|Johnson ready for a Princeton revival|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 23 April 2007 10:43|
``I feel very comfortable here, and I know I want to be here,'' said Johnson, who was introduced as Princeton's basketball coach Monday. ``It's a challenge. It's the next step in my career. I think pressure comes from partly being unprepared, and I don't see myself like that.''
Johnson is back on familiar ground, having captained three Princeton teams in the mid-1990s. This will be his first head coaching job. He spent the last three seasons as an assistant at Georgetown under John Thompson III, who also played and coached at Princeton.
Johnson succeeds Joe Scott, who resigned last month to coach the University of Denver. Scott, a 1987 Princeton graduate, inherited a team that won the Ivy League the year before and returned four starters, but was unable to keep the success going.
In three seasons under Scott, Princeton was 18-24 in the league and 38-45 overall. Last season, the Tigers were 11-17 and finished last in the Ivies with a 2-12 mark, their worst since the league began play in 1955-56.
Princeton has won or shared 25 Ivy titles, the same number as archrival Penn, though the Quakers have won the league outright in four of the last five years.
``I don't have a plan of, 'Let's win X amount of games by this point in the season,''' Johnson said. ``Basically, I'm a big-picture person, and my big picture is how we approach every single day. I want tomorrow to be better than today, and the rest will follow.''
At Princeton, Johnson was twice named to the All-Ivy first team. In 1997, he was the league's player of the year, and finished as the school's career steals leader. During his four years as a starter, Princeton went 80-29, including 47-9 in the Ivy League.
Johnson wants to draw on his experience of watching Thompson guide the Hoyas to the Final Four last season and incorporate what he learned during seven years playing professionally in Europe. Three of his teams won Italian league championships.
``You mix in all of that, but at the end of the day your players define what's going on on the court,'' Johnson said. ``Hopefully I can put certain guys in situations where they're most comfortable and it's most advantageous to us as a team.''
Princeton returns four of its top six scorers from last season, but the Tigers will need to find a way to score more points: They allowed a nation-best 53.3 points a game defensively, but averaged only 50 points on offense.
``I love what we have in our lineup,'' Johnson said. ``We have a long haul between now and the first game, but I like what we bring to the table. At the end of the day, we are Princeton basketball. It's a special place, and it's important for me to see that in their eyes.''
Johnson said he would retain assistant Tony Newsom but has not decided on the rest of his staff.