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Jack Platten.

You may not have known Jack Platten, but if you went to a basketball game at Jadwin Gym, you certainly saw him wearing his well-worn white Princeton cap and beige coat or pushing his walker with tennis balls on the legs to the bleachers.

Platten sat near mid-court at Jadwin for every Princeton basketball game but two since the building was opened 40 years ago, accompanied by his wife Barbara before her death in 2004. The two were married for 64 years. After Barbara's passing, Mr. Platen was joined in his seat by his grandson.

A member of the Class of 1938, he loved Princeton sports dearly. For his 80th birthday, his family had the Princeton coaches and players sign a basketball for him, which is still proudly displayed on the table next to his television.

Last year's Penn/Princeton finale was Mr. Platten's last trip to Jadwin, as he became ill this summer and passed away on Tuesday at the age of 91. As his son Rob wrote in an email to me, "his 80 years of smoking finally caught up with him."

I first met Mr. Platten through this site and enjoyed the detailed, well-written and funny emails he would occasionally send me. He was a witty man, who often would poke light at his deteriorating physical state, yet somehow was still telling me about the tennis he found the ability to play.

Jadwin feels a little emptier without him.

Here's a memory of Butch Van Breda Kolff that Jack wrote in September of 2007.

Cheerio, Jack.

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I’ve been one of Butch Van Breda Kolff’s friends and admirers since he returned to Princeton’s basketball team in 1946 and was a constant attendant at the post-game parties our local group of basketball fans had for the outstanding players, so I’ve read with interest all the articles in the papers about his career. Here are a few items that everyone appears to have missed:

I’ll start with my recollection of the party Butch and Florence hosted back in 1965 to “celebrate” the final four record. The party was in the basement recreation room of the Faculty Apartments down by the Lake and (incidentally) one of the other guests was a little guy from Butch’s Lafayette team by the name of Pete Carril. Butch told me that he was really teed off at the moment–first at Ken Fairman for not picking up the transportation expense for Florence to go to Portland with him and the team, and second at the University which had just the week before notified him of an increase in the rent for their apartment. I’ve always felt this was the beginning of the end for his Princeton connection.

Just a few years later, Jackie Kent Cook (millionaire owner of the Los Angeles Lakers) went after Butch to come and manage the Lakers (with Wilt Chamberlain as player). Most sports writers were baffled by this choice, but what they didn’t know at the time was that Cook was expecting that a professional soccer league was in the offing and he wanted to have a soccer team in Los Angeles, too. That made Butch a two-fer, since he had been captain of Princeton’s soccer team and had made the All-American list as a player. I haven’t seen any mention of this in the recent splurge of articles and obits for Butch.

Just a few more notes from my memory box. When I first played tennis with him in 1962, I was quickly aware that he was a left-handed athlete, something I didn’t recall of him when he was a hoops player here or on the Knicks He was a damn fine tennis player, and it was continuing fun for me to play with or against him in doubles during many summers at Barnegat Light, north of Harvey Cedars, where he had a cottage. The after-game beers were also pleasant.

Cheerio Jack Platten ‘38

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Princeton 59 Central Connecticut State 57.

box score : audio - coach sydney johnson
audio - kyle koncz & zach finley

Princeton was able to overcome a horrendous first half shooting performance, carried to victory on the broad shoulders of sophomore center Zach Finley. Finley scored 18 of his career-high 22 points in the game's final twenty minutes as the Tigers held off visiting Central Connecticut State 59-57. Joe Seymore tallied 14 points on four three point shots for the Blue Devils.

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Saturday News:

Will Venable was 2-4 at the plate and twice drove in a runner with two outs as San Antonio shut out Frisco 5-0 to advance to the Texas League championship series, which starts Tuesday at home against Springfield. Several quotes from a jubilant Venable can be found here.

Congratulations to Princeton Associate Athletic Director Jerry Price for winning Story of the Year in the College Sports Information Directors of America Fred S. Stabley Writing Contest. Price was honored for his January piece "Welcome home, Coach Carril."

Charlie Rosen from Fox Sports argues that Butch van Breda Kolff should be in the Basketball Hall of Fame.



Wednesday News:

Will Venable was 2-6 for San Antonio in an eleven inning 6-5 loss to Midland.

Chris Young has been upgraded to "likely" for Thursday's start against Arizona.

"It looks like he's going to, in all probability, [pitch] Thursday. We haven't announced it yet. He feels good today," Padres manager Bud Black said.

A memorial service for former Princeton coach Butch van Breda Kolff will be held on Friday, September 7th beginning at 4:00 pm ET at the Hofstra University Library in Hempstead, Long Island.



Tuesday News:

Will Venable was 3-5 with a double and a run scored last night as San Antonio beat up on Corpus Christi 8-1. The Missions now lead Frisco by 2.5 games with eight to play.

Venable was also named to the Texas League post-season All-Star team.

The San Diego Padres are cautiously optimistic that Chris Young could start either Thursday or Friday's game this week. Young threw off a mound yesterday for the first time since leaving his start at Shea Stadium with a lower back strain.

The Princeton Packet spoke with Bill Bradley, Gary Walters and Pete Carril about the late Butch van Breda Kolff.

Eagles linebacker Omar Gaither had an offer to play basketball at Princeton?



Monday News:

Will Venable was 1-4 with a run scored in San Antonio's 9-0 win over Frisco on Friday.

Saturday the Missions started a series with Corpus Christi. Venable drove in the game's only run in the bottom of the fifth as the Hooks were shut out 1-0.

"I knew he was going to throw me a fastball," Venable said.

"He left it up, and fortunately, I was ready for it."

Corpus Christi scored two runs in the top of the seventh to best San Antonio 3-2 in the first game of a Sunday doubleheader. Will Venable was 0-3 at the plate in the loss. In the nightcap Venable hit his eighth home run of the year as the Missions shut out the Hooks 4-0. San Antonio has a 1.5 game lead on Frisco in the southern division of the Texas League with nine games to play.

Cole Hamels says Chris Young should call him if he wants any advice on his back.

Daily Breeze writer Mike Waldner shares stories from the life of Butch van Breda Kolff.

During one late night session, the discussion turned to how various coaches attacked gimmick defenses. Butch was dismissive. To him the game was a simple matter of balance, movement and crisp, accurate passes.

"What do you do against a diamond-and-two?" he was asked.

"Just tell my scorer to go stand in the corner and let the rest of the team play four-on-three," he said.

"Are you really going to take your top scorer out of your offense?" the reporter said.

"Ask Pete," Butch said.

It just so happened that Pete Carril, who played for VBK at Lafayette and followed him as the Princeton coach, was visiting that night.

"Pete, Pete," VBK commanded. "Come over here and tell them what we do against a diamond-and-two."

"Tell your scorer to go stand in the corner and let the rest of the team play four-on-three," Carril said.



Friday News:


Associated Press/Christopher Barth

In the wake of the passing of Butch van Breda Kolff (right), the majority of today's articles are about his life.

The Princeton athletic department press release has the following quote from head coach Sydney Johnson:

"We lost one of our program's most important figures yesterday," says Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson '97. "He was a central figure in establishing Princeton as one of the top 20 college basketball programs of all time. Our players, coaches and fans are honored to be associated with Coach van Breda Kolff and we offer our deepest condolences to his family and dear friends."

Harvey Yavener of the Trenton Times talks to former Princeton coach Pete Carril and current Tigers Athletic Director Gary Walters about the man they called "Coach."

The New York Times remembers Uncle Butch.

Columnist Ed Laubach with the Express-Times writes about the life of Butch van Breda Kolff, speaking to Moravian College president Chris Thomforde along with Coach Carril (who mentions he would like to coach again as an assistant).

But I think my favorite find while searching the newswire was this 1967 piece from Time Magazine, "Tiger In The Ivy."

The Princeton Packet's Bob Nuse would still love to see the "Carril Classic" happen at Jadwin Gym. While Nuse knows this would never come together, what about having three teams from the "Princeton family" of coaches play three different teams in a tripleheader at Jadwin?

Will Venable homered for the second consecutive game, but Frisco got the better of San Antonio, 6-4.

While Chris Young won't be rejoining his Padres teammates in Philadelphia this weekend, there is hope that he will return to the rotation next week.



Butch van Breda Kolff 1922-2007.

Former Princeton basketball coach Willem "Butch" van Breda Kolff passed away yesterday in Spokane, Washington at the age of 84 after a lengthy illness.

van Breda Kolff paced the sidelines at Princeton from 1962-1967, leaving the Tigers for a job coaching the Los Angeles Lakers. van Breda Kolff assembled a 103-31 record with four Ivy League titles in his five seasons at Princeton and led the Tigers to the program's only Final Four appearance in 1965.

If you have any memories or stories about Butch van Breda Kolff you would like to share, please feel free to leave them in our comments section. I hope that his still-memorable speech from the 100 Years of Princeton Basketball dinner in 2001 can someday be archived on-line.



Catching up with...Jamie Mastaglio.

Former Princeton Tiger James Mastaglio was a crucial part of a senior class that won three Ivy League titles and two NCAA tournament games. He was a starter on the 1997-1998 Princeton team that finished the season 27-2. James has been playing in Europe and coaching high school basketball since his graduation in 1998. James took the time to answer a wide variety of questions questions from princetonbasketball.com list members. Here are his responses.

This interview originally ran in August 1999.

What have you been doing in the year since your graduation?

Following graduation I was invited to attend a free agent combine in Treviso, Italy. I played very well there, making the All-Star team, and I was able to attract some interest from some of the top clubs in Europe, specifically Italy (they loved the last name). I signed a deal with a second division Italian team in Montecatini, Italy, in the same conference as Sydney Johnson. Unfortunately, the contract required me to obtain dual citizenship from Ireland, similar to what Syd has from France, and Jesse from Israel. I wasn't able to obtain that, so after about 6 weeks the contract was basically terminated and I came home.

Following my release I decided try my hand as a varsity basketball coach at my high school in Garden City, Long Island, about 30 minutes from NY. The experience turned out better than expected, as the team jumped from 5-13 the previous year to 15-3 this year, including a 12-0 conference record and a conference championship. The season ended abruptly with a first round playoff loss, but personally it was a great success.

Since the end of the season in March I've basically been trying to keep myself in shape in the hope that I get another shot in Europe, but at this point it doesn't look like that's going to happen. I've been down to school a number of times to work out with the coaches and current players, and I've tried to keep playing in spring and summer league games several times a week as well. However, the rigors of the real world seem to be on the horizon.

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