Wednesday, March 11, 2009
A Few Thoughts ...
A few thoughts ...
* tradition at a championship swim meet mandates that the winning coach be tossed into the pool at the end. Princeton's men's swimming and diving team ran (swam?) away from the field to win the Ivy League title last weekend, and Princeton photographer Beverly Schaefer captured the moment when Tiger coach Rob Orr hit the water at DeNunzio Pool. Sometimes, a picture tells the whole story.
* while we're talking coaches who've been thrown into pools following wins, water polo coach Luis Nicolao once was shoved in after a Southern Division title. Usually, the coach anticipates the plunge and removes essential items from his/her pockets. And Nicolao? Well, he forgot to take his Blackberry out of his pocket.
* the women's basketball team defeated Penn by 17 Tuesday night to finish 9-5 in the Ivy League, good for third place and the second better-than-.500 league finish in 10 years for the Tigers. It also represented a five-game improvement from a year ago. The men then defeated the Quakers by three to finish 8-6 in the league and improve by five games as well. It's hard to imagine there have been too many times in Division I when a school had its men's and women's teams both improve by five games in the same season. A year ago, the men's and women's basketball teams were a combined 7-21 in the league; this year they were a combined 17-11. TigerBlog said on the radio all season that 8-6 for the men would be amazing improvement.
* the ECAC men's hockey quarterfinals are this weekend as Princeton hosts Union Friday, Saturday and possibly Sunday, all at 7 pm. The other matchups are Brown at Yale, Rennselaer at Cornell and Quinnipiac at St. Lawrence; the four winners will advance to the single-elimination league final four in Albany March 20-21. It was a wild first weekend in the playoffs, as 12th seed Brown knocked off fifth seed Harvard and 11th seed Rennselaer knocked off sixth seed Dartmouth. The Brown-Harvard series was particularly amazing, as the Bears shut out the Crimson twice after going 3-15-4 and finishing last during the regular season (though they did go 0-0-2 against Harvard). Almost forgotten in Princeton's run to the championship in Albany and NCAA tournament appearance last year was just how close the Tigers came to not making it out of the quarterfinals as Yale pushed Princeton to the limit. As for this year's opponent, Princeton and Union split their regular season games, each winning on the other's ice.
* looking for a game to go to this weekend at Princeton? As it is spring break and basically every spring team will be away, your choices come down to the hockey playoffs and the seventh-ranked women's lacrosse team's game Saturday at 1 at Class of 1952 Stadium against Penn State. According to accuweather.com's five-day forecast, it'll be sunny at 49 Saturday in Princeton, which seems much colder than if it said sunny at 50. So, don't let that one degree scare you away.
* speaking of accuweather, it calls for pretty good weather next week in the general North Carolina/Virginia area. That's good news for the baseball team, which has 11 games scheduled for its spring break trip to those two states, as well as a concluding series at Navy. The baseball and softball teams have spent more than their share of time stuck in hotels watching rain fall during spring break. Hopefully that won't happen this time around.
* the third-ranked Princeton men's team is at Hofstra Saturday at 1 (it'll be 47 in Hempstead), which is going to be about 15 degrees warmer than Princeton's last game in Hempstead two years ago. The Pride is coached by Seth Tierney, the nephew of Princeton coach Bill Tierney, and is ranked 11th in one poll and 12th in the other. Another subplot of the game is that Princeton's first-year assistant coach Kevin Unterstein was the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year for Hofstra last season. Princeton comes into this game 4-0 and averaging 50.5 shots per game, which would be four more than any Princeton team Bill Tierney has coached for a full season. Princeton also has its lowest team shooting percentage of any of Tierney's team (.243) and its highest scoring average (12.25) this decade, proving that shooting percentage can be overrated. It's been an amazing transformation for Princeton offensively, from a team that held the ball looking for the perfect opening to one that fires as many shots as it can. Inside Lacrosse has ranked its Top 10 freshmen so far, and the list includes three Princeton defensive players: No. 3 Tyler Fiorito, No. 4 Chad Wiedmaier and No. 10 John Cunningham. Intererstingly, two of the other seven are Ivy League offensive players: No. 1 Rob Pannell of Cornell and No. 5 Jeff Cohen of Harvard. Those should be great matchups the next four years.