December 15, 2021

With PDS Boys’ Hoops Featuring New Faces, Panthers Will Be Mixing and Matching Lineup

TOP GUN: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Connor Topping fires a shot in a game last winter. PDS is looking for senior star Topping to have a big final campaign. The Panthers tip off their 2021-22 campaign by playing at George School (Pa.) on December 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As Eugene Burroughs enters his second year at the helm of the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball program, he is facing a coaching challenge.

Losing some key players from last year’s squad to graduation and having a rising star, Hampton Sanders, transfer to Lawrenceville, Burroughs will need to mix and match the remaining pieces at his disposal.

“Right now, I am putting together a puzzle, we don’t have true positions,” said Burroughs, who guided PDS to a 7-3 record last winter in a season shortened by COVID-19 concerns.

“I don’t have a true, true point guard so I have to figure out how to put guys in different spots. I have to look at the matchups and we have to play to see who can do what.”

Having gotten used to the approach of Burroughs, who has coached at the college and pro levels, the returning players are on the same page with him.

“I am impressed with some of our kids and the carryover from last year, which is a sign of growth from year one to year two,” said Burroughs, whose team tips off its 2021-22 campaign by playing at George School (Pa.) on December 17.

“The guys have a better feel for some of the things we are doing, defensively, terminology, and where to be on the floor. The new players on the team are trying to adjust to it and I see the older guys telling them what to do. When your players are explaining to the other players where to be and what to do, that is good.”

Burroughs is looking for one of his older guys, senior Connor Topping, to have a big season.

“Connor was a starter last year, his role is definitely going to be elevated this year as a senior,” said Burroughs.

“He had some good games for us last year. He knows what he is doing and he is a three-sport athlete. He is our best player, he gets everything. He played the three (small forward) last year and this year he will play some of everything.”

Junior guard Jaden Hall is poised to elevate his game this winter. “Jaden came off the bench last year, it was his first taste of varsity,” said Burroughs.

“He showed he can compete at that level. He had a great summer, playing on the AAU circuit. I think this year for him is going to be a big step up. Last year, there wasn’t any pressure on him to perform, he had the other guys. He played an alternate role. This year, he is a guy that we have got to go to. He is going to really grow a lot this year.”

In the frontcourt, senior Anthony Stewart gives PDS a physical presence.

“Anthony came in last year as a center type kid and he played behind Ethan,” said Burroughs.

“He is senior, he is physical. We are looking for him to have a little more impact this year.”

Junior Bram Silva should have a bigger impact this season as well.

“Bram played a little bit later in the year in a short season,” said Burroughs.

“He has been looking great and doing some good things. I am looking forward to him having a good year, he has a good feel for what we are doing.”

Burroughs believes that transfer Jaden Dublin will do some good things once he hits the court after sitting out the first 30 days of the season under New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) rules.

“Jaden is a point guard, he has good size and quickness and he is going to help,” said Burroughs.

“I wish I had him from the start. He can handle the ball. I am still learning him, he is still learning from me. He is still learning what we are doing. I think he is going to help us.”

In order to get off to a good start, PDS will need to hit the boards as a unit.

“I think we have to rebound the ball as a team, that is a big key for us,” said Burroughs.

“We are not the biggest team but I think if we can rebound the ball as a group, that is going to lead to some opportunities for us transition-wise. We have to rebound by committee with all the players getting in there and rebounding. That is going to be important for us throughout the season.”