Friday, June 22, 2018

Cup Stuff

You know what must be a really hard sport to officiate?

Soccer. Especially at the World Cup. For everything that goes into putting together the World Cup, or major international and professional soccer in general, why in the world is there still only one referee on the field?

If TigerBlog ever found himself as a soccer ref, he'd miss pretty much every call, since he'd spend most of his time trying to stay out of the way of the ball. Even for the best refs, though, how in the world are they supposed to properly call one of these games, especially when every game can turn on the closest of calls?

First of all, things happen so fast that it's hard for one person to see it all. Second of all, there's TB's least favorite part of the World Cup - the constant flopping that goes on in every game. Players go down to the ground like in agony that suggests that they will never walk without a limp again, only to pop back up 10 seconds later.

What percentage of those players are even the slightest bit hurt?

Then there's offsides. The referee's assistant stays even with the offensive player closest to the goal, so that he is sort of in the same offside position as the player. Then, presumably, if he doesn't see a defender between himself and the goal when the ball is played, then he raises the flag.

The problem with that is how do you watch both at the same time, especially when trying to see whether the ball is played at a time when there is a defender keeping the player onsides can be next to impossible on video, let alone in real life. Maybe they have to rely on hearing the ball played while watching the positioning of the players?

The World Cup has used video well so far, with penalty kicks called or a goal disallowed without having the game crawl to a halt. That's what TB would suggest to the NFL or college or pro basketball - watch it once and if there's nothing obvious, the call stands.

One way to help the refs would be to make the time clear to everyone on the scoreboard. Stop it on goals. Stop it when the ref signals to stop it. When it gets to 0:00, the half or game is over.

Also, in how many games do you have a referee and two teams who all speak the same language? What are they saying to each other when the players all get in the refs face, wagging their fingers at him, if they don't speak the same language?

Despite those little flaws, TigerBlog continues to thoroughly enjoy the World Cup. Way more than Lionel Messi, TB supposes, though not as much as Cristiano Ronaldo. Or the Iceland fans.

One thing about having games on Fox in any sport is that the network loves to do cutaway shots to fans who are watching the stands, getting their reactions to the twists and turns of a game. Usually they are too much, but at the World Cup those shots are tremendous. There's just so much emotion to them, way more than at any other athletic event TB knows.

Oh, and TB heard about fans of several countries - specifically Japan and Senegal - who bring plastic bags with them to the games and then clean up all the trash in their sections, leaving the stadium cleaner than when they got there. That's pretty nice.

Anyway, there are nine more games between today and Sunday as the group stage rolls along. Keep in mind - the tiebreaker for the group stage is goal differential and then goals scored, not head-to-head. That means the late goals that Argentina allowed to Croatia in the 3-0 game could really come back to be haunting, since Argentina is now at minus-3 (with just one point) with one game left. Iceland could take a real step towards advancing should it beat Nigeria today.

The World Cup final is still three weeks away. The first Princeton sporting event of the 2018-19 academic year is nine weeks from today.

That's awhile. If you go back nine weeks, it takes you back to the last weekend of April, which is when Princeton's men's lacrosse season ended. That seems like a long time ago.

In reality, the new athletic year will be here soon. The countdown to kickoff clock shows that there are 85 days until the first Princeton football game of 2018, which also seems like a lot but will be here soon enough.

Now it's time for summer camps here. There were young fencers and young football players at Princeton yesterday, and young squash players and young basketball players earlier in the week.

For the most part, it's quiet around here though.

And it's the first full weekend of summer. Whatever you're doing, TigerBlog hopes it's a good one.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The TRS 80

TigerBlog is coming to you live from his MacBook Pro, as he does every day.

As he's sure you probably do as well, he completely takes the capabilities of this machine for granted. Without a single cord connected to it, he can access information from anywhere, send his own content out to the world, write, edit, design, look at videos and pictures, pretty much anything.

Look at yesterday afternoon, for instance. Without ever plugging into anything, TigerBlog was able to get an email from the Canadian Lacrosse Association at 3:30 and by 3:50 have a story up on Princeton's athletics webpage and social media about how Zach Currier would be representing Canada in the upcoming World Championships.

By the way, if you're a Princeton fan, you can start now to consider whether or not to root for Currier or Tom Schreiber, another Princeton alum who will play for the U.S., in what pretty much is an inevitable championship game.

That's certainly a higher probability than Portugal-Spain in the World Cup final, but hey, there's a chance for that too.

Meanwhile, the MacBook is certainly a far cry from where TB started out. Heck, it's a far cry from his first computer here, which was a Mac with a tiny screen, next-to-no memory and no way to be used unless it was plugged in to the wall and the printer.

And TigerBlog thought that computer was an incredible machine.

TigerBlog went to college in the late stages of the typewriter era, and in fact he was ahead of the curve with his electric typewriter with built-in correct ribbon. That was cutting edge.

Can you imagine what it was like, being one of the few kids in your dorm who could hit backspace, strike over a mistake and make the correction without having to use a separate correct tape or white out? That was big time.

When TB first started in the newspaper business, there were word processors in the newsroom. And what did you have when you went on the road?

You had something that was an incredible jump in technology. You had something that changed the way the newspaper business worked.

You had the Radio Shack TRS 80.

TigerBlog had one. The first stories he ever wrote about games at Princeton were written on his TRS 80. He'll tell you more about it in a few minutes, but first, why bring this up today?

It's because of this tweet he saw the other day:
That's a Radio Shack TRS 80, friends. Doesn't it look great?

Kevin Gorman, whom TB has never met, is a columnist and radio host in Pittsburgh. TigerBlog, by the way, has had one of those sandwiches with the French fries on them that Pittsburgh is famous for, and he can vouch for the fact that it's really good.

 Meanwhile, back at Gorman and the TRS 80, he also added this tweet:
Stop. TB is going to get weepy.

TigerBlog's first season covering Princeton men's basketball was 1989-90. Kit Mueller was a junior. Princeton had almost beaten Georgetown the year before. Everywhere the Tigers went, everyone wanted to see how they had come so close against the Hoyas.

In fact, TigerBlog wrote a story comparing Princeton to the Harlem Globetrotters in terms of how much of an attraction the team was. And he probably wrote it on a TRS 80.

Gorman says it was commonly referred to as a "Trash 80," but TB never heard that term. And, he can also tell you that before he got his own model, he used to have to either drive back to the office to file stories or, worse, dictate them (usually over a pay phone no less) if he was nowhere near Central New Jersey for a game.

The second tweet shows the Radio Shack in action. TB doesn't remember all of the workings of how you'd write a story on it, but basically you'd set up a new document, write the story and then transmit it to the paper.

As he recalls, the "F" keys were important in that process.

To send the story, he'd have to connect to a telephone line. Almost always this involved a phone jack, but when he first started out, there were still places that had phones whose lines went directly into the wall, like they did when TB was a kid. There were no phone jacks back then; you'd have to call the phone company and it would come and install the phone.

For the places he'd go where there were no phone jacks, he'd need what was known as acoustic couplers. You'd use the Radio Shack to dial out and, when you heard the "beep" that let you know you were connected, you'd have to take the phone and put it into this thing that looked like two suction cups.

Whether you sent it through the acoustic couplers or the phone jack, TB does remember that one of the "F" keys would light up while the story sent. Then, after a few minutes - yes minutes - that light would disappear, and presumably the story would be back at the newspaper.

Of course, you'd have to call and confirm, and about a fifth of the time there was some error in transmission, one that left the text at the paper just a bunch of seemingly random characters, requiring a resend.

And yes. The TRS 80 was a single-engine prop plane. The MacBook is the space shuttle.
Still, as Gorman's tweet suggests, there was something really, really special about the TRS 80.

Between games at Princeton, Rider, Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey), Rutgers and Mercer County College, TigerBlog wrote hundreds of stories through the years on the TRS 80.

Part of a world that's gone, it was small and portable and for the most part reliable, and it was part of a great time to be part of the newspaper business. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Don't Miss It Daisy

So what to write about on this warm Wednesday?

TigerBlog will start with "The Great Gatsby," and specifically this quote from Daisy:
“Do you ever wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it!” 

Ah, that Daisy. She had so little to actually do in her life.

Back in Mr. Ridley's American Literature class sophomore year of high school, that quote sparked considerable discussion about the characters and themes of the book. Also back in Mr. Ridley's class, there was the incident surrounding "The Catcher In The Rye,"

TigerBlog told you this story before. Perhaps you remember it, from Feb. 1, 2010:
There is one part of the book where our protagonist, Holden Caufield, is just starting to feel good about life when he walks outside the museum and sees a profanity (the big one) scribbled on the side of the building. For Holden, this led back to total disillusionment. It's one of the most important passages in the book.

When Mr. Ridley called on one of TB's friends to read this part, he told him to read the obsenity as "the profanity." TB remembers thinking that Mr. Ridley meant to read it as it was written and not censor it, but what he actually meant was to substitute the actual profanity with the words "the profanity." Unfortunately for TB's friend, he thought the same as TB.


So yeah, there was a f-bomb, rolling all over a high school English class. In the 1970s. To this day, all these decades later, TB is positive he would have read it as the curse itself had he been the one called on.

Meanwhile, back at Daisy, the longest day of the year is either today or tomorrow. Either way, it'll be light out until after 9.

And it'll actually be summer, which starts tomorrow at 6:07 AM. Why 6:07? Who figured that out? Why not 5:38 or 6:25?

Anyway, the temperature the last few days has been near 100, with fairly high humidity, which is a proper ending to this spring.

If you define a nice spring day as temps between 62-72 with sunshine and no humidity, then maybe there were, what, five of those around here this spring? There were way more days either below 50 or over 80 or rainy than there there were nice ones in the last three months around here, or at least it seems that way.

Little by little, it'll get dark out earlier and earlier, all the way til when the clocks "fall back" on Nov. 4.

The time change will come a few hours after Princeton's eighth football game of the 2018 season, by the way. The Tigers will play Dartmouth in Week 8 this year, which marks a radical change for the Tigers.

Princeton and Dartmouth have played in each other in the final game of the season every year since 1990. You think that was a long time ago?

From 1976 through 1990, Princeton would open its season at Cornell and finish it home against Dartmouth one year and then the next open at Dartmouth and finish home against Cornell.

For a long time before that, Princeton would open with Rutgers and open its Ivy season with Columbia but would still play either Cornell or Dartmouth on the road early in the season and then finish at home against other, switching the next year. Penn would do the same to keep the league schedule balanced.

Presumably the reason was weather and the fear of playing a game in the snow and cold of mid-November in Ithaca and Hanover. That's what TB has always figured anyway. Why else would the schedule have worked that way?

Anyway, you know how far you have to go back to find a year when Princeton finished the season against a team other than Cornell or Dartmouth? All the way back to Yale, in 1945.

If you go all the way back to 1876, Princeton ended its season against Yale every year from that point through 1945 with only a handful of exceptions.

There was 1917 and 1918, the two World War I seasons during which Princeton played four total games, none against college teams. There was also 10 times in the 1930s and 1940s where Princeton ended the season against either Dartmouth, Army or Navy.

And there was one other exception. It was back in 1885, when the season ended against Penn. Now, 133 years later, Princeton will, for the second time ever, end the season against Penn.

Would the Tigers sign up now for a repeat of the way that year went? Well, Princeton went 9-0 that year, finishing the year with a 57-0 victory over the Quakers.

Princeton actually played Penn three times that year, winning all three by a combined 213-20. TigerBlog will go out on a limb and say Princeton will not beat Penn 57-0 this year.

He'll also go out on a limb and say that there's a better chance that somewhere this year in college football there will be a 57-0 game than there is that there be a game with the score of Princeton's win over Yale in 1885. That one was 6-5 Tigers.

Anyway, all that is weeks away now.

First up is summer, which starts tomorrow. And it'll also be the longest day of the year.

Don't miss it this time, Daisy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

One Step Closer

Miss TigerBlog first met her friend Wiki (you can call her "Victoria") back when they were both three years old.

That was when Wiki and her family first moved into the next house. TB has told you this story before, but since odds are really good you don't remember, he'll give you the basics again.

Wiki and her brother spent about three days looking across to the next yard, where very young MTB and very young TigerBlog Jr. would play on the swingset. Eventually Wiki made her way over, and that was that.

The two girls were basically inseparable after that. And there are pictures of the two of them at the bus stop on the first day of school every year, including this past year, when both were seniors in high school and neither took the bus.

TigerBlog has a picture of them when they were maybe four years old each, dressed up in whatever costumes they used to dress up in, arms around each other. And now to that he can add another picture of the two of them, dressed up in different costumes, again arms around each other.

This time, the costumes were caps and gowns, and the setting was not the back yard or the play room but instead on the high school football field, a few minutes after graduation had ended last week.

TigerBlog wasn't sure exactly what level of sentimentality he should bring with him to the ceremony. On the one hand, it was high school graduation, a milestone in anyone's life. And, as with any other high school graduation, there longtime friends who were vowing to stay in touch, knowing full well they wouldn't, despite the best intentions. This applied to graduates, and their parents.

So yeah, it was sentimental.

On the other hand, what comes next for MTB is incredibly exciting.

MTB will be a member of the Princeton Class of 2022. Each remaining step of her high school career once she got her acceptance email in December has been leading up to the day when she would graduate and move on to the next step.

As with every incoming freshman, MTB has been filling out forms, getting her Princeton email, looking at academic offerings and generally taking it all in as she gets ready for the big move to Princeton.

For TigerBlog, it's all been an amazing look at a side of the University that he hasn't seen before. TB has been on this campus for nearly three full decades, and all of that time has been spent watching other people's kids go to school here. When it's his own? It's a lot different.

It's been a fascinating look at the admissions process and now the orientation process. TigerBlog has a million questions about how it actually works, and he's been watching how it all unfolds.

Beyond that, there's just an enormous sense of pride in knowing that his daughter will be here. TB is positive that anyone who has a child who is coming here feels the exact same way.

TigerBlog would have been proud of her no matter where she went. He's certainly proud of TigerBlog Jr., who has had a great experience at Sacred Heart and who has grown so much in his first three years there.

Maybe, though, TB is more in tune with the whole Princeton experience, given how much time he has spent here and how he's seen how much this place has done for so many people.

So did that actually make the high school graduation less meaningful?

TB thought it would. He can't really remember anything about his own high school graduation, and TBJ's graduation doesn't really stand out much either.

He parked in a neighborhood across the street from the school and had to walk across the field hockey and girls' lacrosse field on his way to the football field for the ceremony. As he did, he thought back to all the times he'd seen her play there in her four years and realized that there would be no more of those games there.

When the ceremony ended, everyone gathered on the field. That's where TB took the picture of MTB and Wiki.

There were others there too though. All of MTB's friends. They'd literally grown up together, been in classes together, played sports together. And now they were scattering.

Yes. The whole thing did get TigerBlog to be a little nostalgic.

But throughout it all, his mind kept, well, going back to Nassau Hall, and where he hopes to see MTB graduate next time. When that day comes (not to jinx anything), it will be especially emotional for TigerBlog. He can guarantee that.

In the meantime, MTB is done with high school. She did an incredible job in her four years there; she had to if she got into Princeton. She has grown considerably as a student, athlete and person.

And now she's coming to Princeton.

TigerBlog's advice to her now?

Dream the biggest dreams you can possibly dream.

You're coming to a place that can make them all come true.


Monday, June 18, 2018

A World Cup Weekend

As Lionel Messi lined up for his free kick attempt in the waning seconds of Argentina's World Cup game against Iceland Saturday, TigerBlog was pretty sure he had only one thought going through his head:

"Ronaldo did it; I can do it too."

Cristiano Ronaldo tucked a free kick from pretty much the same distance as Messi was about to attempt as Portugal tied Spain 3-3 late in the best game of the tournament so far. And now Messi was trying to do the same, though the game was tied, so he was playing for the win.

TB knew Messi had no chance. You could tell by his body language. In fact, he ended up getting more on the the ball his rocketed away as the ref blew the final whistle than he had a second earlier, on the attempt for the win that hit the wall and came right back to him.

Final score: Iceland 1, Argentina 1. Iceland, which, according to Princeton men's basketball alum Sean Gregory's story in Time magazine, has the same population for its entire country as the city of Corpus Christi, Texas.

TigerBlog has watched more of the World Cup already than he did the entire recently completed NBA and NHL playoffs combined. You could throw the 2017 baseball playoffs in there as well and it would still be the case.

The fact that the U.S. team isn't it doesn't matter to him. Or, it seems, to many people.

Either you're into the World Cup or you're not. TigerBlog respects both sides.

He also thinks it was genius of the marketing people at Volkswagen to come up with the campaign to appeal to American soccer fans where fans of other countries ask for their support. That's great stuff.

The Portugal-Spain game, as TB said, has been the best one so far. Portugal led 1-0 and 2-1, both on Ronaldo goals, and then Spain tied it and went ahead 3-2, only to have the perfectly placed kick by Ronaldo tie it.

If there had ever been a game in which TigerBlog was rooting for a tie, it was that one. He's rooting for a Spain-Portugal rematch in the championship game.

If it comes to that, then TB would have to root for some sort of unbreakable tie between the two. Well, not really. He'd probably go with Portugal, but only barely.

Without the U.S. team, TigerBlog's fourth favorite in the field would be Iceland. It's hard to root against the smallest nation ever to qualify, and their fans make them even more appealing. Undoubtedly you saw them and their rather enthusiastic clap.

Up next would be Costa Rica. Why? Because TB was there with the Princeton men's lacrosse team in 2012, when he and most of the team went to a qualifier that year between Los Ticos and El Salvador.

TigerBlog has never been to another sporting even quite like it. The entire scene was just one big party, outside the stadium, on line for tickets, inside the stadium, everything. If you've never been to an international soccer game, you need to go.

Ever since, TB has rooted for Costa Rica. And every time Costa Rica has played, he thought about how fired up Princeton's guide Diego, and Diego's father, must be in the moment. 

Of course they couldn't be happy about the draw. Costa Rica, a quarterfinalist four years ago, is in a brutal group, which made a win in the opening game against Serbia a must. And the game was in Samara, which is 1) the name of one of the coastal towns Princeton went to in Costa Rica in 2012, 2) the name of Princeton's men's track and field coach and 3) the sixth-largest city in Russia, though TB had never heard of it before yesterday.

Unfortunately, Costa Rica lost 1-0 on a perfect free kick midway through the second half. With games ahead against Brazil and Switzerland, well, the math isn't good for advancing. 

Then there are Spain and Portugal. TB was in Spain in 2008 with the men's lacrosse team. And then, on the same trip, he went to Ireland, which is one letter removed from Iceland.

The 2008 European championships were held in Austria and Switzerland, and Spain would ultimately win the championship. The tournament began when the men's lacrosse team was in Spain and continued while they were in Ireland, who didn't even qualify. Even without its team in the event, the Dublin streets were flooded with fans for the games.

And then there's Portugal.

Princeton was there in the fall of 2016, shortly after Portugal had won that summer's European title. It appears that Princeton men's lacrosse is a good-luck charm for its hosts in that year's championship.

Why the joint allegiance to Portugal and Spain? TB thinks it stems from when he ziplined between the two countries, back when the Tigers were staying on the Portugal side.

Remember that? You can refresh if you like HERE.

If you didn't bother to read it, TB can sum it up quickly: It was between two countries, from one time zone to another, and was really, really cool.

Portugal took a quick lead over Spain Friday on Ronaldo's penalty kick in the first few minutes. As soon as it went in, TB texted Francisco, the men's lacrosse team's guide (and the men's soccer team's guide when it was there several months later).

Francisco got back to TB in 15 seconds. They texted back and forth a few times, and then TB told Francisco to go enjoy the game. TB had a sense he was watching it.

TigerBlog said he'd get back to him, hopefully after a Portuguese championship.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Amy Campbell Retires

TigerBlog was really mad at Amy Campbell.

Once.

It was back in 1996. There was a field hockey game at the brand-new Class of 1952 Stadium, and Amy - then a Senior Associate Athletic Director at Princeton - was standing next to the unit that controlled the scoreboard.

For some reason, she couldn't get it to work, so she called TigerBlog, who was at his desk in Jadwin Gym. When TB tried to talk her through it, she insisted that he come over to the field, so he had to walk all the way from Jadwin to '52 to start the countdown clock.

Yeah, that was the one time he was mad at Amy Campbell.

As he thinks back about it, TigerBlog is surprised he was mad at her even that one time. Amy is a very, very hard person to get mad at.

If you want to see a picture that completely defines a person perhaps more so than any picture TB has ever seen, then click HERE and you'll see everything you ever need to know about Amy Campbell. That's her in a nutshell.

In many ways, her personality reminds TigerBlog of the late (and way-too-early) Bob Callahan, the longtime Princeton men's squash coach. Nice. Genuine. Nothing phony. Always smiling. Really interested in TigerBlog Jr. and Miss TigerBlog.

TigerBlog first came up with the comparison to Bob Callahan the other day in the Chancellor Green rotunda, where the retirement reception for Amy Campbell was being held. Amy long ago left the Department of Athletics, first to be the Director of Athletics at Bryn Mawr College before returning to this campus to work in Nassau Hall.

Her final title at Princeton was something along the lines of Assistant Vice President for University Services. To be honest, TB isn't sure what she did in that role - but he's certain that whatever she did, it made for a better experience for staff, faculty and especially students.

Amy said in her short speech at the reception that it was 30 years ago that she first walked onto the campus. TigerBlog met her shortly after that, when he was still in the newspaper business. She was a vital part of the Department of Athletics then and for the first few years that TB worked here, back in the mid-1990s.

Forgetting that one time where Amy - gasp - made him walk all the way to Class of 1952 Stadium, TB learned a lot about college athletic administration from Amy, and from Inge Radice and George VanderZwaag, who were the others in the senior administration at the time.

When TB was covering games at the newspaper, he worked with someone named Harvey Yavener, who was a rarity at the time in that he valued women's athletics and felt that women's teams deserved coverage as much as men's teams. That was not a view shared by a lot of sportswriters at the time.

As a result, TigerBlog came to Princeton already embracing the concept of equity. Amy reinforced that for TB, though not in a "it's the law so this is what we do" way but instead in a way that was all about doing what was right.

Back then there was a small conference room on the Jadwin balcony, one that was big enough to hold basically the entire staff at the time. Amy ran all sorts of meetings in that little conference room, and TB developed a real admiration for her management style, one based in setting high standards, upholding a set of values and operating in a way that promoted equity across the board.

At the same time, she always kept things light, which was another important lesson for TigerBlog. Things get really, really busy around here, and you have to keep a sense of humor and a sense that everyone is in it together.

TigerBlog lost track of the timeline of when Amy left to go to Bryn Mawr or when she came back. He hasn't seen her as often through the years as he did when he worked down the hall from her obviously, but each time he's seen her there's been another hug and another smile and another nice conversation about how each one is doing.

Princeton University is an incredibly special place, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is people like Amy Campbell, who have such a difference in the lives of so many people on this campus.

TigerBlog learned a lot from Amy at a time when he needed to learn those lessons, and he's never really thanked her for that. Or for her quarter-century of friendship.

So, now that's she retiring, he figured it was the perfect time to do that.

Thanks, Amy.

You're one of the special ones. And TB is hardly the only person who feels that way.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Far From The Crowd Noise

TigerBlog got some interesting feedback on his question yesterday about what the best sporting event you were ever at in person was.

His colleague Warren Croxton said it was Roy Halladay's no-hitter in the 2010 playoffs against Cincinnati, a game that edged out last season's NFC championship game win by the Eagles. Warren is a big Philadelphia sports fan, but TB was surprised to hear that the baseball game was higher on the list than the game that put the Eagles into the Super Bowl.

TigerBlog did forget to mention that among other events he's been to have been the U.S. Open in tennis and the Davis Cup. BrotherBlog has been to the Olympics.

Cody Chruschiel, another TB colleague, said that the best he's ever been to was Mercer's win over Duke in the NCAA men's basketball tournament a few years ago. He also said that the loudest event he's ever been to was the Yankees win over the Twins in the Wild Card game last year.

TigerBlog is surprised by this, since he would assume that an indoor venue would by nature be the loudest, since the sound can't really escape. 

This then got TB thinking a little further. What's the loudest he ever remembers a venue?

Well, there were two times at the Palestra. One was in 1993, when Penn beat Princeton to end the Tigers four-year run as Ivy League champion. The other was in 1999, during Penn's 29-0 run to go up 29-3 on the Tigers. Each time Penn scored it got more and more defeaning.

It was pretty quiet at the end though. Princeton won that won 50-49 after trailing by even worse than the 27-3. It was actually 40-13 with 15 minutes to go in that one.

Where else was it really loud?

That's a good question. The one place where TB was astonished by the noise level was an arena that has a reputation, actually, for not being all that loud - the Dean Dome at the University of North Carolina. Princeton played there in the 1997-98 season, and it was actually the site of Princeton's only regular-season loss that year.

The game was close, and it took a late push for UNC to win it (the Tar Heels moved into the top spot in the national rankings with the win, by the way). TB just remembers being shocked by how loud it got.

If he had to think of a time when he was at a game at an outdoor stadium and it got really loud, he goes back to the 2001 NCAA championship game in men's lacrosse, when Syracuse scored with 16 seconds left to tie Princeton and the Orange fans (not the Orange and Black ones) went nuts. Princeton got the last laugh of course.

A bit far away from the loud crowds right now are the 10 Princeton athletes who are participating in the Coach for College program, which is now in its sixth year.

From the Princeton Varsity Club website:
The Princeton Varsity Club (PVC) is pleased to announce a record class of 10 Princeton varsity student-athletes who have been selected to travel to Vietnam this summer to participate in the Coach for College program, a global initiative aimed at promoting higher education through sports. As part of the Coach for College program, the student-athletes will teach academics, athletics and life skills to 6th, 7th and 8th grade Vietnamese students while working alongside Vietnamese coaches and instructors.

The 10 athletes who are there for the summer are: Joanna Curry (swimming and diving), Carlie Littlefield (basketball), Ben Martin (soccer), Mackenzie Meyer (softball), Quinn Parker (track and field), Lindsey Schmidt (track and field), Max Schwegman (track and field), Joey Smith (softball), Tia Weledji (basketball) and Chris Wilson (rowing).

The Coach for College program actually began as, according to its website, a partnership between Duke and North Carolina. TigerBlog didn't know there was anything that those two would ever agree to partner on, as an aside.

Since that rather interesting beginning, the program has grown to include participants from 40 different colleges. Princeton's athletes, though the PVC, have taken full advantage of the opportunity.

The 10 who will spend time in Vietnam will have a huge impact on the kids there, who are at an age when they really need this kind of mentoring. They work with middle school kids who, according to the Coach for College website, are at an age when many Vietnamese children start to leave school.

In other words, it's some of the most important work these Princeton athletes will do - even if there are no crowds there to cheer them on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Did You See That?

So TigerBlog Jr. was right at the finish line for a Triple Crown winner.

That's somewhat historical, no?

It's led TigerBlog to a question for all of you out there. What's the most famous athletic event you've ever seen live?

One of the beauties of sports is that you never know when you're going to see an epic event. Pick any random night of the Major League Baseball season. If you have tickets to a game, you're not likely to see something that nobody will ever forget - but there is that chance.

Maybe you'll see a no-hitter. Maybe someone will make the greatest catch of all time. Maybe someone will hit four home runs.

Maybe you'll see a disallowed home run because of a rules technicality that results in having one of the greatest players ever completely lose his mind, leading to a protest, an overturned on-field decision and a whole lot of bizarre stuff. That would be the famous George Brett "Pine Tar" game.

That was back on July 24, 1983. TigerBlog, who was only in the old Yankee Stadium a handful of times in his life (and has never been in the new one, though he figures he will be when Princeton plays football there against Dartmouth in 2019).

He was there for the Pine Tar game.

Don't remember it? Watch THIS video.

George Brett, by the way, is one of TigerBlog's all-time favorite baseball players, largely because he spent his career doing things like he did that day to those damn Yankees. Brett was a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer with 3,154 career hits, and he's the only player to win a batting title in three different decades. He also hit .390 in 1980, for the best batting average a player has had since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.

That day in 1983 was the only time TigerBlog ever saw Brett play live. He went to Shea Stadium once to see another of his all-time favorites, Greg Maddux of the Braves, pitch against the Mets, and Maddux barely made it out of the fourth inning or so on a rare day when he got shelled.

Like TB said, you never know when you're going to see history.

Then again, sometimes you do - like going to the Belmont Stakes when a horse has already won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. For TigerBlog, the Belmont Stakes is like Game 7, if a horse has already won the first two races, and like a Game 7 that is still played anyway if one horse has not won the first two.

TigerBlog has never been to a Game 7 live. He's been to, he believes, one NBA playoff game (1973 Eastern Conference final Game 4 as the Knicks beat the Celtics 117-110 in two OTs), no NFL playoff games and no NHL playoff games. He was there for the 1983 World Series between the Phillies and Orioles.

By the way the Orioles won that series in five games. None of those five games ran more than 2:50 and only one ran more than 2:35. The deciding game, a 5-0 Baltimore win, was played in 2:21.

TigerBlog will guess, sight unseen, that Game 5 of the 2018 World Series is in the fifth or sixth inning at the 2:21 mark.

So what is the most famous game you've ever been to? Certainly there have to be some of them.

How about Princeton games?

TigerBlog has certainly been to more than his share of famous ones. What would he have liked to have gone to that he missed?

Depends if you're talking time machine or missed it by a few years.

If you're talking time machine, then he'd probably like to have seen all of the following:

* Hobey Baker - can you imagine what a Princeton football game in, oh, 1913 looked like?
* Dick Kazmaier
* Bill Bradley at Dillon Gym
* a game in sold-out Palmer Stadium when there were horses parked outside
* the first football game back in 1869 (to see what people made of it)

If you're talking about just missed it, then he would have liked to have seen the earliest days of women's athletics here. His own memories go back to the late 1980s, when things had already evolved pretty far. He would have loved to see what they were like 10-15 years earlier, when women's teams were definitely second fiddle to the men, and how the women's athletes, coaches and administrators had to do things to earn that equality that the current generation would never dream of having to do.

Oh, and he would have loved to have seen the 1981 Princeton-Yale football game.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Non-Heps-Track Triple Crown

The Princeton men's track and field team was not the only Triple Crown winner this year.

TigerBlog will get back to that in a few seconds.

While TB was talking yesterday about Princeton's performance at the NCAA track and field championships, he should have mentioned the charge the USC woman made at the end of the last race.

Did you see this? Here it is (you can fast forward to about the 3:20 mark):

Basically, USC needed to win the relay, or else Georgia would have won the NCAA title. And, well, you've probably seen what happened.

The woman who ran the final leg for USC is named Kendall Ellis. She was one of the two biggest racing winners of the weekend.

The other was Justify. He's a horse, a good-looking horse at that.

As you know, he became the 13th Triple Crown winner (that's only five more than Fred Samara has won by himself at Princeton, including one this year) when he went wire-to-wire to win the Belmont Stakes Saturday. He may or may not have gotten help from Restoring Hope, another horse from Justify's trainer who may or may not have acted as something of a pulling guard.

TigerBlog knows next to nothing about horse racing, but to him it looked legit. Justify ran out of the gate quickly and nobody was going to catch him.

By the way, how many of the other 12 Triple Crown winners can you name? How many can TigerBlog name?

There's Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and American Pharoah. Those were the four just before Justify, and they did it in 1973, 1977, 1978 and 2015. There were no Triple Crown winners for 37 years after it was done three times in six years, and now there have been two in four years.

Before Secretariat? There was Citation in 1948, or a 25-year gap.

The other seven? TB can come up with: War Admiral. Count Fleet. Whirlaway. That's nine. He has no idea what years they were.

So he's missing four. And he'd never get them in a million years. Okay, okay - he'll look them up. Turns out they're: Assault, Sir Barton, Gallant Fox and Omaha.

By the way, what would be a great name for a horse? You know, if you had to name a horse, what would you come up with?

TigerBlog thinks "Thank You" would be a great name. He'd be fast, and he'd be polite. It'd be "Thank You by a mile."

TigerBlog Jr. and his Sacred Heart buddies were at the Belmont Saturday. He took a video of the finish - and he was only a few lengths away from Justify as he finished.

Somehow they ended up in the front row, even with the finish line. That was impressive.

When TB asked him about it, TBJ said that they just walked there and nobody stopped them. Simple.

TigerBlog's standards for Triple Crown winners were established by watching Secretariat destroy the field in 1973 and then watching Affirmed hold off Alydar three times in 1978. If you've never seen how these two horses won the Triple Crown, you can watch the Belmont Stakes races for:

Secretariat (TigerBlog didn't remember that the race stayed as close as it did for as long as it did, but he did remember there were only five horses)
Affirmed (remembered how close it was, didn't remember that only five horses were in this record too)

Those are two extraordinary races, no? Is Justify on that level? Probably not, but, on the other hand, TBJ did get to see a Triple Crown winner from just a few feet away.

TigerBlog didn't realize that Justify had a Princeton connection until he got an email about it yesterday. Bo Nixon, Class of 1950, and his son Ted, Class of 1974, are part owners of Justify, with their Starlight Racing Partnership.

Is that the first time Princeton alums have owned a Triple Crown winner?

Oh, and the email also mentioned that their stable has a two-year-old that they're high on for next year. His name?

Golden Tiger.

That's a horse who will be easy to root for, right?

Monday, June 11, 2018

And A First-Team All-America To End The Year

Well, the Princeton Athletics year has ended.

The final event, of the more than 600 that made up the 2017-18 academic year, was the NCAA track and field championships, which ended Saturday night in Oregon. Princeton sent four athletes to compete, and four came back as All-Americas.

The fourth of them was Obiageri Amaechi, the freshman women's discus thrower. She had an interesting night in Oregon Saturday, though it ended well.

After one throw and one foul, Amaechi needed to improve by seven meters to advance to the next round, which she promptly did. That throw earned her three more, and she'd end up in seventh place, earning first-team All-America honors. 

It was a pretty good end for the academic year.

So now what?

Camps. And of course, the World Cup.

TigerBlog was taken aback by the sound of basketballs bouncing and coaches coaching in Jadwin Gym Friday afternoon. There it was, though, the first session of the first girls' basketball camp.

It's the start of a long run of summer camps here, one that will stretch for the next eight weeks or longer and touch pretty much every sport here.

Something else that will run into July is the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

The World Cup begins Thursday and runs until July 15. It's TigerBlog's second-favorite sporting event - behind the NCAA lacrosse championships, of course.

TigerBlog loves the World Cup. Of course, it's the first time in 32 years - a span of seven straight events - that the U.S. men's national team will not be in the field of 32.

Of course, TigerBlog could point out that the U.S. men's national team has been on a downward trajectory since it fired Bob Bradley, the former Princeton player and coach who led the Americans to a group title at the 2010 World Cup. Since then, it's been second place in the group in 2014 and not qualifying this time around. 

TB will still be watching. He's been to nine of the 32 countries represented, including three (Costa Rica, Spain, Portugal) that he's been to on international trips with Princeton lacrosse. He'll start out with those three.

And Iceland. Who could root against Iceland?

If you hadn't already locked onto the idea of what is by far the smallest country in the tournament, you'll like the Icelandic team even more after you read the Time magazine piece by Sean Gregory.

You can read it HERE.

The short version is that Iceland has built a lot of nice soccer fields in the country and then basically tossed a bunch of balls to kids and told them to go play. And when there are structured club teams, they're not coached by parents.

In other words, it's something of a contrast to the American model, which is very, very structured. 

As for Sean he has written about sports all over the world. Next time TB sees him, he'll have to ask him how many different countries he's been to covering various events, like the World Cup and Olympics.

TigerBlog saw him recently in Jadwin Gym as the most recent men's basketball Reunions pickup game. Gregory is a member of the Class of 1998, the same one as current head men's coach Mitch Henderson.

Their senior year was the one in which Princeton went 27-2 and nearly knocked off Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. That game still bothers TigerBlog.

If you clicked on the link to see the story Gregory wrote about Iceland, you also may have seen the video embedded called "Exploring Planet Futbol." And who is the host and narrator?

That would be Grant Wahl, another Princeton grad. Grant is a member of the Class of 1996.

Grant is one of the top soccer writers in the world. He's also a former Princeton Office of Athletic Communications student worker.

Grant will certainly be busy for the next month-plus in Russia with the World Cup.

TB doesn't think Sean will be there. If he is going, then he took time away from soccer to cover the Belmont Stakes Saturday. You can read what he wrote about Justify HERE.

And you can come back tomorrow and read what TigerBlog has to say about it.

Hey, TB has to come up with something to write every day. And there are no more Princeton Athletic events for awhile, not after the track and field championships.

A 4-for-4 run in All-Americas was a pretty good way to end 2017-18.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Picnic Time

TigerBlog's bicycle originally cost him $80.

It's hardly high-tech. At the same time, it's pretty durable.

The last time he rode it, though, he thought it might be on its last legs. It was definitely beaten up, with only a few of the gears workable, and the ones that did made a lot of noise when the pedals turned.

He considered getting a new bike, a much nicer one, but he took his old one with him to a local bike shop, uncertain of whether he wanted to fix the old one or get a new one. Then the guy at the shop told him he'd fix the old one good as new - for $75.

For some reason, this fascinates TigerBlog. He spent $75 to fix a bicycle that originally cost $80. Was that a smart thing to do?

The $75 is way less than it would cost for a good new bike. On the other hand, would you spend nearly 100 percent of what you originally spent on something to fix it? 

TigerBlog was out riding yesterday afternoon. It was a great afternoon for it.

This came a few hours after TigerBlog had a pretty good lunch as well.

And dessert was even better.

By the way, if there are any two words that TigerBlog still struggles with all these years after elementary school, it's "dessert" and "desert." Even now he had to check to make sure he had the right one, the one that got Courtney Banghart to speak so poetically, not the one where there were two murdered couriers that got the ball rolling in "Casablanca."

No. Dessert.

Lunch? That was a mix of basically everything, from hot dogs to steak, with pizza, salads and a bunch of other stuff. And a lot of it.

Oh, TB should tell you the occasion. It was the Department of Athletics end-of-year picnic. This one was held at the Lenz Tennis Center.

As for dessert, TB was standing behind Banghart, the women's basketball coach, when the guy from Thomas Sweet dropped off the big barrels of ice cream and set up the sundae bar.

"There is love," Banghart said, "and then there's love."

In fairness, she's right.

The academic year at Princeton ended with graduation this week. The athletic year ends today and tomorrow, when the final two Princeton athletes compete at the NCAA track and field championships in Oregon.

You know what else yesterday was? It was exactly 100 days until the football opener, which is Sept. 15 at Butler. The home opener is one week later, against Monmouth.

The first athletic event of next year is, well, it's so far away that TB hasn't even looked it up yet. He assumes it's a women's soccer game in late August, or perhaps field hockey. Or women's volleyball.

For yesterday, though, all of that was far, far away in the future.

There were some new faces at the picnic, and a few who are leaving. There are others who have left already, including Becca Dorst, who was the interim women's water polo coach this past spring. Becca is leaving to go back into nursing, TB believes.

In her one season as interim head coach, by the way, Becca was the CWPA Coach of the Year.

There's always turnover from one year to the next. It's the nature of the beast.

There aren't too many times when the entire department gets together like it did yesterday at the picnic. Usually everyone is focused on their tasks, in their areas.

There are offices across the campus, with some in Jadwin or the pool, some in Dillon, some in Baker Rink, others in other places. TigerBlog isn't sure of any other departments that are as spread out as that.

At the same time, the entire department falls under the heading of "Princeton Athletics." And there's something a little different - and uniting - when you're representing the same department against opponents from other schools. TB has always found that to be a defining part of what it means to work in college athletics, that together you have a much greater pride in the organization when you're wearing its name and colors in competition.

TB also thinks it's why there's so much camaraderie within the department, because there is that sense that everyone is on one team.

And that's why it's always nice to get together like yesterday. It was fun and relaxing, a chance to step away from the constant challenges that also define college athletics. It certainly doesn't stop in the summer.

But for one afternoon at least, it slowed down and allowed everyone to get together, eat, and hang out.

It was really nice.

Even before the guy from Thomas Sweet showed up.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Some Basketball, Baseball, Rowing And Track and Field

If you graduated from Princeton earlier this week, then you're probably wrestling with something that TigerBlog remembers from his own experience a long time ago.

For four years, the answer to the question "where do you go to college" was, in the case of the recent grads, "Princeton." Now, in a blink, it goes from "I go to Princeton" to "I went to Princeton."

The first time you say that to someone, it is definitely weird. In a lot of ways, that's when it hits you that you're actually done with college and moving on to what's next.

TigerBlog has heard that the most emotional part of the entire Reunions/Class Day/Graduation run for a senior is when they get to Poe Field at the end of the P-Rade. TB's alma mater doesn't have anything quite like that, and his own graduation ceremony - held at the old Philadelphia Civic Center - was hardly a gripping moment.

In fact, he thinks he was more emotional when Pete Carril got two technicals and tossed from a game against La Salle in the same building a decade later.

Speaking of Princeton basketball, did you see the story on the basketball page of goprincetontigers.com about Chris Young and David West? You can see it HERE.

That's pretty good stuff from West, who is currently chasing an NBA title with the Warriors. The story says that Young and West only faced each other once, but Princeton and Xavier actually played three times in 18 months - in the 1999 NIT at Xavier, in the 1999-2000 regular season at Xavier and then in the 2000-01 regular season at Jadwin. The home team won all three.

The two games at Xavier were played in the very old Cincinnati Gardens, which is where the Cincinnati Royals used to play. Oscar Robertson was their franchise player. The Royals left in 1972 to become the Kansas City-Omaha Kings (splitting home games between the two cities) before heading in 1985 to their current location - Sacramento.

Back in the highly entertaining 1999 NIT, Princeton had beaten Georgetown (using just five players) and North Carolina State and was playing at Xavier for a spot in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden. The Tigers were up by double digits in the first half before falling 65-58.

Young in that game 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. In the game at Jadwin, which Princeton would win 58-52, West would have 18 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Bechtold led Princeton with 16.

Young, of course, went on to a long career as a Major League Baseball pitcher. One day after graduating, Princeton's Ben Gross was drafted in the 

Anyway, none of that was what TigerBlog meant to talk about. No, even if it's post-graduation, the athletic year has not yet come to an end.

First there were the men's heavyweight and lightweight and women's lightweight rowing championships, which were held at Mercer Lake last weekend. The best showing was by the men's lightweights, who finished second, less than a second behind Columbia and nearly five seconds ahead of third-place Harvard. You can rad about it HERE.

The women's lightweights were third, behind Stanford and Boston University. You can read about it HERE.

The men's heavyweights finished fifth in a very strong showing. You can read about this one HERE.

With the end of the rowing championships, all that was left was the NCAA track and field championships, which are currently underway in Oregon. Princeton sent four athletes, two of whom competed yesterday.

William Paulson earned his second honorable mention All-America honor in the 1,500, but he was edged at the finish and did not advance out of the semifinal. Paulson ran the fastest time of any non-advancing runner after finishing eighth in his heat, less than a second out of first.

Adam Kelly was a second-team All-America after finishing ninth in the hammer throw. Kelly was fourth in his flight and then waited an hour to see if anyone in the second flight would knock him out of the top nine, who advance.

Kelly would hold on to ninth, which got him three more throws, but he was unable to move up into the top eight, which would have been first-team All-America. Still, two competitors and two All-Americas in the first day isn't bad.

Princeton doesn't have anyone who will compete today. Connor Lundy goes in the 5,000 final tomorrow night, and then freshman Obiageri Amaechi goes in the women's discus Saturday.

And when Amaechi is done, so too will be the 2017-18 academic year.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Class Of 2018

If TigerBlog is remembering correctly, then the weather forecast for every Princeton graduation since he's been working here has basically been the same: cloudy, chance of rain.

Not enough rain for it to be a total washout. Just enough rain so that there is consideration given to moving the ceremony into Jadwin. There are emails and preparations and all, and then, at the last minute, the decision is made to have it outside anyway. TB can't remember one that was actually moved inside.

And then there's usually a little drizzle but nothing too serious.

Yesterday was the 271st commencement in Princeton history. If you rank them all in terms of how good the weather was, then TigerBlog would say that 2018 has to rank No. 1.

It was a perfect day for a graduation. It reminded TigerBlog of an old, old, old Doonesbury cartoon, where Zonker is watching the ceremony at Walden College and says "if I knew it was going to be this nice out, I might have graduated."

Joe Janes, the official brother-in-law of TigerBlog, is the incoming Chair of the Faculty Senate at the University of Washington. He will be the parade marshall at U-Dub's graduation this weekend.

As for Princeton's graduation, TB's favorite part is the recessional. He loves to watch the newly minted grads as they leave the area in front of Nassau Hall and head out to wherever it is they're going, knowing that they have made it through the top University in the country and now have joined the ranks of its alums.

The recessional yesterday was no different.

As with every other year, the area around the fences that separated spectators from graduates started to swell with coaches as the ceremony ended. A little at a time, the coaches would see their players, and they'd be greeted with hugs and high fives.

If TigerBlog could ask all of the graduates one question, it would be this: How would you compare who you are now with who you were when you first arrived at Princeton? He would add for the athletes - how did your athletic experience shape you?

When you watch them all walk out at graduation, they're all smiles, and they should be. They've come to the finish line. What you can't see is what has impacted them during their time here, the good and the bad.

Ah, but that's too philosophical for a graduation day, especially one when the weather is that good.

The first athlete to walk past where TB was standing was Junior Oboh of the men's volleyball team. When TB last saw him, he was receiving the Art Lane Award for contribution to sport and society at the athletic banquet last week. TB was sitting in the back at that event. Standing next to him, he looked a lot taller.

TB even went to the roster to see how tall he was. Turns out he's 6-7.

There were pockets of athletes who strolled past. Leslie Robinson of the women's basketball team. The men's soccer players. TigerBlog got a handshake Dan Bowkett - whom he'd never met. Women's soccer players.

The women's lacrosse team walked by and were greeted by their coaches, but then again, their head coach - Chris Sailer - had been greeting pretty much every graduate who walked by, congratulating them, wishing them well and telling them to go change their world.

The men's lacrosse grads were near the back, like they always seem to be. TigerBlog gathered them for a picture, like he does every year.

 They weren't the only teammates to take a picture together.

There were, among others:










That's men's lacrosse on top. After that, from the top down, that's men's hockey, men's soccer, women's open rowing, men's basketball, women's soccer, men's heavyweight rowing, men's track and field, women's lacrosse, women's hockey, women's basketball.

After the pictures were taken and the hugs were done, there was the reality that the Princeton experience was now over. It's a moment that seems almost frozen in time.

Not like the memory of a huge play, or a big win. More like the idea of not wanting to let go, like not wanting to take off the cap and the gown, because once they did, there was nothing else but that reality.

As the grads started to scatter, TigerBlog made the walk back to Jadwin Gym.

Along the way he passed by the entrance to McCosh 50, the site of the annual freshman athlete orientation. He couldn't help but smile when did, thinking about how far they'd all come from that day to this one.

Congratulations to all of Princeton's varsity athletes in the Class of 2018. And to everyone who graduated yesterday.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Reunions Report

If you like the sound of TigerBlog's voice, then the Reunions episode of "The Court Report" is for you.
 
HERE. Listen for yourself. 

It's just short of 30 minutes, which makes it the longest podcast TigerBlog has done. And that's without any games in the last three months or in the next five months.

There's always something going on in every program, of course, and this has been an incredibly busy stretch for Courtney Banghart and the women's basketball team. In a very short amount of time, the women's basketball Class of 2022 was announced, a group that is six members strong (and can be seen HERE). In addition, Courtney has had to revamp the majority of her coaching staff.

Kaitlyn Cresencia, the volunteer assistant, left to go to Mercer, an NCAA tournament team a year ago. Meghin Williams, the Director of Women's Basketball Operations, has also left as she will be taking an administrative position at another school.

And, as TB wrote about two weeks ago, Milena Flores is leaving Princeton as well, returning to her hometown near Seattle.

That's a lot to take care of in a short time.

Courtney talked about the incoming players and the outgoing coaches on the podcast. She also talked about Milena's replacement, Addie Micir.

Addie was the unanimous Ivy League Player of the Year back in 2011, becoming the first Princeton women's basketball player ever to win the award. She also was a three-time All-Ivy player, and she led Princeton to the 2010 and 2011 NCAA tournaments, the first two in program history.

She's returning to Princeton from Dartmouth, where she coached and got her master's. She tweeted this:
She also tweeted her sincere affection for her time at Dartmouth as well. That was classy.

Trivia time: Micir scored 1,188 points in her Princeton career, which was ninth-best in program history when she graduated. Since then, she has been passed by four players. Name the four. TigerBlog will give you a few paragraphs (and hopefully will remember to put the answer in).

One who hasn't passed Micir is Bella Alarie, who has 776 career points after two seasons. The record is 1,683, held since 1990 by Sandi Bittler Leland. Bella will make a real run at that number, though the fact that she also figures to be in the top 10 in assists may keep her from getting there. And that she's only averaged 30 minutes per game for her first two years, and less than 30 in Ivy games.

As for Micir, she came to Princeton at the same time that Banghart did. Micir went to Council Rock North High School, about 30 minutes from Princeton, and she came to Princeton at the same time as Banghart, playing on the 2007-08 team that went 7-23. Her sophomore year saw Princeton improve to 14-14.

By her junior year it was 26-3 and the first NCAA appearance for the program. Another one followed a year later. Princeton went 32-1 in her final 33 Ivy League games.

Now she's back, taking up for Milena on a team that won the Ivy League title (sixth under Banghart) and went to the NCAA tournament (seventh NCAA, ninth postseason in nine years). In doing so, she brings back someone whose heart has always been here.

Also, the four who have passed Addie Micir are: Niveen Rasheed (1,617), Lauren Edwards (1,319), Michelle Miller (1,314) and Blake Dietrick (1,233).

Anyway, the podcast is a good one. And a long one.

One of the subjects is Reunions, which for Princeton women's basketball is just one giant party. TB mentions that it's fascinating the way that players who never played together here simply latch onto one another, and Courtney said that in their pickup game, they play odd number years against even number years. That's pretty good.

The two also talk about graduation, which begins today at 10:30 outside Nassau Hall. It's a special occasion for everyone who ever graduates from Princeton, and TigerBlog loves to go and watch them all as they walk out after the ceremony.

On the podcast, Courtney calls it a sad occasion. She has three seniors - Tia Weledji, Leslie Robinson and Kenya Holland - and Courtney says its sad to go from seeing them every day to seeing them at a few games and Reunions.

She talked earlier about how much time goes into recruiting a class, and it's clear that she's heavily invested in the personal development that goes into the time her players have here. And now they go their own ways.

And that's your basic synopsis of the podcast. Tune in. You won't have another Court Report until mid-July or so.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Reunited

Effingham.

That was it. Effingham, Illinois.

TigerBlog would have gotten it eventually. Effingham, which is a little more than three hours south of Chicago, is the hometown of Kyle Wente. He's a a 2003 Princeton grad, a three-time All-Ivy League basketball player.

TigerBlog hadn't seen Wente in years, but he recognized him immediately when he walked into Jadwin Gym Friday. Wente was back for his 15th Reunion, and he was part of the large crowd of former players who were playing a pickup game.

It's an annual event.

As TB spoke with Wente, he found out that he's now living in Denver, the president of a company out there. TB remembered Wente was from Illinois, and he was trying to remember the hometown when Wente said it was Effingham.

Ah, yes. TigerBlog would have gotten it. And if he didn't, John Thompson III would have told him.

TB texted Thompson, who had been Wente's coach. Together they won a pair of Ivy titles, including the 2001 championship after Thompson had taken over as head coach in September and then had to deal with the loss of something like four projected starters. Wente went from someone who would be hoping to get into the rotation to someone who seemingly never came off the court.

Thompson immediately responded with the correct answer, Effingham. He also threw in Wente's high school, St. Anthony.

It was great to see Wente again. It was also great to see Steve Goodrich, part of the great team of 1998. Goodrich, who was there for his 20th, is the last Princeton player to play in the NBA.

When TB walked in, Goodrich and Wente were standing together. They were talking like old buddies, though it took TB a second to remember that Goodrich had graduated two years before Wente arrived. 

Goodrich is also another one that TB hadn't seen in a long time. As was the case with Wente, TigerBlog saw basically every game Goodrich played at Princeton. Actually, TigerBlog missed just two games that Goodrich played, both of which were in his freshman season of 1994-95.

Goodrich and Wente will always be among TigerBlog's favorite Princeton athletes. So will several of the others who were in the gym at that time. 

TigerBlog supposes that's the whole point of Reunions. It's to see the people who will always be a big part of your Princeton experience, whatever that experience was, back on the campus where all those memories were made. So what if Goodrich lives in California and Wente in Colorado - and Chris Doyal, a 1997 men's basketball grad, lives in London.

They come back, and they're who they were when they first met. Together again. And seeing them there took TB right back to all those games, all those times he'd seen them play.

Thompson was there for his 30th. He said that when he was a student, he used to work at Reunions and thought the people at their 30th were old.

If they were old, where does that leave the lone member of the Class of 1937? That would be Joe Schein, the man who led the P-Rade. He's 103 years old, by the way. If you're in the Class of 1937, then this was your 81st Reunion.

TigerBlog loves the P-Rade, even though this one got cut short by some wild rain. The sight of Schein, as he walked down Elm Drive, was extraordinary.

TigerBlog saw quite a few people he knew at Reunions. It would take a lot to get him to dance at the tents until 2 in the morning, but there are parts of Reunions he loves. Like the basketball pickup games.

And the lacrosse/field hockey reception. He stops by that each year for the two hours or so prior to the P-Rade.

TB isn't quite sure why he's better at remembering the class years of the athletes he knew in the 1990s or so rather than the ones from the last few years. He saw Chris White, for instance, and couldn't believe it was five years already since he'd graduated.

The whole Reunions feel is special. For three days the whole campus is just a sea of random orange and black garments, with alums of all eras, and their families, and often their little kids, also in orange and black, tagging along.

And then there was one alum, another basketball player, dressed in red. It was Brian Earl, Class of 1999. He was back for the basketball pickup game.

These days, Brian is the head coach at Cornell. This past winter he took the Big Red to the Ivy League tournament.

When he came into Jadwin Friday, he was immediately surrounded by former teammates. He had a bottle of wine - Ithaca wine - for his former teammate, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson.

No matter what color shirt he was wearing, Brian still belonged in Jadwin. There was no one there who felt otherwise.

Like TB said, it doesn't matter where they live or what they do or how far away they go, both literally and figuratively.

Brian Earl will always be one of them, a Princetonian.

Especially during those three days each year.

It was good to see him too.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Choose To Inspire

Peter Farrell, the former Princeton women's track and field coach, was one of the first people TigerBlog saw as he walked into the back of Jadwin Gym for the 21st Gary Walters ’67 Princeton Varsity Club Awards Banquet last night.

Peter, by the way, was dressed like he was auditioning for a new show, sort of "Miami Vice" meets "The Sopranos."

There are few people who funnier than Peter Farrell, and he certainly didn't disappoint in the first 10 seconds that TigerBlog spoke with him last night.

"If you told my daughters that they could come home for either Reunions or Christmas," he said, "they would say ..."

As Peter started down the path, TB knew the answer would be "Reunions" and that the punchline would be really good.

"... they would say 'okay, just ship me the presents.' "

Reunions it is.

There's something incredible about Reunions, something that Princeton people can't really understand because they have nothing to compare it to, the way non-Princetonians do. Take it from TigerBlog. Nothing close to Reunions exists at Penn.

Bryce Chase, whom TB wrote about after he broke his leg two weeks ago, is desperately hoping to get out of the hospital and make it to the P-Rade Saturday. If he does, he wouldn't be the first one to go from the hospital to Reunions.

Denna Laing did it two years ago.

Denna is a 2014 Princeton graduate, a former Tiger women's hockey player. Actually, scratch that. According to Denna, there are no former Tigers. As she would say, Tigers are Tigers forever.

Tigers are always Tigers, she would say during her speech last night, as she accepted the Class of 1967 Citizen Athlete Award, given for noble and selfless contribution to sport and society. That's Denna Laing, of course.

It was Denna Laing who, as a professional hockey player, suffered a major spinal cord injury on New Year's Eve 2015 in the Women's Winter Classic.

"I was looking for a new challenge," she said, "but this isn't what I had in mind."

It's been a challenge, certainly. Facing an uncertain future, Laing pressed into her rehab with all she had. When she finally had reached the point where she was able to leave rehab center, her first stop was Reunions at Princeton.

Denna Laing took the stage last night in her wheelchair, one that she controls with her hands. She moves her head easily, and her arms and hands as well. She speaks strongly. 

TigerBlog tried to write down as much as he could of what Denna was saying last night. Here are some of the highlights:

* control the things you can control, and there are three things that you can always control - your attitude, your work ethic and how you treat other people

* every interaction you have is an opportunity to inspire. She told the story of her Facebook posts and the reactions she got, first locally, then throughout the country, then around the world. People, strangers almost always, would tell her that they saw her story and it inspired them to work out, or learn to skate or start to play hockey. It was humbling, she said, and fulfilling.

* choose to be positive, even on your darkest days

There was another too. TB will get back to that.

The banquet each year comes on the Thursday when Reunions start. It's a festive time to be sure.

The seniors who are honored each year are ready to be festive. They've certainly earned it.

They're a few days away from graduating from Princeton. They've been challenged academically and athletically for the last four years, and they've come through it remarkably.

The banquet was a time to honor the entire class of athletes. In their four years, Princeton won 47 Ivy League championships and won at least 10 each year. The next highest total of Ivy titles the last four years was 38; the one after that was 17.

Princeton also had 25 of its 37 teams win a league regular season championship, and another - the men's hockey team - won the ECAC tournament championship to get to the NCAA tournament. Princeton also will have been the top finishing Ivy League team in the NACDA Directors' Cup each of their years.

By any measure, it's been a hugely successful four years.

The top athletic department awards were given out. Dov Weinryb Grohsgal - TigerBlog joked with him before that he had learned how to spell his name - won the Marvin Bressler Award for all his work helping athletes manage their academic and athletic responsibilities.

Chad Kanoff, the record-setting quarterback, won the Roper Trophy as the top senior male athlete. Vanessa Gregoire of the women's soccer team won the Von Kienbusch Award as the top senior female athlete.

Junior Oboh (men's volleyball), Natalie Tung (women's squash) and Abby Finkelston (women's lacrosse) won the Art Lane Award for contribution to sport and society by an undergraduate athlete. Delaney Miller (cross country/track) won the 1916 Cup as the athlete with the highest academic standing; she's headed to Stanford for her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.

And there was Laing.

What else did she say?

Oh yeah. She had one last piece of advice for the soon-to-be-grads.

"When things are bad," she told them, "take comfort in knowing that Princeton Reunions come every year."

Her attitude continues to be amazing. Her refusal to be slowed by her injury is remarkable. Her spirit is obvious.

She's choosing to inspire, to use her words.

And she's succeeding spectacularly.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Here's To The 219 Of Them

On pretty much any other day, TigerBlog would have written about the return of Addie Micir to Princeton women's basketball and/or the announcement of the 2018-19 Princeton men's hockey schedule.

Those will have to wait until next week, though TB would like to point out that opening day of the men's hockey season is less than five months away. Freaky.

And he'll also say that Micir is a fairly obvious choice to replace Milena Flores on Courtney Banghart's staff. Here's a pretty good quote from the former Dartmouth assistant: ""That being said, my heart has been with Princeton since I was in elementary school, and coming home is such an unbelievable joy."

Also, TB didn't realize this, but Micir was the first Princeton women's basketball player ever to be named Ivy League Player of the Year.

And that's it for those two stories, for now. He'll revisit them later on. 

He'll start today by reminding everyone who is attending the Gary Walters ’67 Princeton Varsity Club Awards Banquet that due to the possibility of inclement weather the event has been moved from the Graduate College into Jadwin Gym.

This isn't the first time the banquet will be held in Jadwin. The first one, back in 1998, was also held in Jadwin.

There were also a few held at the boathouse before it moved to the Grad College. TB isn't sure what year it was when thunderstorms interrupted the banquet, forcing most of it to be done the next afternoon in Jadwin. He's guessing that was in the 2006 range.

Anyway, the 2018 banquet will be held in its entirety inside Jadwin. The schedule will be the same, with the cocktail hour at 5 and then the program at 6:15.

There is something very special about this banquet each year. It's a chance for all of these athletes to be together one more time before they scatter for the next chapters of their lives.

There are 219 Princeton senior athletes. They were babies when the first banquet was held.

That's 219 different Princeton experiences. It's fascinating.

One first-team All-Ivy selection? He/she had a different experience than all the others.

They all came here four years ago, wide-eyed, excited and unsure of what to expect. They came from all over to attend this school and compete for it, and they get only four years to do both.

If you asked all 219, at least 200 would start out by saying "it flew by."

What did they learn? What will stick with them forever? What was the defining moment of their athletic experiences here?

They all have to figure it out for themselves. Again you'd get 219 different answers.

And there they'll all be, in Jadwin as opposed to out at the Grad College, but still in the same partying mood as every other banquet. And why wouldn't they be?

This is the start of a big push for them, with the banquet, Reunions, Class Day and then graduation. They've all worked extremely hard to get to this point, and they all deserve to spend this time with each other.

There are 11 of the 219 senior athletes who are nominees for the two top senior athlete awards. You can read about the women's nominees HERE and the men's nominees HERE.

There will also be the Art Lane Award, given to outstanding contribution to sport and society by an undergraduate, and the Class of 1916 Cup, given to the senior athlete who has the highest academic standing.

There will be a few videos, one of which is pretty funny and others of which are meant to give insight into the experience and its lasting effects, just as TB was talking about a few paragraphs ago.

Others will be honored and recognized as well. Most who are will not be getting awards, but they will be getting a brief acknowledgement for all that they do to make Princeton Athletics what it is.

Two who will be getting awards are Denna Laing and Dov Weinryb Grohsgal. It's possible that all 219 athletes know Dov, and it's likely that he has a near-100 percent approval rating.

As for Denna Laing, she suffered a spinal cord injury in the Women's Winter Classic on New Year's Even 2015. Since then she has worked tirelessly in her rehab and has continued to live an active life, including completing the Boston Marathon last year, pushed in her wheelchair by a former NHL player.

TigerBlog is looking forward to hearing what both have to say.

And he's interested in the celebration of the Class of 2018. After all, that's really what this is all about. 

He'll report back on it all tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Congratulations To The Bulldogs

TigerBlog stood on the Gilette Stadium turf Monday, about 90 minutes before Yale and Duke faced off in the NCAA men's lacrosse championship game.

He was talking with one of the people who works at the stadium, and he mentioned the five banners that hung above the scoreboard. There's one for every Super Bowl victory for the New England Patriots, the primary tenant of the stadium.

"Five banners," the worker said proudly.

"Only five?" TB said. "We have six."

"Steelers fan?" he asked.

"Nope," TB said. "Princeton men's lacrosse."

TigerBlog had been around for all six of them. At that moment, Princeton's NCAA titles - 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001 -  and Cornell's three in the 1970s were the only ones the Ivy League had ever won.

A few hours later, TigerBlog would send out this tweet from the @tigerlacrosse account:

This came seconds after Yale defeated Duke 13-11 to win the school's first NCAA title. It also came three days after TigerBlog wrote this for you Friday:
TB can see any of the four teams as the last one standing. He'll go with Yale, though. The Bulldogs aren't going to beat themselves, and they have a lot of experience and a lot of confidence. 

What TB wrote on Friday (and what he told Yale coach Andy Shay when he saw him Friday night) is what he and Princeton head men's lacrosse coach Matt Madalon talked about a lot during this season. Yale wasn't going to beat itself. In fact, the Bulldogs were the most complete and consistent team pretty much all season.

The Bulldogs certainly had the look of a championship team throughout the tournament. They easily handled a UMass team that had won 11 straight and then in the quarterfinal knocked off Loyola, who very well may have been the ones holding the trophy Monday had it not been for the Bulldogs.

Then it was Albany, who simply got blown off the field by Yale in the semifinal Saturday, with a final score of 20-11 that wasn't reflective of how dominant Yale was. In fact, Yale set the tone for the entire weekend with its 7-0 start against the Great Danes, as none of the five games - Division I semis, Division III and Division II finals and then Division I final - ever featured a tie, let alone a lead change.

The only real drama of the weekend came in the final minute of Wesleyan's 8-6 win over Salisbury in the D3 game, and really there wasn't much there anyway. Merrimack had the largest margin of victory in an NCAA final with its 23-6 win over Saint Leo in Division II.

And the Division I final? From his view from the press box, where for the 14th straight year he was part of the official stats crew, TigerBlog never for a second thought Yale was going to lose. Duke played hard and tried to come back, but Yale was just, well, Yale was just the best team. Jack Tigh started the scoring 46 seconds into the first quarter, and Yale would lead from then on - the final 59:14 of a 60-minute game.

In fact, for the entire tournament, Yale trailed only for 3:09. That's three minutes and nine seconds. And all of that was early on against UMass, who scored the first two in the game. It took Yale those three minutes and nine seconds to even things at 2-2, and that was that.

Yale was the kind of team that Princeton women's basketball coach Courtney Banghart loves - no obvious weakness, a lot of experience playing together, a strong team culture and great senior leadership.

It had been 17 Memorial Days since Princeton won the 2001 title, accomplished when B.J. Prager scored on a feed from Ryan Boyle, making it six titles in 10 years for the Tigers. Princeton's alumni base is loaded now with players who won one, two or even three NCAA championships.

Maybe for a little while, it looked like no Ivy team would be able to win it all again. Only Princeton in 2002 and Cornell in 2009 had reached the final from the league before Yale got there this year.

Now, though, it would shock TB if an Ivy school was shut out for the next 17 years. You can say "told you so" to him in 2035 if he's wrong.

Because Yale lost in the Ivy League final, it will enter 2019 having won four straight. Actually, Princeton will enter the season with the longest winning streak in Division I, having won the final five games of 2018. Princeton actually played seven fewer games than Duke, who played 20.

As TB has said, Princeton has a lot of young pieces in place for next year, led by the player that TigerBlog would take over any other in college lacrosse - Michael Sowers. The list of players who have at least two years of eligibility left is large, including several who have major All-America potential besides just Sowers.

By the way, to make sure there's no ambiguity in his opinion, there were five first-team All-America attackman this year, while Sowers was second-team. TB would take Sowers over any of those five in a heartbeat.

What Princeton can learn from what Yale just did is how to build a championship persona. It's not about the talk. It's about the foundation. It's about being able to handle adversity. It's about playing with the confidence to beat any opponent.

It's about things that come with playing together and growing into a team that's ready to make a run. And then it's about staying healthy - Yale did that - getting better as the year goes along - Yale did that too - and getting buy-in one what you're doing from every member of the program - from the outside, it appeared Yale had that as well.

If all of that comes together, Princeton has a chance to be really special.

The first person TB saw that he knew when he left the press box after Yale's win was Phillip Robertson, Princeton's attackman. Phillip's brother Joe starts on attack for Duke; Phillip led Division I in shooting percentage this year and led Princeton with 33 goals.

The two talked about the game for a few seconds, but TB really only had one thought the entire time - hopefully Phillip gets to experience the Memorial Day Weekend experience with the rest of the Tigers.

This year, though, wasn't Princeton's year. It was Yale's.

The best team won.

There were only two things any Princeton fan could do when the game was over, and TB did both.

Congratulate the winners.

And get excited for 2019.