Didn’t see a Q&A with Princeton coming, did you?
The CBI resumes tonight. Pitt remains TV free for this as HDNet has opted to air the Penn-Butler game tonight. Princeton and Pitt square off at 7pm. If you are looking for free radio feed on the net, check out Pitt’s radio station, WPTS.
Jon Solomon, the editor of PrincetonBasketball.com, and I exchanged some questions. Unfortunately my responses are behind a paywall. So what I said remains a mystery. Not that I said anything you haven’t really read from me before, so you aren’t missing much.
After the jump, you can read the responses from PrincetonBasketball.com
We don’t know much about this Princeton basketball team. I’ve been told that neither Pete Carrill and John Thompson III are coaching this team. What can you tell us about this Princeton squad and their coach? We are looking for an essay answer here.
Your sources are correct! Princeton is actually coached by Mitch Henderson, who is in his first season on the sidelines after 11 years as an assistant at Northwestern. He’s probably best known in basketball circles for this iconic photograph than for his now decade+ long coaching career.
Of the various permutations of the “Princeton Offense,” Henderson’s is closest to his former boss Bill Carmody’s. There’s more spacing, diagonal passes and usage of backscreens than when Sydney Johnson was the coach. Defensively though Henderson does not utilize a 1-3-1 on defense with the frequency and necessity that Carmody’s Wildcats have had to. They certainly guard the arc well playing man.
Henderson inherited a team that lost two critical seniors from an NCAA Tournament squad and it took well over a month of non-conference play for the first year coach to get a true understanding of what he had and what certain players could/could not do in game situations. What began as a two man show (more on that below) has developed into a balanced lineup who is not as strong defensively as they were a year ago but are the most efficient Princeton team with the ball in at least a decade.
After playing 12 consecutive DI opponents away from home, the Tigers won eight of nine to finish the season with their only loss by three at Harvard.
Reviewing the wins-and-losses for Princeton, it seems an even better argument could have been made for the Tigers to have gone to the NIT. Wins at FSU and Rutgers. A 2-point loss at NC St. Were you surprised by the snub?
I wasn’t surprised, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if the NIT came calling. When I crunched the numbers a few time approaching Selection Sunday, it was close either way. When St. Joe’s and La Salle were not paired with Princeton though, I knew the CBI was where the Tigers were headed
Who should Pitt be wary of on this Princeton squad? Who’s the weak link.
Junior forward Ian Hummer has been the best player on the floor in most games this season. An explosive, aggressive player who only knows one gear, Hummer has added a three point shot to his game this season and is able to post, cut and pull up in the lane with equal deftness. Given what you wrote to me about the Panthers’ defense, Hummer could prove problematic.
Senior guard Douglas Davis would become the program’s second all-time leading scorer behind Bill Bradley if he scored >16 points on Monday. He’s an ace three point shooter and can also score nicely stopping inside the arc in transition. That’s something he’s more likely to do than drive all the way to the rim for a layup. He’s able to string 4-5 makes in a row during a short window of time. Davis’ 31 versus Evansville in the CBI’s first round was a career high and he did it on 9-11 FG/5-6 3FG/8-8 FT shooting.
Back in November it was Hummer and Davis doing almost all of Princeton’s shooting and scoring. The rest of the roster was one big weak link, but as T.J. Bray has developed into a steady, heady point guard, the combination of 6’11 more traditional big man Brendan Connolly and Mack Darrow providing different looks from the center position and senior co-captain Patrick Saunders playing some of the best basketball of his career the last 10 games (58% from the field and 17-33 from three) it is harder to pin down a “weak link.”
Ok, here’s one: If defensive specialist Jimmy Sherburne, who popped out his right shoulder in the regular season finale versus Penn, does not travel with the team for a second straight CBI game then the Tigers are thin at guard beyond Davis and Bray. Another member of the backcourt rotation, Ben Hazel, left school for the rest of the season last month and won’t be back until 2012-13.
I’m told Ivy-leaguers are always willing to name drop and self-promote. Go for it.
I’m not an Ivy Leaguer, but I am a willing self-promoter!
princetonbasketball.com is the longest-running and most comprehensive independent site out there for coverage of the Princeton Tigers and the many other branches of the “Carril Cradle.” As local newspapers’ coverage of the team has dwindled we’ve transformed into the go-to source for information on the orange and black. On the Twitter, we are here.
On a completely unrelated but likely more interesting note to those in Western PA, the record label I run called Comedy Minus One will be releasing the new album from Pittsburgh’s beloved icons The Karl Hendricks Trio titled “The Adult Section” later this year. More info here.
Thanks for taking the time, Jon.