Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 5
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
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JUMP START: Princeton University men’s basketball star Douglas Davis lofts a jumper last Saturday in Princeton’s 67-63 win over visiting Yale as the Tigers posted a sweep in their opening weekend of Ivy League play. Junior guard Davis, a former Hun School standout, scored a game-high 18 points in the win as Princeton improved to 14-4 overall and 2-0 in Ivy play. The Tigers have a big weekend coming up as they host Harvard (15-3 overall, 4-0 Ivy) in a critical Ivy showdown on February 4 and then welcome Dartmouth (6-13 overall, 1-3 Ivy) the next night.

PU Men’s Hoops Shows Maturity in Yale Win Brings 2-0 Ivy Mark Into Clash With Harvard

Bill Alden

It was the kind of game that a less mature Princeton University men’s basketball team might have lost.

Leading visiting Yale 62-50 with 6:39 left in the second half last Saturday, Princeton got outscored 13-2 and found itself clinging to a one-point lead with 1:30 remaining in regulation.

But racheting up its defensive intensity and hitting some clutch free throws, the Tigers pulled out a 67-63 victory before 2,658 at Jadwin Gym.

In reflecting on how Princeton played down the stretch as it improved to 14-4 overall and 2-0 in Ivy League action, junior guard Douglas Davis said the win demonstrated the team’s growth.

“I think that we are a different team than last year,” said Davis, a former Hun School star who scored a game-high 18 points on the evening.

“This team has been through a lot; we have been in games like this. We have been in the same situation many times before so we were relaxed. We were cool and collected. We broke the press and just handled it the way we should have.”

The Tigers showed some courage in repelling the Yale rally. “We knew that they were going to make a run and we held on to our guts and tried to be confident in what we do and lock in on defense,” said the 5’11, 164-pound Davis, who flew high through the paint to snare a key rebound in the waning seconds. “I think that’s what we did.”

Davis’ deadeye shooting gave the Tigers confidence earlier in the half, as he hit four-of-five of his shots over the last 20 minutes.

“I got some screens and that loosened things up around the perimeter,” said Davis. “They were falling for me tonight; it is good when they fall like that. I just kept putting them up and I was getting some open looks.”

PU head coach Sydney Johnson acknowledged that things looked dicey for Princeton as Yale made its comeback.

“They made a couple of threes there against our zone and got right back into the game and obviously made it tight,” said Johnson.

“We had to defend a little bit better; we got challenged there. We weren’t great but then I think the last two or three possessions of the game, I’ll take the defensive approach that we had. We were able to get an important win.”

Johnson did acknowledge that his players do need to get better at holding leads. “It is just constant effort at how to manage the game,” explained Johnson. “I don’t want the guys to play tight but at the same time I want them to make smart plays. In some ways it shows the progress that these guys have made as a group but obviously we need a little bit more basketball IQ and a little bit more awareness how you get from the 10-minute mark with an 11-point lead to the one-minute mark with an 11-point lead.”

But even though the Tigers didn’t always play smart, Johnson has no qualms with an opening Ivy weekend that saw Princeton go 2-0 as it beat Brown 78-60 on Friday.

“It’s hard to win in the Ivy League,” said Johnson, who got 17 points and seven rebounds from senior co-captain Kareem Maddox in the win over Yale with Ian Hummer chipping in 12 points and Dan Mavraides adding 11.

“There are teachable moments in every game we play. We are certainly going to look at the tape from both games but we have Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend. We have to enjoy the fact that we got two wins this weekend but we need to get better and move on.”

Johnson is enjoying the scoring balance that is becoming a hallmark of this year’s team.

“The guys are sharing the ball; we hope that continues,” added Johnson, who praised the work of Mack Darrow off bench as he contributed five points and two assists.

“We have a lot of guys helping out with rebounding and some intangible areas. When we have three or four guys in double figures, I think it is hard to pick on any one guy. It makes us a tougher team to deal with.”

The Tigers face some hard tests this weekend as they host Harvard (15-3 overall, 4-0 Ivy) in a critical Ivy showdown on February 4 and then welcome Dartmouth (6-13 overall, 1-3 Ivy) the next night.

Sophomore forward Hummer, for his part, believes the Tigers have the mental toughness to prevail in the Ivy battles ahead.

“We know in the Ivy League that it is a grind every game,” said Hummer.

“We knew that Yale was a tough team, big and strong and we knew that they would play well. They made a run and we ended up pulling it out at the end so I think it is just shows the character of our team and how we can take that further into the Ivy season.”

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