Heading into Princeton’s season opener against FAMU, Mitch Henderson knew he had some holes to fill following the graduation of Ivy POY Ian Hummer. He did not expect, however, that one of them would be caused by T.J. Bray’s broken finger, which will shelf the All-Ivy candidate for at least a month. Meanwhile, the Rattlers arrived at Jadwin, still smarting from a tough loss Friday at Rutgers in which they threw 84 points at the Scarlet Knights only to lose by eight, determined to end their New Jersey weekend on a positive note.
Princeton responded with a trademark defensive performance, limiting the Rattlers to 50 points. Denton Koon, the 6’8″ junior forward, came off the bench to lead the Tigers in scoring (17) and rebounding (11), notching his first career double-double in a satisfying 67-50 win.
Guard Jimmy Sherburne, back after losing last season to injury, contributed team highs in minutes (37) and assists (5). Will Barrett did what he does best: shoot the three (4) and block shots (3). Spencer Weisz became the first Tiger freshman to start in a season opener since
Doug Davis in 2008-09; he appears ready to contribute a lot to this team. Sophomore Hans Brase was a force in the paint, adding 10 rebounds, and avoiding the foul trouble that plagued him last year.
Princeton’s defensive effort forced the Rattlers into a very dismal shooting night (1-11 from behind the arc) and resulted in a huge rebounding advantage for the taller Tigers. Princeton attempted more threes than twos, canning 12 of them. With intelligent shot selection and lengthy possessions, this team can stay in a lot of games. If they don’t shoot well though…
All in all, a nice way to start the season. If there can be a silver lining in the cloud created by T.J.’s broken finger, some young Tigers will get a lot of minutes before the Ivy campaign begins in two months and Mitch will find out who can play this year. Next up: a real test in Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday night (TV: FOX Sports 2).