Learning to love the “new” Princeton Tigers

I didn’t like this Princeton basketball team at first. In fact, I found it infuriating. At the start of the season, these Tigers seemed to affirm my fears that the classic “Princeton System” was dead at Old Nassau.

Growing up less than two miles from Jadwin Gym, I was raised on the pure form of Princeton Basketball. My parents took me to see the Tigers win the NIT at the Garden when I was 10 and I was hooked for life. My Dad taught me to watch the players without the ball and to observe the players’ feet, not their hands. A good pass is not just one that reaches the open man, because the player needs to land the ball in a teammate’s hands in perfect position to shoot.

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Princeton all-time moment No. 1: Carril goes out a hero

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. We started with Princeton because, hey, it”s Princeton.

The 1995-96 season was Pete Carril’s 29th at the helm of the Tigers. At 65 years of age, he was slowing down, inevitably, and he knew it. His last great run had ended in 1992 with a fourth straight Ivy title, the only time one class achieved such a streak. Since then his teams were Ivy also-rans, failing to defeat archrival Penn even once in the last three years. His top assistant, Bill Carmody, was entering his 14th year on the bench. Carmody clearly aspired to run his own show. Retirement rumors would swirl around Carril all season.

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Princeton all-time moment No. 4: 1997-98 Ivy champions

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 Joseph Stalin’s daughter defected to. In Soviet Russia as in the United States, Princeton offense runs you!

Bill Carmody, an honorary member of the Class of 1975, joined Pete Carril’s staff in 1982. He spent the next 14 productive and mostly glorious seasons watching and learning. When Carril decided to retire after winning his final Ivy title on a heart-stopping three pointer by Sydney Johnson in a playoff against Penn (who else?), he made it known that no one was better qualified to succeed him than Bill Carmody.

Bill’s all too-brief four year tenure as head coach was among the most dominant periods ever in the long history of Tiger hoops. His overall record was 92-25. In the Ivy League he was 50-6, including a remarkable 28-0 in 1996-97 and 1997-98.

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