Sports: December 25, 1996
COACH IS TEACHER FOR YOUNG TEAM
Liz Feeley prepares women's basketball with lessons of intensity and precision
Sports fans go to arenas on Friday nights and glue themselves to TVs on Saturday afternoons because anything can happen in a game. By contrast, most of the athletes in such competitions are striving to control the contest. To do so, they need skill, but they also need determination. Second-year women's basketball coach Liz Feeley puts it another way. In a recent interview, she explained what she asks from each of her players. "I recently saw Toni Morrison on TV," said Feeley. "And she said something I thought was great: 'In Life, you don't turn on the volume, you turn up the volume.' With our competitive schedule, I need to see that kind of intensity."
With eight freshmen on her roster and just two starters returning (guards Kim Allen '97 and Zakiya Pressley '98), Feeley has had a lot of "intensifying" to do in the months before the Ivy League season starts in January. Her team has faced some tough nonleague opponents early in the season, because Feeley wanted to "throw the team into the fire right away," says the coach. "We may take some lumps, but it will get us ready." Last year, that philosophy got the Tigers 20 wins and an at-large berth in the National Women's Invitational Tournament.
At press time, Princeton was 0-4 overall. The team had lost its first game to Georgetown, 83-64, in a turnover-filled performance on November 23. It had also struggled at a Thanksgiving tournament in a game at Seton Hall, losing to the hosts, 53-34, before dropping a hard-fought consolation game to Wagner, 64-56. On December 3, the Tigers lost, 61-54, at Lafayette, in a contest in which they were without Allen, who was sick with the flu.
Although Princeton is a young team, its newcomers are an exceptionally talented bunch. Feeley's first recruiting class has speed, jumping ability, and a shooting touch. This may explain why Ivy coaches picked the Tigers, on potential alone, to finish second in the league in a preseason poll. Harvard, the defending champion, was chosen to win the title again this year, and will be led by Ivy Player of the Year Alison Feaster, a junior forward. Dartmouth finished in third place, just three votes behind Princeton. The media was more skeptical of the Tigers' chances, placing the team fifth in their poll. Feeley questions that prediction, quipping, "I'd like to know how the media knows so much about our recruits . . . " She says Princeton will challenge in the Ivy race.
The Tigers are a guard-heavy team this year, with four Class of 2000 recruits joining Pressley, who has good speed and scoring ability, and junior cocaptain Sara Wetstone (a high-school teammate of Pressley in Seattle, Washington), who is a long-range sniper and good passer. Joining them are Kate Thirolf, Maggie Langlas, Erica Bowman, and Susan Rea (who also plays on the women's soccer team).
At the forward position, cocaptain Allen will provide points and rebounds-her 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game earned her all-Ivy second-team honors last year. She'll be joined by junior Kristin Henderson, who came off the bench most of last year but started in the Tigers' final game of last season; sophomores Lea Ann Drohan and Julie Angell, who both missed parts of last season but showed potential; and freshmen Tesa Ho and Channing Barnett. In the center, 6'2" freshmen Brooke Lockwood and Leigh Washburn will give Princeton power and finesse, respectively, in the lane.
Feeley says "any team takes on the personality of its coach." So when she praises the "intensity" and "scrappiness" of Bowman, it's no surprise to hear her add, "I compare Erica to myself as a player. . . . She is a terrific rebounding guard who brings something extra to the court." Feeley herself was an outstandingly quick player with lethal scoring ability when she played at Lehigh in the late 1980s. (She holds school records for career steals, 195, and for points in a game, 37.) Perhaps that's also why Feeley-who played both as a power forward and as a shooting guard-is impressed with the "winning instinct" and versatility of Thirolf, who she says "can shoot the three [pointer], drive the lane, stop and pop, and rebound. She takes some offense into her own hands and is a real competitor." It may also explain why Feeley likes the "terrific, heady" play of Langlas.
But when Feeley considers the Tigers' inexperience, one can hear the responsibility she feels to teach her young players how to succeed. "Intensity has to be learned, and we need to learn how to take it up a notch. . . . Talentwise, I think we'll match up. It's just a question of how we mature before the league games." Feeley's debut as a head coach, at Colgate, shows she knows how to instill such a winning philosophy. In three years, the coach took a miserable, 5-22 squad and turned it into a Patriot League contender.
Just as important will be the team's ability to execute Feeley's complex triangle offense. In a recent practice, as the team ran some of the options that comprise the coach's offensive strategy, it became clear the Tigers must learn to make good decisions quickly if they are to win games. "Our offense is very flexible, not definable," says Feeley. If her philosophy for games is intensity, she emphasizes precision in practice: making the right pass, shifting to set screens, looking for the best shot.
Pressley explains that the system relies on ball movement, to which players must respond correctly: "Each pass determines the next cut and screen, and every movement by a player depends on the movement of the ball," she explains. "But the freshmen have been picking it up really quickly, faster than we did last year [in Feeley's first year as coach]."
Feeley will rely on Pressley and Allen to lend some stability to the young team, "especially on the offensive end," she says. The Tigers have needed stability-they have given the ball up more than 30 times in three of their four games, as their young guards struggle to adjust to more-skilled defenders.
Langlas, who played point guard and ran the offense in the Wagner and Lafayette games, thinks Princeton's turnover problems will disappear by January. "When the Ivy season starts, we'll be prepared. We're already flowing more smoothly in practice," says Langlas. "I get into trouble when I hesitate with the ball. I just can't think too much when I'm out there."
Controlling the tempo of the game will be the team's biggest challenge, according to Feeley. "Last year, we were a chameleon team on offense. We could run or we could pick you apart in the half-court. Our athleticism is the key to our flexibility," she says. On defense, Princeton will use both a man-to-man and a matchup zone and will try to force its opponents into a half-court game. The Tigers' athleticism should help them react if games become run-and-gun affairs.
The coach's confidence, as much as anything else, will help the team's freshmen: "We're not preparing our team to come close, we're preparing to win," she says. "On the flip side, I think we have to learn from each game, win or lose, and be better today than we were the day before. If the players live by that, we'll be O.K."
-Paul Hagar '91
WOMEN'S AND MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULES
COACH BILL CARMODY FOLLOWS A LEGEND
Nov. 23 at Georgetown
Nov. 30 at Seton Hall
Dec. 1 vs. Wagner
Dec. 3 at Lafayette
Dec. 11 vs. Rutgers
Dec. 14 at Fairleigh Dickinson
Dec. 18 vs. Delaware
Dec. 27 vs. No. Arizona (at Univ. of Washington)
Dec. 28 vs. Washington or Pacific (at Univ. of Washington)
Jan. 4 at George Washington
Jan. 7 vs. St. Peter's
Jan. 10 vs. Brown
Jan. 11 vs. Yale
Jan. 29 at Rider
Jan. 31 vs. Cornell
Feb. 1 vs. Columbia
Feb. 7 at Dartmouth
Feb. 8 at Harvard
Feb. 14 at Yale
Feb. 15 at Brown
Feb. 21 vs. Harvard
Feb. 22 vs. Dartmouth
Feb. 25 at Penn
Feb. 28 at Columbia
Mar. 1 at Cornell
Mar. 5 vs. Penn
Mar. 14-15 NCAA
Nov. 20 at Indiana
Dec. 3 at Lafayette
Dec. 6 vs. Rice
Dec. 7 vs. Marquette
Dec. 10 vs. Bucknell
Dec. 14 at Monmouth
Dec. 19 vs. Lehigh
Dec. 22 vs. North Carolina
Dec. 27 vs. Texas A&M
(at Texas-El Paso)
Dec. 28 vs. Texas-El Paso or No. Iowa
(at Texas-El Paso)
Jan. 3 at Manhattan
Jan. 6 vs. Rutgers
Jan. 10 at Brown
Jan. 11 at Yale
Jan. 27 vs. Hamilton
Jan. 31 at Cornell
Feb. 1 at Columbia
Feb. 7 vs. Dartmouth
Feb. 8 vs. Harvard
Feb. 11 at Penn
Feb. 14 vs. Yale
Feb. 15 vs. Brown
Feb. 21 at Harvard
Feb. 22 at Dartmouth
Feb. 28 vs. Columbia
Mar. 1 vs. Cornell
Mar. 4 vs. Penn
Mar. 13-14 NCAA
|Call the Tiger Sportsline, 609-258-3545, for game times. Some games will be broadcast on WTTM AM 920 and/or WPRB FM 103.3, call Princeton's sports-information office, 609-258-3568, for broadcast updates.|
The men's basketball office in Jadwin Gym used to look as though it had been furnished at random, with spare desks and chairs added as necessary over the years, a couple of couches, and a television and VCR for watching game tapes. It had dark paneling over the cinder-block walls, and smelled of Pete Carril's cigars. It's a different place now, because Bill Carmody is now head coach of Princeton basketball, after serving as Carril's trusted assistant for 14 years.
"We fumigated the office to get rid of the cigar smoke," Carmody jokes, "and patched the carpet to cover up the burns." They also stripped the walls, painted them white, and redecorated.
If you walk into the office now and call Carmody's name, you'll hear him answer, but you may not see him. His head will pop up somewhere in the middle of a maze of five-foot-high dividers that cordon off cubicles for the coaching staff. Weaving his way to the front door, he'll explain that the new layout is a sort of entrance exam for recruits: "If they can't see me in here, they'll never be able to hit the open man," he'll say with a trace of a smile.
Humor appears to be part of Carmody's remedy for stress. He is taking over a Division I basketball team from a man whose status as a legend makes him more than just a hard act to follow. It makes him impossible to follow.
Bill Carmody is the fifth of 11 children born to a Spring Lake, New Jersey, family. He played basketball at St. Rose High School in Belmar, and was good enough to attract the interest of a number of college coaches, including Carril. The one who won out, though, was a former Carril assistant-Gary Walters '67, who is now Princeton's director of athletics. Walters lured Carmody to Union College, in Schenectady, New York, and in three years as a starting point guard, Carmody led the Dutchmen to a 59-11 record. He was captain of the team in his senior year and was named to the first team all-ECAC College Division squad and won Union's Most Outstanding Athlete award.
After graduating in 1975, Carmody took a job as head basketball coach at a community college outside Schenectady. A year later, he was back at his alma mater as an assistant varsity coach and head coach of the junior-varsity squad. He stayed at Union for four years before hooking up with Walters again, who at that time was head coach at Providence College.
Carmody coached as Walters' assistant for a season at Providence, but when Walters got out of coaching, Carmody found himself out of a job. He went back to working construction, his summer employment for many years, and wondered, as he laid bricks, how he could get back on the basketball court. "You know if you've ever done that kind of work that you don't want to do it forever," he says.
In the summer of 1982, a job opened up at Princeton, and Walters suggested to Carril that he offer it to Carmody. "I didn't know Pete real well then," says Carmody. "He just called me up. I don't remember exactly what he said, but it was something like 'You interested? Can you come down for an interview? Just don't mess up and you'll be okay.' "
That was 14 years ago. In that time Carmody has helped Princeton to seven Ivy League Championships and seven NCAA Tournament appearances. The apprenticeship was a long one, but the student seems to have learned his craft well. Announcing that Carmody would succeed him, Carril paid his longtime right-hand man a large compliment: "I think," he said, "that this team will be better coached next year than it is this year."
Carmody begins his 15th year at Princeton with a new title and with a team that features NCAA tournament veterans and some promising freshman recruits. He also begins his head-coaching tenure as the subject of inevitable comparisons to his predecessor.
If he changes the storied, go-slow Carril offense and man-to-man defense, he'll be accused of tampering with a time-tested winner. If he doesn't, he'll be called "a Carril clone." But Carmody says choosing Princeton's strategy will be a process, not a revolution: "Pete came in and took over for Butch Van Breda Kolff ['45]," he says. "Pete had learned from him, but he also changed things, and molded [the team] to his own personality."
As for Carril's approach to the game, Carmody calls it "a very successful formula," but says he won't "be rigid" in adhering to it. "The changes won't be drastic," he says. "I'd say that in five years, I'll have left my mark on the team."
Since news of Carril's departure went public, Tiger fans have worried that the caliber of player recruited by Princeton would fall, with the program's big-name coach gone. The arrival of this year's freshman class should dispel some of those worries. Carril's retirement did not come as a shock to any of the incoming freshmen, according to Carmody. He adds that all the recruits were told they would do most or all of their playing for Carmody, not Carril. They came anyway.
Carmody admits that the loss of Carril will have some repercussions-"your foot got in the door with some people where it won't now . . . " but he doesn't foresee a talent drought in Princeton's future. His basic recruiting philosophy sounds similar to Carril's: "I just love guys who want to get better," he says.
Rob Garver is an editor at Town Topics.
MEN'S HOOPS FORECAST: TIGERS 1ST, PENN 2ND
Another Ivy men's basketball season approaches, and the serious contenders for the league title again appear to be Princeton and Penn. Herewith our predictions for 1997:
1. Princeton: Had Penn won the Ivy League playoff last year, thereby getting its ninth straight victory over Princeton, the Quakers would be the favorite this year on karma alone. But now that Princeton has zapped its Penn complex, look for the Tigers to win the league, and they'll do it in an easier fashion than most people expect. The backcourt, with the experience of Sydney Johnson '97, Mitch Henderson '98, and Brian Earl '99, is way ahead of the rest of the league. And-say this in hushed tones, lest we jinx him-center Steve Goodrich '98 might be as good as God Himself, three-time all-Ivy Leaguer Kit Mueller '91.
2. Penn: Take heart, Princeton fans-Penn's archvillains Ira Bowman and Tim Krug graduated. But coach Fran Dunphy has reloaded with the acquisition of several new players. Rice transfer George Mboya, a forward, and prize recruit Michael Jordan (who has the hubris to wear number 23) are the best of the newcomers. Among the returnees: Garett Kreitz, Jamie Lyren, and Frank Brown bring some measure of experience to the team. If the Quakers can find a good center (and so far they haven't), they'll provide the only serious challenge to Princeton.
3. Dartmouth: Every year the hacks say the same thing-this is Dartmouth's year to make a run at the Ivy title. Yawn. The Big Green imploded last season after taking an early lead in the Ivy race, and all-Ivy swingman Seamus Lonergan won't be enough to raise Dartmouth from its third-place plateau. Why not? Because the Green has Brian Gilpin and Chris Butler, possibly the least-talented duo of seven-footers ever to play on the same basketball team. The traveling sideshow of Gilpin and Butler (and perhaps a three-headed goat) travels to Princeton and Penn the first weekend of February. That's when Dartmouth's Ivy hopes will perform their annual nosedive.
4. Harvard: After the "Big Three" of basketball, the league slides into a morass. The team with the best chance to escape this year is the Crimson, who rely on all-Ivy forward Kyle Snowden far too much to have a legitimate shot at the championship.
5. Yale: The Bulldogs hope former Ivy Rookie of the Year Gabe Hunterdon can improve after a dreadful sophomore year.
6. Columbia: Guard C. J. Thompkins leads a team that will aspire to a .500 league record.
7. Cornell: Under former Wichita State coach Scott Thompson, guard Alex Compton is the Big Red's best player, and he wasn't even a starter for half of last season.
8. Brown: There's almost a clean slate in Providence, which is good, since last year's underachievers are gone, and bad, since the newcomers have a dire shortage of talent.
-Grant Wahl '96
Grant Wahl, a former sports writer for The Daily Princetonian, now works for Sports Illustrated.
MIXED RESULTS FOR FALL SPORTS
Disappointment plagued some of Princeton's fall teams this season, but many teams posted surprising wins that may bode well for their futures. Men's water polo (10-17 overall, 6-5 CWP So.), for example, showed it had plenty of talent, placing second in its divisional playoffs, in Annapolis on October 26, and nearly upsetting league powerhouse Navy in the process-the Tigers fell, 12-10, when the Midshipmen scored late in the game. Princeton came up short in late-season contests, however, finishing a disappointing third in the Ivy tournament (held at Brown November 2 and 3) and dropping all three of its matches at the Eastern Championships (at Harvard on November 9 and 10).
Women's tennis showcased its young players, with freshman Jyotsna Vasisht and sophomore Olivia Streatfield winning individual titles at the Eastern Collegiate Tennis Tournament in September. At the ECAC Championships in October, Princeton placed a surprising third, with sophomores Kerry Patterson and Jessica Improta winning a doubles title. The Tigers' fall results bode well for the spring Ivy season. In a rebuilding year, men's tennis struggled in its three tournaments. Senior Gene Katz led a young team that lost its top four players, including star Reed Cordish '96, to graduation.
Women's golf was again led by star and captain Mary Moan '97. Laura Gilmore '98 also showed her talent, as she and Moan took the top two spots at the Dartmouth Invitational on September 21 and 22, with Moan winning by just one stroke. Moan also won the Rutgers Invitational on October 11 and 12, where the team placed fourth. Men's golf, another young team, posted some strong team performances this fall, but struggled at the ECAC Championships in October, placing fifth.
The women's volleyball team (14-11 overall, 5-2 Ivy) also had an up-and-down year, especially in Ivy League games. Princeton opened its Ivy season with two wins, dropped the next two league games, and then won its next three, raising hopes that the Tigers might win a second straight title. However, those hopes were dashed at the Ivy tournament (held at Cornell on November 15-17), where Princeton placed fourth, ending its season with a 3-1 loss to Yale, which it had beaten earlier in the year. But captain Lowen Cattolico is only a junior and the team will lose no one to graduation, so the Tigers should make a strong run for the title next year.
Men's soccer (6-8-3 overall, 1-4-2 Ivy), in its first year under new coach Jim Barlow '91, continued the pattern of mixed results. The Tigers lost most of their league games, but got a surprising 2-2 tie with regional power Rutgers on October 30, and routed heavily favored Penn, 5-1, on November 9. Women's soccer (7-8-2 overall, 2-3-2 Ivy) ended its season with three wins, but suffered tough losses to Harvard, Dartmouth, and Yale. Freshmen scored over half Princeton's 65 points this year, so the team looks to build a strong season next year.
MISERABLE SEASON ENDS FOR LIGHTWEIGHT FOOTBALL
There was something ghoulish about it, standing outside Caldwell Fieldhouse on November 1 and asking Rich Barnett '97, the lightweight football team's cocaptain and quarterback, how it felt to lose again. It was akin to attending a wake and asking the widow, "Now tell me again, just how did your husband die?"
To be sure, Barnett's team (0-6 overall, 0-5 EWFL) was a corpse that needed no prodding. Princeton had just fallen to Cornell, 31-0, for its fifth defeat in as many games. Frelinghuysen Field, its lights still shining into a thick fog, resembled a vacant star chamber. The stands had emptied, and the coaches had left as quickly as possible.
Only a week before, Princeton had nearly upset a powerful Navy team on the same field before losing, 24-20. Against Cornell, the Tigers were humiliated by a team they expected to defeat. Sadly, it was nothing new for a program that has had seven consecutive losing seasons, a fact not lost on Barnett (a polite biology major from Monaca, Pennsylvania), as he answered the question. "Losing has gotten addictive, and it has been for years," he said. "Something's got to change. I try to get people fired up, but you can't really say anything after awhile."
Princeton would go on to lose at Penn the following week, but its season effectively ended against Cornell, and talking with Barnett, you could tell. "We've got guys with a lot of heart," he said, his eyes on the ground. "But I hate losing like this." Moments later, as he walked into the fog, the Frelinghuysen lights went out.
-Grant Wahl '96
(3-1 overall; 0-0 Ivy)
Indiana 59, Princeton 49
Princeton 75, Lafayette 54
Princeton 59, Wagner 54
Princeton 66, Marquette 62
(0-4 overall; 0-0 Ivy)
Seton Hall 53, Princeton 34
Wagner 64, Princeton 56
Lafayette 65, Princeton 54
Women's Ice Hockey
(3-7 overall; 1-0 Ivy;
Concordia 4, Princeton 0
Providence 4, Princeton 1
New Hampshire 4,
Men's Ice Hockey
(6-2-1 overall; 5-2-1 ECAC)
Princeton 2, Harvard 1
Men's Water Polo
6-5 CWP So.)
Brown 10, Princeton 8
Villanova 10, Princeton 6
St. Francis 17, Princeton 7
(2-0 overall; 0-0 EISL)
Princeton 157, Penn 83
(2-0 overall; 0-0 EWSL)
Princeton 179, Penn 106