It turns out that you can work on your thesis and play basketball at the same time, and play it at a high enough level to reach the Sweet 16.
You are Princeton.
“We’ve shown the world that yes, we’re smart, but we’re also competitive, and we can play with the best of ’em,” Blake Peters said.
“I think the team has national-championship aspirations at this point. Originally we were happy to be here, but not anymore. We’re not content.”
The pride of the Ivy League, the 15th seed in the South Region, meets sixth-seeded Creighton on Friday night in Louisville.
“[I] wear No. 24, one of Kobe’s I guess all-time favorite moments I’d say is when he’s in the press conference saying the job’s not done,” Peters said. “Based on all the excitement on campus [Monday] we have to win on Friday. There’s no other way about it.”
On a scale of 1-10, what’s the confidence level?
“Ten,” Peters said.
“We’re on such an emotional high right now, but we’re also playing the best basketball that we’ve played all season, it’s like we’re unbeatable right now.
“We’re trying to make history. We’re trying to etch our name into Ivy League basketball legends, I guess.”
These aren’t your father’s Princeton Tigers. They play homage to the late, great Pete Carril, but this is a new-age Princeton team.
“We don’t play with any privilege,” Peters said.
Peters is a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard from Evanston, Ill., whose “Anything is possible” postgame television interview after beating Missouri in Sacramento went viral and has resulted in the selling of “Anything is possible” T-shirts.
The Post asked Peters, who speaks Chinese and has professed a desire to work in the State Department, to introduce his team to America:
Sr. G Ryan Langborg: “At a practice earlier this year I was actually on scout task for this particular drill because we didn’t have enough guys to practice. I made a shot in Ryan’s face and I kind of jokingly tapped him on the back, and he turned around and he kind of hit me in my chest. He doesn’t want anyone to show him up kind of. The average viewer doesn’t see that from the TV screen.”
Sr. F Tosan EBVuomwan: “Tosan is the face of our program, and if you were to walk around campus and ask people about Princeton basketball, I’m sure they would tell you that Tosan represents it well. He’s kinda got this like Bill Bradley-esque spark to him in that he can maybe go to the NBA, but he can also do so much more off the court. That’s really rare for a player of his caliber.”
Fr. F Caden Pierce: “Even through all the accolades he’s received this year and in high school, he carries himself with extreme humility. There’s not many freshmen in the country that do what he’s able to do. I know he’s gonna evolve into a potential Ivy League Player of the Year.”
Jr. F Zach Martini: “Me and him just have a really close connection. He’s a very relatable guy. I took a Shakespeare class that he recommended to me. It was awesome. He has everyone’s back and I definitely appreciate him for that.”
Sr. F Keeshawn Kellman: “We have these things called eating clubs, and they kinda have different leadership roles. Cannon, which is the eating club that most of the basketball team belongs to, Keeshawn is in charge of the alcohol. You wouldn’t expect Keeshawn to be in that role, but his speech to land that position was really funny.”
Jr. G Matt Allocco: “He’s definitely the most talkative on our team. He’s all about business on the court, but off the court, very chill guy. Matt Allocco can quote just about any movie, you can quiz him, he’ll know what movie it’s from, I promise. It’s one thing to be able to communicate, but it’s another thing to say the right things in the right situations. He’s a captain this year for a reason. His dedication’s unmatched.”
Fr. G Xaivian Lee: “He’s from Canada. Very shifty. His ceiling is so big. He’s 6-3, 160, not many people in the Ivy League are as quick as him. He’s able to guard all types of guards.”
Soph. G Blake Peters: “Growing up I always heard about [Duke coach] Jon Scheyer, who went to high school pretty close to me. I’m Jewish so he’s someone that I always kinda looked up. At various points throughout my life, I didn’t necessarily believe I could get to this point. I think I just always kept my eye on the prize. In high school I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I had worrying about my future college and wondering whether I definitely would get to realize my dreams. It really does take a village for anyone to make it this far. It’s a beautiful feeling.”
Coach Mitche Henderson: “He’s very personable. He really cares about his players. I appreciate his honesty at all times. Very calming influence. We love playing for him.”
A team easy to root for.
“We’re not your typical college basketball team,” Peters said. “We’re not flashy. We don’t play on ESPN and CBS and Fox Sports every weekend. We’re getting a unique chance right now to kind of showcase what Princeton basketball’s all about.”