December 12, 2018

With Aririguzoh Emerging as Inside Force, PU Men’s Hoops Heading in Right Direction

RISING FORCE: Princeton University men’s basketball player Richmond Aririguzoh heads to the basket in recent action. Junior center Aririguzoh is emerging as an inside force this winter for the Tigers. The former Trenton Catholic Academy standout scored a career-high 14 points in a 92-82 loss to the visiting Saint Joseph’s last Wednesday and then matched that output in an 89-74 loss to St. John’s last Sunday in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Princeton, now 4-4, faces Iona at Atlantic City on December 15 and then plays at No. 2 Duke on December 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Richmond Aririguzoh was a definite work in progress offensively in his first two seasons on the Princeton University men’s basketball team.

While the 6’9, 230-pound Aririguzoh, a former star for Trenton Catholic Academy, possessed the size and athleticism to pound the boards and run the floor, his low-post game lacked polish. He averaged 1.5 points a game in 13 appearances as a freshman and 2.7 points in 27 contests last year.

Coming into this winter, junior center Aririguzoh put his nose to the grindstone in an effort to become more of force offensively.

“I think the team and everybody is just helping me come along,” said Aririguzoh. “The coaches are working with me individually and making sure I stay confident and keep going. I think my big thing has been my footwork and making sure my pivot is right there.”

Last Wednesday against visiting Saint Joseph’s, Aririguzoh displayed the fruits of that labor, scoring a career-high 14 points, going 3-for-3 from the floor and 8-for-8 from the foul line as the Tigers fell 92-82.

“I have been putting them up after practices,” said Aririguzoh, reflecting on his success at the foul line.

“After some poor performances I just made a conscious effort to get in there with the coaches and just shoot them. I just have to keep being aggressive.”

While Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson was disappointed by the outcome against the Hawks, he was pleased with the aggressiveness shown by his players.

“We weren’t at our best tonight, but I am very proud,” said Henderson, whose team trailed 39-36 at halftime and drew to within 80-74 with 3:12 left in regulation, but couldn’t hold off St. Joe’s as it hit 18-of-31 shots in the second half.

“We’ve got a lot to learn but I am very proud of Richmond’s performance tonight and Jerome [DesRosiers] off the bench. We’re coming together. I like the team. I think we can be really good.”

Henderson believes that Aririguzoh is becoming very good. “He’s worked hard and he’s deserving,” said Henderson.

“He is playing without fear, which is one of the keys. The schedule at this point doesn’t give us any breaks, but we just want to get better every single day and he does that. He embodies that for our group.”

Aririguzoh showed no fear as he looked forward to playing against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden last Sunday.

“I’ve never played in a place like that and that’s what college basketball is all about, playing in these great basketball atmospheres,” said Aririguzoh, who is averaging 9.8 points and 5.3 rebounds a game this season. “We hope to make the most of it and continue to grow. It’s a test.”

Matching his career-high of 14 points and grabbing six rebounds,  Aririguzoh made the most of game as Princeton battled hard before losing 89-74.

With Princeton, now 4-4, facing Iona at Atlantic City on December 15 and playing at No. 2 Duke on December 18, Henderson is optimistic going forward.

“I feel really good; I tell these guys all the time and I don’t know if they believe me, but I believe we can be very good,” said Henderson, who got 17 points from Jaelin Llewellyn on Sunday as he made his college debut after being sidelined due to injury and illness. “We have a lot of nice pieces.”

-—Bill Alden