Monday, December 11, 2017

Talking Football

TigerBlog watched more of "College Game Day" than he usually does the other morning, mostly because Army-Navy is one of his favorite games of the year and basically the whole show was about Army and Navy.

Basically. There was also some time spent talking about the Heisman Trophy presentation, and it included live interviews with the three finalists. The eventual winner was Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, and when he was on, there was a graphic underneath that basically said this:

"Led FBS in completion percentage at 71.0 percent."

TigerBlog's first thought was that of course he knew someone who had a better completion percentage than Mayfield.

In all of NCAA college football, all four divisions, there were only two quarterbacks who had a higher completion percentage than Mayfield. One was Grant Russell of Ohio Dominican, who led Division II with a .725 percentage.

Russell, by the way, went 25 for 35 for for 273 yards and two TDs in Ohio Domincan's 42-24 loss to Penn in September. That was a completion percentage of 71.2 for the day. 

The other was Chad Kanoff of Princeton.

Kanoff, who won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, completed 73.2 percent of his passes. That's an Ivy League record, let alone the Princeton one. In other words, no quarterback who competed at an NCAA school and threw the minimum number of passes to be eligible for national rankings had a better completion percentage than Chad Kanoff.

The more you look at Kanoff's numbers from this year, the more impressive they get.

Kanoff actually threw more passes in Princeton's 10 game (388) than Mayfield has in 13 so far for the Sooners (369). Mayfield threw 41 touchdown passes and just four interceptions, by the way, which is remarkable as well.

The Army-Navy game had some amazing numbers of its own.

There were 98 plays from scrimmage in the game, including 95 rushes. That left just three passes. When was the last time you saw a game like that?

Malcolm Perry of Navy did not attempt a pass but did carry 30 times for 250 yards and never once was tackled for a loss. When was the last time you saw a quarterback do anything remotely close to that?

As for the game itself, the sheer intensity of every play is what makes that game what it is. There's no other game anywhere in any sport that can compare to it. The players on both teams know that they they are representing not just their school and friends and those who played there before them but also entire branches of the United States military.

Factor in that they are also military members themselves, with everything that comes with that, and they play so hard from start to finish. Because of all those reasons, there's just no other game quite like it, in any sport, anywhere.

You had to feel for the Navy kicker at the end of Army's 14-13 win. He was asked to kick a 48-yard field goal on a snowy day, with even the best kickers would struggle to do.

TigerBlog wrote all the way back in 2009 about how he thought Navy's football offense was similar to Princeton's basketball offense had been in the 1990s, back before basically everyone copied elements of it. The basic idea is that the teams were playing in a unique style, one that was next to impossible for opponents to prepare for on short notice, and they were doing so in a way that would maximize the team's strengths and minimize its weaknesses.

It was actually a pretty good comparison.

Speaking of football, there are the Giants.

As TigerBlog said, Eli Manning is up there with any professional athlete on TigerBlog's list of favorites. Having said that, one his streak of consecutive games started ended at 210 last week, what was the point of playing him anymore? Don't you want to see what Davis Webb can do if you're the Giants, especially since they figure to be in position to pick one of the quarterbacks in the draft this coming spring?

On top of which, the Giants lost anyway. If you're trying to get something for Eli next year (like from the Jaguars), it's better if he doesn't play the rest of this season.

Here's another football question - why didn't CBS put the Buffalo game (in the blizzard) on nationally? Everyone would have watched that. It would have been the most-viewed game ever.

The national radio team, by the way, was former Princeton play-by-play man Tom McCarthy and former Princeton and NFL player Ross Tucker. Their social media stuff was great. 

It was certainly better than the Giants-Cowboys game.

TigerBlog watched most of the Giants game. It's really difficult for TB, going back and forth between shots of Jason Garrett (Princeton alum, Cowboys' coach, great person) and Jerry Jones (er, not Jason Garrett). 

Lastly, Princeton alum Seth DeValve caught two passes in the Browns' game against Green Bay yesterday. TigerBlog didn't realize this, but DeValve has at least one catch in all 13 Browns games this year.

Unfortunately for the Browns, they've lost all 13 of those games, none more heartbreaking than yesterday's 27-21 overtime loss to Green Bay. Cleveland led 21-7 in the fourth quarter, but a late TD, a bad interception in the overtime and then the winning score on a TD that was mostly trying to set up a field goal left the team at 0-13.

Heartbreaking, yes.

Though nothing on the level of what Navy was feeling.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Congratulations David Morrow

TigerBlog and David Morrow came to Princeton men's lacrosse at the exact same time.

It was in the spring of 1990. TigerBlog was a sportswriter, one who knew nothing about lacrosse. Nothing. Not even how many players were on the field at once.

TB isn't sure exactly how long it took for him to be hooked on the sport. He knows it wasn't very long.

Part of it was lacrosse itself. Much more than that, though, was Princeton men's lacrosse at the time, its players and coaches, and they remain to this day some of the very, very best people TigerBlog has ever met.

There were 44 players on the 1990 Princeton men's lacrosse team. Of that group, there were 21 from either New York or Maryland. If you add New Jersey and Pennsylvania, that number grows to 28 of 44. Throw in Massachusetts and Virginia and it's 32 of 44. Connecticut had another, so that's 34 of 44.

From seven states, all in the Northeast.

If you look at that 1990 roster, it leaps out at you that four consecutive players numerically came to Princeton from Manhasset, on Long Island. Four straight - No. 19 Lars Florio, No. 21 Justin Tortolani, No. 22 John Kenny and No. 23 Mal Meistrell.

Into this mix stepped David Morrow.

He came from Brother Rice High School - the Warriors - from outside of Detroit. He was a hockey player as much as a lacrosse player. He wasn't from a lacrosse area, and he knew it. He carried that around with him for four years. It was the chip on his shoulder.

TigerBlog wrote a story about Morrow - he wrote a lot of them, actually, but he's remembering one right now - about that chip. Morrow was a defenseman. Each week, he'd guard someone from Long Island, or Baltimore, or Syracuse. Each week, he said then, he had to prove he belonged.

No matter how many times he did it, he had to prove it again. And again. That's what he told TigerBlog.

And then he'd go out of prove it, once again.

The NCAA announced yesterday that David Morrow is one of six recipients of the 2018 Silver Anniversary Award. TigerBlog nominated him for the award a few months ago with the thought that if he didn't win, nobody TB nominated ever would.

The award recognizes athletic achievement as an undergraduate and then professional achievement after graduation. It's awarded each year to a handful of recipients on the 25th anniversary of when they graduated.

David Morrow is, by far, the most intense athlete TigerBlog has met at Princeton. And he's met a lot of intense athletes here.

Morrow was lightning fast and strong, with superior natural athletic ability. But more than anything else, he was an intense lacrosse player. 

Ed Calkins, a year ahead of Morrow on the men's lacrosse team and now the president of the Friends of Princeton Lacrosse, used the word "ferocious" to describe Morrow. That works. TigerBlog can't imagine what it must have been like to go against him in practice every day.

All these years later it's that intensity that TB remembers most about watching David Morrow play. Nobody has ever played harder. Nobody has ever wanted to win more. Nobody has ever scared the you-know-what out of the other team the way he did.

Even now, even his email is intense, with a signature that says "dominate," with a fist.

David Morrow turned that on-field intensity into one of the most storied careers any lacrosse defenseman has ever had. His resume includes all of the following:

* 1993 Division I Player of the Year (one of two defensemen to win the award, and the most recent)
* 1992, 1993 first-team All-America
* 1992, 1993 National Defenseman of the Year
* 1991, 1992, 1993 first-team All-Ivy League
* 1992 NCAA champion
* 1992, 1993 NCAA Final Four
* 1994, 1998 World Champion

Then there's the other side of Morrow's story. 

Back when Morrow was a Princeton student, his father was attempting to invent a new kind of snowshoe when he had the idea of replacing existing lacrosse shafts made of aluminum with titanium, which was much more durable and lightweight.

The result was that instead of lugging around heavier sticks that broke at a rate of two or three dozen per year, now there was a stick that could last all season.

It was with titanium that Morrow scored two goals in the 1992 NCAA semifinal win over North Carolina. Here they are, by the way:

By the following year, pretty much all of college lacrosse wanted to use titanium.

Morrow started a company to market his product, and he named it after his high school - Warrior. Maybe it was his way of saying that no matter how much of a lacrosse insider he'd become, he would never lose that chip on his shoulder.

Pretty soon Warrior expanded to do more than build sticks. In fact, Warrior began to be the go-to brand for anything and everything in lacrosse, and kids way beyond the Northeast wanted in.

More than the fancy marketing around the top stars in the sport, Warrior also made it more cost effective to play lacrosse, since one stick could last a long time.

Morrow also was one of the co-founders of Major League Lacrosse, whose first season was in 2001. Today the league is by far the best lacrosse played anywhere in the world, and the players who play in it were among the generation who first came to the sport around the time that Warrior was having its impact.

Beyond his business successes, Morrow has also been committed to bringing lacrosse - and hockey - to organizations helping economically challenged and disabled children to play both. In the past 25 years, he and Warrior Sports have supported more than 70 different charitable organizations with financial and equipment donations.

How much of this is due to Warrior Lacrosse and David Morrow?

A lot. He has done as much, as any single person anywhere, to grow the sport of lacrosse.

The 2018 Princeton men's lacrosse roster has 47 players on it. Of that group, 11 are from New York and Maryland. There are as many players from California as from Pennsylvania or New Jersey, more if you include Aran Roberts, who grew up in Ireland but moved to California and played high school lacrosse there.

Lacrosse has skyrocketed in the last 25 years. David Morrow's fingerprints are all over that growth.

Very few people come along who overwhelm a sport, leaving those who saw them play to marvel at their abilities, and then turn around and change the very fabric of the way the sport is played - and who gets to play it.

David Morrow is one of those.

Bill Tierney, who coached Morrow at Princeton, calls him "an innovator, an innovator in everything he does."

He also said this about him:

"David is driven," said Tierney. "He's opinionated. He's talented. He's super intelligent. He thinks of the future. He's never taken no for an answer. He was the same as a kid, the same as a player. Now he's the same as a business executive. He's edgy. He won't stop working. He won't stop looking to make something better, including himself. He's not afraid of anything or anybody. That's the magic of him."

That's the David Morrow TigerBlog met all those years ago.

That's the David Morrow he'll see in Indianapolis next month.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Road Trips

TigerBlog learned something about the state of Arizona the other day: It's always on Mountain Standard Time.

TigerBlog has never been to Arizona. It's actually one of 13 states he's never been to, as he counted them yesterday. Maybe one day he'll fly to Arizona and then drive clockwise to Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and then back to Arizona, which would account for six of the missing 13 states.

Or maybe he'll fly to Arizona, go to a resort and sit by the pool. That might work better.

Anyway, Arizona does not use Daylight Savings Time but considers itself on Mountain time at all times. That means that it never "springs ahead," which means that it spends the months when everyone else is on Daylight Savings Times an hour behind.

If it's noon in Phoenix on the Fourth of July, it's 1 p.m. in the rest of the Mountain time zone. This means that it's the same time in Phoenix as it is in Los Angeles then. These days, it's an hour earlier in Phoenix than in Los Angeles.

This, of course, begs the question of why Arizona chose to consider itself on Mountain time, rather than Pacific time. Or why it's not Mountain time in the winter and Pacific time in the summer?

The Princeton men's hockey team travels today to Arizona, where it will play Arizona State tomorrow and Saturday. Those games start at 7 Mountain time, which is 9 in Princeton.

Arizona State is 3-8-3 as it plays in its third season of varsity men's hockey. The Sun Devils, like Princeton, both have a tie with Colgate.

Arizona State's roster has players from four countries, 11 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces. The idea of adding hockey, TB supposes, was to build a program that would attract a wide-range of players who might be drawn to the good winter weather and then ultimately compete for an NCAA championship.

Oh, and here's a completely fascinating stat about Princeton men's hockey: The Tigers were ranked 59th (and last) in scoring offense in Ron Fogarty's first year as head coach; they're currently fifth in scoring in Division I in this, Fogarty's fourth season.

That's what you call serious progress.

The men's hockey team's trip to Arizona is slightly longer than the two that the Princeton basketball teams made yesterday. The women were at Lafayette, while the men were at George Washington.

Actually, the women were part of a doubleheader at Lafayette, followed by the Leopard men against Penn.

The women won 53-45 in a game that was never really all that much in doubt. Princeton never trailed in the game, and each time TB checked the score, it seemed to be in the eight to 14 range.

Leslie Robinson had 15 points for Princeton, along with seven rebounds and five assists. Bella Alarie had 14 points and 11 rebounds for another double-double (she missed one in the last game by having nine points and nine rebounds).

Alarie now has 497 career points, through 37 career games. Alarie figures to make a serious run at Sandi Bittler's career record of 1,683 points, a record that has stood for going on 28 years.

As for the men, the game at George Washington, if you followed the livestats, like TB did, then you also noticed that the commercial with Peyton Manning in the woods played over and over and over, every time you went away from the livestats and then came back.

Beyond that, it was another big night for Devin Cannady, who continues to get better and better as his junior year starts to move along. Cannady, who plays with unbelievable confidence and just oozes leadership in everything he does, finished with 23 points in a 71-60 loss.

Myles Stephens was the other Princeton player in double figures with 13, including a massive dunk that you can see here:

Cannady averaged 12.5 points per game for his first two seasons combined. This year, he's at 19.1 per game. That's a huge jump.

As a result, he's just short of 900 points for his career. He also moved past Dan Mavraides and into sixth place all-time at Princeton in three-pointers made in a career, with 167 right now. The five ahead of him?

In reverse order it goes: Spencer Weisz, Douglas Davis, Gabe Lewullis, Sean Jackson, Brian Earl. That's a who's who, by the way. Also by the way, all five of them are over 200 career three's, led by Earl's 281.

Princeton spent most of the night within striking distance of the Colonials but could never tie it.

Next up for Princeton will be Monmouth Tuesday night on Carril Court. It's the last remaining home game of 2017 for the Tigers, who will be on the road in California and Hawaii after that.

The women? They play Saturday at Quinnipiac.

Do you remember where the Bobcats ended their season a year ago? If you said the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, you'd be correct.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Here's Looking At You Kid

Like Ilsa Lund and Victor Lazlo, TigerBlog has also been to Lisbon.

His trip was a little less arduous, of course. He got there with the men's lacrosse team as part of its international trip a year ago, and his "letter of transit" to get back was a boarding pass that he got from a kiosk, not from someone who had hidden them in a piano after they were stolen from two murdered German couriers in the desert.

If you ask TigerBlog what his favorite movie of all time is, he'd have to give you three or four of them. If you really, really, really pressed him on his all-time favorite, he'd probably say ...


He's talked about this before, most recently back when the Princeton men's soccer team was in Portugal this past spring. He brings it up today because he recently saw a story about how "Casablanca" is turning 75.

The movie was released in late November 1942 in New York City. It had its national release in early January 1943.

The story that TB saw talks about all of the behind-the-scenes turmoil that went into filming. He already had heard a lot of it, including the different writers, the way the story evolved literally day-by-day, the low expectations of the final product.

Back then, studios churned out dozens of movies per year, and most of them were forgotten quickly. That seemed like it would be the fate of the little movie about the love triangle in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, set against the seeming hopelessness of World War II.

The movie, by the way, was released when the Germans were still occupying Paris. It would be more than 19 months until the Allied invasion of Normandy. For that matter, it was still more than half a year before the Allies even invaded Sicily. A movie that captured the uncertainty of what was going on and featured a cynical and seemingly non-caring American saloon keeper in Casablanca who ends up standing up to the Nazis in a way that gets his former romantic rival to say "welcome back to the fight. This time, I know our side will win" really resonated and helped boost morale.

The movie starred Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid in the love triangle, as well as some great supporting actors, such as Claude Rains, Peter Lorre and especially Sydney Greenstreet. It was a success when it was released, winning three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and its popularity has only grown in the decades since. The movie holds up because of the acting, the storyline, the constant stream of often quoted lines and of course the ending.

There are so many great scenes, start to finish. TigerBlog has no idea how many times he's seen it, but it's a lot. And now it's 75 years old.

The movie was actually released on Nov. 26, 1942. Princeton basketball fans were able to go to New York to see it, since the Tigers didn't open the 1942-43 season until Dec. 5.

The national release date was Jan. 23, 1943. Princeton had played just six games of the season to that point.

Even when TigerBlog first started covering Princeton, there were no games before Thanksgiving. By this time of the 1989-90 season, for instance, Princeton had played just three games.

The current Tigers have played seven times. Game 8 is tonight in Washington, D.C., where Princeton will take on George Washington.

Princeton is 2-5 on the season. If Mitch Henderson had wanted his team to be 7-0 after seven games, he could have put together a schedule that would have allowed that to happen.

Instead, he's trying to put together a team that will be looking to win a second-straight Ivy League title and then be at its best come Ivy tournament time. That's the challenge for him and his staff.

Speaking of his staff, the most recent episode of "Hard Cuts" follows Kerry Kittles around, from his ride to work through his day. You can see it HERE.

Princeton came into the season with a lot of questions after the graduation of Spencer Weisz and Steven Cook from last year's team. Speaking of Cook, by the way, HERE'S a story about how his professional career is going so far.

So far though seven games, Princeton has started to get answers. Devin Cannady has raised his game a few levels. The three freshmen - Sebastian Much, Ryan Schwiedger, Jerome Desrosiers - have shown they belong. What was really impressive the other day in the loss at No. 10 Miami was the way Much kept shooting with confidence on a night when his shots weren't falling. That tells you a lot about him. You can learn a lot about a player's makeup by watching on a night when things aren't easy.

Are all the answers there? No. But this is how teams get built.

George Washington is 4-4, including a loss to Rider and, most recently, a win over Temple. After George Washington is the last home game of the calendar year, a date Tuesday with Monmouth.

Then it's frequent-flyer miles time, as Princeton will play its final five games of the month as part of a rather long road trip. Or plane trip. It'll start with games at Cal Poly (Dec. 16) and USC (Dec. 19) and then continuing on to Hawaii for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic beginning Dec. 22.

The one after that is Penn, at Penn, on Jan. 5.

Meanwhile, today is December 6th. TigerBlog will leave you with one more link, which ranks the top 50 quotes from "Casablanca."

Here's looking at you, kid.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Bushnell For Chad Kanoff

TigerBlog had a conference call the other day.

What do you do when you have a conference call? They take awhile usually, and it's not like a regular meeting, where you're engaged with people around a table.

So can you multi-task? Do other things while you listen to the call?

TigerBlog thinks that's human nature. And he considers himself a good multi-tasker. He did that the other day, and he thought it went really well - until he got a follow up email thanking him for volunteering to do 20 different things in a week.

Just kidding. He knew exactly what was being said on the call.

At the same time, it got him wondering when the word "multi-task" first started to be used. A search for "when did multitask become a word" suggests that its origins were with an IBM computer in the mid-1960s. TigerBlog can't remember the first time he heard someone say it.

He also isn't sure when "24/7" become a saying. He was watching a movie the other day from 1949 (Ronald Reagan was in it) and one of the characters said "24 hours a day, seven days a week." TB thought it sounded really odd. He hasn't heard anyone say that in a long time.

Language is an interesting thing. Hey, the word "blog" didn't even exist all that long ago in any way, let alone as the second half of a proper noun.

Words go from not existing to being among the most commonly used elements of speech in a flash. Think about all the words you use every day that you never used five years ago because they simply didn't exist yet.

Like "tweet," for instance.

TigerBlog hardly used that word at all for most of his life, and when he did, it was because of a little yellow bird in cartoons. Now? The word "tweet" is said almost as many times as it's actually done.

What word will be next?

TigerBlog saw on Twitter yesterday that the four teams who will compete in the college football semifinals had been named. For the record, it'll be Oklahoma-Georgia and Clemson-Alabama.

If you want to know whether or not the selection committee chose the right team between Alabama and Ohio State, just poll every kid on the other three teams and ask them which one he would have preferred. It would have been roughly 100 percent for Ohio State, meaning the committee made the right choice.

TigerBlog likes the bowl games, he guesses. There are just too many of them, that's all.

And if had to make one change, he'd start the bowl season with the national semifinals and final, not end with them.

Speaking of football, Chad Kanoff was named the 2017 Bushnell Cup winner as the Ivy League's offensive player of the year. Kanoff's win made him the third Princeton quarterback in the last five years to win the award. The other two were Quinn Epperly in 2013 and John Lovett a year ago.

The other finalist this year was Penn wide receiver Justin Watson, who was a finalist for the third straight time without winning. It goes to show how hard it is for a receiver to win an award like that. Quarterbacks and running backs will get all the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, Kanoff was the deserving winner after the record-setting year he had. That's no knock on Watson. It's just that he just had the bad fortune to have his junior and senior years coincide with two of the greatest years that any Ivy offensive players have ever had.

As for the Princeton quarterbacks, if you want a misleading stat, consider that Kanoff threw for 755 more yards this year than Epperly and Lovett did combined in their award-winning years. While true, it also misses what made the other two special - the way they could pass and run and produce touchdowns, while also playing with another quarterback (Connor Michelsen with Epperly; Kanoff with Lovett) who was more of a pure passer.

TB, by the way, didn't remember that Epperly threw for 25 touchdowns the year he won.

The year that Kanoff had was staggering. His numbers were incredible, as he chased down Princeton records for season passing yards and career passing yards while setting other school and Ivy records for completion percentage. It's a testament to his abilities obviously.

It's also a testament to Bob Surace and the rest of the Princeton coaches. Remember, this is a group that figured it was coming into the season with Kanoff and Lovett and spent a great deal of time trying to figure out new ways to maximize both.

Once Lovett went down with a season-ending injury, everything changed on a dime. The result? The best season any Princeton quarterback has ever had.

So congrats to Kanoff on winning the Bushnell Cup. It's a great addition to his Princeton legacy. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Guy In The Geno Smith Jersey

TigerBlog has a few updates from last week.

First, he saw a guy yesterday wearing a Geno Smith jersey, only it was a Jets jersey. Smith, of course, was inserted into the Giants lineup yesterday, ending the 210-game consecutive starting streak of Eli Manning.

TigerBlog asked the question last week about whether or not Giants fans would still wear Giants gear knowing that the team had benched maybe the most popular player the franchise has had since, well, ever. At the very least, he's in the top five and maybe the top two, along with Frank Gifford. Seriously, that's how popular Eli Manning is.

Still, it was an interesting fashion choice for the guy with the Geno Smith Jets jersey. Was he a Jets fan? A Geno Smith fan? If he s a Giants fan, why have a Jets jersey?

"Interesting fashion choice," TB said to the guy, who was a total stranger.

"We need to get this one today," he said, and then he disappeared.

That made TB even more curious. We? Who's "we?" The Jets? The Giants?

Last week's question was whether or not you'd wear your Giants stuff. Today's is whether or not you were rooting for them against the Raiders.

Anyway, that was one thing.

Then there's Clear Lake, Iowa. TigerBlog forgot to tell you what happened there. It was the location of the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. It was "The Day The Music Died," back on Feb. 3, 1959.

TigerBlog and Tom McCarthy, who was with him on that drive, found the field where it happened. Of course the fog was so bad they couldn't really see anything. And now, nearly 20 years later, TigerBlog can't remember if he or McCarthy was the driver.

That's two.

Lastly, apparently they're " 'Clone Cones," not "Cyclone Cones," the ice cream sold at Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum. TigerBlog remembered them as "Cyclone Cones" when he was there with Princeton men's basketball.

That's three. 

The Princeton women's volleyball team played at Iowa State Friday night in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers were in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, and if you think it's hard to win in the basketball tournament, it's even more difficult in the women's volleyball one.

Princeton put up a good fight against the Cyclones before falling in three games. The highlight was when Princeton built a 15-13 lead in Game 2, only to see Iowa State come storming back to take that game 25-17. The final was 25-21, 25-17, 25-14.

The attendance, by the way, was 3,033.

Sabrina King was now won three straight Ivy titles as Princeton head coach. She has built her program into a model of consistency, and the results speak for themselves.

Sabrina has won Ivy titles at Princeton as a player and coach, something that many others have done before her. TigerBlog would list them all, but there are more than you think and he doesn't want to forget anyone.

That volleyball match meant that the fall season is officially over for Princeton. Of course, by the time it ended, TigerBlog had already seen eight Princeton basketball games in person between the two teams, and he added another one Saturday night.

TB did the PA Saturday night at women's basketball, when Princeton defeated Delaware 78-60. It was TB's third time doing the PA this year, and apparently his last, since Bill Bromberg has assured TB he will not miss any other games the rest of the way.

TigerBlog likes doing the PA. You're right there at courtside, next to the Princeton bench for the men and the visitor bench for the women. And it keeps him focused, you know, because he has to constantly announce baskets, fouls and everything else.

One time when he was doing the PA, a ref came over and told him to stop announcing which player committed the foul until the signal was given to the table. TB complied, even though it's usually obvious.

Anyway, as for the game itself, Princeton was in control pretty much from start to finish. The game was tied just once, at 19-19 in the second quarter, and in what seemed like a blink Princeton opened up a 15-point lead.

Princeton has a lot of pieces in place that teams crave.

First, there is great leadership from captains Tia Weledji (career-high 22 against Delaware) and Leslie Robinson (14 points, 10 rebounds against Delaware), two stars in the making in freshmen Carlie Littlefield and Abby Meyers and some other very good role players.

And then there's Bella Alarie. One day in the not too distant future, you'll be able to have a conversation about who the best player in program history is - Alarie or Niveen Rasheed. Then a few days after that, you probably won't anymore, because it'll be too obvious that it's Alarie.

Look at the game she had against Delaware. She shot 4 for 16 from the field, which would make you feel like she had a bad game. That was hardly the case.

Alarie got every shot she wanted, and it seemed like most of them did everything but go in. And then there was the rest of it.

Usually when a scorer struggles to score, it affects everything else. Alarie? She had nine rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. She ran fast breaks. She contested shots. If the shots that normally go in fell like usual, she would have had 25 points instead of nine. She had 29, by the way, the game before, in a loss to Villanova.

There's only one remaining home game for the women this month, against UMBC Dec. 30.

The Ivy season starts in early January. Then there's first semester exams. It's a long way until the Ivy tournament.

For Princeton, though, there are some really good signs to date.

You know. The signs that this could be a very big year. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Do They Still Make Cyclone Cones?

TigerBlog has been to Ames twice.

That's the Ames that's in Iowa by the way. It's the home of Iowa State University.

Both times it was in December, in 1995 and 1998. Both times it was because the Princeton men's basketball team was playing there.

One of the times the temperature never got above 20 or so. TB started to get frostbite from the five-minute walk to the Hilton Coliseum parking lot.

The other time the temperature was in the 70s or even 80s, setting records for the state for December. It got so warm that it melted all of the frozen lakes and created the absolute worst fog he has ever experienced.

That was the time that TigerBlog and Tom McCarthy flew to Minneapolis, where TB went to see his old friend Laurence Zucker, who has lived in the Twin Cities area for a long time. After meeting up with LZ, TigerBlog and Tom made what was supposed to be the three hour ride to Ames, essentially in a direct straight line down I-35.

Instead, it took forever. And the trip really bogged down in a town called Clear Lake, on the Iowa side of the border with Minnesota. Anyone know the most famous thing that happened there?

If you think about the worst fog you've ever been in, triple it and that's what it was like that night on that ride.

TigerBlog liked Ames. There was absolutely no shortage of places to eat there. The people were all friendly. The arena is great. It had (still has?) "Cyclone Cones," which were ice cream cones with vanilla ice cream that was colored in the red and gold of Iowa State's colors.

Oh, and Clear Lake, Iowa? 

He hasn't been back. He won't be there tonight either, though the Princeton women's volleyball team will be.

The Tigers will be taking on 14th-seeded Iowa State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in the same Hilton Coliseum where TB saw Princeton basketball way back when. He asked his colleague Craig Sachson to see if they still have Cyclone Cones.

Princeton earned its spot in the tournament by tying Yale for the Ivy League championship and then winning the one-match playoff 3-0 in New Haven. The Tigers have won three straight Ivy titles and are making a second-straight NCAA appearance. 

Craig came up with these stats for his pregame story on the match:
Princeton is making its seventh trip to the NCAA tournament, and its second in as many years; last season, the Tigers put a scare in #10 BYU in two sets before ultimately falling 25-22, 25-15, 25-23. That result was hardly a shock when you look at the recent history of Top-16 seeds in the NCAA tournament; since the start of the 2011 national championships, Top-16 seeds are 95-1 in the first round, and they have a 287-20 advantage in sets won.

Daunting task, yes. The match starts at 8 Eastern time, by the way.

As for the rest of the weekend in Princeton sports, there are some big games at Baker Rink. The men's hockey team hosts Dartmouth tonight and Harvard tomorrow night, and Princeton is looking to bounce back with a quick turnaround after its 6-2 loss to Quinnipiac Tuesday night.

These will be Princeton's last two ECAC games until after the New Year, when Princeton is at Cornell and Colgate on Jan. 5 and 6. In fact, after this weekend, Princeton will only have four games until then - two at Arizona State next weekend and then two at home against St. Cloud on Dec. 29 and 30.

The women's basketball team is home tomorrow at 5 against a very good Delaware team. If you want to make that into a basketball doubleheader, you can come to Jadwin to see the women's game and then go watch the men play at Miami at 8 on ESPNU.

Miami, by the way, is ranked 10th in the country. It'll be a really good test for the Tigers, who continue to progress as the season moves along.

As for the women, if you want to see them again at home in 2017, you'll have to come back on Dec. 30, when they will host UMBC. The men are home next on the 12th against Monmouth, in their final home game of the calendar year.

There is also men's and women's swimming and diving at home in the Big Al Invitational, home men's and women's squash, lots of track and field within short drives and women's hockey on the road at Dartmouth and Harvard.

It's a busy December weekend.

Wait. December?

How did that happen?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Eli, And The Basketball Doubleheader

If you remember the other time TigerBlog told you this story, then thanks for being one of his most loyal readers.

It was more than seven years ago when TB first wrote this:

TB is a huge David Justice fan. Why? Because TB once saw Justice - then with the Atlanta Braves - on a plane from Atlanta to Philadelphia, at a time when MotherBlog was in Piedmont Hospital during her fight against cancer.

TB, sitting in first class because MB had upgraded his ticket, was across the aisle and one row behind Justice. When TB mentioned to the guy sitting next to him that MotherBlog was in the hospital and that Justice was her favorite player, he said that TB should go talk to him, because "where could he go?"

Armed with that logic, TB wrote a note about how his mother had cancer, was in Piedmont Hospital and was a big Braves' fan and could he drop her a line or something. Then TB gave him the note to Justice, who nodded his head.

Later that night, TB spoke to MotherBlog, who said that David Justice had called her in the hospital and spoken with her for about 10 minutes. He followed up by sending her some Braves' stuff, including a ball autographed by 17 players and manager Bobby Cox.

Factoring out any Princeton alums whom TigerBlog knows personally, his list of all-time favorite professional athletes is a small one. Justice is way up there, largely because of the story TB just told. Greg Maddox and John Smoltz too.

Julius Erving is another. So is Phil Simms. And Patrick Ewing.

When TB was a little kid, his favorites were Joe Namath and Willis Reed, though he would have definitely been on the Bill Bradley bandwagon had he known how thing were going to go later in his life. Once you get to a certain age, you stop thinking of sports figures as heroes, per se.

There are some you like because they play for your favorite team or you simply admire how they play. TigerBlog really loved to watch Michael Jordan play, even though he killed the Knicks. Today he really likes LeBron James more than any other NBA player.

His favorite professional athlete of the last 15 years, though, has definitely been New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. He has always carried himself with class, and TB can't remember any time he ever engaged in the seemingly everywhere me-first self-worship that has become routine in the NFL.

Plus, he's one of the greatest clutch athletes ever. Is 9 for 14 for 152 yards and two touchdowns a good quarter? That's what Manning's stats were in the fourth quarter of the first of his two Super Bowl wins over the Patriots, who had been 18-0 on the year heading into that game.

He ranks in the top 10 all-time in the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns, and he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. 

As the news came that Manning would not be starting this Sunday's game against the Raiders, ending his streak of 210 straight starts, TigerBlog took it as another sign that he longtime favorite team has become impossible to root for, just as the Knicks had been for a long time.

The Giants are awful this year. It is not at all Manning's fault.

To his credit, Manning said that he would not want to start the remaining games and then come out just to keep his streak alive. It was easy to tell that as he was being interviewed he was getting emotional, but again, he handled the situation with tremendous grace.

Anyway, TB wanted to say that about Manning before this weekend's game.

As for Princeton, TigerBlog was at the basketball doubleheader last night.

It began with the women's game, against No. 25 Villanova. If Villanova is the 25th-best team in the country, then Princeton is pretty good too.

It was a very entertaining game, one that the Wildcats would eventually win 62-59, holding off  a Princeton three attempt at the buzzer that would have tied it. The game featured an extraordinary performance by Bella Alarie, who scored a career-high 29 points on 9 for 12 shooting from the field, including makes on all three of her three-point attempts. She also had nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

Oh yeah, and she's early in her sophomore year. You can already include her in the discussion of the best players in program history.

As for the men's game, well, it was pretty much the exact opposite of the FDU game from Sunday. This time, Princeton fell behind big (by 22) and made the huge run (cutting it to two twice) before falling to Lehigh 85-76.

If you don't remember back to Sunday, Princeton went up by 27 and then FDU made it a one-possession game before the Tigers won 83-76.

That's very similar stuff.

Meanwhile, back at Eli, TigerBlog went to ride the bike yesterday morning and needed a sweatshirt. He was going to put on his New York Giants one, but he stopped and just couldn't do it. If you're a Giants fan, can you?

TigerBlog? Not this week.

He went with Princeton Basketball instead. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Thank You, A Finalist, A Doubleheader

First, from TigerBlog today, is a TAGD thank you.

The final numbers haven't been completely totaled yet. Still, it's clear that once again, the Princeton faithful have rallied around the current athletes, for the reasons that TigerBlog spoke of yesterday.

It's a sign of faith in the direction of the current programs, a message of approval for the athletes - and a reaffirmation of what the Princeton experience meant to so many people who have competed here through the years. Princeton Athletics clearly appreciates it.

The winners of the various TAGD challenges will be announced shortly. In the meantime, Princeton wants to thank you once again.

With Nov. 28 in the past, there are only two days left in the month. Then it'll be December? That means it'll be Christmas, New Year's, Lacrosse.

As November winds down, TigerBlog can also point out that Chad Kanoff threw for 1,249 yards this month. He did this despite only playing three games in the month of November.

Is that a lot of yards? Well, compare it to these guys:
Sam Darnold, USC 904 yards in November
Josh Rosen, UCLA 1,004 yards in November
Lamar Jackson, Louisville 681 yards in November (he's the reigning Heisman Trophy winner)

Here's another one: Baker Mayfield, 1,469 yards in November, though it did take him four games to get that number.

By the way, for the year, Jackson has thrown for 15 more yards than Kanoff while playing two more games than Kanoff.

Kanoff was named one of the two finalists for the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year yesterday, along with Penn's Justin Watson. Of course you could make the case that Watson wasn't even the best receiver in the league this year, what with the season Jesper Horsted had, but TigerBlog doesn't want to disparage Watson, who obviously is a great player. One stat about Watson: He accounted for 47.6 percent of Penn's receptions, which is the highest number in either level of Division I.

Watson and Horsted, to TigerBlog, are the two best Ivy receivers this decade. Actually, if you throw Harvard's Justice Shelton-Mosley in there too, then those are to TB the best three Ivy receivers of the last 15 years, back to the group of Rob Milanese (Penn), Carl Morris (Harvard) and Chas Gessner (Brown).

Kanoff, though, should be the winner. He set 12 Princeton or Ivy records, and he looked better and better as the year went on doing so, finishing with back-to-back 400-yard games.

That's for Monday though.

For tonight, there's a basketball doubleheader on Carril Court in Jadwin Gym, beginning at 5:30 with the women's game against Villanova and then at 8 with the men's game against Lehigh.

Let's start with the women.

Villanova comes into Jadwin ranked 25th in the country, which should get your attention. Princeton, on the other hand, has done some things that are somewhat eye-opening as well in the early going.

Princeton has had the Ivy Rookie of the Week each week this year, and it hasn't been the same rookie each time. The first two times it was Carlie Littlefield, who has been in double figures in all four games to date. Abby Meyers won the honor this past week, after Princeton's win over Davidson.

Littlefield and Meyers are making the transition to college a very smooth one. Bella Alarie did the same a year ago, when she was first-team All-Ivy and the Ivy Rookie of the Year.

This year, Alarie has raised her game several levels. She's so good now that it's hard to remember that she's only a sophomore. Alarie brings three straight double-doubles into this game, and she does everything on the court - both ends - without forcing anything.

Villanova is a great defensive team. It'll be a really good matchup between these two teams.

As for the men, TigerBlog watched the opener at Butler on TV and has been to every game since. He can tell you that Princeton has improved basically each time out this year.

The No. 1 task has been to blend the three main returnees - Devin Cannady, Myles Stephens, Amir Bell - with those who will be playing major minutes this year. It's a work in progress, of course, which is fine. It's what this time of year is supposed to be.

So far, Mitch Henderson has seen a lot from a lot of different guys. He has a lot to process, and you can see the different combinations that he uses in the early season.

Cannady, by the way, is 20 for 34 from three-point range on the season, including 6 for 6 from three against FDU. That's insane. Stephens was completely unstoppable against FDU, going 9 for 12 from the field but 9 for 10 from two-point range, including makes on his first nine.

Lehigh is a very good team. The Mountain Hawks beat Princeton a year ago in Bethlehem 76-67, and they are as good as any team in the Patriot League. On the other hand, no current Princeton player scored more than six in the game a year ago, which was the second for the Tigers on the season.

And there's this gem from TB's colleague Andrew Borders pregame story:
Tim Kempton, who grabbed a game-high 24 points and 11 boards, won the Patriot League Player of the Year award in 2015 and 2016, and Princeton's Spencer Weisz, the reigning Ivy Player of the Year, both play in Israel, Kempton for Bnei Hertzeliya and Weisz for Galil Gilboa. Their teams will meet Sunday for the first time this season at Hertzeliya.

So that's the women's game at 5:30. The men's game is at 8. It figures to be a good doubleheader on both ends.

And once again. Thanks for everything you did to make TAGD another success. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Talking TAGD

TAGD Website - Click HERE to give today

TigerBlog really liked the recent series of "TAGD Talks" that appeared on and social media.

They're really short videos in which different Princeton athletes describe a few different aspects of their personal experiences here. They're all really good.

If you want to see them, they're right here:

 TAGD Talk No. 1 - Carrington Akosa
TAGD Talk No. 2 - Katie Pratt-Thompson

TAGD Talk No. 3 - Jesper Horsted
TAGD Talk No. 4 - Claire Collins
TAGD Talk No. 5 - Stephanie Sucharda
TAGD Talk No. 6 - Devin Cannady

TAGD, of course, stands for "Tiger Athletics Give Day." Today is TAGD.

It's a 24-hour day of giving, a competitive fundraising competition among Princeton's 37 teams and 17 Athletics Friends Groups. It started at midnight, and it will run until midnight.

There are competitions for the most total dollars and most total gifts, so every donation matters, regardless of amount.

Today is the fourth edition of TAGD. The first one grew out of a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first athletic event at Princeton - a baseball game against Williams in Nov. 1864 - and it has increased in support and competitive intensity each successive year.

TAGD proves something conclusively that TigerBlog has known all along. The coaches here are very competitive people.

They don't like to lose. Games especially. Or at TAGD.

There are different groups who compete against each other for bonus funds, and there is an all-out effort to energize Friends' groups and alums to win each group. This is especially obvious on social media, where the teams themselves put together some really creative messages that they send to their supporters.

Something new this year for TAGD will be a Facebook Live production between 3 and 4 this afternoon. You can find it originating from the University's Facebook page HERE.

The Facebook Live production will include interviews with Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, as well as videos on several Princeton athletes, live interviews with others and the ability to ask questions.

There will also be other videos showing TAGD activities throughout the day. Those will be on social media.

What does the money raised go to here?

It goes to providing Princeton's 1,000 varsity athletes with the best possible experience that is possible. It goes to any number of initiatives that aren't able to be provided through the standard funding for the programs.

It is only through the generosity of all of the people who give each TAGD that Princeton is able to, well, be Princeton. And what does TigerBlog mean by that?

He means be a model college athletic department. He means recruit the best student-athletes in the country and then allow them to be a part of something that enables them to "Achieve, Serve and Lead." He means fostering friendships that last a lifetime. He means developing the same loyalty to Princeton and to the athletic teams here that all of those giving back have, something that sustains the program's long-term success.

Mostly, though, it's an investment in the people who compete here. These are the young people you see in the TAGD Talk video series, plus all of their peers.

They're an incredibly talented, amazingly impressive group of people. TigerBlog, all these years later, continues to marvel at them and what they do, how they compete so successful athletically and academically at such a high level of both.

On the occasions when TB has been asked to talk to recruits, he always says that if you took a graph and plotted the highest academic group on one axis and the highest athletic group of the other, the point where they intersect would be very, very small. Those kids are in that group.

By the way, he thinks he's right by using "axis" there.

Anyway, the investment goes way beyond just the athletic experience for four years. It's not just a few shiny new toys.

It's the investment in the people themselves. It's developing these extraordinary people to their fullest. It's teaching them all of the lessons that are learned here by athletes, all of which take they take with the when they leave here.

And that's when the money raised through TAGD really pays off.

It's the way the experience here stays with them through their lives. It's how that manifests itself as they reach their 30s, their 40s and beyond. It's about the things that they accomplish, small and large, that make such a positive impact on their communities and in many cases way, way beyond as they go down their respective paths.

That's what the money raised through TAGD brings.

If you've given in the past, you know how thankful everyone at Princeton is for your contributions. And again, Princeton Athletics is grateful to everyone who will give today.

Your gifts is doing way more than just helping the Tigers win games.

It's helping fully develop some of the greatest young people you'll see anywhere - the kids who compete in Princeton uniforms.

Thanks again.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Here's To The 2017 Women's Soccer Team

TigerBlog was at courtside yesterday for the men's basketball team's 83-76 win at FDU.

As he sat down in his seat before the game, an FDU administrator sat next to him. And what was the first thing she said?

"That was a great run by your women's soccer team."

Yes. It was. A great run. With an all-time epic win mixed in along the way. 

As it turns out, the two greatest seasons in Princeton women's soccer history both ended with losses to UCLA.

Back in 2004, that came in the NCAA semifinals. In 2017, this past Saturday night in Los Angeles, it was one round short of another Final Four.

You can debate forever which was a more amazing accomplishment - reaching the Final Four in 2004 or beating North Carolina in the 2017 Round of 16. TigerBlog's colleague Andrew Borders called that game, Princeton's 2-1 overtime win a week ago, "The Miracle on Grass."

If you're looking for a major difference between the two seasons, TigerBlog has one for you.

The 2004 women's soccer team was similar to the 1997-98 men's basketball team, or the 1998 men's lacrosse team, or the 2003 women's lacrosse team, or the 2012 field hockey team, among others.

What was the common denominator for those teams?

They all knew they were primed for great things before the season started. They had every indication coming into the season that those particular teams had all the pieces, all the experience, all the talent, everything necessary to make a big run. And they did.

Those are among the greatest teams Princeton has ever seen, certainly in the time TigerBlog has been around. They hardly were surprises.

The 2014-15 Princeton women's basketball team went 30-0 in the regular season and 31-1 overall. It's unlikely too many people predicted that before the year started, and in fact Princeton received only nine of the 17 first-place votes in the Ivy League preseason media poll that year.

The 2017 women's soccer team was closer to that. Princeton had a 10-4-3 record in 2016, but that included a 2-3-2 Ivy season.

What did 2017 have in store? Princeton certainly had potential, but were the Tigers a sure thing in the league? No.

From Day 1, though, it was clear that this team was special. There was a series of strong non-league wins, and then a 6-1-0 run to an outright Ivy League championship. That was followed by an NCAA wins over Monmouth and North Carolina State, followed by that little miracle on the Carolina grass.

The Princeton community, both on campus and in the local area, responded in a big way. In all, it was one of the best seasons any team has had that TigerBlog has seen at Princeton.

As for the UCLA game, the Bruins dominated the first 20 minutes and scored two goals 2:24 apart to take control. It looked like it might be getting completely away.

Ah, but it didn't.

First, Princeton goalkeeper Natalie Grossi was spectacular. If you forgot, it was Grossi's save on a PK against North Carolina State that kept Princeton in the tournament in the first place. Then she made six saves, her season high, in the win over North Carolina.

All that led up to her first half against UCLA, when she was incredible. She made seven saves in the first half alone, and pretty much every one was tricky. Without her, it would have been a blowout by halftime.

Instead, it was only 2-0. Then Princeton changed things around, going toe to toe with the Bruins. And then it became 2-1 in the 54th minute, when Abby Givens - who had the game-winner against UNC - slipped one into the net.

This time, that would as close as Princeton would get. UCLA would answer about six minutes later, and though the Tigers would claw til the end, the final would be 3-1.

The 2004 season earned Julie Shackford the national Division I Coach of the Year Award. The 2017 season should get Sean Driscoll into that conversation as well, and it's hard to imagine that too many coaches, if any, did a better job with a team this year than he did.

The end of the women's soccer season means that the next outdoor sporting event for Princeton will be lacrosse in mid-February. That's exciting, right?

This is a very busy week for Princeton Athletics, and there was a lot going on over the weekend as well. The men's hockey team had a nice win over Bemidji State. Bella Alarie had a third straight double double as Princeton beat Davidson in women's basketball. There was the men's basketball game, where Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens were unstoppable and Princeton held off a furious late charge by the Knights. And the women's volleyball team found out its NCAA tournament draw.

As for this week, there's home men's hockey Tuesday, Friday and Saturday (Quinnipiac, Dartmouth, Harvard). There's a basketball doubleheader Wednesday.

And then there's tomorrow.

It's TAGD, which stands for Tiger Athletics Give Day. It's a one-day fundraising competition between Princeton's teams and Friends' groups, the fourth straight year that Princeton Athletics will be having one.

The first three have been very successful. They've been a sign of the loyalty that alums and Friends feel for the Princeton teams, and everyone involved with Princeton Athletics has been greatly appreciative of the support.

That's TAGD tomorrow, and TB will have much more on that tomorrow.

For today?

It's another chance to recognize the 2017 Princeton women's soccer team. It's accomplishments are among the best that Princeton has ever seen.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

TigerBlog has told you about his Uncle Herbie before.

Herbie - Herbert Springer was his full name - ran a store in Brooklyn with TB's Aunt Edie. Before that, he was a New York City cab driver. He also fought in World War II, in Europe and the Pacific.

In the summers, he and Aunt Edie had a bungalow in the Rockaways, and he'd sit outside in his sailor's cap, playing Pinochle with his friends. TigerBlog couldn't understand the game, or, for that matter, even understand the 48-card deck.

Herbie would pause for few things when he played, but one of them would be to make his nephew a bagel, with butter on one side and lox on the other. Then it was back to the game.

His apartment in Brooklyn was on Ocean Ave., 1947 Ocean Ave., to be exact. TB spent more than one Thanksgiving there.

As TB types this, he can still see his uncle and his unshaven face, his unkempt hair, always covered by the sailor's hat. He can hear his voice, his deep, gravelly New York City voice.

It's been exactly 40 years since Herbert Springer passed away, at the age of only 53. It's weird for TigerBlog to think that he's older now than his uncle was when he died.

He died over Thanksgiving in 1977. Edie would live to 85 before she died a few years ago.

TigerBlog was still a kid when his uncle died. Even all these years later, he remains one of TB's favorite all-time people, and his memories of his time with his uncle are among his best.

 Forty years. Wow. 

His grave has his name - "Herbert Springer" - and then this: "Everyone's Friend." It is so true.

TigerBlog wrote this about his uncle once:
To be around Herbie Springer was to laugh, to carry on, to have a good time. He had friends, sure, but he was also the kind to make friends with everyone he encountered - strangers on the street, people who wandered into his store, friends of his nephew.

He had a huge personality, maybe a bit larger than life. It's just that his life didn't last as long as it should have.

TigerBlog wanted to mention his uncle on the 40th anniversary of his passing. He does so with a mix of sadness coupled with a smile at a reminder of who his uncle was and the good times he spent with him.

TigerBlog also wants to say what he's written every Thanksgiving since he's been doing this, and here it is:

As holidays go, you can't do much better than Thanksgiving. It's got it all, really: a huge meal (with turkey, no less), football, family, history (dates back to 1621), start of a four-day weekend for most people, leftovers. It's even a secular holiday, so every American can dive right in, regardless of religion.

The Lions and the Cowboys, obviously, always play at home on Thanksgiving, and the NFL has now added a third game (maybe a little too much). Beyond watching football, how many out there have played their own Thanksgiving football games, all of which, by the way, are named "the Turkey Bowl?"

The holiday may lag behind Christmas in terms of great Hollywood movies, and "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is no match for "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Still, there are some great moments in movies and TV shows around Thanksgiving.

Rocky and Adrian had their first date on Thanksgiving – "To you it's Thanksgiving; to me it's Thursday," Rocky said romantically – as did Meadow and Jackie Jr. on "The Sopranos" (it didn't quite work out as well as it did for Rocky and Adrian). "Everybody Loves Raymond" had two pretty good Thanksgiving episodes, the one where Marie makes a low-fat dinner and the one where Debra makes fish instead of turkey. As an aside, TigerBlog's Aunt Regina once made Cornish game hens instead of turkey, so he knows how they all felt. And of course, there was the Thanksgiving episode of "Cheers," which has the big food fight at the end.

The Woody Allen movie "Hannah and Her Sisters" starts and ends on two different Thanksgivings. "Miracle on 34th Street" is a Christmas movie, but it does start with the Thanksgiving parade in New York City.

And of course, there is the best of all Thanksgiving movies: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." It'll make you laugh a lot and cry a little, and it ends on Thanksgiving.

Princeton Athletics has some good events between now and the end of the weekend.

You have a choice tonight if you'd like to go to a game in Princeton, as the men's basketball team is home against Lafayette and the men's hockey team is home against Bemidji State. Both start at 7.

The second game of the Princeton-Bemidji State series will be Friday night. The men's basketball team is on the road Sunday, but it's not that far - just up to FDU, for a 2 p.m. tip.

There is also a two-game women's hockey trip to Merrimack (Friday and Saturday) and a women's basketball game at Davidson Saturday at 1.

And of course there is the NCAA women's soccer quarterfinal game Saturday between Princeton and UCLA in California. That game starts at 5:30 local time, so 8:30 in the East.

Princeton, of course, is coming off the huge win over North Carolina, the top seed in the region, in last Sunday's Round of 16 game.

Mostly, though, it's Thanksgiving that occupies most people's time right about now.

It's turkey and football and fun and all that. At its core, though, it's the giving of thanks, right? So be thankful for what - and especially who - is really important to you.

And remember those, like TB's Uncle Herbie, who are no longer here to celebrate the day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Observation Post

TigerBlog would like to talk to you about relationships today.

Spatial ones, that is. Well, maybe that's not exactly what this is, but whatever, it's close.

Picture in your mind the distance between the pitcher's mound and home plate on a baseball field. As everyone knows, that's 60 feet, six inches.

Now picture the distance from the floor of Jadwin Gym to the ceiling. How high do you think that is?

It's 60 feet.

How in the world is that possible? Doesn't it seem like the distance from the mound is a fraction of the distance from the floor to the ceiling in Jadwin?

TigerBlog has stood on a pitcher's mound and looked out at home plate. It didn't seem that far. He's been on the catwalk at the top of Jadwin and looked down and, well, he's lucky he lived through that.

As it turns out, it's also 60 feet from Powers Field to the top of the newly installed bubble that now covers the playing surface. Again, if you think of a pitcher's mound, it doesn't seem that big. If you think of the ceiling in Jadwin, it seems huge.

Here's what it looks like inside before it's 100 percent completed:
The bubble will be up each year now from the end of the football season through the spring. It'll be used by Princeton's varsity teams, as well as club teams, intramural teams and outside groups. That's all going to be happening really soon.

For now, TigerBlog's observation is that it's really cool.

Here are some other observations from the recent weekend in Princeton sports:

* Here's a question for you that TigerBlog was asked yesterday: What's the biggest win in Princeton women's soccer history, the one against North Carolina Sunday or the one over Washington in the 2004 quarterfinals that made the Tigers the only Ivy League team ever to reach the women's soccer Final Four? It's a great question. Princeton, by the way, will be at UCLA Saturday (8:30 Eastern) in this year's quarterfinal, with a chance to match the 2004 team.

* It's extraordinary what Chad Kanoff and Jesper Horsted did to the Princeton football record book. TigerBlog won't review them all here, but you can read about them HERE, as his colleague Craig Sachson put them together. If TB is correct, Kanoff tied or set 12 Princeton and/or Ivy League records by himself. Horsted shattered receiving records that had stood for nearly 35 years.

* Kanoff, by the way, certainly looks the part of an NFL quarterback at 6-4, 225 pounds, with good mobility and the ability to make pretty much any throw. Horsted looks the part of an NFL receiver, and possibly a Major League Baseball player, which is a good problem to have.

* Former men's basketball coach Bill Carmody, early in the 1999-2000 season, had a reporter say that his team had to be "the best 1-4 team of all time." Carmody responded without flinching: "I'd rather be the worst 4-1 team of all time." Good answer. The 2017 Princeton football team went 2-5 in the Ivy League and has to be the best 2-5 team ever. This season will be remembered for the extraordinary performances by the offense and the devastating injuries to the defense. A healthy defense plus that offense would have equaled an Ivy title. Nobody will be able to talk TigerBlog out of that.

* Georgia Tech's women's basketball team has a lot of size. In fact, of the 11 players who played in the 67-56 Georgia Tech win over Princeton Sunday, seven are at least six feet tall and five are at least 6-2. Princeton isn't small, but that was a lot of size. The Tigers played hard until the end and had some chances in the fourth quarter to make it a one-possession game, which isn't bad against the WNIT runner-up from a year ago. Princeton is now 2-1 with wins over George Washington and Seton Hall heading into the Thanksgiving break, and it's already clear that there's a lot to like about this team.

* The same is true of the men's team, which is home tomorrow night against Lafayette at 7. TigerBlog sat courtside Saturday night at St. Joe's, and if you've never been to a game at the Hagan Arena, it's definitely worth going. It's a great 4,200 seat venue, and the atmosphere there for the home opener was great. It included a ceremony honoring all of the former Hawks and they welcomed the newest Hawk. You know, the mascot, the one who never stops flapping.

* As for the game, Devin Cannady put on a great three-point shooting display in the first half, burying shot after shot from further and further away right in front of the jammed student section. Cannady, Amir Bell and Myles Stephens were a combined 18 for 31, with 50 points between them, in the 71-58 loss. Those three are the foundation of a special team. The task is putting the other pieces around them, and Mitch Henderson has plenty of options. Princeton is clearly a work in progress right now, but it's one that has a lot of potential as well. And is exciting to watch.

* The men's hockey team will be home tomorrow and Friday nights against Bemidji State, with faceoff at 7 both nights. The Tigers are going through some growing pains and are 3-3-1 after seven games. A year ago? They were 0-6-1 after seven games. And of their three losses, two (Cornell, Union) were against ranked teams at the time (Cornell is ranked . There's also a 0-0 tie with Colgate in there, and the Raiders are currently ranked 18th.

* The men's cross country team finished 28th in the NCAA championship race Saturday. The Tigers had an interesting season, not running together until just before Heps and then winning that and the NCAA regional easily. As for the women, they were represented by Heps champ Gabi Forrest, who finished 37th at the NCAA championships to earn All-America honors.

* The men's water polo team lost a heartbreaker, falling 12-11 to Harvard in two OTs in the NWPC championship game. The Tigers did have yet another great season under head coach Luis Nicalao, going 22-6.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Make That 13

Is this a good record: 126-12-3?

That's a winning percentage of a .917. Is that good too?

Those were the gaudy numbers that the University of North Carolina's women's soccer team brought into yesterday's NCAA tournament Round of 16 game against Princeton. The next-highest number of NCAA wins in women's soccer belongs to Notre Dame, with 69.

North Carolina's history in women's soccer is better than UConn's history in women's basketball. The Huskies are 114-18 in the NCAA women's basketball tournament, a winning percentage of only .864.

UConn has won 11 NCAA women's basketball championships. North Carolina has won 21 NCAA women's soccer championships, meaning the Tar Heels are one away from doubling up the Huskies.

And they won't get it this year.

In what is unquestionably one of the greatest wins Princeton Athletics has seen, the Princeton women's soccer team defeated mighty North Carolina 2-1 yesterday, winning it on Abby Givens' goal 8:18 into overtime.

Make it 126-13-3.

It's hard to overstate the magnitude of beating North Carolina in the NCAA tournament. It's not something that happens too often, and it happens before the Final Four even less.

UNC has played in every NCAA women's soccer tournament, all 36 of them now, and this will be just the ninth time that the Tar Heels have not reached the national semifinals.

As for this year, UNC is the No. 2 ranked team in the country and went 8-0-2 in the ACC, a league that sent eight teams to the NCAA tournament.

So yeah, it's huge. What makes it more astonishing is that Princeton was one penalty kick away from not getting the chance to play UNC in the first place.

Before TB gets to that, let him rant for a second. PKs are an incredibly dumb way of deciding the outcome of a game. Why in the world would a game be allowed to end that way?

Yeah, yeah. It's because without PKs, a game could last forever, going multiple overtimes and all. So what? If you know you have to score to win, you have to take chances eventually.

If anything, do what field hockey does and take players off the field as you get to OT. Anything would be better than PKs, whether it's the World Cup or the NCAA tournament.

That wasn't the case Friday, though, when Princeton played North Carolina State in the second round. The Tigers led 1-0 on freshman Carolyne Davidson's goal before a late goal tied it, and then the teams played two scoreless overtimes. That left it up to penalty kicks to decide which team would advance.

Princeton missed its first. NC State made its first four, meaning that if the Wolfpack could make the next one, the game would be over. Instead? Natalie Grossi made the save, keeping the game going.

It would have ended there had Tomi Kennedy not converted the next one, which she did. Both teams would miss the next one, and then, after another Grossi save, Davidson finally ended it.

Yeah. It's a terrible system, but if you're going to use it, you might as well win.

And that left Princeton to take on North Carolina, who just happened to be 13-0-2 in its last 15 games. North Carolina had four straight shutouts heading into the game, and in fact opponents had scored just four goals - that's one, two, three, four goals - in that 15-game unbeaten streak.

Princeton then doubled that total. Princeton was outshot in this one 24-8, and Grossi was strong again, making seven saves.

The game-winner came on on bit of a counter, when Givens found herself with just enough room to maneuver the ball past UNC goalkeeper Samantha Leshnak. All that was left was a race to the goal line between the ball and a UNC defender. The ball would win.

With that, Princeton had pulled off a stunner. Again, TigerBlog is not overstating the historical significance of this win.

The Tigers now play in the quarterfinals, next weekend at UCLA, who beat Virginia 2-1 last night on a late goal, after the teams traded goals 30 second apart five minutes in. Should Princeton win that one, it would get to the Final Four.

North Carolina has been to 27 Final Fours. Princeton has been to one, back in 2004. It's the only time an Ivy League team has reached the women's soccer Final Four.

Can this team repeat that feat?

Getting this far is an incredible accomplishment. Especially when yesterday's opponent is added in to the equation.

This was, after all, the University of North Carolina women's soccer team. That's the mightiest of the mighty.

And there was Princeton. Ahead. Then tied. Then going toe-to-toe the rest of the heart-stopping way, eventually winning.

This Princeton team has been special all season. It's now 16-2-1 for the year and has spent pretty much the entire season ranked in the top 25. Now it's one of just eight teams left playing.

And it has a win over North Carolina.

Yeah, that's one of the great NCAA tournament wins any Princeton team has ever had.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Should Have Gone With The Omelette, Home Fries and Toast

TigerBlog went to a diner yesterday for lunch with his friend Corey.

If his math is right, he's coming up on 47 or so years that he and Corey have been friends. That's a long time.

Corey could be the happiest person TB has ever met. He and TB tell the same stories that they told decades ago, and they still laugh at them like it was yesterday.

Corey is a Rutgers grad. He was a sax player in the band for the Scarlet Knights.

TB looks at his kids and wonders which of their current friends they will be friends with when they're in their 50s. He's not sure why his friendship with Corey has endured all this time, just that it has, and it will forever. There's something quite comforting about that.

Anyway, as far as lunch yesterday goes, sometimes when TB is in a restaurant, he'll look around and see what everyone else is eating, to see if something looks good. In a diner, he likes to get breakfast food, even if it's in the afternoon or evening.

He was going to get an omelette, probably the one with lox and onion. Or the Spanish omelette. Or the Western one.

That's when the people at the next table got their food. And one of them got the salad that TB usually gets when he has lunch with Corey, and it looked really good.

TB ordered the salad, and it was really good. Just as he started to eat, though, there were two guys at the counter behind him - and they both got omelettes. With toast and home fries.

Regrets? Maybe a few. Very few things are better than an omelette, toast and home fries in a diner.

If TB really wanted to put in the effort, he would connect that with Princeton Athletics. It's a busy weekend, though, so he'll just get to the events coming up.

At home this weekend would be the men's hockey team, tonight and tomorrow night at 7, against Yale and Brown. And women's basketball, home Sunday against Georgia Tech at 1.

The men's basketball team is on the road, Saturday at 7 at St. Joe's.

There are also a few championship events involving Princeton teams.

The women's volleyball team will take on Yale tomorrow night, at 7, in New Haven, where the winner will earn the Ivy League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Princeton and Yale are the league co-champions, and they split their two matches during the regular season.

Princeton is looking for its second-straight trip to the NCAA tournament. The Tigers have now won three straight Ivy titles.

TigerBlog went to the women's volleyball page on and learned that Princeton's NCAA appearance a year ago was the first in nine years. He also saw a headline that said that Maggie O'Connell had made history while being named the Ivy League Player of the Year.

What kind of history? She's the sixth Princeton player to win Ivy Player of the Year and the second to have won that award and Ivy Rookie of the Year in her career as well. O'Connell, a sophomore, is also the first underclassman from Princeton to win Player of the Year.

If TigerBlog Jr. had chosen the Ivy Player of the Year, he would have gone with O'Connell. And he should know. As Yale's PA announcer, he saw every team play. And he'll be there tomorrow night, behind the mic for the championship match.

HERE is the women's volleyball match preview story. 

The men's cross country team runs in the NCAA championships in Louisville tomorrow as well. The Tigers have had quite a season, running together for the first two weeks before Heps at the Princeton Invitational and then overpowering the league to win the Ivy title.

Then, it was on to the NCAA regional last weekend, where Princeton against ran away from the competition to finish first, winning by an astonishing 52 points. All five of Princeton's scorers were in the top 10 at Heps and in the top 25 at the regional. That left all five of them as All-Ivy and All-Region.

So what's the team's ceiling in the finals?

Princeton's best finish ever was 11th, back in 2012. Can this team beat that finish? Well, the Tigers are ranked 28th nationally, but that poll doesn't really reflect where the team is now. Princeton wasn't even ranked for most of the year, for that matter.

Keep in mind, Princeton's full team together has not lost a race this year.

HERE is the full preview.

The women's soccer team plays in the second round of the NCAA tournament today in Cary, N.C., at 2:30 against North Carolina State, a team the Tigers defeated 2-0 back in early September. Princeton was very impressive in its NCAA opener, a 4-0 win over Monmouth.

N.C. State outshot Princeton 15-9 in the first game, but it was the Tigers who converted two chances. What does any of that mean for this game? Not one thing.

Princeton is the fourth seed in the region and ranked 13th nationally. North Carolina State is ranked 21st. It figures to be a good game.

For the winner, there is probably a third-round date Sunday with North Carolina, who plays Colorado in the other game.

Princeton is 15-2-0 on the year. N.C. State is 15-5-1.

More information is right HERE.

The men's water polo team plays in the Northeast Water Polo Conference Tournament this weekend at Harvard. The Tigers are the top seed in the event.

That preview is HERE.

At stake for the winner is an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

In non-championship events, the football team is at Dartmouth as Chad Kanoff chases some major Princeton passing records and the Tigers attempt to keep the Big Green from having a shot at the Ivy crown. Dartmouth would get a share with a win and a Yale loss to Harvard. Columbia could get a share too with a win over Brown and a Yale loss.

For all of Kanoff's numbers - and Jesper Horsted's and Stephen Carlson's and everything else about the game - click HERE.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

More Baby Steps

TigerBlog has told you this story twice before, the first time in 2010 and the second in 2015.

If you already heard it, then bear with him. It's a good one.

TigerBlog's introduction to broadcasting at Princeton came back in 1989, when he first started doing men's basketball games on what was then WHWH radio - AM 1350. David Brody was the play-by-play man, and TigeBlog was first on as a halftime guest, and then as the color commentator for away games.

Eventually, he did the home games with Brody as well. Actually, it was a three-man crew for home games, with Brody, TB and Rich Simkus, the former Tiger center.

One night in a game at Jadwin, the end of the first half didn't go the way Pete Carril wanted, and he was a tad upset as he left the court. Or, as TB said on the radio, he was something else:

TB: Pete Carril looks pretty pissed off right now.

That was followed by silence from TB's partners.

TB: What? You can't say "pissed off" on the radio?
Brody: Apparently you can, because you've said it twice.

Again a pause.

Simkus: You're beautiful.

TB's takeaway, of course, was that he was beautiful.

That was a long time ago, as TB thinks about it. Wow. Nearly 30 years?

A three-man radio team hardly ever works, but with the 45-second shot clock back then, that left plenty of time to talk. And as TB recalls, he and Simkus played off each other well, especially when they'd talk about how TigerBlog rooted against Simkus was he was a Penn student. Simkus was actually a very good analyst. That was a good broadcast team.

By the way, Simkus was featured prominently in the most recent episode of "Hard Cuts," as well as in the picture for the story on the webpage. See it HERE.

Princeton has had a lot of great announcers through the years that TB has been here, up through the present. The current football team (Cody Chrusciel, Craig Sachson, Dave Giancola) is excellent. The men's basketball team of Derek Jones and Noah Savage is as good as it gets for this level. TB would put them up there with anyone.

By the way, the women's broadcasting team this year for the Ivy League Network is John Mozes and Dei Lynam. That's a great pairing as well. Maybe you remember Dei from all of her years covering the NBA, especially the Sixers.

When Jones and Savage do the home games for the Ivy League Network, then the radio announcers are second-generation Tiger play-by-player Patrick McCarthy, the son of Tom McCarthy, and TigerBlog. Last night Patrick had to go solo on the radio, since TigerBlog had to do the PA for the mens' game against BYU.

TigerBlog likes doing the radio. He's never gotten nervous, perhaps because you can't really see your audience. Then again, he doesn't get nervous on the PA either. Maybe it's just nice to hear his voice.

Actually, there's an old episode of "WKRP In Cincinnati" where Bailey tells Johnny that if he gets nervous, he should just pretend he's talking to one person. That's sort of how it is in radio. Pretend you're talking to one person. Describe the game to that one person.

The challenge last night was to correctly pronounce Princeton freshman Jerome Desrosiers, who is French-Canadian, from Quebec. The phonetic spelling would be this: zheh-ROME de-ROH-zee-EH.

That was a good one. Then again, TB was the PA announcer at Jadwin the night that Brown's Alai Nuualiitia had his career high.

As for the game itself last night, Princeton expected a game in the 80s. The last time BYU was at Jadwin the score was 39-37. The teams sort of met in the middle, as BYU defeated Princeton 65-56.

After the game, Princeton coach Mitch Henderson talked about how his team looked good on offense in the opener against Butler (85-75 loss) and good on defense against BYU and that "somewhere in there is a good team."

TigerBlog yesterday talked about "baby steps," about how a team develops over the course of a basketball season. He's seen Princeton men's and women's teams that seemed to be struggling early turn into Ivy championship teams as they developed.

You can't win championships in November. You simply moving your team along the path of those baby steps, looking for the right combinations and answers and rotations and minutes. That's where the Tigers are right now.

According to Henderson, prior to last night he had gotten two technicals in his life and then doubled it with the two he got against the Cougars. He was contrite after the game and apologetic for what happened. 

Sometimes that happens. TB has seen the best of coaches lose it in the moment. Nobody should judge Henderson by that one moment. TB has known Henderson for a long, long time, and he knows that he is a class act, one who has high standards for his program. He also has tremendous passion, especially for Princeton basketball, and the program couldn't be in better hands.

Next up for Princeton is a trip to St. Joe's Saturday night. That's the next chance to move along towards the goal, which is to be a much-improved team come February. TB has no doubt that will be the case.

BYU coach Dave Rose summed it up really well when he got up to leave after his turn in the postgame interview room.

"Mitch has a good team," he said. "A fun team. They're going to have a fun year."

Then he paused and added this:

"Just not tonight." 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Baby Steps

So when people say they slept like a baby, what exactly do they mean?

They mean they slept great, right?

Babies, though, don't sleep all that great. Babies don't sleep all that much for that matter, and when they wake up, they're miserable.

They look peaceful enough while they sleep, so is that where the expression comes from?

Then there's the expression "baby steps." That means, TigerBlog presumes, small steps, making progress, that sort of thing.

Have you ever seen a baby who has just learned to walk? They sprint everywhere. Baby steps? Their little legs churn up and down as fast as they can. You can lose your mind - and your breath - trying to keep up with them.

Wouldn't that mean "baby steps" should refer to "get to the end point as quickly as possible?"

Where do these idioms come from?

Going on the assumption for a minute that baby steps means making small progressions toward the end goal, then Princeton men's and women's basketball teams are in the baby steps portion of the season.

Both teams have played one game. The women defeated defending Atlantic 10 champ George Washington 72-52. The men lost at Butler 85-75.

So what is known for sure? A few things:
* Myles Stephens is an insanely great player who can do everything on the court, on either end
* Stephens, Amir Bell and Devin Cannady complement each other really well
* Cannady, Bell and Stephens are fearless, whether it's going to the basket or shooting from the outside or pretty much anything
* Bella Alarie will be the best player on the court in pretty much every game Princeton plays
* Carlie Littlefield, a freshman from Iowa, is the real deal
* Tia Weledji or Leslie Robinson (or both) could go for 20-plus on any given night

Oh, and this:
* both teams are a lot of fun to watch.

There are questions, too, of course. There should be in November. Baby steps, remember?

Here are a few:
* how many minutes should the major players be getting?
* what will be the men's team's ultimate rotation, and how many players will be in that rotation, for that matter?
* what will Abby Meyers look like when she gets to play?
* how will both team's incredibly strong freshmen classes develop?
* what is the most optimal percentage of points to come from the men's big three?

The answers to these questions will start to play out over the next weeks.

The women have two games this week, tomorrow night at Seton Hall (tip at 7) and then Sunday at 1 at home against Georgia Tech. Both opponents are strong ones, which is what you want from your early season schedule.

Meyers, the 6-0 guard who scored more than 1,700 points in high school, should be ready to go after missing the opener against George Washington. Littlefield, who played 38 minutes in the opener and scored 14 points, was the Ivy Rookie of Week.

As for Alarie, she had 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks against the Colonials. Her presence forces opponents to account for her at all times, and were Alarie concerned only about her own scoring, then that might be a problem. Instead, she plays without forcing anything, and  which opens things up for everyone else.

The result was an 18-point game from Weledji and 11 points and 10 rebounds from Robinson. That's better than 25 from Alarie with no one else in double figures, and it's a winning formula for the Tigers.

The men have their home opener tonight against Brigham Young, a team who beat the Tigers 82-73 one year ago yesterday, in the 2016-17 opener. The Cougars would go to the NIT last year, when they finished 22-12.

This year, BYU won its opener against Mississippi Valley State 91-61 last Saturday. The Cougars are making their first trip to this area of the year, and they'll be back in two weeks to play at the Barclays Center.

As for the last time BYU was at Princeton, it was Dec. 12, 1981. The final score was 39-38. TigerBlog will be surprised if both teams don't beat that tonight in the first half.

Princeton has never beaten BYU, but then again they've only played each five times. Before last year, the teams hadn't played since the 1991-92 season.

On the other hand, it makes for a great home opener, and an intriguing one. It's always good to play different teams, especially ones from big-name programs from the other side of the country.

Keep in mind, the team on the court tonight is trying to figure itself out and be ready for the conference season and ultimately tournament. This won't be a finished product for either team.

Stephens, for instance, played 11 minutes against BYU a year ago, scoring seven. He would go on to be a first-team All-Ivy selection, the league's Defensive Player of the Year and the MVP of the Ivy tournament.

Hey, it's a long way from start to finish.

Baby steps, right?