Preview: Rutgers vs. Princeton

The rivalry dates back to 1917. The game guaranteed a packed house. Purists will say Princeton's style IS basketball. Saturday afternoon the Tigers make the short trip up Rte 1 to face the Scarlet Knights, bringing their smart, tenacious, disciplined, methodical style of basketball with them. Rutgers needs to get their season back on track and show some progress. Not an easy task…

New head coach Sydney Johnson, a mere 10 years removed from Old Nassau himself, hasn’t changed the philosophy of Princeton basketball and will present a team that will certainly test the young Scarlet Knights.

Here’s the Tiger line up:

G - #22 - Lincoln Gunn 6’3” soph…. shooting 52% from the floor, 50% on field goals and 78% from the FT line

G - #21 – Marcus Schroeder 6’3” soph… 35% from the floor, 38% on threes and 67% on FT’s

F - #4 – Kyle Koncz 6’7” sr… 28% from the floor, 28% FG’s and 83% on FT’s

F - #35 – Noah Savage 6’5” sr... 32% from the floor, 36% FG’s and 80% on FT’s

C - #30 – Zach Finley 6’9” soph.. 52% from the floor, no 3’s, and 63% on FT’s

This is a team that has been over powered by Duke and dominated by Seton Hall, but they don’t quit for a minute. I watched this team play Duke and they seemed outclassed in the first ten minutes of play by allowing Duke to gain a 27 point lead. Finding their legs, Princeton played extremely hard over the final 30 minutes and actually outscored Duke 57-52. I’ll admit, during that stretch, the Tigers were predominantly faced by Duke’s scrub team, which occasionally included the likes of Lance Thomas. Against Seton Hall and facing a 15 point deficit, the Tigers ran off three straight field goals which kept the game interesting. The key being, Princeton plays until the final second of every game. Princeton also shoot as many 3’s as it does two pointers.

Rutgers is young and Rutgers continues learning about themselves on the court. They can practice against each other for months, but not until being faced with the nuances of a new opponent can they truly begin to learn about teamwork and winning.

Hamady N’Diaye and Byron Joynes need to dominate the middle by boxing out, rebounding at both ends and scoring points in the paint. JR Inman and Jaron Griffin need to neutralize Savage and Koncz with relentless defense and athletic moves to the basket. JR needs to bring his game, and not worry about doing too much by himself.

The play of the guards will be key, no matter the combination. These are the players responsible for the flow of the Scarlet offense while interrupting that of Princeton’s. They must play smart, play within themselves and not become frustrated with Princeton’s style. It’s a forty minute game, a rivalry, and they must leave all they have on the court.

By the way, Saturday afternoon, a 2:00 tip off for a rivalry game. It would be nice to see more than the average 2,500 fans in the seats. The “sixth man” is needed to help confuse, disturb and disrupt this Princeton team. Historically, fans at the RAC are responsible for as many wins as are the players. Bring your game !!!

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