Sunday, February 9, 2014

Game Recaps: Princeton 69 Cornell 48

Spencer Weisz scored 18 points and T.J. Bray added 17 with six assists as Princeton made 11 shots from beyond the 3-point line and rolled to a 69-48 victory over Cornell on Saturday night at Jadwin Gym in Princeton, N.J.

Princeton (13-6, 1-4 Ivy League) bounced back after losing its first three Ivy League games, including Friday night’s 53-52 loss to visiting Columbia. The Tigers have won 24 of their past 26 Ivy League home games.

Weisz made three 3-pointers and was 6-for-7 from the field overall. Bray hit 5 of 8 shots and was 5-for-5 from the line. Five Princeton players each grabbed five rebounds, including Weisz and Bray.

Sophomore guard Nolan Cressler scored 14 points, and was the only player in double figures for Cornell (1-19, 0-6), which has lost 24 consecutive games against Division I competition. On Friday, the Big Red fell at Pennsylvania, 90-83, with Cressler leading a quartet of Cornell double-figure scorers with 22 points.

Good ball movement allowed the home team to get several open looks from beyond the arc Saturday, and the Tigers nailed seven of them in the first half en route to a 37-21 halftime lead. Bray had 12 points and Weisz 10 before the break.

The Big Red meanwhile, found foul trouble in the first 20 minutes. Senior forward Dwight Tarwater, the team’s leading rebounder, picked up his second foul two minutes in and Cressler played 12 minutes in the first half due to fouls. Freshman guard Robert Hatter played six minutes before picking up his second foul.

The second half was more of the same, as Cornell fell behind 50-25 on a 3-pointer by Steven Cook (13 points) with 17 minutes to play. The Red never got to within 15 points the rest of the way; for the game, Cornell shot 15-of-44 from the field (34.1 percent).

Cornell starts a stretch of six home games in its last eight this weekend, taking on Dartmouth Friday and Harvard Saturday. Both games will tip off at 7 p.m. at Newman Arena.

The men’s basketball team had another tough weekend on the road against conference opponents. At 0-4 in Ivy League play going into the matchups, the Red was looking for its first conference victory. The first obstacle in its way was Penn, another team at the bottom of the Ivy conference.
Cornell took on the Quakers in the Palestra in Philadelphia, in a high-scoring affair marked by impressive stat lines.
Penn secured an early lead with the play of its leading offensive threats. Sophomore guard Tony Hicks led the Quakers with his efficient scoring and dishing of the basketball. Cornell’s poor shooting percentage in the first half did not help alleviate the effect of the Penn offense. After hitting only 39 percent of shots from the field — compared to the Quakers’ 51 percent — Cornell trailed, 50-32, at the half.
After the halftime break, the Red came out strong on the offensive end. Cornell hit 51 percent of its shots from the field, along with some acrobatic plays in the paint. Sophomore guard Nolan Cressler hit several tough layups against Penn’s interior defense. Freshman forward David Onuorah had a highlight putback dunk en route to a career-high 11 points and nine rebounds.

Cressler once again led the squad by scoring 22 points and grabbing five rebounds. Freshman guard Darryl Smith and junior guard Devin Cherry both got the starting nod from head coach Bill Courtney, adding to the offensive attack with 15 points each. The Cornell offense was able to put up 51 points in the second half and held Penn to 40 by playing an active, high pressure defence.
After 40 minutes of play that were marked by high-volume offense, the Red was unable to overcome the struggles of the first half, falling, 90-83. Cornell put up a strong attack, but could not outdo the Quakers. Hicks finished with a game-high 27 points and seven assists.
After Friday night’s loss to Penn, Cornell headed to New Jersey to battle Princeton in another Ivy League clash.
The Tigers were 12-6, going into the game, but were 7th in the Ivy League standings at 0-4, ahead of only Cornell. Princeton proved to be a tougher test than Penn, defeating the Red 69-48. The Tigers shut down the Red’s offense by holding the team to only 34 percent shooting from the field throughout the game. Cressler was the only Cornellian that was able to put up double-digits in the scoring column on 4-10 shooting.
The Red’s defense was unable to stunt the production of the Tigers’ top scorers.
Freshman forward Spencer Weisz, senior guard T.J. Bray and freshman forward Steven Cook scored the majority of the Tigers’ buckets. Princeton outperformed the Red in both halves of play en route to their first win in the Ancient Eight.
The Red can now look forward to a stretch of four games at home in Newman Arena. Next weekend, the Red takes on Dartmouth and Harvard.

PRINCETON — Big brother was watching Saturday night. Maybe that made the difference.
Or maybe Cornell is simply as bad as its 1-19 record.
Either way, the Princeton University men’s basketball team won its first Ivy League game of the year, rolling Cornell 69-48 at Jadwin Gym.
The win came in front of several Tiger alumni, on campus for an annual postgame get-together with Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril.
Among them were former NBA All-Star Geoff Petrie, and other familiar names such as Barnes Haupfuhrer, Jon Berger, Tim van Bloomesteyn, Tim Olah, Andy Rimol, Petey Molloy, Chris Thomforde, Bill Omeltchenko, Mickey Steuerer, Steve Mills, and John and Ed Hummer.
Having lost their first four league games and coming off a stinging one-point loss to Columbia Friday, Princeton finally resumed looking like Princeton with ball movement, energy and, of course, shooting well from the outside.
The Tigers made 11-of-28 threes and scored 18 points off 17 Cornell turnovers.
“I thought we did a nice job of having a short-term memory,’’ coach Mitch Henderson said. “I don’t think anyone got much sleep in this program (Friday) night. It’s amazing what a couple of shots falling does for a team’s — I don’t know what you call it: a soul.
“I don’t think we do very well with tension,’’ he added. “I thought they were loose and played with energy, and that’s the way to play the game. When you start losing games everything’s gotta change a little bit. The problem for us was, I guess, it’s a natural tendency to assume there’s something drastically wrong with the team.’’
Starting with three road games on the road certainly help. And the fact is one loss came in overtime, and then Saturday night’s one-pointer.
Saturday night, it was a six-pack of 3-pointers and four trips to the free-throw line shot Princeton to a 16-point halftime lead. The lead reached 25 early in the second half.
Senior T.J. Bray finished with 17 points, five rebounds, six assists and no turnovers, but it was the freshmen duo of Spencer Weisz and Steve Cook who caught the attention of a crowd just under 3,000.
Weisz scored a career-high 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals; Cook had a career-high 13 points and five rebounds.
“Coach told us to play loose and have fun,’’ Weisz said. “And also the perspective of having the alumni in the stands really helped. We play for more than ourselves. We play for the program’s history and the guys who came before us.’’
“Obviously, there’s a consistency with players who want to come back,’’ Henderson added. “But more important is the way we think. We try and play smart and play tough.
“From Geoff Petrie to Armond Hill and Craig Robinson — there are too many guys players to name who are here — those guys want us to fight, and that’s what I think the guys did.’’
The Tigers now hit the road again, facing Brown Friday night and Yale Saturday.
Hopefully for them, the road won’t continue to hit back.

PRINCETON — For the night at least, things looked like they were supposed to for Princeton.
The Tigers finally broke their four-game Ivy free fall Saturday, beating the Cornell 69-48 at Jadwin Gym. Though the Big Red’s (1-19, 0-6) only win on the season came against Division III Oberlin, Princeton (13-6, 1-4) is in no position to be particular about league wins.
“I thought we did a nice job of a having a short-term memory,” said coach Mitch Henderson, referring specifically to Friday nights’ loss to Columbia. “I don’t think anybody in this program got much sleep last night.”
While senior captain T.J. Bray had a predictably strong game with 17 points, five rebounds and six assists, both freshman Spencer Weisz (18 points) and Steven Cook (13) recorded career highs. Weisz has been a solid contributor all season, but for Cook the game represented something of a breakout performance.
“I definitely felt a lot more comfortable,” Cook said. “We had a great week of practice, and I got a lot of encouragement from guys after not getting a ton of opportunities to start the season. I just tried to stay ready and play hard tonight.”
In addition to being their first Ivy win of the season, the victory was also important because of who was in attendance. A large number of Princeton basketball alumni were in the gym — an informal get-together with legendary coach Pete Carril was scheduled for after the game — and that history clearly carries weight with the current crop of Tigers.
“We are playing for more than just ourselves,” Weisz said. “We are playing for the program’s history and the guys that came before us.”
Unlike in the Tigers’ recent close loses to Columbia, Dartmouth and Harvard, there wasn’t much suspense against Cornell. The Big Red hung around for the first 10 minutes of the game, but Princeton was able to open up a 16-point lead by the half, going into intermission up 37-21 after Cook knocked down a three.
Any pretense of a Big Red comeback was quickly squashed in the opening minutes of the second half, which the Tigers opened on a 10-2 run. Princeton spent the rest of the game nursing a 20-point advantage.
“It’s amazing what a couple of shots does for a teams…what do you call it? The soul?” Henderson said. “I felt like we got our groove back a little bit.”
The convincing victory should give the Tigers a much-needed boost of confidence heading into next weekends’ crucial road trip to Brown and Yale — the same trip that cost Princeton an NCAA tournament berth a year ago. While catching Harvard atop the Ivy standings looks like a tall task, there is still plenty of basketball left to determine how the rest of the league shakes out.
It’s clear that the Tigers will need to play more like they did against Cornell and less like they did against Columbia to be successful.
“I don’t think we do very well with tension,” Henderson said. “They were lose, they were ready to go, there was energy, and that’s how you play the game.”
NOTES: Senior guard Jimmy Sherburne missed his second consecutive game with a foot injury. Henderson said he hopes Sherburne will be ready to return next weekend.

Box Score I Box Score (PDF)

PRINCETON, N.J. – Princeton raced out to a 16-point halftime lead largely on the back of its seven made 3-pointers and cruised to a 69-48 victory over Cornell on Saturday evening at Jadwin Gymnasium. The Big Red fell to 1-19 (0-6 Ivy), while the Tigers improved to 13-6 (1-4 Ivy).

Princeton connected on 11 3-pointers on the night, limited the Big Red to 34 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers in the win. Spencer Weisz had 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals, while T.J. Bray had 17 points, six assists and five rebounds. Steven Cook was also in double figures with 13 points and five boards.

Nolan Cressler was the lone double figure scorer for the Big Red with 14 points. Jake Matthews scored six points and grabbed three rebounds off the bench, while David Onuorah ripped down a game-high seven rebounds.

Princeton's ball movement and some fortunate bounces to get open 3-point looks allowed the home team to nail its seven shots from beyond the arc in the first half on its way to a 37-21 lead. Bray had a balanced line of 12 points, four rebounds and four assists for the Tigers, while Weisz was also in double figures with 10 points at the break.

The Big Red meanwhile, found foul trouble in the first 20 minutes. Dwight Tarwater, the Big Red's leading rebounder, picked up his second foul two minutes in. Cressler played just 12 minutes in the first half due to fouls. Robert Hatter played six minutes before picking up his second. AS the Big Red body count mounted, so too did Princeton's lead.

The second half was more of the same, as Cornell hit just 32 percent of its shots and trailed by as many as 25 just three minutes into the second half. The Big Red never got back inside of 15 points the rest of the way.

The Big Red returns home to start a final stretch with six of its last eight games at home when it meets Dartmouth on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at Newman Arena. 

The men’s basketball team suffered another crushing defeat Friday night against Columbia before rebounding to smother Cornell Saturday in the first pair of conference matchups at home. Princeton (13-6 overall, 1-4 Ivy League) fell 53-52 to the Lions (14-9, 3-3) after a couple of controversial calls in the final minute went against the Tigers. The next night saw Princeton play its best defense of the season, stymieing the Big Red (1-19, 0-6) in a 69-48 win, the first against a Division I opponent this calendar year.

“It was a heck of a game by Columbia — I don’t think the game came down to those final two plays, we sort of forced it,” said coach Mitch Henderson ’98. “Once again, we’re putting ourselves in some really difficult spots. We’ve got to figure out how to win games. We’re not executing and we had some really costly turnovers.”
Princeton dominated the first half against Columbia, outshooting the Lions 57.1 percent to 33.3 percent overall and holding a team that averages 7.5 three pointers a game to just one. But, just as in the Harvard game, the Tigers were dominated on the boards, allowing seven offensive rebounds to a team that ranks among the bottom-fifty in the NCAA. Princeton collected just one, meaning Columbia attempted six more shots in the first half, a crippling margin. The eight-point difference at halftime seemed to be a huge understatement.
Princeton, as usual, went cold to start the half. They made two of eight to open the half and the deficit was erased in barely five minutes as Columbia’s Alex Rosenberg scored four points and assisted two other buckets to leave it knotted at 37. The teams stayed within three points of each other until senior guard T.J. Bray made a huge layup despite some contact to put Princeton up 52-47 with two minutes to play. Columbia then ate up the entire shot clock, as they often do, before sophomore Isaac Cohen knocked down his only three of the game off the front of the forgiving Jadwin Gymansium rim.
A missed three from Bray put the ball back in Columbia’s hands with less than a minute left. Second leading scorer Maodo Lo missed an open look at the top of the key and senior guard Chris Clement rebounded. Rosenberg stuck his hands in for the briefest of moments before Clement ripped the ball away, but it was enough for the official to call for a jump ball. Henderson and the the Jadwin crowd were in disbelief. After a timeout, Columbia ran a well-designed play that freed up guard Meiko Lyles outside the three point line. He caught it, shot it and got it for his only points of the game.
Bray tried to back down his his defender on the ensuing possession but got stuffed and the ball rolled out of bounds. With 11 seconds left, Princeton inbounded and worked the ball over to senior guard Ben Hazel, who had played a very quiet role up to that point. He drove and put up a feeble airball, suggesting there had been some contact. The referees ate their whistles, though, and Columbia locked up its first win at Jadwin gym since 1993.
“We wanted to go to T.J. on the last play, but Hans went the other way and we ended up getting a shot from Ben Hazel, which wasn’t a good shot for us,” said Henderson.
Princeton still ended up shooting better than Columbia, 44.4 percent to 40.4 percent, but were outrebounded and recorded their fewest assists of the season. Bray led the Tigers with 17 points on seven-of-12 shooting, while Brase added 13, all in the first half, and seven boards. Rosenberg dropped a game-high 19, despite shooting just 33.3 percent, and contributed four steals. Princeton scored its fewest points of the season by 13, but played its second-best defensive game.
The game against Cornell provided a nice rebound for a Princeton team that has clearly had a tough 2014. The Big Red is one of the worst Division I teams this year, and the Tigers certainly made it seem that way. After a slow first ten minutes, Princeton went on a 22-7 tear to go into the break up 37-21.  The game was never in question as Princeton led by as many as 25 points and coasted. Henderson, who has been searching for the right combination of players, mixed and matched his personnel. Freshman forward Steven Cook started his third straight game and played a game high 33 minutes while scoring a career high 13 points. Meanwhile, former starter Hazel saw just three minutes of court time, as Henderson gave Clement 20 minutes a game off the bench.
The starting lineup included four forwards, which may have helped Princeton to its best rebounding performance in quite some time, with a 33-27 edge over Cornell. Most impressive was Princeton’s defense, which held the Big Red to 34.1 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers. Offensively, the Tigers shot quite well, making 24 of 49 attempted. Their 11-of-28 performance from beyond the arc was the best rate and quantity against a division one opponent since the drubbing of Pacific way back in December. Freshman forward Spencer Weisz scored a game- and career-high 18 points on six-of-seven shooting, as his top-three scoring games have now come against Princeton’s three worst opponents. Bray added his usual 17 to go with a game-high six assists and five rebounds. Cornell’s leading scorer, Nolan Cressler led them with 14 points and forward David Onurah pulled in a game-high seven boards.
“We did a nice job having a short-term memory,” Henderson said, referencing the previous night’s game. “It’s amazing what a couple of shots falling does for a team’s soul.  I feel like we got our groove back a little bit and we’ll need to keep it going.”
Perhaps the most important news of the night came from Cambridge, where Yale upset Harvard 74-67. It might be too late to make up 3.5 games on those two teams, but this result at least proves that Harvard is fallible and the league is more wide open than people might think. Despite the obviously costly loss to Columbia, Princeton’s chances of winning the league remain roughly constant from last week at .6 percent, according to In a few days, the Tigers hit the road to face Brown and Yale, two of the league’s top three teams, in a weekend that could either throw Princeton back in the hunt or eliminate them completely.


Anonymous said...

CBB especially likes to pin a lot of the blame for this nightmare of a season on the seniors, saying recently they are "25% of the recruiting classes" and "they are just NOT GOOD." CBB especially likes to attribute the team's lack of success to Dom and Jake, even though Jake and Dom are averaging 14 and 15 mins per game, respectively, for the season. Apparently, Dom and Jake need to do more during their other 25 minutes on the bench.

One poster even recently insisted that Jake should not be playing at all because "he just takes up space out there". CBB has advocated the same thing all season.

Interestingly, after seeing an increase in minutes but still averaging only 19.2 minutes in 6 Ivy League games, Jake's 9 steals are the most in the league, he is 3rd in the league in 3 point FG percentage, and 10th in the league in 3 point field goals made. Jake is also tied for third on the team in scoring average through 6 league games, averaging 6.3 ppg in just 19.2 minutes during Ivy League games.

Jake's stat line while "taking up space" at Brown: 28 mins, 17 points, 4-7 from field, 2-5 from three, 7-8 from line, 3 steals, 3 Rebs, 1 assist, no TOs.

And, this team would be much better if every player competed as hard as Jake does on EVERY possession.

Dwight is averaging 6 ppg and 6 reb per game for the season. No, not "All Ivy" stats, but certainly productive for an undersized 4 playing out of position with virtually no back up. On any other team Dwight would be playing at the 3. Where are the other 4s recruited by Courtney?

One thing is also clear. Jake, Dwight and Dom are the three players on the roster who play with half of a basketball brain. Dom's shooting has fallen off, but no worse than others. Dom has the best assist to turnover ratio on the team - 21 assists against 5 turnovers. That's 4 to 1. For the season, Dwight, Jake and Dom have a combined 55 assists versus 28 turnovers. In league play, they have a combined 12 assists against 8 turnovers. They actually value the ball and try to make smart basketball decisions in a system that has little regard for intelligent basketball. No other three players on the team, combined, even come close to a 2 to 1 or 1.5 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. In fact, despite the seniors' stellar assist to turnover ratio, as a team, Cornell is dead last in the Ivy League in assist to turnover ratio. That is remarkable.

CBB has argued ad nauseum that the young guys are better suited for Courtney's "wreak havoc" defense (is that an industry term?), and his "dribble drive" offense. (Footnote- Its hysterical that CBB actually believes that Cornell runs Calipari's dribble drive offense or even runs a version of it. Not even close. Has CBB ever played at any competitive level? Coached?)

Based on Courtney's supposed "new way" of recruiting and playing in the Ivy League, CBB's philosophy has been we should push the seniors to a secondary role and play the young guys because, even before the season started, this was going to be a lost season anyway, and we should all just build for next year when we will all be privileged to witness the return of Shonn the Almighty.

How does that "lose now to win later" philosophy feel now that Cornell is 1-19?? How does that promote a culture of winning and accountability in the program? Are Cornell's freshmen getting better? Cornell's "future All Ivy" 7 footer with all of his big time scholly offers is still watching from the sideline at the end of his second year.

This team's problems go way, way deeper than the three seniors who CBB so loves to scape goat. The seniors have been placed in an impossible situation enduring four years of a failed experiment. They've done everything they've been asked to do despite illness, career threatening injuries, personal tragedy and inheriting a new coach.

But, yeah, this disaster of a season is mostly the seniors' fault.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Good post and thanks for sharing a counter point of view.

CBB agrees to some extent. The seniors are great kids. And they've done everything asked of them and endured so much.

But the talent is not there.

Many that are not affiliated with the program, who have no allegiance to Cornell, share my opinion of Cornell's upperclassmen.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

CBB applauds everyone who wears the Cornell jersey. But this roster needs an upgrade in talent.

Unknown said...

When I read the circular reasoning of why we should be playing underclassmen, and not the seniors, I think of BC, and realize there is probably a very simple reason why each player is playing that position and for that length of time. It's because that's who BC thinks gives him the best chance of winning an actual game.

As the poster thoroughly detailed, when it comes down to the subtler things, like taking care of the ball, the seniors are better than the underclassmen. Are they stars? No. But they are competent role players thrust into a very demoralizing situation, and they continue to play hard.

Some of the underclassmen have shown flashes of promise, although they seem to be regressing as per usual with BC. But none of them play with "basketball IQ" of the seniors.