Q&A with former Princeton athletic director Gary Walters

Gary Walters and his classmates celebrate Princeton's Final Four bid in 1965.(paw.princeton.edu)
Gary Walters and his classmates celebrate Princeton’s Final Four bid in 1965.(paw.princeton.edu)

Very few people have had a stronger impact on Princeton basketball than Gary Walters, who served as his alma mater’s athletic director for 20 years before retiring earlier this year and was a point guard for the Tigers from 1964-67. He was starting point guard on Princeton’s 1964-65 Final Four Team, and we caught up with the Ford Family Athletic Director Emeritus to ask him about his memories of that legendary squad for its 50th anniversary.

Q: What were your expectations going into the 1964-65 season?
A: Very high based on any number of factors, including having the national player of the year and Olympic captain in Bill Bradley and a strong sophomore class, all recruited by coach Butch van Breda Kolff.

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50th anniversary of 1965 Princeton Tigers’ Final Four berth

Bill Bradley still owns the top 11 scoring games in Princeton history 49 years after graduating.
Bill Bradley still owns the top 11 scoring games in Princeton history 49 years after graduating.

This is the 50th anniversary of arguably the greatest Ivy League basketball team of all time, the 1964-65 Princeton Tigers.

Princeton was coached by the legendary Butch van Breda Kolff and was led by one of the five greatest players in college basketball history, Bill Bradley, as well as a host of other complementary players.

The Tigers finished the season at 23-6 and 13-1 in the Ivies, suffering only an upset loss on the road to a strong Cornell team. They had a stirring 109-69 NCAA win over No. 4 Providence on the road and finished third in the country with a 118-82 win over Wichita State and future New York Knick Dave Stallworth in a game in which Bradley scored 58 points to set an NCAA tournament record. We will be providing our readers with weekly capsules of significant games in conjunction with interviews with key players on that team.

Stay tuned.

Yale wins Men Against Breast Cancer Classic

Yale did something this weekend it hasn’t done in years. It won a basketball tournament. The Bulldogs, playing as well as any Ivy team right now, handed the home team, Kent State, its first loss to win the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic.

Yale had defeated Illinois-Chicago, 70-58, and Illinois State, 53-46, to reach the final. It took an heroic performance from senior Matt Townsend, who flew in from New York after being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, to seal the victory. Townsend had 12 points, including the go-ahead basket.

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Too early for Ivy rankings?

  1. Harvard – Despite the narrow loss to Holy Cross, they are still the cream of the crop and merit the number one spot.
  2. Yale – The Bulldogs lost to Quinnipiac without Nick Victor and with him, probably would have beaten the Bobcats on the road.
  1. Princeton – The Tigers had a nice win over Rider led by Spencer Weisz, with 18 points.
  1. Brown – The Bears stand at 1-1 and despite a blow-out loss to Northwestern, they are a talented team with Cedric Kuakumensah at the forward spot.
  1. Columbia – Obviously the early season injury to star Alex Rosenberg did not help and the Lions fell to not that strong Stony Brook by one point on the road.
  1. Penn – Tony Hicks lit it up for 31 points in a narrow loss to Delaware State. Rider handled the Quakers easily last night.
  1. Cornell – The Big Red had a strong win on the road against George Mason in what can definitely be considered an upset, not to mention their comeback win over Colgate.
  1. Dartmouth – The Big Green were blown out by St. Bonaventure but showed some life on the boards, outrebounding their foes, 41-39.Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@IvyHoopsOnline).

Yale vs. Quinnipiac: Previewing the Grudge Match

Author Richard Kent, whose basketball work includes Big East Confidential and Lady Vols and UConn: The Greatest Rivalry, previews Yale’s season-opening Connecticut 6 Classic matchup with Quinnipiac, who the Bulldogs eliminated in last year’s CIT. 

There is a changing of the guard in the Ivies and nowhere is that more obvious than in New Haven. Yale has been picked by many to finish second only to Harvard by many preseason magazines. Over Princeton and Penn no less.

 James Jones, the dean of the Ivy coaches, is not surprised. He is a confident guy to begin with, also noting that “top to bottom [this is] the best the league has been in my tenure.” That says a lot, considering Jones has helmed the Bulldogs since 1999.
Yale is coming off a loss in the finals of the CIT at Murray State. The Elis won 19 games in 2013-14 and if they take a page from Mercer, the CIT winner the year before, Yale could see NCAA action in March.

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