GETTING IN RHYTHM: Princeton University men’s basketball player Deven Austin dribbles upcourt last Saturday against Columbia. Freshman guard Austin scored 10 points to help Princeton defeat the Lions 88-66. A night earlier, Austin scored 13 points and had eight rebounds as Princeton rallied to edge Cornell 89-82 and give head coach Mitch Henderson his 200th career victory. Princeton, now 16-6 overall and 7-2 Ivy League, plays at Dartmouth on February 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
History was both celebrated and made as the Princeton University men’s basketball team hosted Cornell last Friday night.
Before the contest, which matched teams tied atop the Ivy League standings, Princeton held a ceremony honoring the 25th anniversary of the storied 1996-1998 Tiger teams that posted a 73-13 overall record and a 40-2 league mark.
A large contingent of players and coaches from those squads was on hand and introduced to the cheers of the Jadwin Gym crowd. The last two players recognized were the head coaches facing off in the Ivy showdown, Princeton’s Mitch Henderson ’98 and Cornell’s Brian Earl ’99.
“We were so lucky to be influenced by such great mentors and such great coaches,” said Henderson, noting that former coaches Bill Carmody, John Thomson III, and Howard Levy were all present for the event.
“It is a really rare thing. What you want as a head coach for your team is to experience what we got to experience, which is a really special group of guys with great players and great people. When you come here, you want to make your mark because there have been so many teams before you that have done so. It was just amazing to see so many people — 25 years is a long time ago.”
That experience has greatly impacted Henderson’s coaching approach.
“There are pieces of Brian, Sydney [Johnson], Steve Goodrich, Bill, Joe [Scott], John and Howie in what I do; almost everything I say is regurgitated from somebody else,” said Henderson, noting that Tiger coach Pete Carril, who passed away this past August, was also a huge influence on his coaching.
“Everything should be cited, and then you have put your own stamp on it. It has never been lost on me, how lucky you get to come here. I felt that today. It was very emotional after those teams walked off the floor. It really hit me hard.”
The clash against Cornell turned into an emotional contest as Princeton found itself trailing 45-35 at halftime before rallying for a hard-earned 89-82 win before a crown of 2,241. more