Princeton men’s basketball is prepared to take aim at an Ivy League title, returning its five top scorers from a team that won 22 games and finished second in the league behind Cornell for the second straight year. With the Big Red graduating five starters from a team that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16, a versatile Tiger squad could climb to the top of the Ivies for the first time since 2004.
To reach that goal, Princeton will need consistent performances from captains Kareem Maddox ’11, Dan Mavraides ’11, and Patrick Saunders ’12.
Maddox had an impressive second half in his junior campaign, consistently excelling on the defensive end and averaging almost 10 points and six rebounds per game in the Ivy slate and the Tigers’ three postseason games in the College Basketball Invitational.
Princeton also will rely on guard Douglas Davis ’12, who has led the team in scoring his first two seasons and should become the first Princeton player since Kit Mueller ’91 to exceed 1,000 career points as a junior.
In three seasons under head coach Sydney Johnson ’97, the program has shown steady improvement. This year, the Tigers face two stern tests in the first 48 hours of their season, hosting in-state rival Rutgers Nov. 12 before heading to defending national-champion Duke Nov. 14. Princeton plays 30 regular season games in 2010-11, the most in program history.
“Because we have more experience, I think that playing more games will serve this team well as we go into the league,” Johnson said. “When you have a younger team, my philosophy is that a lot of practice time helps younger guys a bit more.”This year’s younger guys include a five-member freshman class headlined by guard T.J. Bray, who was named “Mr. Basketball” by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. “I’d be happy if some of our freshmen really emerged,” Johnson said. “We’re going to leave the door open for them to do that.”