Can Princeton still contend for 2015-16 Ivy title without Hans Brase?

Princeton prepared for this season secure in the knowledge that, for once, its best player was returning for another campaign in the orange and black. But, with the announcement that senior big man Hans Brase is out for the year with a torn ACL, the five-year trend continues. Tiger fans are relieved to learn that Hans will spend a fifth year in Jadwin in the 2016-17 season. The Tigers will present a senior-laden quintet next year, as Brase will be joined by Pete Miller, Steven Cook and Spencer Weisz.

The loss of Brase is a tremendous loss for this young, albeit experienced, team. Hans was the defensive anchor and a huge contributor on offense.  It is, nevertheless, doubtful that this injury will derail the Tigers’ title aspirations. Henderson has five returnees and several underclassmen who appear ready and able to assume larger than expected roles.

As noted in this space yesterday, Pete Miller played his best game as a Tiger in the opener at Rider,  collecting a career-high 12 rebounds. He shoots better than 50 percent from the field, and while he may not continue to produce as efficiently, he will get plenty of looks in close now. He avoided foul trouble on Friday, something that he was not too concerned about last season, but this is clearly something that he must control without Hans to help him. Miller’s biggest question mark continues to be his free throw shooting. His 40 percent rate last season was actually a huge improvement!

Alec Brennan no longer enjoys the luxury of study – he must step up to a level his potential suggests he can achieve. If he can, the Tigers may stumble, but they will not fall. He must produce effectively for 10-15 minutes each night in order to plug the hole created by Brase’s injury. At 6’10” with a stronger 235 pounds on casino online his frame, he is a good candidate to be a special player.

Freshman Noah Bramlage, at 6’7” and 240 pounds, has a great physical presence. He did not see action against Rider and is coming off an injury of his own, but the staff considers him a terrific prospect.

When this team shoots well – and it projects to do so consistently – scoring will not be an issue. Weisz and rookie Devin Cannady are devastating three-point threats, while Cook, Caruso and Bell can do a lot of scoring from all over the place.

The 30-second clock may be a positive factor for the Tigers. Their suffocating man-to-man is easier to maintain for 30 seconds than for 35. On offense, their spacing and ball movement usually produces a desired look within 20 seconds. Carril always said. “If you can’t get a good shot in 20 seconds, you are not running the play right.”

You don’t lose a Hans Brase without suffering consequences. His leadership is huge in so many ways. But the Tigers have a dozen games to limit the consequences to the short term. Henderson has a bench full of quality players who love to compete. They will not be defeated by this stroke of misfortune beyond anyone’s control.

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