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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Run it back: Wagner 48, Princeton 42 (OT)


Wagner 48, Princeton 42 (OT)

THE NUMBERS GAME: Just looking at the stat sheet, there were a lot of things that didn’t make a whole lot of sense in this one. For example: Princeton held Wagner to just 36 percent shooting (12.5 percent from three), forced 21 turnovers, allowed just 14 points in the first half and had 10 more points off second-chance opportunities…and still lost the game. The Tigers didn’t start a player under 6-foot-5, while the Seahawks started three players under 6-foot-4, yet Wagner had more points in the paint (30-26) and more rebounds (39-38).

THE GOOD:
The first half: Even though the Tigers weren’t shooting the ball well in the opening period (35.7 percent from the field), they looked like a significantly better team than the Seahawks. They controlled the boards (21-14) and got a high percentage of what offense they were able to generate off ball-movement (6 assists on 10 field goals). On the defensive end, they used they’re added length with Denton Koon in the game to make life really difficult for Wagner. For about six minutes to start the game, it looked like Princeton was on its way to another relatively easy victory by using the low-post game to open things up for everyone else.

Brendan Connolly: Offensively, Connolly was probably as aggressive against the Seahawks as he’s been all year, which was odd considering he was the only member of the starting lineup other than Ian Hummer that didn’t have a significant size advantage over his defender (Wagner’s 6-foot-11 Naofall Williams looked to be a pretty explosive jumper). When the Princeton offense was struggling, they kept going back into Connolly, and Connolly kept getting good looks with his running hook shot. A number of them rimmed in-and-out, but Connolly still finished 4-10 from the floor for 8 points plus 8 boards.

THE BAD:
Ian Hummer: “Bad” here of course is a relative term, since Hummer was still the best Princeton player on the court last night, but compared to the high level he’s set for himself this season, Wednesday night’s effort was a disappointment. Hummer just looked off, shooting just 5-20 from the field and 1-4 from the free throw line, even throwing up an air ball early in the first half. He also had just one assist. On the last three legitimate Tigers possessions of overtime (before a Denton Koon heave at the buzzer), Hummer traveled, missed a spinning layup and missed a three. After the game, he said he was trying to force the issue a little too much. By all measures, he was outplayed by his Wagner counterpart Jonathon Williams, who had 20 points on 7-11 shooting and who knocked down some big free throws in overtime.

Handling pressure: The game really turned in the second half, when the Seahawks started to pressure the Tigers in the backcourt. From that point forward, it looked as if Princeton was on its heels and Wagner was the team on the attack, whereas in the first half the Tigers were the aggressors. That woke up the midweek Wagner crowd, which was actually really vocal down the stretch. Once that tide started to turn, it was difficult for Princeton to reestablish their advantage in the post and retake control of the pace of the game.

Shooting: At the end of the day, the object of the game is to put the ball in the basket, and Princeton simply didn’t do a good job of getting their shots to fall. The Tigers were 17-57 (29.8 percent) from the field and just 2-14 (14.3 percent) from behind the three-point line. As bad as some of the execution was down the stretch, realistically Princeton was one good bounce away from winning the game.

AROUND THE IVY


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