Tuesday, April 4, 2017

McBride And Currier Reach 100

Spencer Weisz and Steven Cook both went over the 1,000-point mark this season for the Princeton men's basketball team.

Weisz was the 31st player in program history to reach 1,000 points. Cook was the 32nd.

Gavin McBride and Zach Currier both went over the 100-point mark this season for the men's lacrosse team. Actually they did it each of the last two weeks, McBride against Yale and Currier against Brown.

The interesting thing is that McBride was the 31st player in program history to reach 100 points. Currier was the 32nd.

So Princeton has the exact same number of men's basketball players who have reached 1,000 points as men's lacrosse players who have reached 100 points. What does that say?

Well, before TigerBlog gets into that, let him go back to the very beginning.

Do you know who invented basketball? Of course you do. James Naismith.

Here are a few questions for you: What was Naismith's nationality? What sport did he grow up playing? What sport did he use to incorporate rules for his new game, the one with the peach baskets?

The answers: Canadian. Lacrosse. Lacrosse.

Basketball traces many of its roots back to lacrosse, because of the connection Naismith had to the game. When he began to play his new sport, he drew on many of the principles of the old one.

Anyway, what does that tell us about 1,000 points versus 100 points? Nothing.

Clearly, one point in lacrosse does not equal 10 points in basketball. The leading scorers in basketball average way less than 10 times what the leading scorers in lacrosse average, and basketball plays way more games.

Cook led the men's basketball team with 13.6 points per game. Michael Sowers, the leading scorer on the men's lacrosse team, averages 5.7 points per game; nobody, not even Bill Bradley, has ever approached or will approach averaging 57 points per game.

The connection is that it's a round number that has had the same number of players who have reached it. The implication is that only the very best players in the history of the program will reach that number.

McBride and Currier are both interesting in their own ways in terms of their career scoring numbers. And they also have some correlations to the two basketball players.

After not having a point as a freshman, McBride now has had at least one in every game since, a total of 112 in all. He has become one of the most consistent scorers the program has seen in awhile, and he is among the most reliable goal scorers in all of Division I.

In fact, McBride ranks fifth in the country in goals per game and 11th in the country in points per game. He leads the country in man-up goals.

McBride has scored five goals in each of the last three games for the Tigers. If another Princeton player has ever done that, TigerBlog hasn't been able to find it. That's as in ever.

If there's a bit of a career trajectory that's similar to McBride, it's Cook, who had 99 points as a freshman and then 1,059 in the next three years.

There's a similarity between Currier and Weisz. When you think of them, you think of their all-around ability, the way they can do everything well in the game. You don't necessarily think of them as pure scorers, and yet they both put up huge offensive numbers.

Like Weisz, Currier is well-known for his ability to completely dominate a game without having to score to do so. Also like Weisz, Currier has gone over a rare career milestone for scoring.

Currier is ranked ninth in Division I in assists and fourth in Division I in ground balls. This is roughly the equivalent of being ranked ninth in Division I in interceptions and fourth in Division I in field goals made, or ninth in Division I in home runs and fourth in Division I in saves.

In other words, they don't really go together. TigerBlog wishes he could look this up somehow, but he can't imagine too many players have ever been in the top 10 in both assists and ground balls in Division I lacrosse.

Players who are among the national leaders in assists are usually X attackmen, like Sowers. Players who lead the country in ground balls are usually primarily face-off specialists. Currier takes a lot of face-offs, but he is far from a typical FOGO, as they are known (face-off, get-off).

Currier and McBride have helped Princeton to a 6-3 start to the season, including a 2-1 record in the Ivy League. The Tigers are in the midst of a turnaround season after last year's 5-8 finish that included missing out on the Ivy League tournament, something the Tigers are starting to be well-positioned to make this time around.

One of the most astonishing parts of this season has been the reversal of the games from last year against Johns Hopkins, Penn and Brown. Here were the scores:

Hopkins 17, Princeton 7
Penn 20, Princeton 10
Brown 19, Princeton 8

Princeton 18, Hopkins 7
Princeton 17, Penn 8
Princeton 21, Brown 11

That's minus-31 to plus-30 in one year against three teams.

Anyway, whether it's 1,000 points in men's basketball or 100 points in men's lacrosse, it's a rare accomplishment. Think of all the players who have played both sports here; only 32 from each have gotten there.

Oh, and while TB is talking about point totals, Sowers is more than halfway to 100 himself, with 51 for his career.

In just nine games, by the way.

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