Sydney Johnson named head men's basketball coach at Fairfield University


Fairfield University Director of Athletics Gene Doris announced that Princeton University's Sydney Johnson will become the 12th head coach of the Stags men's basketball program. Johnson comes to Fairfield University after spending the last four seasons as the head coach for the Tigers. He will be introduced to the Fairfield community during a press conference on Wednesday, April 6, at 11 a.m. in the John A. Barone Campus Center on the University's main campus.

"I am very pleased to welcome Sydney Johnson as our next men's basketball coach," Doris said. "I think Sydney exhibits all the qualities of a successful head coach. He embraces the Jesuit philosophy, which is the cornerstone of Fairfield University, and exhibited a clear understanding of the University's mission during the interview process. He leads by example, something that is quite visible when you see the passion and enthusiasm he brings to everything he does. He has been a leader throughout his career, bringing teams to the NCAA tournament as a player and as a coach. He places strong value on academics, which is evident in the success his student-athletes have achieved in the classroom."

Johnson led the Tigers to the 2010-11 Ivy League championship and an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. Princeton took the University of Kentucky to the final seconds before dropping a 59-57 decision in the NCAA tournament second round. It marked the second straight season that the program advanced to postseason play, playing in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) in 2009-10. During his tenure, Johnson owned a 66-53 record as the Tigers' head coach.

Johnson helped turn around the Princeton program in his four-year stay as the Tigers posted a 6-23 overall record and a 3-11 Ivy League slate in his first season. After improving to 13-14 overall and 8-6 in Ivy play in 2008-09, Johnson led Princeton to its first 20-win season since 2004 when the team finished the year with a 22-9 overall record. This year, the Tigers tied the second-highest win total in Princeton history with a 25-7 mark.

Under his guidance, Princeton has become one of the top defensive teams in the country. The Tigers led the nation in scoring defense during the 2009-10 season, allowing fewer total points (1652) and fewest points per game (53.3) than any other Division I team that year.

Johnson was named the Ivy League Coach of the Year by following the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

Before taking over the Princeton program, Johnson was an assistant coach at Georgetown University under John Thompson III. He helped the Hoyas advance to the program's first Final Four in 22 years. Georgetown owned a 30-7 record that season, winning the Big East regular season and tournament titles. Georgetown advanced to postseason in all three of his years as an assistant coach which included two NCAA tournaments and one NIT berth.

Johnson also experienced postseason play as a student-athlete, leading the Tigers to the NCAA tournament during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons. In the 1996 tournament, Princeton upset defending national champion UCLA to advance to the second round.

As a student-athlete, Johnson earned the 1997 Ivy League Player of the Year as well as an All-Ivy League first team honors in 1995-96 and 1996-97. He is the only three-time captain in Princeton men's basketball history. He earned an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 1997, but decided to continue his basketball career overseas.

He was a starter for Gorizia Pallacanestro in Italy and helped the team capture the Italian Second Division championship. The following season, he was part of another championship team as Reggio Calabria won the league title.

Johnson was selected after a national search in consultation with Bruno Sports Enterprises, with offices in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

The news conference on Wednesday is open to media and fans.

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Media Contact: Jack Jones, (203) 254-4116

Posted on April 4, 2011

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