March 24, 2004: Sports
Sports Web Exclusives! P-nut Gallery column
Sports Scores Updated weekly
basketball marches on
The goal seemed close enough to touch, or at least close enough to talk about. Men's basketball needed wins against Harvard and Dartmouth, the Ivy's two worst teams, to clinch a league championship in the season’s final weekend. But Coach John Thompson ’88 and his players never wavered from the intense focus that he called the hallmark of this year’s team. “We’ll pick our heads up at the end,” he said.
True to the season’s form, the wins did not come easily. The Tigers needed a late three-pointer by Scott Greenman ’06 to break a tie with Harvard and help secure a 60—51 win in Cambridge March 5. The next night, Princeton survived an emotional surge in the second half of Dartmouth coach Dave Faucher’s final game to beat the Big Green 64—59. Securing an N.C.A.A. tournament bid did not sink in immediately, according to center Judson Wallace ’05. “When we got in the locker room, we realized what we had accomplished,” he said.
Princeton’s starters did most of the heavy lifting in the championship run. Will Venable ’05, who scored 12 points at Harvard and 11 at Dartmouth, emerged as an indispensable leader on both ends of the floor, with a knack for making big steals and last-second layups. Wallace topped 20 points nine times during the season (all Princeton wins), and Andre Logan ’05, whose injury history made him a preseason unknown, contributed 8.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in Ivy contests.
When the Tigers needed an extra hand, a trio of freshman reserves provided timely contributions. Luke Owings ’07 chipped in 11 points to help the Tigers top Cornell February 28, and Harrison Schaen ’07 played a significant role in both of Princeton’s wins against Harvard. Max Schafer ’07 made his biggest impact as a starter, filling in for injured guard Ed Persia ’04 in the final two weekends of the season.
Schafer, who struggled with his shooting early in the year (two for 17 in the first 10 games), gradually picked up the nuances of the Tigers’ offense. “The coaches helped me out with my decision making, picking my spots,” he says. As his playing time increased in the Ivy season, so did his production. He contributed eight points and four assists in his first start against Columbia February 27, and his three-point shooting climbed to a respectable 31.7 percent.
Thompson credits Schafer and the other freshmen with giving Princeton (19–7, 12–1 Ivy) the depth it needed to thrive in the Ivy’s “14-game tournament.” But he adds, “It’s not a matter of freshmen and sophomores anymore. We’re just 15 guys, trying to fight, trying to win.”
long and winding road
By Eric Wills ’98
When Erik Kean ’99 and Chris Banks ’00 warmed up to run a marathon in February, they shared a familiar ritual. They had jogged together countless times before cross-country and track races when they were Princeton teammates. Never before, though, had so much been at stake. This time, the two friends lined up with 86 of the nation’s best runners in Birmingham, Alabama, to compete for a spot on the United States Olympic team in Athens.
Banks, who had missed a month of training with a hip injury, ran well in the snow and wind, finishing 20th in 2:18:55 — a pace of 5:18 per mile. Kean, running only his second competitive marathon, was two minutes back in 30th place. Although only the top three finishers made the team, Kean, 27, and Banks, 26, were two of the youngest runners in the field and are a few years shy of the prime age for marathon running. “I’ll know what to expect next time,” Banks says. “In four years, the goal is to be in contention.”
Banks and Kean took different paths to the starting line in Birmingham. Banks left Princeton as the only Ivy League athlete to have won the outdoor 10,000 meters three years in a row. He got a job at a Washington, D.C., running store and immediately set his sights on the marathon. After two years, Banks had little to show for his dedication, so he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he focused entirely on his training. Running at high altitude in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, he took in the breathtaking scenery and logged almost 20 miles a day.
The hard work paid off when Banks finished eighth at the National Championships in February 2003 with a time of 2:18:52. In June he learned he had been chosen to represent the U.S. in the Pan Am Games marathon. “I got pretty excited about putting on the U.S. singlet,” Banks says. He finished seventh in humid Santo Domingo, four spots shy of a medal.
Unlike Banks, Kean was not sure that he would keep training after graduation. The captain of the Princeton cross-country team for two years, he got a job on Capitol Hill working for Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming. After six months, he decided he would rather run, and took a job alongside Banks at the running store.
Kean ran local road races before setting his sights on the marathon. He moved back to his hometown of Cheyenne to dedicate himself to the task. He ran the rugged, pine-tree-lined trails of Medicine Bow National Forest – “the most difficult running I’ve done,” he says – and matched Banks’s mileage. At the Sacramento Marathon in December, Kean debuted as an Olympic contender, running 2:20:38 to finish third and beat the trials qualifying time by more than one minute.
Just before Birmingham, Kean and Banks moved back to Washington to train together. Now that their first Olympic chance has passed, they have shifted their focus to the next opportunity – Beijing in 2008. “We’re more tied together now than in college,” Kean says. “The uniqueness of what we do brings us together.”
Eric Wills ’98 is a freelance writer in Annapolis, Maryland.
MEN’S INDOOR TRACK captured its sixth title in seven years at the Ivy Indoor Heptagonal Championships February 28—29, beating 2003 champion Cornell by 18 points. Jonathan Kieliszak ’04 finished first in the mile and helped Princeton win the distance medley relay. Cack Ferrell ’06 won the women’s mile and 3,000-meter run to earn female Athlete of the Meet honors, as WOMEN’S INDOOR TRACK finished second behind Cornell.
WOMEN’S SWIMMING edged Harvard to win its fifth consecutive Ivy League championship. Sara Fraumann ’04, Stephanie Hsaio ’05, and Kelly Hannigan ’07 led the Tigers with individual wins. Princeton also won two relays.
In its season opener February 28, MEN’S LACROSSE dominated Quinnipiac, taking an 11-goal lead early in the fourth quarter and cruising to a 19—10 win. Cocaptains Jason Doneger ’05 and Ryan Boyle ’04 combined for eight goals and six assists.
MEN’S SQUASH’s Yasser El Halaby ’06 became the first amateur to qualify for the Tournament of Champions, a professional squash showcase held February 21—26 at New York’s Grand Central Terminal. After beating two of the world’s top 100 pros in his qualifying matches, El Halaby was eliminated in the first round of the championship draw by Graham Ryding of Canada, ranked 16th in the world.
With its second 5—4 win over Harvard this season, WOMEN’S SQUASH secured third place in the Howe Cup, the sport’s intercollegiate national championship, February 21. Ali Pearson ’07’s 3-2 win in a seesaw match at the No. 2 spot helped push Princeton over the top.
Kim Pearce ’07 earned E.C.A.C. Rookie of the Week honors for the third time as WOMEN’S HOCKEY posted key wins over Vermont and No. 3 Dartmouth February 20—21. The Tigers increased their season win total to 19 by splitting a two-game set with Mercyhurst February 28—29. MEN’S HOCKEY finished the regular season with a 15-game winless slide. The Tigers played well in a 2—2 tie against Dartmouth February 20 and lost the season finale to Union in overtime February 28.
WOMEN’S FENCING’s Jacqueline Leahy ’06, an All-Ivy performer, won the women’s foil at the Junior Olympic Fencing Championships February 16.