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Coach Mitch Henderson - 1/3/13.

The short work week due to New Year's Day didn't allow for Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson and editor Jon Solomon to successfully schedule an in-person edition of their weekly interview series so for the first time in the history of this site feature a phone conversation will certainly suffice.

Henderson and Solomon reviewed Princeton's loss to Akron in detail before previewing the Tigers' trip to Elon. Several questions asked about the game versus the Zips were inspired by comments raised in the comments and in the forum during and following the result.

This exclusive Q&A available after the jump is 6:00+ in length. You can catch up on all of this season's discussions here.

Steven Postrel said,

January 3, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

Interesting interview. Maybe you can be a backchannel for MH in encouraging Mack to shoot more.

This Elon game sounds tough. The Tigers have to smother their outside shooters and stop their big man from getting ORs. I'm not worried about Princeton getting good shots, but I am worried about them going in. The team could really use a good outside shooting performance to take the pressure off the rest of their game.

Jon Solomon said,

January 3, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

I'm sure someone reading this will pass the message along.

There was a late second half shot at Akron that Darrow probably should have launched but deferred to Bray and the possession ended with an attempt from further out with a touch of desperation.

Good news re: Elon:

The Phoenix guard inside the arc quite nicely - 43.4% (74th nationally) but on the perimeter opponents are shooting 34.7% (223rd nationally).

By comparison however Princeton is 44.9% (101st) and 34.8% (227th) from the same spots defensively.



George Clark said,

January 4, 2013 @ 9:32 am

In the Elon game the Tigers' arrives at another fork in the road. The non-conference schedule is always about finding, and then establishing, an identity. Through Fordham the team had shown an admirable ability to compete, even to dominate for much of games. But four times we failed to close, succumbing to pressure defense, failing to defend at crucial times, missing shots and free throws. You name it, we did it. Our identity was not one we wanted to maintain. Rider, and then Bucknell, presented the first fork. Henderson's decision to go with the freshman, Hans Brase, coupled with the earlier move of Koon into a starting role, paid immediate and handsome dividends. Having recovered our credibility, playing well in Akron did nothing to diminish the holiday glow. Which Tiger team shows up in North Carolina? The answer is significant as we prepare for the League opener a week away. A win, even a sloppy win, can do a lot more for this team than another "good" loss. It's time, Tigers. Crank it up and let's get going....

Steven Postrel said,

January 4, 2013 @ 7:47 pm

This team is starting to remind me of last year in the sense that it is turning into a pretty consistently good offensive team that plays inconsistent defense, even though expectations at the beginning of the season were the reverse. Now that the Tigers seem to have gotten over their pressure-defense problem, the only remaining big worry on offense is if they go really cold from outside against a packed-in defense. (Foul shooting, maybe, but I feel like that will be OK down the stretch.) Other than that, I''d expect a respectable-to-good points per possession in every remaining game.

But the team just hasn't looked consistently good at plugging all the holes in the defensive dike at the same time, although they've done it in a few games. Instead of a forest of long arms deflecting passes and shots, opponents are getting pretty good looks and pretty good ball movement overall. I would love to see what would happen if they really committed to practicing and playing aggressive zone defense (including boxing out) for big chunks of play, but it may be too late in the season to go that way.

The Tigers remind me a little bit of some BYU squads of the past that had a bunch of tall and skilled guys who could pass and shoot and, on a good day, rebound, along with one guy who could get his own shots one-on-one. But on defense, they had trouble with quick players on the perimeter or athletic bigs, so they tended to be mediocre at holding down opponents' FG% and forcing turnovers.

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