Friday, February 24, 2017

Jim Barlow, Champion

Jim Barlow was sweating.

Like, a lot. Completely through his gray t-shirt. He had a white towel draped around his neck. He was being "interviewed," sort of, and he was trying to be sincere without making it seem like he was taking it too seriously.

For the 30 minutes before that, he was definitely all business. It was the championship match of the Dillon Gym ping-pong tournament, and it came down to an all-men's soccer final.

It was head coach Jim Barlow and assistant coach Steve Totten. Waiting for the winner would be Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, the Jadwin champion.

Apparently, Totten and Barlow play all the time. They certainly looked like vets. This was a pretty high level of ping pong, even if it was just a departmental tournament. There were some big-time points, with two aggressive players who were in full attack mode, punching and counter-punching, as it were.

When it was over, it was Barlow who won, in four games of the best-of-five. His t-shirt told how much effort it was to take it.

TigerBlog would have no chance against either Barlow or Totten. If he played Barlow, his goal would be to win enough points to get Barlow to have to sweat, but he's not sure he could.

Barlow certainly earned the championship, beating the two-time defending king Mike Pallister and then Totten, who had beaten him the last few times they had played "friendlies," as soccer people like to say.

There will be another championship awarded on the Princeton campus this weekend. That would be in women's squash, as Jadwin Gym is the host for the Howe Cup, which runs from today through Sunday. Princeton opens the tournament by taking on Yale at 2:30 today.

It's a big weekend for Princeton sports - 25 events worth from today through Sunday. Or 26. Depending on how women's hockey goes.

Baker Rink will be busy all by itself, with either four or five games there this weekend. There will definitely be doubleheaders tonight and tomorrow, and there could be a single game Sunday as well.

The Princeton women will play Quinnipiac today and tomorrow at 3 in an ECAC quarterfinal playoff series. If they split those two games, then there will be a third game Sunday. The winner of the series advances to the league semifinals, which almost surely will be played at St. Lawrence.

The women's games will be followed tonight and tomorrow night by the last two games of the men's hockey regular season, with face-off at 7 both nights. Princeton will host Brown tonight and Yale tomorrow night.

The word "host" could come up again next week for Princeton, which would be an amazing accomplishment. The Tigers, who started the season 0-6-1, are tied for ninth place right now with 15 points, one behind eighth place Dartmouth and three behind seventh place Yale.

Dartmouth is home against St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Yale will also play Princeton's travel partner, Quinnipiac. The team Princeton is tied with, Colgate, plays Union and RPI.

There are quite a few combinations that could come out of the weekend. The bottom line is that Princeton will have home ice in the ECAC playoffs next weekend by finishing in the top eight. If TB has this right, Princeton has the tiebreaker with Yale but not Dartmouth or Colgate.

This is also a huge basketball weekend, for both Princeton men and women, who will play Cornell tonight and Columbia tomorrow. The women are home; the men are on the road.

Let's start with the men, who are 10-0 in the league, two games up on Harvard. The Tigers would clinch the outright league championship with any combination of their wins and Harvard losses that adds up to three, whether this weekend or next (when Harvard and Dartmouth come to Jadwin Gym).

Of course, the regular season will award the champion as always, but this year the path to the NCAA tournament requires winning the Ivy League tournament. Princeton has already clinched its spot in the four-team field.

Actually, if Princeton wins both of its games this weekend, it will clinch the top seed in the Ivy league tournament. 

The women have not, but they almost surely will. Like the men, though, the women would lock down a championship by winning out. In fact, Princeton is one game back of Penn, whom the Tigers play at the Palestra on March 7, four days before the league tournament will be played there.

There are other highlights of the weekend, one of which even involves Sacred Heart University - and TB isn't talking about the Pioneers' men's lacrosse game against Dartmouth.

Actually, speaking of men's lacrosse, Princeton's men is home against Hofstra tomorrow at 1. The Tigers are 2-0 on the year, coming off a really good win over Marist Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, back at Sacred Heart, it'll be Princeton at the Pioneers tomorrow (after Princeton plays at Harvard tonight. Right now, Princeton and SHU are tied for first in the EIVA at 3-1, and perennial power Penn State has already lost twice.

So yes, it's a busy weekend for Princeton.

TB isn't sure when the ping-pong championship will be. Having seen both play, he likes Barlow over Marcoux Samaan - unless he lets his boss win.

You know, like Totten did.

No comments: