With the Elite 8 just a win away for No. 15 Princeton as it prepares for No. 6 Creighton in Louisville Friday, here are eight reasons for not only Tiger folk but the entire Ancient Eight to savor the Tigers’ historic Sweet 16 run:
How Princeton men’s basketball made its stunning run to the Sweet 16
As the Princeton men’s basketball team was coasting past the Missouri Tigers on Saturday en route to the program’s first trip to the Sweet 16 in the modern NCAA Tournament era, my phone began to buzz with text messages from friends and family members, many of whom were asking the same question: How is Princeton doing this?
A paean to Princeton’s triumphant Ivy League Tournament and season
The Princeton men’s and women’s basketball teams did more than punch tickets for the NCAA Tournament by winning championships at the Ivy League Tournament over the weekend. They also made history for the university and the Ivy League.
By winning both the men’s and women’s regular season and tournament titles, Princeton became the first school in Ivy League history to win four conference basketball championships in the same season. It’s a record that may be tied someday, but it can never be broken.
As the Princeton basketball community basks in the glory of this unparalleled success, here are three reflections from the perspective of a long-time follower and admirer of Princeton basketball:
Q&A with Princeton men’s coach Mitch Henderson
Our George “Toothless Tiger” Clark caught up with Princeton men’s coach Mitch Henderson ahead of Princeton’s Ivy League Tournament semifinal matchup with Penn. Henderson reflects on his deep connection with Pete Carril, the importance of blending old and new coming off last season’s Ivy League championship in this year’s Ivy title run, the emergence of Ivy Rookie of the Year Caden Pierce, the coaching approach to Ivy Madness and more:
Ivy men’s week nine roundup: Ancient Eight’s top 10
In the league’s penultimate weekend, each of the three first place teams won, while Brown pulled a game ahead of Cornell for fourth place.
Penn and Dartmouth had their offenses clicking at the Palestra on Saturday afternoon.
The Quakers shot 73% from two and 42% from three, while the Big Green made 62% from inside the arc and 45% from outside. With most shots going in from the field, the Red & Blue pulled away for their eighth straight win on the strength of their free throw shooting (17-for-18 vs 8-for-14) and rebounding (28-21).
The victory allowed Penn to remain in first place, while the defeat ended Dartmouth’s chance for their first Ivy Tournament berth.
Trying to rebound from a huge second half collapse against Yale last weekend, Princeton used a 10-2 run over the last five minutes of the opening half to take a 37-23 halftime lead at Harvard. The Tigers upped their advantage to 18 at the 15-minute mark of the second half, but the Crimson used a 20-4 run to make it a two-point game with five minutes left in regulation.
Contrary to last week, the Orange & Black would not give up the lead.
The teams combined to make one of the next ten shots from the field, as Princeton held a three-point advantage with twenty seconds remaining. An Evan Nelson layup cut the deficit to one, but Ryan Langborg sank two free throws to make it 56-53. Tigers coach Mitch Henderson followed Jon Rothstein’s advice and fouled Nelson, who missed the first of a one-and-one. Caden Pierce came down with the rebound and hit both free throws to put the game away.
The win sets up a showdown with long-time rival Penn to claim at least a piece of the regular season championship.
Despite being without Matt Knowling for the second straight game, Yale posted a convincing win over Cornell in the team’s final game at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs, who were up 34-28 at the half, stretched their lead to 21 by the 11-minute mark and the Big Red didn’t get any closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
The win was Yale’s eighth in the last nine games and allowed them to keep pace with the Ps. It was also the 200th regular season Ivy victory for coach James Jones. Jones, who is wrapping up his 24th year in New Haven, is 200-121 in league play and 110 conference wins away from former Princeton coach Pete Carril.
For Cornell, Saturday’s defeat was the fifth in their last six games and puts them on the wrong side of the Ivy Tournament bubble with one game to go.
Brown had a 14-point lead in the first half, but Columbia used four three-pointers in the latter part of the half to cut the Bears lead to five at the break. The game was tied at 59 with 8:30 to go, but a 9-0 run over the next two minutes gave Bruno enough of a cushion to dash the Lions’ hopes of getting their third league win.
The win breaks Brown’s two game losing streak and allows Bruno to control its own destiny for the program’s first-ever spot in Ivy Madness.
2022-23 Ivy season lookahead with Cornell men’s coach Brian Earl
Introducing a new series in which Ivy Hoops Online contributor Steve Silverman catches up with Ivy League basketball coaches to preview the 2022-23 season. Up first is an in-depth conversation with Cornell men’s coach Brian Earl, who reflects on the Big Red becoming a more uptempo team last season en route to the program’s first winning campaign since 2009-10, why nonconference scheduling is like “Game of Thrones,” embracing the cutdown on Ivy conference back-to-back weekends, losing three of the team’s top four scorers from a season ago, Pete Carril’s impact on him as a player and coach – and much more:
Pete Carril remembered
The Princeton basketball community lost a father figure Monday with the death of its legendary coach, Pete Carril.
It is difficult to express in a short essay the importance of Pete Carril to followers of Princeton basketball or to the game of basketball itself. Most of the epitaphs I digested in the immediate aftermath of the news of Carril’s passing emphasized his coaching record – 514 wins, which remains an all-time record among Ivy League coaches – and his signature style of coaching, including his frumpy demeanor, and of course his perfection of the Princeton offense, which became stylish after Princeton defeated UCLA in the 1996 NCAA tournament.
Princeton coaching legend Pete Carril dies at 92
Legendary former Princeton men’s basketball coach Pete Carril, arguably the face of Ivy League basketball for all time, has died.
Carril died at 92 Monday morning, Princeton Athletics announced in a statement from his family.
“The Carril family is sad to report that Coach Peter J. Carril passed away peacefully this morning, the statement read. “We kindly ask that you please respect our privacy at this time as we process our loss and handle necessary arrangements. More information will be forthcoming in the following days.”
In his 29 years leading Princeton, Carril cemented his place as one of the most impactful innovators in the history of the sport. From 1967 to 1996, Carril’s Tigers won 514 games and 13 Ivy League titles by playing his way – smart, selective and disciplined.
Carril will forever be linked to the ‘Princeton offense,’ an offensive strategy that neutralized faster, more athletic and less versatile opponents by slowing games down through prolific passing to patiently set up high-percentage shots through screens and cuts.
Decades before it was en vogue, Carril emphasized ball-handling and perimeter shooting from all five players on the floor to complement his stingy defenses.
“Pete Carril’s fingerprints are all over the game of basketball, and will remain so for generations to come,” Craig Robinson, Carril’s former two-time Ivy Player of the Year standout and executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, said in a statement. “His signature offensive style became the defining characteristic of the Princeton program, and his philosophies continue to influence how offensive systems are developed to this day.”
All of Carril’s successors have either coached or played under him.
But while many coaches have tried to replicate and build upon his offensive patterns, no one could ever hope to duplicate his consummately curmudgeonly image.
The vertically challenged Carril was a memorable presence on the sideline, usually wearing a rumpled sweater and letting referees know where he stood in more ways than one.
“I was tough to referee a game for,” Carril acknowledged in his 1997 book ‘The Smart from the Strong: The Basketball Philosophy of Pete Carril.’ ” … I’ve seen about half a dozen good refs.”
Carril held himself to a similarly high standard.
“It is important to do things right and it is equally important to be good at what you are doing,” Carril wrote in his book.
Every generation and corner of the college basketball world – from Old Nassau to 33rd Street – agreed after Carril’s death Monday that he was among the very best at what he did.
“Your impact on basketball on basketball is evident every time someone steps on the floor, but your impact in my life is bigger than you probably ever knew,” 2020 Princeton basketball alumnus Devin Cannady said of Carril in a Twitter post.
“Pete was the ultimate competitor and warrior, and his teams were always the most difficult to play against,” Bob Weinhauer, coach of Princeton’s archrival Penn, said in a statement released by Penn Athletics. “We had such a great rivalry, and I hope he knew that everyone at Penn had the utmost respect for his teams.”
Carril retired as Princeton head coach in 1996, moving on to become an assistant for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, where he was known as “Coachie.”
“During his time in Sacramento, Coachie left an indelible imprint on the Kings organization and the many players who benefited from his tutelage,” the Kings said in a Twitter post. “Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones in during this difficult time.”
“RIP to a man who changed basketball, and who changed the lives of so many — including mine — for the better,” 1998 Princeton basketball alumnus and Time magazine senior sports correspondent Sean Gregory wrote on Twitter. “Thanks Coach.”
Bruce Lefkowitz, a 1987 Penn basketball alumnus and standout, called competing against Carril “an honor” on Twitter.
“He was a true legend of the game,” Lefkowitz wrote. “Nothing was more grueling than ‘Princeton Week’ when [we] had to defend the Princeton offense for the whole practice.”
More than a quarter-century after his coaching run at Princeton ended, Carril is still the all-time winningest coach in Ivy men’s basketball history.
Many defining moments in Ivy hoops history happened on Carril’s watch. Princeton’s 43-41 upset win over defending national champion UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and Princeton’s near-upset of No. 1 Georgetown as a No. 16 seed in 1989, memorably characterized by Gregory and fellow Princeton graduate Alexander Wolff as the game that saved March Madness – are the two most well-known moments.
That was the smart taking from the strong on the game’s biggest stage.
IHO writer Palestra Pete recalled a friend who played for Penn in the 1970s telling him that one time when the team was getting ready to play Princeton, then-Penn coach Chuck Daly told the players the things they would have to do particularly well that game, “because we know we’ll be outcoached.”
“In this life, the big, strong guys are always taking from the smaller, weaker guys … but the smart take from the strong,” Carril recalled his father, a Spanish immigrant who worked 39 years for the Bethlehem Steel Company, telling him and his sister. ” … An athlete who is fundamentally sound and plays intelligently and hard will generally come out on top.”
Yale men’s James Jones reportedly inking extension through ’30-’31
Another Ivy League Tournament title and NCAA appearance, another ride on the coaching carousel and another contact extension for the dean of Ivy coaches.
Hours after Adam Nelson at HoopDirt.com stated that Yale’s James Jones was “picking up steam” for the open position at the University of San Diego, Jon Rothstein tweeted that Jones was finalizing a deal that would keep him at Yale through the completion of the 2030-31 season.
When reached for comment about the extension, a member of Yale Athletics informed Ivy Hoops Online that the school doesn’t comment on personnel matters, and nothing could be added “at the moment.”
Princeton women roll over Cornell, 75-37
The second meeting between the Tigers and the Big Red was a bigger blowout than the first. On Jan. 8, the Berube Brigade rolled over the Big Red in Ithaca, 65-41. This evening’s rematch at Jadwin Gym was a defensive tour de force for the Tigers as they held Cornell to 9.25 points per quarter while scoring 18.75 themselves.