It’s an odd time to be a conference champion. On the one hand, you want to sit back, savor your conference title and enjoy the moment. On the other hand, you need to turn the page and get to work.
The NCAA Tournament is upon us.
“It’s funny,” Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “A lot of my friends are like, ‘Aren’t you having a great time? Aren’t you enjoying this?’ I always say if you were walking down the street and you saw somebody in your life (that was) the person you admire most, let’s say Derek Jeter is walking down the street. You wouldn’t go over there and be like, ‘This is great. I’m really enjoying this moment.’ You’d be like, ‘How did you hit that slider?’ You’re just focused. You’re totally in the moment. Maybe that’s not a great analogy, but it’s the way it works for my head. It’s one step in front of the next, who’s the next opponent and I think that’s the best way to do it. Just focus on the work, put your plan together and then go out and have some fun and play hard.”
Princeton (23-6, 14-0) qualified for the NCAA Tournament after beating Yale, 71-59, in the Ivy League Championship on Sunday. The Tigers, seeded 12th in the West, will play No. 5 Notre Dame (25-9, 12-6) on Thursday at 12:15 p.m. ET.
Notre Dame advanced to the ACC Championship, ultimately losing to Duke, 75-69, on Saturday.
“They’re good,” Henderson said of the Irish. “They’re very good. We were in the hotel when they were playing against Duke, and we got a chance to watch a little bit of them. They’ve got a couple of New Jersey guys that we’re familiar with in (Steve) Vasturia and (Matt) Farrell. We know V.J. Beachem is a very good player, and then of course (Bonzie) Colson is a real handful. We actually play kind of similarly offensively: open, kind of free. They shoot the ball well, and of course they do what we value a lot here: They take care of the ball. They’re the best in the country at not turning the ball over. So they’ll be a huge challenge, but it’s the first round of the NCAA Tournament and we’ll do our best to prepare our guys to win.”
Princeton has four players averaging double figures: Steven Cook and Devin Cannady, who are both averaging 13.7 points per game, Myles Stephens, who is averaging 12.6 points, and Spencer Weisz, who is averaging 10.4. Cook, Cannady and Stephens are all shooting at least 41.0 percent from three-point range.