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Monday News:

Texas State vs. Northwestern - 7:00 pm ET - Big Ten Network

Cornell vs. Vanderbilt - 9:00 pm ET - ESPNU

Fairfield (7-5) did what Princeton could not, beating Drexel at home by 11.

Roberto Nelson matched his career high with 34 as Oregon State (7-2) took care of Chicago State, 87-77.

Future Tiger Henry Caruso had 17 for Serra in a recent victory.

For the second consecutive time Ian Hummer is the Ivy League Player of the Week.

The loss to Fordham was the second time this season Princeton has been defeated despite a Win Probability that exceeded 99%.

Northwestern returns from exams, hosting Texas State.

Steven Postrel said,

December 17, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

Two 1% outcomes sounds like the model might have fatter tails than KenPom thinks.

You know, one crazy idea I had to deal with the late-game collapses is for the Tigers to respond to opponents' pressure defense by extending their own defense, getting themselves in a mindset of playing fast and attacking rather than trying to hold on and not make mistakes. Obviously, it would be preferable to have ice-cold execution of a conventional game plan in such situations, but so far this group isn't looking like they are suited to that. Desperate measures and all that.

A little counter-chaos might be just the thing to get guys like Barrett, Koon, and Hummer making good athletic plays down the stretch (while upsetting the opponent's flow). It's harder to come back when your passes are getting deflected, the wrong guys are handling the ball, and you can't the ball in comfortable spots on the floor. I'd even be willing to put up with a few fouls in return for fewer opposing threes and put-backs.

OK, maybe a little hare-brained, but I'm open to better suggestions.

Jon Solomon said,

December 17, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

That or comebacks from +18 with 13 minutes to go and +10 with the ball and three minutes left are both less than 1/100 outcomes.

I've spent a lot of time trying to think of solutions too.

While pressure was a big part of the story down the stretch versus Fordham, the two travels in the paint were just as harmful and not the result of full court defense.

Not to mention the lost front end of a one-and-one...

To me execution is more of an issue than dealing with pressure (though they are related). Thus, Rider's an interesting conundrum for Princeton given what's transpired to date.

More on that Wednesday in "Know! Your! Foe!."

George Clark said,

December 18, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

I am sure many of us have wondered how the Tigers can turn this thing around before the team's confidence is shot. Historically, Tiger teams have enjoyed success when they have been able to control the tempo of the game. (As an aside I remember having the nerve to lament the advent of the shot clock in the presence of Carril, who dismissed my concerns with the observation that a team ought to be able to get the shot it wants in 30 seconds.) While Jon is technically correct that the traveling calls occurred after the press was beaten, the Tiger impatience was the product of the press. We let Fordham's tactics determine the pace of play at the end and the Tigers' chaotic response played into the Rams' hands. We need to resist the temptation to get into track meets. Make the other guy defend for 35 seconds every possession and he will not be able to press effectively. Better shot selection will lead to better production and to better rebounding opportunities. Mitch is probably a better athlete than most of his charges. I hope he doesn't get too frustrated.

David Lewis said,

December 18, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

George is right. Most nights against D-1 teams Princeton does not match opponents in pure athetic ability. We need to frustrate teams by dictating the style of play even if its painful to play (or watch). Teams will not have the energy to press us if we force them to play defense for 32-35 seconds on every possession. I remember the post-season game against Pittsburgh last year. We tried to run with them and got destroyed. This team is really puzzling. They are bigger than most of their opponents but do not get rebounds. They turn the ball over and can't shoot fouls. Last year we won almost all of the close games. This year we can't close games. Thank goodness the Ivy League is weak this year. I would say that Columbia or Harvard have the best shot this year.

Steven Postrel said,

December 19, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

I agree that playing at a controlled pace, making your foul shots, and generally playing the end of the game the way you did to get the lead in the first place is the best way for a team like the Tigers to go in the face of opponents' pressing. I'm pretty sure they know that too, but the gap between knowing and executing seems to be real.

The reason why I'm suggesting counter-pressure is 1) it might loosen up the Princeton players mentally and 2) it might confuse and frustrate the opponent. It's not like Princeton would be sacrificing great defensive rebounding by having more players away from the basket. And a couple of forced turnovers or forced times out could be all that is needed to derail a comeback. But obviously it's a high-risk strategy.

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