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Follow the Leader

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Courtesy: Jerry Price, Princeton Athletic Communications

The balls bounce. The players shoot. The assistant coaches observe. Together, they laugh. They brag. They shoot some more. They laugh some more. It’s typical pre-practice stuff.

Then Sydney Johnson sticks his head around the corner. He offers only one word. Not even a word, really.

He doesn’t scream it. He doesn’t repeat it. He is barely audible.

“Yo,” he says in a soft voice.

Nothing else.

Then he points, index finger straight up. Then he’s gone, back around the corner and on his way upstairs.

The balls stop bouncing. The players no longer shoot. It’s time to go to work. Everyone on the west court of Jadwin Gym stops what he’s doing and follows.

Sydney Johnson leads. Others follow.

It’s been that way from Day 1.

“At end of the day, he has the ability to relate to people,” says his former employer, Georgetown coach John Thompson III, an assistant coach during Johnson’s playing days at Princeton and then the Tiger head coach from 2000-04. “That’s the core of this business. That’s the core of being a successful coach: Get the people around you to believe in you and what you’re doing. Sydney does that.”

To read Jerry Price's story on Coach Sydney Johnson in it's entirety, please click here.