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Men's basketball team gains national media recognition

Princeton's spectacular rise this season to No. 8 on the ESPN/USA TODAY coaches' poll has made the Tigers' Cinderella story a popular topic of conversation for anyone with even passing interest in NCAA men's basketball.

Newspapers, radio stations and television networks from a number of cities, including Seattle, Milwaukee, St. Louis and New York, have requested interviews from members of the team, said Manager of Sports Media Relations Jerry Price.


The team's perfect Ivy League record and its strong performance outside the league (20-1) has allowed the Tigers to experience sports media attention on a national scale.

"It's been a great year for them," Price said. "I personally expected them to be good, but I didn't expect them to be this good."

Varsity basketball player Brian Earl '99 said he thinks "everyone likes to see the little guys do well, and we are."

Vice President for Public Affairs Robert Durkee '69 said his office has received many compliments on the team's performance, even from individuals not affiliated with the University.

"We've captured the imagination of people all over, well beyond the people who usually follow basketball," Durkee said. "Last week, at a meeting of college presidents from all around the country, it was a regular topic of conversation."

'Intelligent style of play'

Durkee said people appreciate the fact that Princeton is playing as well as it is. "(It is a) disciplined, intelligent style of play that relies heavily on teamwork," he explained.


Price said a Washington Post reporter had been particularly impressed with the team. "(The reporter) said, 'This is the only place players are trying to convince me that they are students trying to be athletes, and not athletes trying to be students,' " Price said.

Earl said he is happy with the way the season has been going. "We're playing well . . . we feel a little more appreciated. We've been interviewed by a lot of television and newspaper people," he said.

Durkee also said there was a link between the interest in the basketball team and the national coverage of the University's new financial aid programs.

"It reminds them how remarkable the basketball team is. Princeton awards financial aid on a need basis with no athletic scholarships, and that reinforces the signal that this is a different kind of team," Durkee said.

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Varsity men's basketball coach Bill Carmody agreed that the team's popularity could have played a part in attracting some of the other media attention the University has received recently.

"You know, it's all related," Carmody said.

Price said he didn't expect the media attention to affect the team's play. "They just want to show their stuff and see what happens."