Top 68 Team Previews: #59 Princeton Tigers
Douglas Davis (left) hit a buzzer-beater to win the 2011 Ivy League title. (Icon SMI)
By Keith Levinsky
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Last Season: 25-7 (12-2 Ivy)
Key Losses: Dan Mavraides, Kareem Maddox
Head Coach: Mitch Henderson
PG: Douglas Davis 5-11 Sr.
SG: T.J. Bray 6-6 So.
SF: Ian Hummer 6-7 Jr.
PF: Patrick Saunders 6-8 Sr.
C: Brendan Connolly 6-11 Jr.
Key Reserves: Will Barrett 6-10 Jr. PF, Mack Darrow 6-9 Jr. PF, Ben Hazel 6-5 So. SG, Bobby Garbade 6-10 Fr. C
Besides national champion UConn and No. 1 overall seed Ohio State, Princeton was the only team to come within two points of defeating Kentucky in the NCAA tournament last year. The Tigers will return four out of the five starters from that team that was seconds away from taking the Wildcats to overtime. An aspect of last year's team that will not return, though, is the coach. Mitch Henderson has taken over the reigns of the storied program from Sydney Johnson, who took the job at Fairfield.
Henderson reached the NCAA tournament three times in his playing career at Princeton and played a role in Princeton's famous upset of UCLA in 1996. His celebration after the game became one of the most famous photos in Princeton basketball history. In 2000, Henderson became assistant coach under Bill Carmody at Northwestern where he primarily worked with guards.
Even though the Tigers have experience, they will lack scorers as two out of the team's top three scorers, Dan Mavraides and Kareem Maddox, graduated. Princeton still has two solid scorers in Ian Hummer and Douglas Davis. Many remember Davis as the player who hit the buzzer-beater that gave Princeton the Ivy League title. The senior guard averaged 11.9 points per game last year and should play a major role on the team this season as well.
Princeton's top offensive weapon this year, though, will be Hummer, who scored a team-leading 13.8 points per game. Hummer can spot up and knock down jumpers and also score in the post. The 6-foot-7 forward should lead the Tigers in rebounding as he was second with 6.8 rebounds per game last season.
Last season there was a major drop-off in scoring after Mavraides, Maddox, Hummer and Davis, who all scored over 10 points a game. For Princeton to be successful this season, they need to find scoring from other options. A candidate for a bigger role is Patrick Saunders, who averaged 5.4 points per game. The senior forward should make his mark in his final season and be very active on the boards. He is the team's second best remaining rebounder with 3.1 rebounds per game last season. Brendan Connolly should also be a rebounding presence, but he has to increase his numbers. Connolly had 2.7 rebounds per game last season, which is not enough for the team's center and tallest player.
T.J. Bray will most likely be Henderson's number-one choice to step into the starting lineup in place of Mavraides. Bray played in each of Princeton's 32 games last season, averaging 10.6 minutes per game and 1.5 points per game. As a 6-foot-6 guard, Bray brings height and rebounding ability to an already tall starting lineup.
Princeton has substitutes who were crucial to the team last year and should be this year. Coming off the bench, Mack Darrow should be Princeton's fourth best scorer as he tallied 4.3 points per game. Will Barrett will also see time in the post as a substitute. Even though the Tigers had a rough year with recruiting because of Johnson's departure, freshman center Bobby Garbade should make an impact.
Princeton clearly has depth at the forward position, but they lack it at the guard position. Off the bench, they will hope that Ben Hazel, who played in 18 games last season, can mature into a solid back-up guard this season. Henderson should be able to help these guards improve and mature.
Although the Tigers are losing two solid players, they still have eight of their top 10 scorers from last season. If Henderson coaches this team well, Princeton should contend for the Ivy League title and could potentially make a run in the NCAA tournament. Maybe Davis and Henderson, two players with the flare for memorable moments, can work together to make another one this season.