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Vol. LXII, No. 5
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
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CHARGING AHEAD: Princeton University men’s basketball sophomore guard Marcus Schroeder looks for an opening in Princeton’s 60-46 win over visiting Dominican (N.Y.) last Sunday. Schroeder contributed four assists and four steals in 28 minutes of play off the bench in the win over the Division II Chargers.

Princeton Men’s Hoops Takes a Giant Step; Ends Losing Skid as It Heads Into Ivy Play

Bill Alden

The date was November 14, 2007 and the New York Giants were reeling from a 31-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys days earlier while the Princeton University men’s basketball team improved to 2-0 with a win over Iona.

Over the next 73 days, the Giants went on a historical run becoming the ultimate road warriors as they won three straight away playoff contests to qualify for a clash with the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Meanwhile, Princeton made history of the wrong kind, losing 12 in a row to slip into the longest losing streak in program history.

Last Sunday as the Giants made their final preparations before heading to Arizona for their date with the Pats, the Tigers took a step which they hope will propel them on an Ivy League title run.

Facing Division II Dominican (N.Y.), Princeton built an 18-point halftime lead and then held off a Chargers rally to win 60-46 before a crowd of 2,039 at Jadwin Gym.

Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson made no effort to conceal his emotions in the wake of the victory which came in the Tigers’ first action after an 18-day exam break.

“I can’t wipe the smile off my face,” said the first-year head coach whose club will bring a 3-12 record into its Ivy League opener on February 1 against visiting Dartmouth.

“I’m very, very happy. Dominican did a very good job; they played hard and conceded nothing. So for us to be able to win, we’ll take it and run with it.”

Tiger sophomore guard Marcus Schroeder shared his coach’s relief in finally getting back into the win column.

“We worked really hard to improve this season; it was definitely tough to go through that losing streak,” said Schroeder, who had four assists and four steals in 28 minutes of play off the bench.

“I know we have a bunch of guys who are very resilient. It’s good to get a little momentum before the Ivy League. I thought it was a good win.”

The Tigers showed resilience against a pesky Dominican squad. After building a 52-27 lead, Princeton went cold as the Chargers went on an 18-6 lead to narrow the Princeton lead to 13 with 1:59 remaining.

Johnson inserted four of his starters plus Schroeder to restore order and the Tigers responded by salting away the win.

With Princeton looking forward to getting into Ivy play with Harvard coming to Jadwin a day after the visit by Dartmouth, the Tigers can’t spend much time savoring Sunday’s triumph.

“It’s hard to go through losing and keep your enthusiasm and keep your focus so today is a good day,” said Johnson, who got 13 points from Lincoln Gunn with Zach Finley chipping in 12 points and eight rebounds.

“Now we have to move on and see what the next game has in store for us. As good as we are feeling right now, we don’t want to be disappointed Friday night. Dartmouth came here last year and won. I haven’t forgotten that. That’s a very, very big game for this program; hopefully we can bring some momentum from today into that.”

The way the Tigers got their work in between studying for exams helped build some positive momentum coming into the Dominican game.

“Every single day, we maxed out practice time and we had enough time off to take care of exams and papers,” said Johnson.

“It just told me these guys do have some toughness. We have to go from some toughness to a lot of toughness to try to win games in our league. A team that’s 2-12 could be beaten but they haven’t quit. I like that; it just makes me happy. We know that we aren’t giving up on ourselves.”

Sophomore center Finley said the team used the break as a chance to make a fresh start.

“We’ve had a couple of weeks off,” said Finley. “We had some time to regroup and get back to what we want to do. We got refocused.”

Schroeder vows that the Tigers will now turn their focus squarely to Dartmouth and the Ivy battles ahead.

“We’re looking to win our next game,” asserted Schroeder. “We’re going into Dartmouth 0-0 and we want to come out of there 1-0. We’re looking forward to the league but most importantly we’re looking forward to our next game and trying to win that game.”

If the Tigers can win their games next weekend, they can relax next Sunday as they watch the Giants try to take care of their business.

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