Junior Guard Langborg Providing a Spark off the Bench As PU Men’s Hoops Now 4-1 After Edging Oregon State
RESERVE STRENGTH: Princeton University men’s basketball player Ryan Langborg guards a foe in game earlier this season. Last Wednesday night, junior guard Langborg scored a career-high 14 points off the bench to help Princeton defeat Marist 80-61. On Sunday, he chipped in eight points as the Tigers edged Oregon State 81-80 in improving to 4-1. In upcoming action, Princeton plays at Monmouth on November 24 before hosting Fairleigh Dickinson on November 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Ryan Langborg came off the bench in the early going for the Princeton University men’s basketball team as it hosted Marist last Wednesday and didn’t waste any time making an impact.
Entering the contest with 15:56 left in the first half, junior guard Langborg drained a three-pointer 58 seconds later. That bucket was a harbinger of things to come as Langborg ended up tallying a career-high 14 points to help Princeton pull away to an 80-61 victory.
“We had a good game plan, we were trying to get the ball inside,” said Langborg.
“If we get the ball inside to Keeshawn [Kellman], Mason [Hooks] and Tosan [Evbuomwan] and they make something happen and they crash on those guys, we move and we knew we would be open and get good shots. We like getting the ball inside and getting it back out and swinging it around for a good three. They fell tonight so I just kept taking them.”
In reflecting on his performance, Langborg credited defense with leading to offense.
“Once we kind of got comfortable as a group defensively, getting into our gaps and that sort of thing,” said Langborg.
“We started to mesh together a lot better and it kind of came across. When our points per possession got low and we started playing good team defense, that is when we went on our run.”
After making 20 appearances as a freshman in 2019-20 and averaging 4.4 points a game, Langborg is feeling a greater comfort level on the court this season.
“I think I have gotten a lot more confident since freshman year,” said Langborg, who scored eight points off the bench last Sunday as Princeton edged Oregon State 81-80 in improving to 4-1.
“Taking a year off, I got to get a lot of work in on my own. I missed being with the guys. Now having to be a leader on the team as a junior, I have to be that guy that people can look to as an example and make sure that I hold that role and make shots.”
With the Ivy League canceling the 2020-21 season due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, Langborg used the time away to focus on becoming a more well-rounded player.
“I really hit the weight room, I wanted to put some weight on,” said Langborg, who is contributing 10.8 points and 3.2 rebounds a game.
“I put 15 pounds of muscle on, just got a lot of shots up and worked on my handle. Jaelin [Llewellyn] might need some help sometimes or Ethan [Wright] or whoever so it is being a secondary ball handler, doing that sort of thing and making sure that I am in the right shape for the season this year.”
Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson liked the way his team muscled up on defense against Marist.
“It really showed up in Asheville Friday night against South Carolina (a 66-62 win on November 12), instantly it didn’t feel like to me a team that had taken a year off,” said Henderson.
“It was just playing really hard and competing. This team has that and I am going to try and tap into it as much as possible. I was really pleased tonight, that is a really good one-on-one team.
The Tigers are getting some really good play from Langborg.
“If you watched us the last few games, he is in the game all of the time,” said Henderson.
“We have had a lot of really good shooters in the program but his shot is just absolutely beautiful. He is such a smart player. Tosan and Ryan are two of our best passers, they see so much. He is such a good player. I asked him to really work on his defense since he got back and he has made it a huge priority. He made really tough plays all weekend and then again today. He is playing great. It looks like he is having fun and it is fun to watch.”
It has been fun for Henderson to see junior forward Keeshawn Kellman’s development.
“I have never coached anyone like him, his physicality is next level; he is a physical specimen and an unbelievably hard worker,” said Henderson, who got 11 points and four rebounds against Marist from the 6’9, 235-pound Kellman.
“He has just been away and out for so long. We really want him to get back to that and get him that confidence. We developed a little bit without him, we have to get used to having him back inside. Mason has been terrific too, giving us some real key minutes inside.”
With Princeton playing at Monmouth on November 24 before hosting Fairleigh Dickinson on November 28, Henderson likes the inside-out game this team has been displaying in its encouraging start.
“I think we are a very good shooting team, now we have those three guys inside,” said Henderson, referring to Evboumwan in addition to Kellman and Hooks
“We have a lot of different things we can do but the guys seem to be fine with it. Everyone wants to play but they really seem to understand how to get things done.”
Langborg believes that team chemistry has helped produce that versatility.
“Coach talks about togetherness all of the time, I think we have a really good group,” said Langborg.
“We are very adaptable. Once we see something, I think we are able to change our mindset and are able to guard a lot of different teams. Going into league, it will only help us in being able to adapt to those teams.”