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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Great Guy Lands Brown Head Coaching Job

Brown University named Craig Robinson, Princeton '83, as its head men's basketball coach. Craig succeeds Glen Miller, who moved from Providence to Philadelphia to take the Penn job.

This is a great step for a great guy. Craig Robinson made great contributions to the Princeton campus when he was a student, and he was an outstanding hoopster to boot -- he was twice named the Ivies' player of the year. Since 2000, he was on the staff of Bill Carmody at Northwestern, and, yes, most of you know that Carmody was Pete Carril's top aide at Princeton for years, and, yes, that Craig Robinson played for Pete Carril.

Now Princeton's family has five former Pete Carril assistants or players who are Division I head coaches -- John Thompson III at Georgetown, Bill Carmody at Northwestern, Chris Mooney at Richmond, Joe Scott at Princeton and now Craig Robinson at Brown. Waiting in the wings, presumably, are former Princeton players Mike Brennan (Joe Scott's top assistant at Princeton), Mitch Henderson (on Bill Carmody's staff) and Sydney Johnson (on John Thompson's staff). That's a pretty impressive group.

Craig Robinson will have a tough act to follow and, generally in the Ivies, his work cut out for him. Glen Miller put Brown basketball more firmly on the Ivy map than any of his predecessors, and he left a winning legacy. In the greater scheme of things, Craig Robinson will have to do something that he didn't have to do as a player -- play Penn and Princeton on back to back nights twice during the regular season. That's a tall order for anyone. One problem for Brown is that he doesn't have any eligibility left.

Coaching against Penn and Princeton is a tough job. Many former Penn and Princeton assistants have tried it with mixed success. Gary Walters fared well enough at Dartmouth to move to Providence, while Jan van Breda Kolff fared well enough at Cornell to get the Vanderbilt. Former Penn assistants Ray Carazo (Yale) and Steve Donahue (Cornell) have fared less well.

Craig Robinson is a terrific guy who should make a great addition to Brown University and Ivy League basketball. As a Princeton alum who knew him on campus, I wish him very well. As a Princeton alum who wants his Tigers to string together some consecutive Ivy titles, my good wishes have their limits. The odds are tough, but Craig Robinson can handle almost anything that's thrown at him. He was perhaps the most lightly regarded player in one of the best recruiting classes in Princeton history, and yet it was he who had the best career of the six or so kids in the recruiting class. His joining the Ivies makes the conference more formidable.

In a sporting world that's dealing with illegal substances, motorocycle helmets (or the lack thereof) and other controversies, this is a true "feel-good" story.

Good luck, Craig!

This is just great news.


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