Princeton men’s recruits look to help team return to form in 2018-19

Even though the Princeton men’s team lost Ivy Player of the Year Spencer Weisz, first team All-Ivy Steven Cook and 25 game starting center Pete Miller from the undefeated regular and postseason Ivy champions of 2016-17, last year’s team was still expected to challenge for the 2018 Ivy title. Selected third in the preseason media poll, the Tigers trailed Yale by three points and Harvard by only eight, while picking up three first-place votes. With returning first team All-Ivy and conference Defensive Player of the Year Myles Stephens, honorable mention All-Ivy Devin Cannady and a resurgent Amir Bell anchoring the back court, Princeton entered the season optimistic that the new frontcourt would develop by the start of league play to give the team a shot at a repeat.

Early-season losses to Butler, BYU, St. Joseph’s, and Miami contributed to a 2-5 start for the Tigers. They rebounded in the later part of the non-conference schedule, including a 103-93 overtime victory at USC, to pull even at 7-7 by the start of the Ivy schedule. Despite an opening game loss at the Palestra to an improved Penn, Princeton found itself at 3-1 in league play, following an overtime win against Yale. The Tigers then, unexpectedly, went 0-7 with three overtime defeats and losses to each of the previous year’s lower division teams. After two wins against Dartmouth and Brown, Princeton entered the regular season finale with a solid shot at the fourth spot in the Ivy Tournament.  The Tigers got the necessary Harvard win over Columbia, but they lost by four to Yale, in their fifth overtime game of their Ivy season. In 2018-19, the Orange & Black (13-16, 5-9 Ivy) will look to put last year’s fifth-place effort behind them and show the rest of the conference that they belong in the league’s upper division.

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St. Joseph bests guest Princeton as Tigers lean heavily on their “big three”

PHILADELPHIA – The Tigers invaded the decidedly unfriendly confines of Hagan Arena on the otherwise welcoming campus of St. Joseph’s University on Saturday evening. Mitch Henderson continues his search for an effective rotation, realizing that his freshmen will need to undergo an ordeal by fire early in this new season.

He chose  a veteran-laden starting lineup in Philadelphia, going with seniors Amir Bell, Alec Brennan and Mike LeBlanc, along with juniors Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens. Will Gladson, the 6’10” sophomore, missed his third game due to injury.

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Princeton reloads in quest for second straight Ivy League championship

If Tiger fans are reluctant to turn the page after last year’s historic run through the Ivy season and the first-ever Ivy Tournament, we can readily understand. After a so-so 4-6 start and the loss of two All-Ivy caliber starters, Princeton went on a 19-0 tear, including 16-0 in the Ivies, culminating in a championship and a berth in the NCAA’s March Madness. A close loss in the Big Dance to Notre Dame hardly diminished the accomplishments of a truly phenomenal season.

Tiger skipper Mitch Henderson has clearly come into his own, joining James Jones and Tommy Amaker as elite coaches, not only in the League, but in Division I. Having more than survived the loss of Hans Brase and Henry Caruso, the Tigers must figure out how to replace POY Spencer Weisz and fellow first team All-Ivy selection Steven Cook. It won’t be easy, and most handicappers pick the Tigers to finish no better than third behind Yale and Harvard in the coming campaign. Among Henderson’s strengths is his ability to recruit players who buy into his scheme right away. His teams are usually much more than the sum of their individual parts. As a result, the cupboard is hardly bare heading into the new season.

Read morePrinceton reloads in quest for second straight Ivy League championship

Princeton men’s basketball aims for elite mid-major status

Heading into the 2016-17 season, many experts predicted that the Princeton Tigers would win the Ivy League title due to its senior leadership.  It was hard to bet against a team that would be starting Spencer Weisz, Steven Cook, Hans Brase, and Henry Caruso.  When Brase and Caruso went down with season-ending injuries early in 2016, there was cause for concern.  A slow start from starting guard Amir Bell only added to the growing worries for the Tigers.  However, the arrival of Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens into the starting lineup righted the ship and had the Tigers in great position heading into the Ivy schedule.  With first-team All-Ivy performances from Weisz (Ivy League Player of the Year), Cook (IHO Player of the Year), and Stephens (Ivy and IHO Defensive Player of the Year), along with strong performances from Cannady (Ivy and IHO Honorable Mention) and Bell, Princeton ran through the league with a 14-0 record, winning the regular season title by four games over Harvard.

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Mitch Henderson finds the perfect pitch for Princeton

In his sixth season as Princeton’s head coach, Mitch Henderson led the Tigers to the Ivy League’s first undefeated regular season since 2007-08. (Ivy League Digital Network)

For Mitch Henderson, the climb to the top of the Ivy League mountain has been anything but easy.

Critics point out his teams’ surprising inability to close the sale in some past seasons and his struggles with Harvard and Yale as indications of something missing in his program. Supporters point out he is young, smart and has brought a vision for the long haul.  He has developed a new culture and identity for Tiger basketball that bears his unmistakable imprint.

The Tigers’ 14-0 march through the 2016-17 Ivy schedule, making Henderson the odds-on favorite for Coach of the Year honors, tips the scales in favor of the supporters’ case.

Let’s take a closer look at what Henderson has done, particularly over the last three seasons as he put the building blocks of the current juggernaut in place.

Read moreMitch Henderson finds the perfect pitch for Princeton

Ivy Power Rankings – Jan. 2, 2017

1. Yale (6-5)

Yale played just one game in the two weeks since the last Ivy Power Rankings, but it was indicative of the kind of performance coach James Jones may extract from his youthful roster come Ivy play. Freshman forward Jordan Bruner enjoyed arguably his best game as an Eli in Yale’s 83-77 loss at Temple, registering a career-high 15 points in just 26 minutes to go along with eight rebounds and four blocks, the third time in his six games that he has collected four blocks. Senior center Sam Downey nabbed 17 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass, in 33 minutes. Yale committed only 11 turnovers and shot 16-for-19 from the free throw line, suggesting the prototype of a team that thrives on efficiency, superior rebounding and stout perimeter defense. The Elis also lead the conference in three-point field goal percentage, and Yale enjoyed a 3-for-8 long-range performance from freshman forward Miye Oni at Temple to go along with five assists versus just one turnover (not bad for playing his 11th game at a high-major).

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Princeton claws past Hampton, 77-49

PRINCETON – The Tigers eagerly awaited the arrival at Jadwin Gym of the KenPom No. 328 Hampton Pirates, especially after handling Bucknell in Lewisburg last week. The Bison are ranked more than 200 spots higher than the Pirates, who were expected to walk the plank in Princeton’s arena Wednesday.

Read morePrinceton claws past Hampton, 77-49

Princeton bows to St. Joseph’s, 76-68

Tigers’ hopes for a boffo season took another hit last night against the St. Joseph’s Hawks at Jadwin Gym. The visiting Big 5 quintet led for nearly the entire game, often by double digits. Princeton found its defensive energy in the second half as the Hawks were denied very many good looks. The Tigers clawed their way back, even managing a brief lead at 64-61 with under four minutes to go. St. Joe’s revved up its speed game once again, going on a 15-4 tear to close out the game, 76-68.

Clearly, the Tigers were struggling to overcome the loss of Hans Brase for the second time in two seasons due to knee problems. The news that senior forward, and last year’s first-team All-Ivy selection, Henry Caruso will not play again because of a toe injury hit this team like a sledgehammer blow. Caruso brought a toughness and grit to the floor and it showed in the stats. He was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder a year ago.

Read morePrinceton bows to St. Joseph’s, 76-68

Princeton puts one in the win column at Lafayette

The Tigers became the second Ivy team to come away from Lafayette with a road win this week. On Sunday, Brain Earl’s Cornell Big Red earned him his first career victory as a head coach. Wednesday night, Princeton dominated the second half to establish a comfortable 71-55 margin of victory.

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