January 25, 2006: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
By David Baumgarten ’06
By the time the women’s basketball team finished its 2004–05 season, head coach Richard Barron knew something needed to change. After four years at Princeton, Barron was confident he had improved the Tigers’ talent level through recruiting, yet his team was still stuck in the bottom half of the Ivy League.
The solution, Barron decided, was simple — keep it simple, that is. After consulting with his coaching staff and spending time with Bill Self, the men’s basketball coach at Kansas, Barron decided to pare down Princeton’s game plan and exploit the Tigers’ strengths.
Out went the complicated Princeton offense, replaced by a simpler high-low motion system designed to send the ball to two-time All-Ivy center Becky Brown ’06 in the post. Barron also dropped the team’s variety of zone, pressing, and trapping defensive schemes to focus instead on playing tenacious half-court man-to-man defense.
“I was teaching too many things,” Barron said. “Maybe we understood a general overview of the game, but we had no specialty. We started to ask ourselves why we were doing things, and when we didn’t have a good answer, then [we decided] we’re not doing it anymore.”
Based on the early returns, simple is the way to go. After using an August team trip to Scandinavia as a test run, the Tigers came charging out of the gate this season. Before a lopsided 107–39 loss at No. 1-ranked Tennessee on Dec. 20, the Tigers were 6–3, their best start in nearly a decade. That included a 63–56 loss to No. 6 Rutgers Dec. 11 at Jadwin Gym, in which Princeton gave the Scarlet Knights all they could handle for 32 minutes before fading down the stretch.
“It’s like a new team — sometimes I don’t recognize us,” Brown said after the Rutgers game. “We know what we’re good at. We know how we’re going to score.”
Brown may be the first scoring option, but she certainly is not the only one. Forwards Casey Lockwood ’07 and Meg Cowher ’08, last year’s Ivy Rookie of the Year, both can score in the post or slash from the wings, and guard Katy O’Brien ’06 remains a deadly three-point shooter. New to the mix is point guard Jessica Berry ’09, a versatile playmaker who scored 30 points in her third collegiate game. The bench is deep, too, with center Ariel Rogers ’08 and forward Whitney Downs ’09 seeing the most minutes.
Princeton’s talent was enough to convince Ivy League media members to pick the Tigers to finish third in the league this season, even before seeing the early results of Barron’s new approach. Last season’s co-champions, Dartmouth and Harvard, remain the Ivy heavyweights, but for the first time in recent memory, Princeton appears poised to battle them for league supremacy rather than just fighting to stay out of the cellar.
“If we’re playing with the No. 6 team in the nation,” Berry said after the Rutgers game, “I think it says something good about our chances in the Ivy League.”
David Baumgarten ’06 is the managing editor for sports of The Daily Princetonian.
December was a month the men’s basketball team would rather forget. After losing its lone senior, point guard Scott Greenman, to a back injury early in a Dec. 6 loss to Temple, Princeton’s young lineup scored just 21 points in a home-court meltdown against Monmouth Dec. 14 and dropped a 51–46 decision to Carnegie Mellon, a Division III school, on Dec. 28. The Tigers played better in Greenman’s Dec. 31 return at Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights surged ahead in the closing minutes to secure a 54–44 win, dropping the Tigers to 1–7 for the month and 2–9 for the season two weeks before their first Ivy League game.
Princeton showed a few glimpses of promise against Rutgers. Greenman played 39 energetic minutes, restoring confidence to the offense, and freshman center Michael Strittmatter notched three assists, all on backdoor cuts to the basket. Noah Savage ’08, the Tigers’ top scorer, broke out of a five-game slump to score 17 points, sinking four consecutive three-point attempts as Princeton pulled even at 42–42 with five minutes remaining. But the Tigers followed their comeback stretch with three turnovers and a missed layup in the next four trips down the court, allowing Rutgers to take control.
Princeton coach Joe Scott ’87 was pleased to see his team fighting for rebounds, hustling on defense, and finding good shots on offense. “If we give that kind of effort in every game, the score will be tied with four minutes to go,” he said. “You put yourselves in a position to win, and you try to get better at being good in those situations.”
For much the non-league schedule, slow starts prevented Princeton from staying close to its opponents. The Tigers scored fewer than 20 points in the first half in seven of their first 11 games and went on to lose by at least 10 points each time. In several games, Princeton settled for a steady diet of perimeter shots, a trend that Savage called “demoralizing,” given the amount of cutting involved in the Princeton offense. “If we get easy layups,” Savage explained, “we feel like we’re not just running around for nothing.”
To most hockey teams playing in next month’s Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, being called a “ragtag” group of “pond hockey” players hardly would seem endearing. But when Nikola Holmes ’03 used those terms to describe her teammates on the German women’s hockey team, she meant it with the utmost respect. “They didn’t have any skating school; they didn’t have anyone teaching them how to shoot or anything,” Holmes said. “They’ve figured out all of this stuff on their own and gotten so far. I find that amazing.”
Holmes, whose mother is German, moved to Bavaria, and later Berlin, to work after college. When she started playing for a club team in Germany, the style of hockey was a shock to her system. She had grown up in Minnesota, learning the game alongside sister Annamarie ’01, a one-time U.S. women’s national team player, and she was accustomed to the high-level hockey she played at Princeton. Two of Germany’s national team members skated for college teams in the United States, and a few played for high school teams as exchange students in Canada. But they learned the game at home, in a country where coaching is hard to come by and ice rinks are thawed out from May through August.
The experience has been refreshing, Holmes said. Her teammates have taught her how to improvise on the ice, and in exchange she has shared some of the tactical knowledge she picked up at Princeton. She also used her influence as a marketing intern at Coca-Cola to help the women’s national team land a two-year sponsorship deal with Coke that will fund valuable training sessions for the program’s younger players.
Holmes lives in an apartment near the athletic training complex of the former East Germany, with an ice rink and weight room within walking distance. But with her full-time internship, hockey sometimes takes a back seat. She skates two or three times a week and plays games with a club team on weekends. The national team meets once a month, a sparse training schedule compared to the U.S. team, which has been training together and playing a national tour of exhibition games since September.
Holmes does not complain about her circumstances, realizing that ice time is trivial compared to what her boyfriend, Jason Kivett ’03, faces each day. Kivett, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marines, is directing light-armored reconnaissance vehicles in western Iraq during his second tour of duty in the Middle East. “Most everyone would want to be in my shoes, but nobody would want to be in his,” Holmes said. “I can be having my biggest high, and he can be having the worst day of his life.”
The Olympics are certain to qualify as one of Holmes’ highs, even if the Germans prove to be no match for the powerhouse teams from Canada and the United States. What will it take to get Germany on the medal podium? “If Finland gets a stomach flu, we could have a chance,” Holmes deadpanned, before letting a chuckle slip. “Hockey is a strange sport. If all of our ragtag hockey comes together and they have an off-game, there’s definitely a small chance.”
The Princeton University Real Tennis Club may be one of the University's newest teams, but its sport has been around for centuries. Junior history major Raphael Corkhill, the club’s founder and captain, gave PAW an inside look at the group’s beginnings and a brief tutorial on the unusual rules of modern tennis’ indoor predecessor.
Jacques-Louis David’s painting “Le Serment du Jeu de Paume (The Oath of the Tennis Court)” hangs in the Musée Nationale in Versailles and depicts the final, dramatic events that gave birth to the French Revolution, when deputies of France’s Third Estate seized Louis XVI’s private tennis court and pledged not to leave its confines until a French Constitution had been drawn up. On a similar stage, in rather less volatile circumstances, a group of Princeton undergraduates convened in February 2005 for an introduction to the sport favored by the French king — real tennis.
Clarence McGowan, a member of the Philadelphia Racquet Club, hosted the event. After briskly informing the players that the game they were about to enjoy was properly called “tennis” and the sport played at Wimbledon was really “lawn tennis” — a simpler version invented for women — he handed his new pupils heavy wooden rackets with faces roughly half the size of their lawn tennis counterparts and bent at an angle that quite appropriately resembled a human head cocked to one side in an expression of inquiring puzzlement. By the time McGowan had explained that on game point, “a chase of half a yard better than a yard worse than last gallery” meant that server and receiver switched sides, the players seriously doubted their chances of even making contact with the hard, undersized, and misshapen tennis ball.
The “real” in real tennis, pronounced as though to highlight a counterfeit nature of the more popular descendant, is derived from the Romance word for “royal.” Known as court tennis in the United States, real tennis in Britain, and royal tennis in Australia, it is played on a rectangular court divided in half by a net, over which competitors attempt to hit a ball. But there the similarities with lawn tennis just about end. The server always serves from the same end and only switches with the receiver if a “chase” has been called — a complicated process that confuses even experienced players.
The court is invariably indoors and a vital element of the game is strategic use of the surrounding walls, three of which are punctuated by netted openings. These galleries serve a dual purpose, acting as targets for a variety of tactical reasons while providing a protected opening through which spectators can marvel at the proceedings. The galleries are covered by penthouse roofs which start roughly six feet off the ground, slope gradually back for four feet, and meet a back wall that reaches up to the high ceiling. The only wrinkle on the fourth wall, which runs the length of the court on the server’s right-hand side, is a slight narrowing called a tambour, which some compare to a medieval flying buttress — a link to the game’s ecclesiastical roots.
Following McGowan’s tutorial, Princeton’s rookie team continued its lessons. The club has worked to share its real tennis renaissance with students at other schools, including Harvard, Yale, and Penn, which hosted a match in Philadelphia. In the spring, Princeton plans to revive the H-Y-P real tennis tournament, last contested more than 20 years ago. Meantime, Princeton’s team will sharpen its strokes at Georgian Court University, a Catholic women’s college in Lakewood, N.J. Formerly the country estate of George Jay Gould, the impressive Georgian Court once housed an indoor polo field, a bowling alley, extensive riding stables, and a real tennis court. Only the latter remains in its original use, fully restored with funding from the U.S. Court Tennis Association and used by the Princeton club with permission from the school’s administration.
The winter club sports season at Princeton opened with strong starts from the MEN’S and WOMEN’S HOCKEY clubs. The men, winners of last year’s Mid-Atlantic Club Hockey Association championship, started their title defense with a 10–3–2 record before winter break, while the women, paced by Sarah Greer ’06, the leading scorer in the Delaware Valley Club Hockey Conference, raced to the top of the league standings with a 7–1 start. Both teams have big plans on the horizon. Entering the second half of the season, the men were in position to qualify for the regional tournament in February, a precursor to club hockey’s national championships. The women, on the other hand, are looking forward to March, when the league’s best will play in an all-star game at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.
Before Princeton’s action on the ice began, several clubs rebuilt their rosters and tested their skills in the fall. MEN’S CLUB BASKETBALL had such an enthusiastic response that it started its own in-house league. Four teams drafted players from a pool of 45 students and competed on Saturdays. For the club’s traveling team, the majority of its intercollegiate games, including contests against Lehigh, VMI, and Cornell, are scheduled after winter break.
CLUB FIELD HOCKEY posted a 4–1 regular season record in the fall and qualified for the national Elite Eight Tournament in Harrisonburg, Va. Princeton defeated George Washington in the opening round before dropping its semifinal match against Virginia.
The TABLE TENNIS TEAM had a hot start, according to team secretary Jason Cherry ’06. Princeton won the first tournament in the Mid-Atlantic Conference of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association. With the addition of freshman Adam Hugh, a member of the U.S. junior national team, the team defeated Penn and Maryland, last year’s conference champion. Graduate student Ram Rangan, Pan Lin ’08, and Cherry also recorded key wins. The team is closing in on its first berth in the national championships.
For the EQUESTRIAN TEAM, the fall brought unprecedented success. In five shows, the team won three times and placed in reserve in another, taking a commanding lead in its Intercollegiate Horse Show Association zone standings. A deeper roster (now up to 28 riders) and coaching from former IHSA national champion Ashton Phillips have been key elements of the team’s improvement, according to show-team captain Hillary Frankel ’06. In the spring, Princeton will host a show at Briarwood Farm in Readington, N.J., and compete in the Ivy League Championship Horse Show.
CLOCKWORK ORANGE, the men’s ultimate Frisbee team, took its fresh-faced roster to a novice tournament at Adelphi early in the fall and captured first place. At the Chesapeake Invitational at the University of Maryland, the same group finished second. Two other fall tournaments were rained out, but co-captain Stewart Watts ’06 said that in its limited action, the team showed it could be a contender for the sectional championship, contested each spring. In WOMEN’S ULTIMATE FRISBEE, Princeton faced some of the nation’s top Frisbee teams at tournaments at Yale, Haverford, and Rutgers. Co-captain Jean Hsu ’08 said that, based on its results in the fall, the team is setting high goals for its spring tournaments.
Aristotle observed that “a state comes into existence for the sake of life, but continues in existence for the sake of the good life.” The continuation of Princeton rugby supports that observation, and 200 alumni and current players celebrated the “good life” — the camaraderie and close friendships forged on the field — at a “double jubilee” for the 75th anniversary of men’s rugby and the 25th anniversary of women’s rugby Dec. 3 at the Princeton Club of New York.
Rugby at Princeton began in 1931 and remains one of the most popular club sports on campus, with more than 100 participants each year. The men’s program has several Ivy Tournament titles to its credit, and the women’s team has won the national championship twice and finished second three times.
Michael Paley ’96 and Mark Chan ’97 organized the anniversary event with support from Tom Pirelli ’69 and Stu Rickerson ’71, founding chairman of the program’s endowment board. The endowment provides the student-run clubs with financial support for coaches, equipment, and special travel costs. Rugby alumni are in discussion with the University to raise funds to create facilities for the teams that would be used by other club and intramural sports as well.
By Jim Sherman ’69
The NCAA has selected JOHN DOAR ’44 as one of three recipients of the 2006 Inspiration Award, an honor that recognizes current or former athletes and coaches who have shown “perseverance, dedication, and determination” when faced with significant challenges. Doar, who played basketball as an undergraduate, led the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division in the 1960s. The University honored Doar with the Woodrow Wilson Award in 1975.
FOOTBALL defensive back Jay McCareins ’06 was named a Division I-AA All-American by the Associated Press. McCareins, who led the nation with nine interceptions, was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, presented to the top defensive player in Division I-AA.
MEN'S HOCKEY shocked No. 12 Denver, the two-time defending national champion, with a 4–1 win in the opening round of the Denver Cup Dec. 30. With a win and a tie against Wayne State Dec. 9 and 10, WOMEN’S HOCKEY extended its unbeaten streak to six games.
Jacqueline Leahy ’06 won all 12 of her bouts in the foil as WOMEN’S FENCING beat NYU, North Carolina, and Rutgers but fell to Penn State Dec. 5. MEN’S FENCING, led by Ben Solomon ’06’s 11–0 mark in epee, also beat NYU, North Carolina, and Rutgers but lost to Penn State.
MEN’S SQUASH swept each of its first five matches 9–0, including Ivy League wins at Cornell Nov. 20 and at home against Brown Dec. 3. The top four spots in Princeton’s lineup have featured three-time national champion Yasser El Halaby ’06 and three freshmen: Mauricio Sanchez, Kimlee Wong, and Hesham El Halaby, Yasser’s brother.
WOMEN’S SWIMMING won the Brown Invitational Dec. 4. Sarah Schaffer ’06 finished first in the 100-meter backstroke and the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke races. MEN’S SWIMMING also won at Brown, capturing three relays.
WRESTLING won its first four matches before stumbling at Franklin and Marshall Dec. 7. The Tigers held a 14–12 lead entering the final bouts, but the Diplomats won both contests, pulling ahead 20–14.