Friday, February 19, 2016

A Home Date With Yale

Devin Cannady's game-tying shot at the end of regulation last Saturday at Columbia became even more impressive to TigerBlog the other day, when Cannady filmed a video in advance of tonight's showdown against Yale.

The premise of the video was to see how many times it would take Cannady to successfully recreate that shot. He said he could do it in one take. It took four.

You know what that means? That Cannady is better under the pressure of the big moment than he is making a fun video a few days later.

Of course, you'd rather have a player who swished it from 27 feet Saturday night with three seconds left down three rather than someone who would make four of four on a Wednesday afternoon in a quiet gym.

That same gym won't be quiet tonight, not with Yale in the building.

Yale enters the game at 8-0 in the Ivy League. Princeton is 6-1, its lone loss to Yale by a 79-75 count in New Haven.

Next up is Columbia, a 6-2. Nobody else is over .500.

Princeton would have had two losses, rather than Columbia, had Cannady not scored eight points in the last 25 seconds of regulation, tying it with a long three with three seconds left. And then the freshman put Princeton ahead for the first time all night in the final minute of the overtime, after the Tigers had trailed by seven.

Princeton, Yale and Columbia are 16-0 against the rest of the league. Going head-to-head among the three, Yale is 2-0, Princeton 1-1 and Columbia 0-2, with one more game between each of them.

The advantage that Princeton has is that both of its return games are at home, starting with tonight. Columbia gets Yale at home in the final regular season game for both.

Yale shot 11 for 19 from three-point range in the win in New Haven. In fact, Yale is shooting 44% from three-point range at home and 32% from three-point range on the road, and that's a huge theme for this game.

Princeton is playing its third home Ivy League game. In its first two, Princeton shot 52.6% from the field and 45.2% from three-point range, averaging 12.5 made threes per game.

In its five road games? Princeton is at 34% from three-point range, with 7.6 made per game. Overall Princeton is at 43.7% from the field away from home in the league.

Of course, even with those numbers, offense hasn't been an issue for Princeton. The 2015-16 Tigers are threatening the school record for points per game in a season, with a 79.62 average that is just off the record of 79.74, set in 1971-72.

The 1971-72 season is also the last time Princeton reached at least 80 points in four straight games, something that Princeton has now done in its most recent four. That's not the record, by the way: the 1965 Final Four team did it six straight times once.

Oh, and speaking of the 1971-72 team, those Tigers didn't do it in the Ivy League. The four opponents Princeton reached at least 80 against in a row? How about California, Kentucky, Stanford and Michigan.

The Princeton teams of the early Pete Carril years (his first season as Tiger coach was 1967-68) routinely scored in the 80s and 90s. Keep in mind that this was without a shot clock or a three-point line.

Why? TigerBlog has never asked Carril. Or Gary Walters. Perhaps he needs to.

TigerBlog does know that Carril's coach at Liberty High School in Bethlehem was a man named Joseph Preletz, and he liked to press and play up-tempo the whole game. And the last of Carril's college coaches was Butch van Breda Kolff, who would go on to coach Princeton during the Bill Bradley years.

Anyway, the Yale game is a big one. Win or lose, Princeton will have to bounce back quickly, taking on Brown Saturday at 6.

While the men's basketball game is a big one, it's far from the only big game at Princeton this weekend.
The Ivy League women's swimming and diving championships continue today and tomorrow at DeNunzio Pool.

The women's hockey team is at home, hoping to be here next weekend as well, when the ECAC playoffs start. The Tigers, who play RPI tonight at 7 and Union tomorrow at 4, need two points to clinch home ice for the playoffs.

Princeton can still finish as high as second and as low as fifth.

This is also the real start of the crossover between winter and spring, and not just because it's going to be nearly 60 degrees here tomorrow. No, this is opening weekend for women's lacrosse, men's lacrosse and softball, with men's tennis also on the schedule.

The lacrosse season began last year in shivering temps and snow. The 2016 season will start on what figures to be a beautiful day.

And it starts in style.

The women, ranked 10th, host No. 5 Virginia at noon, followed by the men against NJIT at 3. NJIT is in its second year as a Division I program, the fourth in New Jersey.

Admission to the lacrosse doubleheader is free.

You have to buy a ticket to the basketball game tonight, but it's worth it.

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