“It feel’s good to be back. It’s been a while,” Jimmy Sherburne said with a smile.
After taking a one-year hiatus due to injury, the senior guard from Wisconsin is back with a bang. In the men’s basketball season opener at home against Florida A&M in Jadwin Gymnasium on Sunday, Sherburne finished second on the team in points with 13, sinking three of five 3-pointers and pushing the Tigers to a 67-50 victory over the Rattlers.
Sherburne’s not the only player who has returned to the team after a long break. Junior guard Ben Hazel and junior forward Dan Edwards are also back on this season’s roster after taking last year off, and the trio’s return couldn’t be more critical. Sunday’s game was the first test for a Tiger team playing without last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year, Ian Hummer ’13.
Hummer’s absence will have a huge impact on this year’s Princeton squad. He led his team last year scoring, assists, blocks, rebounds and offensive rebounds, leaving a large hole to fill by both returning players and new faces, and the Tigers’ freshmen class did not disappoint Sunday. Forwards Pete Miller and Spencer Weisz looked comfortable on the court throughout the game, culminating in dunk from Miller towards the end of the game on a pass from his fellow rookie.
“We got a lot of new pieces this year, a couple of freshmen in the lineup, with Pete and Spencer. Early in the year, especially, it’s important to play the right way and get a new flow,” said junior forward Denton Koon, who had added a team-high 17 points.
The Tigers are looking to reload after key losses at the end of last year’s season that cost Princeton a shot at the Ivy League title and a bid to the NCAA tournament. Princeton is starting that campaign without the help of an integral part of their lineup, senior guard T.J. Bray, who will miss the first couple weeks of the season due to a break in his hand. Classmate and forward Will Barrett, however, softened the blow of that injury by stepping up to make a solid contribution in Sunday’s game. Barrett went 4-for-6 on threes and added three blocks on defensive, finishing with 12 points.
“This is a nice opener for us. I think there’s a lot of positives, a lot of things for us to work on,” head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 said.
Princeton has a considerable amount of time to adjust to a post-Hummer world. The Tigers don’t play their first Ivy League game until the New Year, when they face off against Penn on Jan. 11 in Philadelphia. Sherburne and his teammates will spend that time fitting the old and new pieces of their squad together.
“We’ve waited a long time—some of us longer than others, and I fall into that category,” Sherburne said. “It’s definitely everything I thought it would be. I took that year off for a reason, and this was it.”
Women’s basketball also opened its season on Sunday, falling to Rutgers 65-79 in New Brunswick. Niveen Rasheed ’13, last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year, was sorely missed on the court. The Tigers went just 22-for-58 from the field, with junior guard Blake Dietrick adding a team-high 20 points. Princeton will play its home opener against Marist in Jadwin Gymnasium Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.
The field hockey team won the Ivy League title outright on Sunday, finishing its season undefeated in the Ancient Eight with a 5-1 win over Penn. The No. 9 Tigers (13-4 overall) finished with a perfect Ivy record for the eighth time in 11 years. Princeton will head to the NCAA tournament for the 19th time. The seeding will be announced Nov. 17.
Men’s water polo finished third at the Southern Division Championship this weekend with a 9-7 victory over Mercyhurst. Princeton picked up an easy 15-8 win over Gannon in the quarterfinals before it was defeated by Navy in the semifinals 12-10. The Tigers will travel to Brown on Nov. 22 to play in the CWPA Championship for an NCAA tournament bid.
Football extended its perfect Ivy record, beating the defending league champion Penn 38-26 on the road Saturday. The Tigers (7-1, 5-0 Ivy) saw another impressive performance out of junior quarterback Quinn Epperly, who threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for two more. Princeton will play for a share of the Ivy League title and a bonfire Nov. 16 when it takes on Yale (5-3, 3-2). Kick-off is at 1 p.m.