Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Attendance 13,000

TigerBlog was standing near the east stands of Jadwin Gym about 30 minutes before tip-off between Princeton and Norfolk State and making small talk with men's lacrosse consigliere Bryce Chase.

Brycie asked TigerBlog if he knew what the largest crowd in Jadwin history was. TB responded that the 1991 game against Loyola Marymount was the largest crowd he had seen in the building and that he'd seen announced crowds of nearly 8,000 in box scores from the 1970s, though Jadwin's capacity is not close to 8,000.

The biggest crowd, TB told Bryce, was for a 1981 high school game, though. It matched Camden and Neptune, back when Camden was thought to be an unstoppable force, led by future Louisville stars Milt Wagner and Billy Thompson.

Both teams were undefeated, with Camden ranked No. 1 nationally and Neptune ranked No. 5. Camden averaged more than 100 points per game but would score only 65 on this night - March 6, 1981, to be exact - while giving up 85.

When TigerBlog counted down the top 40 moments in the first 40 years of Jadwin Gym back in 2009, he had the Camden-Neptune game ranked No. 7 and had this to say about it:
March 6, 1981 – Undefeated Neptune High, ranked fifth nationally, defeats undefeated Camden High, ranked first nationally and averaging 103 points per game, 85-65 in the NJSIAA Group IV semifinal. Security fails to hold back those who didn’t originally get into the building; crowd estimates rank as high as 13,000.

If that seems incredibly high for the number of fans in the building, check out the youtube clip of the game. TB has no idea if there really were 13,000 here that night, but it certainly seems completely jammed.

Brycie already knew the answer and was testing TigerBlog. Or at least that's how it felt.

Anyway, the game last night won't be making the list of top 50 events for the first 50 years, which TigerBlog presumes he will be doing in four more years.

It was, though, a nice 71-61 win for Princeton over a solid team in its final tuneup before the start of the Ivy League season, which comes up Saturday in the nightcap of the Princeton-Penn doubleheader. The women play at 2; the men at 5.

The player of the game last night was Henry Caruso, a sophomore who put up 14 points and five rebounds in just 14 minutes. Caruso went 4 for 6 from the field and attacked the basket for his points, all of which came in the second half and most of which came at crucial points, with Norfolk State still very much hanging around.

Princeton is now 6-9 on the season, but that record converts to 0-0 come Saturday afternoon.

The Ivy League is one of four Division I leagues that has not had any conference games played yet, along with the Atlantic Sun (Lipscomb's league), Big West and WAC.

By the way, if you asked TigerBlog a few minutes ago to name the members of the WAC, he would have gotten it dreadfully wrong. He remembers the WAC with Boise State, Fresno State, Utah State, San Jose State, schools like that.

Here are the current members of the WAC: Grand Canyon, Seattle, New Mexico State, Utah Valley State, UT Pan American, Missouri-Kansas City, Cal State-Bakersfield and Chicago State. That's a random collection, no?

As for the Ivy League, the best records at this point belongs to 9-3 Harvard and 10-5 Yale. Of course, they, like Princeton, go back to 0-0.

Princeton plays Penn and then is off for two weeks for first semester exams, with its next league game not until 20 days later, when the Tigers host Harvard.

In between, each of the other three sets of travel partners will play each other home and away.

Princeton needs to do this year what it did not do last year, which is defeat Penn in the opener in the game before exams and not have an 0-1 record and a return-to-the-league Friday game against Harvard hanging over it for three weeks.

The worst-case scenario was last year's: lose to Penn, lose to Harvard, season basically done at that point.

The best-case scenario? Beat Penn, who is 3-7 and knock off Harvard at home, completely changing the league race before the end of January.

It's Penn first, though.

Regardless of where each team is now, it is still and always will be the best rivalry in Ivy League men's basketball, and there is something special about each time the teams get together.

The next time is three days away. And it's a big game.

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