Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Called For Traveling

TigerBlog has been lucky in his life to have had the opportunity to travel, both in this country and internationally. Much of it, especially in this country, has been with Princeton Athletics.

He's been to Europe five times. By his count, he's been to 16 European countries, and none of them are England, France or Italy.

Unless the airport counts. Does it?

TigerBlog was in Paris as a stopover on the way to Tel Aviv. He was in Rome as a go-between on his way from Turkey to Greece. That was in 1974, when Turkey and Greece were fighting a way over Cyprus, which made the direct flight from Istanbul to Athens cancelled.

Anyway, those were the only times he was in France or Italy. And never, not even a layover, in England.

So does that count?

There was a time when TigerBlog's only time being in Kentucky was when Princeton played at Xavier (twice, in the 1999 NIT and in the 1999-2000 regular season) in Cincinnati. If you don't already know it, the Cincinnati airport is actually in Northern Kentucky.

TigerBlog wasn't sure that counted as being in Kentucky, at least until the Tigers played at Louisville in the 2002 NIT.

One trip that TB has never made is the one to Australia. It seems sort of far, and the thought of a plane ride that long is a tad daunting.

As TigerBlog writes this, the Princeton men's basketball team is definitely in Italy and the women's basketball team is definitely in Australia.

The NCAA allows teams to take an oversees trip once every four years, and many Princeton teams through the years have been fortunate enough to take advantage of the opportunity. The two basketball teams are the latest to be far from home.

The men's team left over the weekend for Italy. You can see how the first few days in Rome went HERE.

The women's team left Monday for Australia. You can see what they were thinking about the trip by clicking HERE.

The first person TB thought of when he saw the men's basketball team was going to Rome was Devin Cannady. Hopefully you read the stories that Cannady wrote for about his summer in Tanzania.

Anyway, TB wondered if Cannady went from Africa to the U.S. and then to Europe or if he met the team in Italy. The answer is summed up in three words: frequent flier miles.

The two trips are similar. The teams will travel, see the sights, have some cultural and educational experiences - and play basketball.

Each team will have the opportunity to play some high quality opponents while overseas, and they'll also benefit from pre-trip practices and practices while on the road.

The teams are in somewhat different places as the 2016-17 season looms ahead, but both have the exact same goal - to get to the NCAA tournament.

Princeton's women proved a year ago that an Ivy League team can get into the NCAA tournament without the league's automatic bid and made the Ivy League a two-bid league for the first time ever, for men's or women's basketball.

Princeton women's basketball is riding a huge wave of success, with six NCAA tournaments in the last seven years. This coming season, though, will be different.

The Tigers built the first stage of that success on 1,000-point scorers like Niveen Rasheed, Lauren Edwards, Addie Micir and Devona Allgood and then the second stage of that run on the next wave of 1,000-point scorers, like Blake Dietrick, Alex Wheatley and Michelle Miller. All of those players are gone, as are Annie Tarakchian and Amanda Berntsen, who started with Wheatley and Miller a year ago.

This will be a completely rebuilt Princeton women's team, and that makes for an exciting challenge for Courtney Banghart and her staff. Of course, the expectations don't change, and neither do the goals.

Princeton's men also reached the postseason last year, playing a really entertaining first round NIT game at Virginia Tech before falling 86-81 in overtime. Every player who played for Princeton in that game is back this year, as is a strong recruiting class and big man Hans Brase, who missed last year with a knee injury.

TigerBlog has watched a lot of Princeton basketball in his life. He can tell you that last year's team was one of the most exciting to watch, and this year's will be even more so. And with Cannady Princeton has a you-don't-want-to-turn-away player who can do anything at any given moment.

The huge difference this year in Ivy basketball, of course, is the advent of the league tournament. The top four teams will advance to the event, which will be held at the Palestra, and the winners will get the automatic bid, though the regular season winner will be the official league champion.

The tournament will be held March 10 and 11. That's seven months away.

Basketball season, though, has sort of started for Princeton's two teams - with a few away games.


sullivan7504 said...

I have found that a reasonable standard for having 'been' to a state is eating a meal within the state at a venue other than an airport. So despite my having changed planes in the Cincinnati airport several times, I don't claim Kentucky as a state I have visited.

This leads to some interesting travel planning, where you might think, "Well, since I will be in Memphis anyway, I can go have breakfast in Mississippi and find a lunch spot in Arkansas." Or, "I'm two hours early for my flight in Portland, so why not go over the bridge into Washington and have dinner?"

Anonymous said...

What Courtney Banghart has accomplished with the women's basketball team is nothing short of exhilarating. She's made the team one of the real joys for Princeton fans to follow. The only criticism that occurs to me happened last season. In our first game against Penn, we struggled attacking the Quakers' zone defense and lost a nail-biter. Almost two months later in our second game against Penn, we were again frustrated by their zone defense, losing another close one. This despite playing at home (with the advantage of Jadwin's quirky shooting background) sporting a roster full of outstanding long-distance shooters. It's as though we were surprised to be facing a zone again, with no additional preparation after the first loss. Penn is going to be playing zone against us until we demonstrate that we know how to attack it.