Propelled by Ettin’s Foul Shooting Prowess, University Radiology Advances in Title Defense
A lot of basketball players, even superstars like LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal, have struggled when sent to the foul line at crunch time.
But former Princeton High and current College of New Jersey standout Skye Ettin relishes taking free throws when a game is on the line.
“I am just focused on the rim, just trying to stay confident,” said Ettin. “I don’t want to think too many plays ahead; I always have the mindset that I am going to make it.”
For Ettin, that attitude was developed during his stellar PHS career which saw him score 915 points and help the Little Tigers make the Central Jersey Group III finals in 2009 as a junior.
“I remember we were in a high school game and I had two foul shots and coach [Jason] Carter said ‘after he makes both those fouls shots, then we’ll get into this,’” recalled the 6’3, 170-pound Ettin, a rising junior forward for TCNJ who averaged 6.4 points a game for the Lions last winter.
“He would instill confidence in you and you would instill it in yourself. I go up to the line knowing I am going to make it and from there, I have to adjust if I do miss one.”
Last Monday, Ettin’s prowess at the line made the difference as third-seeded University Radiology edged No. 6 Clinton 46-43 in the quarterfinals of the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s League playoffs.
Ettin hit 15-of-18 free throws on the evening, including eight in the last three minutes, ending up with a game-high 24 points as University Radiology started the defense of its 2011 summer league title.
In other opening night playoff action Monday night, seventh-seeded Team TB defeated No. 10 Ballstars 52-29 while eighth-seeded SMB topped No. 9 Princeton Youth Sports 66-49.
A trio of quarterfinal matchups is slated for Wednesday evening at the Community Park courts with top-seeded Dr. Palmer facing SMB, No. 4 PA Blue Devils taking on fifth-seeded Ivy Inn, and No. 2 Winberie’s/Miller Lite going against Team TB. The semifinals are scheduled for Friday with Game One of the best-of-three championship series taking place on July 30 at 8 p.m.
For much of Monday evening, it looked like University Radiology wasn’t going to be advancing as it trailed 22-18 at halftime and 37-35 with less than three minutes to go in the contest.
“We got off to a slow start; it is hard when you have only five or six players,” said Ettin, noting that the team was missing such key players as Brian Dunlap, DeQuon Basnight, and Ike Robinson on Monday due to injury or other commitments.
Coming into the second half, Ettin and his teammates weren’t looking to do anything fancy.
“We just needed to play more aggressively; they were scoring a lot of garbage points because they were beating us to every loose ball and they got every offensive rebound,” said Ettin.
“When a team kills you on offensive rebounding, you give them three or four chances to score. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the team is, they are going to score.”
A turning point in the game came with seven minutes remaining in the second half when a Clinton Kings player got called for a flagrant foul and University Radiology cashed in with two free throws from Eamon Cuddy and a three-pointer from Devon Holman to pull into a 34-34 tie.
“That was definitely a huge momentum boost,” recalled Ettin. “It was a hard game going back and forth; both teams were giving it their all. It is hard to keep your composure the whole time in a hotly contested game where everyone wants to win. He lost his temper a little bit and we benefitted.”
Down the stretch of the game, University Radiology benefitted from the fact the core of its team has been together since their PHS days.
“I think our overall experience helped; we have been playing with each other for so long,” asserted Ettin, who is one of a group of former Little Tigers on the squad together with Dunlap, Cuddy, Matt Young, and the Holman brothers, Devon and DeQuan.
“I think that we learned to pull some games out in high school and then last year we pulled some games out in this league. We won the first game in the championship series and then we lost the second and then we had to pull out the third at the end. I don’t know if we would have got this one two years ago.”
In Ettin’s view, the narrow escape on Monday could give University Radiology the momentum to make another title run.
“Coming from behind the whole game and finally pulling it out, we know if we stay levelheaded and keep our composure we can pull them out in the end,” said Ettin, whose club will face the victor of the Winberie’s/Team TB matchup in the semis. “It is definitely going to help us going forward, no matter who we play.”