Wednesday, June 29, 2011


TigerBlog was walking back to his office the other day when he heard the single most unmistakable sound in the history of Jadwin Gym:


TigerBlog knew immediately where it came from and what it meant. In fact, the only confusing part about it was that there was only one "Yo," as opposed to a string of them.

TB has spent more than a quarter century trying to figure out how many times Pete Carril says "Yo" in his unique way, one that TB has come pretty close to perfecting.

During his time as Princeton men's basketball coach, Carril would stop practice by hollering "Yo," strung together in a staccato manner offered up so quickly that it seemed that one "Yo" blended right into another.

Eventually, TB was pretty sure the answer was four, as in "Yo, Yo, Yo, Yo," though it's possible that it was really five.

The other day, though, it was definitely one.

Maybe he's slowing down a bit now that he's closing in on his 81st birthday. Maybe he's not trying to stop practice.

Whatever the reason, TB can't remember too many times that the "Yo" was in the singular, as it was the other day.

It didn't matter, though, because even a solitary "Yo" meant that Pete Carril was in Jadwin Gym, and when Carril is in Jadwin, he is instantly the center of attention for everyone who sees him.

"Hey, Coach," TB said to him. In a building filled with people who make their livings coaching, Carril is still the only one that TB calls "Coach." In fact, TB can't remember if he's ever called him by his first name.

In this case, "Coach" was standing in the stairwell, talking to the men's basketball coaching staff. Off to the side, standing perfectly straight and silent, was the newest member of that staff and the newest to the coaching profession, Craig Moore, who played at Northwestern under Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson.

TB looked at Carril and then over at Moore, and it seemed like the young officer standing at attention as the five-star general walked by.

It's been 15 years since Carril left Princeton, after a 29-year run that saw him win 13 Ivy titles, make 11 NCAA tournament appearances and win the 1975 NIT. His final record at Princeton was 514-261, and with his 11-12 season at Lehigh in 1966-67 mixed in, his career record as a college coach was 525-273.

Before he became a college coach, Carril - the son of a steelworker from Bethlehem, Pa. - played at Lafayette College, was in the Army and coached and taught at Easton High and then Reading High, where his players (and U.S. Government students) included current Princeton AD Gary Walters.

TB didn't have to look any of that information up, and he could go on for much longer than that on the subject of Pete Carril.

And the biographical information doesn't even begin to take into account all of the funny things that TB has seen or heard from Carril. As TB often says, of the 50 funniest things that he's seen in his life, Carril is probably responsible for 25.

Like the time in New Orleans, when Carril was asked about his next opponent, and he replied that they would be tough to guard because they had such big guys. When the reporter said that Princeton had big guys too, Carril replied "Yeah, but I didn't go down to the docks to get them." Or the time he put a cigar under a stairwell railing in Fresno because he couldn't smoke in the building during a luncheon and then took the cigar back from under the railing two hours later when the luncheon was over.

Honestly, TB could write volumes just on funny Carril stores, many of which are rated R - or worse.

None of that is what went through TB's head when he heard the single "Yo" the other day, though. His first thought really was about how few people here now knew Carril when he coached here, or, for that matter, now him at all.

TB tells Carril stories all the time, always getting big laughs from the people here who hardly know the man.

It's something TB will do for as long as he is here, because it's important for everyone here to know who Carril is and what he did for Princeton basketball and Princeton Athletics.

As Carril walked slowly down the hallway, hobbling somewhat from years of wear-and-tear, TB was thinking about how Carril is in the basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Think about it. Is there anyone in the Hall of Fame who did less as a player, no offense to Carril's solid career at Lafayette? Or, for that matter, as a coach, where he his resume includes no NCAA championships, no Final Fours, no international success.

In a building filled with people who were NBA champions, Olympic gold medalists, college All-Americas, Carril's place there is unique.

Put another way, the Hall of Fame features an army of people who are there because of what they were physically. Carril is enshrined because of his mind and the impact that his mind had on his sport.

There is nobody else like Pete Carril, at least nobody that TB has ever met.

It's always good to hear the "Yo."


Royal Nonesuch said...

"Tiger Blog" wrote "...was that there was only one "Yo," as opposed to a strong of them. "


jdd91 said...

That's not a correction. I just like what you wrote.