March 8, 2006: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
By David Baumgarten ’06
Early in the second half of the men’s basketball team’s visit to the Palestra on Feb. 14, the Penn student section unveiled a disturbingly accurate roll-out sign: “Only Dick Cheney shoots worse than Princeton.”
Indeed, in sputtering through a 31-percent shooting performance, the Tigers seemed to have lost all aim, missing layups and open jump shots by the bunch. The predictable result was a 60–41 victory for the Quakers.
“You can’t fall behind by double figures in a building like this,” head coach Joe Scott ’87 said afterward. “You don’t have to play a perfect game, but you’ve got to make layups. You’ve got to make open shots.”
Princeton (7–13 overall, 5–2 Ivy League) did neither. After an even first 10 minutes, a dubious technical foul on Scott and seven straight Tiger misses — including several from point-blank range — allowed Penn to take control of the game with an 11–0 run. In the first five minutes after halftime, the Quakers increased their lead to 16 points.
Princeton twice cut the gap to 10 in the second half, but on both occasions, Ibrahim Jaaber, Penn’s All-Ivy point guard, made big plays to kill any momentum. Jaaber finished with 17 points and four steals. He received ample support from forwards Steve Danley and Mark Zoller, who bullied the smaller Tigers in the paint with a combined 33 points and 17 rebounds.
The contest made it clear that this year’s Penn squad — 7–0 in Ivy play — was operating at a higher level than the rest of the league, but the Tigers can take some solace from merely being in position to play for first place. Three weeks prior, after a dismal 3–12 start that included a split of the opening Ivy weekend, it seemed that the game at the Palestra would be irrelevant.
That was before Scott’s biggest gamble of the year jump-started Princeton’s season: 6-foot, 4-inch walk-on Justin Conway ’07, who had played just one minute in his career, was named the Tigers’ starting center. Suddenly, the offense began clicking as Conway’s presence brought out the best in his teammates, and Princeton ran off four straight Ivy wins.
Against Yale on Feb. 3, point guard Scott Greenman ’06 exploded for a career-high 27 points in a 66–49 win, and Noah Savage ’08 followed suit with 23 points in a 52–37 win over Brown the next night. On the road the following weekend, the Tigers stunned Harvard, 60–59, scoring seven unanswered points in the final 55 seconds, including a turnaround jump shot by Savage with 0.2 seconds on the clock. Luke Owings ’07 and Greenman each chipped in 16 points the next night in a 52–49 win at Dartmouth.
Though the Tigers’ shooting went cold against the Quakers, their offense unquestionably ran more smoothly than it had early in the year, giving them hope that the March 7 rematch at Jadwin Gym could be different.
“It was a learning experience,” Owings said afterward. “We weren’t ready right now — we’re still in our growth process. We’ll be ready by the end, don’t worry.”
David Baumgarten ’06 is a frequent PAW contributor.
The women’s hockey team climbed to No. 5 in the national rankings after a 6–1 win over No. 8 Harvard at Baker Rink Feb. 10 and an equally dominant victory against Dartmouth the next day. Freshman Annie Greenwood, pictured in action against Harvard, scored three of her team-high 21 goals in the weekend games. Princeton is vying for its first bid to the eight-team NCAA Championships, which begin March 17.
By David Marcus ’92
The 2005 Princeton men’s lacrosse season was a disappointing one. Fresh off a Final Four appearance, coach Bill Tierney’s young team was expected to challenge for a national title. Instead, the Tigers finished 5–7, their worst showing since 1989, and missed out on a share of the Ivy League championship for the first time in 11 seasons. But a quick glance at last year’s statistics offers more hope than the team’s record would suggest.
One critical number is .638, goalie Alex Hewit ’08’s save percentage last year. Had he played a full season, that figure would have ranked him second among Division I netminders. Instead, he split time with David Law ’06 and Matthew Larkin ’05, who combined for a .533 save percentage. “I kick myself because I knew Alex was a talent,” said Tierney, “but we had David, who was a returning starter, and we had Larkin, who was a senior. Hewit is the first lefty we’ve had in a while. He catches the ball, and he’s athletic. He exudes confidence.”
And he will play behind an excellent defense. Last year’s record masked a defense whose opponents put just 53 percent of their shots on goal, the lowest such figure allowed by a Princeton team in five seasons. The Tigers return almost all of last year’s key defensive midfielders as well as Dan Cocoziello ’08, the first defenseman to win Ivy League rookie-of-the-year honors and, according to Tierney, “a guy who has the potential to be one of the best ever here.” Defense has always been one of Princeton’s strengths, and it should be again this year.
The third key number from the 2005 season: Only 26 percent of Princeton’s shots found the inside of the net, the team’s lowest such figure since at least 2000. Opposing defenders crowded the area around the goal because the Tigers lacked a passer, such as Ryan Boyle ’04, or an outside shooter, such as Brad Dumont ’03, to spread out the defense. But this year’s team could have players to fill those two key roles.
Midfielder Mac Bryson ’06, who returns after a year off, leads a group of promising outside shooters. “He can do what all my opponents said we couldn’t do last year, which is stretch a defense,” said Tierney, who is hoping for the same thing from freshmen Josh Lesko and Mark Kovler. Princeton also returns its first midfield of Scott Sowanick ’07, Whitney Hayes ’07, and Mike Gaudio ’07.
The long-range shooters should open lanes for the attackmen, including two-year starter Peter Trombino ’07, Princeton’s top scorer last season. Alex Haynie ’08, Bob Schneider ’08 and Tommy Davis ’09 will compete for the other two spots, and Haynie’s ability to feed passes to the Tigers’ shooters could prove particularly important.
Princeton, which faces Virginia at home March 12, will rely heavily on youth, making the squad’s fortunes hard to predict. But its talent and a potentially dominant defense should get the team to the NCAA playoffs in May, where the offense’s improvement may dictate how far the Tigers advance.
David Marcus ’92 is a frequent PAW contributor.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL beat Harvard 70–55 Feb. 10 and remained tied for second place in the Ivy League entering a Feb. 11 showdown with Dartmouth, the league’s top team. The Big Green fought through a slow start to take an 18-point halftime lead and Princeton never recovered, losing 82–64.
MEN’S SQUASH finished on the losing side in two of three tight matches against the nation’s other top teams. On Feb. 1, the Tigers were within striking distance of ending No. 1 Trinity’s 134-match winning streak, but Trinity freshman Gustav Detter staged an improbable comeback to defeat Princeton star Yasser El Halaby ’06. Trinity won 5–4. With El Halaby sidelined by an injury, the Tigers lost 5–4 to Yale Feb. 4, but Princeton rebounded to top Harvard 5–4 Feb. 12.
WOMEN’S SQUASH split its final four Ivy matches, beating Penn Feb. 2 and Dartmouth Feb. 12, and losing to Yale Feb. 4 and Harvard Feb. 12. Sophomores Carly Grabowski and Christina Fast recorded wins in all four contests.
MEN’S HOCKEY lost back-to-back overtime games at Harvard Feb. 10 and at Dartmouth Feb. 11.
After showing signs of promise with a 5–6 record in its first 11 meets, the WRESTLING team faltered Feb. 10 and 11 in lopsided losses to Columbia, Cornell, and Rider. Matt DeNichilo ’06 scored the Tigers’ lone individual win of the weekend against Columbia.
MEN’S TRACK AND FIELD won the H-Y-P indoor meet Feb. 11, capturing first place in seven individual events and one relay. In WOMEN’S TRACK AND FIELD, Yale edged Princeton by a point to claim first place in the H-Y-P meet.
MEN’S SWIMMING beat Yale but fell to Harvard in the annual H-Y-P meet Feb. 4–5. WOMEN’S SWIMMING also topped the Bulldogs but lost to the Crimson.
MEN’S VOLLEYBALL snapped a five-match losing streak, coming back from a 2–1 deficit to defeat Juniata in five games Feb. 11.
Women’s hockey alumna NIKOLA HOLMES ’03 skated in Germany’s three preliminary-round games at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Feb. 11–14. The Germans posted a 1–2 record.