Princeton Season Preview – An Ivy Title There For the Taking

Princeton enters the 2015-16 season riding a wave of high expectations. Last season, the Tiger express was derailed by a 3-8 start, disappointing but not entirely unexpected in view of the preseason loss of senior Denton Koon, from whom great things were anticipated and, clearly, needed. (Koon elected to graduate with his class and will use his fourth year of eligibility at Hofstra.) The Tigers finished on a high note, claiming the last four Ivy contests and third place behind the co-champion Yale Bulldogs and Harvard Crimson. The Tigers’ 9-1 record against all of their Ivy foes other than Harvard and Yale is one of the main reasons for optimism in Jadwin. Another is the  return of five starters and six of the first eight in the rotation, while Harvard and Yale lose All-Ivy caliber players not easily replaced.

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Reading the Ivy tea leaves – Princeton roundup

T.J. Bray, Princeton basketball ’14: I’m excited to see how the guys continue to grow this year, especially the junior class. With Hans (Brase) being the double-double threat that he is every night, I want to see how Spencer (Weisz), Steve (Cook), and Henry (Caruso) continue to expand their games in new ways. There’s always more nuances you can pick up in the Princeton offense and I think all three will have added something over the summer. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the team comes together defensively. This team has the ability to play hard and smart on that end for 40 minutes at a time. If they can do that consistently, there’s no telling where this team can go.

Clay Wilson, Princeton basketball ’15: I would say I’m most excited to see how the incoming freshmen fit into the equation. We have a lot of talent back from last year and the incoming freshmen were all really impressive on their visits so I’m looking forward to seeing which guys can step in right away and help. I’m also looking forward to see how Hans’s game has improved. He had a good summer here in Germany and I think he could potentially be in the running for Ivy League Player of the Year if he continues to play more inside like he did towards the end of last season. Everyone knows he can shoot the three ball, but I think he is most effective when he is in attack mode and inside the arc. It’s gonna be interesting to see who gets playing time because a lot of guys deserve to play, but there is so much talent and only so many minutes to be had.

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Princeton Holds Off Tulane, Advances to CBI Quarters

Princeton took care of business in the Big Easy, topping Tulane 56-55 behind 16 points from Hans Brase.
Princeton took care of business in the Big Easy, topping Tulane 56-55 behind 16 points from Hans Brase.

The Tigers continued the Ivy League’s creditable showing in the 2014 post-season with a 56-55 victory over the Tulane Green Wave in the opener of the College Basketball Invitational in New Orleans. Princeton was in control of the contest throughout, although Tulane made a strong run at the end. The Green Wave clearly missed the services of leading scorer Louis Dabney, unable to take the court due to recent injury.

TJ Bray, mistakenly identified as “Ivy POY” by the Tulane play-by-play announcer, showed once again why he deserved consideration. Bray joined the Princeton 1000 Point Club with 12 for the game, to go with 9 assists. His 370 assists Red/Black, Even/ Odd, Low/High BetsVoit asettaa panoksen yhteen sarakkeista joka on poydan pitkalla sivulla. leave him just 11 shy of second place in the Tiger career record book. Hans Brase led the Tigers with 16 points.

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Weekend's Winners

Harvard swept its home weekend in dominant fashion, clinching a share of its fourth straight crown. Princeton got an impressive sweep of its own as the Tigers surge towards the top half.
Harvard swept its home weekend in dominant fashion, clinching a share of its fourth straight crown. Princeton got an impressive sweep of its own as the Tigers surge towards the top half.

After the Yale loss and the Columbia 2OT game, Harvard seemed like a squad bound to falter at least once more this season. The Crimson wasn’t playing like the infallible Ivy dream team that they had been hyped up to be. Ancient Eight fans from outside Cambridge felt the hopeful possibility that someone would be able to dethrone the defending champs.

But since then, Harvard has buckled down and blown out their last five opponents with margins of 23, 20, 12, 25, and 33. Those two widest margins came this weekend as Yale fell at Princeton, putting Harvard on the verge of its third straight solo title and a return to the Big Dance. On to the weekend’s big winners…

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Princeton Dominance over Crimson Ends as Tigers Go Cold Late

Five losses-- two in overtime-- by a total of 20 points have left a talented Princeton squad on the outside of the title chase looking in.
Princeton handled its business on Friday night, but on Saturday, the Tigers fell at home to Harvard for the first time since 1989 and dropped to 3-6 in Ivy play.

Princeton’s up-and-down season continued its enigmatic pattern with another split at home, beginning with a lackluster 67-57 win over Dartmouth, followed by an historic loss at the hands of the Harvard Crimson, 59-47.

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Another Split for Princeton

Five losses-- two in overtime-- by a total of 20 points have left a talented Princeton squad on the outside of the title chase looking in.
Five losses– two in overtime– by a total of 20 points have left a talented Princeton squad on the outside of the title chase looking in.

Princeton’s lost Ivy League season reached its mid-point this weekend with a tough battle at Brown on Friday, resulting in a rare road win, and an even tougher struggle at Yale, the next evening, resulting in a heartbreaking OT loss, 66-65. The Tigers’ record is a disappointing 2-5, better only than Dartmouth, where the Tigers also lost in overtime, and Cornell.

T.J. Bray hoisted the Tigers on his broad shoulders this week, scoring 46 points on the road, vaulting his name into the center of the POY discussion. In his head-to-head confrontation with Brown’s All-Ivy candidate, Sean McGonagill, Bray emerged the clear winner. His 26 points led all scorers, while McGonagill managed a respectable 16, but shot only 4-15 from the field.

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Princeton Splits at Home

The Tigers split the weekend, routing Cornell after losing a heartbreaker to Columbia on Friday.
The Tigers split the weekend, routing Cornell after losing a heartbreaker to Columbia on Friday.

Another disappointing weekend for Princeton’s Tigers, this time at home. Trying desperately to shake off the effects of a disastrous 0-3 start to the Ivy campaign, Princeton relished the prospect of entertaining Columbia, which hadn’t won at Jadwin in 20 years, and Cornell, the Ivy cellar dweller.

Against the Lions, Hans Brase got off to another fast start, leading the Tigers to an eight point lead at intermission, 33-25, as order appeared restored in the Princeton universe. The euphoria proved to be nothing more than a mirage, however, as the Tigers’ woes in the Ivy League continued. The gritty Alex Rosenberg, although not shooting particularly well, kept the Lions in the game by getting to the line and converting 8-8 on the evening.

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Princeton’s Lost Weekend

After a blistering 11-2 start, Princeton has opened the Ivy season 0-3 for the first time since 2007 under Joe Scott.
After a blistering 11-2 start, Princeton has opened the Ivy season 0-3 for the first time since 2007 under Joe Scott.

Princeton’s title aspirations for the 2013-14 campaign were dashed once again by the University’s antiquated tradition of January “Reading Period” and its three week mid-season forced hiatus. A 700 mile bus trip to Cambridge and Hanover is hardly the way to shake off the cobwebs. Princeton’s 0-3 start is much more than a thorn in its paw. This Tiger is hurting.

Sadly, this weekend, Princeton squandered career scoring nights from its senior warriors, T. J. Bray (26 against Harvard) and Will Barrett (28 at Dartmouth). The Tigers embarked on the trip as the stingiest team with the ball in D1. A Penn-like plethora of turnovers, 33 in the two games, rendered a staggering blow to the reeling fortunes of the men from Old Nassau. Seventeen games in and Mitch Henderson is searching for answers to questions he never expected to be asked.

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A Classic Battle at the Palestra

Princeton couldn
Princeton couldn”t contain the Big Hyphen and, despite multiple stirring rallies, was dealt a real setback at the Palestra.

With a performance worthy of praise from even the most ardent Tiger fans, the Penn Quakers outlasted Princeton last night at The Palestra, 77-74, vaulting themselves into a tie for first place in the Ivy League in the process. Good for you, AQ. And good for you, Jerome Allen. The Penn faithful should cease calling for your job… at least for a while.

The Quakers established clear dominance inside right from the start, feeding Darien Nelson-Henry and Fran Dougherty again and again for relatively easy baskets. An early foul by Hans Brase sent him to the bench in favor of Pete Miller, who quickly drew two more, sending the coaching staff to their drawing boards. Penn continued to have its way through most of the first half, helped by the Tigers’ inability to convert their bread-and-butter three point shots.

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Tigers Close Out 2013 by holding off Kent State

Princeton survived a valiant effort from the Golden Flashes thanks to strong frontcourt play and late-game free throws.
Princeton survived a valiant effort from the Golden Flashes thanks to strong frontcourt play and late-game free throws, improving to 10-2 in the process

Princeton turned in a gritty performance on New Year’s Eve against the Golden Flashes of Kent State at Jadwin Gymnasium. Despite squandering a 15-point lead to trail by one inside the final minute, the Tigers held on 73-68 to run its surprising season record to 10-2. Kent State slipped to a respectable 9-4.

The Tigers won the game at the free throw line, making 29 of 40 while the Flashes managed just 14 of 22. Princeton enjoyed its greatest number of trips to the charity stripe in nine years.

Will Barrett led four Tigers in double-figures with 19, including 4 of 8 from behind the arc. Hans Brase (15 points to go with a team-high 9 rebounds), Ben Hazel (13) and TJ Bray (11) rounded out the Tigers’ balanced offensive display. Bray’s 5 assists moved him into sixth place on the Princeton career list, just nine behind Coach Henderson.

The teams were evenly matched in almost every statistical category other besides free throws. For the first time this season, Princeton was outscored from three point range in a game the Tigers won. Henderson was visibly relieved to survive a tough game in which his team was arguably outplayed at home. Neither team made a field goal in the final 4 minutes, but Princeton kept the Golden Flashes at bay by making the most of its numerous FT chances down the stretch. Henderson got ten players on the floor for significant minutes, a big factor in keeping his key players out of foul trouble.

Next up is a Saturday visit to Lynchburg, VA for an afternoon contest against the Liberty Flames, the final non-conference game for the Tigers before the Ivy opener at the Palestra on January 11.