Almost every week an abundance of questions are directed towards head coach Bill Carmody and the members of the men's basketball team about Princeton's national ranking, Ratings Percentage Index and possible tournament seed. The Tigers, however, would prefer to keep focused on the remaining games of the regular season.
For although the No. 9 Tigers (21-1 overall, 9-0 Ivy League) are tied with the 1924-25 team for the best start in school history, they still have to win the Ivy League before they can talk about the postseason and whom they would like to play. While the remaining five games would appear to be little more than a formality right now, the Tigers are not taking them lightly.
"We're just worried about winning the league," Carmody said.
While many fans and outside observers may have looked at Tuesday's 71-52 victory over Penn as the last major obstacle facing Princeton in its quest to return to the NCAAs, the team is reluctant to look that far ahead.
"We have five more games left," junior forward Gabe Lewullis said. "They're all going to be tough games. (The other teams) are going to do whatever they can to fluster us. We just have to stick to our stuff."
If the Tigers can sweep the next four Ivy League games, starting with tonight's game against Harvard (11-11, 4-6) and tomorrow's against Dartmouth (6-16, 3-7), they will clinch the Ivy title next Saturday at Cornell at the latest.
"(The Penn win) put us in a really good position," senior forward James Mastaglio said. "We control our own destiny, even more than we did before."
The Tigers had little trouble with Harvard and Dartmouth when the team traveled north two weeks ago. Princeton effectively executed its offense and played their usual brand of superior defense, embarrassing the two schools by an average of 30 points.
This time, though, Harvard will have freshman forward Dan Clemente in the lineup. Clemente, who is sixth in the league in scoring, is a six-time winner of the Ivy League Rookie of the Week award. He missed three games with an ankle injury, including the Crimson's Feb. 7 loss to the Tigers, but returned last Friday and scored a career-high 26 points against Cornell. Clemente also had six rebounds and two steals in the Crimson's 86-73 win over the Big Red.
"We played Harvard two weeks ago, but they didn't have (Clemente)," Carmody said. "He came back and had 26 points with six (three-pointers). We're going to have a tough game with Harvard."
The Crimson also feature junior guards Mike Beam, who is fifth in the country in three-point shooting with a .523 shooting percentage, and Tim Hill, who is fifth in the league in scoring at 14.6 points per game.
Harvard has not won at Jadwin Gym since beating Princeton 63-57 during the 1988-89 season.
The Tigers will take on a struggling Dartmouth team Saturday. The Big Green, one of the top teams in the league in recent years, is in a rebuilding phase and is currently battling with Brown for last place honors in the league. It is led by senior guard P.J. Halas, who was held scoreless in the team's first meeting with Princeton, and sophomore forward Shaun Gee.