Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

When TigerBlog heard that the women's lacrosse team was going to Malta as the first stop on its international trip during fall break, he thought the trip had to be the stuff that dreams are made of.

If you're like TB, then your first thought of Malta is the movie "The Maltese Falcon," a 1941 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and a great supporting cast that included Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet.

The movie is set in San Francisco, not in Malta, a nation in the Mediterranean that ranks, as TB found out, 171st in the world in population and 200th in land mass.

The title character is a 16th-century statue covered in jewels and considered priceless. It never made it from the Knights of Malta to the King of Spain because pirates stole it, and nobody knows what ever became of the Maltese Falcon.

Greenstreet and Lorre have a few ideas on the subject though, and they've devoted their lives to finding it. Add in a little murder (of Bogart's partner), Bogart as the private eye whom the cops think may have had something to do with it, Mary Astor as the woman clouding Bogie's judgement and you have an all-time, all-time classic.

Late last week, TigerBlog was asked whether or not he thinks "The Maltese Falcon" is a better movie than "Casablanca," released one year later. To that, TB unflinchingly says "no."

This isn't a knock on "The Maltese Falcon," because "Casablanca" could be the greatest movie of all time.

Still, "The Maltese Falcon" is in that rarest of movie company, the ones that make all dial-changing stop when it appears on TV. TigerBlog isn't sure how many times he's seen the movie, and while he's seen "Casablanca" more, he basically has "The Maltese Falcon" committed to memory as well.

Like "Casablanca," "The Maltese Falcon" also ends with a great last line, uttered by Bogart after his position as the ultimate good guy is reaffirmed.

In "Casablanca," he says "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

In "The Maltese Falcon," it is: "the stuff that dreams are made of."

Meanwhile, the country of Malta was the starting point for the women's lacrosse trip.

The team left Saturday, going to Malta via London. The first order of business was to be a trip to Sicily Monday, but bad weather shut down the ferries and resulted instead in a substitute destination of Gozo, which is an island that is actually part of Malta.

The team will be in Malta until tomorrow, and then it's off to London, where among the activities will be three games against English competition and a trip to an English Premier League game.

As TB has said many times, there is nothing for a team like an international trip. The experience is something that stays with those who go forever.

For the women's lacrosse team, this trip is over fall break, at the conclusion of the fall practice season. In other words, it's timed perfectly.

TB is always fascinated about the destinations that are chosen, especially those that the people who make the trip get to see up close that they probably wouldn't go to under any other circumstances. In this case, it's Malta.

TB can't imagine that many people know more any about Malta than he did, and that was a rough idea of where it was and the movie about the fictional bird. TB doubts that too many of the current players have even heard of the movie, let alone seen it.

But they are in Malta, and then on their way to London.

Hey, it's the stuff that dreams are made of.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eye Of The Storm

TigerBlog is doing something right now that he's never done before. And it's not really right now.

It's actually Saturday night. Miguel Cabrera just popped out with the bases loaded.

For all TB knows, the World Series is over now. Just not while he's writing.

TigerBlog usually writes the morning of and sometimes the night before, especially if he has a meeting or something early the next day.

So why is did he write Saturday night, which is what it is right now as he types, though it's Tuesday morning as you read?

Oh, before getting to that, TB would like to point out that the blogger function offers the option to post something at a predetermined time in the future, which he does maybe 15% of the time or so. Until now (Saturday night, not Tuesday morning), he's never posted one more than one day in advance.

So why now?

Well, it's Sandy's fault.

As TB writes, the forecast is awful. Rain. Wind. No power for 7-10 days.

And so if TB waited until Tuesday and there was no power, imagine what could go wrong. Maybe his laptop wouldn't be charged and couldn't be recharged. Maybe there would be no way to get to the internet.

So faced with this, TB wrote twice Saturday night. Yesterday's was also actually written today, which is really three days ago.

TB has no idea what Hurricane Sandy will become, or has become, since it's actually now, as opposed to Saturday.

He does know that in the time leading up to the storm, there was a rush on all kinds of stuff, like generators and bottled water. Bottled water? It would have to get really, really bad for it to come to that.

The supermarket was picked clean.  There wasn't a loaf of bread to be found. The call was to have three days of food that doesn't require electricity to make on hand. To TB, that meant Pop Tarts.

TB is not a fan of blizzards that close schools and work and keep people anchored at home for a few days. He's even less of a fan of major rain events, especially those that knock out power and flood basements.

Luckily, Sandy held off long enough for the weekend's athletic events to go off, and all of the remnants will be gone by Saturday, when Princeton hosts Penn in a bunch of hugely important games.

One of them will be in football, when the Tigers and Quakers get together at 1 on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

Princeton and Penn are both 3-1 in the league, tied with Harvard for first place. Cornell and Dartmouth are both 2-2.

The last two Princeton games have been wildly exciting, to say the least.

In fact, in the win over Harvard and loss to Cornell, there have been a total of 2,168 yards of offense, of which 1,679 have come through the air. In the two games, there have been 15 passing touchdowns.

TB has no way of knowing if those are two-game records for Princeton. He does know that those numbers are off the charts extraordinary.

Princeton scored 120 points in seven Ivy League games a year ago. In the last five quarters, Princeton has scored 69 points.

The winning points in each of the last two games have come in the final minute.

So what's next? The Quakers.

Penn plays Harvard next week, and Harvard still has to play Yale after that. Penn still has to deal with Cornell. Princeton finishes with Yale and Dartmouth after Penn.

In other words, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the league champ will have two losses.

On the other hand, there is the argument that Harvard has lost for the last time, so Princeton needs to go 3-0 to get a share of the title.

Whichever is true, it's important to keep in mind that Princeton is building, transitioning from the team that went 1-9 the last two years. To accomplish what the Tigers have, with such a young team and without running back Chuck Dibilio, has been extraordinary.

With three weeks to go, Princeton still has a chance to to play for the championship. That's all anyone can ask for.

Well, that and for Sandy to fizzle out as quickly as possible.

Now it's time to write Wednesday's entry. Just to be safe.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Three From Saturday

As TigerBlog remembers it, the Heps cross country meet was a four-chocolate-chip-cookie, two brownie, one soft pretzel event. At least for him.

In fairness, the brownies were pretty small, and they did have confectioner's sugar on them, which made them completely unavoidable. And the cookies? He did offer one to someone else who turned it down.

TB loves the Heps cross country championships, and not just for the food that can be found at each school's tailgate. And hey, for this year, he limited himself at least to the food at the Princeton tent.

The most commonly heard comments at the West Windsor Fields Saturday during Heps? It was all about how the weather this year was better than last year, when driving snow was the big storyline.

This time, the weather was a big subject as well, with talk about how perfect it was for running and how the hurricane was on the way.

In years past, it hasn't always been easy to tell which team won the race as the parade of runners churns through the chute to the finish line. The first few are easy to identify, and then they start to come by too quickly to keep track of, let alone add up.

Instead, it can take five or 10 minutes for the official results to be posted, during which time the speculation runs as wildly as the race just did.

For the races this past weekend, there was no such problem.

It was obvious when the women's race ended that it was all Cornell, who ran away to the title. The drama was for who would be second, and that ended up being extremely close, as Princeton edged out Harvard and Brown, who tied for third, by two points (91-93).

As for the men, it was supposed to be close between Princeton and Columbia, and the first time the runners came around, it certainly looked that way.

The next time?

It was all orange and black, as the Tigers went 1-2-4-7-12 to win for the third straight year and sixth in the last seven. Princeton has also won seven straight Ivy titles in cross country or track and field after sweeping all three each of the last two years.

The individual winner was Princeton's Chris Bendtsen, who sprinted to the finish line and looked like he wasn't the least bit winded when it was over.

Bendtsen and the men's cross country team weren't the only big winners in Princeton Athletics Saturday.

In fact, Princeton teams won three Ivy League championships Saturday in a span of about eight hours.

Shortly after the cross country races ended, the field hockey team clinched at least a tie for the league championship, its 18th in the last 19 years.

This one was accomplished with a 5-0 win over Cornell. The Tigers would clinch the outright title with a win Saturday against Penn, but regardless of that game, Princeton has already earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The 2012 Tigers are one of the best field hockey teams in league history, and they have now outscored their Ivy opponents 38-1.

The third championship also was earned in Ithaca, as the women's soccer team defeated Cornell 5-1 to run its record to 6-0-0 in the league and 12-3-1 overall.

It almost became a bigger day for the Tigers when Penn and Brown went into overtime, and a Brown win or tie would have given Princeton the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament as well. Instead, Penn scored four minutes into OT, and so the automatic bid will not be decided until this weekend.

Princeton hosts Penn Saturday at 4 on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium, and a win or tie would give Princeton the outright championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Tigers could still get into the NCAA tournament with a loss, but that would take some luck.

For one thing, Princeton would need Dartmouth to beat Brown should it lose to Penn, which would create a three-way tie for the title. The NCAA bid would then be decided by a random draw, since Penn, Princeton and Dartmouth would all be 1-1 against each other and 5-0 against the rest of the league.

Of course, a win or tie for the Tigers makes all that irrelevant.

And hopefully the athletic facilities will still be standing when Sandy gets through with her show.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Frankenstorm

So a "Frankenstorm" is on the way?

Apparently that's the case, as Hurricane Sandy is making its way north, where it will meet up with cold Canadian air and some low pressure from the west.

One story TigerBlog read about the storm suggests that those in its path will be talking about it for decades to come. There are very few storms that TB still talks about decades later, and all of the ones he does are related to snow, not rain, so it would have to get pretty bad around here for that to be the case.

Very few things for homeowners are worse than a flooded basement, so TB is hoping that the worst of the storm stays away. He read in one place that landfall would be expected in Cape Cod and Maine; he's read in others that it could come ashore across Long Beach Island and into Central New Jersey.

The dire forecast will lead of course to the run on the supermarket, where everyone will stock up on milk and bread. Of course, if the power goes out, then it'll be necessary to have food that can be prepared without electricity, such as Oreos and M&Ms.

So all that's left to do now is to wait and see what happens. Will it hit here or stay out to to sea long enough to mostly miss the Princeton metropolitan area? And when will it be here?

Most of the forecasts say it'll be getting in around Monday or so and lingering through Wednesday, which is of course Halloween.

So what are you supposed to do about that? Go trick-or-treating in the remnants of a hurricane? Or will entire towns tell people that trick-or-treating will be held on another day?

One way to avoid the storm is to leave the country, which the Princeton women's lacrosse team is doing tomorrow, when it heads off to Malta, Sicily and London for a fall-break trip, and which the women's squash team is doing when it heads off to South Africa.

Like the men's lacrosse team, who went to Costa Rica in June, the women 's lacrosse and women's squash teams are taking advantage of their once-in-four-years international trip.

Unfortunately, most people will have to tough it out through the storm.

Before that comes up, though, there is a huge Saturday in Ithaca to go through, so any hurricane will have to wait.

Princeton is at Cornell tomorrow in four different sports, and each of the four games has huge Ivy League championship implications.

Going chronologically:

* The field hockey team is 5-0 in the league and has outscored its opponents by a combined 33-1 in those five games. Dartmouth, the only team to score against Princeton, is 4-1 in the league, followed by 3-2 Cornell and Columbia.

A win tomorrow in Ithaca would mean at least a share of the league title, and while that's never taken for granted, it's clearly not the main goal for the No. 2-ranked Tigers, who are thinking Final Four - and beyond.

* The football team has a difficult task tomorrow when it kicks off against the Big Red.

Right now, the Tigers are the only unbeaten team in the Ivy League at 3-0, followed by Harvard, Dartmouth and Penn at 2-1. Cornell is 1-2 in the league and 3-3 overall, but the Big Red have not lost at home this year.

Princeton is dealing with a bunch of other issues as well. The Tigers are coming off an amazing 39-34 win over Harvard in what was the best game any current Princeton player has ever been a part of on any level, TB will assume. After a week on that high, can the team pump it back up tomorrow?

In addition, there's also the whole expectations piece of the equation.

Princeton was 1-9 two years ago and 1-9 last year and 1-13 in the Ivy League in the two years combined. Princeton was picked eighth this year and now suddenly has to deal with success and along with increased expectations, even as the Tigers prepare to finish the season with games against four teams against whom Princeton is 0-8 the last two years.

* The men's soccer race in the Ivy League is insane, and a repeat of two years ago, when the league got four bids and saw two teams reach the Sweet 16, is again a possibility.

Princeton is unbeaten in the league - and in fourth place. The Tigers are 2-0-2 (eight points), behind 3-0-1 Brown (10 points) and 3-1 Dartmouth and Penn (nine points each) as they take on a Cornell team that lost for the first time this season (in or out of the league) last week at Brown.

Princeton does finish the league schedule with games against Penn and Yale, who are a combined 1-6-1 in the league.

* The women's soccer team is playing for some big prizes tomorrow evening.

The surging Tigers, led by the great Jen Hoy and a strong supporting cast, is 11-3-1 overall and 5-0-0 in the league. Penn and Dartmouth are tied for second at 4-1-0.

Cornell is 1-12-1 overall and 0-4-1 in the Ivy League, and a win over the Big Red would give the Tigers at least a share of the league championship. On the other hand, Cornell is 0-4-1 in the league with four one-goal losses.

If Princeton really wants to think big, then a win over Cornell and a Penn loss or tie with Brown would give the Tigers the Ivy's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Tigers will finish the regular season at home against Penn next Saturday, and a win over the Quakers would mean the automatic bid regardless of what happens tomorrow.

There are other scenarios as well for Princeton, mostly good but some bad. Still, Princeton has accomplished the first step, which is reach this stage of the season in position to play for championships and the postseason. And with some margin for error to boot.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Playing Favorites

TigerBlog has done a lot of radio in his life, probably more than just about anyone else who isn't actually a radio person.

He began doing it while at Penn, where among his broadcasting partners were Scott Graham, who ended up doing the Phillies on the radio for a few years and now does a lot of work with NFL Films and is also the voiceover for just about anything you'll hear on radio or TV, and a bunch of guys who are now lawyers or investment bankers.

Oh, and Paul Jolovitz, who has something to do with radio in Philadelphia, especially with the Eagles.

TigerBlog first did Princeton basketball on the radio with David Brody, who, TB believes, took over for Howard David. TB doesn't remember exactly how he went from simply covering the games for the newspaper to being Brody's partner; it just seemed to happen one day.

In fact, TB was part of something that almost never happens on basketball on the radio, a three-man booth with Brody and former Tiger center Rich Simkus. As TB remembers, it sort of worked, especially since Princeton spent so much time moving the ball around on offense that there was time for TB and Simkus to both make their points and make fun of each other.

TB's radio career has been more of necessity, as in there really hasn't been anyone else to do the games or he does them cheap (as in for free). He's not the greatest radio guy out there, but he'd say he's pretty good at it.

He's done a ton of basketball and not as much football, and he has done lacrosse by himself for a long time - something that's not easy to do.

Since 2005, TB has been the PA announcer for football here, and he's never been able to figure out whether he likes radio or PA better.

Among the men's basketball voices TB has worked with here have been Tom McCarthy, Dan Loney and John Sadak, who has been the Tiger play-by-play man for a number of years now.

Starting this season, Derek Jones will be replacing Sadak, coming to the men's radio chair after calling women's games previously, like Sadak did as well.

Jones' former and new teams have both been selected as the preseason favorites in Ivy League basketball.

The women are seeking their fourth consecutive championship. The men are seeking their 27th overall and second in three years.

Each league school had two of its media members vote in the preseason polls, and a national writer was added in as well, meaning there were 17 voters in each poll or 34 overall.

Speaking of polls, TB has always wanted to be polled about a political race but never has been.

Anyway, between the 34 votes in the two polls, Princeton received 29 first-place votes. A bit stunningly, Princeton actually got more first-place votes on the men's side than the women's.

The men were picked on 16 of the 17 ballots, while the women were picked on 13 of 17.

In case you forgot, the Princeton women went 14-0 in the Ivy League last year and won all 14 games by double figures, including 12 of 14 by at least 20. The Tigers were ranked in the Top 25 at season's end, becoming the first Ivy school to be so honored.

In the last three years, Princeton is 41-1 in the Ivy League. Yes, the Tigers did graduate 1,000-point scorers Devona Allgood and Lauren Edwards, but Niveen Rasheed returns for her senior year as by far the best player in the league.

But hey, it's okay not to be unanimous. Last year, Princeton picked up 14 first-place votes in the preseason poll. TB respects the opinion of the four this year who picked Harvard to win the league, though he would like to hear the logic.

As for the men, size certainly won't be a problem, as nine of the 14 members of the team are at least 6-8 and five of the 14 are at least 6-10.

Princeton has the benefit of its summer trip to Spain under its belt as preseason practices are moving along and opening day approaches. Like the women, the men also have a total superstar to build around, in the case of the men the wildly athletic and talented Ian Hummer, who is a Big East player in the Ivy League.

Back about this time 15 years ago (maybe even 15 years ago today, for that matter), Bill Carmody said at Ivy League basketball media day - they used to have those types of things - that his unanimously selected team should be the favorite, based on what they had back, and that he would have voted for his team as well.

It was a far cry from what Pete Carril used to say before each season, which was this: "I'm still trying to figure out what game we're going to win."

Anyway, that 1997-98 Princeton team featured Mitch Henderson and Brian Earl, who are now the head coach and assistant coach for the 2012-13 team. The 1997-98 Tigers went out and destroyed the league, rose into the national Top 10 and have just recently been mentioned by Sports Illustrated's Alex Wolff as one of the most influential teams of all time for the impact that running the Princeton Offense would have as a result of that success.

So the 2012-13 Princeton men and women are favored. Now they just have to go out and do it on the court.

It should be a fun winter around here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Walking And Running

TigerBlog found himself back in New York City yesterday.

Unlike his last trip, which was on a glamorous Saturday night in the theater district, this time he was there during a work day.

As he walked through the streets of midtown, he was struck by two things.

First, a lot of people in New York City smoke. Actually, that may or may not be accurate. It seems like a lot of them smoke because they all stand out in front of buildings to do it, and so it creates a never-ending wave of smoke for those who are just walking by.

TigerBlog can't understand why anyone would choose to smoke. It's a vile habit, and beyond that, it has a pretty good chance to shorten your life dramatically. There are enough hazards in the world without entering into one like that so needlessly.

If you smoke, quit. TB is happy to refer to you MotherBlog, who smoked - and died at age 55.

The other thing that TB was shocked by was how many people walk up to the food carts on the street and order whatever happens to be cooking there, without any real regard for, oh, general health?

It reminded TB of the scene in the wildly underrated "The Pope of Greenwich Village," when Mickey Rourke pulls Eric Roberts away from such a cart and says "all they're selling there is warm germs."

A long time ago, TigerBlog had a summer job in the city at 68th and Park, and right on the corner was a hot dog cart, where every now and then TB would get two with kraut and a YooHoo. And by every now and then, he means every afternoon.

Of course, he was 19 at the time, so maybe his system was better equipped to handle it.

Still, even back then, he would never have dreamed of getting some of the stuff that is being sold on the corners, things with meat and no place to wash their hands and - yuck - TB is getting queasy just thinking about it.

One undeniable part about his walking in Manhattan yesterday was that it was nearly perfect weather to be doing so, with the temperature right at 70 and an overcast sky that threatened but never really opened up.

In fact, the weather this fall has been astonishingly perfect for the most part.

It makes TB think back 52 weeks ago, when it snowed on a crazy Saturday in Princeton in late October.

It didn't just snow; it blizzarded. The day before it was sunny and 70. The day after it was sunny and 60. In between was the biggest accumulated snowfall of last winter, even if it came in the fall.

It destroyed the home weekend against Cornell, where field hockey, football and both soccers had work around the flakes.

More than that, it completely ruined the Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships, which were held here because of the construction at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

The result was a series of great pictures with snowflakes falling all around the competitors - and an all-around lousy experience for athletes, administrators and spectators.

Ah, but another chance has arisen. Van Cortlandt is still not available, and so the meet returns to Princeton for a second time, coming this Saturday to the West Windsor fields (beginning at 11 am).

The forecast is for nearly perfect weather again, 67 degrees, or about 40 more than last year. And the best part? No snow.

If you've never been to a Heps cross country meet, they are among the best events on the annual Ivy League sports calendar. There are big tents with great spreads for each of the eight teams. The full color of the rainbow - on the trees and uniforms - is well-represented.

The competition is fierce, and one of TB's favorite parts is how it's impossible to tell which team has won (usually, unless one team completely dominates) until shortly after everyone finishes and the results are totaled.

And there are such subtle differences in the scoring, as the runner from one school moves from 15th to 12th right at the end and changes the team score in any number of directions.

There are few competitions where the athletes are as spent as they are at the end of a major cross country event.

TB always loved going to the ones at Van Cortlandt.

This time, they're at Princeton. Again. With everything that makes the event great, without having to drive to the Bronx.

Or, mercifully, without the snow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Looking Forward

TigerBlog had a meeting Saturday morning in the gorgeous chemistry building that creates a triangle with Jadwin Gym and Princeton Stadium (although, as he recalls from Mrs. Mancuso's geometry class, any three points create a triangle).

When it was over, he walked out into the bright, brilliant late morning sunshine, with the multi-colored leaves of mid-fall visible through the openings in the stadium.

It was a great morning to be on the Princeton campus, with pristine weather and wall-to-wall people, all wearing either orange and black or crimson.

The first person TB saw when he walked outside was an older gentleman who was wearing a Crimson blazer. He looked at TB and saw his Princeton Athletics shirt and said "good luck to the Tigers today."

Any time that he is in that kind of situation, TB is reminded of the time that he pulled up to Columbia for a football game and had the parking attendant, another kindly older gentleman, say "I hope you enjoy the game," to which one of TB's favorites, Harvey Yavener, replied "we didn't come here to enjoy the game; we came here to kick your a--."

Forgetting for a minute that Yav really shouldn't have cared who won, because he was a newspaper writer and not affiliated with Princeton itself, the moment was pretty funny. And TB always thinks he's going to respond in a similar fashion one day, just for the shock value.

Sadly, TB is far too mature for that. Well, maybe not mature. Maybe he just wants to keep his job.

So what TB said to the man in the Harvard jacket was this: "Good luck to the Crimson as well."

To that, Mr. Crimson responded with what was basically the prevailing thought a little before noon Saturday, something along the lines of "we should win football, you should win field hockey, we'll see who wins soccer, beautiful day."

As it turned out, Princeton won field hockey.

And men's soccer in overtime.

And women's soccer.

And of course, football, in a game that you might have by now heard about.

A 4-0 day against Harvard. And yes, in beautiful weather.

There aren't too many Princeton fans who could ask for more than that from their Saturday.

As for TigerBlog, well, he's always cautious when it comes to days like that. You never want to get too high or take anything for granted, because days like that don't come along very often.

The first instinct in athletic communications would be to stick the chest out and trumpet that success. The reality is that you never want to go overboard.


Because there are a lot of other weekends coming up, and they all can't be this good. It's important to be humble and move on to the next.

And you never want to give the other teams something to gnaw at them any more than necessary. 

Besides, for all of those teams, there are still so many huge games coming up, including this weekend at Cornell, before the fall is over.

It's always a weird feeling for TigerBlog when there are huge midseason games, win or loss, and then the one-week wait until the next one. The drama continues to build, and seasons can turn so dramatically from one week to the next.

So yes, this past Saturday was, in many ways, historic, for the football game alone.

But there is a lot left to play for across the board.

The women's soccer team and field hockey team would get at least a share of the Ivy League title with a win in Ithaca. The men's soccer game is huge.

And football?

One of TigerBlog's favorite coaches was a man named Donnie Marsh, who coached men's basketball at the College of New Jersey when TB was in the newspaper business. Marsh once said something that has stuck with TB ever since, when he essentially said that anyone can win a big game; what's tougher is the game after the big game.

Now that it's Tuesday, the glow from last weekend can fade as it's time to get back to business as usual, with a renewed focus on this coming weekend.

As George C. Scott says in the final line of "Patton" as he walks across the field: All Glory Is Fleeting.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Greatest Ivy League Football Game TB Has Seen

As the public address announcer for Princeton football, TigerBlog isn't done when the game is over.

Instead, he spends 15 minutes watching the Fifth Quarter, when Powers Field is turned over to the fans. Eventually, as the clock winds down, he then asks, begs, cajoles the crowd to exit the field via the ramps at the bottom of sections 3, 4, 29 and 30 - something he's said about a billion times in his life.

While the Fifth Quarter party goes on, the Princeton players and their families/friends gather near the tunnel to the locker room. TB has to remind that group to exit the field as well.

Usually, it takes about three announcements to get the ball rolling.

This past Saturday, TB didn't even bother. What was the point?

Some days, you just have to let the party happen. This past Saturday was one of them.

As Powers Field was engulfed in a sea of orange and black humanity, the reason for the party hung over all of their heads, as if a reminder was needed. There it was anyway, lingering on the scoreboard:

Princeton 39, Harvard 34.

If you want to watch it again, go to espn3, search for Princeton and click on the Princeton-Harvard football link. It'll be there for five more days.

TigerBlog has been watching Princeton play football for nearly 30 years. Including his time as a Penn undergrad, he's always figured that the best Ivy League football games he's seen were, chronologically:

1982 - Penn 23, Harvard 21
1983 - Penn 28, Princeton 27
2006 - Princeton 31, Penn 30 (two OT)
2006 - Princeton 38, Yale 35

The game from this past Saturday surpasses any of those, for any number of reasons.

According to TigerBlog, that is 1) the best Ivy League football game he's ever seen and 2) the best football game he's seen in person.

And here's why: Princeton was such a huge underdog in that game that to come back the way the Tigers did defied any kind of logic. And the comeback itself? It was stunning, riveting.

The win over Penn in 2006 featured the play where Rob Toresco lateraled the ball to Jeff Terrell for a touchdown in the second OT, followed by the wild (and often-forgotten) play where Penn almost turned a bad snap on an extra point into the winning points, only to fall a yard short.

The win over Yale a week later featured a comeback from two touchdowns back as Terrell put on the aerial show that stamped him as the Bushnell Cup winner.

But the Penn game was a good game that had a dramatic ending, and the Yale game was the two best teams in the league, so it figured to even out over 60 minutes. And Princeton had the best player in both games.

The game this past Saturday was different because Harvard has been the dominant team in the league, had the nation's longest winning streak, had players put up obscene offensive numbers all day and held a 24-point lead with 12 minutes to go. Harvard was picked to win the league; Princeton was picked by many to finish eighth.

Put the teams in that same situation again, Harvard up 34-10 in the fourth quarter, and the Crimson win that game, what, 999 times out of a 1,000? Maybe more?

Princeton was outgained 415-51 in the first half, which ended 20-0 Harvard. It appeared that Princeton's chance was after its touchdown drive to start the second half and then fumble recovery on the Crimson 5, but when Princeton was held to a field goal and Harvard came right down the field to make it 27-10, TB thought it was over.

Harvard would end up with a school-record 448 yards and five touchdowns from its quarterback, Colton Chapple. One running back ran for 100 yards; three receivers had at least 100 yards, including Kyle Juszczyk, who caught 15 passes for 192 yards and three TDs.

In all, the Crimson rolled up 634 yards of offense.

But it was Princeton who could not be stopped in the fourth quarter.

Twice Princeton scored touchdowns, went for two and converted, cutting a 24-point deficit to one possession. And then Princeton scored another touchdown, Connor Michelsen (who was fabulous) to Seth DeValve, and it was 34-32 2:27 to play.

And then came the biggest play of the game. Princeton failed on the two-point conversion. And that ended up being a huge part of why Princeton won.

Had Princeton tied it there, then Harvard would have had 2:27 and all three of its timeouts needing only a field goal to win. Given the way the Crimson offense had gone all day, the chances of success there were huge.

But instead, Harvard needed to run out the clock against a team determined to get the ball back. And so Princeton did just that, holding Harvard less than a yard shy on three downs. Harvard elected to punt instead of going for the first down - TB understands it, and given what the Tigers had to do to win, it's hard to second-guess.

The winning drive went 11 plays and covered 90 yards, without any timeouts, taking 1:44 off the clock. The touchdown was Quinn Epperly to Roman Wilson from 38 yards, after Michelsen had been knocked out of the game a few plays earlier, with 13 seconds left.

Really, it was something like from a sports movie, where the underdogs need the late touchdown and the ball seems to hang in the air forever - and nobody can really believe what happened.

TigerBlog Jr.'s friend and father had left earlier in the fourth quarter to go to Nassau Street. He called them to come back, and they made it back to the outside of the stadium just as Wilson was hauling in his pass, where they were greeted by a roar that almost knocked them over, a roar that told the whole story.

And then the crowd held its breath through a kickoff return and incomplete pass, and then the Fifth Quarter - and Sixth and Seventh Quarters - began.

Ordinarily, TB isn't a huge fan of storming the field when a championship hasn't been won, but in this case, he could hardly blame anyone.

Two games into the season, Princeton was 0-2, 2-20 under Bob Surace.

And now? An unlikely four-game winning streak and sole possession of first place in the Ivy League with four games to go.

Now keep in mind that Princeton is 0-8 the last two years against the four remaining teams (at Cornell, home with Penn, at Yale, home with Dartmouth).

On the other hand, if Saturday's game showed anything, it showed that this team has a special quality to it, and that quality can take teams a long, long way.

Will this team win the Ivy title? If it does, it would be one of the great stories in Princeton Athletics history.

And if not? They'll always have this past Saturday, a win that nobody who was there will ever forget. It was a shocking 12 minutes, a time that reminds you why it is that sports are like nothing else out there.

As TB looked down on it from the PA booth, he couldn't help but feel good for Surace, one of the nicest guys who's ever walked into Jadwin Gym, and the rest of the coaches and players, all of whom had been through so much during their time here.

It was a special, special moment. Every now and then, TB would glance back up at the scoreboard, just to make sure he'd seen it the right way.

Princeton 39, Harvard 34.

The greatest Ivy League football game TB has ever seen.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Guest TigerBlog: The Case For Squash (by Julie Cerullo ’13)

TigerBlog has a long-standing policy of opening up the floor to those with something to say. Today, though, is a first - a Princeton athlete has taken him up on his offer. Julie Cerullo, a senior on the women's squash team, is a three-time first-team All-America and and Academic All-Ivy League selection who reached the national semifinals a year ago. She offered to write about the chances of having her sport become an Olympic sport. Her piece is well-timed, given what tomorrow has been designated  in the world of squash - and that TigerBlog is still busy celebrating the end of the Yankees' season.

What is 140 years old, played by 17 million people in 185 countries, and is described by Forbes Magazine as “the world’s healthiest sport?”

Hint: The Princeton Tigers men’s team is the reigning intercollegiate champion.

The answer is SQUASH.

For all its heritage and global popularity, though, for some reason it is still not an Olympic sport. Squash is not even an NCAA sport!

In an effort to make this right, the World Squash Organization has declared tomorrow (Oct. 20) World Squash Day. It’s a chance to promote the demand of squash lovers that the sport be included in the 2020 Olympics. World Squash Day has garnered extra attention in the U.S. because of the considerable public relations push devoted to the Olympics effort. World Squash has engaged Mike Lee, head of VERO Communications to spearhead the campaign. Lee was instrumental in effecting “Rugby Sevens’” successful bid for a berth in the 2016 Olympics.

Princeton’s ties to squash are deep. Men’s coach Bob Callahan ’77 was recently inducted into the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame. Women’s coach Gail Ramsay is the only four-time intercollegiate women's champion; Yasser El Halaby ’06 is the only four-time men's champ.

Princeton has in its alumni ranks many intercollegiate champions – current men’s Co-captain Todd Harrity ’13,  Jon Nimick ’81, Wendy Zaharko ’75, Demer Holleran ’89, and Julia Beaver ’01, to name a few. Some have gone on to incorporate their passion for the sport into careers. John Nimick owns a sports production company that stages athletic competitions, such as international squash tournaments, in non-traditional settings. Jack Wyant ’96 is Head Coach of the University of Pennsylvania men’s and women’s varsity squash teams.

US Squash CEO Kevin Klipstein was recently on campus helping celebrate the 120th anniversary of Princeton Squash, an alumni day that attracted more than 200 returning squash enthusiasts. The celebration entailed two exhibition matches and round-robin play followed by a reception and dinner, during which Klipstein presented a compelling argument and video for why squash should be in the Olympics.

Klipstein accepts that sports seeking Olympic status do have to put forward what positive contribution they could make to the Olympics. But he thinks squash’s case is strong.

“It’s a growing sport with real global appeal, and all five continents have already produced both men’s and women’s world champions. The game has a unique ability to showcase a host city and is easy and cost-effective to integrate. It’s a game that already has well-established men’s and women’s tours and is played in every other major multi-sports games,” Klipstein said. “And by the way it’s a clean sport [from the drug perspective] and really reinforces Olympic Values.”

On paper, squash meets all the criteria required of an Olympic sport in terms of its history, universality and popularity. It’s good for athletes’ health and would be relatively cheap to integrate. But squash will be competing against five other sports for one open berth in the 2020 games.

The other aspirant sports are Karate, wushu (a martial art), roller sports, sport climbing and wake boarding, and it won’t get any easier beyond 2020 as lacrosse and mixed martial arts have announced their plans to seek Olympic status in the future. A possible bid by softball and baseball for reinstatement in 2020 further complicates the decision.

Squash has come close to achieving Olympic status in the past, only narrowly failing to gain the required two-thirds majority vote from the IOC.

There is evidence of broadening support for squash’s bid in the August 2012 issue of “The Atlantic.” In her article, Ashley Fetters rated squash’s changes highly. She cited the sentiment of many, including academic John Barrow, professor of mathematical sciences at Cambridge and author of the book “Mathletics,” who posits that criteria for inclusion in the Olympics should be whether winning the Olympic Games would be the pinnacle of achievement in that sport. One might argue that sports such as golf, soccer, tennis and baseball do not meet this threshold.

Steve Harrington ’13, current co-captain of both the men’s squash team and the baseball team agrees.

He said, “winning the World Series will always be the pinnacle achievement in baseball. Because the World Series and the Olympic Games overlap, the top baseball players wouldn’t even show up to compete for gold.”

For this reason, he believes that squash is much more deserving of Olympic status. He continues, “having the Olympics on the squash calendar would make the sport much more official, and an Olympic gold would no doubt be the highest achievement possible in the sport.”

Like these sports, squash does exist on a professional level, but on a very modest scale. It would be tough to cite a professional squash player who lives merely on squash earnings, let alone one who is able to retire on them. In the case of the baseball/softball rebid, it is widely believed that baseball was ejected because the stars of the game have opted not to play in the Olympics.

Meredeth Quick ’01, who was a member of two national championship teams during her time at Princeton and played professionally post college, argues that squash has an unusual attribute:

You can keep on playing it into middle and even old age. “It’s a lifetime sport – you can play it forever, ” she says. Quick, now a teacher, continues to compete on the women’s doubles circuit, coaches high school squash at her school and has coached two consecutive U. S. Junior National Teams. She believes that squash’s inclusion in the Olympics would encourage greater participation in the sport.

Indeed squash has been growing in the U.S., and Klipstein notes that  “squash has grown by a factor of about 25% every year over the last five years.”

There is no question that increased exposure by way of Olympic coverage would boost squash’s profile. Olympic sponsorship funds are distributed through sports federations to their sports. This would be a big boon for squash in terms of supporting national training. And squash is not presently an NCAA sport. Klipstein adds that the Olympics would make a big case for elevating the sport domestically in this regard.

The fate of squash as an Olympic sport will essentially be known by this time next year. While baseball and lacrosse are beloved at Princeton too, it may be squash’s turn. What a coup squash in the Olympics would be for a sport embraced by Princeton – perhaps home of more future Olympians!

[And in case you’re wondering, the game of squash originated at The Harrow School in England. It derived from a combination of the games “racquets” (tennis) and “fives” (handball). The name squash comes from the notion of the rubber ball “squashing” against the court wall upon impact.]

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book It

To look at Miss TigerBlog, you'd think it wouldn't take much of a strong breeze at all to knock her flying.

Measuring her body fat would be problematic, because you'd first have to find some, somewhere, on a body that is almost all legs, scrawny ones at that.

And yet she can somehow lift up her backpack to bring it back and forth to school.

TigerBlog can barely get the thing off the ground, what with the way it is jammed with book after book - and measuring his body fat is getting easier and easier these days.

MTB is not the only kid who goes to school who carries a backpack that seems to weigh more than she does. In fact, there are studies now about the health issues related to carrying such heavy objects, especially on young backs.

It's amazing to TB that these books need to go back-and-forth every day, especially when he did about 80% of his homework in the class before it needed to be turned in. Well, maybe not 80% - though he's pretty sure the statute of limitations of not paying attention in English to get his statistics homework done long since expired.

It's even more amazing that these books are loaded up every day in the year 2012, when they could all be replaced by one iPad.

The worst part for TB isn't when MTB asks him to carry her bag from the car to the house. It's when the books come out and TB is asked to help with homework questions, especially math ones.

TigerBlog never got anything less than an A in any math class he ever took, from elementary school up through calculus. He's a big fan of the logic involved, and for some reason, it always just clicked for him.

And of course he long ago forgot most of it (other than the basics, like how to compute the tip for the check or a save percentage or how many days until lacrosse season starts or something important like that).

So when MTB asks him questions about whatever it is they're up to these days, it either triggers a great challenge in TB to remember how to do it and figure out or a sense that he'll never be able to, in which case he summons TigerBlog Jr., whose own willingness to help his younger sister can be summed up neatly in his usual one-word response of "no."

And then there's the question that no parent can figure out a way to answer: Why can't we divide by zero?

Back when TB was in school, if he told his father that he got a 98 on a test, the response would be "who got the other two?"

TB's own approach is a little different and involves something that Pete Carril always said: "can you look your father in the eyes and tell him that you did the very best you could do and gave your maximum effort?"

As kids go through the school progression, there is the graph of those with the intelligence to get into the very best colleges and those with the athletic ability to play at a high Division I level.

The overlap of those two graphs will be on display all over Princeton's campus this weekend.

TigerBlog senses that the introduction to strength and conditioning that many of these athletes who will play here this weekend came as a result of carrying backpacks like MTB's.

In what is one of the best things about Ivy League athletics - and something not done enough - this Saturday will offer four Princeton-Harvard matchups, beginning at noon and running non-stop until long after it gets dark.

It begins with field hockey on Bedford Field (noon) and continues with football at 1, men's soccer at 4 and women's soccer at 7. The only one of those events that charges admission is football, and even that is extraordinarily affordable.

And the weather forecast? Sunny, high of 66, zero percent chance of rain. In other words, you have no excuse for not being there.

Princeton and Harvard have a great rivalry, one that begins each year with the U.S. World and News Report rankings of the top colleges and universities in the country, where Harvard or Princeton or both is always ranked No. 1.

Naturally, such a rivalry would inspire loyalty and devotion among its alums, and it's only enhanced when the current generation of Orange and Black takes on the current generation of Crimson.

Making it even better on top of that is the fact that there are Ivy League championship implications across all four events as the races start to get really serious.

If your measuring stick is big-time BCS football and men's basketball, you're missing something if you've never walked around an Ivy League school on a fall Saturday like the one coming up. There will be alums everywhere, all wearing their school colors, some going back many, many decades.

For TB's money, there aren't many days on many campuses that more represent what is good about college athletics.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Alive And Kicking

A little after 6:00 Saturday evening, TigerBlog turned right off 8th Avenue onto 44th Street, looked up and was completely amazed.

Oh, he'd been there before, many times, in fact. For some reason, this time it looked so much different, so much more awesome.

There he was, on a Saturday night, in the heart of the theater district. Everywhere he looked there were people and lights and theaters and restaurants. The area was so, well, alive.

FatherBlog is a city guy. He was born in New York, grew up in Brooklyn. He works in midtown every day. He was there for blackouts, on 9/11, all of it.

To him, the world is divided into two kinds of people - New Yorkers and hicks. He once was shocked to eat at a great restaurant in Trenton, wondering why such a place would be "in the middle of nowhere like this."

TigerBlog is not a city guy. He much prefers to stand on fields next to big parking lots just down the road from strip malls and highways.

And yet even he couldn't help but marvel at being in Manhattan on a Saturday night. It was exciting.

Living an hour away, it's easy to forget how many people never get to see New York City and how many people around the world would love the chance to see it for themselves.

Yes, it's crowded and expensive and has its dirty parts.

At the same time, it's the City That Never Sleeps, the Big Apple, the single most important city in the world. And it's just up the road.

While TB was driving through the Lincoln Tunnel, the Princeton men's soccer team was wrapping up its 0-0 tie with Columbia in Upper Manhattan. Shortly thereafter the women's team defeated Columbia 2-1.

This has been a great bounce back year for Princeton soccer after both struggled a year ago.

Of course, the men's team went to back-to-back NCAA tournaments the two years before that, and women's coach Julie Shackford has won more games than any Princeton soccer coach, male or female, ever has and is the only Ivy women's coach who has ever taken a team to the Final Four.

This year, both teams are in the thick of the races for Ivy League championships and NCAA tournament bids. And coming up Saturday will be another great doubleheader on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium, which, as TigerBlog has said, makes for as good an athletic experience at Princeton as there is.

The visitor Saturday will be the Harvard Crimson, with the men's game at 4 and the women's game at 7. If you're looking to make a Princeton-Harvard day of it, there is Princeton-Harvard field hockey at noon and football at 1.

The Princeton men are currently in fourth place in the league but with a national RPI of 32, which shows you how strong Ivy men's soccer is. The men do have a great schedule the rest of the way, with games against Penn, Harvard and Yale, who are a combined 0-7-2 in the league, as well as undefeated Cornell (12-0-0 overall, 3-0-0 in the league).

At the same time, the teams above Princeton (Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown) all play each other.

Meanwhile, the women's team can say that it is the only undefeated team in the league and that it has the leading scorer in the nation with the wondrous Jen Hoy. If you haven't seen her play, it's must-see viewing.

Princeton still has considerable work to do this season, of course.

Right now, the Tigers are 4-0-0 (9-3-1 overall), followed by Penn and Dartmouth at 3-1-0. Princeton has already defeated Dartmouth and finishes its league schedule with Harvard, a trip to 0-3-1 Cornell and then a home game against Penn.

The Quakers are at Yale, home with Brown and then at Princeton. Dartmouth is at Columbia, home with Harvard and at Cornell.

Harvard is still thinking championship as well, as the Crimson sit at 2-1-1.

Princeton doesn't need to go 3-0-0 the rest of the way to win, and in fact there are combinations that would have the Tigers lose to Harvard and still win the league. Still, the best way would be to keep winning.

No matter what, this soccer season has already been more fun than last, and as the seasons enter their final few weeks, both of Princeton's teams are playing to get to the postseason.

As we know now, there won't be any NCAA games at Roberts Stadium.

TB is pretty sure either Princeton team would be happy to go on the road come November.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wanna Bet?

In case you missed the news last night, the NCAA released a statement saying that because of the new state law in New Jersey that permits single game sports wagering, no NCAA championship competition can be held within the state.

The release mentions that five championship events will immediately be moved out of the state: the Division I Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, Diving Regionals (Piscataway, March 14-17), Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, Trenton Regional (Trenton, March 30-April 2), Division III Men’s Volleyball Championship (Hoboken, April 26-28) and the Division II and III Women’s Lacrosse Championships (Montclair, May 18-19).

What's unsaid is that any college in New Jersey that earns the right to host an NCAA tournament game no longer can.

This, of course, has a huge impact on Princeton, which usually hosts multiple events per year.

For instance, the Tiger field hockey team would almost surely host NCAA tournament games this year. The men's and women's lacrosse teams have often hosted first-round games - not to mention predetermined quarterfinals and Final Fours.

The men's soccer team hosted NCAA tournament games in consecutive years. The women's soccer team hosted - and won - four straight NCAA games in 2004 on its way to the Final Four.

The NCAA cross country regionals were here two years ago. The men's water polo Final Four was  here in 2009. While it hasn't been recently, the NCAA wrestling championships and fencing championships have been held in Jadwin Gym.

The NCAA women's rowing championships have been in New Jersey as well, though Princeton has not been the host. 

And now? Not anymore. Not as long as this law remains the law of the state of New Jersey.

Never mind that there probably isn't a lot of action moving on the Princeton field hockey team in the NCAA tournament.

Never mind that the same weekend that the field hockey tournament starts that there are any number of Philadelphia-area schools who will play football and men's basketball, all closer geographically to many of the places where sports gambling would be legal than Princeton University is.

It doesn't matter.

Nor does it matter, perhaps, that the law doesn't go into effect until the new year. The ban is immediate.

Of course, there is legal action from both sides of this debate, so it's possible that the courts will change the outcome. Or not.

Forget for a minute the morality of having the state - any state - in the business of gambling, which has ruined so many people's lives, destroyed so many families and left so many people broke, in prison or worse.

The idea of having sports betting in New Jersey stems obviously from the money-making potential. To have the ability to generate so much income is attractive to the state, especially when times are tough.

The decision that the state of New Jersey had to make, TigerBlog assumes, was based on the idea of generating that revenue and sacrificing revenue for things like NCAA basketball or hockey tournaments at the Prudential Center in Newark or NCAA Final Four lacrosse at MetLife Stadium.

It's unlikely that the fact that Princeton or any other New Jersey college (on any level) would no longer be able to host the first round in field hockey or soccer or lacrosse ever entered the discussion.

As an aside, this doesn't include squash or men's rowing, which are not NCAA sports. 

Still, it's schools like Princeton that are left to explain to all of New Jersey's college athletes who earn the right to play at home that they cannot do so because of a law that for all practical purposes has nothing to do with them. It wouldn't be much different to ban schools from hosting NCAA championship events because a state has casino gambling, or, for that matter, the internet.

Is anyone betting on field hockey? Lacrosse? College soccer? Of course not.

But the NCAA can't make a rule that says that those sports are exempt. TigerBlog gets it, he supposes.

This is one of those rare issues where TB understands the point of view of the state of New Jersey and the NCAA, even though they're complete opposites. New Jersey needs the money, so if it means that Princeton or Rutgers or the College of New Jersey can't host an event, so bet it. The state is okay with that.

And TB understands that there is no bigger threat to the integrity of sports - not performance enhancing drugs, not paying players, not anything - than having athletes who are competing not to win but to influence point spreads.

So he gets it all.

And yet, when he thinks about the people this will directly impact on this campus, he can't help but reach the obvious conclusion that it's ridiculously unfair to them.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Progress Report

As much as TigerBlog dislikes the Eagles, he was still hoping they'd win when their game against the Lions went to overtime Sunday.


Because he couldn't believe that Detroit didn't go for the win at the end of regulation.

If you missed it, the Lions had the ball on the Philadelphia 1 with 13 seconds to go, down three points, with no timeouts. Two incomplete passes later, the Lions kicked a field goal to go to overtime.

Was that the right choice? On the play that the field goal was kicked, the option was to get one yard and win the game or kick the sure field goal and go to OT, where it'd be 50-50.

Had Detroit gone for the win, its chances were probably better than 50%, probably around 75% or so.

It would have taken guts though, because Detroit coach Jim Schwartz would have been second-guessed up one side and down the other. And NFL coaches never want to get the blame, only the credit.

So Detroit kicked, and ultimately it worked out.

Still, having the ball on the goal line needing only to punch it in to win? It's too tempting not to try.

Then there are the Yankees. Sure, the chance is still there to come back and win the series, but it's not exactly looking good, not down 2-0 and having to go on the road to go up against Justin Verlander.

On top of that, New York has now played 21 innings in the ALCS and has come up scoreless in 20 of them. And Derek Jeter is out. And nobody is hitting. It's quite shocking to watch, actually, even for someone who can't stand the Yankees.

Ah, but that's baseball talk. And today is all about football.

The Giants won, defeating the 49ers rather easily. TB is pleased that his favorite team is now 4-2, but he is on record as saying he would have been fine had they gone 0-16 this year, after winning two of the last four Super Bowls.

One team that TB didn't want to see go winless was the Princeton football team.

Now, after Saturday's 19-0 win over Brown, Princeton has needed half of this season to eclipse the combined win total of the last two years.

In fact, prior to Saturday, Princeton was 4-1 against Columbia and Lafayette and 0-19 against everyone else under Bob Surace. The need to get a win over Brown was huge, especially since the Tigers were 0-12 against the final six opponents over the last two years.

It's hard to point to a moment when a program turns the corner, and you never want to look too much into any one result. But Brown played Harvard decently close and has been the second-best team in the league of late, and Princeton hadn't beaten the Bears since 2006.

Princeton has to be the most improved defensive team in the country.

A year ago, Princeton allowed an average of 32.5 points, 270.5 passing yards and 396.5 total yards per game.

This year, those numbers are 11.6 points, 211.6 passing yards and 306.0 total yards.

Princeton allowed 24 passing touchdowns last year. So far this year that number is one.

Even in hidden areas Princeton has improved. A year ago, Princeton averaged 65 yards per game in penalties. This year, that number is 33, essentially half as much.

So where are the Tigers now?

Tied for first in the Ivy League, that's where.

The teams they're tied with are Harvard and Penn. There probably aren't too many objective observers of Ivy League football who think that Harvard isn't going to run the table this year, but that doesn't mean the Crimson definitely will.

Princeton hosts Harvard Saturday at 1 on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. Hopefully the weather will be the same as it was this past weekend, when it was perfect.

It'd be great to see how big the crowd might be.

In the meantime, when a team defends the way Princeton has this year, it's hard to think in terms of not being in a game.

Regardless of what happens, it's great that Princeton is in this position, of playing a big game in late October.

TigerBlog would suggest that Princeton not sight of its goal for the year, which was to have measurable improvement over the last two. In terms of actual numbers, getting to 5-5 would be a great step in the right direction.

And Princeton could do that, even if it loses Saturday.

But the Tigers shouldn't think like that. No, Princeton should prepare this week like it's another game and then take its best shot at beating the Crimson.

Certainly what happened against Brown should be a huge confidence booster.

It was a great game for the Tigers, and a huge sign of progress.

Halfway through the 2012 season, it's obvious that the 1-9 years are well in the rearview mirror.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sara And Manny

Sara Hendershot had just finished her participation in a two-hour discussion on the past, present and future of women's athletics, and now some of the audience members were coming up to ask questions and talk about how much they enjoyed having her there.

As one man in a suit extended his hand, he mentioned that this was the first time he'd ever shaken hands with an actual Olympian.

There is something extraordinary about having been an Olympian, something that drives people like Hendershot to recommit to getting back there again and that makes people like those in the audience yesterday marvel at that level of dedication and athletic greatness.

The occasion was the College Athletic Administrators of New Jersey's annual symposium and awards luncheon. In the interest of full disclosure, TigerBlog is now the president of the organization.

Hendershot was joined on the panel by Erin Buzuvis, a lawyer/blogger/professor at Western New England whose specialty is Title IX issues, and Linda Yost, Associate Director of Athletics at Stockton State in South Jersey. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Yost had been an assistant basketball coach at Brooklyn College and had been involved in a very contentious Title IX suit.

The panel discussion began with Yost's story, about how Brooklyn College basically turned its women's program into a complete underclass in every way possible. The resulting lawsuit was a slamdunk win for the women - except that the school decided to drop all athletics as a response.

Brooklyn College was at that time in the East Coast Conference, a league that then included Rider. TB covered a few Rider-Brooklyn College games and never once suspected anything was up Title IX-wise, or, for that matter, would have thought to consider it.

Maybe it's because he saw some of it first-hand and definitely because it wasn't that long ago, but when TB listened to Yost, he couldn't help but be amazed at what was going on.

As TB has often said here, the idea that Princeton would in this day and age engage in an institutional decision to favor men's teams over women's teams in areas like practice times, scheduling, athletic communications, athletic medicine, strength and conditioning, facilities or any of it is unimaginable. It's just not even conceivable that someone in the administration here would suggest doing so in the first place.

It's easy for an audience like the one at the CAANJ event yesterday - which featured many young men and women who are just starting out in careers in college athletics - to forget that women like Yost as recently as 20 years ago had to put up with situations like the one at Brooklyn College.

Of course, for the ones who think that it's okay to go back to those days, there is Buzuvis, who spoke about current issues still related to Title IX compliance - such as double-counting of women athletes on multiple rosters, sports that don't fit the true definition of an NCAA competition and even sexual assault on campus.

And she does more than just talk about. She is actively involved nationally in the legal issues that continue to arise these days.

As for Hendershot, her story was one of a girl who grew up exposed to any number of athletic opportunities and eventually pursued rowing, in part because of the expanding number of college opportunities for women in the sport.

She spoke about her experiences at Princeton, how she made it up through the national team ladder all the way to two world championships in fours (one with the U23 team, one with the full national team) and ultimately to the London Olympics, where she finished fourth in pairs, 0.2 seconds away from a medal. She also pointed out that American women won more medals than American men and that, for the first time ever, there were 1) women competing in every sport that men competed in, with the addition of women's boxing, and 2) more American women Olympians than men.

She talked about rededicating herself in college when she thought she wasn't giving her best, and she talked about wanting to get back to the Olympics in 2016, how the Olympic experience was beyond her wildest dreams. She spoke about coming back from a broken rib that almost kept her from the Olympics, how she and her teammates struggle to make ends meet while committing full-time to training, how she's lived in the houses of strangers (through a program that U.S. Rowing created) because she had no money to be anywhere else.

It's hard to imagine someone making a better impression on a room full of people than Hendershot did. In fact, when the discussion was opened up to Q&A, the first one for her was if she'd ever considered motivational speaking as a career path.

After that, it was time for the awards luncheon.

Princeton again won the CAANJ Cup as the top Division I/II athletic program in New Jersey.

The ridiculously impressive Manny Sardinha was honored as the Division I/II student-athlete of the year, for his performance with the men's soccer team and his very long list of off-the-field academic and service accomplishments. He spoke about having been given the opportunity to pursue those accomplishments and not just being an athlete during his college career.

There were six student-athlete winners, a male and female from the junior college and Division III ranks, as well as the Division I/II. If you're keeping score, the junior college Cup went to Gloucester Community College, and the Division III one went to Stevens Institute of Technology.

In all there are 44 colleges in New Jersey, and five conference offices are also based in the state. Each year, TigerBlog marvels at the different stories the athletes tell about their experiences, the different backgrounds they come from - the men's junior college winner came to this country with his mother from Russia - and the different challenges that each of the schools face.

Ultimately, he leaves again remembering how lucky he is to work at Princeton, at a place that every day challenges those who come here to either work or study and demands excellence from them. It's a University that is very clear about about its values, and it doesn't compromise them for anyone.

At the same time, it's also a school with a huge endowment and with advantages that many of the schools at the CAANJ event could never imagine. As such, there is a responsibility among those like TB to appreciate what they have here and to never take it for granted.

For TB, though, it's always, always about the people here, and the last two days have been a reminder of that and also a reminder to never take that end of it for granted.

How can he, when he works at a place that includes people like Bob Callahan, whose Hall of Fame induction TB was at Wednesday night, and Sara Hendershot and Manny Sardinha, whom TB was left to marvel at yesterday.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Man Of The Hour

The man of the hour stood inside the glass-encased squash court that has taken up temporary residence where basketballs usually bounce, right there in the center of the main floor of the Daskalakis Athletic Center at Drexel University.

He wore a dark suit with a yellow tie, one adorned with crossed squash racquets, one that left TigerBlog wondering where someone would get such a tie in the first place.

As he sat and listened to what was being said, TigerBlog couldn't help but think of how different this man looks in a suit and not the attire TB usually sees him in - white tennis shorts, a Princeton shirt of some sort and a jacket.

TB isn't talking about any tennis shorts. He's talking about the kind that they used to wear at Wimbledon and Forest Hills back in the early 1970s.

In fact, now that he thinks about it, TB wonders where someone would get those shorts these days as well.

This was a more formal occasion, though, and for the man of the hour, only a suit and tie would do.

And so that's what Bob Callahan wore to his U.S. Squash Hall of Fame induction ceremony, even though TB had offered him $20 to wear the Princeton women's hockey jersey that was on the office chair when Callahan came into the office earlier in the day.

In fact, Callahan could have worn whatever he wanted, since this really wasn't about any kind of showy dress.

No, this was about what was underneath, what was in the heart - Bob Callahan's and everyone who was there last night.

Some applause is polite. Some applause is mandatory. Some applause is overcompensated.

When they clapped for Bob Callahan, it was for one reason only. Everyone there loves the guy.

Trinity head coach Paul Assaiante introduced Callahan and called him "the classiest person I know." He also spoke about Callahan's legendary sportsmanship, how he treats victory and defeat the same. He called Callahan his friend multiple times and twice called him his "brother from another mother."

Going back to February, Callahan's Princeton team defeated Assaiante's Bantams to win the national championship. This wasn't just any championship, though. This one ended Trinity's 13-year run at the top.

Assaiante joked that he was wearing his 13th championship ring because Bob Callahan had prevented him from earning a 14th.

And then Callahan walked up to the microphone and gave the punchline: "I told my team that nobody beats us 14 years in a row."

After that, Callahan mentioned how supportive his rival had been back in the spring, when, as he said, "I had a few medical issues."

Yes, a few medical issues. As in brain surgery to remove a tumor. As in treatment that is continuing now.

Not that you could ever tell that anything was up by talking to him or watching him.

Callahan's attitude through his "medical issues" has been amazing. It's been ridiculous, really, that a person who faces what he faces has managed to do so with such understated determination and such matter-of-factness.

When TB asked Callahan how his radiation treatments were going back in the spring, he responded with one word: "Nice." Then he elaborated. "Everyone there is so nice." And then he smiled, just like he always does.

As he gave his speech last night, he thanked all of the people who came out to see him, and really the DAC, as they call it, had been transformed into a room of Orange and Black in Callahan's honor, complete with the entire current Princeton men's and women's teams.

His speech was a reflection of his personality - humble, a little uncomfortable in the spotlight, funny, heartfelt, soft-spoken.

When it was over, there was a standing ovation for him, and there wasn't one person in the room who didn't want the moment to last forever.

The ceremony started with a brief video, and the first picture is one that TB loves every time he sees it.

The picture is in black and white, and it goes back to when Callahan and Gail Ramsay, Princeton's women's coach, knew each other when they were young. In his speech, Callahan referenced the picture and how he first played against Gail when she was 10.

Gail was there last night of course. She was sort of the unofficial greeter and coordinator for the Princeton contingent, and she was all over the room, camera at the ready.

As TB watched her, he couldn't help but think that she was sort of, in an odd way, Callahan's mother, dragging her reluctant son into the spotlight that he had so deservedly earned and yet was genuinely wondering what all the fuss was about. Even during his speech, he said that he understood why the others in the Hall of Fame were there and it was only when he realized that he had dirt on everyone else in the squash world that he figured out why they put him in as well.

In fact, he's in because you can't have a squash Hall of Fame that doesn't include Bob Callahan, for all of his accomplishments as a player and coach, for all of his contributions in promoting the sport and helping it evolve, for all the people he touched.

Last night was his night.

As he was watching Gail,  Bob's mother for the evening, do what she was doing, TB was struck once again by just how much love exists between the two.

It was like that with basically everyone there who has ever met Callahan.

TB is cynical. TB isn't easily moved. TB doesn't usually get emotional.

Last night, he clapped long and hard for Bob Callahan, and like anyone else there, he too wanted to give him a big hug, to make the moment last.

If you know Bob Callahan, you can't help but love him.

He's just that kind of person.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Corner Of Harvard And Yale

The most common street name in the United States is ...?

Second Street.

At least according to Sheldon on "The Big Bang Theory," though TigerBlog can't remember which episode that was.

Last night, one of the great episodes of TBBT was on, the one where Penny gets mad at Leonard because she can no longer go out with dumb guys, like the one who thought that the laser they were using might blow up the moon, and where Raj and Howard create an on-line dating profile for Sheldon, which spits back Amy Farrah Fowler, who says, among other things, that she is fine with the idea of a deity but "objects to one who takes attendance."

Ah, but TB digresses.

Meanwhile, back at common street names, a quick search indicates that Sheldon was in fact correct. The most common street name is Second Street.

TB would have guessed Main Street, but that doesn't pop up until seventh on the list.

The only street number that matches up with its number on the list is Fourth Street, as it goes Second in first, Third in second and First in third. That has a very Abbott-and-Costelloish ring to it.

Fourth is fourth, followed by Park, Fifth, Main, Sixth, Oak and Seventh in the Top 10.

The next 10 goes Pine, Maple, Cedar, Eighth, Elm, View, Washington, Ninth and Lake.

TB's Aunt Edie once gave him directions to her office in Manhattan where he was going to meet her for lunch and said it was at the intersection of "Walk and Don't Walk." It took him a few minutes to figure out what she meant by that.

Then again, Aunt Edie is now 84 years old and the last time TB spoke to her, she told him a joke that started out with: "a guy opened a bar underneath a whorehouse ..."

Ah, more digression.

TigerBlog is surprised that so many street names near the top of the list are named for trees.

He's even more surprised that none are named for colleges. Well, Washington is a college, but that's not why Washington Street is so popular. The same is true for Elm College.

A cursory attempt to do a search for streets named for colleges came up fairly empty. If he had to guess which college has more streets named after it than any other, though, he'd go with, well, he's not sure.

TB grew up in a neighborhood where the main road was Old Queens Boulevard, named for Rutgers. There were also streets named Georgetown and Cornell and Villanova, as well as Oxford and Cambridge.

TB was in a neighborhood the other day where the streets were all named for colleges, and he felt obliged to stop at the intersection of Harvard Circle and Yale Terrace and take a picture.

Then he wondered if any self-respecting Princeton fan/alum/student/professor/worker could ever live on either one of those streets.


Could you imagine having to give directions to all of your friends who were coming over for a Reunions event? "Yeah, it's the house on the corner of Harvard and Yale."

What if you were a coach? Can any Princeton coach ever say that they live on Harvard or Yale Street?

And would this go into the whole house shopping venture?

Finding the right house is hard enough. What if you found the perfect one, with just the right number of  bedrooms, great lighting, a perfect sized yard, affordable taxes, great schools - all of it? And you couldn't find any other house anywhere else that measured up.

Except it was on Harvard Street or Yale Street. Or at the intersection of both.

TB couldn't do it.

It's bad enough that he went to Penn.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In 69 I Was 21

Happy 64th birthday, Jackson Browne.

TigerBlog didn't realize it was Browne's birthday until Don Imus said that he'd be coming back to a "Bernie Briefing," a few pop culture/political snippets thrown together by Bernard McGuirk in what has become the best part of the Imus In The Morning Show.

As TB has said before, he has been listening to Imus since he was a kid, hearing it on the little transistor radio in the kitchen on WNBC AM 660, which is now WFAN's signal.

Anyway, this morning Imus threw it to a commercial by saying that he was about to play one of his favorite records, which intrigued TB. When the first notes started, it was clear that it was Browne's best song, not to mention one of the 25 best songs TB has ever heard. Imus then topped it off by wishing Browne a happy 64th.

Browne isn't one of TB's favorites. He's on that next level of performers that have put out songs that TB likes, but TB has never been to one of his concerts or really gone too far out of his way to hear his stuff.

In fact, of the 1,232 songs on TB's iTunes, only one is by Browne. By contrast, there are two by ABBA, four by Air Supply, five each by the Fifth Dimension and Barry Manilow and even three by The Bangles.

It's not "Doctor My Eyes" or "Somebody's Baby" or "The Pretender."

It's the song Imus played as he went to commercial. "Running on Empty."

Now that's a great song.

TB remembers that from when it first came out, back in 1978. If you weren't alive in the 1970s, you missed out on some good times.

Interestingly, "Running on Empty" never reached the Billboard Top 10, peaking instead at 11. It hasn't hurt TB's love for the song that Browne has often performed it live with Bruce Springsteen.
TB likes to watch the Palladia channel, which is basically non-stop concert video. The channel showed Bruce and the E Street Band live in New York City from 2000 Sunday, and yesterday the group was back, playing alongside some others - including John Fogerty, for a great version of "Pretty Woman" - at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions from some random year.

As for Browne, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

When Imus said Browne was 64 today, TB did the math and realized that when Browne sang that in "69 I was 21 and I called the road my own," he really was 21 in 1969. The next line of the song if, of course, "I don't know when that road turned onto the road I'm on."

TB isn't sure what road the Princeton football team is on right now, but it's clear that the Tigers are not the team they were the last two years.

When the Tigers hit the road two weeks ago, they were 0-2 this year and 2-20 since the start of the 2010 season, with neither of those two wins on the road.

So what happened?

Princeton won at Columbia and at Lafayette, by a combined score of 68-20 and a point differential of +48. The last time Princeton had at least a +48 point differential in consecutive games?

You have to go back to 1995, when the Tigers defeated Lafayette 41-0 and then Harvard 14-3. The Tigers won the outright Ivy title that year.

Will these Tigers win the outright Ivy title? Probably not.

Still, there are good vibes everywhere in the program these days.

Okay, okay, you can say that in the last three seasons, Princeton is 4-1 against Columbia and Lafayette and 0-19 against everyone else. And that in the last two years, Princeton is 0-12 against its six remaining league opponents.

To that, TB says "so what?"

TB was at Penn when the Quakers went from 1-8 in 1981 to a share of the league title in 1982, so he knows how quickly it can all turn around.

Princeton has a great chance this weekend to demonstrate how far it has come when it hosts Brown (noon, NBC Sports TV). The Bears are 0-1 in the league, but they also have the misfortune of opening the league schedule against the prohibitive favorite, Harvard.

Princeton hasn't beaten Brown since 2006, the year the Tigers last won the Ivy title. The same is true of Harvard and Penn, two other teams that Princeton hasn't defeated since that championship season.

Again, TB says "so what?"

The offense has good balance, and the special teams have contributed some huge moments to the two wins.

But it's Princeton's defense that has improved tremendously, led by the tandem of Mike Catapano and Caraun Reid on the line. A year ago Princeton was last in pass defense in the Ivy League; this year the Tigers are first.

This year Princeton allows 14.5 points per game and 322 yards of total offense per game. A year ago, those numbers were 32.5 points per game and just under 400 yards per game.

And the Tigers have gotten some breaks. Twice bad snaps on field goal attempts have turned into touchdowns, for instance.

Going from back-to-back 1-9 seasons to title contention in not easy. Can Princeton make that leap? 

That's not what matters. What would be ideal for Princeton would be to be playing well, to put together some wins, to get into November knowing that .500 is a real possibility, to pull off a win or two that nobody saw coming.

The next two weeks are at home (Brown and Harvard) followed by a game on the road (Cornell), against maybe the three best teams in the league.

It's an exciting time for Princeton football.

Monday, October 8, 2012

All In

The conversation this morning turned to Franklin Pierce, and Gary Walters asked TigerBlog if he knew what year he was elected President of the United States. The answer, of course, is 1852.

TB, who was an American history major, can name all of the Presidents in order, and the easiest way to remember is by the year they were elected.

James K. Polk is one of TB's favorite Presidents. Hey, he did a heckuva job in the Mexican War and all, right?

Polk was elected in 1844, and he chose not to run again in 1848. In fact, he was sort of the Bear Bryant of American Presidents, as Polk died 103 days after leaving office.

Zachary Taylor won in 1848, but he died in 1850 and was succeeded by Millard Fillmore, who in turn was ditched by the Whigs for the election of 1852. This in turn opened the door for the election of Franklin Pierce, who did nothing to prevent the coming Civil War and generally is thought to be one of the least accomplished Presidents of all time.

TigerBlog's opinion of Franklin Pierce could be further affected by what happens this Friday night.

Oh, TB is sure that the people at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire are very nice, and they certainly have to be happy with their first season of sprint football.

It's just that this Friday night, the Ravens will be on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium, where one way or another, history of sorts will be made. And TB doesn't want to be on the wrong side of it - especially after last Friday night.

Franklin Pierce is 0-2 in sprint, with a 26-21 loss to Cornell and a 24-20 loss to Penn. The roster has 37 players on it, 28 of whom are freshmen.

Should FPU win, it would be the first in program history.

Princeton has 33 players, 16 of whom are seniors. None of them have ever won a game - in fact, Princeton hasn't won a CSFL game since 1999.

But oh did the Tigers come close Friday night.

Princeton was playing Post, a team that defeated Princeton 33-18 in its first year two years ago and then 48-0 last year.

This time, the game was a classic, and ultimately a classic heartbreaker for the Tigers.

TB was in the press box at Princeton Stadium, and he was texting with Jon Kurian of the business office. When TB texted this:

"Post lining up for a potential game-winning field goal, 11 seconds left," the response he got from Kurian was this:

"I'm on one knee, holding my wife's hand in prayer."

That particular one was answered, as the kick was blocked, sending the game to overtime.

Princeton would get three on its possession, going up 29-26. A stop would mean that the long losing streak would finally be over.

Somewhere along the way (maybe through Twitter?), a big student turnout appeared. Suddenly, there was genuine electricity in the building, far beyond a normal sprint game.

Here's how it went on Post's possession:

Post ball, at the Princeton 25. First and 10. No gain.

Second down, rolling right, throwing back to the left, complete to the two. The crowd now stunned.

First and goal. And then wait. The snap is fumbled. A huge pileup.

And now time stopped and the moment was right there. There was absolutely no way to tell who had the ball, and as the refs began to sort it all out, the realization hung over everyone in the stadium that if they pointed towards Princeton, the game would be over and the Tigers would have won.

And so the seconds went by agonizingly. The Princeton bench was ready to rush the field. So were the students.

And then the ref held up two fingers, signally second down for Post. And then it ended on the next play.

Princeton's players were crushed. The student section was crushed. Post was elated.

This hasn't been a typical Princeton sprint football season.

The Tigers are 0-4, yes, but the losses to Mansfield and Cornell were by seven points each. Even the 62-13 loss to Navy was different than usual, as Navy had only 264 yards of offense and scored four touchdowns on returns.

Princeton scored 29 points against Post Friday night. The Tigers scored 28 all of last year combined.

All of which leads to this Friday night.

Princeton is at Penn, which has a four-point win over FPU and a three-point win over Mansfield, not to mention a six-OT loss to Cornell, so far this season, and then a game at Army.

Clearly, the best chance for a win is against the first-year Ravens.

When the game ended Friday, the Princeton players were able to peel themselves off the Powers Field turf and go through the handshakes, and then they retreated to the far end zone.

They were there for a few minutes, talking no doubt about the disappointment of what had just happened. TB, from his vantage point walking down the stands, saw it not as a gesture of resignation but of refocus and of desire to make this coming game different, when the team that hasn't won since any of these players were in elementary school takes on a team that has never won.

There will be a big celebration Friday in Princeton Stadium. The only question is whether it'll be the Tigers or the Ravens.

Meanwhile, the meeting in the end zone after the Post loss ended with a group huddle and then a chant.

"All In," the Tigers yelled.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Toes On The Tape

There's a corner of TigerBlog's office that is used to take head shots of athletes.

The backdrop that hangs on the wall looks like - and may originally have been - a blanket from a hotel room somewhere. There is a piece of tape on the floor that goes on an angle, and if you're getting your picture taken, you put your toes on the tape and square your shoulders.

As TB understands it, this eliminates the shadow in the background.

The person getting the picture doesn't realize the tape is on the floor and always stands directly against the backdrop, leading to the instruction of "toes on the tape." Once, TB saw a Princeton athlete who he believes had a perfect SAT score respond to "toes on the tape" by putting his toes on the tape - and face the backdrop, with the back of his head to the camera.

The actual picture-taking process is always fairly similar.

Whichever team it is has already designated whether it's going to be jerseys, pullovers, jackets/ties - whatever look brings uniformity. Then they bring one or two of those and constantly change, one after the other.

When TB first started working here, head shots were taken with a little office camera that included an obsolete thing called "film," which then had to be taken to a place called a "dark room" to be "developed."

Now, it's all done digitally, which means that the result of the picture is immediately available.

Not to be sexist or anything, but TB would say that about 70% of the women's athletes and about 5% of the men's athletes ask to see the picture after it's taken and/or ask to delete that one and take another one.

These head shots used to be used mostly for media guides and sometimes game programs. Now they're for the webpage.

TB has spent the last week taking men's lacrosse head shots.

For all of the years that TB has been here, the men's lacrosse shots have been taken with jerseys, and the only issue is the white one or the black one. This required going to the equipment room to get two jerseys, which the players would use regardless of what their actual number was.

Recently, the men's lacrosse upperclassmen didn't always want to get a new picture, since their old one was fine.

This year, TB and men's lacrosse coach Chris Bates thought it'd be a good idea to go with jackets and ties, and this has led to the somewhat hilarious sight of having players come in 5-10 at a time and share the same tie, and sometimes the same shirt.

Or, in the case of one, TB had to give a brief tutorial on the art of tying a tie.

The men's lacrosse team is playing in the Play For Parkinson's event at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., tomorrow. TB would love to go watch that, as the Tigers play Georgetown (noon) and Virginia (2).

Of course, there are other events closer to home this weekend.

There's the soccer doubleheader against Brown here (women at 4, men at 7). There's home sprint football, women's volleyball, field hockey and men's water polo as well this weekend.

The women's volleyball team looks to build on its 3-0 league start when it hosts Columbia and Cornell tonight and tomorrow at Dillon Gym.

The field hockey team hosts American Sunday.

Sprint football is home tonight against Post and then next Friday against first-year team Franklin Pierce. Men's water polo hosts Bucknell tomorrow night.

It's all on the all-sports schedule.

And of course, that doesn't count the football game at Lafayette tomorrow at 6.

There are all kinds of choices.

That's what Ivy League athletic weekends are all about.