Filmmaker Guthe '91 Prepares Project on '89 Princeton-Georgetown Game
Princeton and its impact on the NCAA Tournament will be the subject of an ESPN "30 for 30" documentary, and filmmaker Nick Guthe '91 was on campus this week to piece together interviews for the film.
The project will focus on the lasting impact of the 1989 Princeton-Georgetown NCAA Tournament game that the top-seeded Hoyas won just 50-49 over the 16th-seeded Tigers. Since seeding began in 1979, no No. 16 seed has defeated a No. 1, and the Princeton-Georgetown game was one of only two times that a No. 16 has come within one point of a region's top seed. The other occurred three years later when East Tennessee State lost to Oklahoma 72-71 in 1989, and none has come as close since.
Guthe said the project, which does not have a set working title just yet, will air in the lead-up to the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
|"It’s about how the game was instrumental in convincing the NCAA to keep the automatic bids for the small conferences based on the rating success," Guthe said. "It’s about the television networks, specifically CBS, looking at the success of that game and realizing that it was a good financial deal for them to buy the entire tournament."||
The Rogers '80 Team Room was transformed into an interview room for the documentary.
CBS first began broadcasting the NCAA Tournament in 1982, but it didn't broadcast the entire tournament until 1991 after sharing coverage with ESPN.
"If they lay an egg in 1989 and they lose by 30, the 1990 game (against Arkansas) would not be on television," Guthe said. "The entire gospel of the 'Princeton Offense' would not spread the way it did."
Guthe, a sophomore when the game was played, interviewed Troy Hottenstein '91, Bob Scrabis '89, Jerry Doyle '91, Matt Henshon '91, Matt Eastwick '92 and Kit Mueller '91 among players from that team, along with head coach Pete Carril, Carril's son Pete Carril Jr., former CBS executive Len DeLuca and current Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference commissioner Rich Ensor, who was in that post in 1989 as he is today.
The film will be about much more than the game, focusing on its lasting impact on the basketball landscape, both college and professional. In describing how use of variations of the "Princeton Offense" has spread, Guthe mentioned that the Sacramento Kings were one win away in the 2002 NBA Western Conference finals from making that year's NBA Finals an all-Princeton Offense affair, with Carril an assistant coach on that year's Kings and then-New Jersey Nets coach Byron Scott also a practicioner.
The documentary is a break from Guthe's usual style of work, which focuses on scripted film and television, but the Princeton alum said his relationship with his classmates made the idea one he wanted to pursue. As the 25th anniversary of the game approached this spring and the Sports Illustrated article co-written by basketball alum Sean Gregory '98 and Alexander Wolff '79 was published, ESPN warmed to the idea.