March 21, 2010

Game On! IUPUI vs Princeton, CBI Second Round!

Coming off of a first round victory in the College Basketball Invitational against Hofstra, IUPUI is set to take on the Ivy League's #2 team Princeton. The game is going to be IUPUI's first Division-1 post-season home game of all time, and The Jungle's first game since the 77-61 victory over Southern Utah. Princeton comes in with a 21-8 record, most recently knocking off Duquesne in the first round of CBI play. The CBI has brought with it another fellow-blogger and -twitterer Jon Solomon (aka @princetontigers) who follows and reports on Princeton basketball! I did a Q&A swap with him - so get ready to learn all about Princeton University basketball!

How did you get involved with

Prepare yourself for more backstory than you (or anyone else) needs! I consistently started going to Princeton basketball games right before I started high school in the, uh, late 1980s. 
Shortly after I became a regular at Jadwin Gym, the Tigers won four straight Ivy League titles. Mix teenage excitement with great basketball and I could not have become a fan in a better era. 
I went to college in Chicago without a way to keep tabs on the Tigers beyond the occasional ESPN nonconference game and my folks holding the phone up to the radio if they were around when Princeton was playing. 
Sometimes I'd call the press row phone at Jadwin and ask for score updates again and again and again... 
Thankfully, in the mid-1990s - along came the Internet! I created a listserv to keep displaced Tiger fans like myself aware of what was going on with the team and slowly built a network of 600+ subscribers. 
A few years ago I decided to "go legit" and move from an email format to a more journalistic approach through a web site, fulfilling a boyhood dream of becoming something comparable to a beat reporter. 
Now I cover more games per season than any other member of the print media and host a weekly interview show with Princeton coach Sydney Johnson. The 15 year old me would flip out if you told him this. 
As more and more branches of the Pete Carril coaching tree have sprung up at Northwestern, Georgetown, Oregon State, Denver, Richmond and most recently Mercer County Community College, I've tried to provide detailed coverage and analysis of those teams as well. I just got back from seeing the Hoyas and Spiders play in Providence two days sooner than anyone expected.

Princeton Basketball: They care about sports there? How is the turnout both from students and "general" fans?
Turnout is poor, unfortunately. 
There's an older core of alums who care deeply and a small number of current students who are interested. The game versus Cornell was a near sell-out, packed to the top of the arena and full of energy and emotion, but that's been the exception not the rule. 
There were only 665 people at the CBI game versus Duquesne and I could name at least 20% of them. The short turnaround and the fact the school was on spring break didn't help matters.

How is Ivy League basketball compared to other East Coast leagues?
It is a pretty good league! This year was the first time three different Ivy schools (Cornell, Princeton and Harvard) each won 20+ games in a season. 
The absence of a conference tournament gives additional weight to every Ivy game, which I love. Going all the way up to Hanover, New Hampshire on a Friday night is just as important as playing Penn at home because any slip up can ruin the road to the NCAA automatic bid. There aren't three days in March where you can possibly save your season.

Ivy League teams seem to be notorious for being a bunch of guards that can shoot the lights out, but not do much more. True or False of Princeton?
Those that play a matchup zone and have to rebound out of position have trouble on the boards. Princeton's fit that description in years gone by, but this year's Princeton team is actually in the black when it comes to rebounds. They outrebounded Duquesne by 15 on Wednesday.

Then which "Big Dance" team does Princeton best resemble?
Good question. Wisconsin? Both play good defense and execute efficiently on offense. Richmond and Georgetown run similar sets (and are both coached by former Princeton standouts) but have different types of players than this year's Tiger team.

Why does Princeton win this game? Why do they lose? 
The Tigers win because they play very good defense and are able to create scouting reports that limit their opponents' primary offensive options. 
Princeton started the season 2-4, but has gone 19-4 since December 3 and all four losses were by three points or less. 
Their offensive numbers aren't very impressive and they sometimes have trouble holding on to the basketball, but the defense drives the day. 
The inexplicable loss to Brown is the only time the defensive effort was not where it needed to be in months and Princeton dropped the game.

What are you looking forward to most at The Jungle?
I love seeing new gyms. Going to Central Michigan, GW, Cal and Marist for the first time were highlights of this season. The last time I was in Indianapolis was 2000 for the NCAA Tournament final four. It will be nice to have a seat that's less than a mile from the floor!

IUPUI only holds 1215 people, and I highly doubt many of those will be Princeton fans. That place is going to be ROCKIN' for the Jags!



  1. When I wrote this Wisconsin *was* a NCAA Tournament team...

  2. Haha it's okay! Any of the 65 would have sufficed. Just something to compare to, I didn't catch Princeton at all this year.

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