Friday, July 7, 2017

A Little More Summer Hoops

Peter Farrell stopped by TigerBlog's office yesterday.

The former women's track and field coach has literally seen the world since his retirement a little more than a year ago. TB doesn't see him as much as he used to, back when his office was a few feet away.

Still, whenever Peter is around, there are always some good stories to follow. And when TB has little motivation to write something for a summer Friday, Peter always gives him a spark.

Yesterday was no different.

TigerBlog hadn't heard the one, for instance, about the time that Peter's car broke down right at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, on the Manhattan side. He said he seemed to make a lot of friends that day.

Or the one about Lew Alcindor's first high school basketball game. Surely you know who Lew Alcindor is, right?

TigerBlog is guessing you do. Here are three hints if you don't: 1) he hasn't gone by that name in decades, 2) he scored 6,000 more points in the NBA than Michael Jordan did and 3) he recently received an honorary degree from none other than Princeton University.

Lew Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1971 and then went on to become the all-time leading scorer in NBA history, with the completely unstoppable sky hook as his main weapon. Jordan, by the way, is fourth. Who are 2 and 3? And what active player has the most?

Anyway, before he was Kareem and before he played at UCLA, where he helped the Bruins to the NCAA title each of his three varsity seasons, he was a New York City legend at Power Memorial High School.

Farrell was another New York City legend. Well, maybe not legend. But he was a year ahead of Alcindor in high school, at Archbishop Molloy, and he was in the gym when Power Memorial and Alcindor opened his sophomore season (Peter's junior season) at Molloy. It would be Alcindor's first varsity season.

Peter also sat next to Alcindor at a banquet when both were still in high school. He saw the name tag for Alcindor next to his at the table and asked his father if he thought he was going to be there. Pointing straight up at the 7-2 Alcindor, Peter's father said simply "yes."

The answer to the question above? No. 2 is Karl Malone. No. 3 is Kobe Bryant. The active player with the most points is Dirk Nowitski (he's sixth all-time; Jordan is four and Wilt Chamberlain is five), with LeBron James not all that far behind. 

Since TB is on the subject of basketball, he needs to point out that since the release of the men's basketball schedule two days ago, the dates of two of the games have been changed. That's how it works.

The Cornell-Columbia home weekend has been moved from the end of January to the weekend of Jan. 12-13, before exams start. Also, you may have noticed that there are no Penn games listed yet, but not to worry. TB has been assured that his alma mater will be fielding a team in 2017-18 and will show up twice on the Princeton schedule, as always.

Speaking of basketball, Bella Alarie will be spending the next two weeks of her summer in Colorado Springs, where she and her U.S. U-19 teammates will be preparing for the upcoming FIBA World Cup.

Alarie made the U.S. team in a tryout this spring. If you look at the USA Basketball website, you'll see that a lot of big-time players are alums of the U.S. U19 team and the World Cup.

The event features a 16-country field. Opening tip for the championships is Saturday, July 22. The U.S. is in a four-team group with China, Mali and Italy, who is also the host nation.

Each of the 16 teams will advance to the knockout rounds. The championship game will be Sunday, July 30.

Alarie launched herself on the women's basketball scene this past year, when she was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-Ivy League selection. She's a 6-4 guard, something that Princeton has never really had before, and she is a complete mismatch on the offensive end while being a total stopper at the other end. Among her freshman year accomplishments: She set the school single-season blocked shots record.

Courtney Banghart, Alarie's coach at Princeton, has finished 10 seasons as head coach of the Tigers. In case you don't know off the top of your head, her career record is 208-87, and her Ivy career record is 113-27.

Those are ridiculous numbers.

Banghart, of course, hasn't done it by herself. She has, through fortune, foresight and both, had great assistant coaches here, especially the one constant from Day 1, Milena Flores.

As she looks back on her first 10 seasons, Courtney will be doing some reflecting over the next few weeks. The first installment in the series is about all of the people who have coached with here here, and it's definitely worth reading, which you can do HERE.

And then when you're done, have yourself a great summer weekend. Only seven more to go before the first event of 2017-18.

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