Last season, Skye Ettin scored a team-high 15 points as The College of New Jersey men’s basketball team fell 79-68 to Princeton at Jadwin Gym.
This past Sunday, former Princeton High standout Ettin and the Lions were back in Jadwin and even though he tallied only two points in a 71-33 setback to the Tigers, he still enjoyed his homecoming
“It is always great to come and play in a stadium like that and play against a Princeton team,” said the 6’5, 170 pound junior forward who entered the afternoon averaging 11.0 points a game for the Division III TCNJ program.
“It is just really a great experience for us. It helps us work on some things. We have struggled with rebounding at times and to go against them and have to box out some bigger bodies than we usually see definitely helps prepare us for the NJAC [New Jersey Athletic Conference].”
While the game at Princeton got one-sided, Ettin was proud of how the Lions acquitted themselves in the wake of a tough 73-72 loss to NJAC power Ramapo the night before.
“Yesterday was a really tough one; we fought real hard and took them all the way down to the stretch,” said Ettin, who grabbed a team-high five rebounds in the loss to Princeton.
“We didn’t make a play here or there and that cost us the game. I think it is good to take our minds off of it and play Princeton the next day and bounce back and hopefully gain some of the momentum that we had going into the Ramapo game because we did play pretty well.”
For Ettin, playing at Jadwin has deep meaning. “It is definitely always special to come back and play in my hometown; I grew up watching games here,” said Ettin, who scored 915 points in his PHS career and helped the Little Tigers make the Central Jersey Group III finals in 2009 as a junior.
“When I was little, I went to camp here so it is always a special time when I get to come on and actually play against Princeton. It is a special moment; I had some fans in the crowd which is always great.”
TCNJ head coach Kelly Williams is a fan of the matchup against Princeton.
“The benefit of playing a game like this is that it puts ourselves in a competitive situation year in, year out,” said Williams, whose team dropped to 5-15 overall with the defeat to the Tigers.
“As a coach, it is hard for me to say no if the game becomes available with Princeton or any Division I team,” said Williams, who added former PHS boys’ hoops head coach Jason Carter to his staff this season.
“I don’t think our players would like that and I am not built that way. The bottom line is that it does help us from a recruiting point of view, to be able to talk to a recruit going to Division III level and to be able to let them know hey listen we are going to compete and that we are going to try to play teams that are bigger and better. I want our guys to always have that same philosophy and mindset.”
Williams liked the way that his players competed to the final whistle against Princeton not withstanding the lopsided score.
“I love the fact that we are battling, we are fighting,” asserted Williams.
“In many cases we are outsized and things along those lines but my guys play through that so I love the effort that they give me every night.”
Ettin, for his part, wasn’t surprised that the Lions battled to the end. “We always keep fighting; it showed also last night when we played Ramapo,” said Ettin.
“We got an early lead and then in the second half we got down and then we bounced back and took the lead. As far as a team, we never give up. Coach instills that during practice, whether it be finishing sprints or doing down two situational things. I think one thing that this team always does is to fight.”
While the Lions have struggled so far this winter, Ettin sees good things on the horizon for the program.
“We have a good nucleus of a lot of sophomores who are going to be ready to get back at it in the summer and amp up,” said Ettin.
“We still have a chance this year to finish out strong and do something special. I think we are a pretty dangerous team so we are definitely excited about this year and the future looks bright.”