Thursday, February 9, 2017

Beach Day, Snow Day

So yesterday's high in Princeton was in the 60s.

It was a day for a walk on a New Jersey beach, soaking in the sunshine of a rare February day where shorts and a sweatshirt would work.

And today? The forecast is for five to eight inches of snow here in Princeton. It's also a day for walking on a beach, a beach in the Caribbean that is.

By the way, have you ever been to a beach during a snowstorm? It's a very strange sight to say the least.

TigerBlog is no fan of winter weather. Maybe the snow will look pretty while it falls, but it'll be ugly and dirty and inconvenient in no time.

On the other hand, this has been a relatively snow-free winter, so far at least. TigerBlog hopes that today's storm either fizzles out or is the only bad one of the season.

Princeton is still a week away from the first outdoor events on the campus this calendar year. That would be the lacrosse doubleheader next Saturday, with the women's game against Temple at noon and the men's game against NJIT at 3.

TigerBlog is pretty sure that there's a rule somewhere that says that the pictures from the first lacrosse games of the year have to have snow int he background.

Is it nuts that Princeton is a week away from lacrosse games? If you think that's nuts, there have already been games played, including a big game between Navy and Johns Hopkins Tuesday, and that by the time Princeton's teams play, basically the rest of Division I will already have played, many of them more than one game.

Ah, but this is still the winter season, and this is a big weekend for Princeton, in terms of both bulk and quality. Bulk, as in 33 different events between tomorrow and Sunday, which is a lot.

And quality, as in some huge events. There will be Ivy League championships decided in three sports, for instance.

The men's and women's fencing championships will be held Saturday and Sunday at Penn. Columbia is ranked No. 1 in both, but Princeton is as much a favorite on either side. A year ago, there was a three-way tie for both the men and the women, and Princeton got a share of both.

Also crowing an Ivy champ this weekend will be the sport of wrestling.

Princeton, you might remember, struggled for years to win a league match, let alone contend for a league title. Those days ended when Chris Ayres became head coach and began to rebuild the program, and now for the second straight year, the Tigers will wrestle Cornell with the championship on the line.

This is nothing new for the Big Red, who have won 14 straight Ivy titles. Princeton and Cornell head into the final weekend of the regular season at 3-0 each in the league, with no other team above .500. The Tigers are at Columbia Saturday at 6 and then Cornell Sunday at 3; Cornell hosts Penn Saturday.

Regardless of what happens Saturday, the winner of Princeton-Cornell will be assured of no worse than a share of the championship. If they both win Saturday, then Sunday becomes winner-take-all, just like it did a year ago between Princeton and Cornell on the final day of the regular season.

Oh, and if you're wondering when Princeton's last Ivy wrestling title was, it was in 1986.

The ECAC hockey races are winding down, and home ice is on the minds of both Princeton teams as February moves along.

The women are sort of tied for fourth place right now with Quinnipiac with two weekends and four games left for each team in the league. Sort of tied, in that Princeton won both games during the season against the Bobcats, which gives the Tigers the tiebreaker.

Princeton and Quinnipiac have 24 points each, three back of third-place Cornell. Clarkson and St. Lawrence are well ahead of Cornell, and Princeton and Quinnipiac, who are travel partners, will be heading north to take on the top two teams this weekend before finishing at home against RPI and Union, who are in eighth and 12th.

The top four teams will get home ice. The top eight reach the playoffs. Colgate, by the way, is lingering in the hunt for fourth with 23 points.

As for the men, all 12 teams reach the ECAC playoffs, with the top four to get a first-round bye and then next four to host first round series. There are three weeks left in the regular season, and Princeton sits just one point out of eighth place.

Princeton is currently in ninth, one point back of Dartmouth and one ahead of Colgate. There are all kinds of possibilities, but it's likely that one of those three will get home ice and the other two will be on the road.

For Princeton, the last three weekends are like this: home with St. Lawrence and Clarkson, at RPI and Union and home with Brown and Yale. Each point along the way will be crucial.

TigerBlog will say this: If Princeton can manage to get home ice this season, after an 0-6-1 start and a 12th-place finish a year ago, that would be an amazing accomplishment, the kind that would have to vault Princeton's Ron Fogarty to the top of the Coach of the Year charts.

So that's some of what's going on this weekend.

For all of it, click HERE.

As for the weather, TigerBlog can't remember too many little stretches like this. Heavy snow today, apparently.

And yesterday? TigerBlog walked outside in the middle of the afternoon, felt a sunny warmth he hadn't felt in awhile and remembered what he loved about it in the first place. Hopefully it'll be back soon.

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