Behind Enemy Lines: Princeton men’s basketball coach Mitch Henderson

Mitch Henderson


I talked with Princeton men's basketball coach Mitch Henderson Monday afternoon about the Tigers' perspective heading into tonight's tilt with Princeton.

Daily Pennsylvanian: How deflating was the loss to Brown that knocked your team out of Ivy title contention?

Mitch Henderson: It’s hugely disappointing for us. We have a very simple goal around here, and that’s to play championship basketball. I think we have a group of seniors who have done a lot for our program and won a title, so it was very disappointing.

DP: Since your team was favored by many to win the conference coming into this season and even during much of the year, how would you characterize this season for your program?

MH: One weekend unfortunately is defining a large part of what we were doing, but I thought that given where we were and the personnel we were playing, I liked what we were doing. I’m proud of the team and where we are. Obviously it’s tough after a difficult loss [but] we never saw ourselves as anything other than trying to get better.

DP: Miles Cartwright scored just two points last time out against you guys on 1-for-7 shooting. How did you guys go about shutting him down in the last game?

MH: He’s a good player, I don’t know if you ever shut him down, but we did a nice job of filling the picture and helping where we needed to help. He’s a good player and I think I said after the first game that it’s going to be a very different game when we see them the next time around, and I believe that’s true.

DP: After looking more aggressive against Brown and Yale this weekend, how do you think Cartwright might try to attack your defense differently this time around?

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Mano-a-Mano: Who should be steering the ship for Penn basketball?

ManoAMano11-1In this week’s Mano-a-Mano, basketball writer John Phillips and Senior Sports Editor-elect Mike Tony debate who should take the reins at point guard for the Quakers.

John Phillips: I think that, as long as this team still wishes to compete in the Ivy League this season, Miles Cartwright should be the team’s point guard. In coach Allen’s mind, it seems as though the main choice is between Cartwright and Jamal Lewis, and Cartwright needs to be given the chance to be the leader that this team so severely needs.
He’s not a true point guard, no, but he does know the other Ivy teams better than any freshman (obviously), and so he gives the team the best shot. I’d spell him with Crocker, who has shown an ability to be a good point guard, but lacks the other attributes needed to be a consistent player.

Mike Tony: Why not try Tony Hicks at the point? Hicks is averaging 2.14 turnovers per game to Cartwright’s 3.36, and Hicks’ ballhandling has looked better as of late. Princeton coach Mitch Henderson was right when he complimented his ability to drive left after the Quakers’ loss to the Tigers.

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Princeton hires Mitch Henderson

Continuing a pattern of hiring one-time players, Princeton hired former Tiger Mitch Henderson as its next head coach of men's basketball today. Henderson is the fourth consecutive coach to have played for Princeton.

Henderson wore the orange and black from 1994-98 (overlapping three years with Sydney Johnson, who just left the head coaching job to take over at Fairfield). While there he played under Bill Carmody, now the head coach at Northwestern. Henderson spent the last 11 years working as an assistant under Carmody. Put plainly, Henderson understands the Princeton way.

"I am pleased to announce that Mitch, one of Princeton's terrific point guards, will succeed his teammate, Sydney Johnson, as the head coach of Princeton basketball," Princeton Director of Athletics Gary Walters said in a statement. "Mitch has developed and polished his craft at Northwestern, a Big Ten university that is similar in philosophy with its commitment to the student-athlete - with emphasis on both sides of that hyphen."

Princeton split the Ivy League title with Harvard this year, winning the Ivy playoff game at the buzzer and earning a berth to the NCAA tournament, where the Tigers put up a valiant effort against Kentucky. Princeton also graduates a stalwart senior class this year.

"I'm so excited about the opportunity to coach here," Henderson said in a statement. He and Sydney Johnson were on the Princeton team that upset UCLA in the 1996 NCAA tournament. "I'm eager to get going with growing on what Sydney has been able to do here the last four years."