Thursday, July 14, 2016

Doyle And Mike, And Meeting Carla

For a Wednesday in the middle of July, yesterday was a pretty busy day for TigerBlog.

He had four meetings. That's probably half of the meetings he has for the entire month.

One of those meetings was with a committee that TB has been a part of for years, one that first wrote the official stat-keeping rules for men's lacrosse and now continues to update them.

The original stat-keeping rules were written by the late, very great Doyle Smith, who was the longtime men's lacrosse contact at the University of Virginia and a graduate of Johns Hopkins. Doyle, as gentle a soul as TigerBlog has ever met, passed away in 2004 after battling Parkinson's for years.

A few years after Doyle's death, the idea arose from the NCAA to update his manual. TigerBlog was honored to be part of the group.

When TB first started doing men's lacrosse stats here, each school kept its own. This led to wild inconsistencies, especially in the area of face-offs, where both teams routinely claimed that it had won that particular draw.

Once every school started using StatCrew for in-game stats (StatCrew is a computer stats program that is used for basically every NCAA sport), there was at least a little more uniformity. What was missing was a real definition of what constituted a ground ball or a save or an assist or anything that happens in lacrosse.

The updated manual grew out of a series of conference calls over the course of the summer of 2008. The idea was to define each term and then come up with every possible situation that could occur in a lacrosse game.

For TigerBlog, it was a lot of fun.

Since then, the on-field rules have changed, which resulted in changes to stat-keeping. The call yesterday was to basically see what if anything needed to be updated.

Mostly for TigerBlog, the question isn't about what rules need to be updated. It's how does the committee and the NCAA get everyone who is responsible for stat-keeping to follow the rules. After all, the stats lead directly to things like all-league and All-America and such, so there is huge importance to them.

But there is still inconsistency. And in the world of college lacrosse stat-keeping across all three NCAA divisions, there's a lot of turnover, a lot of young intern-types, a lot of non-lacrosse people who sit down behind a computer to stat a game.

Moving forward, that will be as important for TB's committee as the rules themselves.

After the call, TigerBlog found himself with his thoughts back two old friends, both of who are gone. Doyle, of course, was one of them. Doyle had issues communicating due to his disease, and it got way worse as time went on. Still, there have been very, very few people TigerBlog has ever met who could touch TB and reach TB with just a smile the way Doyle Smith could.

Doyle was 60 when he died. The other friend was even younger. Mike Colley, who took over for Doyle as UVa's men's lacrosse contact when Doyle could not longer do it, was part of the original committee that put together the stat manual. He would say that he gave away ground balls like they were "Halloween candy," and TB has appropriated that term many times since.

Mike was 46 when he died suddenly in 2009. It was seven years ago this week actually, and TB still remembers the stunned feeling he had when he heard the news.

Doyle Smith. Mike Colley. Good men. Good friends.

TigerBlog spent part of his day yesterday thinking back about the two of them. He also spent some of it meeting someone new, Princeton field hockey coach Carla Tagliente. It was the first time he'd met her.

Tagliente comes to Princeton from UMass, where she was the head coach for five seasons. Her first game with the Tigers is a little more than six weeks away.

Right now, she is in the process of moving to Princeton, finalizing her coaching staff, learning her team. It's a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it.

Is she stressed? Phased? Worried?

If she is, she hides it well. She certainly comes across as calm. And confident. And excited about the opportunity here.

She seemed interested in how things work around here, and she had some specific questions. Mostly though she just wanted to say hello, put a name with a face, put a lot of names with a lot of faces here.

And there was one familiar face. Carla worked at UMass with Cody Chrusciel, who also went from there to Princeton, in his case to be a video dude.

Now Carla is here as well.

She's made a very good first impression.

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