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:







Like Hoopville on Facebook

Advertisement


Your Phil of Hoops

What Kentucky gave us will be forgotten, and that’s too bad

April 5, 2015 by

kentucky

Most people are going to remember Kentucky in 2014-15 more for the one loss than the 38 wins and the journey that came with it. That’s the most unfortunate thing of all.

A happy resolution comes in Delaware

April 1, 2015 by

delaware

There has finally been a resolution to Monte Ross’ contract situation, and it’s a happy one for the Blue Hens’ head coach and his staff after the work they have done to rebuild the program.

Fran Dunphy deals with bubble uncertainty for the first time

March 15, 2015 by

temple

Temple is firmly on the bubble after losing in the American Athletic Conference Tournament to SMU. It’s the first time in head coach Fran Dunphy’s storied career that his team has been in this situation.

Hoopville Archives

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.

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed listening to COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT, a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, joined by former St. John's and George Washington head coach Mike Jarvis, former Fairfield head coach Terry O'Connor and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

Here are links to the shows:

March 15, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 22, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 29, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

April 5, 2015 - First hour | Second hour | Third hour

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2015 Hoopville Spring Finale Notes

June 30, 2015 by

hoopguy-divisionII

We look back at more from the 2015 Hoopville Spring Finale, where some of the championship games were worth the price of admission.

A big championship day for a local program at the Hoopville Spring Finale

June 23, 2015 by

hoopguy-yellow

The 2015 Hoopville Spring Finale saw a number of good championship games on Sunday to close it out, and we start our look back with a look at those games.

Player highlights from Mass Elite and Boston Warriors college showcase

June 4, 2015 by

hoopguy-cyan

Two big programs, Mass Elite and the Boston Warriors, got together once again on a college showcase for many of their high school players. We look at some who stood out on the evening.

2015 Massachusetts AAU Tournament notes

June 3, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

Massachusetts held its AAU championship rounds in a few age groups and its entire tournament for the oldest age group this weekend. We take a look at some of Sunday’s action in Foxboro.

adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis – Sunday notes

April 29, 2015 by

adidasuprising

Sunday was the conclusion of the adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis, and we take a look at some of the players who shined on a day that saw a few games that weren’t very competitive.