The 118th meeting between Princeton and Rutgers takes place on Wednesday night at the RAC, a floor the Tigers have not won on since 1999.
As we start our build-up to this inter-state rivalry game I recommend the following lengthy pieces, which are all included after the jump: A recap of last year's OT win, the historical epic "Rutgers in the 2000s: A Decade of Dismay" and a new review of Princeton's '99 victory versus the Scarlet Knights, which also came in overtime.
First, the full recap of last year's 78-73 overtime win for Princeton in the season opener.
As I began at the time:
If tonight’s opener for the 2010-11 Princeton basketball season is a microcosm of what is to come over the next 29 games, it is going to be a wild ride.
There were so many ups and downs, questions raised and questions answered alongside near-simultaneous thrills and frustrations that the game between Rutgers and Princeton at Jadwin Gym needed five extra minutes after regulation concluded to try and fit them all in.
The Tigers raced to a 14 point first half lead, matched last season’s point total against the Scarlet Knights by the break (44) but were eventually passed by Rutgers with less than seven minutes to go as the Scarlet Knights extended their defense on the wings before rallying to force overtime and holding on for the five point victory with 8-8 OT shooting at the free throw line.
It was as exhausting as the above run-on sentence implies.
“I thought that there was a lot of guts there,” said Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson. “I was pleasantly surprised.”
Drama and pathos aside, the end result was the Tigers’ first victory over a “Big Six” school since 2004.
Second, take the time to take in Rutgers in the 2000s: A Decade of Dismay, which reviews a stretch where Princeton lost 10 out of 11 and five straight to Rutgers, many in agonizing fashion.
As alluded to above, in 1999 Princeton went to Rutgers and came away with a 66-60 overtime win. Here's what I wrote back then:
Guts. The Tigers have them, and they showed them this afternoon in a tough game against Rutgers. Princeton turned the ball over too often [22 times!], threw countless bad entry passes, only made two three pointers [2-10 from the field] and had more shots blocked/altered than you might expect to see, but they played VERY hard and they "out-toughed" Rutgers at the game's crucial moments. Perhaps that toughness was what made the difference. Who would have thought just two weeks ago that we might be talking about a Tiger team that fought off a strong Rutgers team in overtime to run their winning streak to four in a row?
For the first time all season Princeton was able to get to the line, and shot just well enough to win [20-33]. Chris Young had a sub-par offensive game [4-12, 11 points], but got several crucial rebounds and his help defense was decent. Being able to see the game while hearing the audio of various NFL games left me slightly in the dark about who certain fouls were on and what various calls were, so I'm extra curious to read some game reports. Who went? What did you see?
And then there is Mason Rocca, who was nothing short of fierce.
Warrior indeed. Rocca's line: 45 9-14 10-18 4-13 2 2 28
Sure, he could have shot better from the line, but he got there 18 times.
And sure, he did turn the ball over seven times, but he also had two steals and a block.
Lastly, Bill Carmody outcoached Kevin Bannon this afternoon. Princeton pressed Rutgers' young guards up and down all 94 feet for all 45 minutes, forcing the Scarlet Knights into bad passes and keeping Rutgers out of sync. Fantastic move. I was impressed.
Princeton fans should be very proud of this win.
A few postgame quotes I dug up:
Carmody on Rocca: "He's just been great...he makes everyone else braver out there. We have some young guys who are a little wide-eyed out there, and he just plows ahead and makes everybody a little tougher."
Carmody: "When we had guys like (Gabe) Lewullis and (Brian) Earl, that was beautiful to watch...but now we've got to win a little differently. Maybe not muscle ball, but a little more straight forward."
Carmody: "We had to simplify things today. Instead of being cutie-pie out there with all these little cuts, we had to go straight ahead. What can you say about Mason? He has a groin pull and tendinitis in his ankle, but he was something special today. He'd make a good tight end in the NFL."
Rocca: "I feel like I just played in an NFL game...I hit the floor a lot."
Bannon: "...every team could use a Mason Rocca. He's not only a good player, he's a warrior."
The Daily Princetonian article is archived here.