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Encyclopedia > Princeton offense

The Princeton offense is an offensive basketball strategy that was used and perfected at Princeton University by Pete Carril. However, its roots may be traced back to Franklin “Cappy” Cappon, who coached at Princeton in the late 1930s. The offense emphasizes constant motion, passing, back-door cuts, and disciplined teamwork. The offense usually starts out with four players outside the three point arc with one player at the top of the key. The ball is kept in constant motion through passing until either a mismatch allows a player to cut inside to the basket or a player without the ball cuts toward the unoccupied area under and around the basket, and is passed the ball for a lay-up. Having a strong post player is important because this player is critical to passing to backdoor cutters, and can draw help defense to open outside shots. This article is about the sport. ... Princeton University is a private coeducational research university located in Princeton, New Jersey. ... Peter Carril (born July 10, 1930 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States) is a former professional and collegiate basketball coach. ...

The hallmark of the offense is the backdoor pass, where a player on the wing suddenly moves in towards the basket, receives a bounce pass from a guard on the perimeter, and (if done correctly) finds himself with no defenders between him and a layup. Alternatively, when the defensive team attempts to pack the paint to prevent backdoors, the offense utilizes three point shots from the perimeter. All five players in the offense-- including the center-- should be competent at making a three point attempt, further spreading the floor. Allen Iverson performing a high percentage layup. ...

The offense is a very slow developing one, relying on a high number of passes, and is often used by teams facing opponents with superior athletic talent, to maintain a low-scoring game (believing that a high-scoring game would favor the athletically superior opponent).

Versions of the Princeton offense have been run by the New Orleans Hornets, New Jersey Nets, Sacramento Kings, and Washington Wizards in the NBA. It is currently being installed by Rick Adelman on the Houston Rockets for the 2007-08 season. It is only rarely used in the NCAA-- in part because it requires all five players on the floor to be adept at ball handling, dribbling, passing, and shooting. In addition, it requires a marked concentration on team play, and as a consequence it often results in a high number of assists on made baskets. The New Orleans Hornets are a professional basketball team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. ... The New Jersey Nets are a professional basketball team based in East Rutherford, New Jersey. ... The Sacramento Kings are a professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California. ... The Washington Wizards are a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C.. They play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). ... The National Basketball Association of the United States and Canada, commonly known as the NBA, is the premier professional basketball league in North America. ... Richard Leonard Adelman (born June 16, 1946 in Lynwood, California, United States) is the incoming head coach of the Houston Rockets. ... The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. ... The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA, often pronounced N-C-Double-A or N-C-Two-A ) is a voluntary association of about 1,200 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States. ...

The eight college teams best known for utilizing the offense are Princeton, the Georgetown Hoyas (coach John Thompson III played under Carril at Princeton, and was later an assistant and head coach there), Air Force (where it was installed by former Carril player and protege and former Princeton head coach Joe Scott), Northwestern (installed by head coach Bill Carmody, another Carril protege and a former Princeton head coach), Richmond (under Chris Mooney-- a former Princeton player and assistant coach at Air Force), and Brown University, which installed the offense for the '06-'07 season when former Princeton player and Northwestern Assistant Coach Craig Robinson took over the squad. The offense is also played at Samford University, installed by head coach Jimmy Tillette, who has no direct ties to Princeton or Carril. USC also appears to be running the offense since the hiring of Tim Floyd. Herb Sendek, men's basketball coach at Arizona State University favors this scheme as well. In 2006-7 Vanderbilt ran facets of the Princeton offense as well. The Georgetown Hoyas are the athletics teams that officially represent Georgetown University in college sports. ... John Thompson III John Thompson III (born March 11, 1966) is the current head coach of the Georgetown Hoyas, the mens basketball team at Georgetown University. ... The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA or Air Force),[1] located immediately north of Colorado Springs in El Paso County, Colorado, United States, is an institution for the undergraduate education of officers for the United States Air Force. ... Joe Scott (born July 28, 1965) is an American college mens basketball coach. ... Northwestern University (NU) is a selective private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university with campuses located in Evanston, Illinois and downtown Chicago, Illinois. ... Bill Carmody (December 4, 1951 – ) is an American college mens basketball coach. ... Chris Mooney (born August 7, 1972) is the head mens basketball coach at the University of Richmond. ... Birds-Eye View of the Campus Samford University is a private, coeducational, Baptist-affiliated university located in Homewood, Alabama, (a suburb of Birmingham). ... Jimmy Tillette is the head coach of the mens college basketball team at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. ... The Trojan Shrine, better known as Tommy Trojan located in the center of University of Southern California campus. ... Tim Floyd (born February 25, 1954) is the current head coach of the University of Southern California mens college basketball team. ...

The use of this offense beyond Princeton is a relatively recent occurrence, as Carril was not interested in encouraging rival schools to lift Princeton's system and use it against them.


  • "Princeton Offense Keeps Hoyas on the Move", Washington Post, Mike Wise, March 23, 2006; Page E12.
  • "On the Offensive: Inside the Wizards "Princeton Offense"", WashingtonWizards.com, Dave Johnson, December 28, 2006
  • "Reading (the defense) is fundamental", Fran Fraschilla; ESPN.
  • Block, Curt: "Secrets of the Princeton Offense," American Basketball Quarterly
  • "Hoyas arrive at Atlanta through back door" Randy Hill / Special to FOXSports.com, 3/28/3007
  • "Race and the Princeton Offense" by Sean Gregory for Time Magazine, March 29, 2007
  • "Carril Is Yoda to Notion of Perpetual Motion" New York Times, March 30, 2007

  Results from FactBites:
ESPN.com: NCB - Hoops 101: The Princeton Offense (2383 words)
There is an understanding that offense is a series of two- and three-man plays and that all five players cannot compete for the ball but, rather, share it.
As you can see, this offense is based on good spacing of your offensive players on the court, the intelligence to "read" how the defenders are playing and, then, executing the fundamentals to make the correct play.
We always hear the announcers talk about State's Princeton offense, but my friend completely disagrees with the ascertation and believes that the team is running something completely different.
  More results at FactBites »



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