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What do you expect?

We're nearing in on 48 hours until the opening tip of the 2011-12 season for the Princeton Tigers. What do you expect to see, both on Saturday versus Wagner and throughout the campaign?

Add your questions, observations, opinions and concerns about the orange and black in the comments and I'll respond to as many of them as I can. Don't be shy.

Daniel Maass said,

November 10, 2011 @ 11:52 am

Given the lack of depth/experience at guard and the number of big men we have who can shoot well from distance (i.e. Darrow and Saunders), do you think it's likely that we'll see a lot of sets with 3 "forwards?" The Prince article seemed to allude to this.

Jon Solomon said,

November 10, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

Thanks for getting us started, Daniel!

Wagner is likely to run a three guard offense on Saturday. That's either going to give Princeton fits or allow the Tigers a significant post advantage.

The tentative starting lineup posted in the Princeton game notes of Douglas Davis, T.J. Bray, Will Barrett, Ian Hummer and Brendan Connolly jives with my expectations.

This leaves a number of decent, tested shooters available off the bench and players who can provide different looks out of the forward and center positions (such as the two guys you mentioned).

Depends on if you view Darrow as a forward or not, I guess!

Coco said,

November 10, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

At times Northwestern seemed to run a purer form of the Princeton Offense than did Princeton under Sydney. [Not a purist form, but a purer form]

Has Mitch Henderson given any indication of what his team will be doing differently on the offensive end, esp. given his personnel?

On the other end of the floor, what sort of defensive alignments would he prefer to use: man, matchup zone, 1-3-1, etc.?

Rodney Johnson said,

November 10, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

I'm surprised Saunders is not starting. Is he injured?

George Clark said,

November 10, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

We read and hear many commentators suggest that the Ivy League will be stronger from top to bottom this season. Nevertheless, if any team other than Harvard wins the title I will be surprised. If players can be expected to get better with experience the Crimson may be a Top 25 team. Remember the 1998 Tigers? Of course you do. The reachable goals for the Tigers: 1. Rebound the ball better than our opponents. To accomplish this requires Connolly to have a breakout season. He may not be Kareem but he can dominate the game from the middle. 2. Davis will be the guy the other team MUST stop. But they won't and he will move up to #2 in career scoring. 3. Hummer must be an 80% shooter from the FT line. He will have lots of chances. 4. Quality contributions from at least one of the freshmen. Much of last year's offense is now playing pro ball.

Jon Solomon said,

November 10, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

I was going to respond just to Coco, but I'll spread the answers around building off his post...

I fully expect Henderson to take advantage of his strengths and for Connolly to develop into a solid third scoring option (which might answer George's first point).

When I asked Mitch about the 1-3-1 in this week's interview he said that was likely to stay in Evanston. I expect far more man than zone on defense from this year's Tigers.

Rebounding won't be an issue with this group.

I think 80% FT shooting from Hummer is a pretty lofty expectation. Mavraides, Maddox and Davis were each under that threshold a season ago. If Ian can get over 70% I'd be delighted.

Saunders is not hurt. Just because he isn't listed as a tentative starter doesn't mean you won't see him on the floor plenty.

This is good stuff, guys.


Stuart Schulman said,

November 10, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

I think we know what we are going to get from Saunders. The Marist game a couple of years ago aside, we know the upside and downside are not extreme. If Will Barrett is healthy and has built on what he accomplished in the second half of the 2011 Ivy season, to where Coach Henderson feels he is the best option to start a forward, that can only be a good sign.

I am excited to hear the buzz about Connolly and can't wait to see what his game looks like.

I will be curious to see whether Connolly and Hummer have improved their shooting (and willingness to shoot) from midrange and from the arc. Connolly had his moments from downtown last year...will we see more of that to make him harder to defend? How far out will defenses have to guard Ian tightly?

Two questions, one to be answered Saturday, one to be answered in March:
* Who is the first guard off the bench?
* Will Ian Hummer become the third player in the four-year era, to get to 1000 points by the end of his junior year? And can he pass his uncle this year?

Jon Solomon said,

November 10, 2011 @ 1:37 pm


I expect to see both Connolly and Hummer attempting more jump shots if unguarded by the opposition.

Which of these two juniors will be the first to attempt a three pointer, though? I'm going with Hummer. I could see him sizing one up on the wing if he has space.


Fred Smagorinsky said,

November 10, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this year's team comes together under Coach Henderson. Like everyone else, I am intrigued by who is going to step up from the more limited role that was available when Maddox and Mavraides were consuming major chunks of playing time and possessions. Will Barrett and Brendan Connolly seem to have tremendous upside based on flashes from last year.

It also will be fun to see who asserts himself from the guard committee (Bray, Sherburne, Hazel + frosh). Is Clement likely to be in that rotation? Have not heard much about him so far. From Jon's interview I expected to see Sherburne in the starting five with Davis, but as he noted with Pat Saunders, that does not mean he won't get a lot of important minutes.

Rodney Johnson said,

November 10, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

Regarding Saunders, he started his first game as a freshman, as I recall, so I hope losing his starting spot is not too big a disappointment to him. He has been a reliable player for three years.

I'm guessing Sherbourne will be the first guard off the bench, second choice Hazel. I seem to recall coach H saying that Bray and Sherbourne were his best on-ball defenders.

Which freshman will contribute? Denton Koon is getting lots of mention, but there is no shortage at the forward position.

Jon Solomon said,

November 10, 2011 @ 1:54 pm


I don't anticipate Clement as initially part of "the committee" that replaces Mavraides.

The Connolly/Darrow combination could be very productive at the center spot. One thing I don't know is if they can play on the floor at the same time but they might not have to.

Could be as many as 10-11 players seeing meaningful action on Saturday. More than that would surprise me a tad.


Jon Solomon said,

November 10, 2011 @ 1:58 pm


I had forgotten Saunders started his first game at Jadwin against Central Michigan! That's actually the only season opener he's started at Princeton. Missed the return trip to CMU as sophomore and Rutgers last year due to injuries.


George Clark said,

November 10, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

Not much here about the Tigers playing under a first year head coach. Historically, we have done quite well in these circumstances. Carril, Carmody and JTlll produced early in their Princeton tenures, SJ somewhat later. Joe Scott is the only Tiger coach who came here with significant experience (and, I must add,success) as a head coach prior to his arrival. I think most serious observers share my belief that Henderson is more than ready to make his mark. I can't wait for Saturday.

John Poole said,

November 10, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

I have been waiting for Ben Hazel to get his chance to put up some points. Coming from a strong HS background similar to Ian Hummer, he was tabbed as a shooter who could develop his own shot. Would he fit in a lineup of quicker players (3 guards or 2 guards and 1 "small" forward) who could run and press? Perhaps Davis, Bray, Hazel, Hummer and Connelly/Darrow? What is his defense like? It seems a shame not to use his offensive skills.

Daniel Mark said,

November 10, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

Bet on Bobby Garbade to be the freshman to see the most playing time early on.

Jon Solomon said,

November 10, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

John, I think you'll see far more offense from Ben Hazel than you did his freshman year.

Daniel, I believe Denton Koon will be the first freshman in the rotation.

We'll find out soon enough!


Rodney Johnson said,

November 11, 2011 @ 8:45 am

I certainly hope Garbade gets some PT tomorrow, because if he is as athletic as he appeared on his strength/agility video, he has tremendous upside.

Paul Witteman said,

November 11, 2011 @ 10:29 am

Weather will not be a factor in the opener, although Jadwin is not the coziest of facilities. If Ian's spanking new, right handed jump hook is effective, it will be the equivilent of him growing two inches over the summer. Connolly's hoped for improvement will help Ian and vice versa. Doug Davis can drain shots in a blizzard. The Cantabs are not home free by a long shot. James Jones and Jerome Allen will help see to that. Jesse Agel thinks his team has a good shot to win the league but he must be thinking of relegation to NESCAC, where he might finish behind Williams and Middlebury.

Steven Postrel said,

November 11, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

I am going to go out on a limb and say that, barring injuries, the Tigers will have a slight edge over Harvard and win the title again. How could this happen?

I expect Connolly to get a lot better. He was scratching the surface toward the end of last season. It wouldn't shock me if he became the team's first or second scorer. I expect Hummer's improved ability to play in space to torture opposing defenders, creating mismatches against either powerful or quick players. If given a chance, I expect Mack Darrow to show a little more of his flair in the high post. I expect TJ Bray and Ben Hazel to take more shots and to make them. I expect Douglas Davis and Patrick Saunders to continue playing at the level they have established. I expect one of the frosh, probably Koon, to get into the rotation. I have no idea what to expect from Will Barrett. I expect a little more finesse and a little less power on offense, with the exception of Connolly. Maybe a higher percentage of field goals will come on assists as we space the floor more. Probably more threes will be attempted, and I expect that the three-point shooting percentage will be up. I hope we can cut down on turnovers this year.

On defense, I expect us to contest shots all over the court, with weak-side help coming over to increase our block percentage. I expect us to smother the defensive glass. I expect us to struggle with quick, penetrating guards in man-to-man defense, which I expect will give me indigestion when we play the Crimson and Brandon Curry has the ball. I expect Connolly to neutralize opposing big men and mostly be able to stay on the court. I hope Will Barrett can provide some "X-factor" defense by jumping out on hot perimeter players as well as using his length for inside defense.

I expect Harvard to be very good again, but not significantly improved individually or as a team, as they haven't changed much to date. I expect Amaker to stick with his rotation, so all those touted new guys he recruited won't see much of the floor unless one of them really turns out to be a monster.

I expect Penn to give us a heart attack at least one game because Zack Rosen is a scrappy scorer and Miles Cartwright is frighteningly quick and talented and just needs to improve his savvy. I expect Yale to get a lot of hype and play some very good games, but also to have letdowns against the bottom teams.

Let the disconfirmations begin!

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