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Columnists | Message Board  | Daily Dribble

By Steve Mergelsberg

February 7th, 2006


Princeton Basketball: Back on Track?

Princeton University topped Yale 66-49 Friday night and defeated Brown (6-13)Saturday evening 52-37 to sweep an Ivy League weekend in Princeton.

Scott Greenman scored a career high 27 points to led Princeton past Yale. Yale (11-10) lost for the 13th straight time at Jadwin Gym.  Princeton took advantage of Yale's poor night at the free throw line, making only 7-of-19 while the Tigers made 16-of-18 from the charity stripe in the second half to clinch the win. Greenman, whose previous career high was 17 points, was 8 for 11 from the floor and 6 for 6 from the line. Luke Owings added 10 points for Princeton.

On Saturday night, Noah Savage scored a career high 23 points to lead Princeton to a 52-37 victory over Brown. Scott Greenman and Luke Owings each added 9 points for the Tigers (5-12), while Owings also had a game high four assists.
Running the time consuming "Princeton Offense", the Tigers scored a surprising 66 points against Yale.  Two points shy of their season high of 68 against Columbia.

Under coach Joe Scott, players think too much about what they should do rather than react to what is taking place on the court. After 25 or 30 seconds of basketball tango, one player takes a shot once he finds an open look. To me, it makes no sense to kill 25-30 seconds off the clock, running with constant motion, passing, back door cuts and then expect to get good look in the little time remaining. 

I think that coach Joe Scott should take some lessons from his predecessor at Princeton, John Thompson III now the head coach at Georgetown. Apparently everyone assumed when Thompson arrived at Georgetown with the "Princeton Offense" that the Hoyas would walk the ball up the court, use up the 35-second clock on every possession and end each play with a backdoor layup. Instead, Georgetown's style these days appears far removed from coach Scott's "stall ball."  The Hoyas push the ball up the court and are as likely to attempt a three-pointer as a layup. 
So it may come as a surprise to many that Georgetown is running the "Princeton Offense." A John Thompson III version of it where you're either going to get a backdoor cut or you're going to get a wide open three. When you have an open shot, you have to take it regardless of the time on the clock.  The players are enthusiastic about this new style and why not? They knocked off then number one ranked Duke 87-84 and beat number nine ranked Pitt 61-58 yesterday.
Princeton now goes on the road for 5 straight games before returning home to face Dartmouth on February 24th. With some lessons from Georgetown and a few more victories, maybe the Tigers can make believers out of their fans and chase Penn for the Ivy League title!  And if there is any reader out there who believes they can, please email me with the phone numbers of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Steve Mergelsberg has coached professionally in the ABA, USBL, on the college level at Rutgers University-Newark, and for 15 years on the high school level in New Jersey and Nevada.



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