Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 4
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
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WILL POWER: Princeton University men’s basketball freshman forward Will Barrett powers to the hoop last Sunday in Princeton’s 88-35 win over Goucher College. The 6’10, 200-pound Barrett established career high in points (13) and rebounds (8) in the victory over the Division III Gophers which improved the Tigers to 9-5.

Sparked by Barrett’s Will to Succeed, PU Mens’ Hoops Primed for Ivy Play

Bill Alden

Will Barrett was primed to get back into the fray last Sunday as the Princeton University men’s basketball hosted Division III Goucher College in its first action after a 17-day layoff for exams.

“It’s been tough playing against the same guys we have been playing against all year,” said freshman forward Barrett. “Goucher gave us a good fight tonight.”

The 6’10, 200-pound Barrett didn’t shrink away from the fight, producing career highs in points (13) and rebounds (8) to help Princeton cruise to an 88-35 win over the Gophers before 1,525 at Jadwin Gym.

The Tigers jumped out to a 44-17 halftime advantage and led by at least 40 points for the last 13 minutes of the contest as they improved to 9-5 on the season.

Princeton was sharp all night long, shooting 53.1 percent from the field on 34-of-64 shooting and forcing 25 turnovers while committing just nine in its final tune-up before starting Ivy League play this weekend with games at Brown on January 29 and at Yale a night later.

In Barrett’s view, the Tigers passed their last test before league play with flying colors.

“We just had to come out and play hard,” said Barrett, a native of Hartsville, Pa. “Coach [Sydney Johnson] told us what we had to do. I felt like we played well and played as a team getting ready for Ivy play.”

With the Princeton frontcourt jammed with talented players such as junior Kareem Maddox, sophomore Patrick Saunders, and freshman Ian Hummer, Barrett knows he has to go hard everyday to earn playing time.

“I think that having that much depth in the forward position is fun,” asserted Barrett.

“It brings battles to practice every single day. Kareem is fighting for a spot, Pat is fighting for a spot. I think it helps out our team. It makes our team more cohesive and ready for everything.”

Princeton head coach Johnson maintained that his team will have to fine-tune things to be fully ready for Ivy play.

“I think you have to be very focused; I think you have to understand that every single possession is going to be huge,” said Johnson, a veteran of many Ivy battles as a coach and a star player for the Tigers in the mid-1990s.

“I think when you are playing a non-league opponent, it may be a little bit more forgiving just because you turn it over or they get a stop on you and you may be able to get a back door play you might not get in the league; something that evens the scales. In league play, we don’t get anything easy. It’s just a grind.”

In reflecting on the team’s 9-5 record in non-conference play, Johnson believes his team has the right mentality to handle the grind.

“I like how they are going about their business,” said Johnson. “I do see that they are trying to work hard and that we are building a little bit of chemistry and hopefully that helps us down the road.”

Princeton took care of its business with aplomb in the win over Goucher.

“I really did think that the energy and effort was there,” added Johnson, assessing a game which saw Douglas Davis score 22 points with Dan Mavraides adding 12 and Ian Hummer chipping in 10.

“I think it’s OK to acknowledge that and so let’s apply that on the road to two teams that know us extremely well. It is going to be a major challenge.”

The team’s depth at forward should help the Tigers as they face the challenges ahead.

“I think we have some guys who bring a lot to the table and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have them sitting by me the whole time,” said Johnson.

“They bring something different. Will is a tremendous passer and makes open shots. Ian is a handful to deal with on the post and can defend well and rebound well. Kareem brings something else. I can go right down the list of our forwards and I feel like they all bring something that is meaningful.”

Johnson wants his team to feel a sense of joy as it enters the most meaningful phase of the season.

“I tell them don’t play tight, it’s going to be great,” said Johnson. “However it goes, this is going to be great, to be able to compete against Brown and Yale and the rest of them. So be excited about it but be serious and be focused and be ready to try to win.”

Barrett, for his part, is eagerly anticipating his first Ivy weekend. “I try not to get nervous about things; I feel like it gets me and my teammates unfocused,” said Barrett.

“I just want to come out and be confident; trust my team and what Coach Johnson is telling us. I feel like if we work hard this week and get ready with everything, we’ve got a good shot at this.”

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