-way Tosan

What does that mean? Evbuomwan is not part of the Pistons’ primary 15-man roster but takes one of three two-way spots. Thus the Pistons can have him on their bench for the rest of the season. He can still be sent back to the G-League, where he’d played for Detroit’s affiliate previously, but he now has a more established NBA home than when he was between the G-League and 10-day deals.

Signing a two-way deal now gives Detroit the ability to bring him back next season as well. It likely allows the Pistons the first chance to add him to their 15-man roster if another team pursues him this offseason.

With 27 games to go and little but pride to play for, the 8-47 Pistons should have some minutes Evbuomwan can absorb. Plenty of NBA players have showed enough on two-way contracts to get into regular rotations, and it’s not far-fetched to believe Tosan can do the same within the next few seasons.

Tosan Evbuomwan has a long way to go to rank among the all-time leaders in most NBA games played among Ivy League veterans. (Bally Sports TV broadcast)

Taking on Kevin Durant

I recapped Evbuomwan’s two most fruitful games with Memphis. While he’s only played eight minutes in Detroit, there was plenty to watch as he battled against Kevin Durant’s Phoenix Suns.

In a 116-100 loss in Phoenix on Valentine’s Day, Evbuomwan got real rotation minutes in the first half. He checked in with 5:37 left in the second quarter and the woeful Pistons already down 19. (Unlike the Knicks’ public address announcer, the Suns’ PA man pronounced his last name without issue!)

His defensive role at first was hanging with Eric Gordon and Suns’ tertiary guys. The Pistons forced a shot-clock violation in his first defensive possession, albeit with Evbuomwan mostly off-ball.

With Durant (lightly) guarding him on the other end, Tosan ended up handling the 14-time All-Star in some crossmatches. He held his own on a contest against KD at the rim and picked him up above the three-point arc and navigated a screen well while Durant fired a quality assist. He even earned his first career steal by getting back in transition and interrupting Durant in the open court.

For the last three minutes of the half, Evbuomwan took over as Durant’s primary defender. He fouled him navigating an off-ball screen, giving KD two free throws, but he did fine work staying with the former MVP in the mid-post. Still, Durant was able to use his 6-foot-11 frame to nail the jumper over the outstretched Ivy alum.

His defensive highlight of the night came in garbage time when he returned to the game for the final three minutes of the fourth quarter. Taking on Théo Maledon in transition, he stayed with the speedy guard step-for-step and avoided fouling. He ultimately forced Maledon into an errant floater while getting whistled for a travel.

That’s me in the corner

In Evbuomwan’s first half minutes, his teammates barely looked at him. His role was primarily to stand in the corner. He made some fine cuts and got into good offensive rebounding position twice but on shots the Pistons made.

For the rest of those five and half minutes, Tosan stood by as his teammates made some horrendous passes. Tossing crosscourt to no one, hitting people in the first row, etc. It wasn’t pretty and easily explained the Suns’ hefty advantage.

In garbage time to close the fourth, Evbuomwan was finally an active participant in the offense. He set a few pin-down screens for Mike Muscala and also set more screens for point guard Marcus Sasser.

Sasser and Evbuomwan had some decent chemistry after an early mishap. On their first pick and roll, Sasser’s dump-off past into the post was mediocre and Tosan couldn’t handle it, leading to the Pistons’ maintaining the ball out of bounds. The Pistons left him wide open in the corner on the next play and Sasser nailed him for an easy trey.

On the next possession, Tosan rolled after a screen up top for Sasser and again benefitted from a great wraparound pass from Sasser, scoring an easy layup.

Finally, Evbuomwan crashed the glass late and helped deflect a ball to Muscala for an easy layup.

He wasn’t asked to do much in the halfcourt defensively in garbage time. Funnily enough, it took until his fifth NBA game to guard an ex-teammate, assigned fellow former Grizzly David Roddy, who barely saw the ball. The closest thing to a highlight was when he gobbled up a contested rebound despite Saben Lee crashing the glass.

Tosan Evbuomwan contributed five points on 2-for-2 shooting from the field and two rebounds in 8:24 of playing time for the Detroit Pistons in their 116-100 loss at the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 14. (Bally Sports TV broadcast)


Look, it’s eight minutes and the Pistons are rough to watch. Despite a paucity of high-quality teammates, Evbuomwan is simply asked to be a role player. Five games into his NBA career, he’s handling that just fine. With a two-way contract secured, he’s going to get more chances from the back of the bench, an exciting moment for the Ivy League … even Penn fans like me.

LISTEN: Thoughts on Princeton men’s basketball’s 73-62 win over Yale

Ivy Hoops Online contributor George “Toothless Tiger” Clark makes sense of surprising storylines that emerged during a 73-62 win at Jadwin Gym for Princeton (19-3, 7-2 Ivy) over Yale (17-7, 8-1) Saturday night:

Tosan in the pros: How the Princeton star has looked with the Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzly and former Princeton standout Tosan Evbuomwan (right) guards New York Knick Taj Gibson during the Grizzlies’ 123-113 loss at the Knicks Tuesday night. Evbuomwan logged 20 minutes, posting four points on 2-for-4 shooting from the field and two assists. (Photo by Steven Tydings) 

With injuries to Marcus Smart and their other stars, there have been few reasons to tune into the 2023-24 Memphis Grizzlies. However, for the faithful readers of Ivy Hoops Online, the Grizzlies have been must-watch hoops for the last week.

That shift is because the Grizzlies, wracked with injuries, signed former Princeton star Tosan Evbuomwan to a 10-day contract in order to help fill their roster.

In three games, the mononymous Tosan has had a low-usage offensive role, but he’s logged ample minutes, averaging 22 a game for the woeful Grizz. He’s scored just 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting (2-for-7 from three-point range) while adding 14 rebounds. It also took the New York Knicks’ public address announcer four tries to pronounce Evbuomwan correctly, a true sign of a rookie.

Despite unspectacular numbers, there’s plenty to like about Tosan’s game and reason to think he could stick around for a second 10-day contract or even more NBA time in the months and years to come. Having watched his second and third games against the Celtics and Knicks, here’s my Quakeaways takeaways on Tosan’s game:

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Princeton men’s basketball putting it all together heading into Ivy League play

Matt Allocco.
Senior guard Matt Allocco’s intangibles have keyed Princeton’s 12-1 start to the 2023-24 season. (Princeton Athletics)
Princeton men’s basketball is poised to enter what promises to be an eventful Ivy League campaign beginning Saturday against the Harvard Crimson at Jadwin Gym.
Skipper Mitch Henderson has compiled an enviable record of 208 wins against 116 losses, a winning percentage of 63%. Since he took the helm in 2011, he has won four Ivy titles and two Ivy tournament crowns. His record playing Ivy teams is a glittering 111-48. He joins Pete Carril, who recruited him as a player, as the only two Tiger coaches to have amassed more than 100 league wins. In 2017, after a 16-0 run through the league and the inaugural Ivy tourney, he was named Ivy League Coach of the Year.

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Three thoughts on Princeton basketball heading into 2024


It’s been an extremely successful year for both the Princeton men’s and women’s basketball teams.  As we turn the calendar from 2023 to 2024, here are three reflections on the state of both programs as we approach the beginning of the 2023-24 Ivy League regular season:

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Be thankful for Ivy League basketball

It’s Thanksgiving, and our cups runneth over with sumptuous Ivy hoops results.  

Last Monday, the Penn men’s team gobbled up a nationally ranked Villanova team at the Palestra.  A day earlier, the Princeton women’s team visited Middle Tennessee State, the defending Conference USA champions, and pulled the rug on the Blue Raiders’ 49-game home court winning streak.  Five days later, the Tigers came within a whisker of upsetting No. 3 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.  

Last Saturday, the Columbia men, picked to finish last in the Ivy League, toppled Temple, 78-73, in an upset that virtually no one even seemed to notice.

But wait, there’s more.  The Brown women’s team, picked to finish sixth in the Ivy League this season, lowered the boom on Providence and Georgetown in back-to-back games.  The Bears may not win the Ivy crown, but apparently they are contenders in the Big East.  

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Four observations on Princeton men’s season-opening win over Rutgers

The Princeton Tigers men’s basketball team opened the 2023-24 season with a statement win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 68-61, in front of more than 6,000 fans at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton in what was dubbed the “Jersey Jam.”  Here are four observations about the Tigers’ triumph over their in-state rival:

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