Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Good Game

TigerBlog was walking down the stairs back to E level yesterday in the middle of the day when all of the sudden he felt like he was on a postgame handshake line.

You know. It's one of those where the players on one team say "good game, good game, good game, good game" as they high-five the members of the other team, who counter with "good game, good game, good game, good game."

This almost always applies regardless of how the good the game actually was, by the way.

As for TigerBlog yesterday, it wasn't so much "good game, good game, good game, good game" as it was "excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me."

TB was walking down as the Maryland field hockey team was walking up. As they came up the stairs, he paused on the landing in between D level and E level, to a chorus of "excuse me" after "excuse me" as they all walked by pleasantly.

This happened presumably after the Terps went through a walk-through in the pit prior to last night's game against Princeton. At least that's what TB surmised.

Apparently, it rained pretty heavily yesterday during the day. TigerBlog didn't see a drop of it, since his office has no windows. By the time he went upstairs later, it was nice out.

As for the game, well, this one really was a good game. Princeton would end up falling 5-4 in the second overtime, after the Terps tied it with just 15 seconds left in regulation.

Even though No. 5 Princeton didn't get the outcome it would have hoped for, this was definitely a game that screamed what it was - a matchup of two of the top five teams in the country. Princeton has bitten off a really tough schedule, as always, and the Tigers have come through it with some huge wins, as well as one-goal losses to No. 1 North Carolina and now No. 3 Maryland.

For their part, Maryland stayed unbeaten, by the slimmest of margins.

The Princeton field hockey 11 lost to Maryland last night. The Princeton football 11, or more than 11 but you get the point, host Monmouth Saturday in the home opener. Kickoff is at 4:30.

When TB finally made it back to the office after all of the "excuse mes" from the Maryland field hockey players and staff, he listened to the "Original 11" podcast, which his colleague Craig Sachson does each week during football season. The current episode can be heard HERE.

There are actually two football podcasts available each week, with the "Original 11" and "The Bob Surace Show." If you live in the Princeton area and want to go to the head coach's show, you can see it at the Alchemist & Barrister in town, each Thursday at 6.

The "Original 11" features a discussion with Sachson and Princeton radio play-by-play man Cody Chrusciel to start out and then an interview with a player. This week, that player is offensive tackle Reily Radosevich, a second-team All-Ivy League selection a year ago.

If you're a Princeton football fan, it's certainly worth your 15 minutes to listen. The title refers, of course, to Princeton's place of having played in the first-ever football game, against Rutgers, back i n1869.

It was Sachson who introduced podcasting to Princeton Athletics a few years ago. Now the lineup has grown to include various weekly episodes during each season, and coming next week will be the second edition of "A Few Minutes With Mollie" - featuring Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan.

TigerBlog would like to continue to expand the podcast offerings, since they have been so successful. Certainly the numbers suggest that, at the least.

As for the football team, the game against Monmouth is the first of six home games. Princeton opens its Ivy season next Friday at Columbia on ESPNU, and then after that, there are only two more away games for the remainder of the season.

Those, by the way, are at Harvard and at Yale.

First, though, is Monmouth, who is 2-1 with two straight wins, over Hampton and Lafayette. Monmouth reached the NCAA playoffs last year.

In short, this should be a good game. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Top 10, Again

Oh, one more thing from the Princeton-Butler football game.

You know who else was staying in the same hotel as the Tigers in Indianapolis? Taylor Swift. How about that.

TigerBlog is guessing that Swift didn't go down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast or anything.

What do you do when you see someone famous? Ask for an autograph or to take a picture? Or just ignore them?

TigerBlog's old friend Mark Eckel spent more than 30 years writing for the Trenton Times. No, Mark isn't the celebrity in this story by the way.

He spent a lot of time covering Princeton stuff, but his main beat was the Philadelphia Eagles. Way back when the newspaper was at its most vibrant, he covered every Super Bowl, and he told TB the story of one time when he was on the media bus with none other than O.J. Simpson. This of course was well before the events of 1994.

Mark said that people kept coming up to Simpson and telling him he was great in this game or great in that game. Mark? He told him he was great in "Capricorn One."

If you don't get the reference, read THIS.

For his part, when TigerBlog meets someone who is relatively famous, he usually asks them for their name. This really, really bothers famous people, who always give a look that says, "But don't you know who I am? How can you not know my name."

Ah, TB cracks himself up sometimes.

You know who is achieving some fame these days? The Princeton field hockey team.

The Tigers have now done what might be a first. They have made two appearances on SportsCenter's top 10 plays of the day. That's pretty impressive, no?

In fact, field hockey on the countdown at all is a rarity. To have one team now have done it twice in the same season is even rarer. TigerBlog wonders if that's happened before, or how many times field hockey has been on SportsCenter at all this year. A lot? Not a lot?

The main point, of course, is that both Princeton goals that were featured were spectacular.

The first time was with MaryKate Neff's bat-the-ball-up, bat-it-in-the-goal in the win over Duke 10 days ago. Then there was the game against Monmouth this past Friday.

This time it was Emma Street's turn, with her assist to Sophia Tornetta:
TigerBlog was at the game and didn't even notice that the pass was something of a no-look, backwards, between the legs feed. It's even more impressive when you look at the slow motion version, and it didn't hurt that Tornetta's goal was a backhanded rocket.

Princeton won that game 4-1 Friday and then came back Sunday to defeat Delaware 4-2. The Blue Hens were ranked 13th, and they also are two years removed from winning the NCAA championship.

Princeton is off to a 5-2 start, which is even more impressive considering that six of the seven games have come against ranked teams. Princeton owns wins over Top 10 teams Duke and Penn State, to go along with the wins over Wake Forest and Delaware.

The challenges continue for the Tigers, who host Maryland tonight on Bedford Field (game starts at 6). Princeton is currently ranked fifth, while the Terps are ranked third.

Princeton and Maryland have met every year since 1997. The Terps lead the series 22-9-1, but one of the Tiger wins came a year ago, 2-1 in College Park.

Maryland has outscored its opponents 34-11 en route to an 8-0 start. Linnea Gonzalez and Nike Lorenz have combined for 15 of those goals, meaning they've outscored the Terps opponents by themselves.

The teams have two common opponents - Duke and Delaware. Maryland also has a 3-1 win over Harvard, who is currently 5-1.

The game against Maryland is the last before the start of the Ivy season, which begins against Dartmouth at home Saturday at noon and then continues at Yale a week from Friday.

Princeton has reached the NCAA Final Four and quarterfinals in Carla Tagliente's first two years as head coach. This team has already shown that it is capable of making another such run.

And of coming up with the spectacular finish.

Just ask the folks at the SportsCenter assignment desk. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

For Openers

Did you see the non-fair catch touchdown on the punt return in the North Texas-Arkansas game?

Here it is:

TigerBlog has all kinds of problems with this. First of all, he concedes that it was masterfully planned and executed, and the acting of the return man was perfect.

Here's the problem TB has with it: There are only two outcomes of that play. One is what happened - everyone is fooled and he scores an off-the-charts unique touchdown.

The other?

Well, considering he has purposely made himself defenseless, the other outcome isn't as good. The Arkansas players were well within their rights to tackle him, and, as often happens on punt returns, they could have tackled him violently. As a result, the risk of injury was off the charts too.

And that is not good at all. Safety of the athletes in all sports has to be paramount, and especially so in football.

And what if an Arkansas player had drilled him? Then what? It would have been a penalty against Arkansas for unnecessary roughness in all probability.

However well executed the play was, TigerBlog thinks it was a bad, bad idea. North Texas won 44-17, by the way.

TB also watched the end of the Purdue-Missouri game Saturday night. He has decided to keep his allegiance to Purdue that began when he attended a men's basketball game there last winter.

The Purdue-Missouri game featured one of the most maddening things that TB ever sees in football games. The game was tied at 37-37 with little more than a minute to play when Missouri threw a 25-yard pass to set up a first-and-10 at the Purdue 14.

The Boilermakers had two timeouts left. There was about 1:30 to play. About the best case scenario at that point would be to hold Missouri without a first down and use the two timeouts. This would have set up at worst a 31-yard field goal with about 25 seconds to go.

That was the best-case. The worst case is what happened. Missouri got a first down. Purdue spent its two timeouts. Missouri took it down to four seconds and then kicked a 25-yard field goal as time expired.

Hey, Purdue - and everyone else who's listening. When they get inside the 15 there, let them score on the next play. Yes, you need a TD, but you have two timeouts and about 1:15 or so, not to mention a quarterback who had thrown for a school-record 572 yards already.

Instead, play it out the way you do and you're almost surely going to lose, which is what happened. In fact, had Purdue let Missouri score, Missouri should have made sure it didn't, but hey, make them make that decision.

The game that TB was most interested in was Princeton-Butler. TigerBlog was at the men's soccer game, a 1-0 win over Boston University that would have been 5-0 or so had it not been for an amazing effort by BU goalie Mike Bernardi, who made 14 saves, many of them spectacular.

The first time TigerBlog checked Twitter for a football score, it was 14-0 Princeton. By the time he got to his car and turned on the radio, it was 24-7. It was 30-7 by the time he turned it on his computer. The final was 50-7.

Prior to the game, the fact that Butler had beaten Youngstown State and was playing its third game to Princeton's first was attention-grabbing. As it turned out, this game was over quickly.

John Lovett, playing his first game since collecting the 2016 Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League's Offensive Player of the Year, picked up where he left off, with two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns.

Charlie Volker ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns of his own, and then there was Jesper Horsted. The senior wide receiver/baseball outfielder caught seven passes for 140 yards and two more touchdowns.

Princeton had a 326-66 edge in rushing yards and a 540-259 edge in total offense. What does it all mean?

Well, there are always takeaways.

One, it was good to get out there and play. The Tigers were playing for the first time ever in the state of Indiana and had a rare flight to a game. All of the buildup of training camp and then the travel finally gave way to actually playing.

Second, it was important for Lovett to reassert himself. He definitely did that.

Third, it appears that the Ivy League will be very interesting this season, at least based on the first weekend.

There's a long way to go, of course. Princeton next hosts Monmouth Saturday at 4:30 in the home opener. Monmouth is 2-1, with wins over Hampton and Lafayette after an opening loss against Eastern Michigan.

After that will be the Ivy opener at Columbia. It'll all happen very quickly, the way the season always unfolds.

For now, though, there's the obvious satisfaction with how the opener went. And with good reason.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Off To Indiana

The third installment of the "Beyond The Stripes" video series was released yesterday.

The goal of the series is storytelling, in this case in-depth video storytelling. There will be one feature per week, released on Thursdays.

The first two featured football player John Lovett and women's volleyball player Nnenna Ibe.

The current edition features Mark Fossati, a linebacker on the football team. You can see it HERE.

Fossati, whom TB has never met, comes across as the kind of guy you can't help but like. Even when he talks about his season-ending broken leg a year ago, he makes the story funny.

And that doesn't even take into account his performance in the green screen videos. Trust TB on this one. It's worth watching.

Fossati and Lovett are coming back from injuries that pretty much derailed the 2017 season for the Tigers. Princeton is in a good position heading into this fall, with a deep, experienced team that doesn't have the target on its back.

The Tigers are heading out to Indianapolis this morning for their long-awaited opening day game. This one is at Butler, who will be playing its third game.

The Bulldogs are 2-0 on the young season, with wins over Youngstown State and Taylor. The first one, by a 23-21 score, is the more eye-catching, since Youngstown State is only two seasons removed from an NCAA championship game appearance.

This is the first meeting between Princeton and Butler. It's also the second time in 10 months that a Princeton team has opened its season at Butler, something the men's basketball team did last November.

That game was played in the venerable Hinkle Fieldhouse. This game will be played just east of that, at the Bud and Jackie Sellick Bowl.

The facility, which was the Butler Bowl from the time it opened in 1928 through last year, has a capacity of just short of 6,000. It had 36,000 seats when it was first built, and it was actually able to be expanded to 72,000 at one time.

According to Wikipedia, among the great players who have competed there are Red Grange from Illinois and Notre Dame's famed "Four Horsemen." According to Butler's website, the field didn't open until 1928.

Draw your own conclusions.

Princeton played in the first football game, back in 1869. How long after that did Butler play its first game?

If you said 1887, then you would be correct. Any guesses on the first opponent? It was a 45-5 win over Purdue, of all teams.

The Bulldogs went 3-0 that year (beating Purdue, Franklin and Hanover) and then took the 1888 season off.

Since then? Butler has had a team every year except for the World War II years of 1944 and 1945.

The coach with the most wins in Princeton history is Bill Roper, with 89. The Butler record is 165, held by Tony Hinkle, for whom the basketball arena is named.

And with good reason. Hinkle coached football, men's basketball and baseball (not always as the head coach) at Butler from the 1920s through the 1970s while also being an athletic administrator.

As for the game itself, it's the first time the teams have ever met. It's the third time this century Princeton has flown to a game, with the other two at Butler's Pioneer League-rival San Diego. The second meeting in this series will be next Sept. 21 on Powers Field in Princeton Stadium, by the way.

Princeton has never played a game in the state of Indiana. It has played two games against Notre Dame, both in the 1920s and both in Palmer Stadium.

If there's anything about Butler's stats through two games that jump out at you, it's that both the Bulldogs and their two opponents have exactly 770 total yards of offense. What that means for tomorrow's game is negligible.

Butler also is pretty evenly split between throwing and running through two games.

The big story for Princeton is that it is in what has to be the incredibly unique - if it's ever happened before - position of having graduated the league's Offensive Player of the Year from the previous year and having his replacement be the league's Offensive Player of the Year from the year before that.

Has that ever happened before?

Princeton graduated quarterback Chad Kanoff, who is now with the Arizona Cardinals after shattering about a million Princeton and Ivy passing records last year while winning the Bushnell Cup. His replacement is Lovett, the 2016 Bushnell Cup winner after his own ridiculous record-setting year, followed by a year away due to injury.

There are other Princeton stories as well, and more that will be known after this weekend.

For now, it's Opening Day 2018, against a first-time foe who is in its third game and is 2-0.

Oh, and the kickoff is at 6.

You can see it on Facebook Live or listen on the TuneInn app or on WPRB FM 103.3.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sherrerd Soccer

TigerBlog had a lunch meeting yesterday with Dan Day, the University's Assistant VP for Communications.

To show you how reliant TB is on his phone for information, his weather app told him it wasn't going to rain until 3, which would have been after their lunch had ended. Because of that, TB didn't take his umbrella. And, because of that, he got wet when it actually started raining earlier than his phone has said.

Dan is one of TB's favorite people on this campus. He and TB are both old newspaper guys, and they have had and continue to have interesting conversations on the evolution of information and how it is consumed these days.

TigerBlog long ago gave up reading actual daily newspapers, and even Dan has finally done the same, he said.

News consumption these days comes largely from social media, even more so than online publications. This is good and bad, and that's a subject for another day.

It made for a somewhat funny discussion of the merits of Instagram, for instance. It's not quite what TB imagined back when he first started writing stories on his old Radio Shack TRS 80.

Meanwhile, back at the rain, it's done that every day since Saturday around here, and it's going to continue today it seems. TB remembers the last time the sun was shining, which was at the field hockey game against Duke last Friday, which Princeton won 3-2 and which got MaryKate Neff on SportsCenter.

Tomorrow, by the way, marks the second straight Friday where there is a home field hockey game at 4. This one is against Monmouth.

It's been nothing but gray of late, which stinks because September is usually the best weather month of the year in this area.

The weather is supposed to get better over the weekend, which is good. It's been awhile since there has been sun.

It's hard for TB to complain about the weather though. Not with what's going on in the Carolinas with the looming landfall of Hurricane Florence.

TB knows a few people who live down there, and they are taking things very seriously. His friend Mark lives in Myrtle Beach, and he has relocated inland, along with thousands of others. Hopefully it's not as bad as it seems it's going to be.

All of the rain here has forced the four home soccer games this week to be moved from Myslik Field to Sherrerd Field, the usual home of the lacrosse teams. Game 1 of the four games was last night, as the Tigers hosted Temple in the first actual soccer game to be played on the field.

Princeton would win the game 2-1 in overtime. Temple's goalkeeper, Simon Lefebvre, stands 6-9 by the way, which may make him the tallest soccer player in the world.

The women's team defeated Hofstra 2-1 Sunday night in a downpour. That game was played on Plummer Field, the practice field at Roberts Stadium, before the decision to move the other ones to Sherrerd, which, among other things, 1) makes it easier for fans to watch and 2) allows the games to be videostreamed on ESPN+.

The women's team is back at it tonight with its first game on Sherrerd, and it happens to be a top 25 matchup. Princeton comes in ranked No. 25 at 5-1-0, and Georgetown is ranked 10th, at 5-0-2.

This one figures to be a good one obviously. It starts at 7.

Mimi Asom is off to a great start in her senior year, as she is fifth in Division I in goals per game with 1.0 per game and 11th in total goals with six. For her career, she has 37 goals, leaving her three away from being the sixth player - three women and two men have done so - in school history to reach 40.

After that game, there's a men's game against Boston University Saturday at 4 and then another women's game Sunday against Drexel at 6.

Admission to all of those games is free.

Soccer isn't the only team at home in the next few days.

There's field hockey tomorrow and also Sunday, at 1, against Delaware, who was the NCAA champ two years ago, when Princeton also reached the Final Four.

There's also a women's tennis invitational all weekend.

This weekend also features the opening kickoff on the 2018 football season, though that game is in Indiana, at Butler. The home opener for the football team is next Saturday, against Monmouth.

Kickoff for that game is at 4:30.

Is it too much to ask for sunshine for that game?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Welcome 2022ers

Today is the first day of classes at Princeton University.

It signals the end of all of the orientation activities that have dominated the landscape here of late, for students and non-students alike.

Princeton's orientation structure is very familiar. For the students, it means getting acclimated with the University. For TigerBlog it means attending a few events each year - the welcome back staff meeting for the athletic department, the new staff orientation and the freshman athlete orientation.

The last of those is among the most fascinating events TB goes to annually.

He's mentioned the reasons why before several times, but he'll do it again now.

Somewhere in McCosh 50 during Monday's freshman athlete orientation sat the future von Kienbusch Award and Roper Trophy winners.

Yeah. Yeah. TigerBlog says that every year. He knows.

It's true, though.

Freshman athlete orientation is an annual event, held the Monday prior to the start of the first day of classes. Each year, the freshmen athletes file into McCosh 50 - the largest lecture hall at Princeton - after their week of Outdoor Action or Community Action and a few days of other events and hear the athletics part of their orientation period.

TigerBlog goes ever year. He looks around and, as he always says, imagines who will be the big award winners in nearly four years.

He also thinks more than that.

There are roughly 225 athletes in the Class of 2022. Together they filed into the big room to hear about what the Department of Athletics wanted them to know about being a athlete here.

It's a necessary part of the transition. There are parts that they'll learn from their coaches and teammates, but it's also good to know what the department you are representing values, expects and want for you during your experience.

It's also amazing to TigerBlog how 225 athletes who compete for 37 teams and come from all over the country and even the world can assemble under the same orange and black banner. They're individuals with their own stories and paths, and yet they feel an immediate kinship as Princeton athletes.

The bonds that you see each year at Reunions start out in these first few days together on this campus. And then they last forever.

Is that a cliche? A bit of one, yes. But it's true.

The amount of time that athletes spend together sharing experiences that are unique to that specific team leads to those kinds of bonds. It's something that people who don't go through that can't really understand.

TigerBlog wasn't a college athlete. He's seen it up close here for 30 years now, but even that isn't enough to fully appreciate what it's all about.

Yes, it's important to have a well-rounded experience, and TB wouldn't want the only friends that the athletes have to be their teammates. But there, in McCosh 50, there's no denying that this is the early stages of something very special. 

As TigerBlog looks around the room each year, he'll randomly pick one face or another and wonder what their story is, how this one or that one made it Princeton. For that matter, he'll wonder what sport they're playing, since very few are actually wearing their Princeton gear yet.

And as always, he'll also think ahead, to the Gary Walters ’67 PVC Senior Awards Banquet, the one that will be in just short of four years. Some in the room the other day won't stay with it, but the overwhelming majority will get to that night having completed four years as a Tiger.

They'll have all kinds of varying experiences. Hopefully they'll be great ones.

The goal is a championship experience on the fields. Of Princeton's 37 varsity teams, there were 26 who won at least one championship in the last four years. That's extraordinary.

Of course, these aren't successes that are guaranteed. Princeton has an incredible legacy of competitive excellence, but the challenge of each new year and with each new class remains the same.

At the same time, it's very exciting.

TB wishes every one of them the best.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

17 Years Later

The gray that has dominated the weather the last few days around Princeton stands in stark contrast to the brilliant sunshine and cloudless sky of that Tuesday that TigerBlog and so many others can remember so vividly even 17 years later.

Actually, TB will never forget it. Long after he can't remember the final score of any Princeton game he's been to, he'll remember the details of Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 2001.

And the first thing he'll always think about is the sky, the before sky and the after sky.

Before? It was so perfect, so crystal clear. It was the bluest sky you ever saw, with sunshine, warmth and low humidity. You can't ask for a better day.

After? That was at night. TigerBlog stood on the edge of his driveway and looked up. The sky was filled with stars - but completely devoid of airplanes.

On an average night, if you look in the sky around here you'll see airplane after airplane. It's between Philadelphia and Newark, not to mention really close to Trenton Mercer, and there are an endless stream of flights on approach to those airports.

That night? Nothing.

Today is the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that took the lives of 3,000 people in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Western Pennsylvania. The details of that morning are seared into the memory of anyone who was old enough to remember, which by now excludes every current Princeton athlete.

If you're a Princeton senior, odds are you were born in 1996 or 1997. Maybe, maybe there are one or two whose first memory has something to do with that day, but there can't be many more than that.

From now until forever,  no Princeton students will know anything about 9/11 other than what they're taught by those who were there. For those who were there, the memories endure. 

TigerBlog remembers more than just the sky. 

There are two days each year when TigerBlog's subject is predetermined, and it will never be any different. One is Feb. 12, the day that TB's colleague Lorin Maurer died in a plane crash at the age of 30. 

The other is Sept. 11. 

The reason is simple. No matter how painful, they need to be remembered.

TigerBlog has written a variation of the same thing each Sept. 11 since he's been doing this. For this year, he decided to repeat what he wrote last year, changing only "16" to "17," since it captures exactly what he would want to say again:

TigerBlog can remember every detail of that awful day 17 years ago today.

He remembers most of the details of the day after, 17 years ago tomorrow.

He wishes that he could remember the day before, back to Sept. 10, 2001. He wishes he could remember what he was thinking on that day, what his world was like on that day, because that world changed forever on Sept. 11 and has never come back.

Each year since Sept. 11, 2001, TigerBlog has gotten an uneasy feeling in the hours before the next anniversary. This year is no different.

The date is enough to bring it all rushing back.

TigerBlog has gone through this pretty much each year he's been doing this. It's important though. It's important not to let what happened on that day ever fade in importance.

The only day in American history that can compare with Sept. 11, 2001, is Dec. 7, 1941. That's the day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II.

Yes, there have been battles in wars that have featured unimaginable death totals. Nearly 10 times more American soldiers were killed in the Battle of Normandy (the entire battle, not just D-Day) in World War II than died on 9/11.

As for 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, though, those were direct attacks on America, not overseas (yes, Hawaii was not yet a state in 1941).

Now, nearly 76 years after the Pearl Harbor attack, the day Dec. 7 still lives, as FDR said it would, in infamy. It just doesn't haunt the national consciousness the way 9/11 does.

Part of that is because the vast majority of Americans who were alive 76 years ago no longer are. The other, though, is that it would take less than four years for the U.S. and its Allies to defeat the Axis powers.

The aftermath of 9/11 has not been anything quite so tidy. There are still military operations as a direct result of 9/11, and even though Al Qaeda never launched another massive attack in this country, the threat is still there.

Like TigerBlog said, the world of Sept. 10 vanished and has never come back. In so many ways.

TigerBlog knows people who saw 9/11 from so many different angles. Everyone has a story to tell from that day.

TB has friends who were on airplanes at the time of the attacks and landed nowhere near New York, as all flights were immediately grounded. They had to try to rent cars to drive home, including one who was on a flight to Newark that landed instead in Nashville, from where he drove home.

He knows another who landed at Newark around the time that the flight that would crash in Pennsylvania after the passengers fought back against the hijackers was leaving and saw the Towers burning as she drove down the New Jersey Turnpike.

He knows another who was unaware of the attacks until, after being told about them, looked out the window at home on Long Island and saw the smoke from the Twin Towers. FatherBlog was in his office in midtown, four or so miles from ground zero.

Princeton had more than its share of graduates, a lot of them athletes, who were in one of the towers at the time.

As for TigerBlog, he was dropping off TigerBlog Jr. at the University League Nursery School, on the far side of the parking lot outside Jadwin. It was the most perfect weather day, crystal clear, sunshine, no humidity, not a cloud to be found.

TB dropped TBJ off at the school, and the woman who was the office manager said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

TigerBlog walked outside, looked up, and thought "how in the world did that happen?" By the time he got to Jadwin, he found out how.

Most of that day was spent huddled around the only television around, the one in the athletic training room in Caldwell Field House. It was a day where people spoke very little, where everyone had dazed looks on their faces.

By mid-afternoon, he went back to get TBJ at the nursery school. He can still see the children, swinging on the swings, playing in a sandbox, oblivious - happily oblivious - to what had happened to the innocence of the world outside that playground.

Later that night, after it was dark, TigerBlog walked outside to the end of his driveway and looked up. There were no planes in the sky. They'd all been grounded. TB remembers it vividly, the sight of the stars, without planes, above a world of confusion, angst, uncertainty, fear.

Those were TB's memories. They come rushing back each year on this day, and they bring with them all of those emotions all over again. It's important that it does. This isn't a day that should ever fade from anyone's memory.

All of those children from the playground have grown up. Miss TigerBlog was 1 at the time. She's a high school senior. That means that basically anyone who is younger than a high school junior wasn't even alive on that day. They need to understand what happened.

The next day, TigerBlog was able to track down former Princeton football captain Dan Swingos, who had been in the second tower but managed to get out. He told TigerBlog a wild story of survival, and luck, one shared by so many others who'd been there at the time.

TigerBlog tells this story each year. He'll continue to do so.

He'll also continue to remember all of the people who were lost that day, the ones who didn't get out, or the ones on the planes.

It's a group that includes John Schroeder, a member of the 1992 men's lacrosse team that won the first of the program's six NCAA championships. He'd been in the World Trade Center and did not get out.

Anytime that TigerBlog has been around the men's lacrosse Class of 1992, no matter what the occasion or celebration, they remember their teammate. They talk about him. They include him in whatever they're doing. They keep his memory alive.

It's been 16 years now.

It seems like yesterday. The memories are vivid, for TigerBlog and everyone else.

And those lost - like John Schroeder - are still missed.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Neff, Not Nerf

TigerBlog has been a fan of the New York Giants for as long as he can remember.

This is through four Super Bowl wins and one Super Bowl loss. Through a lot of really bad seasons. Through years and years of helplessness against the Cowboys.

In fact, TB remembers when the Giants played at Yale Bowl and in Shea Stadium. Through it all, that was his favorite team in professional sports.

The Giants lost their season opener yesterday to the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-15. To this TB has one word: Hah.

TigerBlog has turned completely on the Giants. First, there's only one player on the team he can root for, and that's Eli Manning, who doesn't have that much time left in his career. Second, the Giants could have had Marc Ross as their GM but instead let him go. That was the last straw for TB.

Here's a team that didn't lose this weekend in the NFL: the Cleveland Browns.

They didn't exactly win, but they didn't lose either. The Browns, coming off an 0-16 season that followed a 1-15 season, rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-21.

Both teams missed late field goals in the overtime, with the Browns attempt blocked in the final seconds. When it was over, neither team really seemed to know how to react to the tie. Cleveland still hasn't won in awhile, and Pittsburgh probably assumed it should have won that one.

TigerBlog watched pretty much the entire game. It was played in steady rain, which got worse in the overtime. It was very entertaining in fact.

As TB searches for a new favorite team, he's adding the Browns to his list, which currently includes the Jets and Redskins. First of all, the Browns have nowhere to go but up, and it's been awhile since they've been anywhere near up. As a result, TB can't be accused of cherry picking a winner.

Also, the Browns have Princeton alum Seth DeValve on the team. TigerBlog doesn't know DeValve well, but he's been around him enough to know that he's the kind of guy you want to root for.

DeValve played a lot in the game yesterday, on offense and on special teams. It's good to see that he's established himself the way he has, now in his third season with the Browns.

The Pittsburgh-Cleveland game was the best football game he saw this weekend. He watched some college games on Saturday, including a bit of the wins by his favorite FBS teams - Navy and Georgia.

There were certainly enough games to choose from Saturday. In all, there were probably 40 or so on his TV between noon and midnight.

The best game he saw since he last wrote to you was not a football game but a field hockey game Friday afternoon.

Princeton, who came into the week ranked sixth in Division I, had defeated No. 5 Penn State in two OTs Tuesday, and now the Tigers were facing No. 4 Duke in their home opener Friday. To TigerBlog, it was sort of like an NCAA weekend, playing the No. 5 team and then the No. 4 team after that win.

The game against Duke was very entertaining, even more so because Princeton won 3-2. The game-winning goal was amazing, as MaryKate Neff took a rebound off a save on a penalty corner, tapped the ball straight up to herself and then batted it in the goal.

Yes, you're allowed to do that in field hockey.

Neff's goal - or was that Nerf's goal - impressed more than just the people who watched it in person. In fact, it ended up as the No. 4 Play of the Day on SportsCenter:
The goal itself was incredible. So was the resilience of the Tigers, who tied it 1-1 early in the second half, only to have Duke regain the lead 2-1 just 18 seconds later. Rather than be deflated by that, Princeton responded to tie it and then get the game-winner.

Field hockey is one of the fastest paced games you will see. When TigerBlog first started at Princeton, the home field for Princeton field hockey was Gulick Field, which is now Plummer Field at Myslik Stadium.

Back then it was grass, and the game was obviously much slower. Now, played on lightning fast turf by athletes who are ridiculously well-conditioned, the game features quickness and strength, as well as the need to make decisions on the fly, where the wrong decision means getting countered.

If you don't believe TigerBlog, then go watch a game at Bedford Field. You have a lot of chances to do so coming up, with four home games in eight days beginning Friday against Monmouth and then with games against Delaware (Sunday), Maryland (a week from Tuesday) and then Dartmouth (the following Saturday).

Princeton is 3-2 after its 1-0 loss to Rutgers Sunday. There's a long way to go in this season - and the games last week are all the proof you need to know that the Tigers are for real.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Guest TigerBlog: A Memo to “the Grandkids” – The Science of Princeton Athletics

It's a busy weekend for Princeton Athletics. Then again, they all are. 

Princeton has home events in field hockey, men's water polo, men's soccer and women's soccer between now and Sunday night. You can see the whole schedule for the weekend HERE.

Ordinarily, TigerBlog would offer you some context to those games. Today, though, the floor belongs to Tad La Fountain of the Class of 1972. 

TigerBlog has a standing offer to pretty much anyone who has something they'd like to say about Princeton Athletics. Very few people have actually taken him up on this, but as TB just said, the invitation stands. 

Tad has written before, and his pieces are always well-done, thoughtful and reflecting a genuine love of the University. Today's is no different:

It was not unexpected.  But it was still a bit of a shock.  An e-mail to my class from our president, Skip Rankin, explaining that as the “grandparent” class of the incoming Class of 2022, our Class of 1972 is invited to take part in the upcoming Pre-rade.  Fifty years?  But Skip was my lab partner in Chemistry 101-102 our freshman year, and I’m pretty sure that was just a few years ago.  If that were the case, and we were 18-year-old freshmen, that would make us…

Hold it right there.  It might be useful to recall the story about the party in Princeton years ago when a lady from town approached Dr. Einstein and confessed that she simply couldn’t understand how something such as time could be relative.  “Easy,” the good doctor is said to have replied.  “If you sit on a hot stove for a minute, it seems like an hour.  But sit next to a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute.”  There you have it - space-time.  So maybe the past five decades have gone by so fast because we’ve been having so much fun.  Yes, let’s stick with that.

If you’re an incoming Princeton athlete, what can you expect from your “grandparents?”  We did have some accomplished athletes in our class: Hank Bjorklund put on a show as running back and then took his talents to the New York Jets; Emil Deliere was a first-string All-Ivy guard on the football team (winning the Dr. Harry R. McPhee Award for fortitude and determination his senior year) who also finished runner-up in the NCAA 190-lb. weight class wrestling championships.  We have a couple of classmates who wear the white letter sweater of a captain of an undefeated Ivy championship team.  One of us spent 25 years as the editor-in-chief of Golf Magazine.  Sadly, time has robbed us of our football, basketball and baseball captains.

Go back to what would have been our “grandfather” class…if the 50-year previous class tradition had been in place.  The multi-year president of the Class of 1922 was the All-America quarterback of the football team, Donold B. Lourie, who later became CEO of Quaker Oats.  Upon his death, a colleague noted that Lourie knew the first names of over 3,000 Quaker Oats employees – a testament to his interest in people.  His closest friend, classmate George H. Love, later became CEO of Consolidated Coal and Chrysler; like Lourie, Love served as a University trustee.  They donated a dormitory that was part of the New New Quad (and that’s not a misprint) that served as the former home of Butler College in its initial configuration; Love later donated a soccer field that was also called “Lourie-Love” and which was later replaced by its current up-to-date and renamed version (Roberts Field).  But this is not a bad lineage to bring to the party – the Class of 2022 comes from good stock.

As athletes, you will partake in a program that’s focused on “Education Through Athletics” so that you may “Achieve, Serve, Lead.”  Fortunately, you’ll have some help in this.  Primary is one of the most remarkable collection of people assembled – the Princeton coaches.  Like the Princeton faculty, the coaching staff is awesome in both breadth and depth.  There is universal buy-in to the Athletic Department’s mission, and the relationship between coaches and players generally extends long after the mortarboard tassels shift sides. 

But there’s another dynamic at work as well.  Dr. McPhee’s son John McPhee ‘53, probably the preeminent non-fiction writer of the past 50 years, wrote a book several years ago regarding physicist Ted Taylor entitled “The Curve of Binding Energy.”  When you consider the four fundamental interactions – the Strong, the Weak, Electro-Magnetism and Gravity, there’s some applicability to your Princeton experience, and McPhee’s book touches on the first two.  The Weak Interaction is key to radioactive decay and fission – splitting nuclei apart.  But the Strong Interaction is what holds nuclei together, even when the particles involved have similar charges and would otherwise tend to fly apart.  Splitting large atoms, such as uranium and plutonium, unleashes enormous amounts of energy.  But fusing light atoms, such as hydrogen, leads to even greater amounts of energy being made available. 

Your coaches will be taking you and your fellow players and fusing you into a team.  By focusing on your mission of garnering Education Through Athletics and adhering to the prescription of Achieve/Serve/Lead, you can ensure that you will avoid the pitfalls of excessive self-interest that lead to decay and fission.

There’s an electro-magnetic aspect to consider.  In 1574, the Duke of Alva laid siege to a small town in the Netherlands that stood in the way of the Spanish attempt to overrun the continent before taking on England.  For months the town withstood the siege, even as help was kept at bay.  Finally, with the town on the verge of collapse, rescue was delivered by the forces of a German prince – William, the Silent.  The Spanish were repelled and lacking a land base, they had to try to conquer England by sea in 1588.  That effort didn’t go too well.

The rescued town was Leiden.  It became the Crossroads of the Enlightenment; Rene Descartes lived there four different times.  The Dutch Republic became a beacon of tolerance.  A group of dissident Anglicans attempting to purify the Church of England moved there early in the 17th century until they became concerned that their children were growing up Dutch rather than English, so they secured a colony in America in 1620. 

One hundred years after the Armada foundered, a Protestant coup installed Prince William’s great-grandson and his wife Mary on the English throne.  Like his great-grandfather, William was known by the name associated with a small principality in France that William the Silent had inherited at the age of 11; the principality had the same name as its distinctive fruit – orange.

Every Princeton uniform has some orange on it.  When you compete for Princeton, take strength from that radiation of color at 622 nanometers – it is a literal reflection of the strength shown by the rescued residents of Leiden that paved the way for the Enlightenment, the Dutch settlement of New York (which is why both the New York Knickerbockers and the New York Metropolitans have orange in their uniform colors), and the English settlement of New Jersey by many groups, including transplanted Puritans/Congregationalists from New England who became Presbyterians and created the College of New Jersey in 1746.  When the main campus building was built ten years later, it was named in honor of the late King William of Orange of the House of Nassau.

Which gets us to gravity.  You will soon be exposed to Princeton music, including the alma mater “Old Nassau” which has gravitas without being weighty.  Equally loved is “Going Back to Old Nassau” – “When the sons of Princeton gather anywhere, there’s a place they think of, longing to be there…”  If you’re fortunate, the gravitational pull of Princeton will find you for all of your days.

Rest assured that your “grandparents” are all pulling for you.  Welcome to the team! 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

And Claire Makes Four

Joan Ferguson better not have figured out a way out of that box.

If you've watched the first five seasons of the Australian TV series "Wentworth," then you know exactly what TigerBlog is talking about. If you haven't, go watch it.

If you have, though, then you know that Season 6 of "Wentworth" debuted yesterday on Netflix. Give TigerBlog til Sunday maybe to have knocked off entire 12-episode season.

As TB has said before, "Wentworth" at its best is as good as any TV show he's ever seen. It's set in a women's prison in Australia, but it's about a thousand times better than "Orange Is The New Black." If you like to binge watch and have never heard of it, the show gets TB's highest rating.

TB has been looking for a show of late, but nothing has stuck. In fact, he's gone back to rewatch two of his all-time favorites - "Sons of Anarchy" and "Boardwalk Empire."

He'd seen both series all the way through once, and it's amazing how much you don't remember when you go back to see it again. Maybe that's why it was important for him to watch "The Sopranos" about 10 times.

In fact, he didn't really appreciate just how good "Sons of Anarchy" and "Boardwalk Empire" both were. And now there's a spinoff of "SoA" called "The Mayans."

TB had "Boardwalk Empire" on Tuesday night, closing in on the end of Season 2. It's not looking great for Nucky Thompson, but TB can't remember how he wriggles out of this one.

He was only half paying attention to the TV though, since he was also watching Princeton-Penn State field hockey on his computer at the same time.

For everything that has made a 180-degree change around here since TigerBlog started, there is nothing that compares to the live streaming of games. It wasn't that long ago that the idea of being able to watch a Tuesday night field hockey game was unheard of.

Now? It's just expected.

The game was a big early season one. Princeton was ranked sixth coming in. Penn State was fifth.

Princeton has a history of challenging itself, and this year is no different. Coming off an NCAA Final Four and then a quarterfinal appearance the last two years, Princeton has put together another brutal non-league run, one that sees it have the current top five teams in the country on its schedule. The season started with a 1-0 loss to No. 2 North Carolina and then a 4-0 win over No. 14 Wake Forest.

Princeton defeated Penn State 2-1 in two OTs. Up next is the home opener, against Duke Friday. The key number for that game is 4, which is 1) the start time and 2) Duke's rank.

As for the game at Penn State, Princeton outshot the Nittany Lions 21-5, but it took an Annabeth Donovan goal 2:30 into the second OT for the win. The key number here is four as well, but TB will get to that in a second.

Field hockey overtime, by the way, is great, as four players are taken off the field and the teams play 7 v 7. It's wide open and exhausting, with a lot of subbing and a lot of chances both ways.

Meanwhile, back at the number four, freshman Claire Donovan played in the Wake Forest game, which made four Donovan sisters who have played field hockey for Princeton. Before Annabeth and Claire were Kaitlyn and Amy.

Oh, and both Donovan parents - Katy and John - and Katy's father William O'Connor are Princeton alums.

This got TigerBlog thinking. Are there any other examples of four (or more) siblings who played the same sport at Princeton? Or any sports at Princeton?

There were the five Callahan brothers in men's squash. TB can't think of any other, though he's guessing there have to have been at some point.

As is always the case in situations like this, he has to be overlooking an obvious family or two. He knows that there were three football players named Garrett, but that's not four.
 
He thought of Brendan, Connor and Brian Reilly from men's lacrosse, but obviously that's not four either. Neither is Dixon, Whitney and Sam Hayes.

This is going to bother him if he can't think of four siblings who've played here, almost as much as it will when someone emails him to tell him he missed the obvious. 

That's quite an accomplishment for the Donovan family of course. Having your four oldest play the same sport at Princeton? That is not something that's easy to pull off.

And so the number for today is four.

Four Donovans.

And now No. 4 Duke-Princeton, Friday at 4.