|Position:||Men's Basketball Head Coach|
|Phone:||203-254-4000 ext. 2791|
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Sydney Johnson became the 12th head coach to oversee the Fairfield University men's basketball program when he was introduced in April, 2011. Johnson joined the Stags program after spending four seasons as the head coach at his alma mater Princeton University.
Head Coach Sydney Johnson has completed his fifth season at Fairfield University, leading the Stags to the postseason in three of those campaigns. The 2011-12 Stags reached the MAAC Tournament Championship game, the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) semifinals, and defeated Arizona State, Old Dominion, and Iona, among others, en route to a 22-win season. In both 2012-13 and 2015-16, the Stags finished with 19 wins in each season and again earned berths to the CIT Postseason Tournament. The 2015-16 campaign included a 12 win improvement from the prior season and saw the Stags achieve the fourth best turnaround in wins in Division I basketball.
Fairfield posted 41 victories under Coach Johnson in his first two seasons and 74 wins overall. His 41 wins through his first two campaigns ties him for the most by any Fairfield men's basketball coach through his first two seasons. The Stags three postseason wins in 2012-13 were the most by any team in school history. Fairfield also led the MAAC in scoring defense at 61.1 ppg in his inaugural season.
Since his arrival, five Fairfield student-athletes have signed professional contracts, namely Rakim Sanders (Israel), Ryan Olander (Lithuania), Derek Needham (Lithuania), Colin Nickerson (Canada), and Maurice Barrow (Austria).
At Princeton, 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. That year, the Tigers tied the second-highest win total in Princeton history with a 25-7 mark. Johnson led Princeton's turnaround with an intense focus on recruiting that led to remarkable results. Both Ian Hummer and Doug Davis, the second and third all-time leading scorers respectively in Princeton history, were recruited by and played for Johnson during his time at the helm.
Under his guidance, Princeton became 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 Collegeinsider.com 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 the 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 moved on to play five more years in the top divisions of Italy and Spain including a two year stint in the Spanish league with Girona Basket and an Italian championship with Siena.
"I think Sydney exhibits all the qualities of a successful head coach," Fairfield University Director of Athletics Gene Dois said. "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 also places strong value on academics, which is evident in the success his student-athletes have achieved in the classroom."