Mike Brennan ’94 celebrated with his team in Boston March 12. (Courtesy American University Athletics Communications)
Of the seven Princeton alumni who are Division I men’s basketball head coaches, only one will appear in the NCAA tournament this week — the group’s newest member, Mike Brennan ’94. After spending four years as a Georgetown assistant coach under John Thompson III ’88, Brennan was hired by American for the 2013-14 season, guiding the Eagles to an expectations-defying 20-12 record. Last Wednesday, American won the Patriot League Tournament with a 55-36 victory at Boston University, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Eagles were given a No. 15-seed when the brackets were revealed Sunday; they will face No. 2-seed Wisconsin on Thursday at 12:40 p.m. ET. Continue reading
Annie Tarakchian ’16 scored 12 points off the bench against Penn. (Beverly Schaefer)
Princeton women’s basketball’s remarkable run as the Ivy League champion came to an end Tuesday night when the Tigers lost to Penn, 80-64, at Jadwin Gym, falling one game shy in their bid for a fifth-straight title. Both teams entered the game with 11-2 Ivy records, guaranteeing that the winner would be the league champion.
Defensively, Princeton had few answers for Alyssa Baron, the Quakers’ versatile guard, who led all scorers with 23 points, or 6-foot-3-inch freshman center Sydney Stipanovich, who finished the game with 19 points and nine rebounds. Both played all 40 minutes. But the game hinged on Princeton’s offense, which managed just 64 points after averaging 75 in its first 27 games. Continue reading
Alex Wheatley ’16 (Office of Athletic Communications)
Nicole Hung ’14 (Office of Athletic Communications)
After taking care of business with two blowout wins this weekend, the women’s basketball team has set the stage for a high-stakes showdown Tuesday night against Penn.
“You always want to have a chance to play for an Ivy League title,” head coach Courtney Banghart said. “And to be able to do that after what this young team has had to go through and all the growing we’ve had to do in a short period of time, it’s really exciting.”
The Tigers, who had just two Ivy League losses over the last four seasons, find themselves in a much tighter title race than they are used to. A loss to Harvard in Jadwin Gymnasium near the start of Ivy play and a March 1 loss to Brown have put them in a tie for first place with the Quakers. Each team has an 11-2 record in the Ancient Eight. Continue reading
The last time the men’s volleyball team beat Penn State, Cody Kessel was six years old. On Friday night, the junior outside hitter contributed 14 of Princeton’s 55 kills and helped secure the Tigers’ first win over the Nittany Lions since 1998.
Cody Kessel ’15 (Photo: Courtesy Office of Athletic Communications)
After Princeton dropped the first set of the match 18-25, everything indicated that things would go in the same direction as they always have for Penn State. The No. 10 Nittany Lions have won every EIVA championship since Princeton’s lone title 15 years ago. Heading into Friday night’s match, Penn State had dropped just one conference loss in the last five years and entered on a nation-best 12-match winning streak.
Penn State’s circumstances quickly changed when Princeton clawed its way to a 22-25 second set victory. The Tigers ran away with the third set as well after jumping out to a formidable 8-1 lead off the serving of senior Pat Schwagler and freshman Chris Kennedy.
“We knew we had to be aggressive with our serving game to get Penn State out of system,” Kessel said. “We were able to do that this time better than we have in the past. Even though I think they hit better than us percentage wise, we were able to win the serve battle.” Continue reading
T.J. Bray ’14 led Princeton with 17 points in his final game against Harvard. The Tigers’ freshmen combined to score 25 points in the 59-47 loss. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
While individually none of them led the scoring for Princeton, collectively the men’s basketball freshmen accounted for more than half of the offensive production in the Tigers’ 59-47 loss to Harvard on Saturday night, a positive sign in an otherwise disappointing Ivy League season. Princeton, which was 12-2 in nonconference play, dropped to 3-6 in Ivy games.
The Harvard loss was a classic tale of two halves, as the Tigers won the first half but ultimately could not compete following halftime and fell to the Crimson in their home gym for the first time since 1989.
Senior guard T.J. Bray is had another big game offensively (17 points), which has become the norm — he has scored in double figures 17 times in 19 games played. But the freshmen also played key roles in the most anticipated match up on Princeton’s schedule.
The home Harvard game has consistently attracted more fans than any other for the past several years, and Saturday night was no different. “They’re always great for this game,” Bray said. “They really get up for it.”
Despite Princeton’s 3-5 Ivy record coming into the game, tip off saw a packed student section and the Tigers gave the fans a much closer than anticipated competition, coming out stronger than they have in previous games and opening up a 12-point lead midway through the first half. After closing out the half with a buzzer beater from freshman forward Spencer Weisz, the Tigers went into the locker room with a 29-24 lead.
But in contrast to the first half, they came out slow in the second half and watched the lead they had built up slowly start to slip away. After Hans Brase ’16 missed a dunk attempt with 8 minutes left that would have reclaimed the lead for the Tigers, Harvard opened up a 44-40 lead, made a defensive stop and another field goal, squelching the Tigers’ momentum. Continue reading
By David Marcus ’92
The Princeton men’s lacrosse team returns the best midfielder in the country and features one of the nation’s best offenses, but it will be the Tigers’ performance on defense that will determine the team’s fate this season, which begins on Saturday with a home opener against Hofstra. If Princeton gets consistent goalie play and its young starting defense gels under new coordinator John Walker, the Tigers could compete for an NCAA title.
Tom Schreiber ’14 (Photo: Office of Athletic Communications)
Head coach Chris Bates called the choice of a starting goalie “the biggest question that remains.” He went with Matt O’Connor ’16 for most of 2013 but switched to Eric Sanschagrin ’15 for the last four games of the season, which ended with a 12-8 loss to Yale in the finals of the Ivy League tournament. Those two and Brian Kavanagh ’14 will compete to start in the net. Bates prefers to play one goalie rather than rotate two or three, but with three in the running, he said, “We may not have closure at the start of the season.”
Princeton had to jury-rig a starting defense last year because of injuries, but the Tigers are fairly deep on that end of the field in 2014. Mark Strabo ’16 returns as a starter, while his two linemates from last year will move back to their old posisions. Derick Raabe ’14 will be a long-stick defensive midfielder, and Nick Fernandez ’14 will play short-stick defensive midfield along with Mark Strabo’s brother Jack ’14 and Hunter deButts ’14.
Will Reynolds ’17 will also start at close defense; he was one of the top recruits in the country, and Bates calls him “very college-ready.” The third starter will either be Alex Beatty ’15 or Bear Goldstein ’17. They’ll answer to John Walker, whom Bates hired after his longtime defensive assistant Greg Raymond took the head job at Hobart College last summer. Walker was an All-American attackman at the U.S. Military Academy, then spent three years coaching Army’s prep school team and four years as a defensive assistant at the University of Virginia before joining Princeton’s staff. In Walker’s style of defense, Princeton may be less apt to slide to the ball — to double-team, in basketball terms. He gives his players a little more freedom to play one-on-one, Bates says. Continue reading