Friday, November 18, 2011

13 Days, 11 Games

When TigerBlog saw that Delaware's Elena Delle Donne went for 40 points in Delaware's 80-71 upset of No. 12 Penn State last night, his first thought was that he'll get to see the 6' 5" scoring machine in person when the Blue Hens come to Jadwin Gym on Dec. 1.

Delle Donne, for those who don't know, originally committed to play at Connecticut after earning multiple high school national player of the year awards before changing her mind, saying she was burned out from the sport. Instead, she went to Delaware and played volleyball for a year (being named to the Colonial Athletic Association All-Rookie team) before returning to basketball - and she has been lighting it up every since.

In her first two years, Delle Donne scored 1,331 points for the Hens, despite missing 11 games due to Lyme Disease.

One of the 11 games she missed was against Princeton. A year earlier, at Jadwin Gym, Delle Donne put up 35 against the Tigers, along with 10 rebounds, while shooting 12 for 21 from the field, 4 for 8 from three-point range.

Princeton, though, won the game 68-59, as no other Delaware player had more than eight. Princeton, meanwhile, had four players in double figures, three of whom (Niveen Rasheed, Lauren Edwards and Laura Johnson) are still playing.

Anyway, the Princeton-Delaware women's game is less than two weeks away.

Of course, between now and then, there are still 10 other basketball games for Princeton, six for the men and four for the women. Of those 10 games, six are at Jadwin Gym and another - the women's game Nov. 27 at Rider - is six miles away.

This, by the way, is in a 12-day stretch that also includes Thanksgiving Day, when neither team would be playing anyway.

It starts tomorrow with a Jadwin Gym doubleheader, as the men play Buffalo at 12:30 and the women play Villanova at 3.

The women host Marist Monday, and the men host Elon Tuesday. And on it goes from there.

Honestly, TB has lost track of which game is when, there are so many of them.

By the time the Delaware women's game rolls around, Princeton's two teams will have played 14 total games. Keep in mind, the Delaware game in on Dec. 1, which used to the official first day that college basketball games could be played.

And now, 14 games will have been played in November.

Already, television is flooded with college basketball games, even more so now that ESPN has to fill in for time slots where the NBA would have been playing.

TigerBlog has said this before, but college basketball - way more than college football - is in danger of oversaturation. It's not even Thanksgiving yet, and already almost every game on TV is starting to look the same.

The fact that every game is on TV, combined with how few recognizable college basketball players there are and the total dilution of the value of the regular season because of conference tournaments and then the NCAA tournament, means that college basketball needs to be careful about its product.

One game that interested TB was, of course, Princeton's 60-58 loss at North Carolina State the other night.

TB has seen three Princeton-N.C. State games in person, and Princeton won all three of those. In fact, it was then-N.C. State coach Les Robinson who said in a tiny press conference in his cramped office in the Reynolds Coliseum that playing Princeton was "like going to the dentist," a line repeated a billion times since.

The 1997 Princeton-N.C. State was in the final a preseason tournament at the Meadowlands, won by Princeton 38-36.

The game in the NIT in 1999 remains one of the best Princeton games TB has ever seen. It was the last men's basketball game played at Reynolds, and the noise level was almost as shocking as how well Brian Earl played to lead the Tigers.

The game the other night was close, and it would have been great for Princeton to pull out the win.

TB thought the Tigers were in trouble when they shot 6 for 7 from three-point range in the first half but only led by three. If you're going to shoot that well in a half, you need a cushion, because probability says the shots won't keep falling in the second half.

Still, the Tigers did take a big step forward in the game. And with such a busy schedule coming up, there's a chance to get to know much more about this team.

The most important thing to keep in mind about Princeton is that Mitch Henderson is in his first few games as a head coach. It's easy to think of Henderson and Sydney Johnson as being similar in age, which they are, and as former teammates, but the reality is that Johnson is now in his fifth year as a head coach.

Henderson has two games under his belt. Johnson's first Princeton team went 6-23; Courtney Banghart's went 7-23. It takes awhile for a head coach - especially a young one - to develop.

TigerBlog is confident that Henderson will be fine. In fact, way better than fine.

And if he needs a few games to adjust, well, then the schedule is going to give him that chance very quickly.

Doubleheader tomorrow.

And a bunch of games after that for Princeton basketball. In fact, it's 13 days, 11 games, ending with Elena Delle Donne.

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