November 30, 2016

Freshman Morales, Senior Brase Savor Home Opener As PU Men’s Hoops Cruises to 106-48 Rout of Rowan


HOME COOKING: Princeton University men’s basketball player Jose Morales races upcourt last Friday as Princeton hosted Rowan University in its home opener. Former Hun School star and freshman guard Morales contributed 10 points to help the Tigers roll to a 106-48 win over the Division III Profs. Princeton, which improved to 2-2 with the win, was slated to play at VCU on November 29 before heading to Honolulu, Hawaii to face Cal on December 6 and Hawaii in December 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After playing for the Hun School boys’ basketball team as a post-graduate last winter, Jose Morales made his way across town to join the Princeton University men’s hoops program.

Last Friday, Morales played his first game in Jadwin Gym as Princeton hosted Rowan University in its home opener and savored the moment.

“It was a lot of fun to get out there and get the legs moving and get a couple of shots up and start playing with these guys,” said Morales, a native of Miramar, Fla.

“We go at it in practice all of the time so it is so good to see the guys like myself who don’t necessarily get as many reps get to play.”

The 5’9, 165-pound Morales made the most of his time on the court, scoring 10 points and getting a team-high four assists in 21 minutes of action off the bench as the Tigers cruised to a 106-48 win over the Division III Profs before 1,559 at Jadwin Gym and improved to 2-2.

“It is just getting adjusted to the speed of the college game, just the little things like being in the right place every single time and making all of the right reads,” said Morales, in reflecting on the challenges he faces in making the jump to college hoops.

“You get a lot of good experience just playing the game; you can’t really get it any other way.”

For senior Hans Brase, the home opener was his first game at Jadwin more than a year in the wake of being sidelined all last season due to a knee injury.

The 6’9 Brase, who scored two points and had two rebounds in the win over Rowan, is averaging 6.3 points and 2.8 rebounds a game as he gets back up to speed.

“It is a work in progress, I am coming back to a completely different team than the one I was on before,” said Brase. “It is a great group of guys. We all play really hard so it is fun.”

Reflecting on his injury hiatus, Brase acknowledged that the absence from the game was hard.

“It is completely different sitting on the sidelines and watching but basketball is basketball,” said Brase.

“There are just a lot of things that you take for granted. When things are taken away from you, you look at things differently. Perspective is probably the biggest thing.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson liked the way Princeton handled things in dispatching Rowan.

“We were able to do what we needed to do tonight; the main thing for us is getting back to playing with tons of confidence,” said Henderson.

“I probably had something to do with it in the first two games of the season (losses at BYU and Lehigh). We were playing with high expectations for ourselves and I think that maybe the moment might just have felt too much.”

In Henderson’s view, the Tigers gained a lot of confidence from beating Lafayette 71-55 last Wednesday in earning their first win of the season.

“They played against Cornell and Brian Earl (former Princeton assistant coach and star) on Sunday and then us; we play similarly,” said Henderson.

“They were fairly prepared for us but I thought we had energy, good energy is contagious. I still don’t think we have played very well all season; hopefully that will come soon.”

Jumping out to a 43-10 lead over Rowan midway through the first half, Princeton showed good energy from the get-go.

“I thought we had the perfect approach to the beginning of the game once again; for two games in a row, it is the right energy,” said Henderson, who got 14 points apiece from senior stars Steven Cook and Spencer Weisz in the win.

“We are happy to get a win. We have a really tough week ahead of us so we are ready to get to work.”

Princeton is very happy to have Brase back on court. “He is very important to what we are trying to do because he can really get rebounds and he is the elder statesman,” said Henderson. “He has been around the block.”

Henderson believes that Morales could be an important piece for the Tigers.

“Jose is point guard, a real point guard, all the way through; he has got a real good feel for the game,” said Henderson, whose team was slated to play at VCU on November 29 before heading to Honolulu, Hawaii to face Cal on December 6 and Hawaii in December 7.

“I want him to kind of run things out there and be confident in who he is. You can tell there is a calmness and that is what he is. I have seen him play really, really well in big situations in high school and AAU basketball so he is going to be a very good player.”

Morales, for his part, is excited about getting the chance to run the Princeton offense.

“From top to bottom, I feel like we are pretty deep,” said Morales. “We all play well together, we all love each other. You can see that continuity when we are out there.”