The wait for the 2015-16 Princeton basketball season finally comes to a closethis Fridayas the men’s team prepares for its season opener against neighbor rival Rider University.
In contrast to the multitude of other opponents located throughout the eastern seaboard, the team will travel just down the road to Alumni Gymnasium in Lawrenceville, N.J. to face the host Broncs.
A budding rivalry will follow the teams into Alumni Gymnasium as the Broncs and Tigers have now met in season openers for two consecutive years. Last season, the Tigers defeated Rider by a score of 64-58, further fueling the developing rivalry between the neighbor schools.
In fact, the Tigers have won three straight over the Broncs: the last time the two teams met in Alumni Gymnasium, the Tigers won via a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Mack Darrow ’13.
Even with the victory, Princeton men’s basketball has grown since the last meeting between the two schools.On Friday, the Tigers will showcase the strength and experience of a full cast of returning starters, who are hungry to build upon last season’s victories.
The returning starters are: junior guard Spencer Weisz, senior forward Hans Brase, junior forward Steven Cook, sophomore guard Amir Bell and junior center Pete Miller. Every one of the above players started at least 23 of last year’s 30 games.
The combination of a young starting squad with last year’s experience of starting mostly as underclassmen creates a special opportunity for an already promising group. In terms of accolades, two of the five, Weisz and Cook, earned second-team All-Ivy honors last year as sophomores.
On the opposite end of the spectrum,Friday’sgame will also exhibit the debuts of four rookies on this year’s team: guard Myles Stephens, guard Devin Cannady, forward Noah Bramlage and guard Elias Berbari. With high school championships and records in hand, the incoming class will provide immediate impact on a young and eager team.
Turning to Rider, the Broncs return this year without last season’s leading scorer and rebounder Matt Lopez. Instead the second-place conference championship contenders will rely on three guards: Teddy Okereafor, Jimmie Taylor and Zedric Sadler.
Comparing the rosters, Rider possesses a relatively older team and leadership with seven upperclassmen. The two teams also wield different strengths, as the Tigers outshoot while the Broncs showcase greater rebounding, averaging over 34 per game compared to Princeton’s 31.
Victory or loss; shooting or rebounding; experience or youth; Friday’sgame ultimately culminates a summer of reflection, training and preparation. The momentous occasion marks the initiation of another season of Princeton basketball, andFriday’s game will be the first step in a much longer journey.