Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Princeton At Indiana

TigerBlog got a text message yesterday asking about leaving tickets for "the game tonight."

Which game, was TB's first thought.

Princeton Athletics, of course, had no events last night. He had a hunch that the reference was to this coming Tuesday, when Princeton will host Arizona State on Carril Court at Jadwin Gym.

When that was confirmed, TB got this response:

"I will now take pleasure in admonishing a certain family member who hates to be wrong."

That's pretty much what parenthood is once your kids get into their 20s. That, and requests for money.

Princeton hosts Arizona State next week. This week, there's another big-time challenge.

Princeton is at Indiana tonight, with tip-off at 7 at Assembly Hall. Indiana comes into the game at 4-0, with 1) no team that has stayed with 11 of the Hoosiers, 2) an average score of 93.5-66.5 and 3) no Power Five opponents yet.

Tonight's game can be seen on the Big Ten Network.

This will be the fifth meeting between Princeton and Indiana. It'll also be the first time that one venue has hosted two games in this series.

The teams first played on Dec. 27, 1969, a game that Princeton won 82-76. That game was played where?

Pauley Pavilion, of course, the fabled building on the campus of UCLA. In fact, the next night, Princeton lost to UCLA 76-75 in the second game of the Bruin Invitational.

UCLA in the 1969-70 season would go 28-2 and win the NCAA title, the team's fourth straight in a streak that would eventually grow to seven in a row, all part of a 10 championships in 12 years run.

Meanwhile, back at the series against Indiana (who has only won five NCAA championships), the next game was at the 1972 NIT in Madison Square Garden, again a Princeton win, this time 68-60.

Game 3 in the series was the only one played in the 1980s. This time, it was an 83-54 win by the Hoosiers, in a game played in Indianapolis.

Then, in Game 1 of the 1996-97 season (which happened to be Bill Carmody's first as head coach), Princeton lost to the Hoosiers 59-49, also in the same Assembly Hall where tonight's game will be played.

That's the only game in the series to date that TB has attended - barely, he should add, after he missed his flight that morning out of Newark and then had to get to Philadelphia to fly to Indianapolis and drive to Bloomington.

Mitch Henderson, an Indiana native, was a junior point guard on that team. He had a six-point, three-assist, two-steal game for Princeton.

That game was technically Princeton's third straight in the state of Indiana, after the two NCAA tournament games the previous March in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Princeton, you might recall, knocked off UCLA in the opening round 43-41 before falling to Mississippi State in the second round in what would be Pete Carril's 775th and last game as Tiger head coach.

It was, in fact, in Indiana that Carmody officially was named Carril's replacement.

Princeton has started the current season at 0-3, but hey, nothing that happens before Thanksgiving can really define a season. Or even Christmas for that matter.

The Tigers have been led by senior Richmond Aririguzoh and sophomore Jaelin Llewellyn, who are both averaging 17.3 points per game. When was the last time Princeton had two players average that many per game for a full season?

Geoff Petrie and John Hummer in 1969-70.

Drew Friberg is averaging 13.3 points per game for the early season. Also, his nine three-pointers are a team high.

So that's Princeton-Indiana at 7 tonight on the Big Ten Network.

And it's Princeton to host Arizona State Tuesday night at Jadwin Gym. You remember how last year's game at ASU went, right?

Anyway, you can watch tonight's game.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Final Four, Again

Princeton had run out the final seconds of its 2-0 win over second-seeded Connecticut in the NCAA field hockey quarterfinals, putting the Tigers back into the Final Four for the second straight year and third in the last four years under head coach Carla Tagliente.

At around the same time, the women's basketball team also finished its game, a 67-53 win over an outstanding Florida-Gulf Coast team that went 28-5 last year and almost knocked off Miami in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Princeton did this without Bella Alarie for the last three quarters and Carlie Littlefield for the last 15 minutes or so.

TigerBlog watched both games, with women's hoops on the TV (once he finally figured out how to log-in to ESPN+ on his TV) and field hockey on his computer. When the games ended, he figured he'd check on the rest of the field hockey bracket.

That's when he saw that Virginia had beaten Maryland in overtime, setting up a UVa-Princeton semifinal. And the other semifinal would match North Carolina and the winner of the Louisville-Boston College game, which was just going to OT.

TB figured he'd put the overtime on and root for Boston College, since Nell Webber, one of Miss TigerBlog's best friends from high school, and former high school field hockey and lacrosse teammate, plays for BC.

What happened for the next 35 minutes or so was just riveting.

First, the teams played through two 10-minute 7 v 7 periods where a goal would send the team who scored it to the Final Four. Louisville outshot Boston College 8-3 in those 20 minutes, and actually 8-2 in the first 19:56 of those 20 minutes, before a BC shot as time just about expired hit the post and excruciatingly trickled out instead of in.

Of course, the only reason the game was still going was the extraordinary play of BC goalie Sarah Dwyer, who made 10 saves in the game, three of which came in the two OTs, the first of which was as good a save as you'll ever see in a field hockey game.

Because there needed to be a winner, the teams then went to a shootout. Each player who shot had eight seconds to dribble in from out of the circle and shoot as many times as possible before it either went in or went out of the circle or the horn sounded.

Louisville went up 2-0. BC came back to tie it 2-2. After five players, it was 3-3, which meant that whichever team could get a score and a stop would win. Both teams score in Round 6. BC scored to start Round 7, and Dwyer got the stop that sent the Eagles to the Final Four.

As TB said, it was riveting. It was what makes college athletics so special, with two teams who were competing to get to their sport's biggest collegiate stage and competing really, really hard.

TB will now root for a Princeton-Boston College final.

The Final Four is now three ACC teams and Princeton. The Tigers got there the way they always get there, by playing a ridiculously hard regular season schedule that has them primed for when the lights get brightest.

Dwyer wasn't the only goalie to have a huge day Sunday. Princeton's Grace Baylis was also really sharp, especially on two big back-to-back point blank saves that kept the game scoreless in the first quarter.

Princeton would take the lead when MaryKate Neff scored on a tip-in after a corner in the second quarter and doubled that on Hannah Davey's goal early in the fourth. Princeton outshot UConn 10-8, and Baylis made five saves on the day. 

Princeton is 15-4 on the year, winner of 12 straight. The four losses are all one-goal losses, and three of those came against teams that were seeded first, second and third in the NCAA tournament.

That's how you get your team ready to play in the postseason.

Princeton and Virginia did not meet during the regular season. The have played 15 times, with Princeton ahead in the series 8-7, and with the most recent game last year's NCAA opener on Bedford Field, won by the Tigers 2-1.

The Cavs are 18-4, with losses to Maryland and North Carolina (Princeton also lost to both) and then two to Boston College, one in the regular season and one in the ACC tournament.

This will be Princeton's ninth trip to the Final Four. That is an incredible level of sustained success for a program that has gotten there under three different head coaches and a roster that has turned over many, many times.

It'll be Princeton-Virginia at Wake Forest Friday at 3:45, after the game between BC and North Carolina. The championship game is Sunday at 1.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Tough To Be Perfect

Kevin Davidson tried to connect with Dylan Classi. Yale's Dathan Hickey got to Classi around the same time as the ball to knock it away, incomplete, and that should have been the end of it.

Instead, the ball, just before hitting the ground, instead hit Hickey's foot and popped straight up in the air. And that still would have been the end of it, had a diving, fully extended Kyle Ellis not corralled the ball, again, just before it hit the ground.

On a day when it didn't need any luck, Yale nevertheless got some on that play. And then got a little more after the game on Powers Field ended.

That came in the form of the stunning final score from Hanover: Cornell 20, Dartmouth 17. Couple that with the Bulldogs' 51-14 win over Princeton, and you suddenly have a highly contested Ivy League race heading into the final weekend of the season.

Dartmouth and Yale are now 5-1 each, followed by 4-2 Princeton. The schedule next weekend has Princeton at Penn, Dartmouth at Brown and Harvard at Yale.

For Princeton to get a share of the league title, it would need a win over Penn and then losses by both Dartmouth and Yale.

For TigerBlog, there was one big thing that the last two weeks have really made clear. It's really, really tough to go unbeaten in the Ivy League.

The first year of official Ivy League football was 1956, making this the 64th season of Ivy football. In all those years, only 14 times has a team had a perfect season, league and non-league games included:

Princeton 2018
Harvard 2014
Harvard 2004
Penn 2003
Harvard 2001
Dartmouth 1996
Penn 1994
Penn 1993
Penn 1986
Dartmouth 1970
Dartmouth 1965
Princeton 1964
Dartmouth 1962
Yale 1960

Only once has a team put together back-to-back perfect seasons, and that was the Quakers in 1993 and 1994.

The longest stretch without a perfect season was 16 years, from Dartmouth in 1970 to Penn in 1986. The current era hasn't been quite like that, but it is a rarity.

Harvard (twice) and Penn (once) were perfect three times in a four year stretch to start this century. In the 15 seasons since, it's only happened twice - Harvard in 2014 and Princeton last year.

Dartmouth came into the weekend 8-0. Cornell came in 2-6. Does that sound familiar? That was the same scenario in 1995, when Princeton was 8-0 and Yale was 2-6 - and Yale won that game at Palmer Stadium.

Princeton and Yale came into the weekend with one loss each, both to Dartmouth, Princeton's a week ago at Yankee Stadium. The Tigers and Bulldogs renewed their rivalry for the 142nd time, and this one was all Yale.

Cornell, meanwhile, was keeping it close against Dartmouth, though Dartmouth seemed to have the lead throughout. By the time TB got back to the press box after Princeton's postgame interviews, and he checked the score one more time. This time it was 20-17 Big Red.

And apparently, the Big Red was in victory formation. Then it was over. TB could tell this not only by the app on his phone but by the massive cheers coming from the Yale tunnel and Yale fans, who also had figured out that Cornell had given the Bulldogs the win over Dartmouth that they needed.

And, also with that, there would be no perfect Ivy League team in 2019. It's not quite a 1972 Miami Dolphins thing, where the alums of that team open champagne to celebrate once every NFL team has lost a game, but Princeton remains the most recent Ivy League team to have a 10-0 season.

Of course, that was one year ago.

Princeton in 2018 was one of the most dominant teams the Ivy League has ever seen. Putting together back-to-back seasons like that was not going to be easy. Hey, Princeton had gone 54 years without a perfect record prior to a year ago.

Being perfect isn't easy.

It's apparent in 2019, when a 2-6 team can take down an 8-0 team in Week 9, just like in 1995.

It also makes you appreciate it all the more when you have one. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

The 142nd Meeting

If you'd like an example of how TigerBlog would use the imaginary database of all things Princeton Athletics should one actually ever exist, he has one for you.

Princeton hosts Yale in football tomorrow (1 p.m. kickoff on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium), and both teams come into the game with a record of 7-1. In fact, they're both 4-1 in the league, each with a loss to Dartmouth and perfect records against everyone else.

This got TB to wondering how often Princeton and Yale have met when the teams both have either one loss or no losses?

The teams always play the second to last week of the season - or used to play the last game of the season in the 1800s and into the 1930s, when Yale replaced its season finale with a different team. As a result of when they've always played, they always have most of their season under their belts by then, so it's not like they were 2-0 against 1-1 or something like that.

If TB had that perfect database, he'd simply be able to enter something like "hey, what years did Princeton and Yale play when both had either no losses or one loss" and the answer would be right there.

Instead, he had to do what he did yesterday - take the year-by-year results of each and compare them.

The answer is that the last time this happened was 2006, when Jeff Terrell rallied Princeton from a 28-14 deficit for a 34-31 win. TB was at that game, and it's one of the best Ivy League games he's ever seen.

Before that? You have to go back to 1960. That makes this something of a rarity.

This is the 142nd meeting between Princeton and Yale. It's the second most played rivalry in college football, trailing only Lafayette and Lehigh, who will play next week for the 155th time.

Princeton and Yale have, rather extraordinarily, played every year since 1876 except for three times during the two World Wars - 1917, 1918 and 1944.

The 2019 version should be a pretty good one. Yale lost to Dartmouth in Week 4 and have won four straight since, including a season-turning two-touchdown rally in the final two minutes against Richmond the week after the Dartmouth game.

Yale has scored 46, 45 and 59 points in the last three weeks. That's a lot of offense.

Princeton is playing for the first time since its 17-game winning streak ended last week at Yankee Stadium against Dartmouth 27-10. The Big Green are home against Cornell tomorrow, where a win would clinch at least a share of the league title.

A loss, though, would open the door for the winner of the Princeton-Yale game to get right back into the league race. Next Saturday's Week 10 schedule has Harvard at Yale, Dartmouth at Brown and Princeton at Penn.

The football game is a big one. There are other big events this weekend as well.

The men's hockey team plays its home openers, tonight against RPI and tomorrow against Union. The women's basketball team has two games, tonight at Seton Hall at 7:30 and then Sunday at 1 at home against Florida-Gulf Coast, a team that went 28-5 a year ago, won the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament titles and almost knocked off fourth-seeded Miami in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

There is also the first round of the NCAA field hockey tournament today, as Princeton takes on Syracuse at UConn at 2:30. The other game in Storrs features the home team against Fairfield at noon today, with the winners to meet for a spot in the Final Four Sunday at 1.

Then there's the women's volleyball team.

The Tigers suddenly find themselves in an interesting situation after the news that Penn's women had cancelled the last weekend of their season.

Princeton is at Brown tonight and Yale tomorrow night. Princeton enters the weekend 11-1 in the league, ahead of 10-2 Yale and 9-3 Cornell. Everyone else has been mathematically eliminated.

Should Princeton win its last two, then it'll be the champion no matter what. Yale will not be playing Penn tonight, which means the Bulldogs are off until they take on the Tigers tomorrow, which requires Princeton to travel to Providence, play the Bears, travel to New Haven and then play Yale, who will not have traveled at all or played until tomorrow.

Depending on what happens, there's also the chance that Yale could replace the Penn match with one against Brown Sunday.

No matter what, Princeton has reached the last weekend of the season exactly where teams want to be - knowing that if it wins out, it's headed to the NCAA tournament.

There are also other events. You can see the complete schedule HERE.





Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thank Your SID

The first email that TigerBlog received yesterday said only one word: "Behncke."

When he saw the email, TB had a one quasi-word thought: "duh."

TB would end up hearing from a bunch of people yesterday about sibling pairs at Princeton, a reference to yesterday's entry where he was wondering how many such siblings had each earned multiple first-team All-Ivy League honors.

He knew he was overlooking some people. He can't believe he forgot the Behncke's.

That's a soccer playing family that produced three first-team All-Ivy League Princeton siblings, including two who were first-team more than once. Between the three of them, they had six first-team All-Ivy League selections.

Griff, the oldest, was first-team in 1999. Matt was first-team in 2000 and 2001.

Emily, the youngest, was second-team as a freshman in 2002 and then first-team in 2003, 2004 and 2005, not to mention the Ivy League Player of the Year her senior year. She also scored the biggest goal of the 2004 regular season, a last-minute goal to force overtime against Harvard that 1) ended a very long scoreless stretch against the Crimson and 2) gave Princeton the momentum (after Esmeralda Negron's game-winner in overtime, set up by Diana Matheson) that led to a run that went all the way to the NCAA Final Four.

He got a bunch of suggestions on others that didn't quite fit the original requirement - a minimum of two first-team All-Ivy awards for each sibling.

He also got a few lineages of uncles/nephews and multi-generation relatives who played here and in some cases all earned some form of All-Ivy, if not first-team. And, of course, there are many others out there who have competed here from the same family without any all-league recognition.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who responded. And if you know of any others, let TB know.

One of the messages he got included this at the end: "It would be a cool database to have of all the family athletes."

Yes, it would be.

Of course, such a database would be of great use in the field of athletic communications. So would the ability to easily research something like, say, the last time something happened or how many Princeton players all-time ever had a game with 20 points and 10 rebounds, or the most games with multiple goals scored or something like that.

The record sections here in the Office of Athletic Communications are good, but they're not built for everything. Oh well.

Speaking of athletic communications, this past week was considered "thank your SID" week by the national athletic communications organization, known as CoSIDA. If you're not familiar with the term "SID," it stands for "sports information director."

For TigerBlog, it's a nostalgic, somewhat antiquated term. It refers back to a time when the profession was completely different, back when it was almost all publications and media relations. And a lot of mailing out of press releases.

These days, it's about content production, the kind that frames the message and the brand of the athletic department. This is vitally important in so many areas, including recruiting, fund-raising, student-athlete experience, wellness, alumni relations and beyond.

It is through the communications department that these messages are sent out in all directions, though a website, on social media, to the outside media, directly to fans and recruits, in whatever form information is consumed these days. Even on a daily blog.

It's a much more intense - and exciting - profession than it was when TB first started doing it. The pace is much faster, and the deadlines are much more fluid. There is no shortage of stories to tell and no shortage of ways to tell them, and the demand continues to grow.

As TB has said many times, he'd never have stayed here this long if the profession hadn't done the 180 it has done. The challenge to be ever more creative is what makes it fun.

He'd also like to call your attention to two members of the profession, his Princeton colleagues Andrew Borders and Warren Croxton. It's been an interesting few months in the OAC, with a major restructuring and some big personnel changes.

Warren and Andrew have been asked to do a great deal above and beyond during these months. Looking at the production from the outside, it's unlikely that you could tell anything had changed.

So TB will thank both of them on "thank your SID" week.

And on behalf of SIDs everywhere, TB says "you're welcome."


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Sibling Stuff

TigerBlog wishes that there was some master database that he could simply tap into to find out whatever interesting statistical or historical fact he's trying to locate.

Sort of like the Princeton version of the Elias Sports Bureau.

It would certainly make things easier. There are so many things that he'd like to look up that he simply cannot, because it would just be nearly impossible to do so.

For instance, how many times has Princeton Athletics through the years produced siblings who were both first-team All-Ivy League at least twice? Or, more precisely, where one sibling was a three-time first-team All-Ivy League selection and another was a two-time first-team All-Ivy League selection?

TB was thinking about that as he saw that Juliana Tornetta was named first-team All-Ivy for the third time in her career. Her sister Sophia, who graduated a year ago, was a two-time first-team All-Ivy selection.

Wouldn't it be great to have some sort of way of looking this up with some level of efficiency?

In situations like this, TB usually has to rely on his memory, and in that case he almost always forgets someone.Has it ever happened before? Is TB just overlooking the obvious?

Ah yes, the obvious. He realized that pretty quickly.

It's the same sport, actually. Field hockey.

The answer, of course, is the Reinprecht sisters. In fact, there were three of them, Sarah, Julia and Katie, and between them they earned 11 first-team All-Ivy League selections. That was three for Sarah, who graduated in 2009, and then four each for Julia and Katie, who led Princeton to the 2012 NCAA title and who also played in the Olympic Games.

Yes. That was obvious. And quite probably record-setting.

He thought the Martirosian sisters might also have done it in field hockey. As it turns out, Natalie was a three-time first-team All-Ivy pick, but Alexis was honorable mention, never first-team.

He thought of a brother/sister combination - the Hoys. Jen, in women's soccer, and Danny, in baseball, were both two-time first-team All-Ivy picks. 

Who else is out there?

He thought of the Hummer brothers, John and Ed, who played basketball at Princeton in the late 1960s through in John's case 1970.

They were both three-time All-Ivy picks, but only John was first-team, something that he did in 1969 and 1970 - before he played in the NBA. Ed was never first-team, though his son Ian earned that honor twice.

If finding siblings who did this is hard, then finding uncle/nephew combinations is even tougher.

The Garrett brothers in football were the first ones that leapt to mind, especially Jason and Judd. They were both first-team All-Ivy League, but TB was surprised to learn that they were only first-team All-Ivy once each - as seniors, when each won the Bushnell Cup as Ivy Player of the Year (Jason in 1988, Judd in 1989).

Jason, in fact, wasn't All-Ivy at all his junior year of 1987. For that matter, Kelly Ryan of Yale was first-team, Tom Yohe of Harvard was second team, and no quarterback earned honorable mention.

Jason Garrett's stats that year? He completed 162 of 251 passes (64.5 percent), for 2,057 yards. That's not worthy of any All-Ivy mention?

There were three Samaras sisters in women's lacrosse who were All-Ivy, but only Christi was first-team.

In men's lacrosse, there are the Lowe brothers, Kevin and Darren. They were first-team All-Ivy League three times each, though at different schools (Darren went to Brown), so that doesn't exactly count.

There were also the Krongard brothers, Howard and Alvin. Or Cookie and Buzzy.

Cookie was first-team All-Ivy in both 1960 and 1961 - not to mention still to this day a goalie in the alumni games. Howard was first-team All-Ivy in 1957 according to Princeton's records, but 1957 and 1958 according to the Ivy League records.

TB will have to look into that one. It's a little before his time.

Were there others in other sports?

TB would guess yes. If only it could be easy to look it up, right?



Tuesday, November 12, 2019

All Over The Place

TigerBlog was very interested in seeing where Princeton would be in the FCS polls when they were released yesterday after the 27-10 loss to Dartmouth that ended the Tigers' 17-game winning streak.

As it turns out, Princeton is ranked 18th in the coaches' poll and 19th in the media poll. That's probably the right spot. TB really hoped that Princeton didn't fall out of the top 20.

Up next for Princeton is Yale, who comes to Powers Field at Princeton Stadium Saturday. It'll be the second straight week that Princeton plays an opponent who has the same record.

After the 7-0 vs. 7-0 matchup last weekend, this weekend will be 7-1 vs. 7-1.

Amazingly, there are only two games left in the season. After Yale will be a trip to Penn for the season finale a week from Saturday.

Then it'll be Thanksgiving Week. Then it'll be December and then Christmas and New Years, and it'll all happen really quickly.

As for now, it's sort of the middle of November, so of course the high temperature yesterday in Princeton was 61.

And of course there's a chance of snow today. That's how it works around here this time of year.

As he thinks about it, TigerBlog would say it's probably better the other way. Chance of snow yesterday. High of 61 today.

That's the weather for crossover season, apparently.

As such, in addition to weather that bounces all over the place, you have teams in points of their season that are all over the place as well.

For instance:

* Natalie Grossi of the women's soccer team was named the last Ivy League Player of the Week for the 2019 season. Grossi recorded a shutout against Penn in her final career game, and she'll graduate with the Ivy League record of 31 shutouts.

* Carlie Littlefield was named the first Ivy League women's basketball Player of the Week after helping Princeton to two straight wins to start the season. Littlefield was particularly amazing against George Washington, with 22 points, 10 steals and eight rebounds - which left her two boards away from a triple double, which has only been done once in program history (by Leslie Robinson). The 10 steals tied a program record, set back in 1976 by C.B. Tomasiewicz. That's 43 years ago by the way.

* Speaking of Players of the Week, senior women's volleyball player Jessie Harris was named the Ivy League (and goprincetontigers.com) winner. This was a huge weekend for Princeton, who swept Dartmouth and Harvard to move to 11-1 in the league with one weekend to play. An even bigger weekend now awaits, with a trip to Brown and Yale (10-2) for the final two regular season matches.

There are all kinds of scenarios at play with those two matches, plus Yale's match at home Friday against Penn. Should Princeton beat Yale, then no matter what else, the Tigers would be the outright Ivy champs and NCAA tournament bound. Should Yale beat Princeton, on the other hand, then the Bulldogs could still get either an outright or shared title and either the automatic bid or a playoff for the NCAA spot.

Cornell, at 9-3 in the league, is still mathematically alive. Things will get a bit clearer with Friday's results, when a win by either Princeton or Yale would eliminate the Big Red.

* The men's basketball team and the men's hockey team both have their home openers this week. The men's basketball team, off of losses to Duquesne and San Francisco, is home against Lafayette tomorrow. The men's hockey team has two home games this weekend, against RPI Friday and Union Saturday. By the way, the women's basketball team is at Seton Hall Friday night and then home against Florida Gulf Coast Sunday afternoon.

* And then there's the field hockey team, which makes its 25th NCAA tournament appearance after completing a 7-0 Ivy season with a 3-1 win over Penn Saturday. The Tigers, winners of 10 straight, will open the tournament at UConn against Syracuse Friday at 2:30.

UConn will play the winner of the play-in game between American and Fairfield. The quarterfinal game will be Sunday in Storrs. Princeton has been to the Final Four two  of the last three years.


Monday, November 11, 2019

End Of The Streak

It is simply impossible to walk out onto the field at Yankee Stadium and not be awed by it.

It doesn't even matter if you like the Yankees. Or even like baseball, for that matter.

TigerBlog has stood on a lot of fields in a lot of major venues. That field is just different, and it's very special.

It's weird, too, because this version of Yankee Stadium only dates back 10 years, having opened in 2009. The real history was all in the old stadium, which was torn down and now is simply a park.

Still, it's almost like the ghosts of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and the rest of the great Yankees are inhabiting the place. Or maybe it's just their pictures, which are everywhere.

And they're not just any pictures. They're huge poster-sized portraits of some of the most iconic athletes in American sports history. They're extraordinary.

They certainly make you think back to what the Yankees have meant to that history. They just sort of leave you, as TB said, awed. 

TigerBlog had never been to the new Yankee Stadium before this past weekend, when Princeton and Dartmouth met there in honor of the 150th anniversary of the first college football game and the 250th anniversary of Dartmouth.

When he arrived Friday afternoon for the walk-through, he went into the main lobby and then was escorted through the lower level of the stadium out onto the field. In fact, everywhere you went there you were escorted, and every person who worked there was extraordinarily friendly.

Anyway, eventually the escort led TB down a tunnel and through a door, and suddenly he was out on the field. His first word was just a simple "wow."

That was Friday.

The next day was game day. It was the culmination of months of planning on the part of Princeton and Dartmouth, who worked pretty hard to get the game there in the first place and then make it as special as possible for the fans and especially players.

From Princeton's standpoint that meant weekly meetings, every Wednesday at 9:15, going back into the spring. Every detail was discussed, and then this weekend, all of those details were activated.

It would have been a great event no matter what. That the teams were both 7-0 made it even more dramatic.

It was the second straight year that Princeton and Dartmouth met when both were unbeaten, and the teams have now each won one of those two games. One year after Princeton won the game at Princeton Stadium, this past Saturday was the Big Green's day, with a 27-10 win that snapped Princeton's 17-game winning streak.

Princeton never was able to get into the rhythm it normally does, and Dartmouth deserves the credit for that. Also, while crediting Dartmouth, TB would like to give his colleague from Dartmouth, Rick Bender, a salute for all of the work he did on the media relations end, including the design of the game program and the handling of all of the credential requests.

When it was over, it was time to put the winning streak into some perspective.

The 17-game winning streak was the fourth-longest in Princeton football history, and it tied for the second-longest in the last two centuries. The school record is 24 straight, from 1949-52. The 17-game streak tied one from 1964-65 (one that ironically also ended to a Dartmouth team on a nine-game winning streak).

And that's it.

There were streaks of 19 and 18 - but those were back in the 1800s.

When you consider that, it's an incredibly impressive run. Then throw these numbers in:
* the average score was 43.5-13.3
* Princeton won 14 games by double figures, 11 games by at least 20 points and eight games by at least 30 points

That's amazing stuff.

Of course, all streaks eventually end.

This one ended in an amazing stadium, on an amazing day of celebration by people wearing orange and black and by others wearing green.

The game last year at Princeton Stadium - won by Princeton 14-9 - was the most suspenseful Ivy League football game TigerBlog has seen. Suspenseful. That's the best word to describe it.

This year's game was different. This one was the biggest party TB has been to at an Ivy League football game. It was a party that Dartmouth would enjoy more.

Then again, as TB said last week, it was his belief that no player on either team will ever forget the time they played at Yankee Stadium.

After being part of the experience Saturday, he's even more sure he was right. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Time For History

TigerBlog, as you're probably aware as a loyal reader, is a huge fan of history.

It's one of the best things about working at Princeton. There's so much of it here.

There's also so much still to be learned, and it always fascinates TB when he stumbles on something he didn't already know.

That happened to him yesterday, when he learned something about Hobey Baker that he didn't already know.

Baker, of course, is one of the most iconic figures in Princeton Athletics history. A 1914 grad, he is a member of the hockey and college football Halls of Fame, something nobody else has ever achieved. He was a legend before he ever came to Princeton, and his heroic status only grew with his flying record in World War I and his subsequent death a few weeks after the war ended in a plane crash in France, just before he was to be return home.

It turns out that Baker scored 180 points, which at the time was a school record. Or at least that's what it says on Wikipedia.

What it also says is that Baker held the school record until the fourth quarter of Cosmo Iacavazzi's last collegiate game, which was in 1964 - or 51 years later. Iacavazzi did finish with 186 career points, which at the time he graduated was the Princeton record.

Today that's sixth, by the way. Keith Elias, John Lovett, Judd Garrett, Derek Javarone and Nolan Bieck all surpassed Iacavazzi.

TB was asked to write some bullet points that featured some of the highlights of Princeton football history. That's a fun thing for him to do, and he could do that off the top of his head.

The last bullet he wrote said this:

2019 - 7-0, and ... ???

Princeton and Dartmouth are about to add another chapter to their long histories when they meet tomorrow at Yankee Stadium, with kickoff at 3:30 for a game that can be seen on ESPNU.

Tomorrow will be a historic moment, no matter what. It's two teams who are 7-0, both nationally ranked, and playing in a game that is being held at one of the most famous sporting venues in the country.

It's the second-straight year that both have played when they were 7-0. The Ivy League has never had the same two teams play each other this late in the season when both were unbeaten in consecutive years before.

In fact, it happened only five times prior to last year in the league's history, and only once in the 25 years prior. That was in 2001, when Harvard defeated Penn.

So tomorrow's game is the seventh of these games. The first six have featured the following margins of victory:

21, 14, 0 (the famous 1968 Harvard-Yale tie), 16, 7, 5 (last year's Princeton 14-9 win).

For the first six such games, three were at least two touchdowns, and three were within a touchdown. That's sort of suggesting that there's no way to know what will happen tomorrow.

The game last year at Princeton Stadium might have been the best Ivy League football game TigerBlog has ever seen. It was high drama from start to finish, with two teams that weren't separated by much. One play, is how Princeton head coach Bob Surace described it.

This year's Princeton team hasn't been the dominant juggernaut that last year's was, and it has been special to see how the new faces have taken over from the ones who were such high profile members of last year's team. Dartmouth, too, has been great all year, whether it's been in games in which the Green has just dominated from the start or in last week's thrilling 9-6 win over Harvard.

And now they meet again with a lot on the line.

Princeton has won 17 straight. Dartmouth has won 19 of 20, with only last year's loss to Princeton mixed in there.

What should you expect to see tomorrow?

It'll be hard to match last year's drama, but these teams could do it. Or one could just have one of those days where everything goes right and the other team just can't match it.

The teams are ranked among the Ivy and national leaders in just about every statistic, especially scoring defense, where Dartmouth is one and Princeton is three. In between is North Dakota State, and those three are the only three unbeaten FCS teams, so there must be some sort of correlation.

TB is excited to watch this one. It's two great teams, in a stadium that makes it that much more special.

This one will make history, no matter what happens. Most games end up being final scores on a schedule. Some stand out more than others.

Some will be remembered forever, and that's what tomorrow's will be, for every player on both teams.

It usually takes a little while to appreciate historic moments. This is one that you know will be special, no matter what.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Football, And More

You know how the 25th anniversary of something is the silver anniversary and the 50th is the gold?

TigerBlog looked that list up yesterday to see what the 150th anniversary is supposed to be.

Turns out the list only goes to 60, which is the diamond anniversary. So what would make a good anniversary gift for a 150th anniversary, for, say, the Princeton football team, whose 150th anniversary of the first game ever played was yesterday?

How about a diamond (60), an emerald (55) and a sapphire (45)? That works.

You can take those three and add two rubies (40) and some china (20) to get you to the 250th anniversary. Then you can put it all together, and that's why Saturday's Princeton-Dartmouth football game is being played at Yankee Stadium.

The game is a celebration of 150th anniversary of the first football game, the one between Princeton and Rutgers, and the 250th anniversary of Dartmouth College.

Dartmouth football played its first game on Nov. 16, 1881, which according to the official record was a 1-0 win over Amherst. That, of course, was what the Live Stats said the score of the Princeton-Harvard game two weeks ago was after Princeton's first touchdown.

If you were in the Manhattan area last night, you might have noticed that the Empire State Building was lit in orange on two sides and red on two others, in recognition of Princeton and Rutgers and the anniversary of the first game.

That the 2019 Princeton-Dartmouth game would be played at Yankee Stadium was announced on March 31, 2017. TB remembers when the story was originally put up and how he thought that it seemed so far away.

Dartmouth is 24-3 since the game was announced. Princeton is 22-5. 

Princeton has won 17 straight games. Dartmouth has won 19 of 20.

Both teams are 7-0 this season, and both are highly ranked in the FCS. Given the teams, the stakes and the venue, it should be quite an event.

Kickoff is at 3:30.

The football game is huge. It's not the only major event on the Princeton Athletics calendar this weekend.

In fact, being that this is crossover season, there is no shortage of teams who will be competing. By TB's count (and he's not always good at this), there are 14 teams who will be playing between tomorrow at Sunday.

The complete schedule is HERE.

The field hockey team and both soccer teams are at Penn Saturday. A win by the field hockey team would mean a perfect 7-0 Ivy season, but the Tigers are already assured of the league's automatic NCAA tournament bid and no worse than a share of the Ivy League championship.

Princeton under head coach (and new mother) Carla Tagliente has been to the Final Four twice in three years.

The men's soccer team is still in the running for a second-straight Ivy title, but the Tigers need some help to catch Yale. The Bulldogs play Brown this weekend, and a win clinches the league title. A loss, though, opens the door for everyone, especially Princeton, who plays Yale next weekend.

The Tigers are the highest ranked Ivy team nationally, though, standing just two spots away from the top 25.

The women's volleyball team is home against Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend before finishing the regular season next weekend at Brown and Yale.

Here are the current Ivy standings in women's volleyball:
Princeton 9-1
Yale/Cornell 8-2

No other team is over .500 in the league.

Yale and Cornell play each other in Ithaca tomorrow night, so somebody has to lose that one. By the end of the weekend Princeton could have clinched an Ivy title and NCAA tournament bid - or be in third place.

There's also home women's hockey, against Harvard and Dartmouth, while the men are on the road against those teams. And there's men's basketball at San Francisco Saturday.

The women's basketball team is also on the road, though not as far away on the road. The Tigers, who opened impressively with an 80-47 win over Rider, will be in Washington, D.C., to take on George Washington.

As a subplot, the Colonials are coached by Jennifer Rizzotti, who was a three-year college teammate of Princeton head coach Carla Berube when they played at UConn.

And that's the weekend.

It's more than just a football game, even if the football game is huge.