We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. We’re starting with Princeton because that’s where Superfudge is set.
As the new century dawned, cataclysmic changes were occurring in Jadwin Gymnasium. In the spring of 2000,Tiger center Chris Young signed a contract to play professional baseball, thus ending his eligibility for Ivy athletics. (In 2015, he signed on with the Kansas City Royals, continuing an impressive career as a big league starter.)
In June, first assistant coach Joe Scott took the head job at the Air Force Academy. Later in the summer, Bill Carmody departed for the top spot at Northwestern. Almost by default, John Thompson lll emerged from the Carril Cradle to assume the role of head coach.
More bad news awaited Thompson before the season got underway, as no fewer than 5 potential starters left the program. Fortunately, the remaining players included senior captain Nate Walton, one of Carril’s last recruits in 1996.
Most of the experts picked the Tigers to fall into the Ivy League’s second division. Walton and rookie coach Thompson had other ideas. What unfolded in the winter of 2000-01 is regarded by those same experts as one of the best coaching jobs in the program’s storied history and resulted in another, and most unlikely, Ivy championship. The title clincher was against Penn, of course – a 68-52 stunner before a full house at home. The game was a prototypical Walton performance. His stat line: nine points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals. At season’s end he was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection.
Carmody went 11-19 at Northwestern, while the Falcons of Joe Scott finished the campaign at 8-20.