They got Tiger blood, man: Breaking down Princeton's hot start

“I feel like a tiger right now. There”s nothing impossible if you get up and work for it.” – Michael Flatley

I include this quote from stepdancer Michael Flatley because coach Mitch Henderson could not have choreographed the start of the Tigers” season any better. Princeton is 4-0, the only remaining undefeated Ivy, thanks to an offense that has simply blown opponents away, even if the competition has been middling so far.

Princeton beat Fairleigh Dickinson, 91-61, Monday at Jadwin Gym, with junior forward Henry Caruso posting 27 points on 10-for-11 shooting in just 24 minutes, adding 10 rebounds for good measure. In the three games since Hans Brase was ruled out for the year with a torn ACL, Caruso is averaging 21 points per game on 22-for-28 shooting. Caruso is a guy who gets the shots that he wants and he deserves special mention here. But why else has Princeton been successful so far?

  1. The schedule (sort of)

Princeton”s fallen foes have been KenPom No. 193 Rider, No. 264 St. Peter”s, No. 248 Lafayette and No. 302 Fairleigh Dickinson. It”s a yawnful of cupcakes until you realize Princeton lost to Lafayette and St. Peter”s last year by a combined 31 points, and that was before the Tigers went on to notch nine Ivy League wins. Lafayette beat Penn, 92-86, just four days after getting throttled, 104-52, by Princeton, so go ahead and give the Tigers a few schedule-based style points anyway. The schedule does get nbso online casino reviews tougher – KenPom has Princeton losing four of its next seven games – but for now, Princeton has made fair nonconference competition look like Division III squads.

2. Tempo/Defense

Last year, the Tigers ranked 143rd in the nation in adjusted tempo. This season, Princeton is 83rd, mainly because Princeton is cutting opponents” possessions short. Even though Princeton”s average offensive possession length is middle-of-the-road, its defensive possession length is 16th in the nation. Having the ball more frequently than your opponent is always a good thing.

Princeton ranks third in the nation in allowing offensive rebounds and 21st in effective field goal percentage. So far, the Tigers have shut opponents down and denied them any second chances.

3. Offensive depth

Eight Tigers are averaging eight points or more per game. A lot of garbage time has helped make that happen, but virtually anybody on this team can beat you, whether it”s Caruso cutting, Devin Cannady driving or Cook from three. Caruso, Cook and Miller have made up for Brase”s rebounding so far as well.

Tiger blood, baby. You either have it or you don”t, and so far, Princeton has it in more than name only.

3 thoughts on “They got Tiger blood, man: Breaking down Princeton's hot start

  1. Not much to add to this concise breakdown. The staff points to Caruso’s work ethic and off-season desire to improve as an example for others. He has been almost unstoppable. In Spencer Weisz’s first two seasons the Tigers rarely won when he was held to single figure scoring. Last night he had a miserable 1-6 shooting night, scoring 3 points, but his teammates added 88 more. He did notch a team high 7 assists, another great contribution from the “coach on the floor.”
    When asked to comment on the very un-Tigerlike up-tempo style in a post game interview, Asst. Coach Brett McConnell said the kids enjoy the freedom, but the guiding principle is to get good looks. Right now, the looks are happening early in possessions. “And, we are shooting pretty well.” He said it’s nice to win a game by 30, but, nevertheless “we see a lot of areas where we can and should improve.” Watching from his Jadwin perch high above the court named for him, Pete Carril reacted to the heretical pace of play by throwing up in his hat…twice.
    Hans Brase was operated on last Wednesday, by all accounts successfully.

    • Easily the most pleasant surprise of the last several seasons has been the emergence of Henry Caruso. He seemed like an afterthought in his recruited class. But, he is now the player that gives fire to this team. Last night, after a listless Princeton start, Caruso brought the team back into the game with a couple of quick inside baskets. The game was under control after that.

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