Q&A with Princeton coach Mitch Henderson

Editor’s Note: Our Toothless Tiger, George Clark, caught up with Princeton coach Mitch Henderson one-on-one at Jadwin Gym in late September for a comprehensive interview revealing what to expect from Princeton this season as the Tigers look to live up to their No. 1 Ivy preseason ranking. (Please excuse the technical difficulty separating Parts 1 and 2 – it’s presented intact because it demonstrates how gracious Henderson is and was in real time throughout the interview.)

Part 1

  • how Henderson feels about the Ivy postseason tournament and Penn’s potential for participating as host


Part 2

  • Henderson’s trust in former assistant and current Cornell head coach Brian Earl during games
  • what Kerry Kittles’ role is as a new assistant for Princeton
  • which Pete Carril quote from the 1991 Princeton media guide pertains to the 2016-17 Tigers
  • why Hans Brase is “the edge”
  • how Spencer Weisz has followed in T.J. Bray’s footsteps
  • what to look for from Princeton’s freshman class
  • what’s behind Princeton’s brutal nonconference schedule

Preseason pole position belongs to Princeton

Mitch Henderson enters his sixth season as the head coach of his alma mater with a great deal at stake. Regarded as one of the best young coaches in the country, he has enjoyed tremendous success, always finishing in the Ancient Eight’s first division. His teams have feasted on the league’s lesser lights, while faltering, sometimes catastrophically, against Harvard and Yale. And that’s the rub.

Harvard and Yale have won or shared the Ivy title during Henderson’s tenure at Jadwin, accounting for two-thirds of the Tigers’ 21 Ivy losses in the last five seasons (against 49 wins). The Tigers hope they can replicate the recent experiences of James Jones’ Yale quintets. Denied an outright title two years ago by an otherworldly loss in the final seconds of the season finale at Dartmouth, the Bulldogs then lost a tense playoff against Harvard. The 2015-16 Yale club rebounded brilliantly to win the Ivy crown with a stellar 13-1 record, suffering its lone conference defeat at the hands of the Tigers at Jadwin, 75-63.

Read morePreseason pole position belongs to Princeton

Ivy 60 for 60: Kit Mueller

Image result for kit mueller princeton
Kit Mueller graduated in 1991 as Princeton’s second all-time leading scorer behind only Bill Bradley. He dished eight assists in each of his three NCAA Tournament games as a sophomore, junior and senior.

Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order). For the next entry in our Ivy 60 for 60 series, we cover one of the greatest players in piranha Princeton basketball history:

Read moreIvy 60 for 60: Kit Mueller

Ivy 60 for 60: Gary Walters

Gary Walters – a classic Princeton Tiger in the classic Princeton era. (Princeton Varsity Club)

Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order). For the next entry in our Ivy 60 for 60 series, we cover one of the greatest players in Princeton basketball history:

The contributions of Gary Walters to the Ivy League and to his beloved Tigers cannot be overstated. His ties to Princeton basketball began before the arrival of Pete Carril, and his professional role at the university continued for nearly two decades after Carril’s retirement.

Recruited as a point guard by Butch van Breda Kolff, Walters enjoyed great success at Reading (PA) High School playing for … you can’t make this stuff up … Pete Carril.  A key player on Bill Bradley’s Final Four team in 1965, Walters led the 1966-67 Tigers to 25 wins and a top-five national ranking. No Tiger would win as many games for the next 30 years. A talented ball handler and passer, Walters is remembered as a tenacious defender, perhaps the best in the league over his career.

Read moreIvy 60 for 60: Gary Walters

Ivy 60 for 60: Geoff Petrie

Geoff Petrie (24) averaged 21.8 points, 4.6 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game during his Princeton career. (Princeton Athletics)

Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order). For the next entry in our Ivy 60 for 60 series, we cover one of the greatest players in Princeton basketball history.

When Butch van Breda Kolff left Princeton for the glitz and glamor of the NBA after the 1967 season, the Tiger tank was anything but empty. Among the players Pete Carril found on his roster were two future NBA draftees, John Hummer and the subject of this profile, Geoff Petrie.

Petrie was, quite simply, the best player I have ever seen in a Tiger uniform. I did not see Bradley in person, and all must acknowledge that he was the most important player, if not the greatest, in the history of the League. Nevertheless, a strong case can be made that Petrie is the best player ever. (Paul Hutter makes it in his wonderful 2014 volume, The Golden Age of Ivy League Basketball.)

Read moreIvy 60 for 60: Geoff Petrie

Brian Earl: The right coach at the right time for Cornell

Princeton finished in the top three in the Ivy League eight straight seasons with Brian Earl as an assistant coach. The Tigers were the only Ivy team to do so in that span. (College Chalk Talk)

In 2010, Cornell Athletic Director Andy Noel took two weeks to hire Virginia Tech assistant coach Bill Courtney as the replacement for the enormously successful Steve Donahue. Following the Big Red’s run to the Sweet Sixteen and Donahue’s jump to Boston College, Noel selected the former Bucknell All-Patriot League player from a final group that included Wisconsin assistant coach Gary Close and then-Temple assistant and
present Colgate head coach Matt Langel.

Read moreBrian Earl: The right coach at the right time for Cornell

Ivy 60 for 60: Brian Earl

Brian Earl ranked in the top three in the Ivy League in offensive win shares in all four of his seasons at Princeton and ranks first in total win shares among all Ivy players dating back to the 1993-94 season. Win Shares is a player statistic designed to assign credit for team success to the individuals on the team. (goprincetontigers.com)

Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order). For the next entry in our Ivy 60 for 60 series, we cover one of the greatest players in Princeton basketball history and the Big Red’s new head honcho:

Brian Earl, one of the Princeton Tigers’ best and best-loved players, is the new head coach at Cornell. It is his first head coaching job.

A gifted player, Earl was a member of three Ivy championship teams, including Pete Carril’s final season as head coach in 1995-96. Over the next two seasons, the Tigers went 51-6 overall and 28-0 in the Ivy League. Earl’s 1,428 career points rank seventh in Tiger history. He graduated as the league’s career leader in three-point field goals. A product of Medford Lakes, N.J., Earl started 113 games for the Tigers, a school record. He was named Ivy League Player of the Year in his senior year.

Read moreIvy 60 for 60: Brian Earl

Cornell hires Princeton assistant Brian Earl to be Big Red’s next head coach

Brian Earl takes over as the 22nd head coach in Cornell men’s basketball history. (ivyleaguedigitalnetwork.com)

Cornell Athletics announced Monday that it has hired Princeton assistant coach Brian Earl to be its next head coach, replacing Bill Courtney, who was fired last month, in the position.

Earl became associate head coach in 2015 and had been an assistant under two head coaches for the past nine seasons at Princeton, which he graduated from in 1999. According to Princeton Athletics, Earl’s Ivy League peers voted him as the league’s top assistant coach in a November 2010 FoxSports.com poll, and Earl served another five years as assistant under Mitch Henderson, who was promoted to head coach following Princeton’s 2010-11 Ivy League Championship under then-head coach Sydney Johnson.

Read moreCornell hires Princeton assistant Brian Earl to be Big Red’s next head coach

Ivy 60 for 60: Armond Hill

Armond Hill helped lead Princeton to the 1975 NIT Championship.
Armond Hill helped lead Princeton to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in seven years in 1976. (Princeton Alumni Weekly)

Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order). For the next entry in our Ivy 60 for 60 series, we focus on Armond Hill, one of the greatest players in Princeton basketball history…

Read moreIvy 60 for 60: Armond Hill

Megan Griffith hired as Columbia basketball coach

Columbia Athletics announced Monday that Megan Griffith has been hired as Columbia’s next women’s basketball coach.

Griffith was an assistant at Princeton for the past four seasons and also served as Princeton’s director of basketball operations from 2010-12. The Tigers went 54-7 in that span.

Griffith succeeds Sheila Roux, who coached the 2015-16 season as an interim coach after Stephanie Glance stepped down in September 2015 to become the Executive Director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

Griffith was captain of the Lions for three seasons and earned All-Ivy League honors in both 2006 and 2007.