Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Consolation Prize

TigerBlog read the story about Amir Bell's signing with an Italian professional team.

He especially liked two parts of the quote from the team's coach, Franco Ciani.

The first was this:
"Princeton has a very important program of both studies and athletics."

It's great that the athletic and educational reputation of Princeton extends around the world.

The other part of the quote was this:
"Princeton? Let's not forget that it was also Mason Rocca's college, not just any one."

Mason Rocca is on the short list of Princeton athletes who through no fault of their own never were able to fully realize their complete greatness here, though they certainly gave glimpses of it. On his best - healthiest - night, Rocca was the most physically dominant men's basketball player TigerBlog has seen here.

Unfortunately, as TigerBlog has said many times, Rocca didn't have enough of those healthy nights.

If Rocca is on that short list, by the way, so is Chris Young, the second most physically dominant men's basketball player TB has seen here. Young only got to play for two years because of the random fact that his 21st birthday came six days before June 1 after his sophomore year, which made him eligible for the Major League Baseball draft that year.

As a result, when he signed his baseball contract, he was then ineligible for basketball too in the Ivy League, cutting short a career that, had it lasted four full years, would have left him as clearly the second-best player in program history.

As for the best player in program history? That of course is Bill Bradley.

So remember yesterday when TigerBlog mentioned that Princeton fans were okay with a consolation game from 53 years ago? He was talking about the 1965 men's basketball third-place game, between Princeton and Wichita State.

After the teams lost their semifinal games to Michigan and UCLA, Princeton beat Wichita State 118-82 to finish third. Bradley scored 58 points, which remains the most ever scored in an NCAA Final Four game and the most ever scored by a Princeton player.

Bradley shot 22 for 29 from the field (there was no three-point line back then) and 14 for 15 from the line. He also had 17 rebounds and four assists.

Actually, the assist totals are sort of interesting. For one thing, assists weren't official kept until more than 10 years later. For another thing, in a game that featured exactly 200 points, there were 11 assists credited - only one by Wichita State.

Here's a good trivia question for you:

There have been 13 men's basketball games in Princeton history in which a player has had at least 15 made field goals in a game. The first time was back in 1932, when John Seibert did so against Ursinus.

Bradley himself did it eight times. That leaves four more. Geoff Petrie did it twice. Brian Taylor did it once.

That means only one player since 1972 has done so. Can you name him? Hint - TigerBlog was at Dartmouth the night he did it.

The 58 points, also obviously Bradley's career high, is a number that most Princeton fans know about. What's fascinated TigerBlog even more through the years is Bradley's career low.

In three years of varsity basketball at Princeton, as the focal point of every defense he faced, as the person around whom every opponent's practice centered for three years, Bradley never scored fewer than 16 points in a game.

That's just ridiculous.

Think about that. His worst night ever was 16 points.

Anyway, TigerBlog was thinking about the greatest individual performances in Princeton history, across any sport, and that 58-point game has to be up there. It's summer, so TB does have some time to think about something that can compare.

Kazmaier against Cornell in 1951?

And what about performances TB has actually seen since he's been at Princeton? The first name that popped into his mind wasn't one you might have guessed.

It was actually Donn Cabral, at Heps cross country or at the NCAA steeplechase finals.

Off the top of his head, he also comes up with Thomas Pauley's 10-strikeout performance in Game 3 of the 2003 Ivy League baseball championship series.

And, you know, about 10 different games from Zach Currier. Yeah, he'll spend a little more time on this one.

In the meantime, there's the trivia answer - Rick Hielscher, who was 16 for 20 against Dartmouth in 1995.

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