Saturday, December 17, 2005

The "Princeton" Offense

So what is the "Princeton" offense in college hoops? Taken literally this season, the answer is horrendous. To be clear, it's not the answer that is horrendous, it is the Princeton Tigers' 2005-06 "offense" that is, dare I say, offensive.

The Tigers made national news last week in their game with Monmouth, a 42-21 win by the low-flying Hawks. The total points in that contest was the lowest combined score since the three-point shot was instituted in 1986-87. Princeton tied the single team low during that era.

Unfortunately for Princeton fans, that abysmal effort was not as much an abberation as one would hope. The Tigers, now 2-6 after a 61-42 loss at Wake Forest, have failed to break the 50-point mark six times in their eight games so far this season. They have topped 60 points only once, in a 64-54 win at Lehigh and are barely averaging 45 per game.

Only one Princeton player, forward Noah Savage, is averaging over double-figures in scoring. Savage's average dropped to 11.6 per game after a 1-12 shooting game vs. Wake Forest.

The Princeton program shows all the signs of a program being in free-fall. Last season they finished with a 6-8 league record, their first losing season in Ivy League play ever. They currently have a four game losing streak at home, another first in school history.

It's ironic that coach Joe Scott, in his second year at his alma mater, had more success with the "Princeton" offense at Air Force than he has at its birthplace. Scott surprised everyone when his Falcons won the Mountain West Conference regular season championship in 2003-04. This earned Air Force its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1962 and Scott the MWC Coach of the Year Award.

Scott then clearly brought a lot of momentum into the program when he replaced John Thompson III shortly after the 2003-04 season. The only momentum in the program right now, however, resembles a train running out of control and getting ready to jump the tracks. That is called a train wreck, and is an apt description of Princeton basketball 2005-06.

Where are Bill Bradley or Pete Carril when you need them?


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