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Vol. LXIV, No. 46
 
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
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DAN THE MAN: Princeton University men’s basketball senior guard and tri-captain Dan Mavraides heads up the court last Friday in Princeton’s 78-73 overtime win against Rutgers in the season opener for both teams. Mavraides fired in a career-high 26 points as the Tigers earned their first win against the Scarlet Knights since 2004. Two days later, Mavraides scored a team-high 16 points as Princeton fell 97-60 at top-ranked and defending national champion Duke.

Senior Guard Mavraides Shows Leadership as PU Men’s Hoops Edges Rutgers in OT

Bill Alden

Dan Mavraides knows that the Princeton University men’s basketball team is depending on him to exert plenty of leadership this winter.

The senior guard and tri-captain didn’t waste any time taking a lead role last Friday as Princeton opened its season by hosting local rival Rutgers.

Mavraides led by example in the first half, scoring 15 points to help Princeton jump out to a 44-38 halftime lead over the Scarlet Knights.

In the second half, Mavraides showed a different side of his leadership style, keeping his cool when Rutgers seized the momentum by forging ahead 63-59 with 4:49 left in regulation.

“We were down four but I think we stayed composed,” said Mavraides, a 6’4, 210-pound native of San Mateo, Calif. who earned second-team All-Ivy League recognition last year when he averaged 11.5 points a game. “We just kept running our stuff and stayed with what we do.”

The Tigers went on a 6-2 run over the waning moments of the second half to knot the game at 65-65 and force overtime.

In the extra session, Mavraides hit two free throws and a three-pointer as Princeton pulled away to a satisfying 78-73 victory before a crowd of 3,530 at Jadwin Gym.

With Princeton having not beaten Rutgers since 2004 and having dropped 10 of the last 11 games in the series, Mavraides was proud to be part of the breakthrough win.

“It feels great; I personally haven’t beaten Rutgers,” said Mavraides, who ended the evening with a career-high 26 points along with seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

“It has been one-sided in the past decade so it definitely means a lot. We play them every year; it is a back yard battle.”

In a further demonstration of his leadership, Mavraides deflected the credit when asked to assess his career night.

“As a shooter you have your on days and you have your off days; today was one of my on days,” said Mavraides, who hit on 8-of-14 shots including 6-of-10 from three-point range.

“I got open shots; it helped that they were doubling down on our bigs and Ian [Hummer] is a great passer. Kareem [Maddox], Brendan [Connolly], and Mack [Darrow] are all very good passers; they were getting doubled and they did a great job of getting it out and I was able to knock down a couple of shots.”

Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson was pleased with Mavraides’ all-around contribution.

“Dan set the bar pretty high,” said Johnson as he analyzed Mavraides’ sparkling stat line.

“I think that Dan brings a lot more than shooting to our team; obviously when he shoots and the ball goes in that makes things that much easier. My challenge to him is what if your shot is not going down, can you lead us. I felt like there were hustle plays there; there was leadership there that doesn’t show up in the box score and I want to see that every night.”

Johnson was happy with the character demonstrated by his team collectively as it pulled out a win that looked like it was slipping away in the waning moments of regulation.

“I thought that there was a lot of guts there; I was pleasantly surprised,” said Johnson.

“I don’t know if that will hold up all year; we have to answer that question. We showed a lot of that last year but this is a different team and I have been reminding them, probably annoyingly often, that this is a different team and that we have to build our own character.”

The Tigers showed some different wrinkles as they got nice contributions from a trio of sophomores, Brendan Connolly (seven points, 11 rebounds), Mack Darrow (five points, three rebounds), and Ian Hummer (17 points, three rebounds, two assists).

“Our guys get better; that’s what it is,” asserted Johnson. “They put their time in. As soon they stop putting their time in, somebody is going to pass them by on our team and other teams. I think these guys are taking to the coaching and they are working on their games.”

Johnson was happy to see that work pay off with his first win over Rutgers as Tiger head coach.

“Coach [Mike] Rice knows exactly what he is doing; he is a terrific coach and those guys play very, very hard,” said Johnson.

“I think it is a pretty good win for us and then you add to that, the fact that there is a lot of history there. Let’s be fair, they have dominated the series as of late so it is a nice win. At the same time, we have a lot of games coming up and so we will try to learn from this one, good things and bad and move on.”

On Sunday, the Tigers learned some tough lessons as they played at top-ranked and defending nation champion Duke and fell 97-60.

Coming into the Duke contest, Johnson saw the game as another test of character.

“They are a phenomenal team but I think we are finding our identity and I hope that we can show our pride on the floor as much as they do,” said Johnson, whose team will compete in the CBE Classic next week in Harrisonburg, Va. where it will play James Madison on November 22, Bucknell on November 23, and Presbyterian on November 24.

Mavraides, for his part, believes that the pride the Tigers showed in the win over Rutgers can be a big part of the team’s identity.

“I think that was huge for our team early in the season,” said Mavraides. “We didn’t get nervous and we came out on top.”

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