Thursday, August 3, 2017

Silver Bella

TigerBlog had an appointment yesterday to talk about where he currently stands with his retirement.

The person with whom he met was a very nice woman. She asked him what he's looking for out of retirement. He said a beach house and a French bulldog.

Is that asking too much?

She told him that her best advice about his retirement was to think of a lot of topics for the blog, because he'll have to be doing it for a few more decades.

Hey, no problem. There's always something to write about.

Some days it's easier than others. Like today.

TigerBlog had hoped to write about a gold medal for Bella Alarie at the U19 World Championships in women's basketball, held in Italy the last two weeks. Unfortunately, Alarie and her USA teammates had to settle for silver after falling to Russia 86-82 in the championship game Sunday.

Alarie was a first-team All-Ivy League selection and the Ivy League Rookie of the Year this past season for the Princeton women's basketball team. From opening night of the season, when she put up 24 points and seven rebounds against Rider, it was clear that Alarie was someone really special.

TigerBlog has said this about her before, but she is the most unique - and complete - women's basketball player Princeton has ever had. She's 6-4 on Princeton's roster and 6-5 on Team USA's roster, but she's hardly a back-to-the-basket player, though she could be if that's what you want.

She's a guard. She can get from above the three-point line to the basket in two steps. She can shoot three's. She can beat a press. She can run the break with the ball or on the wing. And she can defend.

In her freshman year, she set the Princeton record for blocked shots in a season. She also put up 377 points, which, if multiplied by four, takes her to 1,508. If she can improve by 59 points per season - or two per game basically - over her freshman year, then she'll break the Princeton career record of 1,683, held since 1990 by Sandi Bittler Leland.

There's a big jump to international basketball of course. Alarie was a starter at the World Championships for the Americans, and she averaged 7.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for the tournament.

You don't think that experience is going to translate to an improved Alarie when she gets back on the court at Jadwin Gym?

In an athletic program filled with standouts across 37 sports, Alarie is as much a must-see as any Princeton athlete whose last name doesn't rhyme with the field in the football stadium.

In all seriousness, if you haven't gotten a chance yet to see her play, make sure you do. You'll be impressed.

It's been a big summer for Princetonians in Europe. There's Alarie. There's all of the success at the Maccabiah Games in Israel and the World U23 Rowing Championships in Bulgaria.

To that list, you can add the World Championships in track and field, which are about to begin in London.

Princeton is represented there by recent alum Julia Ratcliffe and current assistant men's coach Robby Andrews. 

Ratcliffe is competing, obviously, in the hammer throw. She was a four-time All-America at Princeton and the 2014 NCAA champion, as well as a runner-up once and a fourth-place finisher this past year.

She's from New Zealand, though she's still spent a lot of time on this campus this summer training and competing. She's funny, laid back, extremely intelligent, really personable, really likeable - and one of the greatest female athletes in school history.

She just missed qualifying standard for the 2016 Olympic Games, despite being her country's record-holder in the event. Hopefully she'll be in the 2020 Games, in Tokyo.

Hopefully, too, Andrews will be there as well.

Andrews was in the Olympics last summer, the ones in Rio that began just about one year ago. Andrews was in the semifinals of the 1,500 when he was DQ'd on a really, really close call.

Had he not been ruled out of the final, he would have definitely been in the hunt for a medal.

Since then, Andrews has hardly given up. He came back to win the U.S. championship last month, defeating the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the process.

To get to the World Championships, he needed to run the qualifying standard of 3:36.00. In fact, his winning time at the U.S. championships was more than seven seconds off the qualifying time.

He needed to get to 3:36 or below by July 12. On July 7, in a meet in New York, Andrews ran a 3:35.25.

That put him on a plane to London. By three-quarters of a second.

Like Ratcliffe, Andrews is laid back and really personable and really easy to root for. TigerBlog will be doing just that when they compete in London.

And so that's one more blog closer to retirement. Don't worry. TB has a million of them.

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