Princeton on the prowl under Mitch Henderson

I wrote a week ago that Steve Donahue is off to a great start as head coach at Penn.

But it’s Princeton’s head coach who has a program primed for an outstanding finish.

Mitch Henderson’s next season at the Tigers’ helm will be his fifth, and with the talent he has returning, it should also mark his first Ivy League championship.

This coming season, the Tigers will return all five starters and six of the first eight in their 2014-15 rotation. That means Princeton returns virtually all of its potent offense from last season too, one that finished 92nd in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency (behind only Harvard among Ivies). And Princeton was the highest scoring offense in the Ivy League last season at 68.9 points per game. The Tigers easily led the league in field goal and three-point field goal percentage a season ago.

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Denton Koon transfers to Hofstra

CBS Sports reported today that Princeton transfer Denton Koon has committed to Hofstra. The 6-8, 210-pound senior forward missed last season after suffering an MCL injury in October. He will be instantly eligible.

Koon was initially expected to return for the 2014-15 campaign but Koon later elected to graduate from Princeton this spring and use his final year of eligibility at another school. Koon played in just 18 games in 2013-14 and was ruled out for the remainder of last season in February due to a knee injury. Koon finished Princeton with career averages of 7.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. As a sophomore in 2012-13, Koon earned an All-Ivy honorable mention for his 10.5 points per contest, including 43.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Health permitting, Koon will provide a versatile frontcourt talent for the Pride who can drive in the lane with ease and stretch defenses with his shooting.

 

From the archives: “A Sense of Where You Are”

As noted in this space before, the 2014-15 campaign marked the 50th anniversary of Princeton’s 1965 Final Four berth. And as noted by The Classical earlier this month, the New Yorker freed one of its greatest all-time pieces from behind its paywall to coincide with March Madness – a longform masterpiece by the great John McPhee on Princeton’s Bill Bradley first published in the Jan. 23, 1965 issue of the magazine. The book, McPhee’s first, is 15,897 words long, so I’m not going to use a ton of words to set up the piece. Just read it here and be amazed by McPhee’s characteristically amazing storytelling and Bill Bradley’s talents as a basketball player and figure in the public eye, even as it appeared that Bradley might bypass the NBA en route to a less conventional career path at the time. Even if it Bradley hadn’t enjoyed a Hall of Fame career with the New York Knicks or gave Al Gore a serious run for his money during the 2000 Democratic presidential primary race as a former three-term senator, he’d still be worthy of the longform piece that hopefully you’ve already started reading by now.

Courtney Banghart earns Naismith Coach of the Year honors

Courtney Banghart WSJPrinceton coach Courtney Banghart was named Naismith Coach of the Year Tuesday for leading the Tigers to a 30-0 regular season and notching the second ever NCAA Tournament victory for the Ivy League.

Banghart becomes the first Ivy League coach, women’s or men’s, to be named Naismith Coach of the Year. Banghart was also named to Forbes’ list of the 50 Greatest World Leaders last month, natch.

ALL FOOLS’ DAY: Courtney Banghart close to deal to take over at Kansas

A reputable source close to the Princeton women’s basketball team tells Ivy Hoops Online that coach Courtney Banghart is close to accepting a deal to become the next coach at Kansas, which fired Bonnie Hendrickson after 11 seasons last month.

The source said Banghart, who is 169-67 (.716) with five NCAA tournament appearances in seven seasons at the helm at Princeton, became a frontrunner for the position after she was named on Fortune Magazine’s annual list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

Should Banghart leave Princeton, the same source said Princeton will likely draw from Fortune Magazine’s list as well and tap former Girl Scouts CEO Frances Hesselbein to succeed Banghart.

“(Princeton athletic director) Mollie Marcoux will be looking for someone who can encourage community service and outdoor adeptness among the players,” the source said. “Because these ladies deserve to be busy anywhere but the sadistic, Un-American spaceship that is Jadwin Gym.”

No. 8 Princeton's undefeated season ends at No. 1 Maryland

Maybe it ended sooner than it could have.

Previously unbeaten No. 8 Princeton was overpowered by No. 1 Maryland in the second half of the Round of 32 matchup on the Terrapins” home floor Monday night, reeling off a 17-2 run to start the second half that distanced themselves from Princeton for good and helped secure the 85-70 victory.

The Tigers (31-1) trailed 42-38 at the half and had harnessed momentum from the program”s first ever NCAA tournament win Saturday against Wisconsin-Green Bay. But Maryland (32-2) shot 12-for-20 from beyond the arc and enjoyed too many hot hands for Princeton to handle. Maryland”s Laurin Mincy led all scorers with 27 points and nbso online casino reviews seven assists, and Princeton guard Blake Dietrick notched 26 points in 40 minutes.

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Undefeated Princeton absurdly gets No. 8 seed in NCAA tournament

The Princeton women’s basketball team was awarded a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament Monday despite a 30-0 regular season – the best by any women’s or men’s team in Ivy history, a No. 13 ranking, a 3-0 record against the RPI Top 50 and an average margin of victory of 24.9 points per game.

This is a squad that bIew out Pitt, Drexel, Wake Forest, Charlotte and Georgetown, and beat Michigan 85-55 in Ann Arbor. A No. 8 seed shows that the selection committee does not know how to evaluate midmajor teams whatsoever. As Graham Hays of espnW.com writes in his No. 1 Burning Question for the committee:

“In the entire history of the NCAA tournament, Princeton is just the fourth mid-major to enter the event undefeated. There have been a lot of soft schedules and a lot of weak conferences over the course of those 30-plus seasons. Perfect seasons still didn’t happen.

Four times teams from beyond the elite did it. Four. The same number of times No. 8 seeds reached the Sweet 16.

Some reward.”

The Tigers will play Wisconsin-Green Bay in College Park, Md. on Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.

How Princeton poured it on at the Palestra

Mitch Henderson improved to 74-46 (.617) as Princeton's head coach with the Tigers' regular season-closing win over Penn. (goprincetontigers.com)
Mitch Henderson improved to 74-46 (.617) as Princeton’s head coach with the Tigers’ regular season-closing win over Penn. (goprincetontigers.com)

Last night’s swan song for Jerome Allen did not follow the script his legion of admirers hoped to see. The ousted coach surely went out the door with class, appearing on the bench in his Penn letter sweater, evoking memories of his heroic exploits on the court, a dramatic statement of loyalty and roots.

The standing ovation, a spontaneous reaction to his introduction as head coach for the final time, while surely not unexpected, provoked an emotional response. Allen sat hunched over while the applause cascaded over him, self-consciously fiddling with his left ankle, gathering himself.

His boss, new Penn Athletic Director Grace Calhoun, sat across the court from the team bench, occupying a prominent seat on press row, very much in charge. I sat in Calhoun’s seat for the women’s game, courtesy of her. She did oust me for the men’s game, but it was better for her to be visible.

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The Chairman’s big night at Jadwin … and the Tigers’ big win

The theme for Saturday night’s visit by the Columbia Lions to Jadwin Gym was “HISTORY.”

The Tiger faithful gathered to celebrate history, honoring at halftime the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Final Four team, captained by the incomparable Bill Bradley. Sensing the significance of the occasion, Columbia’s Maodo “The Chairman” Lo determined to make a little history of his own. More on that below.

The 1965 Tigers reached the Final Four in an Eastern Regional matchup facing the Providence Friars at their place. The night before the final, the Friars celebrated their win in the semis by cutting down the nets in what remains the most egregious example of early chicken counting in this writer’s memory. (The back-slapping of James Jones and his staff in the last minute at Harvard Friday night is a recent contender.) Stung by the snub, the Tigers thrashed the Friars, 109-69. A request for the previous evening’s nets was declined.

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