Thursday, December 12, 2013

Scouting Report

TigerBlog was copied on an email yesterday from Victoria Rosenfeld, Princeton's sports dietician and nutritionist.

Victoria was asking for help in publicizing the article she had written for NACDA's "Athletics Administration" magazine, about the rise of sports nutritionists in college athletic departments.

TB had never really give the matter much thought, though it does make perfect sense these days. In the world of college athletics - in the world in general - fitness and wellness are huge issues, and yet the idea of having a professional advise on something so significant to that cause - food, drink - is relatively new.

Victoria's article was well-written, something TB doesn't always take for granted. In an effort to help, he tweeted the link to the article, and that's when he stumbled onto Brian Earl's epic tweet from yesterday.

Brian is an assistant men's basketball coach at Princeton, as well as one of the program's top players of all time. He is seventh in scoring at Princeton and first in three-pointers made, and he was the 1999 Ivy League Player of the Year.

His father Denny played at Rutgers in the 1960s, and he had apparently given Brian a copy of the RU scouting report before the 1964 Princeton-Rutgers game. Brian then tweeted a picture of it.

To say it's fascinating is an understatement, largely because it's the first time TB has seen a scouting report of, among others, Bill Bradley, the greatest player in Princeton history, and Gary Walters, the Director of Athletics for the last 19+ years.

Interestingly, TB went to the section on Walters first.

"5-10, fast, quick, a real quarterback who controls the team and the tempo of the game for Princeton."

It says he's a decent outside shooter and they should extend to him if they go zone, to bother his shooting and passing. Says he has quick moves defensively. Advises to run him off screens since he may foul off the drive.

All in all, it's a pretty respectful, flattering account of Gary's game.

As for Bradley, it says that Rutgers needs to keep him from getting the ball. Says he can go left or right. Is a good passer. Follows his shot. Gets defensive rebounds and looks to start the fast break himself. Like with Gary, it advises trying to get him to foul on drives defensively.

It seems like it is underselling him a bit.

Bradley in the 1964-65 season was already an Olympic gold medalist, the Sullivan Award winner and the best player in college basketball. It's not like Rutgers was unfamiliar with him, having seen him twice already.

In reality, RU had done a pretty good job against Bradley, "holding" him to 25 as a sophomore and 21 as a junior. Princeton won both games fairly easily, 84-69 in 1962 and 79-50 in 1963, so perhaps Bradley didn't play much down the stretch.

Bradley's last game against Rutgers was played on Dec. 14, 1964 at Rutgers. Princeton won again, this time 92-79, and Bradley put up 35 that night. Gary added 13 in the win.

The scouting report is interesting in that it was clearly typed - a secretary perhaps? - and then apparently dittoed (remember how those smelled?). Other than that, it seems like the kind of scouting reports done today.

It made TB wonder how teams scouted back then. Could they get film? If so, how? Did it all have to be done in person, something that is now against NCAA rules? Was RU able to get such an in-depth scouting report because Princeton is so close? 

Princeton was back at Rutgers last night, three days shy of 49 years to the day of that 1964 game.

Princeton won again, this time 78-73.

The Tigers are now 7-1 on the year, with only a three-point loss at Butler as a blemish. Princeton has also won six straight.

The story last night was three-point shooting. Princeton was a ridiculous 16 for 34 from long range,  and exactly two-thirds of the Tigers' shots (34 of 51) were from three-point range.

Princeton is essentially unbeatable when it shoots 16 for 34 from three-point range. Actually, pretty much any team is.

On the other hand, six for 34 shooting from three-point range is a whole different story, and there will inevitably be nights like that as well for teams that rely so heavily on outside shooting.

The way to overcome that? Defense, rebounding, finding other ways to score.

Rutgers shot 50% from the field and outrebounded Princeton, but hey, there weren't too many misses from the Tigers to go get. For the year, Princeton is holding teams to 43% from the field and 30% from three-point range, and the Tigers average three more rebounds per game.

As for finding other ways to score, Princeton isn't relying just on one or two players to get points. They can come from anyone.

Last night the Tigers had four players in double figures. They entered the game with five averaging in double figures, and that didn't include freshman Spencer Weisz, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds in the win over FDU Saturday night.

The leading scorer for the Tigers, last night and on the year, is senior T.J. Bray, who had no points late in the first half and then finished with 23 points, not to mention eight assists. Bray shot 7 for 11 from the field, including 5 for 7 from three-point range,

Princeton leads the all-time series with Rutgers 75-45. Its next opponent is Penn State, Saturday at at 2, in a game being played in the old gym there, Rec Hall, rather than the beautiful Bryce Jordan Center.

The real season - the Ivy season - begins Jan. 11 at Penn, and the first meeting against everyone's presumptive league favorite Harvard is Game 2, though it's three weeks later, after first semester exams.

How far away is the Harvard game at Jadwin? It's the same day as opening day for lacrosse season.

So yeah, there's a lot of time before the 2013-14 season reaches its make-or-break point.

After eight games, though, TB can sum Princeton up in a four-word scouting report.

So far, so good.

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