'Time' links Ben Folds to Princeton's Nassoons

When acclaimed singer-songwriter Ben Folds asks you to perform "Girl from Ipanema," off the cusp, in front of a full house at Princeton's McCarter Theater, you do it. So learned the Nassoons, Princeton's oldest all-male a cappella group, while opening for Folds at his Feb. 11 concert.

The Nassoons first linked up with Folds in early December after Princeton's Jonathan Schwartz ’10's a cappella arrangement of Folds' song "Time" won the group the chance to record on Folds' upcoming a cappella album. Folds packed a skeleton crew and his own equipment into the Mathey College common room, where he recorded with the Nassoons for several hours.

"He was extraordinarily down to earth, and we had a blast with him," said senior Nassoons member Brian Gurewitz. Before Folds left, the Nassoons joined him for a casual sing-a-long at the piano, where he took requests for their favorites of his songs.

The group gathered for extra rehearsals in the weeks leading up to Folds' concert in Princeton, ensuring that their voices would be in good shape when they opened the show with Schwartz's arrangement of "Time." After the Nassoons finished their performance, the headliner asked them to sing one more song. He'd enjoyed their version of "Girl from Ipanema" during the recording session in December.

"We weren't as prepared for that, but there certainly was a lot to be said for the spontaneity of the moment," Gurewitz said.

The Nassoons chatted with Folds onstage and off, apparently not too fazed by his stardom. "Meeting Ben wasn't unlike meeting a new friendly roommate," Gurewitz said, "but it only took a short time to realize that despite his laid-back demeanor, he exudes talent. Ben seems genuinely interested in both the culture and style of collegiate a cappella music. I have a feeling he would have loved being in the Nassoons in college!" By Sarah Harrison ’09

Bonus: Watch the Nassoons perform Ben Folds' "Time" in a fall 2008 music video.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VODoZfFZhqA&hl=en&fs=1]

Carril gets top billing on Jadwin floor


On Feb. 21, Princeton will honor former men's basketball coach Pete Carril (at right, on PAW's April 3, 1996, cover) by renaming the game court at Jadwin Gym "Carril Court." Carril coached the Tigers for 29 seasons, winning 13 Ivy League titles and becoming one of the most beloved figures in Princeton sports history. His career concluded in 1995-96, the year that Princeton topped Penn in a one-game Ivy playoff and shocked UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

By the time that ’96 Princeton squad beat the defending-champion Bruins, Carril had "become known as the gruff Professor Almost," in the words of Alexander Wolff ’79. His teams had suffered postseason near-misses against Georgetown, Arkansas, and Villanova. But, as Wolff noted in a 1996 PAW story, that view overlooked Princeton's 1975 NIT Championship as well as regular-season defeats of highly ranked opponents: North Carolina (in 1971), Florida State (in ’72), Alabama (in ’75), and Notre Dame (in ’77). Carril's Tigers also knocked Oklahoma State out of the NCAA Tournament's first round in 1983.

Carril was inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997, and his legacy continues through the work of protégés coaching in college and the pros, including 10 alumni (see below).


Not far from the tree

Ten Princeton alumni who played for Pete Carril currently coach professional or Division-I college teams. They are (top row, left to right) David Blatt ’81, head coach, Dynamo Moscow and the Russian national team; Mike Brennan ’94, assistant coach, American University; Brian Earl ’99, assistant coach, Princeton; Mitch Henderson ’98, assistant coach, Northwestern University; Armond Hill ’85, assistant coach, Boston Celtics; (bottom row, left to right) Sydney Johnson ’97, head coach, Princeton; Chris Mooney ’94, head coach, University of Richmond; Craig Robinson ’83, head coach, Oregon State University; Joe Scott ’87, head coach, Denver University; and John Thompson III ’88, head coach, Georgetown University.

Carril's basketball connections also include Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody, a longtime assistant who succeeded Carril at Princeton; Sacramento Kings general manager Geoff Petrie ’70; Mercer County (N.J.) Community College head coach Howard Levy ’85; and Gary Walters ’67, the Princeton director of athletics, who played for Carril at Reading (Pa.) High School and later assisted him on the sidelines.