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.

Derek Jones, Princeton play-by-play announcer: There is plenty of reason for optimism surrounding Princeton heading into the season from returning veterans to a promising recruiting class. The Tigers return its four leading scorers from a squad that topped the Ivies in scoring offense last season.

All-Ivy second-team selections Spencer Weisz and Steven Cook; sophomore point guard Amir Bell; and senior big Hans Brase comprise a lineup that will be difficult to deal with for opposing defenses.

Princeton has plenty of firepower on offense but hopes of winning an Ivy title hang on defensive improvement.

It was no accident that last season’s Ivy race came down to the league’s two best defensive teams: Harvard and Yale. Meanwhile, Princeton ranked near the bottom of the league in multiple defensive categories including scoring, field goal percentage allowed, and three-point percentage allowed.

By season’s end Princeton’s defense began to gel. If the Tigers can consistently protect the rim and get bench production from Henry Caruso, Alec Brennan, and company, Princeton’s depth can overcome the star power at Yale and Columbia to win the Ivy League.

Noah Savage, Princeton basketball ’07, Princeton color commentator: So much to be excited about – a lot of returning experience will make the offense dynamic and exciting to watch.  Cook may have a breakout year.  I look for Princeton to compete for the title.

@PhilSoc8: Chris Young’s appearances in the World Series bring back memories of when Princeton had a very strong basketball team, both in the Ivy League and in general. More recent years have seen Princeton hoops decline, both relative to the strengthening Ivies and compared to Tigers of the past. Experience has always fared well in the Ivies, so coach Henderson (himself a Tiger all-timer) has a great opportunity to show what he can achieve with five returning starters.

Kevin Whitaker, Big Apple Buckets writer, former Daily Princetonian sports editor: Mitch Henderson will become the longest-tenured Princeton coach since Pete Carril when the season begins. For the first time, Henderson has a team full of his own recruits, and these Tigers are built to his style: They skew toward offense rather than defense, they blend Princeton offense principles with individual skills and their depth allows Henderson to be creative tactically. That means this season will mean a lot to his reputation as a coach.

On paper, Princeton is good enough to win the Ivy title — not only does it return five starters from a 9-5 team, but the program has a strong history of player development, and several highly touted underclassmen are waiting in the wings. Now it’s time to see if the Tigers’ promise pans out.