For Princeton men’s hoops, the kids are alright

The big question entering the 2022-23 season for the Princeton men’s basketball team was how coach Mitch Henderson was going to replace the contributions of an outstanding cadre of seniors who helped lead the Tigers to an Ivy League championship last season.

Nine games into the season, that question has partially been answered. A dynamic trio of freshmen is blending nicely with four returning upperclassmen to win big games for the Orange and Black.

After a disappointing 0-2 start to the season, the Tigers have come together to win their last seven games. ‘

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Rookie production, Mitchell dominance key in successful weekend for Princeton squads

In his latest report, Ivy Hoops Online writer George “Toothless Tiger” Clark highlights key rookie contributions in the Princeton men’s 83-63 win at Drexel Saturday and Ellie Mitchell’s stat sheet-stuffing dominance in the Princeton women’s 65-51 victory at Maine:

Princeton men overcome Northeastern to win London Basketball Classic

Ivy Hoops Online writer George “Toothless Tiger” Clark on how Princeton men’s basketball pulled off a great escape to nick Northeastern and win the London Basketball Classic:

Princeton men outflank Army, 74-66, in London Basketball Classic

Ivy Hoops Online writer George “Toothless Tiger” Clark recaps how Princeton topped Army to advance to the title game of the London Basketball Classic in a Thanksgiving performance that Tiger fans can be grateful for:

The dam breaks for Princeton men in 94-64 romp at UMBC

Princeton men’s coach Mitch Henderson watched his shooters misfire repeatedly in the Tigers’ first two games, both close losses. Henderson wasn’t worried.

“I know these kids can shoot, and I know the shots will start to fall,” Henderson said.

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Cornell men pick up where they left off by pushing tempo

The Cornell men have picked up right where they left off last season.

Through three games, the Big Red are 2-1. They lost at the buzzer on opening night to Boston College, 79-77, before routing SUNY Delhi in a lopsided 57-point laugher.

Cornell defeated Saint Francis (Pa.), 80-77 Monday despite surrendering multiple double-digit leads. The Big Red led 70-57 with 5:11 remaining, but several Cornell fouls gave the Red Flash opportunities at the free-throw line. Max Watson, a junior college transfer, split a pair of free throws in the closing seconds for the Big Red, and a St. Francis half-court heave missed the mark, securing the Cornell victory.

The impressive part about Cornell’s quick start has been the changed offensive approach from Cornell coach Brian Earl. A disciple of Pete Carril, Earl came to East Hill in 2016 with the typical slow, methodical Princeton offense. In the 2019-20 season, Cornell ranked 314th in adjusted tempo and 325th in average possession length, per KenPom.

But after a year off from the COVID-19 pandemic, Earl came into 2021 with a much quicker pace. Cornell ranked 16th in adjusted tempo and third in average possession length, per KenPom.

The Big Red have continued that trend this season. In three games, Cornell is 16th in adjusted tempo and 17th in average possession length amongst 363 Division l teams. In comparison, former Princeton teammate Mitch Henderson’s Princeton squad is 207th in adjusted tempo and 256th in average possession length after a convincing 94-64 win over UMBC Monday.

Cornell has also continued its balanced scoring approach. Seven players are averaging eight or more points through the Big Red’s first three contests, led by senior Greg Dolan at 15.7 points per contest. On Monday, Sean Hansen scored 26 points to lead the Big Red, blowing away his previous high of 13 points last season.

And the team has much more room to grow, too. Sophomore guard Nazir Williams, although scoreless Monday, has shown flashes of 20-point-per-game potential and has seemingly improved his decision-making. The same goes for junior guard Chris Manon, who is averaging 10.7 points per game.

Junior forward Keller Boothby, who shot 49% from deep last season, has made just six of his first 21 treys this season. That clip is sure to improve.

After Cornell faces crosstown foe Ithaca College on Friday, it enters the most crucial portion of nonconference play.

On November 22, the Big Red host Canisius, which is fresh off an overtime victory against St. Bonaventure. Three days later, Cornell travels to New Jersey to play Monmouth in its first season as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. Six days later, the Big Red will travel to Delaware before heading home to battle Lafayette on December 4.

Games against Miami and Syracuse, both projected NCAA Tournament teams, are sandwiched around a 10-day break for exams.

We’ll know a lot more about this Cornell squad in the coming days and weeks. But so far, the Big Red seem to be clicking well. Earl is continuing to build in Ithaca, and the reigning Ivy League Coach of the Year is hungry to lead Cornell back to Ivy Madness and, potentially, the program’s first NCAA Tournament since 2010.

Princeton men lost tale of two halves at Navy but gained key continuity inside from Kellman

Princeton took on the challenge of playing Navy on Veterans’ Day in the nightcap of the 2022 Veterans Classic doubleheader Friday night.

The resulting 74-73 loss for Princeton was a tale of two halves – and hopefully an instructive one for the Tigers.
Houston overwhelmed St. Joseph’s in the opener and appearing poised for another deep postseason run after its Elite Eight run a season ago.
The Tigers then faced off against the Midshipmen, which last year fielded a 21-win team that fell to Penn alum-led Colgate in the Patriot League Tournament final.
The Tigers (0-2) got off to a promising 9-2 start before the wheels came off in what was one of the worst 20-minute stretches of the Mitch Henderson era. Navy (2-0) was the superior team at both ends of the floor in the first stanza, shooting 72% from the field and canning five threes. The Tigers shot 12-for-26 but could hit only one three-pointer, which has been the staple of their offense in recent seasons. The 46 points surrendered by Princeton in the first half created a 20-point halftime deficit that appeared insurmountable as the teams left the floor.
Henderson tried numerous combinations, deploying 11 different players. Nothing worked. Senior forward Keeshawn Kellman was again a bright spot for the Tigers after his strong opening-night performance against Hofstra. Kellman establishing a strong presence in close that will be difficult to contain, especially when he and reigning Ivy Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan gain experience playing with each other. But when the Tigers struggle to score from beyond the arc and elsewhere, the pressure on Henderson’s bigs inside will keep build.
To say that the Tigers changed the game’s narrative in the second half would be a gross understatement.
Junior guard Matt Allocco got things going with a three-point play to open the half, igniting a marvelous 24-4 run, largely fueled by Kellman and Evbuomwan, cutting a 20-point deficit to just four, 50-46, after seven minutes of action.
Navy restored order at that point, mounting its own 14-4 run over a seven-minute stretch. Kellman continued his incredible play underneath, spurring another 8-0 Tigers run. It was clear the Tigers were not going away quietly.
Henderson threw a defensive curve at the Middies, deploying his troops in a 1-3-1 zone for much of the second half. The move confused and cooled off the hot shooting of the home team.
Kellman once again sparked a Tigers run at the 4:35 mark, registering seven points in two minutes, capped by a long three from rookie forward Caden Pierce. The Navy lead had shrunk to two with 2:23 to go.
Navy held on, however, restoring the lead to six. An Allocco three with 51 seconds left pulled Princeton within three, 73-70.
A Navy free throw followed by another Allocco bomb made it a one-point game with three ticks on the clock.
The Tigers were forced to foul, but the rattled Midshipmen missed both. Allocco managed to get off another long range shot as time expired. Many observers, including the CBS Sports Network broadcast team, believed Allocco was fouled. But the no-call ended the game with Navy on the winning end of a 74-73 score.
Tiger fans are hoping the team that showed up for the second half will be the one on the floor going forward. Defensively, the Tigers were superb, holding Navy to just 28 second-half tallies. On offense, the Tigers hit five of 10 shots from three-point range. Allocco posted career highs of 19 points and four treys. Kellman led the team with 20 points. Evbuomwan was “held” to 15 points, adding nine rebounds.
Henderson’s team will stay in the Old Line State for a Monday evening contest against UMBC, hoping to notch its first victory.

No. 24 Princeton women push past Temple, Princeton men fade late versus Hofstra in season-opening Jadwin doubleheader

Presenting Ivy Hoops Online writer George Clark’s audio reports on Princeton’s Jadwin Gym doubleheader consisting of a women’s matchup with Temple and a men’s showdown versus Hofstra.

How the No. 24 Princeton women dispatched Temple, 67-49, in a characteristically defense-oriented game at Jadwin:

 

What sparked the Hofstra 12-1 run that secured the Pride an 83-77 victory over the Tigers and how coach Mitch Henderson retooled the starting lineup after key departures from last year’s Ivy title team:

2022-23 IHO Men’s Preseason Poll

Only five points separated the top three teams in the Ivy League Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll, and our final tabulation was even tighter. Just three points separated the team atop IHO contributors’ preseason poll.

Yale gets the slight nod here, with our contributors trusting James Jones to lead the Bulldogs to their fifth Ivy League title in an eight-season span in a bid to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament for a third straight time. Penn, the Ivy League preseason poll’s top team above Princeton by a single point, also finished a single point above Princeton in our standings. Our contributors saw potential for success in a roster that returns most of the key players from last year’s squad that placed third in the Ivy standings. We’ve got Princeton pegged to finish third, aided in their quest to repeat as Ivy League champions by returning 2021-22 Ivy Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan but losing significant backcourt production from last year’s conference title team.

Harvard was the clear No. 4 finisher in our poll, a showing that would improve upon the disappointing sixth-place result that locked the Crimson out of the Ivy League Tournament on its home floor last season. We have Cornell ranked slightly ahead of Brown as the Big Red look to build on last season’s overachieving Ivy League Tournament berth and the Bears look to bounce back from an underachieving sixth-place finish (tied with Harvard) a season ago. Columbia and Dartmouth tied in our voting tally at the bottom of the standings as both programs look to secure their first Ivy League Tournament appearances.

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Pete Carril remembered

Pete Carril, the Ivy League’s all-time winningest men’s basketball coach after 29 years leading Princeton, died Monday at 92. (Princeton Athletics)

The Princeton basketball community lost a father figure Monday with the death of its legendary coach, Pete Carril.  

It is difficult to express in a short essay the importance of Pete Carril to followers of Princeton basketball or to the game of basketball itself.  Most of the epitaphs I digested in the immediate aftermath of the news of Carril’s passing emphasized his coaching record – 514 wins, which remains an all-time record among Ivy League coaches – and his signature style of coaching, including his frumpy demeanor, and of course his perfection of the Princeton offense, which became stylish after Princeton defeated UCLA in the 1996 NCAA tournament.  

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