Just got in from Jadwin. Very entertaining game. Princeton reminds me of Lehigh, in that you walk up 30 minutes before the tip, and you are sitting 4 rows off the floor. The crowd was predominantly Bucknell fans, but we sat with the only loud faithful Princeton fans, and it was a lot of fun. Princeton did a very nice job of taking the Bucknell fans out of the game from the first couple of minutes. It was a tight first half, Tigers by 3 at intermission, but they stretched that to double digits by the 10-12 minute mark and cruised home. Princeton has a nice club. No superstars, but they move the ball very well, and have several players who can shoot it from deep. They made a lot of triples in the game, and every time Bucknell tried to make a run, Princeton had an answer and usually it was from 3. But, I came away impressed by Princeton. My first thought on the game was that Princeton really made Bucknell pay with their inside game. Tigers were smart in that they posted up on whoever Hill, Ayers, or Johnson was covering. Those 3 got eaten up down low by bigger Princeton players, particularly Johnson, who was forced to cover a bigger player. When Bucknell took away the low post, Princeton kicked it to shooters and they made the 3s. Willman was really hot in the first half, and Ayers made three 3s in the first half. Willman had 10 at intermission. But, both Ayers and Willman struggled in the second half as did Johnson. Johnson made a few 3s, but he has zero game off the dribble, and when he did put it on the floor he couldn’t finish or draw fouls. He got to the line once that I recall, and missed both foul shots. Princeton banged away at Muscala in the post all night. They were very physical with him, and he was really limited in the first half. He got off a little more in the second, but by then Princeton had built a lead. He finished with 17, but was not a dominant presence in the game. He got frustrated by the physical banging he was taking in my opinion. Muscala was sporting leggings (really like Under Armour tights) which drew a lot of jeers from the Princeton fans.
Here is another thing you notice from watching Bucknell … they get nothing from the PG spot. They have 3 guys that play there Hill, Kaspar and Frazier, who is a freshman, but they get nothing from that spot. That, in my opinion, is their Achilles Heel. Lehigh can’t rebound, but Bucknell has no PG. And, that is a killer for them. The 3 guys they have aren’t terrible, but they don’t create anything for their teammates, and can’t score the basketball with any regularity. I think Lehigh has a huge advantage in the backcourt with MM and CJM. Willman and Muscala are formidable up front, no doubt, but if you can limit them, and stop Ayers and Johnson from 3, there is nothing else to worry about. Another problem for Bucknell, they have no bench. They go 9-10 deep, but there is nothing coming off the bench to make you worry too much. No scoring for sure. My last thought is this on the Bison. I like to bash a bit about the lack of talent in the freshman and sophomore classes for Lehigh, particularly the current frosh class. But, make no mistake, the Bison have brought nothing in over the last 2 recruiting classes. The only player I saw out there with real talent was the PG Frazier, who is a nice change of pace player. For me, he adds the most from the PG position. But, he is like a 2 ppg scorer. Dom Hoffman, who I was high on out of high school, was a non-factor. He may develop, but this season, he is no factor. I looked over the program, and I counted, I think, 7 players in the freshman and sophomore class for Bison (some could be walkons, but they have Banas, who was a DNP, Hass who was a DNP, Hoffman who gave nothing in really limited minutes, Kaspar who gave very little in limited minutes, Starkey who I think played in last couple of minutes and gave nothing, Singleton another DNP, and Frazier, who played probably 10 minutes, and scored a few points. So, Bucknell, is getting virtually nothing from these two classes. So, maybe we (I) shouldn’t bash Lehigh too hard. We are getting way more from SC, CS then they are getting from these guys.
So, bottom line, I don’t really fear the Bison. They are the same team as last year, maybe a bit weaker without Cohen. They are going to have trouble matching Lehigh’s backcourt for sure. Key matchups will be Greiner trying to limit Willman, as he is a good player and very good shooter. Ayers cannot handle CJ. And, we have a big advantage at the PG with MM over their 3 headed garbage. GK, of course, needs to limit Muscala, and you have to keep Johnson from heating up from 3. But, he is very one dimensional, and a liability on D, especially if you post him up. Princeton showed Bucknell’s smaller 3 players to be very vulnerable to posting up. I don’t think you can do that with MM, but perhaps CJ posting or BJB. Johnson was covering a 6’8″ Princeton player who was feasting down low.
Honestly, I came away a little disappointed in Bucknell. Maybe I saw them on an off night, but Princeton handled them tonight.