Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 9
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
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>LATE NOTICE: Princeton University men’s basketball senior star Dan Mavraides looks for an opening last Saturday against Columbia. After going scoreless for the first 33:45 of the contest, Mavraides poured in 14 points down the stretch to help Princeton rally to a 66-61 victory. The victory improved Princeton to 22-5 overall and 10-1 in the Ivy League and combined with Harvard’s 70-69 loss to Yale, the Tigers moved into first place a half-game ahead of the Crimson (21-5 overall, 10-2 Ivy). Princeton plays at Dartmouth on March 4, at Harvard on March 5 and at Penn on March 8.

Mavraides Comes Alive in Final Jadwin Moments; As PU Men’s Hoops Nips Columbia, Takes Ivy Lead/h2>

Bill Alden

Dan Mavraides was having a lousy Senior Night last Saturday as the Princeton University men’s basketball team hosted Columbia in its regular season home finale.

With seven minutes left in the contest, Princeton senior star Mavraides was 0-for-7 from the field with zero points and the Tigers were trailing the Lions 50-44.

“There was a moment when I looked at the shot clock and we were down six and the game had been miserable for me personally,” recalled Mavraides.

“I was like why am I nervous, why am I scared? We have been in this position a lot. I play in this gym all the time and I have made a million shots in this gym. I just said to myself just play in the moment.”

Over the last 6:15 of the game Mavraides produced some moments to remember, scoring 14 points with an assist and a rebound as the Tigers rallied for a 66-61 win before a Jadwin Gym throng of 4,412.

The victory improved Princeton to 22-5 overall and 10-1 in the Ivy League and combined with Harvard’s 70-69 loss to Yale, the Tigers moved into first place a half-game ahead of the Crimson (21-5 overall, 10-2 Ivy).

For Mavraides, his final moments of Jadwin action were special. “The last two 3s I shot, I had 100 percent confidence in them and they felt great the whole way,” said Mavraides, who now has 975 points in his Princeton career. “I just started making plays down the stretch.”

As he went on his surge, Mavraides felt the support of the fans and his teammates.

“The crowd was a big help, they were loud and energized the whole time,” recalled the 6’4, 210-pound Mavraides, a native of San Mateo, Calif. who is averaging 12.6 points a game this season.

“Me and Kareem [Maddox] looked at each other on the foul lime and said let’s just do this. We have been here before, they haven’t. Let’s just win the game, it is our senior day.”

Classmate Maddox acknowledged that he was initially distracted by the emotions swirling around on Senior Day.

“It was tough; it kind of snuck up on us,” said Maddox, who scored a team-high 20 points in the victory.

“As the saying goes, time flies. It was something you had to get through in the beginning, realizing that you are not going to be playing in front of your friends that you have spent so much time with and all the fans out here watching over the last four years through the good times and the bad times. At the end of the day it is a game and we have to come out and try to win it and achieve our goal [of an Ivy title].”

Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson wasn’t surprised that his seniors led the way to victory.

“I was happy that our seniors got to start,” said Johnson, whose senior group also includes reserve guard Bobby Foley. “Bobby, Dan, and Kareem have given a whole ton. The most rewarding part of the job is to see these young men grow up to be men.”

In Johnson’s view, Mavraides and Maddox displayed their maturity when it counted on Saturday.

“It was just one of those moments where Dan really tried to put us on his back,” added Johnson, reflecting on Mavraides’ late heroics.

“Kareem had those moments as well. I think Senior Night made it that much more special, obviously.”

In pulling out the win, the Tigers drew on their collective resilience. “They understood to just keep playing; that not everything is going to go your way,” said Johnson, whose club trailed 24-23 at halftime and was behind 53-52 with 4:25 remaining in regulation.

“We don’t even talk about that in the huddle now, whereas maybe a year or two we were. I don’t feel with this team that we are coaching anything other but the game. We believe. Win or lose, if you give us your best shot and you beat us, you deserve it. But we are going to make you give us your best shot.”

Johnson and his players know they are going to take some big shots this weekend as they hit the road to play at Dartmouth on March 4 and then head to Harvard a day later for a game that could decide the Ivy title.

“Princeton has had a fair amount of success in this league; I don’t think that is a news flash to anybody,” said Johnson, whose team will wrap up regular season play with a game at archrival Penn on March 8.

“So I think we typically get a lot of people’s best games and that’s fine. We need to prepare in the right way for that and that is our challenge. We need to come back in on Monday and prepare because we know that Dartmouth and Harvard can’t wait to play us and that’s the way it should be.”

Mavraides, for his part, can’t wait to go for the Ivy title this weekend as he looks to culminate an arduous four-year climb that started with a 6-23 season in 2007-08.

“Freshman year was tough; the toughest year of my life playing basketball for sure,” said Mavraides.

“The progress wasn’t immediate; it wasn’t an Ivy League championship my sophomore year but it has been gradual. Every year we have gotten better and we have taken big steps. Now here we are, 11 games into the Ivy League and in first place. That’s all you want coming in as a freshman to a college program; to have a chance to win a league championship and make it to the tournament. That’s our goal and we have that laid out in front of us. It is three tough games still but you couldn’t ask for any other situation.”

The way Mavraides handled the situation down the stretch last Saturday bodes well for Princeton’s chances to get that title.

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