Pete Carril, Princeton’s Hall of Fame basketball coach, dies at 92

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Pete Carril, a college Hall of Fame basketball coach who developed a game system known as the Princeton Offense, which propelled his underpowered Princeton teams into heroic performances against NCAA Division I forces and shaped how the game is played from the high school to the National Basketball Association, died August 15 in a hospital in Philadelphia. He was 92.

The cause was complications from a stroke, said his grandson, Pete Carril.

As an Ivy League school, Princeton does not award athletic scholarships, and for 29 seasons – 1967-1968 to 1995-1996 – Mr. Carril encourages future lawyers, professors, and government officials to hire teams filled with future NBA draft picks, especially during post-season tournament play.

mr. Carril designed a half-court attack that demanded constant movement from all five players, with disciplined passes and quick cuts to the basket for open shots. The goal was to spread the floor, finish the shot clock and wear down defenders until they made a mistake — whether a Princeton player wriggled free for a layup or a jump shot.

“The most important thing is to get a good shot on the floor every time,” said Mr. Carril, (pronounced kuh-RILL) who was inspired by the selfless game of Bill Russell’s 1960s Boston Celtics. “If that’s old-fashioned, then I’m guilty.”

During the time of Mr. Carril at Princeton, his team won the National Invitational Tournament in 1975, took 13 Ivy League titles, earned 11 NCAA tournament spots, and ambushed basketball powers such as UCLA, Indiana, and Duke. He was the only Division I men’s coach to win more than 500 games (most against Ivy League teams) without the benefit of athletic scholarships, and in 1997 he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“We went into every game thinking we had an advantage no matter who we played against because we were incredibly well prepared,” said Matt Eastwick, one of Mr. Carril, in 2007 on the Go Princeton Tigers website. Is that the mark of a great coach?”

But the most famous match that Mr. Carril coached was one that Princeton lost.

In the first round of the 1989 NCAA tournament, his 16th-seeded Tigers played against Georgetown, the No. 1 seed, a team anchored by 6-foot-10 Alonzo Mourning and 7-foot-2 Dikembe Mutombo, both future NBA Hall of Famers. famers .

To simulate their towering presence during training sessions, Mr. Carril told his assistants to hold up brooms so his much smaller players could shoot over them. During pre-game warmups, ESPN announcer Mike Gorman said Princeton, a 23-point underdog with no players taller than six feet, looked like a high school team had stumbled into the wrong gym.

But Princeton’s zone defense forced the Hoyas to settle for shots from the outside as the Tigers walked through the back door, with players running for the ball, then slashing into the basket behind the backs of their defenders for easy layups. At halftime, Princeton had a shocking eight-point lead. Georgetown came back in the second half and won by one point, 50-49, but the game was seen as small school justification and changed the nature of the NCAA tournament.

Until then, the first round games were relegated to cable TV. But the prospect of more David vs. Goliath barnburners helped persuade CBS to sign a seven-year $1 billion deal with the NCAA to televise every game of the tournament, turning the March Madness of college basketball into a cultural phenomenon that rivals the Super Bowl.

Before the game, NCAA officials considered withdrawing automatic bids for weaker conferences because their teams were often blown up. Princeton’s riveting near miss destroyed those discussions and opened the door for future disruptions by little boy like Middle Tennessee State, Florida Gulf Coast, Northern Iowa and the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Sports Illustrated called Princeton-Georgetown “The Game that Saved March Madness.”

Years later, Mr. Carril admitted that his aim had been much more modest. “We weren’t trying to embarrass ourselves,” he said.

With his leprechaun-like stature, droopy ears and tufts of unruly white hair, Mr. Carril comparisons to Yoda, the Jedi master of the Star Wars movies. He sneaked down the sidelines with a game schedule clenched in his fist, begging his players. Once, when his center cut the wrong way, the frustrated coach ripped his own shirt in half.

“He was hard on guys and hard on me, but rarely wrong,” Geoff Petrie, who played for Princeton in the late 1960s before joining the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, told the Los Angeles Times. “He made an incredible career as a coach outsmarting people.”

In the opening round of the 1996 NCAA tournament, Mr. Carril cheated on the defending UCLA national champions.

To deny the stronger, faster Bruins the fast break, he ordered his players to rush back and perform their deliberate little ball attack, which one sportswriter likened to “water torture.” The game went to the wire with Princeton scoring the winning basket on a backdoor layup of Gabe Lewullis, a future orthopedic surgeon.

Despite such victories, Mr. Carril to convince the high school shiners to turn down full scholarships from other universities and play for him.

“Princeton can be a tough sell to a very recruited kid,” he told the Wall Street Journal. ‘What can I tell him? That if he has good grades, a SAT score of 1,200 and generous parents, we might consider letting him in?’

Peter Joseph Carril was born on July 10, 1930, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where his Hispanic immigrant father spent decades as a steelworker, raising his son as a single father. He grew up in a $21 a month apartment where he could smell the smoke from Bethlehem Steel across the street.

mr. Carril played billiards and played hoops at the Bethlehem Boys Club. Though only six feet tall, he played on his high school team and then played at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. His cunning play and later his coaching philosophy reflected his father’s oft-repeated maxim: the strong attack of the weak, but the smart take of the strong.

As a senior, he won the Little All America awards for small college players in 1952. But when he turned up for his first job as a coach at Easton High School after a brief military service, he was mistaken for a janitor. In 1959, he received a master’s degree in educational science from Lehigh University in his hometown.

In Reading (Pa.) High School, he compiled a record of 145-42. He then coached for a year with Lehigh before moving to Princeton in 1967. He was hired on the recommendation of his predecessor at Princeton, Butch van Breda Kolff, who was Mr. Carril had coached at Lafayette and had a long coaching career in the NBA.

He arrived two years after van Breda Kolff and Bill Bradley, Princeton’s greatest ever player and a future U.S. Senator, led the Tigers to third place in the NCAA tournament.

As larger schools became more and more dominant, Mr. Carril never got past the second round of the NCAA tournament. But he won 514 games at Princeton, giving him a total of 525 collegiate wins. He shook off the achievement, saying, “It just means I’ve been around for a while.”

His marriage to Dolores Halteman ended in divorce. The survivors include two children, Peter Carril of Princeton and Lisa Carril of Pennington, NJ; and two grandchildren.

After he left Princeton, Carril’s basketball philosophy gained more attention, thanks in part to several of his assistants who became head coaches, including Bill Carmody at Princeton, John Thompson III at Georgetown and Craig Robinson (the brother of former first lady Michelle Obama) in the state. Oregon.

The Princeton offense was even adopted by NBA teams, despite the league’s reputation for selfish, one-on-one play. Mr. Carril spent the last decade of his career, from 1996 to 2006, teaching the Sacramento Kings as an assistant coach.

In addition to the basketball court, Mr. Carril has little pastime other than smoking Macanudo cigars, a habit he gave up after a heart attack in 2000.

“I get my happiness from things done right,” he told the Los Angeles Times, “by being successful, seeing the interaction of people working together for a good cause, pouring their hearts to the ground, giving you the best what they have.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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