Monday, December 10, 2018

Nice To See You Two

Bella Alarie returned from her injury to have a triple double against Quinnipiac in her first game of the 2018-19 season Saturday night.

Triple double? Yeah. She had 16 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 times falling to the floor.

Okay, TigerBlog made up the last part. He's not exactly sure how many times Alarie fell during the game, but he knows that each time she did, he held his breath until she got up.

Heck, she even pounded the floor once with both fists - and was fine.

And that's great news for the Tigers.

So, too, was the starting lineup for the men's basketball game against St. John's yesterday in Madison Square Garden. For the first time in his career, Jaelin Llewellyn took to the court.

Alarie is the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year. Llewellyn is a Top 100 recruit. Yeah, it was great to have both of them out there.

And, despite needing some time to get into peak game shape, both of them were very impressive.

Alarie played 36 minutes in a 54-42 win over a very good Quinnipiac team, one that has won three NCAA tournament games in the last two years. The 6-5 junior was her regular self, which means she was dominant on both ends of the court.

As has been the case since she first stepped into the lineup, she is two players in one - a 6-5 guard who can do 6-5 things (like rebound and block shots and score near the basket) and who can do guard things (like bring the ball up and shoot threes). It's a rarity anywhere in women's basketball, and it again sparks comparisons to the player Alarie most reminds you of, WNBA and Olympic star Elena Delle Donne.

Princeton played very well in Alarie's absence against a brutal schedule and with a team that was essentially half freshmen. Bring her back into the mix obviously makes the team considerably better, and does so at a time when there's still plenty of time for everyone to get used to playing together before the Ivy League season starts.

As for the game against the Bobcats, Princeton also got 16 points from Carlie Littlefield and 11 from Gabrielle Rush, and the Tigers held the visitors to 21 points in the first half and 21 in the second half. 

The men's team couldn't stop unbeaten St. John's, falling 89-74. Princeton was down 19 in the second half and then put together an incredible stretch in which it outplayed the Red Storm all over the court, cutting it to six at the under-four media timeout.

Llewellyn was extraordinarily impressive. The freshman from Mississauga, outside of Toronto, had 17 points and four assists, shooting 3 for 6 from three-point range. Oh, and he had that one-handed reverse dunk that was a thing of beauty.

It wasn't the easiest way to step onto the court for the first time, against an unbeaten Big East team at the Garden. From the first time he touched the ball, you could tell he was comfortable, confident and highly skilled.

Llewellyn also played well with Jose Morales on the court at the same time, which gives the Tigers an explosive dimension. Richmond Aririguzoh continues to get better every game, and the result was great balance, with four players in double figures.

Llewellyn had his 17. Aririguzoh had 14 and matched up very well with the Red Storm big men. Morales had 14 points and added five assists and four steals.

The leader, again, was Devin Cannady, who had 18 points on six threes, five of which were from beyond the NBA line that is on the court. Former NBA player Donny Marshall, who was in the Fox Sports 1 studio at halftime, said that Cannady has one of the purest shots he's seen in college basketball in the last few years.

Cannady continued his march up the career scoring list as he heads towards second all time. And any opportunity to see him play is a good one.

The story from the weekend in Princeton basketball, though, was the season debut for Alarie and Llewellyn.

They both were welcome sights for their teams. And they both left you wondering what they're going to be like in February.

For Princeton fans, that thought should make you smile.

No comments: