Thursday, April 4, 2019

A Few Thoughts On Myles Stephens

TigerBlog spent a lot of time in his newspaper days driving to various events with another local sportswriter, Rich Fisher.

TB wrote for the Trenton Times. Fish wrote for, well, anyone who would pay him, but most notably at the time the Trentonian. Those two were big rival papers, but it didn't stop Fish and TigerBlog from carpooling to games to see Rider,  or Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey) or Mercer County College.

TB remembers when Fish had a car that was on its last legs, leaking oil to the point where he had to stop every hour or so to put more in. TB remembers that from a trip to Burlington County College, where they both were headed to cover a basketball game that also included Mercer.

As he types that now, TB can't really recall why it is that he didn't just drive. Why did Fish insist on driving? 

Anyway, Fish today is what Fish was all those years ago. He's fun and funny. He's got a big heart. He cares about the people he writes about a lot. He's as close to the most universally well-liked person that TB has ever met.

Oh, and he's also an outstanding writer. Maybe it's a function of how much he cares about the people in his stories?

TB has often joked that Fish is the George Bailey of Mercer County. You know. George Bailey, from "It's A Wonderful Life," the guy who can never get out of Bedford Falls, try as he might.

There can't be too many people, if any, who have written more about high school and youth sports in Mercer County than Fish.

He's also covered his fair share of Princeton sports through the years, and it's always good to see him.

TB stumbled on a story that Fish wrote about Myles Stephens, a senior who just concluded his basketball career at Princeton. You can read the story HERE.

For as much as TB knows about Stephens, there were two things in the story by Fish that he learned.

First, there was the Pete Carril story. TigerBlog hadn't heard that one before.

Then there was the fact that Stephens was a 48 percent shooter for his career. TB would never have guessed that.

Actually, he was a little better than that, shooting .484 for his career (509 for 1,051). He also took 302 three-point shots, making 105, for a .348 percentage from three.

That also means that shot 404 for 749 on two-point shots, or .539.

If you think about Stephens and the two-point shots he took, there were basically three kinds. There were dunks, which are a very high percentage. There were hard drives through the lane, which aren't easy to be able to pull off and easy to miss.

And then, in his case, there were the turnaround floaters that he loved to shoot. As TB often said on the radio, they reminded him of the kinds of shots that Adrian Dantley used to take during his 15 year NBA career that started in the 1970s.

These are not easy shots. Stephens made them look easy, but they're not.

To put all of that together and come away just short of 50 percent is impressive. It's more so considering that Stephens was known as much for defense as he was for offense during his time playing for the Tigers.

Stephens was the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore and a first-team All-Ivy pick as a sophomore and senior. As his coach, Mitch Henderson, says in Fish's story, a lot was asked of Stephens on both ends of the court.

He finished his career 10th all-time at Princeton with 1,345 points.

TB isn't sure what Stephens' plans are for the future, but he assumes they include professional basketball somewhere. He's not exactly done with Ivy League basketball, as he'll be part of the four-man Ivy League team that competes at the 3X3U national championship tournament at the Final Four, beginning tomorrow.

Stephens is on a team with Cornell's Matt Morgan, Brown's Obi Okolie and Yale's Blake Reynolds. Game 1 for the Ivy team is tomorrow at 8:30 at night, against a team from the Big Ten.

You can read more about the event and get the full schedule HERE.

Stephens played hard every night, and he was a total warrior for the Tigers.

He certainly has earned his place as one of the greats in Princeton men's basketball history, and that's saying a lot.

1 comment:

George Clark said...

As you know,TB, I have watched a lot of Tiger hoops over many years. I don't recall many players who were more important to their team than Stephens for two and a half season beginning when he became a full time starter in the middle of his sophomore season. On a team with the IVY POY and runner-up he was the team's leading scorer in the Ivy season while earning DPOY laurels. A once in a generation warrior.