It All Starts Here Hatched in New Jersey decades ago by irascible genius Pete Carril, the intricate ballet of the PRINCETON OFFENSE is suddenly the height of hoop fashion, winning games and converts from sixth grade to the NBA

Feb. 17, 2003
Feb. 17, 2003

Table of Contents
Feb. 17, 2003

Pro Basketball

It All Starts Here Hatched in New Jersey decades ago by irascible genius Pete Carril, the intricate ballet of the PRINCETON OFFENSE is suddenly the height of hoop fashion, winning games and converts from sixth grade to the NBA

For Bill Carmody the shock came just more than a year ago, on a
cool November evening in the Piedmont. Carmody is the basketball
coach at Northwestern, but he's known in coaching circles as the
caretaker of the Princeton offense, the classic labyrinthine
scheme he learned at the feet of Hall of Famer Pete Carril. On
that night in Raleigh, Carmody and his assistants were astonished
when they sat down to scout the second game of the Black Coaches
Association Invitational. North Carolina State was using the
Princeton offense. Their offense. Every bit of the breathtaking
minuet: its backdoor cuts and dribble handoffs, its fade screens
and wide-open layups. The Wolfpack had it down cold.

This is an article from the Feb. 17, 2003 issue Original Layout

"Wow. They're running it," Carmody whispered, pen frozen in
hand. "And they have the perfect guys to do it, skillful guys
who can dribble and pass and shoot and cut."

But how did they get it? This wasn't something you could lift
from a few viewings of videotape. And why now? For decades nobody
had bothered to imitate Carril's offense. Oh, Princeton had its
moments--winning the 1975 NIT, nearly upsetting Georgetown in the
'89 NCAA tournament, knocking out defending national champion
UCLA in '96--but most coaches derided Carril's slowdown style as
little more than a gimmick. "People thought you couldn't teach it
to athletic players. They wouldn't have the patience," says N.C.
State associate head coach Larry Hunter. Even when Princeton's
run to a No. 8 ranking in '98 sparked new levels of national
interest, the Sons of Carril kept their secrets in the family.
"It's hard to get in," says Campbell University coach Billy Lee,
one of dozens who tried, "kind of like the Mafia."

Suddenly, though, the secret not only got out, but it morphed
into a genuine basketball movement. The New Jersey Nets reached
last year's NBA Finals using a faithful copy of the Princeton
playbook. Likewise, that N.C. State team made the NCAA tournament
for the first time in 11 years, saving coach Herb Sendek's job. A
high school outfit in Monument, Colo., Lewis-Palmer, had won 61
of its last 67 games through Sunday with the offense, while
women's teams at Ohio State, Vanderbilt and Xavier were thriving
under it too. At rural Gibson Southern High in Fort Branch, Ind.,
coach Jerry O'Brien puts his Titans through the Princeton paces,
and even the district's sixth-graders run the offense. "It's good
fundamental basketball," Nets coach Byron Scott says. "But it's
different, and that's why it's special."

And it keeps spreading, not just through the NBA--in which the
Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves also
are employing Princeton concepts--but through every level of the
game (map, pages 60-61). In addition to the programs run by
coaches with ties to Carril (Princeton, Northwestern, Air Force),
a growing number of Division I colleges have adopted the offense,
from big-conference powers (N.C. State) to successful mid-majors
(Miami of Ohio, George Mason, Samford) to smaller programs
(Campbell, Eastern Washington, Western Carolina) hoping to ride
it to the NCAA tournament. Why, even go-go Florida and
Louisville, two of the nation's most explosive offensive teams,
are running some of the trademark Princeton sets.

Yet Carmody watched N.C. State that night in Raleigh with mixed
emotions. On the one hand, here was a moment to enjoy the
ultimate in professional respect--imitation, of course, being the
sincerest form of flattery. Yet he was also stricken by a deep
and abiding fear. After all, as the Princeton offense goes
mainstream, won't defenses become more adept at stopping it? In
the long run, won't its triumph, in a misdirection play worthy of
the scheme itself, sow the seeds of its own demise? Ruin its
novelty? Forever save defenses from death by a thousand cuts?

"I like seeing the Nets run this stuff," Carmody says, his Conan
O'Brien features tightening with angst, "but in a perfect world
I'd prefer that no one else did it."

This is a story about basketball, but it is also about
innovation, human nature and the fanatical drive to attain--and
sustain--a competitive advantage. Above all, this is the story
of a philosophy and its wholly unexpected transformation into a
burgeoning fad. How did the oldest of old school game plans, an
arcane quirk shrouded in secrecy, turn into what the New York
Daily News recently called the "trendy" Princeton offense?

Like the rise of fashion vogue and the movement of the latest flu
virus, the spread of the Princeton offense is best viewed as a
social epidemic. In his groundbreaking best-seller The Tipping
Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes the three types of agents
responsible for social epidemics: Mavens, Connectors and
Salesmen. "In a social epidemic, Mavens are data banks. They
provide the message," Gladwell writes. "Connectors are the social
glue: They spread it. But there is also a select group of
people--Salesmen--with the skills to persuade us when we are
unconvinced of what we are hearing."

For the Princeton offense to spread, it needed all three types:
Mavens outside the Carril "family" to decipher and master every
nuance of the scheme; Connectors to spread that knowledge to
coaches across the country; and Salesmen to persuade the hoops
cognoscenti that it could be successful at every level of the
game, for high schoolers and pros, men and women, in up-tempo and
slowdown attacks. Sure enough, that's exactly what happened.

The Innovator

What is the Princeton offense? Master Yoda laughs. Pete Carril is
72 years old. His wispy white hair, throaty rasp and impish grin
conspire to make him appear more gnomelike than ever. He's
wearing a Kings sweatshirt--he has been an assistant for the team
since 1996--and a baseball cap that reads yo! on the front. "I
don't think it's that innovative," he says, all evidence to the
contrary. "The basic difference [between this system and others]
is that there's a greater use of cutting, and not much picking.
It's supposed to take the tension out of a game, so five guys
aren't just complaining about getting enough touches, all that
bulls---. You know the ball's going to come to you at the right
time. If you're not skillful you can't play in this offense,
because everyone is the point guard. The minute you have the ball
in your hand, you're expected to see what to do, to read the

To hear Carril tell it, his offense is a hodgepodge of borrowed
philosophies. When he began coaching at Easton (Pa.) High in
1952, his teams ran the five-man weave used by La Salle's Ken
Loeffler and Villanova's Al Severance. "As it went on, we picked
up things," Carril says. There was the shuffle cut run by
Albany's Dick Sauers, the low-post elbow screen run by Red
Auerbach's Boston Celtics ("Sam Jones hit so many bank shots
coming off that elbow screen") and the dribble handoffs of Red
Holzman's New York Knicks. From Butch van Breda Kolff, his
predecessor at Princeton, Carril borrowed another touch, moving
his center from the low post to the high post and clearing space
in the lane for backdoor cuts.

Carril's genius was in the way he seamlessly linked all those
sets, forcing opponents to pick their poison, like a soccer
goalkeeper who has to move one way or the other when facing a
penalty kick: Do you want to give up open outside shots, or do
you want to defend the perimeter and be bamboozled by backdoor
layups? Combined with Princeton's monotonous pace, the approach
always gave Carril's teams, without the benefit of athletic
scholarships, a chance to beat the best teams in college
basketball. "Coach Carril has been very effective at
choreographing sequential movement in ways that create counters
to counters," says Gary Walters, the Princeton athletic director
who played for Carril in high school. "When you defend one
portion of the sequence, you set yourself up for having more
trouble defending the next step."

The offense isn't for everyone, of course, particularly at a time
when mastery of fundamentals has reached an alltime low. In its
purest form, it requires a center who can shoot from the outside
and deliver one-handed bounce passes on a dime to backdoor
cutters. It requires an agile power forward who can cut, pass and
shoot, since the offense makes no distinctions between its four
nonpost players. Not least, it requires selfless players who can
think. "It's very time consuming," Carmody says. "I don't spend
any time in practice on defense. At all. Ever. But you're always
guarding the other team in practice, so we get it done."

Over three decades and 525 wins, naturally, Carril realized there
was treasure in the Princeton playbook, and he developed a
pathological fear that rivals would steal his creation. Wasn't
that why he had closed his practices all those years? Why, in a
violation of coaching protocol, he often refused to exchange game
tapes with other schools? Why, whenever another coach called to
inquire about the offense, Carril would unleash a volley of
invective ("Do what I did, and f------figure it out!") and hang
up the phone?

The Maven

The first outsider to infiltrate Princeton's inner circle was
Jimmy Tillette. This was in 1996, when Tillette was an assistant
at Samford, a Baptist college in Birmingham. An avowed egghead
and lover of Beethoven, Chopin and Wagner--he named his son
Tristan after the hero of Wagner's opera--Tillette is possessed
of a relentless curiosity about all things hoops. In other words
he's the perfect Maven. "I'm the only coach in Alabama who
doesn't play golf," Tillette says. "I had to do something in the
spring, and I always liked to take another team and figure out
how they do what they do. So one spring I picked out Princeton."
For weeks Tillette spent six hours a day poring over tapes,
compiling 99 pages of notes and then distilling those into 35
laminated sheets.

When Princeton and Samford each appeared at the Iowa State
Holiday Classic in December 1995, Tillette joined Carril and
Carmody for dinner. Intrigued by Tillette's notebook, Carmody
invited him to Princeton the following year, after Carmody had
taken over for Carril. "Tillette was the guy we talked with a
lot," Carmody says. "Every day I get four or five e-mails, phone
calls or letters: Can you send me your offense? I just throw 'em
in the garbage. I can't deal with that, because, you know ... do
something. Work with it. That's what Jimmy did. He already knew
the stuff, where to go and what to do, but he didn't quite get
all of it. So he came up, and we spent a couple of days

The results were startling. In 1998--99, Tillette's second season
as Samford's head coach, the Bulldogs went 24-6 and reached the
NCAA tournament--a feat they had not accomplished in six years
under Tillette's predecessor, John Brady, who had left for LSU.
The next year Samford went 21-11, led the nation in field goal
percentage (50.3) and made another trip to the NCAAs. "The
concept is so solid," Tillette says. "You don't have to beat guys
off the dribble or go one-on-one. It's a question of sharing the
ball. Our assists-to-baskets ratio is out of sight. Three out of
four baskets come off an assist." So dazzling was Samford that
Carmody's brother Frank called him one night and said, "Hey,
Billy, you ought to watch these guys: They're running it better
than you are!"

Though Samford's surge drew some small-scale media attention, it
hardly spurred a national wave of converts to the Princeton
offense. Tillette simply honored Carmody's request to keep it in
the family. At one point Tillette even rebuffed Birmingham
Southern coach Duane Reboul, a friend of 40 years and his former
boss at De La Salle High in New Orleans. "I'm very aware of my
loyalty to Princeton," Tillette says. "If you want to watch
practice and glean some things on your own, that's fine. But I'm
not one for sharing."

To find a coach who is, you need to fly to Columbus, Ohio, rent a
car and drive 90 minutes east, to the tiny, brick-paved burg of
New Concord, proud home of Senator John Glenn and Division III
Muskingum College.

The Connector

For the Princeton offense to really start spreading, it needed
someone like Tillette, who had mastered its manifold intricacies.
Only, that someone had to be well-connected in the coaching world
and--most important--willing to share. In other words it needed
someone like Jim Burson.

Few basketball fans know of Burson, the coach at Muskingum for
the past 36 years, but his colleagues do. Burson worked with Bob
Knight on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. His son, Jay, starred at
Ohio State in the late '80s under Gary Williams, now the Maryland
coach. Each summer Burson visits and learns from one of his
brethren, from Knight to Cincinnati's Bob Huggins to Michigan
State's Tom Izzo. "I've had a great life, and I've done it in
anonymity," Burson says, "but if you got down to Duke and asked
Coach K if he knew Jim Burson, he'd say, 'Yeah, I know Coach.'"
At 61, Burson looks a lot like Hugh Hefner, and he is just as
social (though not, he'll have you know, with the ladies). He
gives clinics each summer for his former players who are still
involved in the game, has presided over the Division III Men's
Basketball Committee and in three years is slated to become
president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

In the summer of 1998 Burson traveled to Princeton to view the
offense up close. "Pete Carril's offense is absolute genius,"
Burson says. "They'll give you some of the raw information"--game
tapes, mainly--"but it's like they're giving you the parts to a
new car and saying, 'Now put it together.' Well, we took the time
to put together all the parts." Two years and several hundred
hours of tapes later, Burson and assistant Greg Morland had, as
Burson puts it, "cracked the code." They called their version
Optional Phasing--a nod to its sequences of reads--and they gave
the offensive sets fishing terms (befitting the school's mascot,
the Fighting Muskies) like rod-and-reel and bait-and-tackle.
Their center stationed himself in any one of four post positions:
hook (high), line (low), sinker (side) or bobber (top of the
key). "It was a forgery," Burson says, "but we felt good about
it, like we had discovered gold."

Like Tillette, Burson had instant success running Princeton
(Muskingum went 15-11 in 1998-99, its first winning season in
seven years), but his national impact would come as a Connector.
Simply put, he shared--an approach Burson had adopted in '67 when
he visited a practice conducted by legendary Kentucky coach
Adolph Rupp. "Rupp gave me the seven diagrams of his offense,"
Burson recalls. "[Back then] I never could run them because I
wasn't smart enough, but he gave them to me."

In the spring of 2001 Burson got a call from N.C. State. Larry
Hunter, a Wolfpack assistant, had known Burson from his days at
Wittenberg and Ohio, and Burson had helped Hunter prepare for a
game against Princeton in '99. N.C. State had fallen on hard
times, and coach Herb Sendek was desperately seeking a way to
compete against his more talented ACC rivals. Sendek had already
lost twice to Princeton, and the offense fascinated him. Yet
there were still parts that he couldn't fathom. "There's not much
secrecy anymore because of clinics, camps and TV, but a lot of
coaches have watched this offense a long time and still can't
figure it out," Burson says. "I didn't either, the first hundred

Burson hopped a plane to Raleigh. "The first thing I did there
was sit down and say, 'What have you done?'" he says. "Herb said
he had looked at 12 tapes and broken them down. His notes looked
like my scribbled notes did, back in '98. I said, 'Good, now
explain that.' He showed me, and I said, 'Now what?' He said,
'That's where I am.' And I told him, 'You're really close, but
you don't have any idea of what you're doing.' Larry laughed at
that, and I said, 'I'm not saying that to be pompous. I'm just
telling you, you can't run it with what you know. Let me show

For the rest of the afternoon Burson beguiled Sendek with his
presentation, which included a 15-minute videotape and a
boiled-down 20-page playbook he calls the Holy Grail, whose
principles are distilled on the opening page. Sendek fell for it
hook, line and sinker. "He said, 'Oh, my God, I didn't even
understand it. I didn't understand it!'" Burson says of Sendek's
Eureka moment. The Wolfpack coach had known most of the Princeton
sets; he just hadn't solved the puzzle of how to link them. (As
Burson put it, rod connected to reel, while bait went with
tackle.) "Would he have done that eventually by himself?" Burson
asks. "I think so. What we did was save him a year's work."

And, to a large degree, Sendek's job. Combining the Princeton
sets with a full-court press, a faster pace and whip-smart
players who could cut, pass and shoot, his team went 23-11,
advanced to the ACC tournament final and reached the second round
of the NCAA tournament. What's more, the Wolfpack showed that you
can score with the Princeton offense, averaging 75.4 points a
game (the most in Sendek's six-year tenure).

Back in Ohio, Jim Burson watches the Wolfpack and smiles. It's
his biggest success story as a Connector, and yet it's far from
the only one. In the past three years, Burson has also shared the
Holy Grail with several D-I colleges--Miami of Ohio, George
Mason, Campbell--and "about 30" other teams, from the high school
to small-college levels. As Burson says, "It's out now: Burson
broke it down and identified all the parts and made it simple.
Northwestern's not going to give you anything. Princeton's not
going to give you anything. Burson will give it to you, but only
if you've studied it. If you want to come up here and show me
that you've paid some dues, then I can give you the Grail."

Burson vows he'll never charge for his services--N.C. State
covered his airfare, nothing more--but that hardly means he isn't
compensated in other ways. For starters, sharing his knowledge
burnishes his image as a coaches' coach, a respected sage in the
fraternity. Then there's the quiet satisfaction he draws from
seeing more teams play winning fundamental basketball. "It's such
a neat thing to watch," he says. And certainly N.C. State owes
him an immense debt of gratitude, part of which Sendek has
already repaid. He recently hired Morland, Burson's former
assistant, as his video coordinator.

Of course, there are other Mavens who double as Connectors. Cal
Luther, who ran a version of the Princeton offense at
Tennessee-Martin, has shared his knowledge with Stetson,
Satellite Beach (Fla.) High and NAIA Westmont College in Santa
Barbara, Calif. Likewise, Steve Baker, a coach at Loyola
Blakefield High in Towson, Md., has compiled a 100-page dossier
on the Princeton offense, along with a two-hour instructional
tape; he recently sold copies to one of his best friends,
Tennessee assistant Kerry Keating, who says he'll use the system
when he gets a head coaching job.

None of those strains, however, can compare to the vast web being
spun by the Division III coach who's changing big-time college
basketball precisely because he's so well-connected. In the
language of epidemics, Jim Burson is the Patient Zero of the
Princeton offense.

The Salesmen

Still, Burson's efforts don't explain how the Princeton offense
arrived in the NBA, nor how coaches came to believe that it could
work in the fast-paced pro game. It needed a Salesman, and that
man was, ironically enough, Master Yoda himself.

Coaches--even Princeton coaches--are an itinerant bunch. Since
Carril was hired by Kings president Geoff Petrie (one of his old
players) in 1996, his former assistants have moved on to the top
jobs at Northwestern (Carmody), Air Force (Joe Scott) and
Princeton (John Thompson III). Carmody recalls a conversation he
had in the late '90s with Van Breda Kolff, who gleefully
predicted a controlled spread of the system: "The next step is to
get jobs for everyone, and they'll [hire] three or four guys
each, and soon you'll have these little pods all around the
country. And then basketball will be fun to watch again."

No "pod" of the Princeton offense has been more fascinating to
follow than the one Carril has established in the NBA in his
quest to bring his five-man passing game to a league dominated by
me-first 'tudes, isolation plays and pick-and-rolls. For years,
though, Carril had maintained that his creation would in fact
work beautifully, given the speed and athleticism of NBA players.
"Michael Jordan would be one of the great beneficiaries of this,"
Carril says, "because he's totally fundamentally sound."

In the end it took four sales over a five-year period to seal the
deal. First, Carril convinced Eddie Jordan, then a fellow Kings
assistant, over a season's worth of breakfasts, lunches and
late-night bus rides. Jordan was elevated to head coach, and
though the Kings dumped him in 1998 after one full
season--injuries had doomed his version of Princeton, proving a
Van Breda Kolff adage ("It's not what you do, it's who's doing
it")--Jordan still believed in the system when he joined the Nets
as an assistant in '99. Two years later, he persuaded head coach
Byron Scott to let the Nets run part of Carril's scheme in the
NBA summer league. They finished 6-1. Intrigued, Scott timed the
offense against the shot clock during the coaches' pickup games,
and it came in under 24 seconds. He decided to take the leap.

"It was easy to apply to the NBA game," Scott says. "It just came
down to finding the right team to do it. When we made the trade
for Jason [Kidd], I thought it would work. We had a point guard
who could run it, who was bright enough to understand the ins and
outs of the offense. As long as you can get your star player to
buy into the system, everyone else will follow."

Sure enough, Kidd thrived in the offense, and so did the Nets.
Scott and Jordan made only a few tweaks in Carril's sets,
throwing backdoor lobs to the rim instead of bounce passes,
setting up guards for post-ups and occasional pick-and-rolls, and
relying more on the passing of Kidd than on the traditional
Princeton-style center. The Nets could easily segue from the fast
break into their five-man motion. Displaying remarkable
balance--their top three scorers averaged between 14.7 and 14.9
points a game--the Nets won 52 games, doubling their total from
the previous year. The Los Angeles Lakers may have won their
third straight NBA title, but New Jersey was the story of the

The fourth and final sale--to skeptical NBA observers--had been
made on the floor. While Carril would have preferred that his
Kings (who were knocked out by the Lakers) had reached the
Finals, he could take heart in the appearance of two Princeton
offense teams in the NBA's final four. He had been right all
along. "I've been watching NBA games for the last 50 years,"
Carril says, "and the number of times I heard the word backdoor
the last two years exceeds the total of those other 48 years

In December, Bill Carmody and Northwestern returned to Raleigh to
play N.C. State. The Wolfpack won the battle of Princeton
offenses easily 74-49, but the most telling statistic was this:
N.C. State did not allow a single backdoor layup. "We knew
exactly what they were going to do," Wolfpack guard Julius Hodge
explained afterward. Is the novelty already gone? Was Hodge
confirming Carmody's worst fear? The secret is out, after all.
Even Carril has released a video detailing his philosophies. As
Larry Hunter says, "I think you'll see all sorts of hybrids of
this offense take off, just like you did with the motion

Yet Carmody has hope. Remember, the innovators can always keep
innovating. "Every day we're trying new stuff," he says. A
smarter brand of basketball demands a more intelligent coach.
Jimmy Tillette is fond of quoting Schopenhauer, Plato and Kant in
his press conferences. Herb Sendek graduated from Carnegie-Mellon
with a 3.95 grade point average. Jim Burson has a Ph.D.

Carril's own book is called The Smart Take from the Strong,
though it's safe to say he's tickled that the masses now take
from him. Handed a copy of Burson's Holy Grail, Master Yoda pulls
on his glasses, leafs through the laser-printed pages and shakes
his head. "Ay yi yi, this is unbelievable," he finally says,
betraying a flicker of a smile. "Just goes to show you man's


Here's how, in its 78--56 win on Feb. 2, North Carolina State
employed the Princeton offense to lull and gull Clemson--and end
up with an easy two

THE SETUP At this point, the Wolfpack has run 25 seconds off the
shot clock using the Princeton's hypnotizing ballet. Note the
maximum spacing of the offense: Four attackers are arrayed above
the free-throw line extended.

THE MOVE Defender Edward Scott (on ACC logo) has been warily
watching the Wolfpack's Clifford Crawford (30) while also trying
to keep an eye on ball handler Julius Hodge. As Hodge makes his
pass, Crawford sneaks behind Scott.

THE BACKDOOR Scott has hesitated--and lost. Because the rest of
the Tigers are stationed outside the lane attempting to occupy
other attackers, Crawford has an open path to the hoop and Hodge
an unblocked lane to deliver a pass.

THE PAYOFF Before Clemson's Sharrod Ford can arrive from the weak
side to stop him, Crawford snags a perfectly timed pass from
Hodge and scores two points--just the way it was drawn up--on the
most basic shot in basketball, a layup.

Loyal to godfather Pete Carril, these coaches keep the offense in
the family








Air Force

SI found 101 teams that are running the Princeton offense either
all or some of the time. Each is represented by a pin on the map


1. Princeton Princeton, N.J.

2. Air Force Colorado Springs

3. Appalachian State Boone, N.C.

4. Birmingham Southern Birmingham

5. Campbell Buies Creek, N.C.

6. The Citadel Charleston, S.C.

7. Columbia New York City

8. Cornell Ithaca, N.Y.

9. Dartmouth Hanover, N.H.

10. Eastern Washington Cheney

11. Florida Gainesville

12. George Mason Fairfax, Va.

13. Louisville Louisville

14. Loyola College Baltimore

15. Miami Oxford, Ohio

16. Minnesota Minneapolis

17. Monmouth West Long Branch, N.J.

18. New Mexico Albuquerque

19. North Carolina State Raleigh

20. Northwestern Evanston, Ill.

21. Purdue West Lafayette, Ind.

22. Samford Birmingham

23. Southeastern Louisiana Hammond

24. Stetson DeLand, Fla.

25. Weber State Ogden, Utah

26. Western Carolina Cullowhee, N.C.


27. Univ. of Alabama--Huntsville

28. Anderson College Anderson, S.C.

29. Berry College Mount Berry, Ga.

30. UC San Diego La Jolla, Calif.

31. Covenant College Lookout Mountain, Ga.

32. Erskine College Due West, S.C.

33. Gettysburg College Gettysburg, Pa.

34. Huntingdon College Montgomery, Ala.

35. Indiana Wesleyan Marion

36. Loyola University New Orleans

37. Muskingum College New Concord, Ohio

38. Union University Jackson, Tenn.

39. Urbana University Urbana, Ohio

40. Westmont College Santa Barbara, Calif.


41. Alexandria-Monroe Alexandria, Ind.

42. Archbishop Ryan Philadelphia

43. Bob Jones Madison, Ala.

44. Campolindo Moraga, Calif.

45. Catholic Baton Rouge

46. Christian Brothers Academy Lincroft, N.J.

47. Christian Houston

48. Clinton Central Michigantown, Ind.

49. Clinton Prairie Frankfort, Ind.

50. Dakota Dakota, Ill.

51. Edina Edina, Minn.

52. El Camino Real Woodland Hills, Calif.

53. Elizabeth Elizabeth, N.J.

54. Fordham Prep the Bronx

55. Frankfort Frankfort, Ind.

56. Geneva Geneva, Ohio

57. Gettysburg Area Gettysburg, Pa.

58. Gibson Southern Fort Branch, Ind.

59. Hamilton-Badin Hamilton, Ohio

60. Heathwood Hall Columbia, S.C.

61. Hiland Berlin, Ohio

62. Holy Trinity Hicksville, N.Y.

63. Homewood Birmingham

64. Jesuit New Orleans

65. Lewis-Palmer Monument, Colo.

66. Loyola Blakefield Towson, Md.

67. Loyola School New York City

68. Maysville Zanesville, Ohio

69. Mead Spokane

70. Moorestown Moorestown, N.J.

71. Newark Catholic Newark, Ohio

72. Northshore Slidell, La.

73. Oblong Oblong, Ill.

74. Rosecrans Zanesville, Ohio

75. Ross Senior Hamilton, Ohio

76. Rossville Rossville, Ind.

77. St. Clairsville St. Clairsville, Ohio

78. St. Pius X Atlanta

79. St. Xavier Cincinnati

80. Satellite Satellite Beach, Fla.

81. Springfield Springfield, Pa.


82. Univ. of Alabama--Huntsville Huntsville

83. Bear River High Grass Valley, Calif.

84. Birmingham Southern Birmingham

85. Bradford High Bradford, Tenn.

86. Dominican High New Orleans

87. Martin-Westview High Martin, Tenn.

88. Maryland-Baltimore County Baltimore

89. Mary Washington College Fredericksburg, Va.

90. Ohio State Columbus

91. Samford Birmingham

92. Smith College Northampton, Mass.

93. Tennessee-Martin Martin

94. Toms River High South Toms River, N.J.

95. Vanderbilt Nashville

96. West Monroe High Monroe, La.

97. Xavier Cincinnati


98. Milwaukee Bucks Milwaukee

99. Minnesota Timberwolves Minneapolis

100. New Jersey Nets East Rutherford

101. Sacramento Kings Sacramento


Jim Burson, the code cracker of the offense, has spread his
knowledge to coaches near and far

Head coach Muskingum

Head coach George Mason

Associate head coach N.C. State

Head coach Miami (Ohio)

Head coach N.C. State

Head coach, Campbell

Head coach Urbana


Head coach Hiland High, Ohio
Former Muskingum player

JV coach, Maysville High, Ohio
Former Muskingum player and assistant at Rosecrans High, Ohio

Head coach, St. Clairsville High, Ohio

Head coach, Geneva High, Ohio

Head coach Rosecrans High, Ohio


On the opening page of his playbook detailing his version of the
Princeton offense, Muskingum coach Jim Burson presents what he
considers its salient features. Here, in abridged form, are those

Think change of direction.

There is a counter for everything the defense does.

No traditionally numbered positions allowed. Instead: one post,
four players.

Hit the cutter with a bounce pass.

Keep your center high.

Keep the area below the foul line empty.

Very few plays are called.

The offense is about cutting, not screening. Move to open space.

If there is no answer at the back door, knock on the front.

Don't run to the ball.

Five players must work together.

It is about hypnotic cuts, passes and handoffs.

If your man lays off, shoot the three. If he overplays you, burn
his eager butt on the backdoor cut.

Cut with credibility.

Unselfishness is more important than brains.

Might run five or six sets in a single possession.

Don't just screen. Screen and read.

Must read defense: any denial, go backdoor!

"I like seeing the Nets run this offense," says Carmody, "but in
a PERFECT WORLD I'd prefer that no one else did it."

"The number of times I heard the word BACKDOOR the LAST TWO years
exceeds the total of the previous 48 combined," says Carril.
"The concept is so solid," says Tillette. "You don't have to
BEAT GUYS off the dribble. It's a question of sharing the ball."