Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 48
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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KA-BOOM: Princeton University men’s basketball star Kareem Maddox jams the ball last Sunday in Princeton’s 86-77 overtime win against visiting Siena. Maddox poured in a career-high 30 points in the victory, obliterating his previous career single-game best of 18 points registered against Harvard last season. The Tigers, who improved to 3-3 with the win, were slated to play at Lafayette on November 30 before hosting St. Joseph’s on December 5.

With Senior Maddox Showing Skill, Leadership Princeton Men’s Hoops Edges Siena in Overtime

Bill Alden

Over the second half of last season, Kareem Maddox emerged as a force off the bench for the Princeton University men’s basketball team.

The 6’8, 230-pound forward filled the super sub role, seeing double-digit minutes as a reserve in each of the final 19 games, during which Princeton went 15-4. Maddox posted seven double-digit scoring games, all in the final 15 contests.

In reflecting on ending his junior season with a late surge, Maddox said he felt a sense of urgency.

“I fell into a niche coming off the bench; I was comfortable with that,” said Maddox, who averaged 6.2 points and 3.5 rebounds a game last season.

“As a junior at that point, I realized that I only have only so much time to play basketball here at Princeton and with my buddies on the team. I think things clicked.”

Coming into this season, the senior tri-captain was determined to make the most of his final college campaign no matter how he is utilized by the Tigers.

“Whatever my role ends up being, I am going to be happy with it,” said Maddox, a native of Oak Park, Calif.

“I am going to come out to do my best and play well. I want to make the most of every minute, You only get so many and the four years has flown by. I want to make this season a great one.”

But over Princeton’s first five games, Maddox hadn’t produced a great start, averaging 5.8 points and 6.2 rebounds as Princeton went 2-3.

Last Sunday, though, Maddox broke out with a career effort, scoring 30 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Tigers rallied to an 86-77 win over visiting Siena on overtime.

“I’m not sure what was different, but I know it was time to kind of turn things around,” said Maddox, in reflecting on the game which saw him hit on 10-of-13 shots and 10-of-12 free throws as he obliterated his previous career single-game best of 18 points registered against Harvard last season.

I’ve been disappointed in my play thus far and it was good to come out and help the team in a different way. Other than that, I think my teammates trusted me a lot and wanted to get it down to me. That might have been the big difference.”

As a team captain along with classmate Dan Mavraides and junior Patrick Saunders, Maddox is looking to make a difference leadership-wise.

“I think as a senior and a captain, having played in the Ivy League for three years and knowing how tough it is, I am trying to translate that,” said Maddox. “Showing people how tough it is year after year to win is so important. I just hope that I am doing that and that Pat and Dan are doing that.”

Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson liked the toughness his team showed Sunday as it overcame a late 66-60 deficit to force overtime and then pulled away to victory in the extra session.

In addition to Maddox’s heroics, Mavraides came up big, hitting two 3-pointers in the waning seconds of regulation and then canning four free throws in OT on the way to a 19-point performance.

“We’ve had moments here or there where we’ve shown a lot of heart,” said Johnson, who also got 14 points from Ian Hummer and 11 from Douglas Davis in the victory as his team improved to 3-3.

“We’re facing adversity pretty well. We have to tighten up some Xs and Os and some execution. But tonight was a team effort in terms of facing adversity, probably epitomized by Dan’s shot going in.”

The Tigers sorely needed to produce a better team effort in the wake of going 1-2 last week in the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic subregional at James Madison.

“Our competitive effort was horrible down in Virginia,” said Johnson, whose team squandered a 20-point first half cushion in a 65-64 loss to James Madison on November 22 and then blew a five-point second half lead two days later in a 69-67 defeat to Presbyterian.

“That’s nothing to take away from those teams because those were three very good teams we played. But we did not compete and it was very disappointing to see that because we have more in us. We have more passion. Today we had more passion and we still almost lost. We have to compete and we have to make free throws in close games to have some success.”

Maddox, for his part, felt it was vital for the Tigers to come out hard against Siena. “It’s a big win; Siena is a good team,” said Maddox, who will be looking for another big game when the Tigers host St. Joseph’s on December 5.

“The last game I don’t think we competed and I think that has been uniform down the line. We don’t think we competed very hard and it was tough to lose that one. We knew we had to come out and perform and play hard. I’m glad we did that, win or lose.”

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