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Game #9-112: Princeton at Lafayette LeopardsNovember 24, 2012 2:00 pm
Kirby Sports Center
My family decides to break up a 400 mile post-Thanksgiving drive from Virginia to Connecticut with a stop in Easton, Pennsylvania to see Princeton play at Lafayette. This is how we make the decision: I convince Ian, my eleven year-old son and usual game companion, who persuades his mother, who talks our daughter into it. We need to stop anyway, right?
We come into Kirby Sports Center with 7:00 minutes to go in the first half and Princeton leading 22-12. We find seats in an arena that is surprisingly full. My wife, who went to high school in Virginia with Ralph Sampson, sits in front of me; she leans her head back and whispers, "White boy basketball!"
We've missed the tentative part of the game, where the teams feel each other out. We have come upon a conversation already begun. Princeton is dictating, able to do whatever it wants in the paint, and Lafayette is scrambling to respond.
The group of Lafayette fans behind us has already lost faith. Their conversation has drifted into other basketball topics: Bucknell, one of Lafayette's big brothers in the Patriot League, who has lost by a few points at Penn State; an analysis of the best high school players in Philadelphia, 60 miles down the road. When Lafayette's center Dan Trist is whistled for three seconds, one of them yells, "IS THAT STILL A RULE?" I don't expect to hear a better cry of frustration all year.
Before halftime, the teams trade back door layups, and Princeton leads, 33-23.
My wife and daughter head for the concessions. The talkers turn to other topics. "I watched you walk in," one of them says to his companion. "You walked fast. Either you were cold, or you are feeling better."
"If you are a heart patient," the other one answers, "you gotta walk fast. But it's Thanksgiving, and, shit, I got a thing or two to be thankful for."
"That's the truth."
The second half begins, and we ride the early moments with the hope that Lafayette can pull themselves back into the game. But Princeton plays stubborn defense. The Tigers are organized, interchangeable, and more versatile than they look. Ian Hummer is their prototype -- a rugged, left-handed senior, 6-7, 225, who can play in the post or outside. His teammates all seem to be a version of him, or working their way into a version given another year or two in the weight room. The precise Princeton style, established in Pete Carrill's 30-year tenure, survives from coach to coach (current coach Mitch Henderson is in his second year). Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon, who has been in Easton long enough to have coached against Carrill, knows how he wants his Leopards to play, but he can't seem to wring the style out of his current roster.
At the 12:00 mark, my daughter leans back to me and says: "Dad, this is a twenty point game." She knows that I am avoiding looking at the score. She agreed to come into the game, but this game? Really?
Ian comes to my defense. "Dad, if we come late, we can't leave early. If you come late AND leave early, that's like not coming at all."
My wife leaves the decision of when to leave in my hands. Thanksgiving is over. We've left her family hundreds of miles behind us in Virginia. She looks happy to be in a gym among the complicated lives of people she does not know.
Coach O'Hanlon substitutes for Trist and Tony Johnson, his best inside and outside player, and goes with his young crew: Flanagan, Musters, Hinrichs, and Scott. Why not? Two nice feeds from Flanagan in the low post, including one where he actually waves at Hinrichs to cut through the lane, slice Princeton's lead to 13 points, 61-48, with four minutes to go.
Lafayette employs a press, but jack-of-all-trades Hummer brings the ball up easily against it, and the game gets no closer. With two minutes to go I stand up. We hit the bathrooms and pile back into the car. Southern Connecticut remains several highways away, and we don't know yet that it will take two hours to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge back into New England.
But, shit, I got a thing or two to be thankful for.
PRINCETON 72, at LAFAYETTE 53
PRINCETON 2-3 (0-0) -- T. Bray 7-9 2-3 17; I. Hummer 12-16 4-5 28; B. Connolly 2-6 1-2 5; D. Koon 1-4 0-0 3; W. Barrett 5-9 1-2 13; M. Darrow 0-1 0-0 0; C. Wilson 1-2 0-0 3; C. Clement 1-2 0-0 3; H. Brase 0-1 0-0 0; A. Elbuluk 0-0 0-0 0; B. Garbade 0-0 0-0 0; E. Lawrence 0-0 0-0 0; M. Washington Jr 0-0 0-0 0; B. Fabrizius 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-50 8-12 72.
LAFAYETTE 1-5 (0-0) -- L. Giese 3-4 0-0 7; T. Johnson 4-12 2-2 10; S. Hinrichs 2-9 2-3 6; D. Trist 3-10 4-4 10; J. Ptasinski 3-9 0-1 8; B. Scott 1-4 1-1 3; Z. Rufer 1-3 3-6 5; A. Flannigan 2-3 0-0 4; N. Musters 0-0 0-0 0; J. Detmer 0-0 0-0 0; L. Smith 0-0 0-0 0; B. Freeland 0-0 0-0 0; B. Murphy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-54 12-17 53.
Three-point goals: PRIN 6-10 (W. Barrett 2-3; M. Darrow 0-1; T. Bray 1-1; C. Clement 1-1; D. Koon 1-2; C. Wilson 1-2), LAF 3-15 (L. Giese 1-1; J. Ptasinski 2-7; S. Hinrichs 0-5; Z. Rufer 0-1; B. Scott 0-1); Rebounds: PRIN 32 (I. Hummer 7), LAF 21 (L. Giese 7); Assists: PRIN 15 (I. Hummer 5), LAF 7 (T. Johnson 2); Total Fouls -- PRIN 19, LAF 13; Fouled Out: PRIN-None; LAF-None.
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