Monday, March 15, 2010

Rain, Heavy At Times

As TigerBlog was trying to leave the Jadwin parking lot after the lacrosse game Saturday, he saw that the regular exit onto Faculty Road was closed. He went out the other side, only to find the traffic bumper-to-bumper.

He was able to cut through the University League Nursery School parking lot and get to Broadmeade, and from there it was up to Nassau Street. And there, on the corner, what did TB see?

Yes, it was a giant tree stretched across Nassau Street. This tree, which was huge, was uprooted and laid out from one side to the other. TB had two thoughts as he looked at the tree. First, how old was it? Second, it must have been terrifying to be driving by as the tree fell.

For the next hour or so, TigerBlog maneuvered his way through a maze of roads that were closed by either downed trees as large as the one on Nassau or trees that had knocked down power lines or flooding. And when he finally got home, he was greeted by total darkness, as the power long-since had gone out. And why do flashlights run on those big batteries that nobody ever has laying around, and why flashlights never work?

It was an amazing storm that came through the Princeton area Friday into Saturday night, with some residual rain, thunder and lightning Sunday morning. According to Action News, the Princeton area had six inches of rain fall Saturday, along with winds that closed in on 60 mph.

Of course, this all came on the heels of four separate snowstorms of at least 15 inches that helped set the record for most snow in a winter in these parts. And temperatures that rarely got out of the 20s from January through early March.

So which was worse? The snowstorms or the rain? TigerBlog will take the rain. At least it means that spring is on the way.

Still, there is some winter still left, on the calendar (about a week) and on the sports schedule, where several individual winter athletes are competing in national competition and in baskteball, where both Princeton teams are still playing.

The women's team, of course, rolled through the Ivy League and will find out its reward tonight, when the selection show is held at 7 pm on ESPN.

The men also will play in the postseason, as the Tigers were rewarded for their 20-8 regular season and 11-3 Ivy record and second place finish with a bid to the CBI. Princeton will actually host a first-round game Wednesday night at 7 against Duquesne.

By the way, before anyone mocks the CBI, keep in mind that Princeton was 6-23 two years ago and has turned that around to 20-8 in Sydney Johnson's third year.

The men's basketball selection show was last night, and TB isn't sure what to make out of it anymore. It used to be that the selection show was the highest rated part of the tournament and in many ways the most dramatic.

Think about it. You have one group of teams that know they've won an automatic bid, another group that knows that no matter what it has an at-large bid and then another group that may or may not get in at all. And none of them know where they're going, whom they are playing, what their path to go deep in the tournament will be. They find out when everyone else does.

Today, though, the whole selection process is overdone. For starters, there is the endless "bracketology," a nice concept most notably done by a very nice guy, Joe Lunardi from St. Joe's. There is another mock ballot coming in a few days each week of the season, and much like the weather forecast it doesn't really matter if it's correct. In fact, even at its most thought-out level (like Lunardi's on, all it takes is one misplaced team to mess up the entire predicted ballot.

Then there's the non-stop over-analysis of the tournament. TB was flipping through the channels last night and stumbled on a panel of nine guys in suits on ESPN going through the bracket game-by-game. And this is still Sunday. Just wait as the week goes on.

Of course, from the inside, there's a euphoria that builds in the days leading up to participating in the tournament. It's a busy time for everyone involved with the program, and even if you knew weeks ago that you were going to the tournament, it's still impossible to get done most of what needs to be done until the actual matchups are set. There are any number of details, including travel arrangements, media needs, pregame preparation, local alumni functions and on and on.

For fans of Princeton men's basketball, the two natural teams to root for are Georgetown, the third-seed in the Midwest who opens Thursday with Ohio. Georgetown, of course, is coached by John Thompson, who led the Tigers to the 2001 and 2004 tournaments as head coach. Georgetown's road to the Final Four would probably involve beating Ohio, Tennessee, Ohio State and ultimately Kansas.

Richmond is the other team that Princeton fans will want to see win as the Spiders are coached by Chris Mooney, like Thompson a Princeton alum. Mooney, who began his coaching career at Lansdale Catholic High School, are the seventh seed in the South, and they would need to take out Saint Mary's and Villanova to get to the Sweet 16.

Then there is the other big issue for a Princeton fan. Do you root for Cornell to beat Temple? Cornell, the Ivy League champ, beat Princeton twice by three points, so it would make Princeton look good if the Big Red does well. On the other hand, Princeton is the last Ivy team to win a game in the tournament. Do you want to keep it that way as a Tiger fan?

And if you do, that means you root for Fran Dunphy, who used to be the Penn coach for all those years. And on his staff at Penn was Cornell assistant Steve Donahue.

Of course, all these questions get answered quickly. One of the most amazing parts of the tournament for TB is how the selection show is this Sunday and by next Sunday, 49 of the 65 teams are already done.

In the case of the women, it's 64 teams, 48 of whom will be done within a week. But, this is still the time for euphoria, so that won't matter tonight when the selection show is on.

Hopefully the power will be back by then.

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