Legendary coach Carril again a presence at Princeton

Pete Carril squints; his 76-year-old eyes strain to see the two pictures up on a shelf, across the room.

“Georgie,” he says, looking at the one on the left. “The Arkansas game. The year after we played Georgetown. They had a better team than Georgetown. Four pros on that team. We almost had ’em. Lost by four. Eastie had a big dunk in the first half.”

Now his 76-year-old mind is racing.

“Bobby Scrabis,” he says, looking at the one on the right. Great player. No. wait. That’s not Bobby. He was 34, right? What number is that?”

30. It’s Chris Marquardt.

“Well, it looks like Bobby. Same hair. Same legs. Same powerful drive to the basket. Same way to shoot the layup. What game was that?”

Loyola Marymount. Selection Sunday in 1991.

“They packed the place that day. Two hours before the game. What a team we had then.

“Was Slapper on that team? I remember he came to me and wanted to quit. I told him he doesn’t play to win. He had this girlfriend, and she didn’t like all the time he spent playing basketball. I told him to stick it out. Told him to go shoot around with his buddies for awhile. He made six straight shots against Penn the next day, and that was the last time he talked about quitting. He was smart. Blocked one shot one day, and they called him Slapper forever after that. He knew how to play, that guy.

“We had Kit back then. Saw him the other day. Still plays three-man tournaments. Great kid. Great player … Can’t believe how long ago that was already.”

Then he pauses, and his 76-year-old body sits back deep in the chair.

“You know,” says Pete Carril, “you can’t stop the clock, right?”

* * *

Time, and lots of it, have marched by since Pete Carril last spent a winter without a basketball team to coach. Fifty-three years worth.

There were 12 years as a Pennsylvania high school coach, first at Easton High and then Reading High. Then there were the 29 years at Princeton, a tenure that resulted in 13 Ivy League championships, 11 NCAA tournament appearances, the 1975 NIT championship, the 1989 NCAA tournament near-miss against No. 1 Georgetown and ultimately the win over Penn in the 1996 Ivy playoff and 43-41 NCAA opening-round win over UCLA for his 514th and last win at Princeton.

After that, it was the start of a 10-year hitch as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings. It was during his second year in the NBA, around the time that the “Princeton offense” began to spread throughout the sport, that he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; it was during his fourth year there that he had triple-bypass surgery. His run in Sacramento ended when head coach Rick Adelman was let go at the end of last season.

These days, he spends much of his time in Jadwin Gym.

For the full story, visit the Department of Athletics website.