The second half of the men’s basketball season finale against Penn March 9 was not Princeton’s finest hour. After going on a 23≠–0 first-half run and leading by as many as 28, the Tigers’ advantage dwindled to seven points with just over two minutes left.
But even as the pressure mounted, Princeton looked calm and confident. With a few key defensive stops and steady free-throw shooting, the Tigers held on to win, 68–56, finishing the regular season 20–8 overall. †
Coach Sydney Johnson ’97 said afterward that he’d avoided calling timeouts in the closing minutes because he thought his players were prepared for everything Penn would throw at them. “It showed a lot of guts on their part,” he added, “and that’s what we expect.”
The 2009–10 season helped to restore many of Princeton’s expectations. The Tigers finished 11–3 in Ivy League games, placing second behind Cornell for the second straight year after tying for last place in 2007–08. Johnson credited his four seniors — Marcus Schroeder, Pawel Buczak, Zach Finley, and Nick Lake — with leading the turnaround.
Schroeder admitted that Princeton’s sub-par seasons in his first two years were challenging. “It was sometimes hard to go to practice, but we stuck it out,” he said. “To have 20 wins this season means a lot.”The Tigers earned a spot in the College Basketball Invitational, a 16-team postseason tournament for teams not invited to the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. Princeton beat Duquesne 65–51 in the opening round March 17, thanks to double-digit scoring by Douglas Davis ’12, Kareem Maddox ’11, and Ian Hummer ’13. The result of Princeton’s March 22 second-round game at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis was not available for this issue of PAW.