Princeton versus Lafayette in Men's Basketball -- Night Before Thanksgiving
Okay, so it wasn't Monmouth upsetting both UCLA and Notre Dame, but it was something of a spectacle at Jadwin Gym the other night. Princeton was playing its home opener, and without senior center Hans Brase, who is out for the year with a torn ACL. On a night when Yale was giving Duke a battle at Cameron Indoor Stadium and Lehigh tangled with UVA in Charlottesville for about 15 minutes, most observers would have thought this game to be a "ho-hum" affair. An Ivy League team hosting a Patriot League team, blah.
You couldn't tell that the Tigers had lost their leader. They were athletic, explosive, moved the ball around well, shot the three, hit the gaps in the Lafayette defense for a few dunks and won the game by fifty, scoring over 100 points for the first time since probably the Gerald Ford administration. A mixture of upperclassmen and underclassmen led the way, and Coach Mitch Henderson probably could have seen little in the way of flaws from this Tiger team. The bigs could shoot; the guards hit the glass. The bigs passed the ball to open men, everyone tried to block shots and the help defense was there. If there were any flaws, perhaps one could argue if he is trying hard that the interior help defense was a bit slow to develop, but it is early in the season. Still, as early-season games go, the Tigers looked very crisp. The Tigers hit 17 3's and by my count about four dunks.
Henderson was able to play everyone in his lineup, many scored in double figures and there were two double doubles -- by starters who played so little in the second half that it was hard to remember that they had such good games. Now, it is a long season, and Harvard has its recent history, Yale is the favorite, and Penn is always a formidable opponent, but. . . the Tigers did look very crisp.
For what it was worth, a few of us speculated whether the scoreboard at Princeton actually could hit triple digits, given the stinginess Pete Carril's teams were known for on defense and patience on offense. But the scoreboard does go to three digits -- we confirmed it -- and that compelled a few of us to chide former Athletic Director Gary Walters why the athletic administration hadn't cut a deal with a local fast food joint for a free burger if the Tigers were to score 100 points. Walters was on a team that scored 118 points when he played for the Tigers in the mid-1960's -- and that was without a shot clock and the three-point goal.
Fun times at Jadwin Gym to start a holiday weekend.