Monday, February 1, 2010

Fun With Clark, The Hoyas, The President - And Rob Rizick

When the news that J.D. Salinger had passed away reached TigerBlog at the end of last week, TB's first thought was "hadn't he been dead for years?" No, it turned out; Salinger lived his later life as a recluse before his death at age 91.

Salinger, of course, wrote "The Catcher In The Rye," which is up there with "The Great Gatsby" and "A Prayer For Owen Meany" as the best novels that TB has ever read.

TB remembers vividly the day more than 30 years ago in Mr. Ridley's English class when TB first read "The Catcher In The Rye." As in most English classes, this one saw a portion of the book assigned as homework, with discussion the following day. This discussion often included reading passages in the class.

There is one part of the book where our protagonist, Holden Caufield, is just starting to feel good about life when he walks outside the museum and sees a profanity (the big one) scribbled on the side of the building. For Holden, this led back to total disillusionment. It's one of the most important passages in the book.

When Mr. Ridley called on Rob Rizick to read this part, he told him to read the obsenity as "the profanity." TB remembers thinking that Mr. Ridley meant to read it as it was written and not censor it, but what he actually meant was to substitute the actual profanity with the words "the profanity." Unfortunately for ol' Rob Rizick, he thought the same as TB; the rest is Manalapan High history.

TB has been known to curse, a trait he learned from MotherBlog, whose theory was there are way worse things than cursing, as long as you aren't offending anyone by shouting it at, say, the refs at a game. Princeton Athletics has long been vigilant about cursing by fans at athletic events, especially by students, because 1) there are a great deal of families with kids at the games and 2) because it's simply not right.

That's why TB was heartened to read in a recap of the Georgetown-Duke game that one student who was cursing was reprimanded by a fellow student, who reminded him: "Dude, the President of the United States is here."

TigerBlog's pecking order in non-Ivy League men's Division I basketball goes something like:
1. Georgetown
2. Northwestern
3. everyone else with a Princeton connection
4. Rider
5. everyone else
343. Duke

So it was great fun Saturday afternoon to see the Georgetown-Duke game turn into a runaway on the part of the Hoyas, who couldn't possibly have asked for more out of a basketball game played in January.

For starters, the Hoyas ran the Blue Devils out of the Verizon Center with an offense run to perfection - or at least 71.2% perfection, which was the highest single-game team shooting percentage in Division I this season.

And then there was the part where the President of the United States was at the game, sitting in the front row next to the Vice President and surrounded by several advisers. Early in the second half, President Obama joined the CBS on-air crew of Verne Lundquist (TB has met him several times, and it doesn't get too much more gentlemanly than Verne Lundquist) and Clark Kellogg (who is one of TB's favorites).

As an aside, and this is not meant as political commentary from the moderate TigerBlog, but if Mr. Obama's poll numbers go up this week, it'll be because of his appearance at the basketball game. He came across as just another guy who has a tough job and a family who was relaxing at a basketball game on a Saturday, as opposed to a politician trying to seem like a man of the people. When he left the building with a few minutes remaining, he stopped a shook Georgetown coach John Thompson's kids' hands and then gave a kiss on the cheek to Monica Thompson, the wife of the coach. He might as well have been saying: "tell John I'll talk to him later" as he left a family gathering or something.

During his time on CBS, Mr. Obama and Kellogg talked about a game that the President's brother-in-law, two-time Ivy League Player of the Year Craig Robinson, had played for Princeton against Kellogg's Ohio State team.

TB wasn't really familiar with the game, and from listening to Kellogg and Mr. Obama, it sounded like Kellogg and Robinson (now the Oregon State coach) had both had huge games but that Kellogg was just too much for the Tigers.

TB checked the box score first thing this morning and found that it wasn't exactly what happened. The game was from Dec. 19, 1981, and it was a 59-55 OSU win at Madison Square Garden. Princeton led by eight at the half before Ohio State built as much as an eight-point lead of its own in the second half. The Buckeyes that year had three players who would go to the NBA: Kellogg, Granville Waiters and Tony Campbell.

Neither Kellogg nor Robinson led his team in scoring; actually, both would have the game points (nine) and rebounds (12). Ohio State was led by Campbell, who had 18, and Waiters with 13. Princeton was led by Gordon Enderle's 22 points; no other player was in double figures.

Princeton's starting five that game? Enderle, Robinson, Neil Christel, Gary Knatt and Bill Ryan. Rich Simkus had eight points off the bench, while Jeff Pagano and Kevin Mullin came off the bench but did not score.

TigerBlog can't help but think that if the three-point shot was in existence back then, Princeton might have won. The three-point shot didn't come to college basketball until 1986; Thompson was a junior that year and a high school freshman at Gonzaga Prep in D.C. when that Princeton-Ohio State game was played.

To top everything else off about the Georgetown win over Duke, it was the 200th of Thompson's coaching career.

So that means that it was 189 wins ago that Princeton beat Penn at the Palestra in Thompson's first year as Princeton head coach, back in the dream season of 2000-01, when an unheralded Tiger team won the Ivy League title.

After that game, in the crowded media room at the Palestra, Justin Feil of the Princeton Packet asked Thompson where that win ranked.

Thompson replied quickly: "Well, I only have 11 of them, so this one definitely ranks in the Top 10."

TB reminded Thompson of that after the win over Duke Saturday.

"That was a pretty good line," Thompson said.


Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure that Jeff Pagano and Rich Simkus started that game, with Gary Knapp and Neil Christol coming off the bench.

Christol was a 6th man on that 81-82 team until Simkus broke a bone early in the Ivy season. Pagano got some starts as a freshman, and I'm guessing he saw less time every year with the arrival of John Smyth the following year and the eventual emergence of Isaac Carter.

Princeton OAC said...

TB thought the same thing, though the box score seems to suggest differently.