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Small moments.

Basketball brought me to 50 games this season, 31 of which Princeton participated in.

The schedule has been completed for slightly longer than a week and already some of the memories have started to fade as I finish final wraps around an indelible year. What took place from the opening tip to the final buzzer each time the Tigers were on the floor and I was watching from either press row or the stands has been properly captured in the articles I typed after each's conclusion.

Today I want to share a number of moments I don't want to forget. It may read back like free association but I've tried to keep them in sequential order.

Some happened in the bleachers. Some in transit. Some were so miniscule they evaporated seconds after they transpired. If you are so moved when you're done, I'd love to read about your favorite details from 2010-11.

A moment of silence to begin the season for Marvin Bressler.

Mack Darrow's relieved smile after making his first two collegiate free throws to put away Rutgers in overtime.

Leaving with phenomenal momentum on a Saturday afternoon for the drive to Durham following Northwestern's stunning upset of Iowa in Big 10 football, only to travel seven minutes from my home and discover I-95 south was completely closed.

We had to turn around after sitting still on the highway for an hour, come back past my house and down 295, the start of a far-too-long journey to Cameron Indoor.

My seat on press row at Duke was both directly across from the Princeton bench and directly in front of the Cameron Crazies, with no space separating us from one another. Had to hurdle a long table to get situated, was jostled constantly throughout the game. The above picture was taken from my uncomfortable POV before tipoff.

Cal Ripken Jr. sitting behind the Tigers in North Carolina.

The single worst cup of iced coffee I've ever had (not hyperbole) in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Equal parts battery acid, fake hazelnut flavoring, spoiled soy milk and despair. I still forced half of it down.

Jimmy Sherburne knocking over the larger Brendan Connolly during player introductions before the Bucknell game. A mid-air hip bump gone horribly wrong.

The 65 people I counted in stands prior to Princeton's Thanksgiving eve game versus Presbyterian. The JMU Convocation Center holds 7,156.

Driving back from Harrisonburg to New Jersey an hour after the Tigers' frustrating two point loss to the Blue Hose at a decent but not obscene clip, nearly colliding with an oblivious deer slowly sauntering across I-81 following just 30 minutes on the road. A slight veer to the left saved us from disaster as we all-but-brushed the clueless deer's hair.

There was a long silence.

"Nice reflexes," said my travel companion.

All I could do was laugh. It was a very frightening near miss.

Kareem Maddox carrying Christian "Crunch" Regulski off the floor on his shoulders like a human trophy after an overtime win against Siena.

Tracking Princeton's unexpected route home from Tulsa - first by plane to Detroit courtesy a blizzard and then slowly back to New Jersey via bus as they trudged east viewing "Inception" and "Inglorious Basterds."

A man wandering into the Princeton huddle at the end of halftime at Towson to give Coach Johnson his business card followed by Johnson looking at his team and staff with a "who was that guy?" motion.

Watching famed referee and known self-important gesticulator Ted Valentine chat up my dad as he took photographs on the baseline of Princeton's UCF Holiday Classic game against Northeastern.

When Patrick Saunders did this:

The Tigers trailed by three on Alex Harris’ right baseline push shot, but evened the score with a possession that stayed alive because of Saunders’ incredible hustle.

Sure, I’ve made light of Saunders’ flat-footed jump shots this season, but it was Saunders, not high school high jump champion Kareem Maddox, who sailed clear over press row without touching the tables to save a loose ball back to Bray.

Bray held the basketball patiently as Saunders reappeared from under the press seating and returned to the floor. As the crowd around the UCF Arena rewarded Saunders with round of applause, Davis rewarded Saunders’ effort with a three at the top of the key – the assist to Saunders.

“The ball got tipped out and I saw it going out of bounds so I tried to get it back in,” was Saunders’ vanilla description of a special play that had people talking in the stands after the game.

Sydney Johnson's time out ruining an in-progress Douglas Davis to Kareem Maddox alley oop versus Marist. “That was awful,” Johnson joked afterwards. “I owe Doug an assist somewhere down the line.”

Reviewing an alternate angle tape of Jack Eggleston's time out blunder for Penn in overtime and discovering that Zack Rosen was simultaneously calling a non-existent time out standing next to an official.

Dan Mavraides collapsing face down on the floor of Jadwin after somehow defeating the Quakers in overtime.

The moment in Ithaca I thought the season might be over.

Checking in to a hotel in Connecticut as George Clinton's P-Funk All-Stars were checking out.

With a few seconds left in New Haven and Princeton up by three possessions, Coach Johnson's son made his way down to the protective barrier separating the six foot drop from the stands to the visiting bench. Johnson heard his call and turned around to give two big thumbs up and a huge "we're going to win!" smile.

Running into the same Princeton player in the public bathroom closest to the gym on at least eight separate occasions before at least eight separate games.

Cheering ourselves up after the loss at Brown with a spontaneous hotel room pizza party. Two grilled pies from Bob & Timmy's - one with fresh spinach and feta the other with tomato and sweet onions - made the evening bearable.

I still refused to allow anyone in the car to discuss basketball until we re-entered the state of New Jersey though.

A moment of silence for Crunch before the penultimate home game versus Cornell.

My daughter promising me she would not run on the court at Jadwin like she tried to do a year previous at Brown when she was one-and-a-half.

The only Princeton basketball parent to ever bake me a cake, which was delicious.

An interaction with the last Tiger to leave Bob Ruxin's reception after the Harvard game, and the words we shared before he got on the bus.

March 10, 2009

March 9, 2011

My friend Mike's ability to fly down to Philadelphia on a Tuesday afternoon, go to the Penn game and fly back to Boston the same evening.

Maddox collapsing backwards on the floor of the Palestra after leading his team to a share of the Ivy title.

At Yale for the one game playoff, I saw someone familiar walking around beforehand. Accustomed to regularly greeting many alumni, fans, parents and supporters at gyms each season, I waved and gave a big smile to this person.

It was only when they walked past that I realized I was saying hello to a confused Elliot Spitzer.

Princeton's students and Harvard's students joining forces for a "Yale sucks!" chant.

The John J. Lee Amphitheater PA announcer reading Brendan Connolly's name out instead of Ian Hummer's during starter introductions. A sitting Hummer sat frozen on the bench confused until the standing Connolly raised his hand and waved happily to the crowd.

Mavraides cutting down the net at Payne Whitney with a Crunch pillow in his hand.

The team posing with the netting, the pillow and a Crunch t-shirt - photo borrowed from the Facebook page of Trent Fuenmayor.

Will Barrett leaping up behind the bench to scale the barrier and simultaneously hug both his parents in the stands.

Mavraides lifting up Davis into his arms while shouting "I love you Doug!" among a throng of Princeton supporters.

Being the last to leave the gym in New Haven, hours after the lights had been turned off and everyone else had gone home.

An extended debate before leaving for Tampa on "wearing a lucky green shirt versus Thursday being St. Patrick's Day." Overcoming my concerns of being that guy, I wore the shirt.

Mavraides leading the team out onto the floor of the St. Pete Times Forum before the Kentucky game, blowing kisses with both hands to the Princeton fans two hours later and walking off the court one final time.

Robert Solomon said,

March 26, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

That shot of Crunch on Kareem's shoulder is priceless.

John Poole said,

March 27, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

A few memories:

Standing alone in the men's room at the Towson Arena just before the game when a Princeton player ran in for quick relief. Hint: tall, skinny, has a flat-footed 3 point shot. Made me think of nervous marathoners who line up at the port-a-pots before races and then quickly get back into line after using them.

A beautiful short, soft, lofted, impossible-to-block shot over his coverage by Kareem Maddux against Harvard at Jadwin when everyone thought that he would try to dunk.

Your picture of the team sitting grimly and presumably watching the Harvard fans mob the court just one week before our fans would reciprocate.

What a wonderful season of memories. Thanks for your great coverage, Jon. PBN sets the standard for Ivy reporting and doesn't have even a close rival.

Jon Solomon said,

March 27, 2011 @ 7:04 pm


Was Maddox's play you describe the one where he kept rising and rising and rising and then banked the ball off the glass?

When Coach Johnson kept the team on the bench at Harvard, I wasn't sure that this tactic would pay off but I realized that if it did it would potentially be the stuff of legend.

Thank you for the kind words. I'm both exceptionally flattered and very happy my work this year is appreciated.


TigerHeel said,

March 28, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

Great stuff, Jon. What a special season.

Some of my highlights include:
- watching the bench at the start of each game for Kareem Maddox to get the call;
- Noah Savage describing Mike Rice's histrionics (and great radio calls all season on WPRB from Savage and his counterpart);
- Coach Johnson not slowing down the game against Duke, which at the time seemed crazy, but now makes more sense;
- the wild flurry at the end of regulation against Siena, capped off by Mavraides' incredible 3 to force overtime;
- the tremendous student section for the home game against Harvard;
- the feeling of having stolen one when walking across campus to the Dinky after the Penn win in OT;
- the eight minutes or so of flawless Princeton Basketball at Columbia;
- another incredible shot by Mavraides of an entirely different variety at home against Columbia;
- feeling confident with Mack Darrow at the line to seal the Senior Day win;
- the PA announcer informing the Jadwin crowd and team that Harvard had lost at Yale;
- Kareem's "faces in the crowd" comment after the devastating loss at Harvard;
- tracking the Harvard-Princeton game via Gamecast and watching the highlights lead Sportscenter that night;
- Coach Johnson's comment at halftime against Kentucky that it's too bad Princeton does not accept transfers or else we would take a look at Darius Miller; and
- going toe-to-toe against Kentucky and more than holding our own.

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