Northwestern Basketball Coaching Search: Mitch Henderson

Mike Stobe

Let's keep the coaching carousel spinning with a familiar face and former Carmody lieutenant, Princeton HC, Mitch Henderson.

Mitch Henderson imprinted himself in the annals of March Madness with a backdoor layup with 4 seconds remaining to fell UCLA in the opening round of the '96 tourney.

He'd have two more cracks the tourney, and they'd win against UNLV in '98. After a cup of coffee with the Atlanta Hawks and playing international ball in Ireland, he settled in as an assistant coach for Bill Carmody from 2000-11. He finally got his shot in late 2012, replacing Sydney Johnson back at his alma mater, Princeton. In his first season they got to the second round of the CBI losing to BCS blueblood Pittsburgh. In 2013 the Tigers went into the second week of March with a one-game lead in the loss column on the Harvard Crimson with roadies against Yale (kenpom 192) and Brown (kenpom 228) and a home finale against Penn (kenpom 244). Welp, they only got the win at home against the Quakers and finished 17-11, 10-4 in the Ivy one game back of the Crimson. G'euh. Second place sucks in the Ivy, as there will be no postseason for the '13 Tigers.

What are Hendo's Tigers like?

Per kenpom.com, Henderson's squads ranked 92nd and 93rd overall in '12 and '13 respectively. They can chuck - as they were 6th in the nation in triples accuracy, notching 40.3%, even though they only ranked 145th (slightly above average) in 3pt attempt percentage. In turn, this made them very efficient in terms of PPP - 1.07, good for 68th in the country (they were killing it at 1.13 PPP in the Ivy.) Outside of that, they protected their glass very well - they grabbed 71.4% of ribs on their defensive glass, which was good for 56th in the country. (Only if the 'Cats had that kind of protection). Outside of that, they were slightly above or below average in the remaining categories. I mean, their FT "Defense" (i.e. what opponents shoot against them from the line) was significantly above average - Tigers ranked 327th in that stat, so perhaps that says something about how great the lighting is at Jadwin gymnasium, or perhaps the dearth of big heads that their student body utilizes for distraction.

They play mostly man-to-man, and were about national average (though they ranked 2nd in Ivy in terms of defensive efficiency.) They also played a pretty tough non-con -rated 65th per kenpom losing to the likes of Syracuse, Akron and Rutgers. They did beat Bucknell, which is coached by NU-coaching-derby-frontrunner-that isn't-named-Chris-Collins, Dave Paulsen. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.

So, you think he's got a shot?

Slim. I could see him being attractive in that he knows NU inside and out, and that he's only 37 years old and has already gotten 2 years of HC experience in a low-major. He's also from South Bend, Indiana, so perhaps the midwest is more "home" to him than the east coast. From what I heard, he was a hard worker on the recruiting front, and was well liked by his players. On the other hand, he's only 37, hasn't won anything yet except for a CBI win over the Purple Aces of Evansville, and the Tigers muffing at the end of season to fall short of the tournament smacks a little close to ill-Bay, armody-Cay. Too soon, right?


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