Thursday, January 10, 2019

Back In The Old Days

TigerBlog has mentioned Richmond Aririguzoh every day this week, so why not again today?

Aririguzoh, the center on the men's basketball team, was named Ivy League Player of the Week after his 20-point, seven-rebound performance in a 68-65 win over Penn last weekend. He also was featured on this week's edition of "Hard Cuts" as he walked off the court after the game.

You can see that episode HERE by the way.

As Aririguzoh walks, he looks into the camera and starts talking about how great the atmosphere was, how crowded Jadwin Gym was. And he says something really, really strange, something along the lines of "just like back in the old days, back when Coach played."

When TB heard this the first time, it took him a second to process what Aririguzoh was saying. Wait a second. "Coach," is Mitch Henderson. And the days when he played can't really be considered "the old days" quite yet, can they?

Mitch Henderson graduated in 1998. TigerBlog was the men's basketball contact back then, and he saw every game Mitch played here in his four years except for two.

Did you see the one-handed 30-foot bounce pass that Jaelin Llewellyn threaded to Myles Stephens in the first half against Penn? If you didn't, you can see it in the "Hard Cuts" episode.

Over on the radio, TigerBlog mentioned to his partner Patrick McCarthy that he'd seen Mitch make that pass about a million times. Well, maybe not a million.

In fact, when Henderson was a senior, TB wrote a feature story about him that began with the time that Bill Carmody came down to TB's office - which, by the way, pretty much always resulted in something funny - and said "you have to come see this."

It was a Monday morning, after the Tigers swept Yale and Brown on the road (TB thinks it was on the road, but it was definitely Yale and Brown). Carmody was in his office looking at video against Brown, and he wanted to show TB one specific Henderson play.

On the play, Henderson throws a one-handed bounce pass to a cutting Gabe Lewullis for a layup. Also on the play, you could see that four of the Brown players were staring at Henderson as he did it. He had them frozen, presumably because of how much of a magician he was with the ball.

TB remembers writing something along the lines of "that pass would have been unbelievable were there literally 100 others just like it," since at the time he wrote, Henderson had 101 assists on the season. As it turned out, Henderson would finish that magical season with 131 assists, a number that ranks fourth on Princeton's single-season list.

He also has 304 career assists, which leaves him in eighth place at Princeton. The top seven, by the way, includes two centers (Kit Mueller, Ian Hummer) and one forward (John Thompson).

If you saw Henderson play, you remember what kind of passer he was. His ability to throw one-handed passes with either hand and do so immediately off of a dribble was uncanny, and he is easily the best TB has ever seen at doing so.

The pass that Llewellyn threw to Stephens was a lot like the ones that Henderson threw all the time. It brought back those memories to TigerBlog, and it also made TB wonder how many assists Henderson would have had if he had played in a Mitch Henderson-coached offense - one that pushes the ball in transition - with a 30-second clock.

The next opportunity Henderson has to coach a game, by the way, comes up Saturday at 2 at the Palestra, with the rematch against the Quakers. It's a rarity that Princeton plays an opponent consecutively.

For instance, you have to go back to the 1915 and before that 1906 seasons to see the last time Princeton played Penn in two straight games. Both of those times, the second game was played less than a week later and, for what it's worth - which is absolutely nothing - the team that won the first game also won the second.

After the game Saturday, Princeton doesn't play again until Jan. 27 against Wesley, after the break for first semester exams. And then after that it's back into the Ivy League schedule Feb. 1 and 2, at Columbia and Cornell.

So anyway, that was Henderson the player. Now he's Henderson the coach, but does that make when he played "the old days?"

TigerBlog saw something else that took him back 20 years in a flash, by the way. You know what happened on Jan. 10, 1999 - which was 20 years ago today?

It was the debut of a new show on HBO called "The Sopranos."

1 comment:

D '82 said...

When I saw the "Hard Cuts" video of Richmond Aririguzoh after the Penn game referring to "Coach," I had the same reaction that you did, TB. That is, "How does Richmond know what it was like when Pete Carril was coaching?"

It reminds me of a story that Bill Bradley has relayed many times. On that dark day in November 1963, he was studying in Firestone when a fellow student told him, "Somebody has shot the president!" Bradley said that is his first reaction was, "Who would want to shoot Goheen?"