Center front rear door.
For anyone who has been a Princeton men’s basketball player under Pete Carrill’s 29 years of coaching, it’s a game call that comes with the recognition of a highlight. So even septuagenarian former Tigers are now called to the gym to run – or at least walk – with rhythmic precision.
What about the rest of us? The name describes the play: the center slides under the basket to the free-throw line and receives a pass. Then he looks forward to the wing, which he cuts to the basket and lays it in the gap in the defense – the back door.
The collection is part of the fundamentals that characterized Trezinostensen’s offense – the locomotion of the ball, the Boston movement of the 1950s and the unselfish backfield and travel from the 1960s and 1960s and live in today’s Golden State Warriors.
As the name suggests, it is at once simple, and sophisticated, with a myriad of definitions and requirements. Same goes for Caryl, who died Monday at age 92, an immigrant steelworker who invented the house, a cigar-chomping boy — and a career Hall of Famer — among the Ivy League’s elite and academic elite.
Carl’s teams They won 13 league titles and an NIT championship in 1975 (when the tournament held some cache) and became a March character, striking fear into basketball powerhouses in the NCAA Tournament.
The last of Princeton’s 514 victories came in 1996 when the team took down one of the giants, upset eventual champion UCLA, 43-41, on a last-second basket. Sophomore center Steve Goodrich passed a clinical ball to freshman forward Gabe Lewlis who put the ball into the defender’s arms.
Center front rear door.
“It was a perfect game, a perfect set-up,” said Chris Doyle, the only senior who played for Princeton that night.
The moment seems poetic on many levels.
It took place in the cavernous old RCA Dome in Indianapolis, a basketball barn not far from Hinkle Fieldhouse where scenes of “Hoosiers” were filmed. He faced a school that had won a record 11th championship a year earlier. And it came less than a week after Carroll shocked his players by announcing on the locker room chalkboard, “I’m retiring. I’m very happy,” Princeton said after winning the conference at Bethlehem, PA, where he grew up.
That win may mean more to Caryl than anyone else.
Penn dominated the Ivy League with a 48-game winning streak, including an eight-game winning streak against Princeton. The last of these came in the regular season finale, where the Quakers won both league games, but the teams qualified for the championship. (The Ivy League didn’t have a conference tournament until 2017.) Last season, after another loss to Penn Ella, Carroll served as an assistant at one of his best teams’ games, handing out box scores to players at practice. He told them they were embarrassing the program. “Pen was killing him and eating him,” Goodrich said.
Caryl’s charm, wit, coaching skills and chiseled figure — 5-foot-6, bald and with a healthy pout — made for an easy caricature: the basketball Yoda.
Playing for him, however, was an acquired taste – sometimes bitter.
Practices, before the NCAA imposed the limit, typically went for four grueling hours. Caryl frowned as he grudgingly laid out water breaks and was more sensible of praise, fearing the players would become complacent. Criticism may have faded. Once, he stopped practice and sat the players down one by one on the court, listing their faults. The session lasted 90 minutes.
Sometimes he gets so angry that he rips off his shirt, smoking the rest of the practice. “It was very hairy,” Doyle said. “It looks like a gorilla.”
The players and assistant coaches had to stifle their laughter at times, like when Carroll took a picture of himself as a Little America option at Lafayette to show how he doesn’t want to be like his players. Who can be this or all-American. The photo was more incendiary than Caryl thought, prompting him to drop it and put out the fire on the court — but not before “All-America” burned on the court.
In that final season, Carroll stopped practice once to spit on the court and placed a log at Lewlis’s feet. Caryl asks if he knows what phlegm is. Lewlis, a pre-med student, nodded. Caryl Lewlis said the way it moved reminded him of phlegm – it wobbles but it doesn’t go anywhere.
“When it’s happening, you’re scared out of your mind,” says Lewlis, now an orthopedic surgeon based in his hometown of Allentown, Pa. I had to cut hard, I had to do things hard on the court.
Because Ivy League schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, some players find the experience so distasteful that they drop out and focus on academics. On Caryl’s last team, there were only two seniors on the roster. A year ago there were three. Doyle, who works in finance in London, said he almost dropped out at the start of his senior season because it was so frustrating. But he and others said they appreciated a lot of what they learned.
“Most of what comes out of my mouth is a Rolodex of what I’ve heard him say,” said Mitch Henderson, a sophomore guard on Carroll’s last team, who coached Princeton to the Ivy League regular-season championship last season. He is one of three players to become a head coach, joining Brian Earle at Cornell and Sidney Johnson, who coached Princeton and Fairfield.
“He was the best teacher most of us ever had,” Henderson continued. “The brilliance of the man was teaching people how to see and how to think, and he was constantly focused on that. The worst sin is the one where you don’t want to excel.”
That means every time.
Caryl told the players that if they pay attention, there is always something to learn. Practice was where all the work was done. Players did not see the movie; They received brief verbal observation reports from the coaches. Dribbling, passing and shooting drills were conducted for 45 minutes at the beginning of practice, after which people simply played with their minds and eyes open.
Think about it. watch out. do. Repeat.
“He wasn’t a pretty guy, but he believed you had to be good,” said Goodrich, who was the Ivy League Player of the Year as a senior and played briefly in the NBA. ‘What did you see? Why didn’t you cut it? Why didn’t you get out of there?’ He had a clear idea of how to play, and it was all about being able to understand him in real time.
Carroll was not much for change, tactics and breaks, so when Henderson brought the ball up the field, the shot clock was off and the crowd was on its feet, surprised to see Carroll wrap his arms around his head and signal. for some time.
Carroll, as he approached his three assistants — Bill Carmody, John Thompson III and Joe Scott, each of whom would eventually become the school’s head coach — reached the same conclusion as everyone else in the building for what came next. Back door.
But Scott pointed out a wrinkle. Princeton scored on the play before halftime so UCLA will surely be ready to cut Lewullis to the basket. Instead, he returns to the 3-point line and makes a second cut to the basket.
“Even though it was crazy, the environment and the season, it was pretty clear what we were told to do,” said Johnson, a junior point guard. “A lot of things were good to be in that moment, but in that moment we were so ready to win the game.”
And they did. A few passes later, Goodrich flashed to his right elbow and took a pass from Johnson with less than 10 seconds left. As he did, Lewlis was cut off the wing and covered by UCLA forward Charles O’Bannon, as the coaches expected.
And Lewlis took three strong steps towards the corner, just enough to pull O’Bannon with him. Against the backdoor, Lewlis zipped to the basket just as Goodrich took a dribble to him and delivered a pass that went on the money. Lewlis kissed the ball off the glass, past outstretched forward Chris Johnson.
“I was just a freshman,” said Lewlis, who was caught on camera saying, “Oh my God,” as he ran down the court. Goodrich, who earned a master’s degree in business from UCLA and lives near campus, works with Bruins fans who are forgiving, if not forgetful.
If it’s the most visible memory triggered by Caryl’s death, it’s also the most enduring.
The appreciation of the art of a well-timed pass is hardly more acute among the Princeton basketball family.
“What a gift to give to someone else,” Henderson said of his former coach’s final assist.