Monday, March 4, 2013

Five From The Weekend

TigerBlog was in the sports information office at Johns Hopkins University Friday around 8:15.

Princeton's impressive 11-8 win over the Blue Jays in men's lacrosse had ended a little more than an hour earlier, and TB was basically done with everything he had to do. All that was left was to remember that University becomes Roland and that he needed to turn left on Cold Spring to get to I-83.

Of course, Princeton was playing Harvard in men's basketball, Game 2 of the Princeton ESPNU doubleheader from Friday. And the second half was just starting.

TB had DVRd the game, and his plan was to try to get home to see it without finding out what happened. That plan went by the wayside, though, when TB decided to watch the end of the game before he hit the road, even though it backed him up another hour - and cost him a chance to get food at the team postgame reception.

So, while Ernie Larossa - JHU's venerable and universally well-liked head of athletic communications - hardly glanced at the game on the TV in his own office, TB sat and watched the second half.

The ESPNU doubleheader couldn't have gone much better for Princeton.

Actually, the whole weekend was a pretty good one, with a few setbacks along the way. Hey, even one of the big setbacks was a team that was a pretty big winner anyway.

The men's lacrosse team had itself a great win over Hopkins. The Blue Jays were ranked third coming in and playing on their home field. It was a great challenge for the Tigers and their rebuilt team, with so many new faces playing so many key roles, especially on defense.

And yet Princeton looked great, from start to finish. Princeton handled every challenge, from winning only 7 of 22 face-offs to being outshot 17-5 in the first quarter to giving up three goals in three minutes in the third quarter to fall behind. When the polls came out this morning, Princeton had jumped from 12th last week to fifth this week.

And for all that, TigerBlog ranks Princeton as the fifth-biggest winner among Princeton teams this weekend.

TigerBlog will put the men's lacrosse team fifth. And here's the rest of the top five:

4. Women's basketball

Huh? The Tigers lost. Yet the Princeton women are so good that even when they lose they win.

Princeton lost to Harvard Friday night and came back to defeat Dartmouth Saturday in a tough, tough game. And yet the women still won big, as big as they do when they blast teams by 40 or 50 or more.

How so? Three ways.

First, because Harvard defeated Penn Saturday night, Princeton has a two game lead over both the Quakers and Crimson. Wins this weekend at home against Yale and Brown, both of whom Princeton defeated easily on the road earlier this year, will wrap up a fourth straight Ivy title and NCAA tournament berth.

Second, the Tigers waited until after they'd won 33 straight Ivy League games, setting a new record, to finally lose one.

Third, Princeton learned a valuable lesson, that nothing can ever been taken for granted, not on any possession, let alone any game. The loss will clearly refocus the Tigers as they head down the stretch.

3. Women's fencing

Princeton was the prohibitive favorite to the win the league - and then the Tigers went out and swept through the league, running their streak to 25 straight matches at the Ivy League dual meet championships.

Princeton has now won four straight Ivy women's fencing titles, something that hadn't been done since Penn won six straight from 1983-88. That's a quarter-century ago.

2. Men's basketball

The men's basketball team did not win the Ivy championship this weekend. And, for that matter, there's no guarantee that what happened this weekend will carry over through a very challenging rest of the season.

Still, this weekend could not have been better. Princeton gutted out a 58-53 win over Harvard, led by a hop-on-my-back performance from Ian Hummer (23 points, 14 rebounds), Friday night. Had Princeton lost, it would have had almost no chance in the Ivy race.

Then, to top it off, Penn rose up and beat Harvard Saturday night. Now, Princeton - who beat Dartmouth Saturday - finds itself one game ahead of Harvard in the loss column with games at Yale, Brown and Penn remaining. Harvard is home for Columbia and Cornell.

Princeton lost to Yale the first time around. Harvard lost to Columbia.

1. Women's swimming and diving

While the fencers were expected to roll, the swimming and diving team wasn't. Princeton actually had lost to Harvard in a dual meet during the season and trailed for a small time during Saturday's final session, but it was all Tigers in the end.

Princeton, who did not win last year, won its 21st Ivy League title - and 11th in the last 14 years.

In many of those years, Princeton was just get-off-the-bus-swim-take-the-trophy-go-home better than everyone else. Not this time around. Princeton had to scramble for every point, and this meet clearly could have gone against the Tigers just as easily as it went for them.

In the end, Princeton defeated Harvard by nearly 100 points. 


Anonymous said...

Good Weekend is right. And ther there is the video of Peter Callahan closing in the distance medley relay at Notre Dame Fridaynight

Unknown said...

Um, hockey with 3 points and a season sweep of Harvard to grab home ice in playoffs? Pulling the goalie in OT at Harvard to get the game winner? And that's not in the top 5? It shows the depth of the athletics program--phenomenal/