Friday, September 23, 2016

Luis Gets His Dream Ticket, And Football At Lehigh

Floyd Phox Video Can Be Seen Here.

As you know, TigerBlog's old car just went over 200,000 miles.

When you have a car with that many miles, some things will invariably no longer be working. In the case of that car, it's the radio.

With the odometer now past 200,000, TigerBlog is back to driving his "new" car, the one with 78,000 miles on it. At least it has a working radio though.

When TB turned the car on yesterday, he heard the group Player singing "Baby come back. Any kind of fool could see. There was something, in everything about you."

You know the song. TigerBlog has heard about a million times, probably beginning in 1977, when the song hit No. 1 on the charts.

In all the time TB has heard that song, it never dawned on him to wonder how it turned out. Clearly someone in the band wrote it for someone specific.

Did she come back to him? TigerBlog would like to think that if someone went to that much trouble to apologize and beg for another chance that she would have been swept away by the gesture. But maybe not.

You know the song "Roseanna," by the group Toto? It's about Roseanna Arquette, who was dating one of the band members at the time. TigerBlog once saw her on one of the late-night shows, and she basically said that she hates the song and can't stand to ever hear it.

Still, TigerBlog is going on the assumption that it worked out for the guy in Player. Love conquers all and such. TigerBlog is a romantic.

As for music in general, the big story in Princeton Athletics this week is that water polo coach Luis Nicolao has gotten one of the 300 tickets available to meet Bruce Springsteen in Philadelphia next week. TigerBlog is fairly sure that there exists no amount of money in the world for which Luis would sell that ticket.

TigerBlog hasn't seen someone this excited about anything in a long time. Luis, who has said he will be bringing some Princeton water polo gear for the Boss, is downright giddy. Hopefully he doesn't just wear a Speedo, which he has done to some more formal Princeton events.

Ah, but what if Springsteen is having a bad day and Luis is near the back of the line? What if Springsteen is a jerk to Luis? Or worse, what if he bails midway through and Luis never gets to see him?

TigerBlog would like to think that Springsteen is a good guy who remembers where he came from and appreciates his fans. Ah, but what if? TigerBlog can't imagine how crushed Luis will be.

It reminds TigerBlog of the Mario Soto story, from when he was a vendor at Philadelphia Phillies games in the early 1980s. He's written this before:
Mario Soto was the Cincinnati Reds' ace and the favorite player of Evan Weiss, then a vendor who used to drive TigerBlog from West Philadelphia to the stadium every day in his VW and today a doctor in Philadelphia. All season, Weiss waited for the Reds to arrive so he could get Soto's autograph, and then finally the day was there. Weiss waited for Soto to get off the bus and went up to him and asked for his autograph, only to have Soto walk by without stopping. Talk about being crushed.

Oh, and in other Luis news, he's closing in on 800 total wins as Princeton's water polo coach, between the men's and women's teams. He won't get there this weekend, when his men's team is in California.

A little closer to home, but not exactly at home, the Princeton football team - which has more than 800 wins - plays its second game of the season.

Princeton will be at Goodman Stadium at Lehigh to take on the Mountain Hawks, with kickoff tomorrow at 12:30. You can see the game on the Patriot League Network stream or hear it on WPRB FM 103.3.

Princeton is 1-0 after a 35-31 win over Lafayette a week ago. The Tigers defeated Lehigh 52-26 a year ago at Princeton.

Lehigh is 1-2 after three games. The first two were losses in which Lehigh scored 21 each time, falling to Monmouth and Villanova. The win a week ago saw Lehigh score more than it had in the first two games combined in a 49-28 win over Penn.

The football adage is that teams makes their greatest improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. Lehigh seems to have made a big jump from Week 2 to Week 3, which would be fine with Princeton, who opens the Ivy schedule next week at Columbia.

The game tomorrow is the first of three straight away games for Princeton, who is at Georgetown on Oct. 8.

Anyway, the game tomorrow will be a great test. But before kickoff, if you view nothing else at all this week on, make sure you see the Floyd Phox video on that TB's colleague John Bullis produced. The link is at the top of the page.

Okay, if you're too lazy to go back to the top, you can see it HERE too.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sunset, Sunrise

TigerBlog was at Drexel Tuesday night for the men's soccer game.

Drexel plays soccer on Vidas Field, which is about 10 blocks west of the main part of the campus. Drexel's campus, of course, touches Penn's campus in the University City section of West Philadelphia.

If you're sitting in the stands at Vidas Field, you'll see the field, the benches and a small press box as you look out. Beyond that stand two tall apartment buildings.

As the game Tuesday night started, the sun was setting, and some forces of the universe combined to turn the sky all kinds of incredible colors as it reached those two buildings.

TigerBlog took a picture and put it on Twitter and Instagram, only to find that a few minutes later, the sky was even more picturesque. So TigerBlog took another picture and posted that one.

When he checked yesterday morning, he had nearly 200 likes on the sky pictures. Actually, as he thinks about it, he wouldn't mind going back to that moment and staring up at that sky again. There was something very intoxicating about it.

Anyway, it was complete darkness at Vidas by the time Princeton's Henry Martin scored with 4:45 to go in the half. Nicholas Badalamenti scored in the second half, and Princeton had itself a 2-0 win.

Princeton has now won three straight after dropping its first two. Princeton has also shut out Drexel six straight times and now has held the Dragons scoreless for 568:08.

Princeton now has no player on the year with more than two goals but six who have at least one. That's pretty good balance.

Next up for the Tigers is Fairleigh Dickinson, Saturday night at 7 on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. The Ivy League opener is still a week away in men's soccer.

This weekend, though, marks the start of the Ivy League season for three teams, all of whom are the defending Ivy champ.

The field hockey team plays Dartmouth Saturday at noon on Bedford Field. Princeton isn't just the defending Ivy League field hockey champ; the Tigers have owned Ivy League field hockey for more than two decades.

In fact, Princeton has won 11 straight Ivy League championships and 21 of the last 22. The only blemish in that run was in 2004, when it took a Penn goal on a penalty corner after time had expired (penalty corners are played out even if the clock reaches 0:00 in field hockey, unlike corner kicks in soccer) to keep Princeton from that championship as well.

Princeton has played a brutal schedule to date this season. Of its six games, five have been against teams ranked in the top 14 at the time they played the Tigers, who are 3-3.

The field hockey team is the only one of the three defending champions to open the league season at home.

The women's volleyball team will be at the Palestra Saturday night to take on Penn. If you remember women's volleyball from a year ago, Princeton went 3-4 the first time through the league (including an 0-3 start) and then 7-0 the second time through to tie Harvard for the Ivy title. It was one of the great comebacks any Ivy team has ever had, from 0-3 to a share of the championship.

Princeton is off to a 6-3 start this season. So far this year, Princeton has had two different players - Devon Peterkin and Maggie O'Connell - win Ivy League Rookie of the Week, including most recently O'Connell, after earning MVP honors at the tournament at Rutgers that saw Princeton defeat Seattle, Rutgers and Seton Hall.

Oh, and if Peterkin's name is familiar, it should be. Her older sister Kendall graduated from Princeton a year ago after being a three-time first-team All-Ivy League selection.

The final team to start its Ivy season this weekend is the women's soccer team, who opens at Yale Saturday. That game starts at 4.

Princeton went 6-0-1 in the Ivy League a year ago. The 2016 Tigers are off to a 7-1 start, with the loss to No. 2 West Virginia.

The initial RPI rankings for the year were announced this week, and Princeton came in at No. 34. The next best Ivy team? Brown at 88.

Don't get fooled by those numbers though. Of the eight Ivy League teams, six are above .500 and five are above .700 to date. Yale is 4-3-2 heading into the league season.

Playing at home in this series has been no guarantee of success. Princeton defeated Yale 3-0 a year ago at home; the visiting team had won seven straight before that.

It'll be the first three Ivy League openers for Princeton for this academic year.

Sunrise on the Ivy League schedule, as it were, after a gorgeous sunset at Drexel.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Feeling Good, Feeling Old

TigerBlog feels pretty good these days.

He knows this is important to you. After all those years of playing lunchtime basketball or squash or working out in the weight room, he's taken his exercise outside these days, on the bike. He's thinking he could keep doing that except for the coldest and snowiest winter months. Then it'll have to be back inside.

He's figured out that he needs a better bike. That's for sure.

He also needs another car. This one is tricky. Miss TigerBlog will be getting her license in February (if she passes her test, which TB senses she will). TigerBlog Jr. already claims the car that just went over 200,000 miles and wants to take it to school.

TigerBlog can't envision the massive fighting that would take place between his two kids over one car. It would be like the Wii all over again. All these years later and TB still cringes at those memories.

Having a child in college and another who will be there soon doesn't make TB feel old. Having one kid who drives and another about to get her license doesn't make him feel old either.

Like he said before, he feels pretty good. Not old at all.

You know when he'll feel old?

He's said it for a long time. He'll feel old when there's a Princeton athlete whose mother or father competed here when TB was already here.

So far, it hasn't happened. At least not that he knows.

TigerBlog first started covering Princeton Athletics in 1989. The athletes from that time are slightly younger than TB, so they probably have kids about to reach college.

What will it be like when a men's lacrosse player is the son of a former player? TB isn't sure he's ready for that. There might not be enough miles on the towpath for him to ride his bike to make him feel young after that.

All of this brings TB to Patrick McCarthy.

TB's earliest memory of Patrick McCarthy is from the 1997 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Wake Forest. Patrick's father is Tom McCarthy, who back then was the radio play-by-play man for Princeton basketball and football and who today does the Philadelphia Phillies on TV, as well as the NFL and the NCAA basketball tournament.

So yeah, Tom has made it big.

Back in 1997, Tom and his wife Meg were in Winston-Salem with their only child, Patrick. TB's biggest memory of Patrick from the trip was when Meg was trying to get him to eat french toast at breakfast and calling him "angel" every time he did.

Today, Tom and Meg have three other kids. Patrick has grown into a rather large angel, a 6-5, 220-pound angel, if his height and weight off of the baseball roster of the College of New Jersey is to be believed.

Patrick is a right-handed submarine pitcher for the Lions. He's also a communications studies major, and he, like his father, has an eye on being a broadcaster.

And there was Patrick on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium Saturday night, making his Princeton radio debut. He was the sideline reporter (including a halftime interview with Ashleigh Johnson), with Dave Giancola as the color commentator and Cody Chrusciel as the play-by-play man.

Cody is actually one of Princeton's two multimedia and video people, along with John Bullis. Cody is also a natural radio man, something that was obvious on his job interview, when TB first heard his voice.

Cody did play-by-play for men's lacrosse this past spring and a few other events. He's the new football man.

Come men's basketball season, the plan is to have Princeton's established - and very, very well-liked - team of Derek Jones and Noah Savage do the away games on radio and the home games on the ILDN alone. For those home games that Derek and Noah are on the videostream, there will be a separate radio broadcast.

And a new radio play-by-play man. And who is it? Patrick McCarthy.

Tom sent TB a video of Patrick's play-by-play work on TCNJ athletics, and TB was impressed. Like really impressed. And he figured having Patrick do a handful of games here would be a great starting point.

TigerBlog did a ton of games with Tom when he was here. Come this season, he'll probably do those games with Patrick.

Even if it will make him feel really old.

After the game the other day, TB asked Cody how Patrick did. Cody gave him high marks.

TB then ran into Patrick on the way out.

What did he say to him? Stick with him, kid.

Look what he did for your father.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tigress Athletics

The Olympic video hadn't stopped playing on the board, and TigerBlog hadn't read one word yet of his script over the PA system.

Already, though, the crowd was cheering wildly for the woman at midfield.

Ashleigh Johnson is back at Princeton after a summer in which she led the United States to a gold medal at the Rio Olympics in women's water polo. And there she was Saturday night, at halftime of the football game against Lafayette, being honored on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

First there was a video tribute to all 13 of Princeton's Olympians, including bronze medalist Diana Matheson (women's soccer) and silver medalist Gevvie Stone (rowing). When it ended, TigerBlog had a few sentences to read about Johnson, though he's pretty sure that not a single word of it was necessary, since everyone in attendance seemed to already know who she was and what she had done.

This spring, when Johnson again takes to DeNunzio Pool to play with the Princeton women's water polo team, she will become only the second athlete in school history to win and Olympic gold medal and then return to school to compete as a Tiger.

The first? Bill Bradley, who won men's basketball gold in Tokyo in 1964. Maybe it's fitting that they are the two who share that accomplishment, because it's very likely that they are the greatest male and greatest female athletes in Princeton history.

As halftime continued Saturday night, Johnson posed for pictures and signed autographs. Lots and lots of them. TB has no idea how many people got their picture taken with her, but he does know that she didn't say no to anyone.

Yeah, she's a very, very special one.

And TB's statement about the best athletes in Princeton history? On the men's side, there's Bradley, Dick Kazmaier and Hobey Baker.

The women's side has always been much more wide open.

Women's athletics at Princeton date back less than 50 years, as opposed to more than 150 for men's athletics, but Princeton's women athletes have more than made up for the lost time. Princeton has an incredible record across the board in women's athletics, including a ridiculous 10 Ivy League championships by women's teams alone in 2015-16. That's the first time, by the way, that a school has been in double figures in Ivy titles in a single gender in one academic year.

Ashleigh Johnson is the most recent Princeton woman to win an Olympic medal. Do you know who the first was?

Her name is Carol Brown, and she won a bronze medal in rowing in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

Brown was part of a symposium last week at the Chicago Princeton Club entitled "Tigress Athletics: Princeton, Olympics and Beyond."

The moderator of the event was University of Chicago Director of Athletics Erin McDermott, who spent more than a decade on the staff here at Princeton and who during that time became an extraordinarily well-respected person on this campus. As an undergraduate, McDermott played basketball at Hofstra.

Erin was joined on the panel by Brown and more recent Tigers Meg Bowen and Cheryl Stevens from the basketball program and Jen Hoy from the soccer program.

The evening focused on the incredible success of Princeton's women's teams, with a particular focus on the success of the women athletes beyond Princeton, either in the Olympics (where there have been 34) or professionally (where there have been 16).

There was more to the conversation than just that, though. There were really good questions raised about the kinds of women's athletes who attend Princeton and how does Princeton turn out such high quality teams year after year.

Brown, a 1975 grad and one of the pioneers of women's athletics, talked about how prior to Title IX, the law in Illinois banned girls from playing high school sports. And how when she got to Princeton, women weren't permitted in the weight room.

It's nothing that the other three Princeton athletes could possibly relate to, given their experience here four decades later. Stevens was on the first women's basketball team that went to the NCAA, which means she was part of a program that went from 7-23 to 26-3.

Bowen? She was on teams that played in four NCAA tournaments in four years. Hoy? She played in the NCAA tournament and was the Ivy League Player of the Year.

The weight room? Yeah, they were all allowed in. Actually their attendance there was mandatory.

Practice facilities? Athletic training? Uniforms? Travel? Publicity? There was never even the remotest thought by anyone who works here that these are things that should be reserved only for the men.

Events like the one last week are important in many ways, not the least of which is to serve as a reminder that it wasn't always that way. It took a lot of effort from a lot of people to make it so, and TB has incredible respect for the early women athletes of Princeton, who laid the groundwork for what exists today.

Carol Brown brought her bronze medal with her to the event. Ashleigh Johnson wore her gold medal on the field Saturday night.

Without one, there never would have been the other.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Opening With A Win

The captains came out first. The team bounced in the tunnel, straining to get out on the field and finally kick of the 2016 football season.

The head coach? Well, he walked out after his captains but before the rest of his team. He didn't bounce or bound or anything like that, though he did stop to high-five a few of the band members, who stood in formation just outside the tunnel to welcome the players from the locker room.

Or maybe he just was excusing himself for having to get through their line. That's how Bob Surace is.

And with that, another season of Princeton football was ready to begin.

Princeton opened its season with a 35-31 win over Lafayette Saturday night on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. Before TigerBlog says anything else about the game, he will say that the stadium continues to look great for night games.

It's always good to win the opener, especially when you're playing a team that is playing its third game. The big question, though, is what does the opener tell you about the rest of the year. TB will get back to that.

When TigerBlog first started covering Princeton football, the season-opener meant an Ivy League game, either Dartmouth or Cornell. In an effort to keep Princeton and Penn from having to go to Hanover and Ithaca in November, the teams alternated year-by-year, opening at either Dartmouth or Cornell and then ending the season at home against the other.

Actually, from 1954 through 1975, the first game of every Princeton football season was against Rutgers. The Dartmouth/Cornell thing lasted from then until 1990, when Princeton simply started opening the year against Cornell and finishing it against Dartmouth.

It was in 1991 that Princeton finally played at Dartmouth to end the season. The weather that day? Cloudy, some rain, temperature in the 50s.

By 2000, the idea of opening the season with an Ivy League game vanished. Since then, the first game has almost always been against either Lafayette or Lehigh.

It's probably the best way to do it. You don't want to be 0-1 in the league three hours into the season and then have to climb out the whole way.

For TigerBlog, the 2016 season is his 12th as the public address announcer for Princeton football. This time, the PA booth has an addition - a guy named Jordan, whose job it is to play music.

In the past, it's almost always been just TB, without a spotter. He'd look at the play, figure out who carried it, who made the tackle and announce it - and hope he got the numbers right. With Jordan there to do the music, he was also able to help TB with identifying numbers.

Of course, there's a lot of down time, which leads to plenty of time to talk.

Among other topics of conversation, Jordan asked TB if Triumph is a good place to eat, and TB replied in the affirmative, suggesting it is his favorite place in Princeton for lunch. Oh, and Jordan will be going with his wife to Australia soon.

What else? The best subject had to do with Lafayette wide receiver Rocco Palumbo. The question was this: If Jordan was going to write a movie with a main character named Rocco Palumbo, would he be a good guy or a bad guy and what would his profession be? Jordan said "good guy, probably detective." TB agreed, but said maybe one of those financial geniuses who figures out the bad guy's evil plot.

So yeah, that's what goes on in the PA booth.

As for the game and where Princeton is after Week 1?

There were a lot of positives. First and foremost, there was the win. Princeton has now won back-to-back openers, the first time it has done so since 2005 and 2006. Between then and last year? Princeton was 0-8 in openers.

And Princeton had to come from behind to do so. Lafayette had three leads in the game (14-7 21-14, 24-21), and Princeton erased all of them. When you're in Week 1 and the other team is in Week 3, that's not always easy to do, especially on a warm night.

Among Princeton's standouts were Joe Rhattigan, who had a career-high 137 yards rushing while scoring three touchdowns. Rhattigan was incredibly consistent, with a long run of 23 yards. He also paired well with Charlie Volker, the Ivy League sprint champion, who carried eight times for 38 yards (Volker will break a long one at some point this year).

Princeton rushed for 182 yards and five touchdowns, with three from Rhattigan and two from John Lovett. If you're looking for a player who's just fun to watch, it's Lovett, the first-team All-Ivy League selection a year ago who does a little of everything.

His line against Lafayette? How about: nine carries, 26 yards, two touchdowns rushing; four receptions for 23 yards; 1 for 3 passing. Whatever Princeton needs, Lovett can do.

Chad Kanoff made some excellent throws. Isiah Barnes caught five passes for 102 yards. And Princeton had great balance, with those 182 rushing yards joined by 178 passing yards.

Defensively, Rohan Hylton put up 11 tackles on the night he was on the cover of the game program, second-best on the team behind Luke Catarius. There were eight players who had at least five tackles, though, as Princeton showed great depth on defense.

Added up, it came to 35-31, and a record of 1-0. And then a really good fireworks show.

The Ivy League went 5-3 in its first week of non-league games. Are there any big takeaways? Not really. There's no way to tell what will come next.

Princeton is at Lehigh Saturday (12:30 kickoff). Lehigh topped Penn 49-28 Saturday night. TigerBlog would say that comparative scores in the first two weeks won't mean much either.

For now, it's about figuring out what's what, where improvement is needed, what is looking good.

The next nine weeks will sort themselves out. The goals? Win the Ivy opener and play meaningful games as deep into November as possible.

Week 1? It won't matter much at that point.

But, hey, it went pretty well for the Tigers.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pigskin And Bones

As game shows go, TigerBlog's favorite is "Jeopardy."

When he was a kid, he liked a show called "Split Second," though honestly he can't remember much about it, other than it required contestants to answer a series of trivia questions in a short time. Like a split second, TB supposes.

TB doesn't really spend much time watching game shows. There are some that are funny. There are some that are pure luck. He prefers the ones, like "Jeopardy," that require thought.

And "Split Second," actually.

He couldn't remember the rules of the game, so he looked it up online and actually found videos of the game on YouTube. It's not exactly high tech stuff.

It is, though, a fast-paced game and does require some general knowledge. TigerBlog does remember the part at the end, where the winner chose the key to one of five cars on the stage, and if it started, then the winner got to keep it. If not, then the champion came back the next day, and if that same person won again, this time there'd only be four keys left to choose.

When TB watched the video yesterday, he noticed that the brand-new shiny cars on stage where 1975 cars. His first was a 1977 Dodge Diplomat.

TigerBlog also liked "Password," even more so because of the hilarious episode of "The Odd Couple" where Oscar and Felix are on the show. If you're a fan, you know what Felix said after Oscar sneered "Aristophanes" as a clue. The answer? "Ridiculous."

Another game show that was okay for TB was the "$100,000 Pyramid," which he's pretty sure started as the "$10,000 Pyramid."

TB once heard a pretty good stand-up bit from Robert Klein, who said he had just been on the "Pyramid" and was having trouble adjusting after taping so many shows in a week. "I walked into the restaurant and they asked me 'table for how many,' and I said 'things the Maitre D' would say.' "

There has been a remake of the "$100,000 Pyramid" this summer, hosted by Michael Strahan. And who should show up as a contestant this week but Sean Gregory, a former Princeton men's basketball player in the great men's basketball Class of 1998 (which included current head coach Mitch Henderson).

TB didn't watch. He would have if he knew the man they called "Bones" as an undergrad would be on it. "Bones" is one of TB's all-time favorites from Princeton Athletics, and he was the source of a pretty funny conversation between Pete Carril and Trenton Times sportswriter Mark Eckel in 1996, when another player was out:
Mark: What are you going to do for those minutes?
Carril: Not sure. May use a couple of guys. May use Bones.
Mark: What's Bones?

Anyway, Bones is now a very successful writer for Time Magazine (his Olympics stuff is always great), so TB thinks he should have been the celebrity and not the contestant. At what point do you become the celebrity anyway? Who decides?

As it turned out, Bones won $50,000. And wrote about it. You can read it HERE. It's definitely worth reading.

So that's basketball. It'll be here soon enough.

What's here tomorrow is the opening day for Princeton football.

TigerBlog was walking on the driveway between the football stadium and the practice fields a few days ago when he heard a player yell "Game Week." Tomorrow is Game Day, as Princeton hosts Lafayette at 5.

The day begins with Community and Staff Day at 3:30 and ends with fireworks after the game ends. There's information about it HERE.

TB has said this before, but he would suggest moving opening day of Ivy League football up a week and then having all eight schools have an off week in Week 6. At this point, each team will have played three non-league games and two league games, have a week off and then finish with five straight league games.

As it is, Ivy League football is 10-week sprint, with a season that starts a little later than it does basically anywhere else.

TigerBlog remembers going to visit BrotherBlog at Penn when TB was still in high school and seeing not the football game but the visiting team (Dartmouth) at a postgame tailgate. That was his introduction to Ivy League football.

He went to many games as a Penn undergrad at Franklin Field, and his first college class (you should know what it was if you've been paying attention) and last college final exam were both in rooms that faced the stadium (from opposite sides).

The first time he was at Palmer Stadium was for a Princeton-Penn game as a student broadcaster. It was the first of many games he'd see in the old horseshoe stadium, into which he could look from his desk when he first started working here.

The days before the first home game at Palmer Stadium were always busy for TB and the rest of the Office of Athletic Communications in the 1990s, before the stadium was torn down in 1997. Among other tasks, the OAC staff had to carry a copy machine up to the press box through the stands (no elevator existed) and then bring it down at the end of the year.

Powers Field at Princeton Stadium continues to be a great place to see a football game. TigerBlog has seen almost every game played there since the stadium opened in 1998, and he has been the PA announcer since 2005.

He'll be in the PA booth again tomorrow for the game against Lafayette.

For everything else that is great about Ivy League athletics, there's nothing that draws people to campuses like a football game. It's an event as much as a game.

TigerBlog loves the feel of the stadium before the game starts, with all of the activity that goes on around the game itself.

He's ready for kickoff tomorrow night. And that's what he wanted to say today.

Sean Gregory and football.

Or, as his title said, pigskin and Bones.

That's not too bad.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Barlow 3, Inverso 1

Charlie Inverso inherited a Rider men's soccer team that went 2-15-1 the year before he got here.

Now in his fifth year, he's already taken them to one NCAA tournament and into the national rankings. This was after he won five national junior college championships and had a 434-46-14 record as the head coach at Mercer County Community College.

It was during his time with the Vikings when TigerBlog first met Inverso. Every now and then when TigerBlog was working at the newspaper, he covered MCCC events, usually either men's basketball or men's soccer.

Mercer County Community College connects with Mercer County Park in a huge, spacious, in some ways beautiful piece of land in West Windsor, about 15 minutes from the Princeton campus. The park includes a rowing center that has been the home for NCAA championships and U.S. national teams, as well as walking/biking paths, a ton of baseball and soccer fields, an ice rink and tennis courts.

If you walk through the park, eventually you end up at the college. For a junior college, it has great facilities.

One of TB's all-time favorite stories from his newspaper days involves covering a men's basketball game at Mercer. During a particularly heated game, the Mercer coach (an excitable type, and not Howard Levy), argued a call, stormed down the end of the bench, kicked open the door - and found himself locked outside when it closed behind him.

This was while the game was going on. Mercer kept playing. Eventually the coach, who had to run around the side of the building, past the tennis courts, over to the front door and then back into the gym, came flying around the corner and back to the bench, just in time to get T'd up by the ref. It was the only time TB can remember a ref laughing as he issued a technical foul.

Anyway, TB would cover a few games there a year. And in soccer. From the first time TB covered Inverso's teams, he could tell he was dealing with a special coach. And a personable one.

And, as it turned out, a talented one. TB wrote this about Inverso in 2010:
TB remembers being at a Rider men's basketball event that included the top sports-talk duo of all time, Mike and Mad Dog, back at their absolute peak in the early '90s. The night at Rider (it wasn't a game; it might have been a Midnight Madness type of thing) included a Mad Dog sound-alike contest, and Inverso stunned the whole crowd and the two radio big shots with his imitation of a conversation that the two would have had about how Judas betrayed Jesus (TB's people don't have a great working knowledge of this situation, but he has a basic understanding of what happened). Inverso, as the Mad Dog, went on and on about how appalled he was by Judas, and finally interrupted himself as Mike and said: "hey, Judas was a bad guy; what do you want?"

TigerBlog didn't realize until he read Inverso's bio on Rider's webpage yesterday that he had been an assistant coach at Princeton from 1980-85, which means he finished his career here under Bob Bradley and started it under the coach who preceded Bradley.

Jim Barlow, the current head coach, followed Bradley. The one who came before Bradley was Bill Muse, who coached here for 11 years and won more than 60 percent of his games.

Barlow, by the way, has won 156 games in his Princeton career, the most of any Princeton coach. His most recent win came against Inverso, with whom Barlow goes way back.

Princeton defeated Rider 3-1 Tuesday night. The game was scoreless for 60 minutes and then had four goals in a stretch of 22:04. Luckily for the Tigers, three of them were by Princeton, including the first two in the career of Greg Seifert, a senior defender.

For that matter, Princeton scored one goal in the first 240 minutes of the season and then had three in those 22 minutes (and four seconds).

And, for that matter, Princeton is now 0-2 against unranked teams and 1-0 against ranked teams. Rider, who had been 4-0-0, is ranked 22nd this week. It's a testament to the job that Charlie has done at the school, which is about eight miles from Princeton, in Lawrenceville.

Actually, now that TigerBlog thinks about it, Inverso is probably the only person with a connection to all five schools he used to cover in the newspaper business: coaching at Princeton, Mercer, Rider and Rutgers and graduating from the College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State College).

Next up for Princeton is Boston University, tomorrow at 5:30 on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. Can't be there? It's on ESPNU.

BU isn't ranked, which might be a negative for Princeton.

The Tigers have three more games after that one before the Ivy League season starts. Only one is at home, but both are easily attendable, with games Tuesday at Drexel and Wednesday the 28th at Villanova. In between Princeton hosts FDU, on Saturday the 24th.

After that, it's Dartmouth at home on Saturday, Oct. 1.

As for Barlow, TB was talking to one of his colleagues, Andrew Borders, about how he actually covered Barlow as a high school player at Hightstown High School, which isn't far from Mercer County Community College and the park. Barlow's high school team was loaded.
Now Barlow is in Year 21 as Tiger head coach.

Princeton opened the season with losses to West Virginia and St. John's. The win over Rider is a really good sign that Princeton is now rounded into game shape and ready for the next set of challenges.

The next one is on national TV, tomorrow at 5:30.

A few members of the team filmed a funny video in advance of that game. You can see it HERE.

It's funny, right?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

School Is In Session

Today is the first day of classes at Princeton University.

Of TigerBlog's eight semesters at Penn, he can remember the very first class of only one of them, the very first one, not surprisingly. It was a political science class, in the University Museum building, which is across South Street from Franklin Field.

For that matter, TB can remember his entire first semester schedule - political science, economics, calculus and German.

As an aside, TigerBlog Jr. now has a politics class this semester. His class consists of him, one other male student, 20 female students and a female teacher.

TigerBlog's favorite classes at Penn were Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democracy, History of the American South, astronomy and a labor history class. His least favorite were a philosophy class, the second semester of econ and an introductory sociology class.

A few notes about the last paragraph:

* Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democracy was taught not on campus but at the American Philosophical Society, which was located on 5th Street, near Independence Mall. TigerBlog, his roommate Charlie (a Wharton student who was fulfilling a requirement) and the rest of the class used to have to make their way from campus to where the class was, and the group often walked the 30 or so blocks together when the weather cooperated

* History of the American South was a two-semester class taught by Drew Gilpin Faust, who is now the president of Harvard

* the astronomy class was just fun. It was TigerBlog's best-ever experience with learning for learning's sake

* the labor history class was taught by Walter Licht. TigerBlog would pay him back for the good grade he gave by giving him Princeton-Penn basketball tickets several decades later

* The reason he didn't like the other classes was as much a reflection on the professors as the subjects themselves

So that was TigerBlog's academic career in a nutshell.

TB went to Penn figuring he'd become a lawyer. BrotherBlog went there figuring he'd become an engineer.

So what happened? BrotherBlog is a lawyer. TigerBlog found a job in the newspaper business at the start of his junior year and never really looked back.

Every now and then, TB wonders what life as a lawyer would have been like for him. You know, after he graduated from Yale Law and clerked for a Supreme Court Justice and worked his way up to the Supreme Court himself.

But would he be happy?

Anyway, as TB said, today is Day 1 of classes at Princeton. Prior to that first day, Princeton's fall teams combined to have 35 different competitions.

Now that school has started, there are some really big ones in the very near future.

Let's see.

This Friday alone, Princeton will be at No. 2 West Virginia in women's soccer, No. 14 Virginia in field hockey and home against unranked Boston University in men's soccer. That game might not match ranked teams, but 1) Princeton will come in having just beaten a ranked team and 2) it will be televised on ESPNU.

Princeton is 6-0-0 in women's soccer, but that has not impressed the coaches who vote in the national poll. The Tigers are receiving votes, but not even that many of them.

West Virginia? The Mountaineers are 6-0-1, with three wins (Ohio State, Clemson, Duke) against Top 20 teams and the tie against another Top 20 team (Penn State, who also happens to be the defending NCAA champion).

West Virginia has allowed four goals in those seven games. Princeton's Tyler Lussi, the top scorer in program history, has seven by herself in six games, tying her for third in Division I in goals per game.

On the field hockey side, Princeton was ranked 16th last week and then beat the No. 12 (Albany) and No. 10 (Delaware) teams in the country to vault to No. 10.

Princeton is 3-1 on the season, with its only loss to No. 3 North Carolina. After the trip to Charlottesville, Princeton will be back on Bedford Field for a game against No. 7 Maryland.

You can't accuse Princeton of ducking anyone.

As for the men's soccer team, the Tigers defeated previously unbeaten Rider 3-1 last night in a game that was scoreless at the half. The Broncs came into the game ranked 22nd nationally and having allowed just one goal in four games.

The game against BU will be the second this year to be broadcast live on ESPNU, after the women's win over Villanova.

And of course, after those Friday events comes the opening kickoff for Princeton football season. The Tigers will host Lafayette at 5 Saturday, after Community and Staff Day and before the evening ends with fireworks.

Classes starting. Huge games. Perfect weather.

It's a pretty good week around here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Getting Oriented

Liz Colagiuri is Princeton's Deputy Dean of the College Faculty Athletics Rep.

TigerBlog, who has never met her, did know that. What he didn't know was that she had done ROTC in college (undergrad at Cornell) and that she spent five years on active duty in the U.S. Navy.

That impresses TigerBlog. He has incredible respect for anyone in the military.

He's always been amazed by the young men and women he sees at the service academies. They're giving up a lot of what most people would never dream of giving up for a college experience, and they're doing so because they wouldn't have it any other way.

TB would have benefited greatly from a time in the military when he was a kid. He knew it at the time, even though he never considered attending an academy or doing ROTC or enlisting on his own.

FatherBlog was in the army in the 1950s, between Korea and Vietnam. His uncles - Larry in Korea and Herbie in World War II - were war veterans.

TB saw first hand from MotherBlog the toll that the military can take from her time with the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Many of the people that MB introduced to TB were in wheelchairs, and they were there from their time in Vietnam. Or from other incidents in the military, where life-changing injury - or worse - is a part of every day life.

TigerBlog heard Colagiuri speak yesterday for the first time and learned about her time in the Navy when her bio was read. So first and foremost, a thank you to her for her service.

Colagiuri was speaking at Freshman Athlete Orientation, an annual event that welcomes the incoming class to Princeton Athletics. If you've been reading TigerBlog for awhile, you know what TigerBlog thinks of that event.

Apparently, Colagiuri is basically on the same page as TB.

During her talk, she mentioned her hope that perhaps there was a future Rhodes Scholar in the audience. Certainly it's a possibility: Princeton Athletics most recently produced a Rhodes Scholar last year.

What does TB think at that meeting each year?

Who will win the von Kienbusch Award and the Roper Trophy? Come a little less than four years from now, there will be winners of those awards - and they were sitting in the room with TB yesterday.

Classes start tomorrow at Princeton, which means that orientation is ending. TigerBlog was not an athlete at Penn, and he can state definitely that he remembers nothing about orientation. For that matter, he cannot even remember attending orientation.

Again, TigerBlog can tell you that Princeton does a much better job than his alma mater in establishing from Day 1 the loyalty to the institution that will last forever. Trust TB. There is nothing close to it at Penn.

And, also in the interest of fairness, TB had a really good experience in his years at Penn. It's just not the same as Princeton.

Yesterday was a big day of meetings from TB. By his count, there were five of them.

One of them was new staff orientation. Again, it was a big day for getting oriented.

This meeting was for new athletic staff, in this case the new assistant coaches primarily. It's mostly a time to go over policies and procedures from the various offices in the department - including the business office, the event management staff, the PVC, compliance and of course athletic communications.

TB has spoken at a lot of new staff orientations. He always says the same things - be careful about public statements, use great caution on social media, get to know your OAC contact, wear the Nike gear, stuff like that.

He also ad-libbed a little piece in the beginning.

Princeton, he told the room, is a place that has had incredible athletic success. In the history of the Ivy League, Princeton has won nearly 25 percent of all championships won. In the last 20 years, that number is 30 percent.

Princeton won 14 Ivy titles last year, marking the third time that Princeton has done so. Princeton also won 15, the all-time record, and has reached double figures 23 times, compared to nine for Harvard and none for any other school. For that matter, Princeton won 10 Ivy titles last year by women's teams alone, marking the first time a school had reached double figures in one gender.

TB went on, talking about Princeton's Directors' Cup finishes and other measures of athletic success. TB knows it all by heart. The people who have been at Princeton already know it. The new people should know it.

They should know what kind of history their new employer has. And, TB said, it's the work of everyone together throughout the department that makes it happen.

Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future success. TB cautioned the new coaches that the other schools in the league are not content to watch Princeton win year after year after year, and they are doing everything they can to change things.

Then he used the phrase he heard former Syracuse men's lacrosse coach Roy Simmons Jr. use basically every time he heard him speak: Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

TB is pretty sure it was Shakespeare, not Simmons, originally.

He should have used the line that he likes better - All glory is fleeting. TB isn't sure who said it first, but it's from the end of "Patton."

It's hard to say which is better, the end of "Patton" or the beginning of "Saturday Night Fever." You be the judge HERE and HERE. They're both great. It's a really, really tough choice.

Anyway, welcome to Princeton to the freshman athletes and the new coaches.

All glory may be fleeting, but it doesn't have to be fleeting any time soon.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Fifteen Years Later

TigerBlog was standing directly behind the Myslik Field goal Friday night as Tyler Lussi sliced between a pair of Temple defenders and redirected a bouncing ball into the back of the net.

It was a goal-scorers goal if ever there was one. It's the kind of goal that a player like Lussi can score when 99% of the players who have ever played soccer cannot.

It was a great weekend for the Princeton women. They came home and beat Temple 3-0 Friday, as Lussi scored twice, making her only the fifth player in the history of Ivy League women's soccer to reach the 50-goal mark for a career.

Her second goal, by the way, gave her 113 points for her career, giving her the two biggest records in Princeton soccer history - career goals (now 50) and career points (now 115 after two assists yesterday against Monmouth).

Princeton won yesterday too, defeating Monmouth 2-1 on sophomore Mimi Asom's goal with two minutes to go in the second OT. Asom, like Lussi, is a natural born scorer, and her game-winner saw her stop, change feet and rip it home for the win.

For Asom, the game-winner gave her 15 for her career, leaving two questions: 1) can Lussi make a run at 68 goals, which is the Ivy record, and 2) can Asom make a run at whatever number Lussi finishes with?

Next up, Princeton, with a perfect 6-0-0 record, heads to Morgantown to take on West Virginia, ranked fourth nationally in a game Friday night. This should be a great one.

Women's soccer wasn't the only big winner this weekend. The field hockey team, for instance, won a pair of games at home against ranked teams, taking out No. 12 Albany 3-2 and No. 10 Delaware 4-2.

There were others. The men's water polo team, for instance, played four straight ranked opponents and went 2-2, and even an 18-9 loss to No. 1 UCLA came on a day when ESPNU televised again from DeNunzio Pool and showcased the Tiger program and campus.

Just as he did last Friday, though, TigerBlog doesn't want to dwell on Princeton Athletics today per se.

Last Friday, he wanted to write instead about the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert. You can read it HERE if you haven't already.

Today, he wants to write about something different. Something important.

The 15th anniversary of 9/11. 

With the exception of 2010, when 9/11 fell on a Saturday, TigerBlog has written about the events of that awful day every September 11 since 2009. This year, 9/11 fell on a Sunday, yesterday, and now today is 9/12.

And that's what TB wants to write about.

TigerBlog can remember every detail of Sept. 11, 2001.

Miss TigerBlog was still at daycare at a babysitter on Route 27, a little north of town. TigerBlog Jr. was in nursery school, at the U-League Nursery School, across the parking lot from Jadwin Gym.

TigerBlog's routine was to head up to the babysitter and drop off MTB and then come back to campus, taking TBJ to his first school. That Tuesday in 2001 was the most crystal clear perfect sunny morning ever.

When TB was leaving the nursery school, the woman administrator there remarked that she had just heard that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. How, TB wondered, could that be possible?

He assumed it was a small plane that got lost or disoriented, but how was this possible on such a clear day?

By the time he got to Jadwin, he'd started to figure it out. It seemed impossible. A commercial plane had flown into the World Trade Center?

The first person he saw in the building was John Mack, who hadn't yet heard the news. Back then, the only TV around was in Caldwell Field House, and for the rest of the day, everyone basically crowded in there to see the news.

Princeton was supposed to play Lafayette in football that coming weekend, and the football game program was due to the printer. At that moment, there had been no conversation about cancelling the game, and so the program had to be finished, even if nobody's heart was in it.

TB's two most vivid memories of 9/11 are these. First, it was when he went back to pick up the kids. They were innocents, playing on swings and running around outside, oblivious to the fact that their world had forever changed.

Even more so, though, TB remembers walking outside, down to the end of the driveway, somewhere long after dark. He stood there, alone, in total silence, and looked up at the night sky. He saw stars, lots of them, but no airplanes. They'd all been grounded.

As he looked up, he was struck by the total serenity and peacefulness of the moment - and the utter uncertainty of what was going to come next. It had to be like the night of Dec. 7, 1941, wondering if there was another wave of an attack imminent, wondering what would come next.

TB has never in his life had a moment like that at any other time, under any other circumstance.

Then there was the next day. In contrast to the events of 9/11, TB has very little memory of exactly what happened on 9/12 of that year.

He knows he went to work, because he knows there was a football media luncheon. Roger Hughes was the Princeton coach back then, and he and two players spoke about how the day had unfolded for them, including an attempt to get word from the many Princeton football players who worked at or near Ground Zero.

TigerBlog also caught up on the phone with former captain Dan Swingos, who was in the second tower when the planes hit. His story was harrowing.

There was also the news that John Schroeder, a member of the 1992 NCAA champion men's lacrosse team, was one of the 3,000 who was killed that day.

Other than that, TB doesn't remember much about that day.

Was he scared? Angry? Confused? Probably all of those.
The entire country was. More than any time of TB's life, the time following 9/11 was the most unifying moment this country has had.

Now, it's 15 years later. You don't need TigerBlog to tell you how splintered the country is, and you also don't need him to tell you that it doesn't look like it's going to get any more unified in the near future.

Maybe that's because the one major attack on this country hasn't happened again, not to the scale of 9/11. That is a testament, by the way, to thousands of military and law enforcement personnel, from both political parties and from all kinds of religions and backgrounds.

Most people, like you and TigerBlog, have no idea how close this country came to having another 9/11, only to have it stopped in time.

They are owed a lot, by everyone.

As TigerBlog writes this, as he does every year, he goes back to that moment at the end of the driveway, that incredibly emotional moment when he looked up at the nighttime sky.

He looked up and saw a new world, or at least that the one he had known was forever changed. Would it ever change back? In five years? Ten?

Now it's been 15 years. Living under the constant threat of terrorism has become normal. Life has gone on. People have gone on with their lives. TBJ and MTB are no longer little kids, or kids at all, for that matter.

So 15 years later, here's remembering John Schroeder. And Eamon McEneaney, one of the greatest lacrosse players ever, who was part of Cornell's legendary teams in the 1970s, who also was killed that day.

And remembering everyone who died that day.

And marveling again at the first responders and their astonishing bravery.

And the country today? Yes. It's splintered, as much as it has ever been in TB's lifetime.

It's TigerBlog's fervent prayer that if it ever turns back around to one of unity, it's not because of another massive terrorist attack.