Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Last Night, Tonight

TigerBlog did a whole season of podcasts with men's lacrosse coach Matt Madalon last spring and has now been doing them weekly with women's basketball coach Courtney Banghart since early November.

He did something on the most recent episode of "The Court Report" that he hadn't done before: He made a mistake and then started muttering to himself and then had to start over.

Okay, at least it was in the first minute.

His mistake was to refer to the Princeton-Rutgers women's basketball game as "tomorrow night." He actually should have said "tonight," since the game is tonight, at 6, in Piscataway. It's a matchup of two Top 20 RPI teams and should be a really good one.

Of course, TB and Banghart were recording it yesterday, at which point the game was tomorrow night. That's not the kind of mistake that TB makes too often.

It goes back to Day 1 in the newspaper business. It was nearly 35 years ago, when he covered the Pennington-Academy of the New Church football game. Pennington won 22-0 by the way.

Anyway, as TB began to write his first-ever story, it dawned on him that he had to write "yesterday's" win. The day always has to be written or spoken from the perspective of the person reading or hearing it.

TB once taped a halftime interview with the late St. Joe's men's basketball coach Jim Boyle. It was for Penn student radio, of all things.

Anyway, TB ended the interview by saying something along the lines of "the second half is coming up ..." when Boyle interrupted him and said "if it's halftime, what's the score?" Then he laughed and put his arm around TigerBlog. It was all in good fun.

The game tonight figures to be a good one. If you saw Princeton demolish Rutgers last year at Jadwin Gym 64-34, forget that. This is a rebuilt Rutgers team, one that is 10-2 and ranked 14th in the RPI. Princeton, at 6-2, is ranked 19th.

Tip is at 6. That's tonight. Not last night.

Last night (really, it was last night), the Princeton men's team played at home, something it won't do again until Jan. 12 against Cornell. Between now and then, Princeton will make what TB believes is the longest road trip in school history, with a 12-day run to California for two games and then Hawaii for three more.

Monmouth was 55-15 the last two years combined. Princeton and Monmouth were 50-14 between them last year.

The teams played an entertaining game at Jadwin, one that the Tigers would win 69-58. It was a weird game, one in which both teams had double digit leads and neither looked like it was going to completely take over.

Monmouth started on a 16-3 run. Princeton answered and finished the first half on a 28-10 run. Princeton built its own 13-point lead. Then Monmouth regrouped.

In fact, Monmouth, who would never lead in the second half, would twice cut it to one, and both times Myles Stephens (game-high 19) would answer with a three, including one that hit the rim, bounced up near the top of the three-point shot and then dropped straight back through the net.

It was still a two-point game at 60-58 with 2:50 left. From then on, Monmouth wouldn't score. Devin Cannady would.

First, Sebastian Much hit one of two foul shots. Then Cannady drained threes, including one from about five feet beyond the arc, to make it 67-58. Then it was a pair of Cannady foul shots, to 69-58. Then it was the buzzer.

Cannady had an interesting night. He didn't score in the first 14:07 of the first half but then had 10 by the break, including a driving layup that beat the buzzer. He didn't score in the first 18:20 of the second half but then scored eight more after that.

It was a good win for Princeton, which now hits the road for that 12-day trip. The first of the five games Princeton will play is Saturday at Cal-Poly.

Before the game last night, during pregame warmups, Cannady put on a dunk display that possibly could have won something on NBA all-star weekend. He bounced the ball off the court and dunked it. Threw it off the backboard and dunked it. Took an alley-oop pass and dunked it.

It was pretty impressive.

What he did in the game itself was a different kind of spectacular. He went all 40 minutes, and he looked like he could have gone 400 without getting tired. His energy drives everything that happens.

The Princeton team that played on Carril Court last night is the Princeton team that can go far in the Ivy League. It was a team that defended when it was most needed, didn't panic when things weren't going well, got major production from its stars and had others make big contributions as well.

All in all, it was a really encouraging night.

Last night, that is.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hosting The Hawks

Milena Flores, the assistant coach of women's basketball, came down to TigerBlog's office yesterday for the reason most people who visit TB's office do.

She had to see Brian Fitzwater, IT guy extraordinaire, whose office is next to TB's. That's okay. TB is used to it.

While Milena was here, the subject turned to movies. Specifically, it was about a movie that TB had always wanted to see and finally did recently, a movie that Milena says she loves.

There's always a movie out there that when you tell someone you've never seen it, their response is an amazed "you never saw fill-in-the-blank?"

There's also a movie out there that you haven't seen that more than any you want to see and just, for some reason, have never gotten around to seeing. Often, the movie that you want to see more than any other is also the movie that most elicits the "you've never seen that?" response.

For TigerBlog, at one point, that movie was "The Godfather." Then he saw it in high school. After that, it was "Gone With The Wind," which he didn't see until Thanksgiving of 2004. Don't ask him why he remembers that. He just does. He also went all those years not having seen it, greeted with amazed looks of "you never saw 'Gone With The Wind?' "

Once he saw Rhett and Scarlett and their adventures, then the movie he most wanted to see was "It Happened One Night." Interestingly, it also starred Clark Gable.

TigerBlog stumbled on that movie on Turner Classic Movies one night about seven or eight years ago and knocked that one off his list. After that, it was "Rebel Without A Cause," which he saw maybe two years ago.

From that point until last week, the movie he most wanted to see but just never had was "The Princess Bride." When TB told Milena that, her response was an incredulous "You've never seen 'The Princess Bride?' "

And now he has. It was great. He loved it. Actually, it's been awhile since he enjoyed watching a movie that much. 

For starters, it was hilarious. There were so many great lines. It was a fantasy, but not too much of one. It made fun of itself a few times. The performances were all great. Where else can you say that you watched a movie and thought that Peter Falk, Cary Elwes and Andre the Giant were all amazing.

Mostly, it's not taking itself all that seriously. It's just a fun movie. And, as TB said, it has so many great lines, he can't pick just one. You want to see the IMDB list of great quotes?

As you wish: HERE IT IS.

Milena's team had itself a big week last week, defeating Lafayette and Quinnipiac. If you don't know how good Quinnipiac is, well, the Bobcats last year did something no Ivy League women's basketball team has ever done, reaching the Sweet 16.

Bella Alarie continues to impress and make the case that she is the best all-around player in Princeton women's basketball history. From the story about how she was honored as Ivy Player of the Week from
Against Lafayette, the sophomore snagged 14 points and 12 rebounds, along with six blocks and two steals in a victory on Wednesday. Her six blocks were one shy of her career high. Against Quinnipiac, Alarie recorded 16 points, 11 rebounds, stole three passes, blocked two shots and was 6-of-9 (66.7 percent) shooting.

Also from the story:
It's the fourth time in her career that Alarie has been chosen as the Player of the Week. It's her 13th weekly award as she was picked Rookie of the Week nine times last year.

As for the men's team, the Tigers are home tonight for the final time in 2017 when they take on Monmouth. Tip is at 7.

Monmouth has generated a lot of attention the last two years as a borderline Top 25 team, one that found itself excruciatingly short of the NCAA tournament both teams. Even so, the Hawks won 55 games the last two years, with only 15 losses. That's outstanding.

This year, Monmouth, like Princeton, is working to make itself the team it wants to be come February and March. These two teams were a combined 50-14 last year, but they are now 5-13 in 2017-18.

They played a great game last year, a 96-90 Monmouth win that featured three players with at least 25 points, all of whom graduated (Princeton's Steven Cook led everyone with 30). The Hawks most notable game this year was a 101-96 loss in four OTs to Penn.

Princeton's next home game after Monmouth will be Penn, but that won't be until early January. Tonight's game figures to be a good one, and another chance for the Tigers to take a step towards being ready for the Ivy League.

There have been flashes this year from Princeton about how good of a team it can be. The rotation for later in the year still hasn't been completely set, and there are still a lot of pieces to try to fit together.

On the other hand, it's still December. From the pregame story on GPT:
The Tigers have overcome tough starts to have a strong Ivy League season before under Mitch Henderson. In Henderson's first season of 2011-12, Princeton started 1-5 before finishing 10-4 in the league, a record that's now one likely in contention for an Ivy League Tournament bid. In 2012-13, Princeton started 3-6 before going 10-4 in the league. In 2014-15, Princeton started 3-8 before going 9-5 in the league. Last season, Princeton started 4-6 before going 14-0 in the Ivy.     

So that's Princeton-Monmouth, tonight at 7 on Carril Court at Jadwin.

Oh, and what movie is it that TB has never seen and most wants to now?

Milena named a few, but TB had either seen them all or had no interest in them. After Milena left, TB looked through the AFI Top 100 movies of all time and figured out the one that he'd most want to see.

What? You've never seen "To Kill A Mockingbird?"

Monday, December 11, 2017

Talking Football

TigerBlog watched more of "College Game Day" than he usually does the other morning, mostly because Army-Navy is one of his favorite games of the year and basically the whole show was about Army and Navy.

Basically. There was also some time spent talking about the Heisman Trophy presentation, and it included live interviews with the three finalists. The eventual winner was Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, and when he was on, there was a graphic underneath that basically said this:

"Led FBS in completion percentage at 71.0 percent."

TigerBlog's first thought was that of course he knew someone who had a better completion percentage than Mayfield.

In all of NCAA college football, all four divisions, there were only two quarterbacks who had a higher completion percentage than Mayfield. One was Grant Russell of Ohio Dominican, who led Division II with a .725 percentage.

Russell, by the way, went 25 for 35 for for 273 yards and two TDs in Ohio Domincan's 42-24 loss to Penn in September. That was a completion percentage of 71.2 for the day. 

The other was Chad Kanoff of Princeton.

Kanoff, who won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, completed 73.2 percent of his passes. That's an Ivy League record, let alone the Princeton one. In other words, no quarterback who competed at an NCAA school and threw the minimum number of passes to be eligible for national rankings had a better completion percentage than Chad Kanoff.

The more you look at Kanoff's numbers from this year, the more impressive they get.

Kanoff actually threw more passes in Princeton's 10 game (388) than Mayfield has in 13 so far for the Sooners (369). Mayfield threw 41 touchdown passes and just four interceptions, by the way, which is remarkable as well.

The Army-Navy game had some amazing numbers of its own.

There were 98 plays from scrimmage in the game, including 95 rushes. That left just three passes. When was the last time you saw a game like that?

Malcolm Perry of Navy did not attempt a pass but did carry 30 times for 250 yards and never once was tackled for a loss. When was the last time you saw a quarterback do anything remotely close to that?

As for the game itself, the sheer intensity of every play is what makes that game what it is. There's no other game anywhere in any sport that can compare to it. The players on both teams know that they they are representing not just their school and friends and those who played there before them but also entire branches of the United States military.

Factor in that they are also military members themselves, with everything that comes with that, and they play so hard from start to finish. Because of all those reasons, there's just no other game quite like it, in any sport, anywhere.

You had to feel for the Navy kicker at the end of Army's 14-13 win. He was asked to kick a 48-yard field goal on a snowy day, with even the best kickers would struggle to do.

TigerBlog wrote all the way back in 2009 about how he thought Navy's football offense was similar to Princeton's basketball offense had been in the 1990s, back before basically everyone copied elements of it. The basic idea is that the teams were playing in a unique style, one that was next to impossible for opponents to prepare for on short notice, and they were doing so in a way that would maximize the team's strengths and minimize its weaknesses.

It was actually a pretty good comparison.

Speaking of football, there are the Giants.

As TigerBlog said, Eli Manning is up there with any professional athlete on TigerBlog's list of favorites. Having said that, one his streak of consecutive games started ended at 210 last week, what was the point of playing him anymore? Don't you want to see what Davis Webb can do if you're the Giants, especially since they figure to be in position to pick one of the quarterbacks in the draft this coming spring?

On top of which, the Giants lost anyway. If you're trying to get something for Eli next year (like from the Jaguars), it's better if he doesn't play the rest of this season.

Here's another football question - why didn't CBS put the Buffalo game (in the blizzard) on nationally? Everyone would have watched that. It would have been the most-viewed game ever.

The national radio team, by the way, was former Princeton play-by-play man Tom McCarthy and former Princeton and NFL player Ross Tucker. Their social media stuff was great. 

It was certainly better than the Giants-Cowboys game.

TigerBlog watched most of the Giants game. It's really difficult for TB, going back and forth between shots of Jason Garrett (Princeton alum, Cowboys' coach, great person) and Jerry Jones (er, not Jason Garrett). 

Lastly, Princeton alum Seth DeValve caught two passes in the Browns' game against Green Bay yesterday. TigerBlog didn't realize this, but DeValve has at least one catch in all 13 Browns games this year.

Unfortunately for the Browns, they've lost all 13 of those games, none more heartbreaking than yesterday's 27-21 overtime loss to Green Bay. Cleveland led 21-7 in the fourth quarter, but a late TD, a bad interception in the overtime and then the winning score on a TD that was mostly trying to set up a field goal left the team at 0-13.

Heartbreaking, yes.

Though nothing on the level of what Navy was feeling.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Congratulations David Morrow

TigerBlog and David Morrow came to Princeton men's lacrosse at the exact same time.

It was in the spring of 1990. TigerBlog was a sportswriter, one who knew nothing about lacrosse. Nothing. Not even how many players were on the field at once.

TB isn't sure exactly how long it took for him to be hooked on the sport. He knows it wasn't very long.

Part of it was lacrosse itself. Much more than that, though, was Princeton men's lacrosse at the time, its players and coaches, and they remain to this day some of the very, very best people TigerBlog has ever met.

There were 44 players on the 1990 Princeton men's lacrosse team. Of that group, there were 21 from either New York or Maryland. If you add New Jersey and Pennsylvania, that number grows to 28 of 44. Throw in Massachusetts and Virginia and it's 32 of 44. Connecticut had another, so that's 34 of 44.

From seven states, all in the Northeast.

If you look at that 1990 roster, it leaps out at you that four consecutive players numerically came to Princeton from Manhasset, on Long Island. Four straight - No. 19 Lars Florio, No. 21 Justin Tortolani, No. 22 John Kenny and No. 23 Mal Meistrell.

Into this mix stepped David Morrow.

He came from Brother Rice High School - the Warriors - from outside of Detroit. He was a hockey player as much as a lacrosse player. He wasn't from a lacrosse area, and he knew it. He carried that around with him for four years. It was the chip on his shoulder.

TigerBlog wrote a story about Morrow - he wrote a lot of them, actually, but he's remembering one right now - about that chip. Morrow was a defenseman. Each week, he'd guard someone from Long Island, or Baltimore, or Syracuse. Each week, he said then, he had to prove he belonged.

No matter how many times he did it, he had to prove it again. And again. That's what he told TigerBlog.

And then he'd go out of prove it, once again.

The NCAA announced yesterday that David Morrow is one of six recipients of the 2018 Silver Anniversary Award. TigerBlog nominated him for the award a few months ago with the thought that if he didn't win, nobody TB nominated ever would.

The award recognizes athletic achievement as an undergraduate and then professional achievement after graduation. It's awarded each year to a handful of recipients on the 25th anniversary of when they graduated.

David Morrow is, by far, the most intense athlete TigerBlog has met at Princeton. And he's met a lot of intense athletes here.

Morrow was lightning fast and strong, with superior natural athletic ability. But more than anything else, he was an intense lacrosse player. 

Ed Calkins, a year ahead of Morrow on the men's lacrosse team and now the president of the Friends of Princeton Lacrosse, used the word "ferocious" to describe Morrow. That works. TigerBlog can't imagine what it must have been like to go against him in practice every day.

All these years later it's that intensity that TB remembers most about watching David Morrow play. Nobody has ever played harder. Nobody has ever wanted to win more. Nobody has ever scared the you-know-what out of the other team the way he did.

Even now, even his email is intense, with a signature that says "dominate," with a fist.

David Morrow turned that on-field intensity into one of the most storied careers any lacrosse defenseman has ever had. His resume includes all of the following:

* 1993 Division I Player of the Year (one of two defensemen to win the award, and the most recent)
* 1992, 1993 first-team All-America
* 1992, 1993 National Defenseman of the Year
* 1991, 1992, 1993 first-team All-Ivy League
* 1992 NCAA champion
* 1992, 1993 NCAA Final Four
* 1994, 1998 World Champion

Then there's the other side of Morrow's story. 

Back when Morrow was a Princeton student, his father was attempting to invent a new kind of snowshoe when he had the idea of replacing existing lacrosse shafts made of aluminum with titanium, which was much more durable and lightweight.

The result was that instead of lugging around heavier sticks that broke at a rate of two or three dozen per year, now there was a stick that could last all season.

It was with titanium that Morrow scored two goals in the 1992 NCAA semifinal win over North Carolina. Here they are, by the way:

By the following year, pretty much all of college lacrosse wanted to use titanium.

Morrow started a company to market his product, and he named it after his high school - Warrior. Maybe it was his way of saying that no matter how much of a lacrosse insider he'd become, he would never lose that chip on his shoulder.

Pretty soon Warrior expanded to do more than build sticks. In fact, Warrior began to be the go-to brand for anything and everything in lacrosse, and kids way beyond the Northeast wanted in.

More than the fancy marketing around the top stars in the sport, Warrior also made it more cost effective to play lacrosse, since one stick could last a long time.

Morrow also was one of the co-founders of Major League Lacrosse, whose first season was in 2001. Today the league is by far the best lacrosse played anywhere in the world, and the players who play in it were among the generation who first came to the sport around the time that Warrior was having its impact.

Beyond his business successes, Morrow has also been committed to bringing lacrosse - and hockey - to organizations helping economically challenged and disabled children to play both. In the past 25 years, he and Warrior Sports have supported more than 70 different charitable organizations with financial and equipment donations.

How much of this is due to Warrior Lacrosse and David Morrow?

A lot. He has done as much, as any single person anywhere, to grow the sport of lacrosse.

The 2018 Princeton men's lacrosse roster has 47 players on it. Of that group, 11 are from New York and Maryland. There are as many players from California as from Pennsylvania or New Jersey, more if you include Aran Roberts, who grew up in Ireland but moved to California and played high school lacrosse there.

Lacrosse has skyrocketed in the last 25 years. David Morrow's fingerprints are all over that growth.

Very few people come along who overwhelm a sport, leaving those who saw them play to marvel at their abilities, and then turn around and change the very fabric of the way the sport is played - and who gets to play it.

David Morrow is one of those.

Bill Tierney, who coached Morrow at Princeton, calls him "an innovator, an innovator in everything he does."

He also said this about him:

"David is driven," said Tierney. "He's opinionated. He's talented. He's super intelligent. He thinks of the future. He's never taken no for an answer. He was the same as a kid, the same as a player. Now he's the same as a business executive. He's edgy. He won't stop working. He won't stop looking to make something better, including himself. He's not afraid of anything or anybody. That's the magic of him."

That's the David Morrow TigerBlog met all those years ago.

That's the David Morrow he'll see in Indianapolis next month.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Road Trips

TigerBlog learned something about the state of Arizona the other day: It's always on Mountain Standard Time.

TigerBlog has never been to Arizona. It's actually one of 13 states he's never been to, as he counted them yesterday. Maybe one day he'll fly to Arizona and then drive clockwise to Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and then back to Arizona, which would account for six of the missing 13 states.

Or maybe he'll fly to Arizona, go to a resort and sit by the pool. That might work better.

Anyway, Arizona does not use Daylight Savings Time but considers itself on Mountain time at all times. That means that it never "springs ahead," which means that it spends the months when everyone else is on Daylight Savings Times an hour behind.

If it's noon in Phoenix on the Fourth of July, it's 1 p.m. in the rest of the Mountain time zone. This means that it's the same time in Phoenix as it is in Los Angeles then. These days, it's an hour earlier in Phoenix than in Los Angeles.

This, of course, begs the question of why Arizona chose to consider itself on Mountain time, rather than Pacific time. Or why it's not Mountain time in the winter and Pacific time in the summer?

The Princeton men's hockey team travels today to Arizona, where it will play Arizona State tomorrow and Saturday. Those games start at 7 Mountain time, which is 9 in Princeton.

Arizona State is 3-8-3 as it plays in its third season of varsity men's hockey. The Sun Devils, like Princeton, both have a tie with Colgate.

Arizona State's roster has players from four countries, 11 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces. The idea of adding hockey, TB supposes, was to build a program that would attract a wide-range of players who might be drawn to the good winter weather and then ultimately compete for an NCAA championship.

Oh, and here's a completely fascinating stat about Princeton men's hockey: The Tigers were ranked 59th (and last) in scoring offense in Ron Fogarty's first year as head coach; they're currently fifth in scoring in Division I in this, Fogarty's fourth season.

That's what you call serious progress.

The men's hockey team's trip to Arizona is slightly longer than the two that the Princeton basketball teams made yesterday. The women were at Lafayette, while the men were at George Washington.

Actually, the women were part of a doubleheader at Lafayette, followed by the Leopard men against Penn.

The women won 53-45 in a game that was never really all that much in doubt. Princeton never trailed in the game, and each time TB checked the score, it seemed to be in the eight to 14 range.

Leslie Robinson had 15 points for Princeton, along with seven rebounds and five assists. Bella Alarie had 14 points and 11 rebounds for another double-double (she missed one in the last game by having nine points and nine rebounds).

Alarie now has 497 career points, through 37 career games. Alarie figures to make a serious run at Sandi Bittler's career record of 1,683 points, a record that has stood for going on 28 years.

As for the men, the game at George Washington, if you followed the livestats, like TB did, then you also noticed that the commercial with Peyton Manning in the woods played over and over and over, every time you went away from the livestats and then came back.

Beyond that, it was another big night for Devin Cannady, who continues to get better and better as his junior year starts to move along. Cannady, who plays with unbelievable confidence and just oozes leadership in everything he does, finished with 23 points in a 71-60 loss.

Myles Stephens was the other Princeton player in double figures with 13, including a massive dunk that you can see here:

Cannady averaged 12.5 points per game for his first two seasons combined. This year, he's at 19.1 per game. That's a huge jump.

As a result, he's just short of 900 points for his career. He also moved past Dan Mavraides and into sixth place all-time at Princeton in three-pointers made in a career, with 167 right now. The five ahead of him?

In reverse order it goes: Spencer Weisz, Douglas Davis, Gabe Lewullis, Sean Jackson, Brian Earl. That's a who's who, by the way. Also by the way, all five of them are over 200 career three's, led by Earl's 281.

Princeton spent most of the night within striking distance of the Colonials but could never tie it.

Next up for Princeton will be Monmouth Tuesday night on Carril Court. It's the last remaining home game of 2017 for the Tigers, who will be on the road in California and Hawaii after that.

The women? They play Saturday at Quinnipiac.

Do you remember where the Bobcats ended their season a year ago? If you said the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, you'd be correct.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Here's Looking At You Kid

Like Ilsa Lund and Victor Lazlo, TigerBlog has also been to Lisbon.

His trip was a little less arduous, of course. He got there with the men's lacrosse team as part of its international trip a year ago, and his "letter of transit" to get back was a boarding pass that he got from a kiosk, not from someone who had hidden them in a piano after they were stolen from two murdered German couriers in the desert.

If you ask TigerBlog what his favorite movie of all time is, he'd have to give you three or four of them. If you really, really, really pressed him on his all-time favorite, he'd probably say ...


He's talked about this before, most recently back when the Princeton men's soccer team was in Portugal this past spring. He brings it up today because he recently saw a story about how "Casablanca" is turning 75.

The movie was released in late November 1942 in New York City. It had its national release in early January 1943.

The story that TB saw talks about all of the behind-the-scenes turmoil that went into filming. He already had heard a lot of it, including the different writers, the way the story evolved literally day-by-day, the low expectations of the final product.

Back then, studios churned out dozens of movies per year, and most of them were forgotten quickly. That seemed like it would be the fate of the little movie about the love triangle in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, set against the seeming hopelessness of World War II.

The movie, by the way, was released when the Germans were still occupying Paris. It would be more than 19 months until the Allied invasion of Normandy. For that matter, it was still more than half a year before the Allies even invaded Sicily. A movie that captured the uncertainty of what was going on and featured a cynical and seemingly non-caring American saloon keeper in Casablanca who ends up standing up to the Nazis in a way that gets his former romantic rival to say "welcome back to the fight. This time, I know our side will win" really resonated and helped boost morale.

The movie starred Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid in the love triangle, as well as some great supporting actors, such as Claude Rains, Peter Lorre and especially Sydney Greenstreet. It was a success when it was released, winning three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and its popularity has only grown in the decades since. The movie holds up because of the acting, the storyline, the constant stream of often quoted lines and of course the ending.

There are so many great scenes, start to finish. TigerBlog has no idea how many times he's seen it, but it's a lot. And now it's 75 years old.

The movie was actually released on Nov. 26, 1942. Princeton basketball fans were able to go to New York to see it, since the Tigers didn't open the 1942-43 season until Dec. 5.

The national release date was Jan. 23, 1943. Princeton had played just six games of the season to that point.

Even when TigerBlog first started covering Princeton, there were no games before Thanksgiving. By this time of the 1989-90 season, for instance, Princeton had played just three games.

The current Tigers have played seven times. Game 8 is tonight in Washington, D.C., where Princeton will take on George Washington.

Princeton is 2-5 on the season. If Mitch Henderson had wanted his team to be 7-0 after seven games, he could have put together a schedule that would have allowed that to happen.

Instead, he's trying to put together a team that will be looking to win a second-straight Ivy League title and then be at its best come Ivy tournament time. That's the challenge for him and his staff.

Speaking of his staff, the most recent episode of "Hard Cuts" follows Kerry Kittles around, from his ride to work through his day. You can see it HERE.

Princeton came into the season with a lot of questions after the graduation of Spencer Weisz and Steven Cook from last year's team. Speaking of Cook, by the way, HERE'S a story about how his professional career is going so far.

So far though seven games, Princeton has started to get answers. Devin Cannady has raised his game a few levels. The three freshmen - Sebastian Much, Ryan Schwiedger, Jerome Desrosiers - have shown they belong. What was really impressive the other day in the loss at No. 10 Miami was the way Much kept shooting with confidence on a night when his shots weren't falling. That tells you a lot about him. You can learn a lot about a player's makeup by watching on a night when things aren't easy.

Are all the answers there? No. But this is how teams get built.

George Washington is 4-4, including a loss to Rider and, most recently, a win over Temple. After George Washington is the last home game of the calendar year, a date Tuesday with Monmouth.

Then it's frequent-flyer miles time, as Princeton will play its final five games of the month as part of a rather long road trip. Or plane trip. It'll start with games at Cal Poly (Dec. 16) and USC (Dec. 19) and then continuing on to Hawaii for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic beginning Dec. 22.

The one after that is Penn, at Penn, on Jan. 5.

Meanwhile, today is December 6th. TigerBlog will leave you with one more link, which ranks the top 50 quotes from "Casablanca."

Here's looking at you, kid.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Bushnell For Chad Kanoff

TigerBlog had a conference call the other day.

What do you do when you have a conference call? They take awhile usually, and it's not like a regular meeting, where you're engaged with people around a table.

So can you multi-task? Do other things while you listen to the call?

TigerBlog thinks that's human nature. And he considers himself a good multi-tasker. He did that the other day, and he thought it went really well - until he got a follow up email thanking him for volunteering to do 20 different things in a week.

Just kidding. He knew exactly what was being said on the call.

At the same time, it got him wondering when the word "multi-task" first started to be used. A search for "when did multitask become a word" suggests that its origins were with an IBM computer in the mid-1960s. TigerBlog can't remember the first time he heard someone say it.

He also isn't sure when "24/7" become a saying. He was watching a movie the other day from 1949 (Ronald Reagan was in it) and one of the characters said "24 hours a day, seven days a week." TB thought it sounded really odd. He hasn't heard anyone say that in a long time.

Language is an interesting thing. Hey, the word "blog" didn't even exist all that long ago in any way, let alone as the second half of a proper noun.

Words go from not existing to being among the most commonly used elements of speech in a flash. Think about all the words you use every day that you never used five years ago because they simply didn't exist yet.

Like "tweet," for instance.

TigerBlog hardly used that word at all for most of his life, and when he did, it was because of a little yellow bird in cartoons. Now? The word "tweet" is said almost as many times as it's actually done.

What word will be next?

TigerBlog saw on Twitter yesterday that the four teams who will compete in the college football semifinals had been named. For the record, it'll be Oklahoma-Georgia and Clemson-Alabama.

If you want to know whether or not the selection committee chose the right team between Alabama and Ohio State, just poll every kid on the other three teams and ask them which one he would have preferred. It would have been roughly 100 percent for Ohio State, meaning the committee made the right choice.

TigerBlog likes the bowl games, he guesses. There are just too many of them, that's all.

And if had to make one change, he'd start the bowl season with the national semifinals and final, not end with them.

Speaking of football, Chad Kanoff was named the 2017 Bushnell Cup winner as the Ivy League's offensive player of the year. Kanoff's win made him the third Princeton quarterback in the last five years to win the award. The other two were Quinn Epperly in 2013 and John Lovett a year ago.

The other finalist this year was Penn wide receiver Justin Watson, who was a finalist for the third straight time without winning. It goes to show how hard it is for a receiver to win an award like that. Quarterbacks and running backs will get all the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, Kanoff was the deserving winner after the record-setting year he had. That's no knock on Watson. It's just that he just had the bad fortune to have his junior and senior years coincide with two of the greatest years that any Ivy offensive players have ever had.

As for the Princeton quarterbacks, if you want a misleading stat, consider that Kanoff threw for 755 more yards this year than Epperly and Lovett did combined in their award-winning years. While true, it also misses what made the other two special - the way they could pass and run and produce touchdowns, while also playing with another quarterback (Connor Michelsen with Epperly; Kanoff with Lovett) who was more of a pure passer.

TB, by the way, didn't remember that Epperly threw for 25 touchdowns the year he won.

The year that Kanoff had was staggering. His numbers were incredible, as he chased down Princeton records for season passing yards and career passing yards while setting other school and Ivy records for completion percentage. It's a testament to his abilities obviously.

It's also a testament to Bob Surace and the rest of the Princeton coaches. Remember, this is a group that figured it was coming into the season with Kanoff and Lovett and spent a great deal of time trying to figure out new ways to maximize both.

Once Lovett went down with a season-ending injury, everything changed on a dime. The result? The best season any Princeton quarterback has ever had.

So congrats to Kanoff on winning the Bushnell Cup. It's a great addition to his Princeton legacy. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Guy In The Geno Smith Jersey

TigerBlog has a few updates from last week.

First, he saw a guy yesterday wearing a Geno Smith jersey, only it was a Jets jersey. Smith, of course, was inserted into the Giants lineup yesterday, ending the 210-game consecutive starting streak of Eli Manning.

TigerBlog asked the question last week about whether or not Giants fans would still wear Giants gear knowing that the team had benched maybe the most popular player the franchise has had since, well, ever. At the very least, he's in the top five and maybe the top two, along with Frank Gifford. Seriously, that's how popular Eli Manning is.

Still, it was an interesting fashion choice for the guy with the Geno Smith Jets jersey. Was he a Jets fan? A Geno Smith fan? If he s a Giants fan, why have a Jets jersey?

"Interesting fashion choice," TB said to the guy, who was a total stranger.

"We need to get this one today," he said, and then he disappeared.

That made TB even more curious. We? Who's "we?" The Jets? The Giants?

Last week's question was whether or not you'd wear your Giants stuff. Today's is whether or not you were rooting for them against the Raiders.

Anyway, that was one thing.

Then there's Clear Lake, Iowa. TigerBlog forgot to tell you what happened there. It was the location of the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. It was "The Day The Music Died," back on Feb. 3, 1959.

TigerBlog and Tom McCarthy, who was with him on that drive, found the field where it happened. Of course the fog was so bad they couldn't really see anything. And now, nearly 20 years later, TigerBlog can't remember if he or McCarthy was the driver.

That's two.

Lastly, apparently they're " 'Clone Cones," not "Cyclone Cones," the ice cream sold at Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum. TigerBlog remembered them as "Cyclone Cones" when he was there with Princeton men's basketball.

That's three. 

The Princeton women's volleyball team played at Iowa State Friday night in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers were in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, and if you think it's hard to win in the basketball tournament, it's even more difficult in the women's volleyball one.

Princeton put up a good fight against the Cyclones before falling in three games. The highlight was when Princeton built a 15-13 lead in Game 2, only to see Iowa State come storming back to take that game 25-17. The final was 25-21, 25-17, 25-14.

The attendance, by the way, was 3,033.

Sabrina King was now won three straight Ivy titles as Princeton head coach. She has built her program into a model of consistency, and the results speak for themselves.

Sabrina has won Ivy titles at Princeton as a player and coach, something that many others have done before her. TigerBlog would list them all, but there are more than you think and he doesn't want to forget anyone.

That volleyball match meant that the fall season is officially over for Princeton. Of course, by the time it ended, TigerBlog had already seen eight Princeton basketball games in person between the two teams, and he added another one Saturday night.

TB did the PA Saturday night at women's basketball, when Princeton defeated Delaware 78-60. It was TB's third time doing the PA this year, and apparently his last, since Bill Bromberg has assured TB he will not miss any other games the rest of the way.

TigerBlog likes doing the PA. You're right there at courtside, next to the Princeton bench for the men and the visitor bench for the women. And it keeps him focused, you know, because he has to constantly announce baskets, fouls and everything else.

One time when he was doing the PA, a ref came over and told him to stop announcing which player committed the foul until the signal was given to the table. TB complied, even though it's usually obvious.

Anyway, as for the game itself, Princeton was in control pretty much from start to finish. The game was tied just once, at 19-19 in the second quarter, and in what seemed like a blink Princeton opened up a 15-point lead.

Princeton has a lot of pieces in place that teams crave.

First, there is great leadership from captains Tia Weledji (career-high 22 against Delaware) and Leslie Robinson (14 points, 10 rebounds against Delaware), two stars in the making in freshmen Carlie Littlefield and Abby Meyers and some other very good role players.

And then there's Bella Alarie. One day in the not too distant future, you'll be able to have a conversation about who the best player in program history is - Alarie or Niveen Rasheed. Then a few days after that, you probably won't anymore, because it'll be too obvious that it's Alarie.

Look at the game she had against Delaware. She shot 4 for 16 from the field, which would make you feel like she had a bad game. That was hardly the case.

Alarie got every shot she wanted, and it seemed like most of them did everything but go in. And then there was the rest of it.

Usually when a scorer struggles to score, it affects everything else. Alarie? She had nine rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. She ran fast breaks. She contested shots. If the shots that normally go in fell like usual, she would have had 25 points instead of nine. She had 29, by the way, the game before, in a loss to Villanova.

There's only one remaining home game for the women this month, against UMBC Dec. 30.

The Ivy season starts in early January. Then there's first semester exams. It's a long way until the Ivy tournament.

For Princeton, though, there are some really good signs to date.

You know. The signs that this could be a very big year. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Do They Still Make Cyclone Cones?

TigerBlog has been to Ames twice.

That's the Ames that's in Iowa by the way. It's the home of Iowa State University.

Both times it was in December, in 1995 and 1998. Both times it was because the Princeton men's basketball team was playing there.

One of the times the temperature never got above 20 or so. TB started to get frostbite from the five-minute walk to the Hilton Coliseum parking lot.

The other time the temperature was in the 70s or even 80s, setting records for the state for December. It got so warm that it melted all of the frozen lakes and created the absolute worst fog he has ever experienced.

That was the time that TigerBlog and Tom McCarthy flew to Minneapolis, where TB went to see his old friend Laurence Zucker, who has lived in the Twin Cities area for a long time. After meeting up with LZ, TigerBlog and Tom made what was supposed to be the three hour ride to Ames, essentially in a direct straight line down I-35.

Instead, it took forever. And the trip really bogged down in a town called Clear Lake, on the Iowa side of the border with Minnesota. Anyone know the most famous thing that happened there?

If you think about the worst fog you've ever been in, triple it and that's what it was like that night on that ride.

TigerBlog liked Ames. There was absolutely no shortage of places to eat there. The people were all friendly. The arena is great. It had (still has?) "Cyclone Cones," which were ice cream cones with vanilla ice cream that was colored in the red and gold of Iowa State's colors.

Oh, and Clear Lake, Iowa? 

He hasn't been back. He won't be there tonight either, though the Princeton women's volleyball team will be.

The Tigers will be taking on 14th-seeded Iowa State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in the same Hilton Coliseum where TB saw Princeton basketball way back when. He asked his colleague Craig Sachson to see if they still have Cyclone Cones.

Princeton earned its spot in the tournament by tying Yale for the Ivy League championship and then winning the one-match playoff 3-0 in New Haven. The Tigers have won three straight Ivy titles and are making a second-straight NCAA appearance. 

Craig came up with these stats for his pregame story on the match:
Princeton is making its seventh trip to the NCAA tournament, and its second in as many years; last season, the Tigers put a scare in #10 BYU in two sets before ultimately falling 25-22, 25-15, 25-23. That result was hardly a shock when you look at the recent history of Top-16 seeds in the NCAA tournament; since the start of the 2011 national championships, Top-16 seeds are 95-1 in the first round, and they have a 287-20 advantage in sets won.

Daunting task, yes. The match starts at 8 Eastern time, by the way.

As for the rest of the weekend in Princeton sports, there are some big games at Baker Rink. The men's hockey team hosts Dartmouth tonight and Harvard tomorrow night, and Princeton is looking to bounce back with a quick turnaround after its 6-2 loss to Quinnipiac Tuesday night.

These will be Princeton's last two ECAC games until after the New Year, when Princeton is at Cornell and Colgate on Jan. 5 and 6. In fact, after this weekend, Princeton will only have four games until then - two at Arizona State next weekend and then two at home against St. Cloud on Dec. 29 and 30.

The women's basketball team is home tomorrow at 5 against a very good Delaware team. If you want to make that into a basketball doubleheader, you can come to Jadwin to see the women's game and then go watch the men play at Miami at 8 on ESPNU.

Miami, by the way, is ranked 10th in the country. It'll be a really good test for the Tigers, who continue to progress as the season moves along.

As for the women, if you want to see them again at home in 2017, you'll have to come back on Dec. 30, when they will host UMBC. The men are home next on the 12th against Monmouth, in their final home game of the calendar year.

There is also men's and women's swimming and diving at home in the Big Al Invitational, home men's and women's squash, lots of track and field within short drives and women's hockey on the road at Dartmouth and Harvard.

It's a busy December weekend.

Wait. December?

How did that happen?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Eli, And The Basketball Doubleheader

If you remember the other time TigerBlog told you this story, then thanks for being one of his most loyal readers.

It was more than seven years ago when TB first wrote this:

TB is a huge David Justice fan. Why? Because TB once saw Justice - then with the Atlanta Braves - on a plane from Atlanta to Philadelphia, at a time when MotherBlog was in Piedmont Hospital during her fight against cancer.

TB, sitting in first class because MB had upgraded his ticket, was across the aisle and one row behind Justice. When TB mentioned to the guy sitting next to him that MotherBlog was in the hospital and that Justice was her favorite player, he said that TB should go talk to him, because "where could he go?"

Armed with that logic, TB wrote a note about how his mother had cancer, was in Piedmont Hospital and was a big Braves' fan and could he drop her a line or something. Then TB gave him the note to Justice, who nodded his head.

Later that night, TB spoke to MotherBlog, who said that David Justice had called her in the hospital and spoken with her for about 10 minutes. He followed up by sending her some Braves' stuff, including a ball autographed by 17 players and manager Bobby Cox.

Factoring out any Princeton alums whom TigerBlog knows personally, his list of all-time favorite professional athletes is a small one. Justice is way up there, largely because of the story TB just told. Greg Maddox and John Smoltz too.

Julius Erving is another. So is Phil Simms. And Patrick Ewing.

When TB was a little kid, his favorites were Joe Namath and Willis Reed, though he would have definitely been on the Bill Bradley bandwagon had he known how thing were going to go later in his life. Once you get to a certain age, you stop thinking of sports figures as heroes, per se.

There are some you like because they play for your favorite team or you simply admire how they play. TigerBlog really loved to watch Michael Jordan play, even though he killed the Knicks. Today he really likes LeBron James more than any other NBA player.

His favorite professional athlete of the last 15 years, though, has definitely been New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. He has always carried himself with class, and TB can't remember any time he ever engaged in the seemingly everywhere me-first self-worship that has become routine in the NFL.

Plus, he's one of the greatest clutch athletes ever. Is 9 for 14 for 152 yards and two touchdowns a good quarter? That's what Manning's stats were in the fourth quarter of the first of his two Super Bowl wins over the Patriots, who had been 18-0 on the year heading into that game.

He ranks in the top 10 all-time in the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns, and he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. 

As the news came that Manning would not be starting this Sunday's game against the Raiders, ending his streak of 210 straight starts, TigerBlog took it as another sign that he longtime favorite team has become impossible to root for, just as the Knicks had been for a long time.

The Giants are awful this year. It is not at all Manning's fault.

To his credit, Manning said that he would not want to start the remaining games and then come out just to keep his streak alive. It was easy to tell that as he was being interviewed he was getting emotional, but again, he handled the situation with tremendous grace.

Anyway, TB wanted to say that about Manning before this weekend's game.

As for Princeton, TigerBlog was at the basketball doubleheader last night.

It began with the women's game, against No. 25 Villanova. If Villanova is the 25th-best team in the country, then Princeton is pretty good too.

It was a very entertaining game, one that the Wildcats would eventually win 62-59, holding off  a Princeton three attempt at the buzzer that would have tied it. The game featured an extraordinary performance by Bella Alarie, who scored a career-high 29 points on 9 for 12 shooting from the field, including makes on all three of her three-point attempts. She also had nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

Oh yeah, and she's early in her sophomore year. You can already include her in the discussion of the best players in program history.

As for the men's game, well, it was pretty much the exact opposite of the FDU game from Sunday. This time, Princeton fell behind big (by 22) and made the huge run (cutting it to two twice) before falling to Lehigh 85-76.

If you don't remember back to Sunday, Princeton went up by 27 and then FDU made it a one-possession game before the Tigers won 83-76.

That's very similar stuff.

Meanwhile, back at Eli, TigerBlog went to ride the bike yesterday morning and needed a sweatshirt. He was going to put on his New York Giants one, but he stopped and just couldn't do it. If you're a Giants fan, can you?

TigerBlog? Not this week.

He went with Princeton Basketball instead.