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Mason Rocca interview.

It has been a decade since Mason Rocca '00 initially began playing professionally in Italy and the former Princeton standout is hosting a basketball camp for the first time this offseason in his adopted homeland.

Running from June 27th to July 1st, the "Study to Win" camp will reunite several former Tigers with the Armani Jeans Milano captain, mixing on-court and in-classroom education.

I had a chance to exchange emails with Mason and catch up before his inaugural camp gets underway. The full interview can be found after the jump.

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Kevin "Moon" Mullin interview.

In the history of the Ivy League, the player to score the most points in an NCAA Tournament game not named Bill Bradley is Princeton's Kevin Mullin '84.

As a senior Mullin was able to crack Pete Carril's starting lineup and alongside classmate Billy Ryan helped rally the Tigers from a 0-2 conference start to win a second straight Ivy League title. The man called "Moon" shot 61.8% from the floor for the year, averaging 17 points per game.

Princeton would defeat San Diego in a preliminary round of the tournament where Mullin scored a remarkable 38 points, 12-15 from the floor and 14-16 at the free throw line.

The lessons Mullin learned as a student-athlete at Princeton as well as his experiences both prior to college and subsequently in the professional world have inspired him to write "Student-Athletes - A Guide For The Future."

The book, available in both physical and electronic versions at Amazon, is Mullin's attempt to provide guidance for young people and their mentors facing situations similar to those he went through decades previous.

I had a wide-ranging 30+ minute conversation with Moon on the phone yesterday and you can read a transcript of our discussion about his playing days, a number of fantastic Coach Carril stories, challenges for today's student-athletes and more on his book after the jump.

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Nick Lake and Noah Savage are running a marathon.

Former Princeton players Nick Lake and Noah Savage are running a marathon this summer to raise money for a worthy cause. If you're interested in supporting their quest, please visit the duo's team page.

Not on board? Perhaps the following Q&A about their plan will convince you.

Tell me about what you two gentlemen are doing and why you're doing it.

We are running the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon on June 5th, 2011 with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, raising money that goes to valuable research to develop targeted therapies not only for blood cancers, but for all cancers.

Who had the idea first? Was it hard to talk the other into taking part?

Noah: I had the idea because I work full time with the Team in Training program at The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the LLS's most successful fundraising program. I was inspired by my coworkers in the office who have all completed multiple endurance events.

Nick: It wasn't hard to convince me to do this. I am an avid runner and when Noah asked me to run to raise money for cancer research it was an easy decision. Plus I wanted to see if Noah could run a whole marathon.

What's the longest stretch either of you have run without stopping?

Nick: 12 miles.

Noah: I think I ran from one baseline to the other once, but usually it was just to the three point line.

What was your inspiration for this run?

Nick: We are running in Christian "Crunch" Regulski's memory and honor. In the short time that I knew him he became a very good friend to me. He showed incredible courage and resilience in his fight against his disease. We wanted to play our part in the hopes that other children can avoid what Christian had to endure.

Do you have a favorite Crunch story?

Nick: At my Senior year banquet I was giving a speech and I called Crunch my "aspiration," instead of my inspiration. I quickly corrected myself but he wouldn't let me live it down. From then on, he always asked me if I was still his aspiration.

How is your training coming along?

Noah: We are sticking to the great training schedule provided to us by Team in Training and their expert coaches. What is really great about the program is that they provide all of the tools you need to be successful, all we have to do is show up and work hard.

Nick: I think what Noah means to say is that we have a new appreciation for how long 26.2 miles is.

How much was running part of the off-season regimen at Princeton? I recall hearing about needing to run a mile in under a certain time to make the team.

Noah: Well, we did a lot of basketball-specific training at Princeton, but one year we had to run three miles in under 19:30. It took me three attempts to make that time, and I eventually made it on a dead-sprint by one second - I've never felt worse physically in my I figured 'why not run a marathon?'

Jamie Mastaglio '98 did the NYC Marathon in 2007 to raise money for the Dave Nee Foundation and took a lot of "side bet" pledges where people would donate more if Stags did specific things like a pushup in front of a donor's home or wore a certain item of clothing for a certain mile. You guys open to similar ideas?

Nick: Of course we are!

Noah: Specifically, I will be willing to do almost anything - dye my hair, shave my head, run in a speedo etc. We are also open to wearing any paraphernalia that people think would be a good idea - as long as those donations flow in!

Are donations tax deductible?

Yes! We can provide you with a receipt for tax purposes.

Does Team in Training offer matching gifts from donors' employers?

Yes! A Matching Gift form can be found here.

What is the biggest hurdle you think you'll face preparing between now and June 5th?

Nick: I think that the biggest hurdle will be Noah to not get injured considering his legs are carrying quite a heavy burden these days.

Noah: Yeah, just like Nick said I think that Nick staying healthy is very important - note that I missed zero games due to injury in my four years at Princeton...

Your team is named The Good, The Bad AND The Ugly. Which one are each of you and what does that leave?

Actually, our team is named The Good AND The Bad and Ugly and there are only two of us on the team. One guy is "The Good" and the other guy is "The Bad and Ugly."

Check out our fundraising page which explains that name a little more - and don't forget you can donate online instantly!

Best of luck to Nick and Noah. I hope you'll both keep everyone posted on how this goes!

Kyle Koncz interview.

Kyle Koncz was one of my favorite Tiger players of the 2000s. Exceptionally crafty but rarely flashy and constantly doing near-imperceptible things away from the basketball on both offense and defense that helped make his teammates better, it is not much of a surprise Koncz has transitioned into coaching since his 2008 graduation from Princeton.

Now an assistant coach at Lake Forest Academy located 35 miles north of downtown Chicago, Koncz - who is fifth all-time in made three pointers as a Tiger with 156 - had a lot more to say responding to my Q&A via email than he ever did in a postgame press conference after Princeton played.

My questions and his answers follow this introduction.

For the last two+ years you've been working at Lake Forest Academy. Tell me about your job and its responsibilities.

This is the start of my third year at LFA, and my responsibilities have changed every year since I have been here. My first year I started out as a teaching intern to gain some experience teaching in the classroom, and also coached three sports (Assistant Cross Country, Assistant Basketball, and JV Volleyball Head Coach).

In year two, I became a full time faculty member, which at a boarding school means you teach four classes, coach two seasons of sports, and have residential duty. I teach our Jr./Sr. elective Psychology course, which basically is an intro class to the study of psychology, and also teach the Freshman Seminar course, which acts as the health course and covers topics such as study skills, social skills, and health information.

This year, I was named the Co-Director of Student Activities which plans weekend activities around the Chicagoland area for our boarding and day students to take part in. I also am in charge of the House Cup which pits four different houses against each other in a variety of competition throughout the year. It's pretty much like Harry Potter I am told, but I never read the books so I wouldn't know for sure.

On top of that I also have residential duty during the week and weekends, were I act as a parent, or in my case a big brother, to many of the boarding students. I wear a lot of hats and it is a really busy schedule, but it keeps me busy so I can't complain.

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Nine questions for Judson Wallace.

Judson Wallace '05 has embarked on a successful professional career overseas since his graduation from Princeton - first with the German squad Eisbaren Bremerhaven, then playing in Italy the past three seasons for Orlandina Basket and Benetton Treviso.

After two campaigns in Treviso, Wallace signed with Club Baloncesto Gran Canaria of Spain's Liga ACB at the end of July.

Curious to know more about Wallace's move to the Canary Islands, I sent him nine questions to answer. His responses can be found after the jump.

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Marcus Schroeder's NBA-DL tryout report.

Yesterday he was in Oakland.

Tonight he's in Seattle.

Tomorrow he'll land in China.

Marcus Schroeder will go wherever he has the best chance to continue his basketball career.

"I'm trying to play next year. Overseas, anywhere - it doesn't really matter," Schroeder said from a hotel in the Emerald City. "I do not have an agent. I've been trying to represent myself, using different contacts that I've developed throughout my college career."

While Schroeder, who averaged 5.2 ppg running the point his four years at Princeton and finished his collegiate career fourth all-time in the Tiger record book for assists and fifth all-time in steals, had been focusing his attention on potential opportunities in Europe and Asia, his high school coach Frank Allocco from De La Salle brought an open tryout with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Developmental League to Schroeder's attention.

For four hours yesterday afternoon at the Golden State Warriors' practice facility in Oakland, Schroeder and several dozen free agents competed for a small number of training camp invites.

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Ed Persia interview.

Two weeks ago Ed Persia '04 was home in Texas, sending out resumes and trying to land a coaching job.

A lot can change in two weeks.

When I caught Persia on the phone today, he had just finished his first day teaching at Cherokee High School in Cherokee, North Carolina, where he was recently named the Braves' new men's basketball coach.

The former Princeton guard, who sits 8th in the Tiger record books with 144 made three pointers for his career, took the time to answer questions about his new gig and his life since leaving Princeton. Our interview can be found after the jump.

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An interview with Chris Young and Will Venable.

I had the opportunity to talk with Chris Young and Will Venable at Citizen's Bank Park before tonight's Padres/Phillies game. While there have been numerous interviews published with one or the other over their respective professional careers, this is the first time I can remember Young and Venable interviewed as a pair.

They discuss their shared experiences, answered what type of teammate the other is, recalled when they first met, riffed off each other a fair bit, told me about the former Princeton basketball players who have visited them this weekend and answered a wide-ranging assortment of questions over 14:00+ while sitting in the surprisingly windy San Diego dugout.

Stephen Goldsmith is with me currently in Philadelphia and he'll have some photos from our trip up tomorrow.

Craig Robinson interview.

On the publicity tour for "A Game of Character: A Family Journey from Chicago's Southside to the Ivy League and Beyond" (Gotham Books), Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson estimates he's told the story of playing pick-up basketball with Barack Obama to parse the character of his sister's new boyfriend no less than 80 times.

While this anecdote has drawn repeated attention on talk shows, in print interviews and is the focus of many reviews, this moment is just a small part of Robinson's worthwhile biography, which begins in 1960s Chicago and concludes in contemporary Corvallis, Oregon.

It would have been easy for Robinson to capitalize on his unexpected fame and write primarily about his brother in law but "A Game of Character" is a book that instead tells the complete story of Robinson's life long before he became "Michelle Obama's big brother."

The tales of growing up under the watchful eye of Marian and Fraser Robinson have a distinct charm, but it is the time spent at Princeton playing for Pete Carril that should be especially worthwhile to visitors of this site. The two time Ivy League Player of the Year is the first former Tiger I can recall who has written in detail about what it was like to play for Carril, and the highs and lows of that experience shape Robinson as he first sets into the financial world and then returns to basketball as an assistant coach at Northwestern.

This morning I had a chance to speak with Coach Robinson about his story, his time at Princeton and his life since the release of this book. Robinson joined me by phone for over 32 minutes and I think you will find this wide-spanning discussion a worthwhile one that bypasses the questions Robinson has already answered ad nauseum.

Interview with author Kathy Orton.

Washington Post writer Kathy Orton's "Outside The Limelight - Basketball In The Ivy League" was published this month by Rutgers University Press. Following all eight Ivy League basketball programs through the 2005-06 season, with a focus on Cornell, Harvard, Penn and Princeton, Orton's book is a look back on a season that did not play out as many of these schools expected it to.

Princeton coach Joe Scott and senior guard Scott Greenman are interviewed extensively by Orton. Both are honest and revealing throughout a year that started so poorly for the Tigers, hampered by injury and uncertainty and ended with unexpected Ivy successes.

The three seasons that have passed since the one Orton covered end up benefitting the book. By the time you reach the comparatively recent epilogue, events from 2005-06 have set the stage for Cornell's rise to power (using the coaching staff's plan to recruit "farmers and Canadians") and Harvard's subsequent dismissal of longtime coach Frank Sullivan, who tried win the school's first Ivy title with one hand tied behind his back by the school.

You can buy a copy of the book through Amazon. More information can be found at Orton's web site -

I had a chance to speak with Ms. Orton by phone about her book and her fondness for Ivy League basketball earlier this afternoon. A transcript of our Q&A follows.

Tell me the backstory of how this book came to be.

I had always wanted to write a book. People had told me if you're going to do something like a book - which you're going to have to devote the next couple of years of your life to, it should be something you really care passionately about.

Not having a connection with the Ivy League, just being an observer from afar, I wasn't probably the most ideal candidate to write this book but I really did fall in love with the league. The Princeton/Penn game in 1999 sort of started it [Orton writes in her preface that the Tigers' second half comeback from 40-13 down in the second half versus the Quakers was the "the most thrilling athletic contest I have ever watched live." - JS], but then as I did more research looking into the league, I really sort of fell in love with it and thought it was such an interesting, different and unique league compared to the rest of Division I college basketball - this fabulous league that I thought nobody really knew about.

A good friend of mine, John Feinstein, wrote his book on the Patriot League about that time. I said to him - you're a fool! You should really write about the Ivy League, that's a much more interesting conference. And he said "oh, no no no," he had his reasons - which is fine because it gave me a chance to write this book, which I am very grateful for. I've always felt like the Ivy League was this diamond in the rough that nobody knew about. The hope of this book was to shine a light on this league and let more people know what a great league it really is.

How did the season you experienced differ from the season you expected?

That's a good question. For one thing, just logistically, I thought "it is a bus league. How hard could that be?" Oh my goodness. The travel in the Ivy League is brutal! Everyone complained about the Cornell/Columbia bus trip and how tough that was, and it is, I'm not diminishing that, but the Princeton to Dartmouth trip or the Penn to Harvard trip - those are some long bus rides. For me, just trying to get everywhere, that was a real challenge.

I think the thing that surprised me that I didn't fully appreciate until I sort of got into it and was following all the teams and everything was how much these players really relish their Division I basketball playing experience. I think in other teams that I have covered in Division I, they're all looking ahead to when they're going to play in the NBA. I think most of these players realize that the NBA is in not in their future. Now they may go and play overseas and have a professional career, but they really appreciate that they're playing Division I basketball and they enjoy it so much more than some of the other players in the other leagues. They have more enthusiasm for the experience and I was pleased to see that, and I think that made me love it even more.

How do you think (do you think?) the three+ years between when the book takes place and when it was published helped the book?

I'd like to think that, but I think that might be optimistic. Certainly it was not planned to have a three year gap in-between I covered the season and when it came out. A bit of misfortune kept that from getting out as soon as I wanted. When I first started writing the book I had no publisher, only an agent who was very optimistic I would get one. To be honest with you, even if no one had published this book, I was still glad I did it because it was such an amazing experience. By the end, I think it was about May, my agent found me a publisher and they were excited about the book. I turned in the manuscript, they liked it, they held onto it for about a year or so and then all of a sudden they dropped me. We had to go find a new publisher and that took some time. Fortunately Rutgers University Press stepped up and they took over and it took about a year from when they got the manuscript to when it came out. I guess the one benefit would be all the kids I wrote about are now graduated. Some have even graduated from law school! So I guess they can kind of look back on it and remember it fondly. I certainly wish the book had come out much sooner, but I'm just glad it is out.

I do think that there's a lot of strength in the epilogue because of the three+ years that have passed.

The epilogue turned into almost a mini book. Every time I went back I had to update it. A lot of things I went into the league with - Penn and Princeton win this thing every year - it was kind of nice that Cornell was able to come back. I had no idea that the one year that I happened to pick, which was really because it was the 50th year [of the Ivy League] and Harvard was expected to win the league, which would have been historic, would turn out to be such a harbinger of things to come for this league.

As you well know, having covered the Ivy League for so long, nothing ever changes in the Ivy League - and then, goodness, ever since that one season so much has changed. It's fairly unusual to see so much change take place in this league.

What has the response to the book been like from the coaches and players who are the subjects of the book?

So far I've heard nothing but positive response and I hope it continues. That was my big concern. I really wanted to capture the players and coaches as true to who they are as I possibly could. I've gotten some very, very nice notes from a couple of the coaches. I haven't heard from any of the players. I don't even know if they know the book is out yet! I have to get in touch with them. The response so far has been great. They're going to be my harshest critics by far. If they like the book then to me it is a success. If they're disappointed in it, then I've failed. I really wanted them to have the recognition I think they so deserve. I don't think the Ivy League gets quite the coverage in the media that it should. There's 300-some Division I basketball programs and it is hard to cover all of them, but I think the Ivy League gets overlooked a little too much and I hope this will change that and people will recognize what a great, competitive league it is.

The year that you write about was Joe Scott's second season at Princeton. Coach Scott really gave you access to what was going on despite struggles of all sorts.

It was amazing how open he was. All the coaches were, but especially him - because he was kind of under fire that season, as he was pretty much his entire tenure at Princeton. He was great. He gave me unbelievable access to the players.

Scotty Greenman was one of my favorites that season. He was great about talking to me, even after some really tough losses that they went though. That is what I hope makes the book special and different, is that the access all these players and coaches gave me gives Ivy League basketball fans a real peek into what it is like to be in the Ivy League.

Did you sense when you were writing the book, talking to Scott Greenman, that coaching would be in his future?

With Scotty, he was thinking about law school, he was thinking about playing overseas, his knee was bothering him - all these injuries he had. Especially after that last Penn/Princeton game, which was so amazing. It was a 9:00 pm ET game and it went overtime and it didn't get over until midnight - it was late into the night and he didn't want to let that season go. You kind of sensed it was going to be hard for him to leave this behind. You kind of felt like a coaching career might be something he would pursue.

You gloss over this in the book, but it was a difficult year for you I would imagine as well, having open heart surgery during the season!

I found out that I was going to need the surgery in August of that year. It was so frustrating, because I had set up everything to do the book and I think my doctors would have preferred if I had put it off. In some ways, yes, it was a challenge physically to do the book, but in a lot of ways it gave me something to do besides think about my health. It all seems to have worked out for the best.

It's funny, I was talking to my parents about this the other day - I just had to have two heart procedures again last month, just as the book was coming out, and I said I've got to get this book done because it seems like all my heart problems are tied to the book, so I need to get past the book. My health is great and I appreciate you asking about that. It was a nice distraction to be so consumed with covering the Ivy League and not thinking about your health.

What are you working on currently?

Right now, everything is devoted to promoting the book. I'm still working at the Washington Post, which I hope to for a very long time, but with the newspaper industry being what it is you're never quite sure. Another publisher has approached me about doing a book, but that sort been put on hold because this was such an important book to me. I haven't even though about what lies beyond this book. I'm enjoying my second go around, being able to talk with you and other people in the Ivy League. it is fun to be catching up again with something I did a couple years ago.

Scott Greenman interview.

Photo courtesy Jordan Polevoy.

I had a chance to speak with Princeton assistant coach Scott Greenman yesterday afternoon about his experiences as head coach of the Junior USA men's basketball team during the 18th Maccabiah Games earlier this month.

Greenman was happy to go into detail about his return to Israel and to discuss his team's loss at the buzzer versus Israel in the gold medal game. This Q&A is 15:00+ in length.

An interview with Jim Lane.

I had a chance to speak with new Union County College head coach Jim Lane '92 yesterday afternoon. Lane takes over as head coach of the Owls after four seasons at Westfield High School in northern New Jersey. A transcript of our conversation follows. - JS



Tell me about what you've being doing before getting this job. What let up to this?

I've been coaching in the Westfield, New Jersey school system for the past four years. I was actually an assistant to my high school coach [Neil Horne, Jr.], who is not of Coach Carril's notoriety, but he's very well known in New Jersey. He won four state championships with a lot of guys who can't run and jump like me [laughs].

I had been doing that and got to the point where you're either going to step up and become a head coach or not coach. Once you've being coaching with someone who is that strong of a teacher, probably like many of the guys who coached directly for Coach Carril - at some point you've learned what you can learn, you buy into it but you want to put your own stamp on your own situation. Whereas Coach Carril's offensive brilliance, I learned so much from that when I played at Princeton because it enables guys like me that can't really run and jump to play and to compete against much better athletes, what I learned in high school and the last four years of coaching was very man to man defense-oriented. This is the opportunity for me to put those two things together.

I better do it well, because unlike the other people in Coach Carril's coaching tree, they were all really good players [laughs]. I was just a guy who worked really, really hard. Whether you're talking about Chris Mooney or Joe Scott or Howard Levy, these were guys who got a lot of playing time because they were very, very good basketball players. I knew going into Princeton that I was a borderline Division I player - if that - but I knew that in that system, that sort of brought me over the line. Our success in my new situation is going to be dependent on getting guys to buy into that, guys who were stars on their high school teams. I don't think it is going to be that hard to get them to buy in, because we're trying to get from the best basketball high schools in New Jersey, the fourth, fifth and sixth-best players.

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