Virginia Tech Princeton NIT tournament preview

#39 R.P.I. Princeton @ #89 R.P.I. Virginia Tech:

Ivy League and No.6 seeded Princeton is coming to Blacksburg, Virginia by way of National Invitation this Wednesday night at 8pm.Pton Tigers hoops logo

The first ever coach Buzz O&M post-season …

So it begins.
-King Théoden, battle of Helms Deep-

Princeton enters this N.I.T. round number one game at 22 up and 6 down overall and a nifty 12-2 in Ivy League play. Princeton won 10 of their last 11 games and 14 of their last 16 to close 2016. So it is fair to say that these Tigers have been tough to tame of late; as the 2016 Ivy League runner-up or silver medalist.

Princeton, more or less, has a 3 Guard, 1 Wing and 1 Power Forward offense; and enters this roadie as a 3.5 point underdog out on the Vegas big board. And there is talent here folks; as Princeton placed (past tense, due to injury) three different all-conference pre-season guys back in September.

Ergo, therefore, to wit… this one is not a hosting gimmie or one to fall asleep on. Fall asleep on this springtime blizzard of backdoor cuts and you will get beat.

Princeton at a glance:

  • 3rd fewest fouls in NC2A (478)!
  • 10th fewest turnovers (32o)
  • 19th in 3-point percentage (38.9%)
  • 42nd in scoring (78 ppg)
  • 68th in defensive rebounding (26.93 drpg)
  • Injuries=1

    offensive fulcrum, 1o1...
    offensive fulcrum, 1o1…
  • Forward #3o, Hans Brase, 6’8” 231 Lb. Center, (knee, out for the year), which sucks, as this knee injury has effectively ended this former 11.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.9 apg rather useful looking senior’s basketball career. As he was voted 2nd-team all-Ivy pre-season; and he was the high-post Qb or pivot of the coach Henderson modified Princeton offense. As a healthy Brase may have put Princeton into the Big Dance, as this is a major Tiger sized tranquilizer dart. God Bless.

Tigers Returning Starters=was all 5, now 4, sans Brase.

Princeton Strengths:

  • Most Versatile player in the whole entire Ivy League, according to Lindy’s pre-season magazine is Princeton Wing 6’4” 2o9 lb., Spencer Weise.  Weise is your classical ever improving gym-rat that every coach wishes he had. Said to have a strong inside-out game, and was the Ivy Newcomer of the year two seasons ago in his debut season. 10.2 ppg, a (now) second best 5.2 boards and the team lead at 4.8 dimes dropped per game is no bad work, if you can get it. Now mix in 39% from beyond the arc and you suddenly have an all-around capable baller who may not be a superstar in any individual medley category, although Spencer is indeed dang solid in all categories thus far.

    Pretty entertaining guy, to be @Princeton!
    Pretty entertaining guy, to be @Princeton!
  • Leading Princeton in scoring this campaign however is 6’4” 2oo lb. junior year #21, Henry Caruso. Caruso is another worker-bee flavored guy who has worked himself up into becoming the alpha-scorer this year (15.3 ppg); after a middleocore though steadily improving 6.1 ppg last year. Accordingly; can you say Most Improved award winning in the Ivy League? Now mix in the team lead with 6.3 rpg and the fact that Caruso is the most reliable backcourt defender in the traditionally athletically stiff looking Tiger stop-unit sets and you have a very intriguing third year baller on your hands. Not to mention his dead-eye ringer sniping from long distance at 46.8% on his three’s. And Caruso, is one other offensive thing, he is a 131 time visitor to the charity-stripe thus far this season, which equates to nearly 50 more FTA’s this year than any other Tiger. As Caruso is truly a penetrating threat who can pull the trigger from downtown and that makes Henry a tough cover. As Caruso is prolly a better athlete than his pasty look foretells, what with pretty good high school football and baseball careers alike; and he is also a three-time Scholar Athlete Award honoree. Major props on that! And there was a little bit of J.Will (Jason Williams) nasty in his street-mix highlight two-hand dunking tape to have ended up at Princeton, Nj. Don’t snooze on this kid folks, real nice spin-moves with unexpected ups (vertical leap).
  • 6’11” 235 lb. Four, third year Pete Miller, is basically the only Post player Princeton has left. Nice deft-touch near the basket, and a two time Massachusetts high school state champion who did not have much in the way of metrics or box score stat lines coming into this year. Right now Pete is getting you 6.2 ppg along with 6.1 rebounds albeit on a mere 51% FT-shooting. Pete did start last year, and has been more of a screen-setting, dirty-work, house chores | allowance earning kinda kid thus far. Though he is being asked to do much more now what with the unfortunately insalubrious Brase.
  • coach Mitch Henderson: a former ATL.Hawk and overseas pro who is prolly a mid-major coach “on the come”, as they say. This after a seller Ivy career at Princeton in his own right. This from a guy who was known for his Pt.G speed and is still speedy enough at age 40 to scrimmage with his very own players his very ownself.

Princeton Weaknesses:

  • not a super deep team off the pine.
  • an ever less deep team down on the low blocks; as only 1 Tiger in the rotation checks in north of 6’4” in height!
  • overall, not the most athletic hoops squad I’ve ever broken tape on, either.

Tiger Bench: (depth=2, Devin Cannady and Myles Stevens. Devin Cannady is a decent little (pun intended) substitute all to his ownself. As Princeton’s second-leading scorer at 11.6 ppg, leading FT-shooter 88.4%, second-best in steals 1.1 spg and first-best in 3-piont shooting at a sizzling 47.8%! Yes, I’d say that counts, as does as a rookie debut year. This after winning the state championship with a perfect season last year in the scholastic hoops happy state of Indiana. Cannady is a 6’1” 179 lb. play-maker at the One, who is one who may have Hoosier state got away… Myles Stevens however was actually the more heralded recruiting coup this time last year for coach Henderson and Princeton, as he is listed as a potential breakout newcomer in several of my pre-season magazines. Stevens is 6’4” 198 lb. Wing who plays stronger and more aggressive than he looks. Had a significant knee injury which cost him his senior high school season. Was the #1 recruit in Delaware prior to that. Nets you 5.4 ppg on 29% from range off the pine, while still recovering from said knee blowout. Godspeed.)

princeton match ups

Beating Princeton in the opening round of the N.I.T. @home, ... is all about what?

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Illation, conclusion (s) and OPT digits:

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is… this smaller mid-Major ain’t nobodies soft-touch or easy out gents. As this is a very well learnt, well coached and nearly misQ free Princeton men’s basketball club that does not beat itself. You have to do the mid-major lifting here and go out and beat Princeton in your own right.

118-58, overall and @Princeton does not suck.
118-58, overall and @Princeton does not suck.

The Princeton O, Henderson style, mini-me quickie tutorial:

  1. Princeton legendary coach Pete Carril developed the Princeton offense, and coach Mitch Henderson learnt the same while balling under coach  Bill Carmody @Princeton as a player (circa: 1994-1998).
  2. The fabled Princeton O emphasizes constant motion; getting the ball to the high post (Center, or  Hans Brase, formerly); and using backdoor-cuts and off-the-ball screens to create layups or wide open 3-pointers. A misnomer is that it is not designed to slow down the game and limit scoring. It is however designed to make the other team play defense longer, and therefore eventually breakdown mentally or in terms of defensive focus, and therefore eventually give up an open shot.
  3. Coach m.Henderson however, has installed some changes, as the Tigers are looking for more post-up opportunities –or at least they were prior to the Brase injury.

    Note the 2-Guard on the signature backdoor cut!
    Note the 2-Guard on the signature backdoor cut!

The closer:
Princeton is +2 in rest for this one; and of course they are a hoops squad of pretty heady, pretty smart, crop of ballers –to be sure.

As these Tigers have been shooting the eyes outta the ball in their last five games. 50% overall and 46% range are surefire signs of an Ivy offense that is clicking. However, no matter how well coached Princeton is, fundamentally and strategically speaking, there are individual tactical defensive elements here that trail coach Buzz and his A.c.c. company as overall athletics are concerned.

Princeton was also 9-5 or 65% out on the road for a reason(s) –as you do not see that many winning visiting standards in the modern NC2A era. Now we see that the Tigers’ Top-8 rotational ballers all saw action in every game this season; and each of their Top-5 scorers shoots at least 35% from the 3-point range. Impressed yet? You should be.


Or in other words? A quick, in sync or hot shooting start from these visiting Tigers could prove to be disagreeable. However, Virginia Tech is 13% better in defense of the 3-point shot in these two teams last five contests overall. I like that; and I like LeDay shooting 54% or more for the last fortnight and I really like s.Allen’s surging all-time collegiate career offensive individual highs of late too.

I like all of that to be just enough to stave off a very pesky (poison) Ivy League team at home, and advance to round#2 of the National Invitation Tournament in T.V. friendly contest.

(63% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech
=8o, Princeton=74




StPats Snoopy

2 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I must be missing something. I’ve seen two games of Princeton’s so far, one win and one loss. This is not the Princeton offense of old that was predicated on back door cuts and screens. In fact, I was shocked at how little I saw of it. What they do well is get to the line, make FT’s, and 3 PTs. Not quite as much guard play as the Villanova’s that have gone past, but close.

    Small subset, and they are scrappy, but they seem susceptible to better athlete’s at the guard position. I wager Seth, JRob, Hudson and Wilson can have a field day on dribble drive. Match that with assists, and I just feel like… jinkies! Almost a jinx!

    1. yah; I won’t dispute that to a point.
      I read that coach Henderson tried to put some of the Georgetown sets into it (the Pton offense). And work more off his Center; the kid who -God Bless- blew out his knee and was basically his elbow Qb prior to that sad circumstance. So it changed; and then it had to change again after Brace injury. Not exactly the full-time weaving/rubbing Carril set(s) any more. Agry.

      Also agry that I like our athleticism here to be the difference maker.
      This would be an ideal game for Hudson to show up.
      He’s due for another big on in fact.

      Thanks for posting Ti!


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