Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a physical education instructor at Springfield College in Massachusetts, who had been asked to develop a new game that would provide an interlude between the football and baseball seasons more exciting than the gymnastic exercises the students were then grumbling about. Naismith thought that, indoors, it would be safer to throw a ball than kick it, and that it would be a more interesting game if, to score, the ball had to be thrown into a small receptacle. Peach baskets were used for this purpose when Naismith's ideas were first tried out, and soon the new game was called ``basketball.''

Princeton's first team, formed in 1901, played twelve games and, by virtue of a decisive goal by Bill Roper '02 in the last minute of the final game, ended with a 7-5 record for the season. At a postseason dinner in the old Princeton Inn the manager announced that the team had cleared expenses and had a dollar and twenty-five cents in hand for the next season.

In the winter of 1901-1902, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Yale and Princeton formed the original Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League, joined in later years by Penn, Dartmouth, and Brown. Columbia, Penn, and Yale dominated this league in the first two decades. In 1916 Princeton tied for the championship but lost the playoff game to Penn.

At first the Princeton coach, usually a member of a professional team in Trenton, showed undergraduates how to play the game by scrimmaging against them in practice sessions, leaving substituting and strategy during actual games to the captain. The first resident coach was Fred W. Luehring, who joined the newly founded Department of Hygiene and Physical Education in 1911, and coached for eight years through 1920.

In the twenties, Princeton was second only to four-time champion Penn, winning championships in 1922 and 1925, losing two others by a single goal in the playoffs in 1927 and 1928, and finishing second, as well, in 1923 and 1924. The 1925 team compiled a 21-2 won-lost record, which half a century later had still not been equalled. Three Princeton seniors, James H. Lemon, Robert C. Hynson, and Stephen C. Cleaves, led the league in points scored that season. Arthur Loeb Hemmersley '24 was named All-American in 1922 and 1923, Carl M. Loeb, Jr. '26 in 1926.

Columbia and Penn shared honors in the thirties, and Dartmouth was undisputed leader in the forties. In 1932 Princeton tied for first place with Columbia and won the playoff for the championship, and the next year R. Kenneth Fairman '34, later director of athletics, was named All-American. The 1942 Princeton team tied for first place but lost the playoff to Dartmouth. Its defensive leader was Dewey Bartlett '42, later governor of Oklahoma; its leader in rebounding, Bud Palmer '44, who became captain of the New York Knickerbockers in their early years and later New York's Public Events Commissioner and a radio and television announcer.


In the fifties Princeton had the edge in a continuing struggle with Dartmouth: each won the championship three times, but Princeton was more often second. Princeton took the title outright in 1950 and 1952 and won it in 1955 in the playoff of a triple tie with Columbia and Penn. That year's captain, Harold F. Haabestad, Jr. '55, who was selected for the all-Ivy team in his senior year, became the first Princetonian to score more than 1,000 points in his career, with a three-year total of 1292. Princeton tied for first place two other times but lost the playoffs, in 1954 to Cornell and in 1959 to Dartmouth, both times as a result of baskets scored by the opponents as the final buzzer sounded. In 1959 the same five players -- the Belz brothers, Carl and Herm, Jim Brangan, Joe Burns, and Artie Klein -- started every game for Princeton, setting an Ivy League record for durability. Carl Belz, who was captain, was twice all-Ivy.

The winning teams of the fifties were produced by Franklin C. Cappon, University of Michigan 1924 and an honorary member of the Princeton Class of 1924. He had become coach in 1939 and, except for the war years, carried on until he died of a heart attack in the Dillon gym locker room after a practice session with his team in November 1961.

Frank Deford '61 gave this graphic and affecting word-picture of Cappon in the Alumni Weekly:

``In a profession in which men are renowned for their behavior during a basketball game, Cappy Cappon stood quite by himself among coaches. Until the game was over, the man never did anything but frown. There were degrees of frowning, of course, but his gamut of expression seldom ventured too far from that of a basic frown. A mournful frown, a disinterested frown, and if it was possible -- and it was -- a frown of satisfaction. . . . And when something happened that there wasn't a frown to express completely, Cappy would cup his hands or rise to his feet and bellow the words: `What'rya doin' out there?' When the game was over, the frown would stay quite in place if Princeton lost. But if they won, he would finally smile just a bit, a smile that looked both modest and embarrassed.''

As a teacher, he was recognized not only for his record, but for his perfection of the weave offense, and for substituting but rarely. `If you start five men, they should be your best men, and if they're in shape, and play the way they should, there should be no need to substitute,' he said once. He paused and added, `but more important than all that, I haven't got anybody worth a damn on the bench.'


In the sixties Princeton won seven titles (1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, and 1969), lost the playoff for an eighth one (1968), and finished in the first division the other two seasons (1962 and 1966). Four coaches took part in this achievement. Cappon got things off to a good start and Jake L. McCandless '51 carried on in 1961 and 1962. Willem van Breda Kolff '45, one of Cappon's players and one of Palmer's teammates on the Knicks, served from 1963 through 1967; he was named coach-of-the-year in 1965. Peter J. Carril took over in 1968.

Jim Brangan, the 1960 captain who was twice all-Ivy, delighted the Princeton fans with his good shooting, his aggressive defense and his smart play generally. When Cappy took him out two minutes before the end of his last game, the crowd gave him a five-minute standing ovation.

High scorer in the early sixties was Pete Campbell '62, who broke Haabestad's 1955 record with a career total of 1451 points. Campbell was all-Ivy three times; his classmate Al Kaemmerlen, an outstanding rebounder and captain in 1962, was all-Ivy twice.

In 1963, 1964 and 1965, Princeton attained the highest level of excellence it had ever known, winning three successive League championships for the first time in its history. This achievement was due primarily to the performance of Bill Bradley '65, a complete and dedicated player, who not only provided a classic example of team play but led the league in scoring all three varsity years.

As a freshman Bradley sank 57 successive free throws, a record unmatched by any other player, college or professional. As a sophomore he led the league in rebounds, field goals, free throws, and total points, and, when he fouled out after scoring a record-breaking 40 points in an NCAA tournament game with St. Joseph's in Philadelphia, was given an unprecedented ovation.

In his junior year he made 51 points against Harvard, more than the entire opposing team had scored before he was taken out, and his 33.1 points-per-game average that season set an Ivy League record.

In the summer of 1964 Bradley was the youngest member, and the captain, of the gold-medal winning United States basketball team at the Olympics in Tokyo.

In his senior year, when he was captain, he led Princeton to the highest national ranking it had ever had in basketball. It placed third behind UCLA and Michigan in the NCAA tournament as a result of an 118-82 victory over the University of Wichita in the consolation game of the semi-finals.* In the Wichita game Bradley scored 58 points, an NCAA tournament record.

Bradley's career total of 2503 points ranked third after the collegiate record of 2973 Oscar Robertson set at the University of Cincinnati in the late fifties and the 2538 Frank Selvy scored at Furman in the middle fifties. He was a unanimous all-Ivy selection in 1963, 1964, and 1965; Art Hyland, captain in 1963, was the only other Princetonian named all-Ivy during this era. Bradley was named All-American all three years and shared with Gail Goodrich of UCLA the player-of-the-year honors in 1965. That year he was selected as the winner of the Sullivan Award as the amateur athlete ``who did the most to advance the cause of good sportsmanship during the year.'' He was the first basketball player ever to win this award, and the second Princetonian (Bill Bonthron '34, the miler, won it in 1934). Best known of the extensive writing about Bradley while he was at Princeton was John McPhee '53's New Yorker profile, later published in expanded form as a book, A Sense of Where You Are.

After graduating from Princeton, Bradley was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford for two years. He then joined the New York Knickerbockers and contributed to their winning of the N.B.A. championships in 1970 and 1973.

The 1967 team compiled a 25-3 won-lost record -- Princeton's best since 1925. This team set a league record for the largest number of points (116) made in one game -- against Dartmouth (42) at Hanover. It set another record when it provided three-fifths of the annual all-Ivy team (Gary Walters '67, Joe Heiser '68, Chris Thomforde '69), as did the 1968 team (Heiser, Thomforde, and Geoff Petrie '70), occurrences unprecedented since these selections by Ivy League coaches were begun in 1954. In 1968, Heiser, then captain, sank 91.8 percent of his free throws, which made him the best college foul shooter in the country that year.

The 1969 team, in Coach Carril's words, ``was born of adversity and indignities.'' Early in the season it was frustrated by Villanova, embarrassed by Duke, and humiliated by UCLA and North Carolina. It then went on to do what a Princeton team had never done before: it won all fourteen league games, the first time any Ivy team had gone undefeated in league competition since 1951. The three front-court men, Captain Chris Thomforde '69, center, and Geoff Petrie '70 and John Hummer '70, forwards, all twice all-Ivy selections, were outstanding. Petrie and Hummer, co-captains in 1970, followed Bradley into professional basketball. Petrie who was N.B.A. co-rookie-of-the-year in 1971, became a top scorer for Portland. Hummer played for Buffalo, Chicago, and Seattle.


Penn resumed its domination of the Ivy League in the early seventies, winning six championships through 1975. Princeton became stronger as the decade advanced, placing third in 1970 and 1971, second in the next four successive years, and first in 1976 and 1977.

Brian Taylor was a principal factor in the success of the 1972 team, which missed tying Penn for the championship only by losing a two-point upset to Dartmouth. All-Ivy in 1971 and 1972, All-American in 1972, and the only Princeton player after Bradley to score 1,000 points in two years of Varsity play, Taylor left college at the end of his junior year to accept a contract with the New York Nets. He was A.B.A. rookie-of-the-year in 1973 and later played with the Kansas City Kings and the Denver Nuggets.

The Princeton team of 1973, led by Captain Ted Manakas, ranked third in defense nationally. Manakas was a unanimous choice for the all-Ivy team and later played for Kansas City-Omaha in the National Basketball Association.

In 1974, Princeton ranked among the top five college teams nationally both in defense and free-throw shooting. The captain and center, Andy Rimol, was drafted on graduation by the Buffalo Braves.

Although the 1975 team finished second to Penn in the Ivy League with a 12-2 record, it swept its final thirteen games for the longest major college winning streak that year, and the last four victories in Madison Square Garden (over Holy Cross, South Carolina, Oregon, and Providence) gave Princeton a stunning championship in the National Invitation Tournament and twelfth place in the final Associated Press national rankings. The championship was the first ever won by an Ivy team in any postseason basketball tournament. Reporters called the Princeton team ``patient,'' ``smart,'' and ``poised,'' observing that it ``combined a probing offense with an aggressive man-to-man defense.'' Starting guards Armond Hill and Mickey Steurer won special recognition, Hill as all-Ivy, Steurer as a member of a twelve-man squad selected by the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

The 1976 team, co-captained, like its predecessor, by Armond Hill and Mickey Steurer, won the Ivy title 14-0 and finished the season impressively 22-5 overall. Two of its members were drafted by professional teams, Armond Hill, a unanimous all-Ivy selection, by the Atlanta Hawks, and Barnes Hauptfuhrer by the Houston Rockets.

In 1977, Princeton retained the Ivy League title 13-1, while posting a 21-4 record overall. Frank Sowinski '78, who led the league with a .767 field goal shooting percentage, was a unanimous all-Ivy selection and had the added distinction of being named Ivy League basketball player of the year.

Both the 1976 and the 1977 teams led the nation in defense and were also noted for the way they moved the ball around, patiently waiting for the open man and the good shot -- hallmarks of Pete Carril's coaching. Other coaches frequently said his teams gave clinical demonstrations of how basketball should be played. Playing Princeton, one of them declared, was like going to the dentist -- ``It's painful, but it does you a lot of good.''

The 1978 season brought Princeton a tie for second place in the Ivy League, all-Ivy selection for both co-captains, Frank Sowinski and Bill Omeltchenko, Pete Carril's eleventh winning season in as many years at Princeton, and a book by Dan White '65 called Play to Win: A Profile of Princeton Basketball Coach Pete Carril.


Coached by Penelope Hinckley and later by Pat Walsh, the women's basketball team, first organized in 1971, has been increasingly successful in intercollegiate competition, gaining four straight Ivy championships in 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1978. In 1976 Princeton won the AIAW Eastern Small College Tournament, and in 1978, it placed two women on the Ivy all-tournament team -- Margaret Meier '78 and C. B. Tomasewicz '79, who was also voted the tournament's most valuable player. The development of a tight one-on-one defensive style contributed to the women's continuing success, which brought growing University community interest and support.

*Princeton was eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 1952, 1960, 1963, 1969, 1976, and 1977; in the second round in 1955, 1961, 1964, and 1967.

From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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