Last year, it took a while for Tommy Soulias to gain a comfort level as he joined the Ivy Inn team in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Hoops league.
“At first, I was just getting my feet wet and getting used to it; now I know the guys personally and we are all friends.” said Soulias, a former Spotswood High star who played this past winter in his freshman campaign for the Kean University men’s hoops team.
Soulias went on to make an impact in his debut campaign, emerging as a key contributor in helping Ivy Inn make it to the league’s championship round.
“We came extremely close last year,” said Soulias, reflecting on the best-of-three series that saw Winberie’s edge Ivy Inn 2-1 to earn the 2012 title.
“Bobby Davison [Ivy Inn team manager] is like an older brother to me. He coached me in AAU, that’s how I got to know these guys. They are like role models to me, especially Bob.”
Last Friday evening, Soulias was one of the top guys for the squad, scoring 15 points, including four 3-pointers, as Ivy Inn topped Sneakers Plus 57-47 to improve to 2-0. In other action on Friday, Clear View Window Cleaning topped Northeast Realty 69-59 and Winberie’s defeated WRG 61-46.
“This is big for us because TCNJ is a real good team,” said Soulias, referring to Sneakers Plus, which is comprised of current College of New Jersey players including former Princeton High standout Skye Ettin.
“I play at Kean so we play them twice a year. They are always real competitive and a bunch of guys on our team used to play for them so it was a personal thing.”
Soulias is enjoying playing hard for Ivy Inn. “It is a good fit,” said the 6‘2, 180-pound Soulias, who averaged 6.1 points a game in his freshman season for Kean.
“This is a great league, I love coming up here. I think I need to keep knocking down open shots and playing hard defense, just helping out and doing what it takes to win.”
In Soulias’s view, the team has what it takes to win the league title. “We need to do a lot of the same stuff we did last year,” said Soulias of Ivy Inn, which topped Ballerz 56-69 on Monday in moving to 3-0.
“We just want to get this one for the older guys, those guys have won a lot. It starts at the defensive end and then getting guys like Mark [Aziz], Bobby [Davison], and Shahid [Abdul-Karim] in the flow and comfortable. If we can do that, we should end up where we were last year.”