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Vol. LXV, No. 47
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
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WINNING MESSAGE: Princeton University men’s basketball head coach Mitch Henderson addresses his players during a timeout last Saturday in Princeton’s 61-53 win over Buffalo. The victory improved the Tigers to 1-2 and gave Henderson the first win of his Princeton tenure. The Tigers were slated to host Elon on November 22 before playing in the Ticket City Legends Classic at Bucknell this weekend where it will play Bucknell on November 25, Morehead State on November 26, and West Alabama on November 27.

Tiger Men’s Hoops Rides Fast Start, Topping Buffalo To Earn 1st Victory

Bill Alden

Ian Hummer and his teammates on the Princeton University men’s basketball team had a chip on their shoulder when they hosted Buffalo last Saturday.

“After two losses in a row and one at home that broke a pretty long home win streak, we wanted to prove that we weren’t just a one-season team,” said junior forward Hummer.

“We came out and rebounded which is a thing we haven’t really done in the last two games. We protected the offensive boards from the other team.”

With the Tigers mixing in some dead-eyed outside shooting to go with their intensity, they raced out to a 36-11 lead. While the Bulls utilized a tricky 1-3-1 defense to tighten up the game, Princeton held on for a 61-53 win before a crowd of 1,715 on hand at Jadwin Gym.

In the process, the Tigers gave new head coach Mitch Henderson the first win of his tenure.

For Henderson, achieving the milestone was less important than seeing his team show intensity from the opening tip.

“It is easy to build off of a loss but I much prefer to build off a win,” said Henderson, whose team improved to 1-2 with the victory.

“I think the main thing for me and the staff is that we think this could be a good team. This is a good Buffalo team; what we wanted to do was to go at them right away and I think we did that nicely.”

While Henderson was pleased with Princeton’s rousing start against Buffalo, he acknowledged that Princeton hit some rough patches over the last 20 minutes of the contest.

“I feel that the story of the game was the first half but we obviously saw some things in ourselves in the second half that need to be corrected, mainly hands in passing lanes,” said Henderson.

“We haven’t seen a lot of 1-3-1 zone from those guys or a 2-3 but when a team is playing down, they are aggressive.”

With Hummer and Douglas Davis being the only Tigers scoring in double figures for a third straight game, Henderson recognizes that his squad has to spread the wealth more offensively.

“I think between T.J. [Bray], Brendan [Connolly], Patrick [Saunders], and even Will [Barrett], we are going to be more balanced than we are now over time,” said Henderson, who got 18 points from Hummer with former Hun School star Davis chipping in 16.

“The emphasis in practice is that when it is your turn, you have got to score. T.J. got a really nice look in the second possession of the game on the block. He also got four looks from the three-point area. I feel like the balance is going to come, we can’t do this all year.”

Bray, for his part, is looking to provide a balanced effort at both ends of the court for the Tigers.

“I am in there, first and foremost defensively, trying to get stops,” said sophomore Bray, who had seven points, five rebounds, and a team-high four assists in the victory over Buffalo.

“The defensive end is where everything starts for this team. When I can see something, I will attack but I am trying to get Ian the ball and trying to get Doug the ball. I just make sure the offense is flowing and try to make a decision.”

In Hummer’s view, the Tiger offense got into a good flow against Buffalo.

“With the guard play being the way it was, it opened things up,” said Hummer.

“We like to play inside out and if we are playing well on the outside, the inside will be a lot better for me. It definitely was more open today, especially when they started playing that 1-3-1. We have a few things to work on still but we are getting there.”

After seeing his team start the season with a disappointing 73-57 loss to Wagner and then looking better in a 60-58 defeat at N.C. State last Wednesday, Henderson believes the Tigers are getting better.

“It is a different group than a week ago,” asserted Henderson, whose squad was slated to host Elon on November 22 before playing in the Ticket City Legends Classic in Bucknell this weekend where it will play Bucknell on November 25, Morehead State on November 26, and West Alabama on November 27.

“For instance, T.J. has played more minutes in the last week than he has played in a long time. There is improvement, especially defensively. Our defense kept us in the game against N.C. State. We have had some moments where we are not scoring in all the games and we have to address that. We feel pretty good about the ways guys have been coming along in practice; we are working at it.”

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