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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

COACH HENDERSON UNCUT: 11/19/12


I caught up with Princeton coach Mitch Henderson Monday before practice, in anticipation of the Tigers' trip north to take on No. 6 Syracuse Wednesday. Here is a transcript of the conversation.

On how the Syracuse zone effects preparation…

We just have to stay with what we do. This has been a little bit of a rough stretch for us, in terms of losing some games that we felt like we had an opportunity to win, but I like the shots we’re getting and I like the execution. We just haven’t seen the results. We’re trying to stay on the positive side of things.

On the tough early schedule…

We want to play a tough schedule. We’re not hiding away from what we are. Our opener on the road was tough. The downside of scheduling is getting some tough loses but everything we do is to prepare us for the league.

On the early rebounding struggles…

We were bigger than Rutgers, but they outrebounded us. We struggled on the board against Northeastern at times. I don’t know that being big matters for us. Its more about if we can play with some moxie. We have to get production from every single spot.

On Syracuse’s size…

Syracuse, they are big, but they play an unusual zone that shrinks the court quite a bit. We’re going to have to find seems, and we’re going to have to be really smart with the ball. We have to do our thing defensively a little bit better.

On if his pleased with the performance of Princeton’s big guys…

I’m unhappy with the results. I have confidence in these guys to be the force they need to be for us as we enter into a really important stretch for us. As we hit January, we’re playing seniors. Those are the guys that got us to where we are, and they have to take us home.

On Syracuse’s Brandon Triche…

He’s very talented, just a really good player. I’m not sure you can limit him to much, but you have to make sure he’s guarded at all times. We’re long, so we’ll try to use our length. You’re playing them on their home floor, so I’m sure there are going to be some challenges, but we’ve seen really good players last year and this year and he is definitely one of them. They are a very talented team all the way around, so we’ve got our hands full.

On if Princeton has enough experience to handle Carrier Dome environment…

We’ll find out. We’ve got a starting backcourt that hasn’t shot the ball particularly well. I don’t think that has anything to do with playing their first games or not, because they’ve been good shots. You’re in the dome, and maybe it’s a different background, people talk about how it’s a different kind of a place. We play in a slightly unusual place too, but the basket is the same height. You have to make shots when you’re open. We’re getting better and I think we’re going to have the opportunity to get good looks.

On what he says to T.J. Bray…

Keep shooting. It’s going to come.

On T.J. Bray returning from the knee injury, and if that is effecting his shot…

It’s slightly new for him. He didn’t play in Spain. Really his first significant minutes were against Buffalo. We’re confident in T.J.’s ability at some point to go in the right direction.

On Bray’s ability to do other things besides score…

He’s leading us in rebounding. He was 2-12 from the field against Buffalo, and he survived a horrible shooting night by making contributions in other ways. He’s very valuable to what we do. When he starts making shots, we’re going to be fine.

On if Bray leading the team in rebounding is a bad thing…

I know what you’re saying. We need to get rebounding as a team. It’s been an emphasis. T.J. is a very good rebounder, but usually, sometimes when a guard is your leading rebounder—especially a bigger guard like T.J.— does that mean the big guys aren’t getting any? It might. It might have for us against Rutgers. Sometimes it means (the big guys) are doing their jobs and T.J. goes in there and gets it. We should never get outrebounded the way we are built, and we have to keep working on it.

On value of a win vs. execution…

We’re playing to win. We scheduled the game just for those reasons. Shoot, if we were 3-0 would you ask the same question? We have a lot of work to do, but the goal is always the same.

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