The Tigers have such glaring deficiencies it seems ridiculous to even mention them in this heady company. To put it bluntly, they cannot run, jump or get their shots off in traffic. And that's not the way Top 20 teams are supposed to play. On the other hand, Princeton sustains for an entire game the kind of feverish defense that most teams reserve for the last two minutes. Equally frustrating for opponents is the way Coach Pete Carril's Tigers pass, pass, pass until they get exactly what they want—an uncontested 15-footer.
This combination of hell-bent defense and very deliberate offense produced a 21-5 record a year ago, including victories over Notre Dame and NIT champ St. Bonaventure. The Tigers should again be the class of the Ivy League, but what makes them Top 20 caliber is that they work harder than almost anybody else in the country and that playing intelligently comes more naturally to them.
Take Frank Sowinski (above), a 6'5" forward with a B+ average in engineering. Sowinski is no B+ talent on the basketball floor, but he has worked hard to develop a jumper that is an automatic two when he can get open. He has to be the country's only team scoring leader (16.8) who took fewer than 10 shots per game. For that matter, no Tiger averaged 10 shots a game last season. In Princeton's 76-62 win over Notre Dame, Sowinski was especially economical, making all six shots from the field and six straight from the line.
"If it hadn't been Princeton, it would have been Lehigh or Delaware," says Sowinski, who had a .632 shooting percentage last year. "The only guy on our team who could have picked his school as a basketball player, is Bobby Roma. If we don't play together, we lose."
Roma, a 6'7" junior, could become the next Barnes Hauptfuhrer at Princeton. Meaning, that like his Tiger predecessor at center, Roma can kill you from the outside but is a bit of a pussycat underneath. The rest of the roster varies in size from 6'2" Billy Omeltchenko, a scrapper who played against St. John's last season only two weeks after an emergency appendectomy, to Tom (Too Tall) Young, a 6'11" bookworm who quit the team for four days this fall because he feared that his A average in prelaw was in jeopardy.
Now would you feel you had to keep your hands up on defense against this bunch?