Princeton falls to St. John’s, but Jaelin Llewellyn makes big splash in collegiate debut

The Tigers returned to Madison Square Garden for the first time since 2000 to play the St. John’s Red Storm in the Holiday Festival. For decades, the Holiday Festival was the premier event of the preseason, played between Christmas and New Year’s, employing an actual tournament format.

The final in 1964 was one of the most memorable games in that entire season, matching Bill Bradley’s Tigers against Cazzie Russell’s Michigan Wolverines. Bradley canned 41 before fouling out with the Tigers holding a 12-point lead. The five-minute ovation he received was unmatched in Garden history. Alas, the Wolverines fought back, winning 80-78.

In Dec. 1997, Princeton beat Drexel and Niagara to win the Festival title on its way to a 27-2 record and an eighth-place national ranking in the final AP poll of that season. Current Princeton coach Mitch Henderson was a Tiger co-captain.

Read morePrinceton falls to St. John’s, but Jaelin Llewellyn makes big splash in collegiate debut

Columbia all-time moment No. 4: 1968’s 16-game win streak

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Columbia is next because 1968 was a good year to wear Light Blue.

The rest of Columbia’s top moments all revolve around the incredible 1968 team in some way. Today’s entry is the 16-game win streak that propelled the Lions to national relevance and ultimately put them in position to play and win a one-game playoff to reach the NCAA Tournament.

The team did not get off to a very good start, which is odd considering the talent on the squad and where it would end up by March. The team won its first four games but then immediately dropped three in a row, including getting blown out in the Ivy opener against Cornell in Ithaca. It would not get easier for the Lions, as their next matchups would be in the prestigious Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. The Lions would face three top opponents in quick succession at a tournament in which Bill Bradley and Cazzie Russell among others had made their mark on the national stage with strong performances.

Read moreColumbia all-time moment No. 4: 1968’s 16-game win streak

Princeton all-time moment No. 2: The 1965 Final Four run

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 Bill Bradley would have made an excellent 43rd President of the United States.

By 1965, Butch van Breda Kolff and his All-American, Bill Bradley, had captured the hearts of college fans beyond the Ivy League. Winners of two straight Ivy titles, the Tigers entered the campaign as the clear favorite to claim a third. The national experts did not, however, believe the Tigers deserved any consideration for national ranking. The Ivy League was, after all, still the Ivy League.

Bradley was one of five seniors who had been through many battles together. They were joined by juniors Don Rodenbach and Robert Haarlow, as well as a talented sophomore class who would themselves notch an Ivy crown in their careers. The sophomores included Gary Walters, a product of Reading High School where he was coached by Pete Carril, and Ed Hummer, the father of Ian Hummer, who would graduate in 2013 as the second-leading scorer in Tiger history.

Read morePrinceton all-time moment No. 2: The 1965 Final Four run

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.

Read moreQ&A with former Princeton athletic director Gary Walters