Last Saturday, the women's basketball team began its second season of the year. The Tigers' loss to Penn began their Ivy League season and, with it, a different style of play.
Because each game and each win is important for the team's post-season opportunities, the intensity of the games increases. And while the Quakers brought that intensity into their first Ivy match, the Tigers failed to step up their hustle and desire.
"In the Ivy season, there's more on the line," head coach Liz Feeley said. "The winner at the end of the season goes to the NCAAs. Every game has weight on it."
This weekend, Princeton (5-7 overall, 0-1 Ivy League) faces two more Ivy opponents in Brown (4-7, 0-0) and Yale (5-6, 0-0). Victories for the Tigers would help establish them as a competitive team within the league.
Like Princeton, Brown and Yale will probably never challenge Dartmouth or Harvard, the league's powerhouses. But victories this weekend would put the Tigers in the top half of the league right from the beginning of the season.
In order to beat both teams, Princeton needs to surpass the intensity of its opponents. That means that the Tigers must maintain the strong defense they have played throughout the season and adopt a more aggressive offense.
"We need to keep setting goals for ourselves," sophomore guard Maggie Langlas said. "If we're up by four, we need to say, 'Let's go for eight.' "
One area that the Tigers can improve in is offensive rebounding. Penn out-rebounded them offensively, 28-19, as Princeton gave the Quakers second-chance opportunities that the Tigers did not have.
The absence of sophomore forward Tesa Ho, sidelined with an ankle injury for at least this coming weekend, will hurt Princeton's chances on the offensive boards. Ho's size and jumping ability made her a formidable presence under the basket.
Her replacements in the post, junior forward Julie Angell and sophomore center Brooke Lock-wood, are solid rebounders on defense. On offense, the pair have only combined for six offensive boards in the three games Ho has been injured.
The Tigers must also work on attacking the basket rather than waiting and forcing an outside shot as the shot clock winds down. Sophomore forward Kate Thirolf and Langlas have been offensive threats, but Princeton needs to get the ball into its post players more often.