Friday, July 21, 2017

Summer, In Jadwin And Abroad

Given that it's another summer Friday, TigerBlog will begin where he usually does at this time of year.

Obviously, he's going to tell you how many more weeks there are until the first event of the coming academic year. The answer would be five. That means that it's getting close to feeling like that first game, a women's soccer game against Monmouth, will be here tomorrow.

On the other hand, it's still July, the only month of the year with no Princeton Athletic events scheduled. Another hot, really really hot, Friday in July, when people's thoughts are on summer things, summer fun, summer weekends.

Does TigerBlog dare skip a day? Nah. Never. There's always something to say.

Let's see. What's been going on around here? The big event in Jadwin Gym this week was basketball camp.

Uh, was that an elite prospect camp? Nope. This was way, way better. It was little kid basketball camp.

Cute? Definitely. Especially the littlest ones. 

Kids, maybe as young as 5 or so. Basketballs. A short basket to shoot on. Princeton players as counselors. If you can watch THIS VIDEO and not smile, then you probably will for Scrooge in a few months.

Basketball camp notwithstanding, things are pretty quiet right now. TigerBlog has spent much of this week rooting for every Princetonian's favorite team at the women's lacrosse World Cup.

England, of course. England? Why? Because they're the host team? Root root root for the home team? Nope, there's more to it than that.

Clearly, TigerBlog is taking his loyalty to Ravi (Baggy) Sitlani, the English men's national team assistant coach and TB's longtime friend, seriously, right? Isn't that why he's rooting for the English women? He'll get back to that in a second.

Keeping up with recent international lacrosse history, it'll be the U.S. and Canada for the women's World Cup championship tomorrow. This could be seen as a problem for the game on the highest level.

Yes, there has been tremendous growth. Princeton is represented at the World Cup by three different countries, as a matter of fact. The number of countries who field teams at these events, on the men's side and women's side, grows each time.

There are some countries who have made big jumps onto the international scene. Israel at the men's championships. New Zealand at the current women's.

In fairness, Canada needed overtime to beat Australia yesterday in the semifinals - but Canada did win. If any team will crash the party, it seems like it'll be Australia, or, on the men's side, the Iroquois.

It's just that it seems like it's going to be awhile before it's not Canada and the U.S. in the championship of a major event. It was those two a year ago in the men's U19 championships (the U.S. won, led by leading scorer Michael Sowers). It was those two in the last women's U19 championships (Canada won) and the last men's World Championship (also Canada).

Actually, it was the U.S. and Canada in the last five men's World Championship finals. Next year in Israel? It'll be the U.S. and Canada for the title.

Trust TigerBlog on this one. If you're wondering why lacrosse isn't an Olympic sport, TB would say that this might be the biggest reason.

So why has he been rooting for England? Because the English have Princeton's Olivia Hompe.

The Irish, by the way, have Princeton's Nonie Anderson. The Italians have Kerrin Maurer, a Duke alum who has joined the Princeton coaching staff.

Speaking of Princeton's coaches, Chris Sailer and Jen Cook traveled to England to watch the games this week.

Hompe has had a great tournament, leading the English in scoring and having a four-goal game in an 8-6 loss to Canada in the round-robin portion.

Following the tournament has been relatively easy, by the way, since someone is doing an incredible job of updating the website with scores, stats and such.

Anyway, it'll be Australia and England for third place tomorrow. Much like the U.S.-Canada final, it seemed highly likely that that matchup was going to be the third-place game.

Speaking of international success and Princeton athletes, it's been a really busy week.

TigerBlog will have more next week on Princeton's success at the recently concluded Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Additionally, the World U23 rowing championships conclude Sunday in Bulgaria. There are seven Princetonians represented there.

For way more information than TigerBlog could give you, CLICK HERE.

What else can TigerBlog tell you on this Friday?

Well, here's how he ended things 52 weeks ago today:
And for you? Well, it's a summer weekend. Enjoy it. Do something fun. The first Princeton athletic event is five weeks from today.
The rest of your summer will be gone in a flash. 

And 104 weeks ago today:
Thanks for sticking with TB this far.
Now go have a great summer weekend.  

It's a common theme.

What do you have this weekend? Get outside. Go to a beach. Go water skiing if you've always wanted to, or something like that. BBQ. Go to a game. Go to a concert.

TigerBlog is pretty sure he will copy and paste that paragraph 52 weeks from today.

In the meantime, have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Yo Vince

Vincent DiCarlo Jr. - Vinnie to pretty much everyone; Yo Vince to Pete Carril - did not work in the Princeton Department of Athletics for very long.

It was less than one full year, actually. And it was a long time ago. He was an intern, back in the 1995-96 athletic year.

TB is pretty sure it was a year.

Back then, the Office of Athletic Communications had three interns. They'd start in September, in time for the athletic year, and then, if everyone agreed, they'd come back for a second year, which started June 1 and ran to the following May 31.

It was a big pain, actually, to find people, train people, get people up and running - and then have to turn them loose, no matter what, after their second year. The internships became full-time positions at one point about 15 years ago, something that has resulted in great continuity for the OAC.
There were some people who left after a year because they got other jobs. TigerBlog is pretty sure Vinnie was a, well, one-and-done.

So why is it that he's made such a lasting impression on TigerBlog?

Well, he's one of those guys that's just hard to forget. He's a big kid, always smiling, always up, always with a laugh. And he did a lifetime's worth of endearing things in his short time here.

For instance, Vinnie went with the Princeton Athletics contingent to the 1996 NCAA men's basketball tournament in Indianapolis. Everyone on the trip came back with the never-ending memory of the Tigers' win over UCLA. Vinnie did that one better - he came back with those memories and a sign that read "This is not a public entrance to the RCA Dome." 

And then there were the times that he and Carril played lunchtime basketball in Jadwin. Vinnie, whose motto was was shoot-first and defend-never, once had this conversation with the Hall-of-Fame coach:
Vinnie: "Coach, you don't understand basketball."
Carril (gives him a dirty look)
Vinnie: "If I score 30 and the guy I'm guarding scores 28, and all five guys do that, we win by 10."

Ah, Vinnie.

He left the athletic communications field long ago, but the field never really leaves you.

Vinnie checked in this week, emailing TigerBlog about his son Justin, who is currently trying to ride his final year of Little League baseball as far as he can. The DiCarlos live in Connecticut, in a small town of 10,000 called Canton, but the 12-year-old all-stars recently won their district tournament for the first time in 29 years.

Vinnie sent TB an article from a local outlet about the team's success. He also mentioned that when they'd won, he jumped back into sports information mode, arranging interviews on the field and emailing in box scores. Perhaps this explains why Justin ended up with three pictures in the story?

TigerBlog was so proud.

Up next for Canton is a three-team sectional and then, if the team can keep it going, the four-team Connecticut state tournament. Eventually they'll be running into teams from towns with 10 times or more players to choose from, but hey, that never bothered Hickory High School.

Justin is the No. 2 pitcher on the team. He also plays third and is one of the better hitters on the team.

The No. 1 pitcher looks like he could make the jump from Little League to college, or at least he looks that way in the picture in the article Vinnie sent. Vinnie said that that kid's father is 6-8 and former college basketball player at Quinnipiac.

TigerBlog and Vinnie were talking yesterday about the similarities in being the parent of the goalie and the pitcher. There's a comparable level of stress with those positions, knowing that the natural tendency is to put so much of the outcome of the game on the ones charged most with preventing the other team from scoring.

As TB has said many times before, it seems like everyone is thinking "if you'd done a better job of raising your kid, he would have made that save." It's probably the same with the pitcher.

So what advice does he give his son to deal with those stresses? Vinnie said this:
 "I've really worked with him on 'approach, attitude, effort … not results' … can always control the first three … can't control the results, and stats can be misleading … I told him, this is from someone who kept stats for a living."

That's great.

The youth sports road can be expensive, stressful, filled with arguments with on-field officials, complaints about a kid who has to be overage, yelling parents, overbearing parents and every other horror story you read about.

TigerBlog has encountered some of this as he's watched his own kids and all of this back when he wrote about youth and high school sports when he was just starting out in the business.

For all of that, though, there's also a beauty to them. TigerBlog has seen way more of that side than he has the bad side.

They can also be the source of such great bonding experiences between parents and kids. They can create memories that will last forever, really. TigerBlog knows all about this.

So good luck to Justin DiCarlo and his Canton teammates. As TB said to another kid - one named Vinnie - hopefully they roll all the way to Williamsport.

By the way, it's always great to hear from him.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Ultimate Tiger

TigerBlog's second shot on the par-5 was in the middle of the fairway, maybe a little to the left of center.

The green was ahead and a bit to the right. It was maybe 140 yards away. TigerBlog had a seven iron.

There was a tree in the way. TigerBlog figured he could go over the top of it, though, and that's exactly what he did. Over the tree. A little to the right. It splashed onto the green, rolling to a stop about 10 feet from the hole.

It was TigerBlog's best shot of the day - which makes it his best shot in the last 18 years - as he played at Springdale Monday in the Friends of Princeton Lacrosse golf outing.

His worst shot was the one that almost killed Greg Waller.

TigerBlog had not played golf in 18 years prior to his round at Springdale. He hadn't hit a shot at all, he's pretty sure, until he went to the driving range Sunday.

When TB said he would play in the event, his email said this: "Haven't played in nearly 20 years, wasn't good before, don't own golf shoes." As it turned out, his game is still pretty much the same as it was back then.

Here's the scouting report - all drives with woods go wildly to the right, no short game at all, zero ability to get out of the bunkers, reasonably below-average putter, can hit irons pretty straight.

The shot that almost took out Waller - the face-off man on the 1992 NCAA championship team and still the school record holder in ground balls in a season and career (he had 131 ground balls in 1991; Zach Currier had 130 last year) was supposed to be a soft chip from about 50 yards off the green. Waller and Brock Sturdivant, a teammate of Waller's and the fourth in their group, Ed Calkins, were standing about 40 feet to the left of the green, seemingly out of range.

TB jokingly said "heads up" and then hit his chip shot, which instead of softly dancing off his wedge instead rocketed directly in Waller's direction. Had Waller not been paying attention, it's possible it would have nailed him right in the side of his head. As it was, he and Sturdivant dove out of the way safely.

Perhaps the fates were trying to tell TB something as well, since he managed to find basically every sand trap on the course. Hey, he found two separate ones on one hole.

Maybe something was trying to tell him that he should stick to the beach.

Oh, and it was Bryce Chase's birthday. The godfather of Princeton lacrosse turned 77 Monday. He saw TigerBlog hit one shot - an iron off a tee - and gave TB this glowing compliment: "hey, you don't suck as much as I figured you would."

If you know Bryce, you know it was meant with love. 

TigerBlog's lack of golf ability aside, there wasn't anything not to like about this day. The lacrosse group is an extremely close, tight-knit one, in many ways indicative of the very best of what Princeton Athletics hopes its athletes will have in their experience here.

More than half of the golfers, TB would guess, had at least one NCAA championship ring. Almost all were Ivy League champs at least once. They all moved on to successful careers.

And, in the most Princetonian of ways, they are the most loyal people you will ever meet. To each other. And to the school.

The golf started at 1. TigerBlog's first goal was to finish the round without having lost every ball in his bag, and, to his shock, he only lost three. So that was a win.

TB goes way back with Calkins and Waller, but this was the first time he'd ever met Sturdivant. They of course had a lot to talk about, what with Princeton lacrosse and lacrosse in general as the main subjects. Sturdivant, who grew up in north of Baltimore and who now lives in Nashville, was on campus with his son, who has been at the boy's lacrosse camp.

Of course, they had a lot of time to chat, as it took more than five hours to get around the 18 holes. It was a team competition. Each of the four golfers in each group (TB's group started on the fourth hole) would tee off. All four would then play the best tee shot (it was TB's an astonishing three times) and then play their ball from there, with the team to count its top two scores on each hole.

It was obvious from the first hole that if TB's group was going to win, well, then TB wasn't going to be able to carry them. In what he will assume is part of the politeness of golf, they invited TB to play with them again next year.

The winners were the foursome of Kevin Lowe, James Mitchell, Paul Murphy and Ben Strutt. TigerBlog is pretty sure he hit more shots than the four of them combined.

After the golf there was a cocktail hour, followed by remarks from Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, women's coach Chris Sailer and men's coach Matt Madalon.

And then it was time for one more thing before dinner.

The invitation mentioned that Jon Hess would be honored as well. All of those thing that TB said about Princeton lacrosse player in general? Hess takes them all to another level.

Hess graduated in 1998. How's this for a lacrosse resume:

* three NCAA championships
* 43-2 record his last three years, including 18-0 in the Ivy League
* 1997 Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four
* two-time first-team All-America and one-time second-team All-America
* Ivy League Player of the Year
* third all-time at Princeton in points (215) and assists (133)

That's pretty good, no? 

Hess today is exactly how Hess was 20 years ago as a player. He was the leader. He was the hardest worker. He was the glue of everything. He was the spokesperson. He was the one who made everyone around him better.

TB has heard the story before, many times, about how Hess was the absolute last person in the Class of 1998. Not the last lacrosse player. Not the last athlete. The last one admitted.

Maybe it was that experience that made him the one who, probably more than anyone else, understood the great fortune that made him a Tiger in the first place. Either way, in a sea of loyalty, his connection to Princeton is the strongest.

In many ways, he's the Bryce of his generation, the one who keeps everyone else connected. He was honored Monday for his work as the former president of the Friends' group, a position for which he was a total natural.

When Jon spoke, he said something that perfectly speaks to who he is. "If you want to honor me," he said, "make a connection with someone here you don't already know. Shake the hand of someone here you've never met."

That's typical of him.

Jesse Hubbard, Princeton's career leader in goals and a member of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame, introduced Hess to the room. He's remarks were great, with his focus on all of the accomplishments and accolades as he made the case that his teammate and close friend is one of the greatest lacrosse players ever.

He also told the story of the 1998 NCAA quarterfinals, most of which TB knew and one part of which TB had never heard before.

Princeton's 1996-98 championship run, and the legacy of those who fueled it, would be somewhat different had the Tigers not won in 1998, when Hubbard and Hess led a great senior class. It would have been a mark against their careers, and it would still have bothered them to this day.

Princeton and Maryland were tied 3-3 at halftime on Memorial Day in 1998, but Hess would have an assist and a goal in the first five minutes of the third quarter to start the Tigers to what became a 15-5 romp. TB knew that.

He also knew that, two rounds earlier, Princeton trailed Duke 8-4 in the second quarter in the quarterfinals at Hofstra. What TB lacks in golf skill he makes up for in his ability to see how games will unfold and which team will win. Usually, as a game is going along, TigerBlog can feel if it's going to be close, going to be a rout, if the team that is down will come back. He's right a lot more than he's wrong.

That day was one of the days he was wrong. Watching that game, TigerBlog had a sinking feeling that this just wasn't going to be Princeton's day. He remembers it vividly. He was on the sideline for a part of the second quarter, and something just didn't feel right.

Princeton pulled with two at the half at 8-6, but Duke was still playing well. And worse, was playing with visible confidence. They were not awed by the moment.

What TigerBlog didn't know, and never heard until Jesse said it Monday, was that Jon Hess went off on his team in the lockerroom. As Jesse said Monday at Springdale, Jon challenged everyone, yelling "who's going to step up? Who's going to step up?" When nobody responded, he yelled "I'm going to step up."

Hess then scored twice in the first 1:21 of third quarter. Princeton would win 11-9. Hess was much more of a feeder in his career. His two goals actually came 23 seconds apart. It might be the fastest he ever bunched two goals in his entire career, and he did it at the time Princeton needed him most.

Jesse wrapped up his remarks by describing Jon Hess in three words. He called him "the ultimate Tiger."

It's such a great description of him.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Half Over Or Half To Go?

As TigerBlog said last week, today is the midway point between the last event of the 2016-17 academic year and the first event of the 2017-18 academic year.

Does it seem like it's been nearly six weeks since the NCAA track and field championships? Or more than eight weeks since the last game of the year, the NCAA women's lacrosse quarterfinal game against Penn State?

Time either flies by or drags. Or, at times, both. Ponder that if you will. Perhaps one day, if TigerBlog teaches a philosophy class, he'll make that the lone question on the final exam: Time either flies by or drags. Or, at times, both. Discuss.

There are, of course, some questions that may never be answered. Or maybe they already have been, and it's just a matter of accepting the outcomes? But which outcome?

Today is a philosophical day, after all. It's the midway point. Is the summer half over, or is half the summer left? Glass half-full, half-empty thing.

This is deep stuff. Maybe too deep for the middle of summer. Maybe the summer isn't meant for these kinds of in-depth philosophical issues. TigerBlog will have to wait for that.

One thing everyone can agree on is that it is, in fact, the middle of summer. At least using the Princeton Athletics calendar, if such a unit of measure exists.

On this campus, that means one thing more than any other. Summer camps.

TigerBlog has always loved the summer sports camps that Princeton offers. There's an army of kids, from little kids to high school kids, marching all around the campus, playing games, practicing, working with college coaches and athletes and, best of all, staying in the dorms and eating in the dining halls.

Both TigerBlog Jr. and Miss TigerBlog had their intro to dorm life at Princeton summer camps. For TBJ, that meant lacrosse camp, and it meant it from maybe fourth grade, when Bill Tierney first let him jump in the goal at some games.

There was nothing that TigerBlog Jr. loved more as a kid than the days he'd spend at Princeton lacrosse camp. They were the best of times for him, the best of everything.

Where is TBJ today? He's back at the Princeton boys' lacrosse camp, this time as a counselor. It's not his first stint there. It does make TigerBlog wonder how long the list is of people who have been campers and counselors at one of Princeton's camps.
Also, narrowing that list further, TB wonders how many people have lost their meal card as both campers and counselors. Yeah, TigerBlog Jr. has accomplished that.

It's obviously different being a counselor versus being a camper, but TigerBlog was taken back to those camper days Sunday when he watched TBJ pack up. Unlike when he was a kid, TBJ simply got in his car and drove himself there.

Of course, it wouldn't be the a first day at camp without his having forgotten something. In the case this year, it was the fan he needed for his dorm room. Miss TigerBlog, of course, swore she'd looked all over the house and couldn't find it. TigerBlog wanted to bet his daughter that he could find it in less than 60 seconds. She didn't take the bet, which is good for her, because it took TB exactly 18 to locate it.

One of the first coaches TBJ ever worked with at Princeton's camp was an assistant coach at Hartford named Jon Basti. He was one of TBJ's favorite coaches from Day 1, and the coach clearly felt the same about the enthusiasm the young goalie showed. In fact, TigerBlog still has an old, old email from Basti, talking about TBJ to that effect.

Today, Basti is the head coach at Sacred Heart University and TBJ's college coach. Their experience together at those Princeton camps from a long time ago definitely helped in the recruiting process.

Of course, that's something of a coincidence. That's not the point of the camp for a little kid. It jsut sort of worked out that way.

Still, those camps are awesome experiences for the campers. TigerBlog has seen so many of these kids, who come from all over, in genuine awe of their chance to be at a place like Princeton. And to play the sports that they love.

Maybe they're all thinking that they're going to grow up and play for the Tigers one day. And that's great. They should think that way, even if maybe none of them actually well.

It's part of what summer camp gives to these kids. If you're on Princeton's campus every day, like TigerBlog is, you lose the thrill of what it can be like to be there. Look in the eyes of a kid at one of the camps and it comes right back to you.

And that's where things are now. Camp season. Lots of camps, lots of kids.

It's what the middle of summer is all about.

Come tomorrow, of course, it'll be closer to the start of 2017-18 than the end of 2016-17.

But will it still be the middle of summer?


Monday, July 17, 2017

A Cat, A Dog And A Guy Named Mike

Jingles is the official cat of Miss TigerBlog.

He's a nice enough cat. A tuxedo cat. He's definitely a good looking cat.

TigerBlog isn't a cat person. He's a dog person. As he's told you many times before, the perfect retirement scenario includes a dog, whom TB would walk a few times a day while the other people in the neighborhood - preferably one by the beach - say "there goes that nice old man and his dog again."

The reality of his present does not include a dog, however. In that respect, he's stuck with Jingles the cat.

Jingles has a few spots around the house that he loves. Most of them involve sitting in a window sill, basking in the sun, looking at the views outside, something that MTB calls "cat TV."

That's what Jingles was doing yesterday when he pushed too hard against the screen or something, because the next thing he knew, he was no longer on the window sill. He was outside, on the ground below.

It's TigerBlog's contention that Jingles would never make a run for it, since he knows how soft he has it inside the house. This was his chance, though, and all he did was stand on the driveway and look back up at the window, wondering how he was going to get back inside.

Fortunately for Jingles, TigerBlog Jr. saw the whole thing. And so he went outside and got the cat, even though the cat doesn't give TBJ the time of day.

Dogs. That's where it's at. The perfect retirement awaits.

Speaking of dogs, TigerBlog watched the ESPN "30 For 30" released last week on "Mike and The Made Dog," the longtime sports talk radio duo on WFAN in New York City who dominated ratings and established a model that has been mirrored endlessly today, largely for the worse, by the way.

Here's TigerBlog's review of it: "Eh."

It could have been much, much better. For starters, it was a quick one, only an hour. And it was pretty superficial, like a simple recap of the story of how they were thrown together, the way they rose to the top quickly, the highs and lows of their relationship and lastly how they broke up.

There was very little insight into their backgrounds, where they came from, how that molded them. There was next to no behind the scenes stuff, which is what sets most of the "30 For 30" series apart. It was, well, superficial.

And, lastly, it was very regional. Yes, the show was simulcast on the YES Network for many years, which made it available nationally. But still, it's a New York thing.

If you lived in, say, Washington, D.C., or Atlanta or Seattle, what do you know about "Mike and The Mad Dog?" Where's the appeal?

TigerBlog, on the other hand, has no idea how many hours he spent listening to the two of them, but it's a lot. They were certainly entertaining. They were like nothing that had come before them.

Mike (Francesa) was always pompous. Mad Dog (Chris Russo) had the most unique voice in radio. They were just fans, often of opposing teams, and they were always battling each other, in a way that would have been painful to listen to had it not been so entertaining.

Mike loves the Yankees. Mad Dog hates them. This was in New York City. That alone made it great. TB remembers one day, when Mad Dog was there by himself after the Yankees won another World Series. One of the callers called him out on his anti-Yankee views and said that it was his job to support New York's teams.

"My job?" Russo screamed. "My job is to sit here five days a week and talk to the fat guy." Classic.

Francesa still occupies their 1-6 time slot every weekday, at least until he leaves the station at the end of the year. TigerBlog hasn't listened as much since Mad Dog left. It's just not as good. But hey, there's still something special about that time on that station.

As far as TigerBlog can remember, Princeton was represented on their show a few times. Not surprisingly, all of them were related to men's basketball.

The first was Pete Carril, in 1996, after he announced his retirement and before Princeton's game against UCLA.

The next was a year later, with Bill Carmody, before and after Princeton's loss to Cal in the NCAA tournament. Carmody was on again a year later, when Princeton had its 27-2 season and top 10 national ranking.

The other time was when Gary Walters was the chair of the NCAA men's basketball committee. Gary was on with Mike and the Dog the day after the selection show, back in 2007.

That was the year that Syracuse didn't get in the tournament. The two went after Gary pretty hard on the subject, asking him point blank if he didn't believe that Syracuse was one of the 30-whatever best teams in the country without an automatic bid. Gary, to his credit, said simply "yes."

Their breakup would come a year later. It came after a 20-year run, one that can accurately be called "historic."

The "30 For 30" is worth watching, especially if you were a fan of the show.

It's just that, as TB said, it could have been better.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Another July Friday

TigerBlog feels like the coming athletic year starts to get real with four weeks to go until the first event.

That day is two weeks away. If you are good at math, or even if you aren't, that makes today six weeks short of the first event of 2017-18, which would be a home women's soccer game against Monmouth on Aug. 25.

Today? It's a Friday in July. It's about as quiet as it gets around here.

It's right around the midway point from last year to next year. Actually, let's figure that out.

If the last event from last year was the NCAA track and field championships on June 9 and the first event from next year is Aug. 25, then that's a 77-day gap, right? The last 21 days of June, all 31 days of July (which makes 52), and then 25 more in August, taking you to 77.

The halfway point of 77 would be Day 39. The means that the exact halfway point would be July 18, if TB's math is on.

Today is July 14. That means this coming Tuesday would be the exact halfway point. Either way, it's right around the middle.

And that means TigerBlog has very little to say right now. Well, actually, he has a lot of things he could talk to you about, and hey, you're obviously reading this, so maybe you actually want to hear some of them?

Princeton Athletics? Not a lot of that for today.

The English team, which features Olivia Hompe, won its first game at the World Cup for women's lacrosse, defeating Wales 12-6. Tom Schreiber advanced past the first cut to the final 49 players for the U.S. team for the 2018 World Championships, which will be held in Israel. That list of 49 will eventually have to be cut in half, but it would shocking if Schreiber wasn't on the team.

Speaking of women's lacrosse, there's a new assistant coach in town. Her name is Kerrin Maurer, who happens to be one of the best players Duke women's lacrosse has ever had. She's actually second all-time at Duke with 280 points, which left her exactly two short of the number that Hompe put up to set the Princeton career record before graduating this year.

If you want to read the entire story about Maurer, it's right HERE.

The women's hockey team released its schedule, for Season 1 under head coach Cara Morey. Perhaps more ridiculous than the fact that the 2017-18 season begins in six weeks, the women's hockey season begins in little more than three months, with a pair of games against Providence on Oct. 20 and Oct. 21.

That's a winter sport, people. Time churns along.

What else can he tell you today? Hopefully you're not expecting something serious right now. It's a Friday in July. How serious do you expect TB to be?

In fact, he'll leave you with three stories that have nothing to do with anything. 

The women's volleyball team also released its schedule. The Tigers, who've won two straight Ivy titles, open Sept. 1. That's seven weeks away.

TigerBlog was at one of Miss TigeBlog's lacrosse events a few weeks ago when he saw the women's lacrosse coach from Vassar. Or at least, he saw a coach wearing a "Vassar" shirt and figured it was her, though he's never met her.

It dawned on TigerBlog that he was wearing a "Princeton Volley" shirt at the time. It could be his most comfortable shirt, a bright orange dri-fit with long sleeves. He loves those shirts.

Anyway, it dawned on him that Sam Shweisky, the head men's volleyball coach, is a Vassar grad. When TB texted Sam to see if her knew the women's lacrosse coach, he replied that he had taken a class she had taught a long time ago. TigerBlog thought about introducing himself and trying to convince her that he was Sam and that he had taken her class at Vassar a long time ago. As he thought it through, he realized that there were a lot of holes in that plan, not the least of which was he didn't know her name, so he said nothing.

That's one. Here's the next:

For TigerBlog, Fridays in July for six years of his youth meant being at a sleepaway camp in the Catskills in New York. For the first five years, it was a camp called Camp Toledo. After a one-year non-camp summer, he then went to a different camp, called Camp Echo, because Toledo had closed down.

He'd spend eight weeks per summer away at sleepaway camp. His first year away was when he was six years old.

As he remembers being told, he and BrotherBlog (who was two years older; actually, he still is) went to camp that summer because their parents were going on a three-week trip the following summer to Japan and Hong Kong and they wanted to see if TB and BB would be okay at the camp without them.  The logic was that if they weren't okay, then their parents would be about three hours away that summer, as opposed to a whole world away the next.

In that respect, it was a very nice thing for them to do. Told another way, though, it's possible that they were simply abandoning their kids.

Lastly, TigerBlog was talking to someone yesterday who mentioned that he had heard that U.S. Lacrosse had considered building Tierney Field right in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore before cost estimates and such moved it to its actual location, outside the city. The Inner Harbor would have been a pretty cool location for the facility.

That got TB thinking about the time he stayed in one of the hotels right on the harbor. He was coming up in the elevator holding a bunch of stuff, including a drink in a cup with a lid on it. Before he got to his floor, he bobbled everything and ended up squeezing the cup, which flew out of his hands and spilled everywhere.

TigerBlog felt badly, so he wanted to at least clean up some of the mess. To do so, he went to his room and got a towel. Then he went back to the elevator. Except there were a bunch of elevators, and the one that came to the floor wasn't the one that he'd dropped the drink in. So he tried again, but again the wrong elevator came. TB took that as a sign that he had tried his best, and he got on that elevator and downstairs. You should always follow the signs. And he's pretty sure someone cleaned it up by now.

Why tell those stories now? Because it's a Friday in July and they're just lighthearted stories.

It's the summer. There's not a game in sight just yet. Why be serious today?

Have a great summer weekend everyone. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Unstoppable Force

TigerBlog forgot to include one thing in his story about "Sweeney Todd" the other day.

The other four musical couples whom TigerBlog referenced all had the kind of love that most people can only dream about, the kind that endures for all eternity.

Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett? They had the kind of love that endured right up until the part where, after killing a whole bunch of people and baking them into meat pies, Sweeney killed her too.

There's love, and then there's love.

TigerBlog was a bit bummed that he forgot to mention that part the other day, though not as bummed as he was a high school sophomore, when he realized that he'd forgotten to include one page from a chemistry lab in his report, which ended up dropping his grade significantly. It worked out okay, since he still got into Penn.

Another update is from the District 12 Little League baseball tournament. The winner for 2017? Huh-TER-buh. That's HTRBA, who won for the first time in 13 years.

This is from local sportswriter Rich Fisher, who may have the record for most stories written about sporting events that happened in Mercer County:
For those who assumed HTRBA stood for Hamilton Township Recreational Baseball Association, you were seemingly mistaken.
After Mercerville’s 12-year-old All-Stars won their first District 12 title in 13 years with a 7-1 win over West Windsor at Sayen Park Sunday, catcher Joe Lemly put those five letters in proper perspective to describe how the title was won.
“It was about using teamwork,” said Lemly, who went 2-for-3 with a walk and run scored. “We have a motto for HTRBA — hustle, teamwork, respect, balance and attitude.”

That's pretty good stuff. TigerBlog forwarded that on to David Rosenfeld, the one who all those years ago asked the immortal question of "what's huh-TER-buh?" If anyone can appreciate District 12 Little League baseball, it's David.

TigerBlog texted David yesterday and asked him this question: Who would be the best two or three best Princeton men's basketball players since you started watching? Not the ones who had the best careers. The guys you would take over anyone else for one game when they were at their best.

On the women's side, by the way, TigerBlog would take Niveen Rasheed, though he reserves the right to take Bella Alarie in another three years. Bella is currently training with the U.S. U19 team, and she will be keeping a journal for You can see entry No. 1 HERE.

As for the men? David went with Brian Earl, Chris Young and Spencer Gloger, with the caveat that he hasn't watched the team as much since 2008 and that he's a huge fan of Devin Cannady.

TigerBlog thought of this question when he saw another story on the website about Mason Rocca. The story, which talks about how Rocca has received a Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship, can be seen HERE.

From the story:
Following his pro career, Rocca returned to his hometown of Evanston, Ill., to pursue his master's degree in secondary education at Northwestern with a concentration in math, completing it this year. The Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship is a five-year program intended to provide new math and science teachers with professional development, resources and support. Rocca was an electrical engineering major at Princeton.

Mason Rocca, on his best day, is the most unstoppable force TigerBlog has seen in a Princeton men's basketball uniform. The problem he had was that he didn't have too many best days, since the majority of his career was hampered by injuries.

TigerBlog has written about Mason before. In fact, he went back to look what he had said about him previously, and TB wrote this in September 2015, nearly two years ago:
Mason Rocca is the single most unstoppable force TigerBlog has seen play for Princeton - when healthy.

For the record, TigerBlog wrote this year's sentence before he went back and checked what he had said before. Clearly, there's a consistency to what TB thinks about Rocca as a player at Princeton.

That's sort of weird also. To describe someone twice in a span of nearly 24 months with the exact same phrase?

Mason played 14 professional seasons in Europe as he outgrew the nagging injuries. Had he never gotten hurt at Princeton, Rocca would have been in an NBA uniform at some point. TigerBlog is certain of that.

And, as he also said two years ago, he might have been the missing piece for Princeton to defeat Michigan State in the 1998 NCAA tournament second round, which would have bumped Princeton to the Sweet 16 that year. Rocca was out injured for the end of the year.

David's choices for the best players at Princeton in the last 25 years or so is a great one. There are other names that could be considered, starting from Kit Mueller and going through the present, with Cannady and Myles Stephens, who might be the second most unstoppable force TB has seen here.

Any list for one game, though, has to include Mason Rocca. He had great touch around the basket. He could pass. Any loose ball was his, whether a rebound or on the floor. Looking back, that was probably the reason he kept getting hurt.

With his pro basketball career over, Mason is back in Illinois, where he grew up, ready to start the next phase of his life as a teacher. The fellowship that he received will help him get started down the path in the classroom.

HERE's more on Mason's fellowship. That story includes this:
On the court, Rocca was a proven leader who was known for his creativity and collaboration. Now he’ll take those skills into the classroom, where he will teach high school math and look for ways to reform the system.

That's pretty flattering stuff.

Of course, it leaves out the "unstoppable force" part, but TigerBlog will keep reminding you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer Laxing

TigerBlog got a picture taken with his daughter Sunday afternoon.

In the moment, though, his focus was divided. Oh, it was on the same spot, and it was on photography and it was on Miss TigerBlog. There was just an 11 year divide to deal with as well.

The occasion this past Sunday was the final summer club lacrosse tournament MTB would ever have. These club teams run through the end of the summer after a player's junior year of high school, and so this was it for MTB and her Ultimate teammates.

Much like TigerBlog Jr. back when it was his turn, MTB has spent a large chunk of her summers playing lacrosse. And it all ended Sunday, on a sweltering field in Malvern, outside of Philadelphia.

TigerBlog has been to summer lacrosse tournaments basically everywhere from Massachusetts to Virginia. There was one earlier this summer in Richmond, on TB's birthday, actually. That's okay. It was a great birthday.

Some tournaments, like the one this past weekend, have been close enough to drive to, though her first game both Saturday and Sunday was at 8:50. You can do the math as to what time you have to get up to be there in plenty of time.

These tournaments follow a familiar script. There are multiple games, usually two or three per day, against teams with creative names and colorful uniforms. Many, but not all, tournaments then have a playoff round, which extends the weekend out should your team make it that far.

There are teams from all over, so it's a chance to see how good the competition is from surrounding states and regions or even from all the country. These club teams are for the more serious players, and they have to be players whose parents are okay with the idea of spending their summer weekends on these fields, with the same families year after year, instead of at a beach or a picnic or something.

They also have to be players whose parents are okay spending vacation money on summer lacrosse, between club fees, travel expenses and everything else. 

Both of TigerBlog's children have benefited considerably from their summer lacrosse experience. It made them better players, yes, but it also has helped them learn so many of the lessons that sports can teach - about teamwork, hard work, what it takes to improve, dealing with successes and failures.

TigerBlog Jr.'s first lacrosse tournament actually predated his club experience. It was back when he had finished third grade - yes, that's young - and he was playing rec lacrosse with an organization called Lower Bucks Lacrosse. It was his second year playing, and the first time he was on a team in a tournament.

It dawned on TB in the middle of last week that that tournament, the first for TBJ, was played on the same exact hot, sweltering dusty fields as the one MTB would be playing on this past weekend, in the last one for her. That tournament had been 11 years earlier.

That's a full circle, no?

MTB got dragged to that first tournament for TigerBlog Jr., but she was always a good sport about things like that. In fact, one of the best pictures of MTB that TigerBlog has was taken at that tournament. She was wrapped up in a blanket and lying on the grass, oblivious to the lacrosse being played around her.

Here it is:

That spot of grass is about 10 feet away from where TB and MTB got their picture taken this past Sunday.

With four or five tournaments per summer, and probably 16 summers worth for the two of them combined, that would be, let's see, 16, times, say, 4.5, equals ... well it equals a lot of lacrosse. And that doesn't include winter and fall tournaments, camps and everything else.

The world of club lacrosse is not the only one that is busy this time of year.

The three-day tryouts for the U.S. men's national team for the 2018 World Championships - to be held in Israel - conclude today on Tierney Field outside of Baltimore. Princeton is represented by Tom Schreiber and Tyler Fiorito, and those two plus Zach Currier played in the Major League Lacrosse all-star game last weekend in California.

Currier, a Canadian, has a strong international future ahead of him, though TB isn't sure what the selection process for the Canadian team is. 

The Women's World Cup begins today in England. If you're a Princeton fan, you can root for the home team if you like. Olivia Hompe, the all-time leading scorer in Princeton lacrosse history, will be playing for the English team.

If the men's World Championship final next year in Israel figures to be pretty much a lock to feature the U.S. and Canada, the Women's World Cup is a bit more wide open. A bit, at least.

The Americans are the huge favorites, but the Canadians, English and Australians are all thinking about playing in the championship game as well.

If you want to read more about the English team, click HERE and HERE. Both stories have quotes from Hompe.

The second one, by the way, is from the BBC, and it provides an interesting perspective on lacrosse. For an even better one, read THIS story from the BBC, which looks to teach the game to a British audience that might not know much about it. 

Lacrosse in England is actually very big, though it obviously is nowhere near what soccer is. TigerBlog has seen the English lacrosse team play Princeton on international trips in 2008 and 2016, and he's been impressed by the stick skills and lacrosse IQ of the English.

There are 25 countries who will compete in England in the Women's World Cup. The top six are the four TB already mentioned, plus Scotland and Wales.

The English play the first game of the tournament, this evening against Wales (that's a 6 pm start there, so that's 1 in the afternoon here, TB believes). The U.S. and England will play in the round-robin phase Saturday.

There will be eight teams in the quarterfinal round, with play-ins from the second division to help set that field. The championship game will be played on Saturday the 22nd, so the tournament moves relatively quickly.

You know. Like the last 11 years.

There is still plenty of lacrosse to be played for both of TB's kids. Just not in the summer club tournament format.

To some, it's everything that's wrong with youth sports and college recruiting. There are some arguments that can be made in that direction.

To TigerBlog?

It's been a really special 11 years, and it's been the source of an amazing connection for him with some great people he's met along the way - but especially with his kids.

And now it's over. He'll be able to sleep late on his June and July weekends from now on.

It's just that they just won't be the same.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Summer Swoosh

Sweeney Todd - you remember the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, right?  - and Mrs. Lovett had a nice little going way back when.

Okay, okay, in musical theater romantic history, they weren't quite Tony and Maria ("there's a place for us, somewhere a place for us"), Lt. Cable and Liat ("angel and lover, heaven and Earth am I with you"), Curly and Laurey ("sweetheart, they're suspecting things - people will say we're in love") or even Tevye and Golde ("do you love me? I suppose I do").

Still, Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett were in love. At least she was in love with him, as you can tell when she sang this to him: "Me eyelids'll flutter, I'll turn into butter, the moment I mutter I do."

By the way, can you identify the four musicals that TB quoted?

TigerBlog saw the original version of "Sweeney Todd" on Broadway back in 1979, on its way to the Tony Award for Best Musical. Mrs. Lovett was played by Angela Lansbury. Sweeney Todd was played by the guy walking into the restaurant last night as TigerBlog walked out.

Len Cariou, who was the original "Sweeney," lives in FatherBlog's building and hangs in FatherBlog's circle of friends there. TigerBlog found himself at dinner with FB last night, and as they left the restaurant, in walked three of the gentlemen from that circle.

The one in the middle was Cariou. If you didn't see him in "Sweeney Todd," perhaps you know him better as Tom Selleck's father on "Blue Bloods."

FatherBlog introduced TB to the three men, all three of whom TigerBlog has met about 20 times before. Each time, FatherBlog acts as if he's never introduced his son to them before, so he does it again.

TigerBlog had this conversation with Cariou:
TB: "Saw you in 'Sweeney Todd.' "
Cariou: "Yeah? Wow. What'd you think?"
TB: "You were pretty good."

By the way, the musicals TB mentioned were: "West Side Story," "South Pacific," "Oklahoma" and "Fiddler on the Roof." You should hear TigerBlog sing them.

Anyway, FatherBlog is coming up on the 40th anniversary of living in that building, which is right on the Hudson River. TB was in Hoboken earlier, and he made the short drive from there to FatherBlog's place.

The thing is that, after those 40 years, TigerBlog found a new way to get from where he was near the Lincoln Tunnel to his dad's building. He never knew it was there before. It was right along the river. Who knew?

It was actually the second time in a few days that he found himself in that situation.

Clif Perry, the head equipment manager, called TB the other day and asked him to come by and see just how much space the delivery of the new Nike gear for the coming year takes up on arrival. Okay, TB though. Why not?

So he walked down to Clif's office, and Clif then took him to the rooms where the gear was stored. It was down a hallway that TB never knew was there.

TigerBlog is pretty sure his first time in Jadwin Gym was in the 1983-84 range, either for Princeton-Penn basketball (as a Quaker) or the New Jersey high school wrestling championships (as a sportswriter). Since then, he's spent decades in the building, and he was pretty sure he knew every corner of it and Caldwell Field House.

He didn't. There was a hallway there that he never knew existed. Who knew?

Meanwhile, back at the Nike stuff, it was in two different locker rooms, one for the women's stuff, one for the men's stuff. Both rooms were essentially packed from floor to ceiling with boxes.

And these were just the items for the coaches and teams, not the department staff.

TigerBlog has said this before, but it's worth mentioning again. Princeton's partnership with Nike has been among the very best things that he's seen in all his time here.

Before the Nike deal, it seemed like each team went in its own direction, with different shades of orange, different logos, different everything. It made for a lack of consistency in the overall athletic look, which made for a somewhat fractured department. That's not really an overstatement.

Back then, TigerBlog would often see Princeton's athletes on campus wearing different kinds of apparel, and, way worse than that, t-shirts and sweatshirts of other colleges. That was a huge pet peeve of TB's.

Then, along came Nike. Suddenly, everyone matched. Everyone had the same colors. Everyone's Princeton shield or striped "P" was identical.

If you think that something so seemingly small can't have a huge impact, you're underestimating things. The Nike partnership has brought to Princeton Athletics an increased sense of pride. TigerBlog isn't overstating that.

And there was the next generation of Nike gear, ready to be organized and distributed for the 2017-18 season.

With it will again come that sense of pride.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Happy Birthday "Coach"

Today will be the eighth time in TigerBlog history that he shares this story with you:

Back on Dec. 28, 1994, TigerBlog found himself in New Orleans, at the UNO Holiday Tournament championship game. It was Princeton against the host team, the Privateers, at the Lakefront Arena.

Before the game, TigerBlog had gumbo and jambalaya. Both were great. Seriously. He did. He remembers that clearly.

New Orleans won, 50-43. As TB looked back at the box score, he couldn't help but notice that no Tiger was in double figures. Three scored nine. Who were they? He'll even give you their initials: JM, RH, SG.

That should make it really easy. He'll give you the answer shortly, though sometimes he forgets to do that. He'll try not to this time.

The night before, Princeton had beaten Texas A&M in the first round of the event. That game went three overtimes before Princeton won 71-66.

Two Princeton players went all 55 minutes - JM and CD.

After that game, Princeton head coach Pete Carril was asked about having to play New Orleans in the final. They're going to be tough, he said. They have big guys.

When a reporter told him that his team also had big guys, Carril answered without flinching this way:

"Yeah, but I didn't go down to the docks to get them."

How did he think of those kinds of things so easily? He was so good at it. TigerBlog should have written down every great line he ever heard from Carril, in actual interviews and then in every day situations. Even without benefit of that, TB can still remember a lot of them, and they are all classics.

Why mention this today?

It's because today is Pete Carril's 87th birthday. That's why.

Happy birthday Coach.

There are a lot of people who played for him at Princeton who call him only "Coach." They wouldn't dream of calling him anything different. No matter how old he gets, he's never "Pete" or "Coach Carril" or anything. He's just "Coach."

Oh, and the initials? You have: James Mastaglio, Steve Goodrich, Rick Hielscher and Chris Doyal.

TigerBlog has written more about Pete Carril than any other subject, he's pretty sure. There's a reason for that.

There has never been anyone on this campus quite like Pete Carril. TigerBlog has often referred to him as the "conscience" of Princeton University, and he thinks it's a great description.

If you're reading this, then you're probably a Princeton fan. If you're a Princeton fan, then you know well his backstory.

He's from Bethlehem, the Pennsylvania steel town. His father, a Spanish immigrant, worked in the mills for 40 years, and it was from him that Carril developed a sense for the work ethic, his own and the one he demanded of those around him.

After playing at Lafayette, including for Butch van Breda Kolff, he started his career as a high school teacher (American government) and basketball coach, first at Easton High School and then at Reading High School, where he had a point guard at Reading named Gary Walters.

From there it was to Lehigh for a year and then to Princeton for 29. He'd win 511 games at Princeton and 523 overall, and he coached the Tigers to 13 Ivy titles, 11 NCAA appearances, the 1975 NIT championship and some of the greatest games college basketball has seen.

His Princeton career ended in 1996, first with the epic Ivy League playoff win over Penn and then the even more epic win over defending NCAA champion UCLA in the NCAA tournament.

When he left Princeton, he was an assistant coach in the NBA for more than a decade. Now he's retired, and he's a frequent visitor to Jadwin Gym.

Back to the "conscience" idea, Carril brought a sense of accountability to Princeton. His players all started out equally, regardless of where they came from, what their high school was, how much money they had or didn't have.

In his nearly 30 years at Princeton, Carril was unconnable, if such a word exists (it doesn't). He couldn't be less impressed by things other than effort, teamwork, hard work, dedication. These weren't just words to him. These were the required, necessary tenets of his world, his team.

Maybe the best thing he said, and he said it a lot, was this: "you can't separate the player from the person." What he was saying was that character is as much a part of the game as talent. He's right.

The conscience.

TigerBlog connected with Carril in the 1980s, first as a sportswriter and later as the last athletic communications contact he had as the basketball coach here. TB was once on the wrong end of a shouting match with Carril, but that was it. And being the basketball contact had its perks; one of Carril's rituals was to buy the basketball contact soup for lunch.

The other perks? They were related to watching one of the game's greatest from a front row seat. TigerBlog hasn't met too many other people who have made an impact on him the way Carril has - and he wasn't even one of his players.

Pete moves slower these days. His body, that is. His mind is still sharp.
There are fewer and fewer people left in the department who were here when he was the basketball coach. He was here for 29 years. In the 21 years since he left, Princeton has had five basketball coaches: Bill Carmody, John Thompson III, Joe Scott, Sydney Johnson and the current one, Mitch Henderson, a player on Carril's last team.

Pete is a Princeton legend. Talk like that always ran contrary to what he was about. Do your job every day. Don't worry about things like talk of legends and that sort of thing. You can't coach to have people be impressed by you. No. You have to believe in something and stay faithful to it.

Carril is in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. TigerBlog is the one who nominated him, and, in the program the night Carril was inducted, there was a four-page feature on him written by TB. 

It's one of the two really long features TB has written about Carril, in addition to the millions of smaller pieces. Carril never said one word to TigerBlog about either. Nothing. No feedback at all.

TigerBlog likes it that way. It says a lot about the man himself.

Do your job. Do it the best you can. Your reward is knowing that you didn't cut any corners. If that's not good enough, then you're missing the point of why you did it in the first place.

That's also the lesson. That's Pete's lesson.

And today is his birthday.

Happy birthday to the conscience.