April 4, 2007: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
By Ashley Wolf ’08
Junior forward Kyle Koncz knelt on the floor under the basket, hunched over with his hands covering his head, agonizing over one more victory that slipped away. The buzzer had just sounded in the Tigers’ heartbreaking 52–51 loss to Yale March 3, but the situation could have been any one of the 12 Ivy League games the men’s basketball team lost this season. After being predicted to finish second to perennial power Penn, Princeton (11–17 overall, 2–12 Ivy League) sank to its worst league season ever and a last-place finish.
“I’m extremely disappointed in the record,” head coach Joe Scott ’87 said at the end of the season. “It hurts a lot ... but at the same time I see promise.” Two weeks later, Scott decided to leave that promising future to a successor when he accepted the head coaching job at the University of Denver, leaving Princeton after three lackluster seasons.
At a March 21 press conference in Denver, Scott was asked how he could leave what seemed like a dream job at Princeton. “These days I don’t know if there is a dream job,” he replied. “There are no dream jobs. The job you have is the dream job. When I looked at Denver, when this opportunity presented itself, when I spoke with the leadership, when I heard what I heard, it was just an unbelievable opportunity.”
Scott, a former Tiger point guard who worked as an assistant coach under Pete Carril and Bill Carmody, returned to campus in 2004 after engineering a remarkable turnaround at the Air Force Academy. But at Princeton, his teams fell short of expectations, posting a 38–45 overall record and an 18–24 mark in Ivy games.
Athletics director Gary Walters ’67 said in a release that Scott “gave a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to Princeton basketball. Unfortunately, it might not have worked out the way he would have hoped. We wish him the best at Denver.”
This season, things looked good for the Tigers in their nonconference games as they went 9–5, improving from an abysmal start a year ago. Freshman Marcus Schroeder helped to fill the void at point guard after losing Scott Greenman ’06, and Koncz was a consistent scorer.
Schroeder ran the offense throughout the season with a confidence not often seen in a freshman. His stats were not flashy early on, but his capable passing and ball handling kept him on the court. Despite playing 38.8 minutes per game, he averaged fewer than two turnovers. But this season was an adjustment for the rookie, who had played for a De La Salle (Calif.) High School squad that rarely lost.
“It’s been difficult; it’s definitely been a learning year,” Schroeder said. “Coming in, I didn’t really think that much of [the Ivy League], but I’ve learned.”
Princeton’s lineup also relied on Schroeder’s high school teammate, freshman guard Lincoln Gunn, and freshman center Zach Finley.
“I’m confident in our younger guys because they’re workers,” Scott said. “If you combine a love to play with the work ethic and the experience that they just went through, that’s how you take a jump and get better.”
This season, Princeton slipped to a historic low in Ivy League play. Game after game came down to the wire, and poor shooting and long scoring droughts plagued the team.
Koncz led the Tigers in nonconference play with his sweet shooting from beyond the arc and his tenacious defense on the opposite end of the floor. But the junior was sidelined by a foot injury in January and was unable to practice for the rest of the season, appearing in a limited role in games.
Luke Owings ’07 and Justin Conway ’07 were dependable, but neither could provide the offensive production that the Tigers needed. The squad’s other senior, guard Edwin Buffmire, played a key reserve role early on, before injury also disrupted his playing time. The three seniors left their last game to a standing ovation, but acknowledged this was not how they imagined their time in a Princeton uniform ending.
Owings reflected on the team’s recent fortunes after its season-ending loss to Penn March 6. “Sports kind of have a cyclical nature like everything else in life — there are up times and there are down times,” he said. “Putting all you have into it doesn’t always guarantee results. Sometimes situations occur that you can’t control. ... But if you can honestly say you put everything you have into it, then there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and I don’t think the ethos [of Princeton basketball] will die because of [a losing season]."
Ashley Wolf ’08 is a molecular biology major from Montville, N.J.
Associate editor Brett Tomlinson contributed to this article.
When the Princeton women’s water polo team faced two of its top rivals, Michigan and Hartwick, at a February tournament in Maryland, the Tigers played well in both games but struggled to find the net in the closing quarters, losing by two goals in each contest. Head coach Luis Nicolao’s answer to his team’s shooting woes was to simulate fourth-quarter fatigue. At the end of each practice, players strap on a weighted belt, swim at full speed toward one net, fire off 15 shots, and sprint back to the opposite net to shoot 15 more.
The players can pick their poison, said Elyse Colgan ’07, Princeton’s top scorer — red and pink belts are the heaviest, at about six pounds, while the blue and yellow ones are a little lighter. But, Colgan added with a modest smile, “I usually go for the red or the pink.”
The choice seems to be paying off. Colgan averaged 3.1 goals in the Tigers’ first 13 games, which ranked her 12th in the nation, and she is on pace to finish her career second on Princeton’s all-time lists for both goals and assists.
Nicolao said that experience, intense defense, and strong play from goalie Natalie Kim ’08 helped the Tigers get off to a strong start this year. Colgan, one of 25 women to earn a U.S. National Team tryout last summer, leads a talented senior class that has won the East Coast Athletic Conference tournament three times, including this season, and has a chance to capture its fourth straight championship in the College Water Polo Association’s Southern Division this month. But the title that Colgan and her classmates covet most is the elusive CWPA Eastern crown, which comes with an automatic bid to the eight-team NCAA Championships.
While Hartwick and Michigan appear to be the front-runners — each has won two Eastern titles in the last five years — Princeton will have the advantage of being the home team at this year’s tournament April 27–29. And, Colgan said, the Tigers are confident that their training can push them past their near misses earlier in the season.
“We had so many opportunities where we were just missing shots [against Michigan and Hartwick in February],” Colgan said. “When it comes to Easterns, we know that if we put those shots away and play the way we did, or hopefully better, we’ll be a real threat.”
As Dan Cocoziello ’08, right, escaped the grasp of a diving Johns Hopkins defender at the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Classic March 3, but the Blue Jays caught up with MEN’S LACROSSE in the second overtime period, beating Princeton 7–6. The four-team event, held in Baltimore, drew more than 20,000 fans, a record crowd for a regular-season lacrosse game.
Holly McGarvie ’09 scored in overtime as WOMEN’S LACROSSE beat Johns Hopkins 11–10 in Princeton’s season opener March 3. The Tigers also routed Rutgers 19–10 March 7 before losing 16–14 at Duke March 11.
MEN’S SQUASH standout Mauricio Sanchez ’09 was the runner-up in the College Squash Association’s individual championships March 4. He lost a four-game match to Harvard’s Siddharth Suchde. In WOMEN’S SQUASH, Neha Kumar ’10 reached the semifinals of the CSA tournament March 3 before falling to Penn’s Kristen Lange.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL beat Penn 61–51 March 6 to finish its season with a 13–15 record and a 7–7 mark in Ivy League games. Meagan Cowher ’08 led the league with 17.7 points per game and set a Princeton record for points in a season.
Grant Goeckner-Zoeller ’07 assisted on the game-tying goal and scored the game winner as MEN’S HOCKEY beat Brown March 4 and advanced to the ECAC Hockey League quarterfinals. The Tigers dropped two games at Dartmouth in the quarterfinal round March 9 and 10 to finish the season 15–16–3.
SOFTBALL won five of its first nine games, including three at the Maryland Invitational March 9–11. Collette Abbott ’10 had 12 hits in her first 25 collegiate at-bats.
BASEBALL opened its season 1-5 in a pair of three-game sets against Elon and Houston. Catcher Sal Iacono ’07 had four hits in Princeton’s win against Elon March 4.
WOMEN’S SWIMMING star Alicia Aemisegger ’10 finished second in the 400-yard individual medley and third in the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships March 8, 9, and 10, earning All-America honors for both performances. Michelle DeMond ’07 finished 16th in the platform diving competition and was named an honorable mention All-American.