Peter J. Carril

Peter J. Carril earned his master's degree from Lehigh and led the men's basketball program to its first winning record in 50 years during the 1966-67 season.

Peter J. Carril: A Hall of Fame Coach

Peter J. Carril made 11 NCAA tournament appearances and won the 1975 NIT championship as a coach.

Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductee Peter J. Carril, a former Lehigh basketball coach and an NBA assistant coach, passed away Aug. 15, 2022. He was 92.

Liberty High School basketball team

Peter J. Carril (17) was a member of the 1947-48 Liberty High School basketball team in Bethlehem, Pa. (Courtesy of Lisa D. Carril)

Carril grew up on the south side of Bethlehem where his father worked in the steel mills. The Bethlehem Boys Club helped the young Carril stay on track as he became a promising basketball player at Liberty High School, graduating in 1948. After high school, Carril attended Lafayette College. He graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and it is at Lafayette where he began his lifelong basketball friendship with the late Butch van Breda Kolff, who played in the NBA before coaching in the NBA and college.

Carril went on to coach at Easton Area High School for three years while earning his master’s degree from Lehigh. From 1958 to 1966 he coached at Reading High School, where he recorded many winning seasons and trips to the state finals. He left Reading to begin coaching at the collegiate level, returning to Lehigh for one season (1966-67) where he led the program to its first winning record in 50 years, at a time in which Lehigh’s premiere sport was wrestling.

Rocco Calvo and Peter J. Carril

Peter J. Carril, left, with Rocco Calvo, who coached football, basketball and baseball at Moravian College, now Moravian University. Both grew up in Southside Bethlehem, Pa. (Courtesy of Lisa D. Carril)

In 1967 van Breda Kolff left Princeton and recommended his protégé, Carril, for head basketball coach. Carril accepted the Princeton job and built a dynasty that earned him many honors. Carril spent 29 years at Princeton, racking up 514 wins. His teams won 13 Ivy League titles and one NIT Championship in 1975. They also made 11 NCAA tournament appearances. Along with working with the Olympic teams of Spain and Argentina, Carril made a name for himself by perfecting the Princeton offense and relying on his famous “backdoor play.” After Princeton, Carril spent time as an assistant coach with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, from 1994 to 2004. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1997.

Jerry Price, senior communications adviser/historian for Princeton Athletics remembered Carril as “a very simple man, and the more the world around him grew complex, the simpler he became. Make shots. Guard your guy. Be honest with people. And above all, work hard. No shortcuts.”

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