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Basketball mm
M. Basketball Coaching Staff
Sydney Johnson
Franklin C. Cappon-Edward C. Green '40 Head Coach
Sydney Johnson '97, who as a player was named Ivy League Player of the Year and as a coach helped lead a team to the NCAA Final Four, has completed his fourth season as the Franklin C. Cappon-Edward G. Green '40 Head Coach of Men's Basketball at Princeton in 2010-11 after being named to the position on April 20, 2007.

"As a player at Princeton, Sydney Johnson was the embodiment of heart, passion, class and dignity," says Gary Walters '67, Princeton's Director of Athletics, after naming Johnson as head coach. "We are delighted that he brings those same qualities back to Princeton as our head men's basketball coach."

In his four seasons, Johnson has completed the largest turnaround in program history. In 2007-08, Johnson's first season on the job, Princeton finished with a 6-23 record overall and a sixth-place tie in the Ivy League at 3-11. After an improvement to 13-14 overall and an Ivy second-place tie at 8-6 in 2008-09, Princeton enjoyed its first 20-win season since 2004, finishing at 22-9 and alone in second place in the Ivy at 11-3.

Johnson's third season also saw the Tigers gain a postseason bid for the first time since 2004 and win two postseason games for the first time since 1999 by advancing to the semifinal round of the College Basketball Invitational.

Johnson has helped to produce what is statistically one of the top defenses in the nation. Princeton finished the season ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense in 2009-10, allowing both the fewest total points (1652) and fewest per game (53.3) in all of NCAA Division I. Princeton also finished the season ranked in the top 10 percent in the nation in field goal percentage defense at 39.8 percent. Only eight schools in Division I finished among the top 30 in both categories.

The 2010-11 season was Johnson's finest to date, returning the team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004 and nearly pulling an upset of fourth-seeded Kentucky as the Tigers fell 59-57. Princeton captured its 24th NCAA Tournament bid and 26th Ivy League title, both Ivy League bests, and finished 25-7 to tie for the second-most wins in a season in program history.

The turnaround earned Johnson Ivy League Coach of the Year honors from CollegeInsider.com in 2009 and 2010, and the Ivy League recognized two Tigers among its three All-Ivy teams in both 2009 and 2010. In 2011, Princeton returned a player to the first-team All-Ivy League for the first time since 2006 when Kareem Maddox '11 achieved the honor.

During his playing career at Princeton, Johnson earned Ivy League accolades of his own. The only three-time captain in team history, Johnson was the 1997 Ivy League Player of the Year and a 1996 and 1997 first-team All-Ivy League selection.

Johnson came to Princeton after spending three years at Georgetown as an assistant coach under John Thompson III, a 1988 Princeton alumnus, where Johnson's last season saw the Hoyas finish 30-7 with BIG EAST regular-season and tournament victories before an NCAA Tournament run that continued into the Final Four with a national semifinal against Ohio State. Advancing to college basketball's pinnacle, the school's first Final Four in 22 years, capped Johnson's three-year run at Georgetown, where he helped guide the Hoyas to a 72-30 record and postseason berths in each of his three seasons.

Georgetown reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2006, defeating Northern Iowa and Ohio State before falling to eventual national champion Florida 57-53 in the third round. In Johnson's first season as an assistant coach, 2004-05, the Hoyas won 19 games and reached the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament.

"Sydney is a star as a person and as a basketball coach," says Thompson, who also was an assistant coach at Princeton during Johnson's junior and senior seasons.

"I'm not sure I have enough words to describe how much I learned in three years at Georgetown from Coach Thompson," says Johnson. "He's not only a mentor and a role model both on and off the court but a great example of the kind of person I hope to emulate and the kind of person that makes Princeton proud."

At Princeton, Johnson was a four-year starter who is considered one of the finest all-around players in team history. He is the program's all-time leader in steals with 169, finished his career ranked second with 162 three-pointers, and was the 21st player in program history to score 1,000 points in his career before finishing with 1,044.

He also holds the school record with 11 consecutive three-point shots, which includes a team-record 6-for-6 performance from behind the arc against Columbia on Feb. 28, 1997.

Johnson was the 1997 Ivy League Player of the Year after leading the Tigers to an undefeated Ivy League season and a 24-4 overall record, averaging 9.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a senior to become the only player to ever win the award while averaging fewer than 10 points per game.

In 1996, Johnson led the Tigers to an Ivy League championship and was a key part of Princeton's 43-41 upset win over defending national champion UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament, hitting three second-half three-pointers in that game and leading the team with 11 points. In the Ivy League playoff game against Penn five days earlier, his three-point shot with 51 seconds left in overtime put the Tigers ahead for good.

Alongside the standing he holds for his play on offense, Johnson was perhaps better known for his defensive ability.

"Sydney was the best defensive player I ever coached at Princeton," says Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody, who was an assistant coach at Princeton for 14 seasons and then Johnson's head coach in 1996-97. "He was a tremendous player and a great leader, and he worked as hard every day as any player I've been around."

"I always thought from the very beginning when I recruited him that he had excellent leadership qualities," says Naismith Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril, Johnson's head coach at Princeton for three seasons and a member of the committee that helped select Johnson as head coach.

Concluding his collegiate career, Johnson won an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 1997.

Professionally, Johnson had a fine career in Europe after graduating from Princeton with a degree in history. In 1998, he was a starter for Gorizia Pallacanestro in Italy and helped his team capture the Italian Second Division championship. The following year, he won another league title while playing for Reggio Calabria, and he concluded his playing career in 2004 by winning a league title with Siena.

A native of Towson, Md., outside Baltimore, Johnson attended Towson Catholic High School before spending a postgraduate year at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia in 1992-93. At Towson Catholic, he was the MVP of the Baltimore Catholic League tournament in 1992.

Johnson's older brother Stephen also played Division I basketball for the University of California at Berkeley.

He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children, a five-year old son Jalen and a three-year-old daughter Julia.

Sydney Johnson's NCAA Record, Season-by-Season

 Season  School (Status)  Overall Record
 League Record
 League Finish
 Postseason
 1993-94  Princeton (Player)
 18-8
 11-3 Ivy
 2nd Ivy
 
 1994-95
 Princeton (Player)
 16-10
 10-4 Ivy
 2nd Ivy
 
 1995-96  Princeton (Player)  22-7  12-2 Ivy  1st Ivy  NCAA Second Round
 1996-97  Princeton (Player)
 24-4
 14-0 Ivy
 1st Ivy
 NCAA First Round
 Player Totals
 Princeton
 80-29
 47-9 Ivy
 2 Ivy Titles
 2 NCAA Appearances
 2004-05  Georgetown (Asst. Coach)
 19-13
 8-8 Big East
 7th Big East
 NIT Quarterfinals
 2005-06  Georgetown (Asst. Coach)
 23-10
 10-6 Big East
 4th Big East
 NCAA Regional Semifinal
 2006-07  Georgetown (Asst. Coach)
 30-7
 13-3 Big East
 1st Big East
 NCAA National Semifinal
 Asst. Coach Totals
 Georgetown
 72-30
 31-17 Big East
 1 Big East Title
 3 Postseason Appearances
 2007-08  Princeton (Head Coach)
 6-23
 3-11 Ivy
 6th Ivy
 
 2008-09
 Princeton (Head Coach)
 13-14
 8-6 Ivy
 2nd Ivy
 
 2009-10
 Princeton (Head Coach)
 22-9
 11-3 Ivy
 2nd Ivy
 CBI Semifinal
 2010-11
 Princeton (Head Coach)
 25-7
 12-2 Ivy
 1st Ivy
 NCAA Second Round
 Head Coach Totals
 Princeton
 66-53
 34-22 Ivy
 1 Ivy Title  2 Postseason Appearances
 NCAA Totals
 
 218-112
 112-48  4 league titles
 7 Postseason Appearances

Sydney Johnson's Professional Career

 Season  School (Status)  Postseason
 1997-98  Gorizia Pallacanestro A2 (Italy)
 Italian Second Division Championship
 1998-99
 Reggio Calabria A2 (Italy)
 Italian League Title
 1999-00
 Adecco Milano/Ducato Siena (Italy)
 
 2000-02  De Vizia Avellino (Italy)
 
 2002-04
 Casademont Girona (Spain)
 
 2004  Montepaschi Siena (Italy)
 Italian League Title

Position: Franklin C. Cappon-Edward C. Green '40 Head Coach
Alma Mater: Princeton '97
Email: backdoor@princeton.edu
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