The Princeton Tigers will return to Jadwin Gymnasium tonight to attempt to pick up their first win of the young NCAA season. The game tips off at 7 pm.
Princeton (0-3) has suffered from inconsistent offensive play and will need it’s big 3 of Devin Cannady, Amir Bell, and Myles Stephens to have a strong outing.
Lafayette (0-3) have questions to answer of their own as they will come to avenge a 71-55 defeat to the Tigers a year ago in Easton. Senior Matt Klinewski has had a coming out party this season, hitting 8-11 from distance after being 0-4 for his entire career prior to this season. His 72.7% is 5th in the nation and he led the Leopards in points, rebounds, and assists in their previous loss to Villanova. Princeton will need to keep an active hand in his face and perhaps rely on Stephens, reigning Ivy League defensive player of the year, to slow him down.
Devin Cannady has been a catalyst for Princeton to begin the year. The Junior guard is pacing the team with 17.7 points per game paired with 50% shooting from the field. An All-Ivy League honorable mention last year, this season has brought a promising start for the attacking point guard. Cannady keeps the Tigers in games with an impressive 11-21 clip (52%) from 3 as well as countless hustle plays that do not appear on the stat sheet.
Princeton lost 3 starters last year and traditionally do better as the season goes on under 2017 Ivy League Coach of the Year Mitch Henderson. Their 41-38 (.519) record before the new year under his tenure balloons to a 78-25 mark (.757) after January 1st.
Devin Cannady, Amir Bell, and Myles Stephens make up 80% of the scoring for Princeton this year and are the only players on the roster to put up double figures in any game thus far.
Bell had 22 points in the season opener vs Butler followed by a rough shooting performance at BYU. After a 15 point performance on 4-9 shooting against St. Josephs, he is averaging 13 ppg on 38% shooting from the field. The Tigers will need his shooting to improve and provide a consistent scoring option alongside Cannady.
Stephens was Ivy League Tournament MVP last year and is the Princeton team leader in rebounds. With the next leading scorer Mike Leblanc coming in at 5ppg, Cannady, Bell, and Stephens will once again need to shoulder the load and be consistent for 40 minutes on the offensive end of the floor.
Turnovers have been an issue for Princeton as they have not won the turnover battle in any of the 3 previous games this season. With a new starting group, the Tigers figure to settle down as the games go by and the offensive fluidity improves. This team was voted by the media to finish 3rd in the Ivy League and look to prove that they are the top-100 RPI team they were projected to be this season.
Look for Princeton to exploit Lafayette on the defensive end with their attacking trio to push the tempo early. Princeton lead for all but 90 seconds in the first half of the St. Josephs game before going cold after the half. This team comes out and challenges you immediately on both ends of the floor and they will need that intensity from the tip tonight.