Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 4
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
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DOUBLE AGENT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Kareem Maddox heads to the hoop in Princeton’s 73-40 win over The College of New Jersey last Sunday at Jadwin Gym. Maddox produced a double-double in the victory, scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. The triumph improved the Tigers to 12-4 and was the team’s 10th win in its last 11 games. Princeton will look to keep rolling when its starts Ivy League play this weekend by hosting Brown (7-9 overall, 0-2 Ivy) on January 28 and Yale (9-7 overall, 2-0 Ivy) the next night.

With Maddox Providing Spark Off the Bench, PU Men’s Hoops Tops TCNJ, Girds for Ivy Play

Bill Alden

While the Princeton University men’s basketball team showed some rust last Sunday as it returned from its 18-day exam break to host The College of New Jersey, senior forward Kareem Maddox looked sharper than ever.

Maddox hit all five of his first half shots on the way to 12 points, providing a big spark to the Tigers as they struggled to take a 34-25 lead at intermission over their foes from Ewing.

“I know we haven’t had a game in a while and that we are going to be rusty on the shots,” said the 6’8, 230-pound Maddox, reflecting on the team’s first-half performance.

“I don’t take too many shots outside the key so I think that had a lot to do with it. I think these guys were looking for me.”

In the second half, Maddox kept looking good as he hit on four out of five shots. The Tigers, meanwhile, followed his lead, shooting at 57.1 percent clip (16-of-28) in cruising to a 73-40 win over the Lions before 1,837 at Jadwin Gym and improving to 12-4.

“It took a little while to get into it but I think we came out and shook off a little rust,” said Maddox, who ended the day with a double-double with game-highs in points (21) and rebounds (12).

Even as Princeton went on a 22-2 run and extended its lead to 30 points, Maddox and his teammates were able to focus on getting sharper.

“It is not too tough because one thing the coach [Sydney Johnson] emphasizes is that at that point you are playing against the game,” explained Maddox.

“You are trying to get better at what you do, executing Xs and Os. You can really fine-tune things despite the fact that you might be up by 20 points.”

As Princeton’s sixth man, Maddox has shown that he can come off the bench and execute right away.

“It has been all season now; it is kind of doing the same thing,” said Maddox in assessing his super sub role which has seen him average 13.3 points in his 30 minutes of playing time per game.

“I try to be consistent every single game, whether it is starting or coming off the bench. It doesn’t matter too much; the important thing is to play well.”

Princeton head coach Johnson acknowledged that it took a while for his team to play well against TCNJ.

“We were not sharp to begin the game, that was clear,” said Johnson, whose team was tied 18-18 with the Lions midway through the first half.

“They came out ready to play; they played very hard in the first half and we were a little bit slow to get going. I felt like we got back to what we normally do, which is to try to defend as much as possible.”

Johnson liked the work he got from his reserves as he gave minutes to some of his little-used players.

“We want to play a lot more guys; we feel good about our entire roster so there was a little bit of getting certain guys out there who haven’t played as much,” said Johnson, who got good minutes from such reserves as Ben Hazel, Chris Clement, Will Barrett, Mack Darrow, T.J. Bray. Jimmy Sherburne, and Bobby Foley.

“There are some guys we are trying to see even at this point of the season to see if they can help us out in the Ivy League. There are some guys who have shown some good things in practice. If they keep grinding, I think they can help us in the Ivy League, even if it is a possession here or there.”

Maddox’s grinding has helped him emerge as Princeton’s top threat off the bench.

“I think he’s done the work, that’s really what it is,” maintained Johnson of Maddox.

“We put a lot of pressure on him to be a certain type of player in the beginning of his career and it just wasn’t there. I think he has done the work in terms of the weight room and on the court. He has put himself in the position where we are relying on him now. If you bust your tail and give us that much, then all of a sudden you are going to become a featured guy in our scouting report offensively and defensively and that’s what he has done. Clearly we are glad that he has done it but it really started with him wanting to.”

Despite Maddox’s production which has seen him emerge as one of four Tigers averaging more than 13 points a game along with starters Ian Hummer (13.8), Dan Mavraides (13.5) and Douglas Davis (13.1), Johnson isn’t planning to insert his sixth man into the starting lineup.

“I think we have a pretty good rotation; we wanted to get longer and there are some guys near the end of the bench that can help us,” said Johnson.

“I like our starting five and I like the guys who are coming in, whether it is Kareem, T.J., Jimmy, Will, Mack, Chris, and Ben. You try to keep going down the line as far as you can.”

With Princeton beginning Ivy play by hosting Brown (7-9 overall, 0-2 Ivy) on January 28 and Yale (9-7 overall, 2-0 Ivy) the next night, Johnson knows that his team has to be going hard from the start.

“They are two good teams, I think Yale was able to go 2-0; they are showing their claim to trying to win a championship this year,” said Johnson.

“They have been playing good basketball and they shoot the 3 very well. They kind of throw you off balance defensively. We have come up short in each of the last two years against Brown. Now it begins and hopefully we can stay healthy and learn from today and just be ready to make plays when those moments come. If we can do that at home and enough times on the road, we might have a shot.”

Maddox, for his part, believes the Tigers have a shot to do some good things in league play.

“I think we are prepared, we have this whole week to prepare,” added Maddox. “It is going to come down to the little things and intensity. We will try to focus on that.”

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