On Dec. 10, Princeton men’s basketball dropped a heartbreaking loss to Monmouth and watched their record drop to 1–7.
“I keep asking my guys,“ said head coach Mitch Henderson, “do we need to lower our expectations, and they all say no.”
When Princeton men’s basketball entered Ivy League play in early January, it did so floundering, boasting a meager 4–8 record. Ivy domination — any domination, for that matter — seemed unlikely. But we’re now four weeks and four games into Ivy League play. The athletes’ expectations are still high; for the first time, their results match them. The Tigers have proved their doubters wrong.
Princeton boasts two wins against a strong Penn team and a tight victory against preseason league favorite, Harvard, effectively turning their season around. Now, heading into their second straight weekend of league play, the Tigers look to continue what they started, facing Cornell on Friday and Columbia on Saturday.
The Tigers will head to Ithaca hoping to replicate last year’s results against the Big Red where Princeton swept the season series. Cornell currently sits in the bottom half of the Ivy League standings, with their only win coming against Columbia at home. Coming back from a two-loss road stint last weekend, the Big Red seem to be missing home — after all, they tend to play much better in Ithaca, with a 4–2 record at home and 0–11 record on the road.
After Friday’s game, Princeton will head to New York City to face off against Columbia. The Lions have lost their last three contests, currently putting them at second-to-last in the Ivy League. Like their in-state rivals, Columbia’s record shows how important home court advantage is to them. The Lions are 5–1 at home, but 0–12 on the road this season.
The Tigers as of late have been led by a three-headed scoring monster featuring sophomore Jaelin Llewellyn, junior Ryan Schweiger, and senior Richmond Aririguzoh. In their last game, a one-point victory against Harvard at home, Aririguzoh scored 10 points, most notably hitting two free throws in the final seconds to give Princeton the victory. While the three players all average at least 12 points per game, two sophomores, Drew Friberg and Ethan Wright, have also emerged as strong scoring options as Ivy League play progresses. In the same Harvard game, Wright shot 4–5 from the three point line, scoring a team high of 15 points.
Although Princeton’s two opponents are in the back half of the Ivy League standings, their strong home records suggest that this weekend will be no cakewalk. However, the Tigers, currently on a six-game win streak, have beaten tougher opponents this season.