Wednesday, January 5, 2022

A Look Back, And A Look Ahead

If you read yesterday, you saw that TigerBlog talked about the Battle of Princeton and then the story in the Daily Princetonian 200 years later about the announcement of the 1977 Rhodes Scholars.

TB loves the archives of the Prince. Pick any random day, and there will be something there that touches on some great historic event, or something that has a modern-day equivalent. 

That same issue of the Daily Princetonian had a preview of a game that night – Jan. 3, 1977 – at Jadwin Gym before Princeton and eight-ranked Notre Dame. Princeton would end up defeating the Fighting Irish 76-62, and attendance that night was listed as 8,000.

The game story in the following issue included this line about Frank Sowinski: "The only shots Sowinski missed were during the warmups, as the 6-5 forward connected on all of his six attempts from both the field and the foul line for 18 points."

Frank Sowinski, in addition to being the 1977 Ivy League Player of the Year, has been a tireless friend of Princeton Athletics through the years, including being one of the most dedicated members of the Princeton Varsity Club Board.

Pete Carril, for his part, was not without a pretty good post-game quip: "My recruiting budget is $2,700," he lamented. "You expect me to bring out Walt Frazier or Earl the Pearl?" 

Yeah, that's what covering Pete Carril was like for a sportswriter, something that TB did for five years before he was actually hired at Princeton. You never knew what he was going to say next.

That Princeton-Notre Dame game had some crazy stats to it. For instance, Princeton shot 22 for 34 from the foul line. Thirty-four foul shots? That's a ton (though not close to the record, which was 56, in a game against Rutgers in 1954). That same year, Princeton set the record for free throws made it a game, with 37. For some context, Princeton and its opponents combined this season average 27.5 free throws per game.

In addition, Princeton shot 27 for 50 from the field, which is 54 percent, while Notre Dame shot 26 for 67, which is 39 percent. Those numbers suggest a Princeton win. But how about the rebounding stats? Princeton had 30. Notre Dame had 50. 

And both teams turned it over a ton. Princeton had 16 assists and 19 turnovers (the current Tigers average 17 assists and 10 turnovers per game). Notre Dame? How about six assists and 26 turnovers. 

And neither team attempted a single three-pointer in the game. How's that possible? Oh wait, the three-point rule was 10 years away still in 1987.

Princeton had five players in double figures, led by Bob Slaughter, who went for 19, followed by Sowinski's 18. Bob Roma had 17 points and seven rebounds, while Billy Omeltchenko had 11 and Bob Kleinert had 10.

It's always fun to look back on great games in the program's history. It's also fun to watch the current editions make their own history.

Princeton's current men's team had its Ivy League opener against Harvard postponed due to Covid issues with the Crimson. That game was pushed back to a weekend in February and is now a home-and-home, with a game at Princeton on Feb. 25 and then a game at Harvard on Feb. 27.

In fact, two of the Ivy League games scheduled for last weekend were postponed, along with Yale-Columbia. There were two games that did get played, as Cornell defeated Dartmouth and Penn defeated Brown.

Princeton will open the league at home this weekend, with home games against Columbia Friday night (7) and Cornell Saturday night (6). 

It's by all accounts a fascinating league this year, and the scramble for the Ivy League tournament spots will be a rough one. There are absolutely no gimmes this year, which makes for competitive games every night out.

In this first year of the new Ivy schedule, Princeton then follows that with two more home games the following weekend, though not with the teams you might imagine.

First up will be Brown on Saturday, Jan. 15, at 4. Two days later, it won't be Yale, the traditional travel partner for the Bears, but instead Penn, who will be at Jadwin on Martin Luther King Day, Monday the 17th, also at 4.

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