Men's Basketball Awards Annual Honors at Team Banquet
T.J. Bray, Chris Clement and team manager Matt Blackburn won Princeton's annual team awards as the Tiger men's basketball program recognized its 2013-14 team at the annual banquet Tuesday night in Jadwin Gym.
The team finished 21-9 overall, made its fourth postseason appearance in the last five years, and continued a run of being the only team to finish in the top three of the Ivy League in each of the last six seasons.
Princeton enjoyed starts of 9-1 and 11-2 before league play began but found itself 0-4 and 3-6 in the Ivy League midseason. The Tigers showed great character in closing league play with a five-game winning streak and notching their fourth postseason win in five seasons by knocking off Tulane in New Orleans to open the College Basketball Invitational.
In the process, Princeton achieved its fourth 20-win season in the last five years and continued a streak of six straight winning seasons in the Ivy League. The wins made third-year head coach Mitch Henderson '98 the third coach in program history to record 20-win seasons in at least two of his first three campaigns, and he stands third in program history with 58 wins through three seasons. Both accolades put him alongside Butch van Breda Kolff '44 and one of his own head coaches, Bill Carmody.
All three team awards went to seniors for the first time since 2011. T.J. Bray earned the B.F. Bunn Trophy, while Chris Clement earned the Class of 1959 Bob Rock Sixth-Man Award, and Matt Blackburn won the Paul Richard Friedman '81 Award.
Bray, a first-team All-Ivy Leaguer, had one of the most outstanding individual seasons in program history in 2013-14 to earn him the Bunn Trophy, which is awarded annually to that member of the Princeton University basketball team who in play, sportsmanship and influence has contributed most to the sport, given in memory of B. Franklin Bunn 1907 since 1931. Coming within five points of being the first Tiger since 1972 to win the Ivy League scoring title, Bray was the 30th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points, a feat he achieved in the CBI first-round game at Tulane. He scored more than half of those points this season, leading the team with 468, while piling up a team-high 133 assists, the third-most in a Princeton season since the stat began being kept in 1974-75. Bray also ends his career in third place on the program's assist list with 374, behind only William Ryan '84 (413) and Kit Mueller '91 (381). A .537 field-goal shooter this season, Bray made his 52 3-pointers at a .413 clip and was the team's third-leading rebounder at 4.8 boards a game. Bray's 133 assists came with just 46 turnovers, an assist-to-turnover rate of nearly 3 to 1, and he graduates as the school's single-game assist record holder after notching 13 in the overtime win at Penn State last December. Twice this season, Bray had double-doubles with points and assists, the first Tiger since Mueller to record a points-assists double-double. Bray's first-team all-league honor put a Princeton player on the first-team All-Ivy League for a fourth-straight season, the longest streak since Princeton had a player on that team annually from 1988-2001.
Clement earned the Rock Sixth-Man Award, which is awarded annually to that member of the Princeton University men's basketball team whose energy, effort and enthusiasm made an invaluable contribution to the season. It has been presented in memory of their classmate, Robert Rock, by the Class of 1959 since 2006. Clement played in 19 games on the campaign and had a season-long streak of five games with double-digit minutes before seeing his season end due to injury. Clement made all 12 free throws he attempted on the season, which could be a program record for most makes on the season without a miss. Princeton's records for free throw attempts go back to the 1947-48 season.
Blackburn earned the Friedman Award, which is presented to the player who does his very best every day in every way, given by the Friends of Princeton Men’s Basketball in memory of Paul Richard Friedman ’81 since 1992. Blackburn has been a student manager for the team for all four of his years at Princeton and impressed all he encountered with his diligence, deference, kindness and dedication to task. He joins a small group of non-player honorees, alongside a pair of fellow managers, Miles Clark '96 and Michael McDonnell '99, and former head coach Pete Carril, who was given the honor in his final season leading the program.