Published on February 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_iseman Comments Steve Goodrich still remembers the running joke his head coach at Princeton always told.Pete Carril never meant it seriously, but it still told the story of the offense that eventually became synonymous with his coaching career.‘He always joked that if he had better athletes, he’d press and run fastbreaks,’ said Goodrich, who played at Princeton from 1994-98. ‘It was always tongue-in-cheek kind of stuff.’But Carril never worried about pressing or running fastbreaks. Instead his only concern was making sure his players executed clean passes and good backdoor cuts. In the Princeton offense, that’s all that matters.Carril created a style of offense, the ‘Princeton offense,’ that has been implemented throughout college basketball as his former assistants and players took what they learned and added their own style as head coaches. One of those former assistants, John Thompson III, took it to Georgetown and uses the offense with nearly as much success as Carril did.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen Syracuse travels to Washington, D.C., on Saturday, it’ll be facing a fast-paced offense of passes around the perimeter and cuts to the inside.Carril taught Thompson the vaunted Princeton offense while Thompson played at Princeton from 1984-88 and was on staff as an assistant during the 1995-96 season. Now Thompson teaches it to the Hoyas.‘I think each year, you look at the personnel that you have,’ Thompson said. ‘It’s coming up with a way to play that gives that group a chance to win.’Back when Goodrich ran the Princeton offense, the only statistic that ever mattered was the number of assists he made in a game.It told him how he did in running Carril’s offense. In the Princeton offense, it’s never about one player notching the most points or the most rebounds. Instead it’s how one player helped his teammates get opportunities to score.‘The guys who come to play there have to subjugate their desire to show what they can do individually and say, ‘The best thing I can do is help my teammate get a good shot,” Goodrich said. ‘It takes a different kind of kid who can say, ‘The best thing I can do is help my teammate get a basket.”In 1996, that’s what Goodrich did. He was that kind of kid in one of the most infamous Princeton offense plays when the Tigers played UCLA in the NCAA Tournament.With the score tied with 21 seconds left in the game, Carril called one of his signature plays: the ‘center-forward.’ Goodrich took the ball to the top of the key while forward Gabe Lewullis drove the basket. Goodrich gave him a look but didn’t pass, and Lewullis retreated to the outside. The defense thought it was a busted play.But Lewullis quickly cut back to the inside, took a bounce pass from Goodrich and made the layup.Goodrich and Lewullis caught the Bruins’ defense off guard, and Princeton upset the favorite 43-41.‘It was kind of like a counter to a counter,’ Goodrich said. ‘It was incredibly gratifying to pull that out. … We kind of made them not play their best.’Goodrich said Thompson’s pedigree as a player and assistant under Carril is what has allowed him to have so much success at Georgetown. He understands the intricacies, can read defenses as well as Carril and comes up with counterplays.‘He’s an awesome coach,’ Goodrich said. ‘He’s got the technical expertise, but he’s also preparing his kids to compete against the best guys in the country. And he does that really well.’Running the Princeton offense doesn’t mean the coaches who swear by it change their recruiting styles. For Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody, it’s all about looking for the same type of player: athletic, skillful, a strong desire to win.Carmody, another former assistant under Carril, looks for good basketball players and teaches them the way they’re going to play.‘I look for the same thing everyone else does,’ Carmody said. ‘It’s a misconception that it’s hard to learn and pick up. … If you’re going to be good, everyone has to be fairly versatile. I don’t know if that means selfish or unselfish or anything like that.’Basically, if a kid can play basketball, then he can learn the Princeton offense, Carmody said.Arguably one of the best at the Princeton offense was former Tiger and current Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson. An inner-city kid from the south side of Chicago, Robinson never experienced a formal offense until he got to college.‘I was used to playing more up-tempo, more free and easy. Less of a system, less of a program,’ Robinson said. ‘It was different for me. It didn’t take long playing for Coach Carril and playing at Princeton and winning so many games that you started to understand spacing and passing and cutting. The ability to do skillful things.’With Princeton beating more talented teams, it didn’t take long for Robinson to believe. Carril’s offensive system was the reason behind the success. It was enough to convince Robinson to continue to implement it in his own head coaching career.Robinson said Thompson, specifically, has so much success with the Princeton offense because of the players he can bring into Georgetown. They’re all great athletes and natural basketball players. And from what Robinson sees when he watches the Hoyas play, that gives Thompson the ability to allow his players to almost run their own variation of the system.‘It seems like his guys have a lot more freedom to do things on their own,’ Robinson said. ‘Which I think is really good.’Georgetown’s system is a result of Thompson’s days learning from Carril. And along with Thompson is his assistant coach, Mike Brennan.A former Tigers player, Brennan is in his second season on Thompson’s staff. He knows the Princeton offense inside and out. Thompson trusts him and lets him impart his knowledge of the game onto the players, whether or not that knowledge centers on the Princeton offense.‘It’s one thing to sit up in the office and have all these great thoughts and ideas,’ Thompson said. ‘To be able to get that on the court and have the kids understand them is one of Mike’s strengths.’Together, Thompson and Brennan continue what Carril started all those years ago. They might be running the offense with better Big East-quality players, but it all comes back to the same ideas.Passes. Cuts. And all-around athleticism.Goodrich orchestrated one of the most famous plays in the Princeton offense’s history, but he respects the evolution of the offense taking place at Georgetown.‘It’s a great combination because he understands the history and the tradition of Georgetown obviously very well,’ Goodrich said. ‘And then he’s been able to bring his style of basketball to kids that are better than the ones he coached at Princeton.’[email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+
The 38th running of the Burger King Superstakes over 2000 metres will take the spotlight at Caymanas Park today. Billed as ‘A Day with the King and his Horses’, the nine-horse field for the prestigious invitational race with a purse of $4.5 million includes last year’s winner FRANFIELD with top apprentice Bebeto Harvey riding for trainer Richard Azan; two-time winner TYPEWRITER to be ridden by Robert Halledeen for trainer Spencer Chung, as well as the reigning “Horse of the Year’ SEEKING MY DREAM with leading jockey Omar Walker again riding for 15-time champion trainer Wayne DaCosta, stable-companion PERFECT NEIGHBOUR with Orlando Foster aboard and this year’s St. Leger winner BIGDADDYKOOL with champion apprentice Linton Steadman riding for topline trainer Anthony “Baba’ Nunes. The above mentioned horses should ensure a highly competitive race and the winner is sure to emerge from this group. All have looked sharp in their preparation, especially SEEKING MY DREAM and the three-year-old gelding BIGDADDYKOOL, both of whom have already won over the distance this season, BIGDADDYKOOL winning both the St. Leger and Lotto Classic (Governor’s Cup) over same and having improved, could make it close. HOPING FOR THE BEST FRANFIELD, who won the Governor General’s Stakes over the distance by four lengths from PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, is also in good nick for the race and Azan is hoping for the best. He is quietly confident: “He won convincingly a year ago, is a better horse this year having beaten Seeking My Dream in the Chairman’s Trophy in March and Perfect Neighbour in the GG Stakes. He is not only fit but has a lot of heart and I am expecting another big run from him,” said Azan, who has won the Superstakes a record nine times, including four in a row with MENUDO (1999-2002). For me, however, the choice has to be SEEKING MY DREAM now that his main rivals are sitting level with him in the scales. The class horse of the field, SEEKING MY DREAM should at last provide DaCosta with that elusive success in the only major race he is yet to win in a career spanning 40 years. Owned by Member of Parliament Derrick Smith, the 4-y-o colt by Seeking The Glory out of the 2008 “Horse of the Year” Alsafra notched his last win over the distance in the Prime Minister’s Stakes on August 6 under topweight of 57.0kg, and although humbled by top sprinter BUZZ NIGHTMARE In the recent Gold Cup over 1400 metres, has worked impressively for today’s assignment. Elsewhere on the 12-race programme, the Philip Feanny-trained BUZZ NIGHTMARE looks a cinch for the GLEN MILLS O.D. Caribbean Sprint, while it should be the Nunes-trained HOUDINI’S MAGIC ahead of old rival BRAWN in the Coco Cola Invitational Mile. Post time 11:00 a.m.