April 4, 2001:
basketball bows out of NCAA's big dance
Tigers' unlikely ride comes to an end
Rob Bordley '70 has a winner at Landon
Matt Golden's From
the Cheap Seats column
basketball bows out of NCAA's big dance
Tigers' unlikely ride comes to an end
The walk is the worst.
You come to the NCAA tournament ready to win, ready to be the next
Gabe Lewullis '99, ready to do something so special that you become
a fixture on ESPN Classic every March. And then, in 40 minutes,
it's all over. Only you're not left alone to come to grips with
it. Instead, you have to make the walk.
In the very regimented
world of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, the losing team has
15 minutes in its locker room before its players are required to
walk to the interview room. For members of the Princeton men's basketball
team, that meant a walk through a corridor in the cavernous Louisiana
Superdome after a 70-48 loss to North Carolina on March 15 in New
that walk might have been for the Tigers, it shouldn't detract from
their marvelous and surprising 2000-01 season. This was a team of
backups and jayvee players, a team with plenty of room on its bandwagon
as late as mid-February. And yet what this team was able to do together
"It's hard to sit
here after a loss and realize how good the year was and what this
group accomplished," said head coach John Thompson that night
after making his own walk to the interview room.
Princeton earned a spot
in the tournament by winning its 34th Ivy League championship. This
team, whose members spent the entire season answering questions
about who wasn't there, won the title with one quasi-star, senior
center Nate Walton, and an eight-man rotation from which any player
could carry the team on any given night.
"No one thought
this team had a chance," said freshman Ed Persia. "It
took a complete team effort. Our strength was that anyone was capable
of stepping up in any game."
There's nothing in sports
like the NCAA men's basketball tournament - a frenzied, single-elimination
battle of attrition - and the experience that every Princeton player
had was something to cherish forever. The Tigers claimed their spot
in the NCAA field with a Tuesday night drubbing of the Penn Quakers
on March 6, which left five days before the tournament seeds were
announced to speculate about who Princeton would draw as an opening-round
foe. The media flocked to the Tigers, and, fittingly for this team,
most of the questions were about John Thompson's father (the Hall-of-Fame
coach from Georgetown with the same name), Nate Walton's father
(Hall-of-Fame player Bill Walton), and Chris Young (who would have
been this team's star had he not signed a professional baseball
The Sunday before the
tournament, Princeton was handed the 15th seed in the South Region
and a matchup with the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, a
team that spent much of the season at the top of the national rankings.
At 10:13 p.m. on Friday
night, Princeton tipped off against the Heels. And before anyone
could blink, the Tigers were down 8-0 and 16-6, and the lead began
to grow as Princeton missed its first eight three-point attempts.
It was 36-13 UNC before Persia hit a three-pointer at the first-half
North Carolina pushed
its lead to 41-20 two minutes into the second half, but then a magical
thing happened. On this night it was Persia who stepped it up for
the Tigers. The freshman guard made three three-pointers in two
minutes to spark an 18-9 Tiger run that cut the lead to 12. Unfortunately
for Princeton, Carolina was too big and too tough. Tar Heels Brendan
Haywood and Julius Peppers, who between them stand 13 feet, seven
inches and weigh nearly 600 pounds, combined for 27 points on 12
of 14 shooting from the field.
Persia led all Princeton
scorers with 16 points, while Walton finished his brilliant senior
season with nine points, seven assists, and six rebounds. Freshman
Andre Logan had a solid game against UNC with eight points and two
"You grow up watching
the tournament and dreaming about playing in it," Logan said.
"It was a dream come true to be a part of it. It just didn't
go the way we wanted."
Maybe that one night
didn't, but there was no changing the fact that this was a special
season. Princeton has won a mountain of championships and figures
to win another mountain in the future. But there was something different
about this one. "This means so much," said senior guard
C. J. Chapman, who closed his career as one of the program's leading
This was a group of guys
who played hard together and for their young coaches and won with
an equal combination of talent, chemistry, and fearlessness.
They were a joy to watch.
By Jerry Price
Jerry Price is the assistant
director of sports information at Princeton University.
Rob Bordley 70 has a winner at Landon
eventeen years ago Rob
Bordley '70 anxiously anticipated two significant events - the birth
of his second son and a fourth consecutive conference championship
for the Landon School Bears, the men's high school lacrosse team
that Bordley coaches. Both came to pass, and the lacrosse program
that Bordley built from scratch in Bethesda, Maryland, has since
become a national juggernaut.
Bordley took over the
Landon varsity in 1975 and has led the Bears to a 351-58 record
during his tenure - winning all 20 conference titles since 1981.
Landon, an all-boys' school, is now a fixture at the top of the
Washington Post's regional high-school lacrosse rankings. And in
1999 Lacrosse Magazine ranked the Bears number one in the nation.
Bordley's 1999 and 2000 squads produced a dozen players who went
on to play for major NCAA lacrosse programs.
Bordley believes his
coaching success has been the product of an intense love of his
craft. "People who are successful are obsessed," he explains.
"Anyone who knows me knows that lacrosse is my obsession."
Sherman Joyce '82, who played goalie under Bordley at Landon and
later volunteered as an assistant coach at the school, says of his
former coach, "He's very methodical. There is nobody who knows
the game as well as he does. Yet he really is humble about it. He
gives far more credit to others than a lot of people would."
Though Bordley is responsible
for Landon's rise to national lacrosse prominence, he routinely
deflects credit to his assistant coaches, many of whom rearrange
busy work schedules to volunteer on the Landon sidelines. Bordley
says, "The only time I ever get mad at [assistant coach] John
Shooshan is if he says, 'Rob, you should be so proud of what you've
done.' I tell him, 'It should be what we've done.' By now he corrects
himself, because otherwise I jump all over him about it."
As a Landon student Bordley
overcame small stature to become a star athlete. Yet he knew nothing
about lacrosse until he tried out for Princeton's freshman team.
Still, during four years of lacrosse at Old Nassau - three on the
varsity - Bordley won second-team All-Ivy honors as a junior and
honorable mention as a senior. Bordley also played three seasons
of varsity football, including an All-Ivy year as the Tigers' split
from Princeton, Bordley returned to Landon to teach history, and
within a few years he was coaching lacrosse - a sport that was brand-new
to Landon and much of the Washington, D.C., area. "We got thumped
in the early days," the coach recalls. Teams from Baltimore
and Long Island - where lacrosse has deeper roots - were particularly
tough, but Bordley scheduled games against them in order to challenge
his team. "It's only in the last few years that I think most
people would agree that we can compete with just about anybody,"
"What he's been
able to do as a coach is to channel his energies into productive
endeavors," says Lawrence L. Lamade '69, a Washington attorney
who attended both Landon and Princeton a year ahead of Bordley and
whose sons have both played for Bordley at Landon. "He's a
tough disciplinarian, but he's always conducted himself like a gentleman."
resorting to "a little browbeating every once in a while"
- always for mental errors, not physical mistakes. But he says that
raising, and coaching, his own children has mellowed his outbursts
- at least a little bit. "Some of the anxieties you feel as
a parent make you appreciate the concerns of other parents,"
Two years ago many of
Bordley's former players decided it was time to give back to Landon
and their coach. They donated $500,000 to endow a chair for a Landon
teacher-coach - a chair that Bordley will fill as long as he wishes.
Though he figures to be at the school for the foreseeable future,
Bordley says he'd like to take a sabbatical one day to see how a
college lacrosse program is run. But for now he plans to keep pushing
Landon to new heights. "He has scaled the mountain to the very
pinnacle," Joyce says. "But he's a guy who gets right
back to business. He doesn't dwell on his past successes."
By Louis Jacobson '92
Louis Jacobson played
three varsity sports at Landon School - but not lacrosse.
The women's fencing team
won its third straight Ivy League championship after sweep-ing Yale
and Harvard on February 24. Those victories guaranteed the Tigers
a share of the title, but Princeton became outright champion after
Columbia fell to Penn.
The women's swimming
and diving team also garnered an Ivy championship. The Tigers won
the league title last year as well. Seven members of the squad earned
first-team All-Ivy honors. They are Erin Lutz '01, Sangeeta Puri
'01, Kate Conroy '02, Valeria Kukla '02, Molly Seto '03, Chrissy
Holland '03, and Lauren Rossi '04. Katherine Mattison '02, Ann-Marie
Casperite '02, and Sarah Fraumann '04 earned second-team honors.
The men's track and field
squad won a fourth consecutive Heps title and finished fourth at
the IC4A Track and Field Championships. Eight members of the team,
including Tora Harris '02, Ryan Smith '02, Tensai Asfaw '01, Scott
Denbo '01, Jon Jessup '01, Josh McCaughy '04, Rob Hulick '04, and
Colin Brown '04, earned first-team All-Ivy honors. Josh Kaulke '04,
Javius Wynn '03, John Karakoulakis '03, Jim Murphy '02, and Paul
Gallup '01 were second-teamers. In addition to first-team status,
Harris was named Mid-Atlantic Male Indoor Athlete of the Year for
his efforts in the high jump.
On the women's track
side, 800-meter runner Lauren Simmons '02 was named to the All-Ivy
indoor track and field first team. Simmons was also part of the
mile relay team that garnered second-team honors. And Oksana Cheeseman
joined the women's track and field team as an assistant coach. Cheeseman,
who placed third in the shot put at the European Junior Championships
in 1994, will tutor the team's throwers.
For the first time in
10 years, Princeton had a presence at the NCAA wrestling championships.
Ryan Bonfiglio '01, Juan Venturi '02, and Greg Parker '03 qualified
for the NCAA tournament after competing at the EIWA championships
on March 3-4.