Tuesday, December 18, 2018

And That's 11 For Bella And One For Jaelin

TigerBlog is wondering if there's anyone out there who went to all three of these games Saturday:

* an 85-81 men's basketball win over Iona in Atlantic City at 11:30
* a 60-57 women's basketball win over Marist in Jadwin Gym at 5
* a 4-4 men's hockey tie against Penn State in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia at 7:30

TB made it to the last two, after listening to the men's basketball game on the radio. In retrospect, he probably should have made the drive to AC and did the tripleheader.

Did anyone? That would have been a lot of driving, not to mention a really impressive display of Princeton Athletics fandom.

If you did go, then you found yourself in the same situation as TigerBlog was - an hour from Philadelphia, trying to figure out the right time to leave women's basketball.

Since the game was close, TB didn't want to leave until the end, but then he figured he'd be really late to Philadelphia. As it turned out, he left a little after the under-5 media timeout of the fourth quarter and listened to Jon Mozes and Dei Lynam for the end on ESPN+.

He says listened because actually watching on his phone while driving would have been bad, right?

What he missed when he left was seeing Gabrielle Rush's game-winning three, which snapped a 57-57 tie with 28 seconds to go and then a defensive stand that led to a steal by Bella Alarie as time expired to preserve the win. TigerBlog saw the replay of Rush's shot a few times, and it was a dead-on perfect no-doubt-about-it winner.

It was a good win for the Tigers against a Marist team that came in at 7-2. It was the fourth straight win for the Tigers, who now head to New York City matinee tomorrow at 6-4 St. Francis (the one in Brooklyn). Tip is at 2.

Princeton is 5-7 overall now, and also 3-0 since Alarie returned from her injury. In the three games, she has averaged 18.7 points,. 9.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks.

She's also two for two on winning the Ivy League Player of the Week award. That's No. 11 for her career, which moves her into a four-way tie for fourth-most in league history. With one more, she'll tie Penn's Diana Caramanico for third with 12, leaving only Harvard's Allison Feaster (21) and Princeton's Niveen Rasheed (14) ahead of her.

On the men's side, Jaelin Llewellyn was honored for the first time with Ivy Rookie of the Week honors, which came after his extraordinary 22-point, eight-assist performance in the win over the Gaels.

Through two games  Llewellyn is averaging 19.5 points and six assists. He's drawn raves, with one long-time observer of Princeton basketball saying he's already the best freshman he's seen at Princeton and another asking if TB thought Llewellyn might go to the NBA after this season.

Remember, cautious optimism everyone.

Still, there's no denying Llewellyn's amazing ability and the impact he's had already. Princeton is averaging 79.5 in the two games he's played, compared to 70.8 in the seven he missed (or 68.5 if you don't count the opener against Division III DeSales).

Also, Princeton had four players in double figures against St. John's (Llewellyn's first game) and then five in double figures in the Iona game. That's a great sign.

The Princeton men play tonight, and the task is not an easy one, not by any stretch. The Tigers are in Durham tonight to take on the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils, with tip at 6 on ESPN2.

Duke is obviously an insanely tough challenge for any team, especially with the seemingly unstoppable Zion Williamson, a 6-7, 285-pounder who averages 20.4 points per game and shoots 66 percent from the field. Oh, and here's something funny about Williamson, the certain No. 1 pick in next year's NBA draft: He's not even Duke's leading scorer, or leading freshman scorer for that matter. That honor falls to R.J. Barrett, who scores 24.2 per game.

Duke averages 93 per game and allows 66, which is pretty much the score of its last game - a 91-58 win over Yale 10 days ago.

Princeton next plays again Friday night at Lafayette and then Dec. 29 at Arizona State. After the new year, there's the Ivy opener at home against Penn as part of a doubleheader.

In the meantime, there's Duke. There are no expectations on the Tigers tonight, which means it should be a fun game to watch.

And a chance to see how Princeton stacks up against what is very likely the best team in the country.

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