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Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko ( or email

Thursday, November 8, 2012

HOOPS PREVIEW: Behind Hummer, Princeton is favorite in Ivy

Princeton's Ian Hummer is preseason Ivy Player of the Year/ AP Photo

PRINCETON — Princeton coach Mitch Henderson is thinking big this year.

Big as in size.
This year’s Tigers squad has plenty of depth along the front line, with last year’s rotating center duo of Brendan Connolly and Mack Darrow returning. They’ll be joined by 6-foot-10 junior Will Barrett — who missed most of last season with a foot injury — Denton Koon, a talented sophomore, and freshman Hans Brase, who has already earned rave reviews.

“We’re more like the teams in the early 2000s with (6-foot-8) Mason Rocca and (6-foot-10) Chris Young,” Henderson said Wednesday at the team’s media day. “We can have big guys on the floor at the same time. We hope to compete with the Big East teams we play on the boards.”

Of all the Princeton bigs, however, the biggest reason the Tigers were voted number one in the Ivy League’s preseason media poll is 6-foot-7 senior forward Ian Hummer.

“We do have depth up front, but we only have one guy who has experience playing more than 30 minutes a game: Ian Hummer,” Henderson said. “He’s going to play a lot.”

Hummer, an explosive athlete, is generally acknowledged as the best player in the Ivy League on both the offensive and defensive end of the court. With Harvard weakened by an academic-cheating scandal, the door seems wide open for the Tigers to win their 27th Ivy crown.

“We’re in a position to win a lot of games,” Henderson said. “In the league, I think we match up well with everybody. What we’ve worked really hard at is balance. We’re not just four guys surrounding Hummer. We have different weapons.”

Of the team’s perimeter players, the most dangerous is junior guard T.J. Bray, who was the third leading scorer last season after Hummer and the graduated Doug Davis. Bray didn’t play during the team’s offseason trip to Spain due to a knee injury, but is expected to be 100 percent this Saturday for the opener at Buffalo.

“We’re a completely different team when he’s on the floor,” Henderson said of Bray. “He does everything for us. He’s not a real nifty passer, but he’s got a way of making everybody else better. He’s not very fast, so he’s just now getting back to 100 percent healthy.”

The Tigers had also been expecting guard Jimmy Sherburne to be a major contributor, but unfortunately, he will miss the season with a shoulder issue. Because Bray didn’t play in Spain, however, it gave Henderson time to experiment with different backcourt combinations, with Clay Wilson, Chris Clement and even the versatile Koon seeing minutes at guard.

“It gave me more time to think about the way we need to be playing with those guys,” he said.
Much like last season, the Tigers have scheduled an extremely tough slate of non-conference games to prepare for Ivy play. They’ll host both Rutgers and Drexel and travel to take on Syracuse, the ninth-ranked team in the country.

“It’s challenging, but that’s what we wanted,” Henderson said.

The Ivy schedule won’t be easy either. Harvard, Penn, Columbia and Cornell are all dangerous, and the Tigers preseason ranking means they’ll get everyone’s best shot.

Henderson, however, is taking the expectations in stride.

“Like I always said, we’re doing something wrong here if those aren’t the expectations,” he said. “That’s just the way it’s been. I like practicing when there is an expectation. We don’t talk about it, and there is probably more of a target, but everyday it’s the same around here. It’s just work.”

— For coverage of Princeton basketball this season follow Nick Peruffo on twitter @nickperuffo


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