Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Princeton Quietly Moving Back to Contender Status

January 30, 2010 Columns No Comments

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – While Cornell and Harvard grab most of the Ivy League headlines, there’s a quiet resurgence going on in one corner of the league.  Without fanfare, Sydney Johnson has Princeton on the way back to contention.

The Tigers were picked second in the Ivy League’s preseason poll this year, which might have seemed a little optimistic to some.  But there could be no mistaking where the program has been headed since the former league Player of the Year took over nearly three years ago.  It’s been on the rise from the beginning.  And now that Johnson has added some young talent to go with his veterans, the Tigers may be ready to surprise some people.

In Johnson’s first season, he took the same players who struggled mightily and made them a respectable team.  The difference from year-to-year was of the night-and-day variety despite a 3-11 Ivy League record.  Last season, the Tigers were the last team to be undefeated in league play en route to finishing tied for second place at 8-6.  This past weekend, the Tigers began league play by sweeping Brown and Yale on the road, which improves their overall road record to 6-4.  At 11-5, the Tigers are just two wins away from last season’s total.

Princeton starts a pair of seniors in Marcus Schroeder and Pawel Buczak and a junior in Dan Mavraides.  Senior Zach Finley also plays significant minutes.  While they all provide leadership in addition to the obvious contributions, the Tigers are getting a big boost from some younger talent.

“I do think we have good young players, and I don’t know if everybody knows that,” Johnson said after the Tigers knocked off Brown with some solid defense.  “If you look at our program, I think we have some older guys who are providing leadership, but we’ve got some talented younger guys.”

Leading the way are sophomores Douglas Davis and Patrick Saunders, who comprise two-thirds of the starting backcourt.  Davis was an honorable mention All-Ivy selection as a freshman last season and leads the team in scoring this season.  He shoots from long range at a better than 40 percent clip, and he had that on display Friday night as he was 4-8 from behind the arc.  Saunders entered the weekend second in the Ivy League in three-point percentage at 48.5 percent and had a good stretch before league play began.

It doesn’t stop there, though.  Look into the frontcourt, and you see talented freshmen Ian Hummer and Will Barrett.  Hummer is fourth on the team in scoring and came through on Friday when Buczak and Finley got in early foul trouble, and has also won a league Rookie of the Week honor.  Barrett hasn’t played a lot of minutes thus far, but they are increasing of late and players like him – long, with the ability to shoot and talented enough to play at a slightly higher level – aren’t overly common in the Ivy League.  Barrett is buried behind veterans, but is worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.

Players like Davis and Saunders have helped accelerate the return of Princeton to the status of a contender in the league.  The players Johnson inherited from the prior staff have all improved, but Davis came in and made an impact right away and Saunders has come alive this season.  It was already clear that Johnson was picking up some key recruiting wins, and now we’re seeing the early results of it.

Johnson knows that his team isn’t going to get a lot of attention easily, not with talk of a possible at-large between Cornell and Harvard if the right scenario happens.  But they are playing well and looking very much like a team on their way to being a contender, and while that might not happen this season, they’re on track to do so next season.

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 11, 2018

January 11, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about several big pieces of news away from game play, one of which puts a lot in perspective. We also talk about the lack of dominant teams and how this has shown up in the results, especially this past weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 4, 2018

January 4, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with a big game in the Big East, then move on to the sudden lack of undefeated teams, a big injury in the ACC, and a powerhouse that looks vulnerable in a stacked conference they have long ruled.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a bizarre finish to an early-season tournament game, the Pac-12’s early struggles, Florida teams going in different directions and two northeast teams trending less relevant even as they excite fans at a famous arena.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 22, 2017

November 22, 2017 by

In our pre-Thanksgiving podcast, we look at a key injury that is likely to be devastating for his team and an under-the-radar 4-0 week, then move on to some early SEC impressions and a couple of teams that just continue to win.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.