As the Princeton University men’s basketball team team returned to action after a 15-day hiatus due to exams by hosting The College of New Jersey last Sunday, Mitch Henderson didn’t want to hit his players with too much information.
“I wanted us to be focused on the things that we do well which is just the rules defensively and then offensively we could try to keep it pretty simple,” said Princeton head coach Henderson.
“I thought TCNJ did a nice job; they were playing a bit of a match-up zone which we have played for years. It clogs up the middle and you are not sure which cuts are open and that caused us some trouble. I think we made some nice adjustments.”
It turned out to be a very nice day for the Tigers as they cruised to a 71-33 victory over the Division III Lions before a Jadwin Gym crowd of 2,174.
“We are happy to be back at it after exams,” said Henderson, whose team improved to 8-7 overall with the victory.
“We really just had the full team on Friday for the first time. Guys came down but we don’t really have an opportunity to be together until exams are over. Exams finished on Saturday so this is a nice opportunity for us to put the uniform on. I was very pleased with how we hit the boards. We are not going to pull any punches, we are going to be what we are.”
Freshman Hans Brase did a lot of the damage on the boards for the Tigers as he posted the first double-double of his career with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
“I was trying to get low position,” said the 6’8 Brase in reflecting on his performance. “I happened to miss a bunch of chippies and I just got my own rebounds.”
Brase knows he is going to have to be sharper this weekend as the Tigers get into the heart of Ivy League play by hosting Brown (7-9 overall, 1-1 Ivy) on Friday and Columbia (9-7 overall, 1-1 Ivy) the next night.
“I heard it has been tough,” said Brase, referring to the grind of Friday/Saturday Ivy games over the next six weekends.
“We should be good, though, we are a pretty deep team. We play nine people so we can try to keep our bodies fresh and just grind it out.”
Sophomore guard Denton Koon is confident that the Tigers, currently 1-0 in Ivy play, are primed to make a run for the league title.
“I think we are doing well; there has been a change in the way we have played over the season and we are starting to play better lately,” said Koon, who tallied a game-high 12 points in the win over TCNJ.
“After the break, we had to make sure to maintain what we had going into it. I think this is a good start and we are excited to play next week.”
Henderson believes the league race is going to be an exciting ride. “I am not smart enough to predict what is going on; everybody looks pretty good,” said Henderson.
“Harvard goes up to Dartmouth and plays well and then Dartmouth plays very well at Harvard. Cornell and Columbia split. Everybody has some nice wins. I think everybody is a little imperfect. I do think it is going to be pretty interesting. Everything is going to be pretty much decided in a month; there are a lot of games. We are ready to go here; this is what we have been working for.”
In Henderson’s view, working smart during the week is the key to success on the weekends.
“I think some games look really physical but they really aren’t and some games don’t look like they are that physical and they really are; they wear and tear on you,” said Henderson.
“The way you prepare during the week makes such a difference. Recovery is what it is. I think over the years, we have seen Friday and Saturday games sort of swing. I think the league is close enough that there is going to be no managing of minutes as you go into a Friday night game because the games are just too important.”