At 5–2 and 2–6 respectively, the women’s and men’s basketball teams have started the year very differently. Yet this isn’t very surprising, nor should it be reason for panic, when looking back on last year.
The women have already improved on their record at this point from the 2016–17 season, when the team was 3–4 through its first seven games. Its two losses this year come to Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Georgia Tech and to No. 24-Villanova, to whom the Tigers suffered only a three-point loss. Of its five wins, the Tigers have already avenged last year’s loss to George Washington 72–52, and they just won against Lafayette on Wednesday 53–45.
Much of the Tiger’s success can be attributed to sophomore forward Bella Alarie, who earned Ivy League Rookie of the Year last year and leads the team with 10.3 rebounds per game and 17.1 points per game, including 52.6 percent shooting (10–19) from beyond the arc. Last year, Alarie's 51 blocks per game broke the single-season school record.
Alarie finished Wednesday’s game with her 11th double-double, accounting for 14 points and 12 rebounds, in addition to six blocks. Senior forward Leslie Robinson led in points with 15, and added seven rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Princeton got off to another strong start, leading Lafayette 18–9 in the first quarter. The Tigers have outscored opponents 120–90 in the first quarter this season.
Princeton finished last season 16–14, losing for the second straight year to Penn in the Ivy Tournament Championship and losing in the first round of the WNIT 53–59 to Villanova.
For the 2–6 men’s team, it is not yet time to panic. The squa'ds is already worse than last year’s 4–4 start through the first eight games. This being said, much of this slow start can be attributed to a tough strength of schedule. In addition to losing to BYU and Saint Joseph’s for the second straight year, the Tiger men have had to play NCAA Tournament-regular Butler and No.-10 Miami this year.
The Miami Hurricanes (8–0) routed Princeton 80–52 last Saturday, providing a big challenge for the Tigers that may prove useful for experience come conference play. Although starting off slower last year as well, the Tigers finished the season by winning 19 straight games, going undefeated in the Ivy League and taking the Ivy Tournament Championship over Yale before a heartbreaking two-point loss to Notre Dame.
Though they lost prominent players like Steven Cook, Pete Miller, and Spencer Weisz to graduation, the Tigers have confidence in junior guards Myles Stephens and Devin Cannady and senior guard Amir Bell.
Stephens proved valuable in last year’s Ivy League Tournament, averaging 22 points in games against Penn and Yale. This year he is averaging 13.9 points and leads the team in rebounds with 5.8 per game. Devin Cannady, who missed a three that would have propelled Princeton over Notre Dame in an upset last year, leads the team this year with 19.1 points per game, including a 23-point performance in Wednesday’s 60–71 loss to George Washington.
Women’s basketball continues its season on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m. against Quinnipiac, while the men’s team will face Monmouth at home on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. Both games will be available on ESPN3. The men’s game is also available on the Ivy League Network.