Monday, February 18, 2019

Making It Through The Weekend

TigerBlog was on the radio with Patrick McCarthy Friday night when someone came up and asked TB if his father was the Phillies guy.

TB thought for a second about what he meant and then he realized he was talking about Patrick's father, Tom McCarthy, the former Princeton play-by-play man who is now "the Phillies guy." FatherBlog, conversely, is 83 and hasn't been in Philadelphia in a long time.

It was good to see Patrick back in Jadwin Gym this weekend. It was good to see Patrick anywhere, after he had a really bad skiing accident nearly three weeks ago.

Despite four broken ribs and two broken vertebrae, as well as a lung that needed to be reinflated, Patrick looked fine and sounded like his normal strong self as he called the men's basketball games against Harvard Friday night and Dartmouth Saturday night.

He also mentioned that he'd go skiing again, even though the accident came on the first time he'd gone. For his part, TB went skiing once, and it's not his thing at all.

The games that Patrick called this weekend were both tough ones, but then again it seems like every Ivy League men's basketball game this year has been a tough one. It seems like game after game is tight, with only a possession here or there to separate the teams until someone pulls it out at the end.

As TB and Patrick gave updates Friday and Saturday, every game was close at all times. In fact, at times both nights, all four games were withing three points past the midway point of the second half. TB can't remember a year quite like that.

Princeton, for its part, made it through the weekend in pretty good shape as it relates to the Ivy League tournament, which is not that far in the future now.

As TB said Friday, it's like former coach John Thompson III said about how Ivy League basketball works. Get through each weekend and see where you are. If you're in the right spot, then don't worry about how you got there.

Princeton began its weekend with a 78-69 loss to Harvard, on the same night that Dartmouth fell to Penn 80-79 in overtime. The big question then heading into Saturday's game between the Tigers and Big Green was which team would have any energy after the tough Friday losses.

The answer turned out to be both, and the result was a very exciting, very well-contested, very hard-fought matchup that ended 69-68 Princeton.

TigerBlog thought that Saturday night was going to be huge for Princeton in terms of the big picture of the league race. Harvard was taking on Penn at the same time as the Tigers and Big Green, and the results of those two games were going to have a major impact on the standings.

Whatever the outcomes, the impact on the league standings was going to be substantial. A Penn win and a Princeton loss would have tied those two for fourth place. A Princeton win and a Penn loss would mean a two-game separation between the teams, which in this case is really a three-game separation, since Princeton holds the tiebreaker over Penn due to its season sweep.

As the games made their way down the stretch, those outcomes swung back and forth like a seesaw. First it was Penn and Dartmouth up. Then it was Princeton. Then it was Dartmouth again. Then Harvard. Then Penn. Then overtime in Philly.

Finally, it worked out perfectly for the Tigers. Princeton had too much Richmond Aririguzoh for the Big Green, and Harvard pulled away in the OT after a big last-minute rally to tie it in regulation.

Before TB gets back to the Ivy standings, he should say a word about the Tigers' junior center, who is shooting 75 percent from the field in Ivy League games. The second best number in the league? That's .552.

Overall, Aririguzoh is at .701 for the year. The program record for a season is .703, held by Alan Williams, set in the 1986-87 season.

Aririguzoh has become a force in the low post this year, an unstoppable one at times, with a full arsenal of moves. He had the two biggest plays of the night against Dartmouth, a tip-in to beat the first half buzzer in which he elevated over Dartmouth's 6-9 Will Emery (TB is almost positive he's the grandson of former Princeton football great John Emery, the 1952 Roper Trophy winner) and then a powerful finish with 1:08 to go to make it a two-possession game at 68-64.

So where does it all stand? Sort of where it did before the weekend, with a two-game gap from fourth to fifth, only with one more weekend gone.

Yale is 7-1. Harvard is 6-2. Princeton and Cornell are 5-3. Then it's down to 3-5 Penn and Brown, 2-6 Dartmouth and 1-7 Columbia.

There are three league weekends left, with the Tigers at home this coming weekend against Cornell and Columbia (doubleheaders with the women, and TB will have more on them tomorrow).

Is anything settled yet? Nope. There's a long way to go.

In short, though, Princeton did what JT3 always said to do - make it through each weekend in an advantageous position.

1 comment:

George Clark said...

RA has outplayed everyone he has faced in League games. He should be All Ivy after 9 mpg last year!