Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Three At Home Against The Crimson

TigerBlog received several emails and texts yesterday about his "Two Truths And A Lie" statements.

The basic summary is this: Nobody believed TB's ability to recite the entire "Cat In The Hat" from memory was a lie. What does this say? Either people who know TB think that there's nothing odd about the fact that he would memorize an entire Dr. Seuss book or that it was just too absurd not to be true. Why would someone make that up, of all random things?

As for the eight time zones inn which he's seen Princeton teams compete, they are the four time zones in the Continental US, Hawaii (men's basketball in 1998), the Atlantic time zone (men's basketball played Ohio in Nova Scotia the day of Thanksgiving 1999), Spain (men's lacrosse trip in 2008) and Ireland and Portugal (Ireland in 2008, Portugal in 2016; both in the same time zone).

And yes, he never dunked a basketball. The closest he came was sort of dunking a tennis ball on a basket that was a little bent forward. This doesn't take into account the eight-foot baskets that used to be on a court in Belmar or the adjustable basket that went from six feet to 10 feet in the driveway.

So that's "Two Truths And A Lie" for this week. There won't be an edition this week on the Princeton Stadium video board because the football team is at Harvard Saturday in a huge game. Actually, when you're 5-0 and playing for a championship in the next five weeks, they're all huge.

Because of the schedule change, this will be the second straight year Princeton plays at Harvard. After this, Princeton will have four games to play, three at home and one at Yale.

One thing that will be missing from this new scheduling is the Saturday where there is field hockey and two soccer games on the campus, along with the football game. While football is in Cambridge, those three will be playing at home.

And they're all huge, huge, huge games.

Let's start with the women's soccer team. Princeton got a big win over Columbia Sunday, moving the Tigers to 2-1-1 in the league. 

The Tigers are in third place, behind Penn and Harvard, both tied at 3-0-1. Princeton still has to play Cornell and Penn after Harvard, which means that should Princeton win out, it would be 5-1-1. That would also be the best possible record Penn and Harvard, who under this scenario would have to lose to the Tigers. Since Penn and Harvard have already tied each other (0-0), then Princeton would have the NCAA tiebreaker against both.

Of course, it's not that simple. Dartmouth, whom Princeton tied 0-0, could also get to 5-1-1, since the Big Green are the same 2-1-1 as Princeton. To get to 5-1-1, Dartmouth would need to beat Harvard, but the Big Green have already lost to Penn. If all that happened, NCAA bid tiebreakers could get a little mess - or even messier if Columbia gets to 5-2.

To keep it very simple, Princeton needs to keep winning.

On the men's side, the race is one week behind the women's, as each team has played three games. Princeton, who had a big win over Columbia Saturday, sits at 2-0-1.

Dartmouth, whom Princeton tied 2-2 after trailing the Big Green 2-0, is also unbeaten at 1-0-2. Columbia and Cornell are 2-1-0.

Princeton is 6-1-1 in its last eight after a 1-3 start. The Tigers are used to playing close games; of their 12 games, one has been a tie, 10 have been one-goal games and the other two have been two-goal games.

It's a little early to start with all of the scenarios on the men's side in standings that are still very much bunched, but Princeton has done itself a lot of favors with its strong start to the league season.

As for the field hockey race, this one could be the simplest of them all.

Here is Princeton, ranked third in the country and 4-0 in the Ivy League after its 8-0 win over Brown. The Tigers have not allowed an Ivy League goal yet while scoring 20 of their own.

And here comes Harvard, ranked ninth in the country with a record of 12-1 that includes only a loss to Maryland. The Crimson are also 4-0 in the league, having outscored their four opponents 19-3. The also come into the game off an 8-0 league win, this one over Cornell.

There will still be two more weeks of the season after the Tigers play Harvard Saturday, and Princeton still has to play Penn, whose only league loss is to Harvard by a 2-1 score. Still, this is obviously a big game.

So that's three games at home Saturday, all against Harvard, all for free.

Don't worry. TigerBlog will remind you about them later in the week.

Monday, October 15, 2018

First Down

There are some fun promotions run off the videoboard at Princeton's home football games.

One of them is "Two Truths And A Lie." You know this one. People give three facts about themselves, but only two of them are actually true. Then someone else has to try to figure out which one isn't true.

As it applies to Princeton football, a player is shown on the videoboard giving his three facts. The contestant on the field has to guess which one isn't true.

Hey, you want to play the TigerBlog version. Here are his three:

* he used to be able to dunk a basketball
* he can recite the entire "Cat In The Hat" from memory
* he has seen Princeton teams play games in eight different time zones

You think about that. TB will give you the answer later.

Meanwhile, here's also one where a contestant is asked a question and then has to give as many possible responses to it. Then a player is shown on the board answering the same question. Whoever gives more answers wins.

The question from the game Saturday against Brown, a game Princeton would win 48-10 to get to 5-0, was this: How many pizza toppings can you name?

When TigerBlog used to ride with the men's basketball team, back when he was in the newspaper business, the team would often get postgame pizzas delivered to the bus. TB and Sean Jackson, the 1992 Ivy League men's basketball Player of the Year, would split a mushroom pizza.

TB is fine with mushrooms. And peppers and onions. Red peppers more than green, but either way. And sausage. And meatball. Or sausage and meatball. Or chicken parmigiana.

You know what TB can't stand on pizza? Pineapple. And both the contestant on the field and the Princeton player said "pineapple." TB had to call them out about the pineapple situation over the Princeton Stadium PA system afterwards.

Of course one of them also said marshmallow. What's up with that?

The promotion came, TB believes, in the second quarter of the game. The "Two Truths and A Lie" came in the third. The TB answer, by the way, is that he's never dunked a basketball.

By the end of the first quarter, Princeton led 14-0. By the middle of the second, it was 28-0.

And so what if this marked the first time that 1) Princeton didn't score 30 points in the first half and 2) a team scored against Princeton in the second. Neither was a factor on this day, when Princeton dominated from start to finish.

The key play of the game was the first one. Brown won the toss and deferred, which gave Princeton the ball. After the kickoff, out came the Tiger offense, the one ranked No. 1 in the FCS in scoring and total yards per game.

This time, though, John Lovett, the one with the keys that start that offensive engine, was not out there. Instead, it was Kevin Davidson, a junior from Danville, Calf., in the driver's seat.

And what happened on that first play? Davidson threw a beautiful deep ball to Stephen Carlson for 39 yards, and the Tigers were in business. It took six more plays to get into the end zone on a pass from Davidson to Ryan Quigley, and Princeton was off and running.

Davidson would throw for 304 yards and four touchdowns, and Carlson and Jesper Horsted combined for 296 yards and 21 receptions, three of those for TDs.

The highlight play was a 62-yard strike from Davidson to Horsted for the second score of the game. Horsted ran a crossing route, Davidson threw one that led him to the sideline and Horsted snagged it out of the air and turned the corner, beating a Brown defensive back who appeared to have an angle on him.

Really, though, that first play was huge. Davidson, presumably, had some nerves for his first start, and the entire team probably wondered how it would play out without Lovett, who had been completely dominant through four weeks.

All of that, any uncertainty at all, was gone after that first pass. TigerBlog actually can't remember too many moments like that, actually, where he could pretty much feel an entire team exhale and get down to the business as usual.

For Princeton, business as usual through the first half of the season has meant five games like this one - games that were over before the fourth quarter. That's been the story of the first half of the year.

The story of the second half of the year will be decided by the next five weeks, beginning this Saturday at Harvard.

Right now, Princeton and Dartmouth are both 5-0 and have both followed somewhat similar scripts. Those two meet on Powers Field on Nov. 3, after the trip to Cambridge and a home game against Cornell. In other words, there's no sense looking ahead to Dartmouth yet.

As for Week 5, it was a great all-around team performance again, especially from Kevin Davidson in his first career start. The turning point of the game doesn't always have to wait.

On this day, it came on the literal first down.

Friday, October 12, 2018

More 42

TigerBlog walked from Jadwin Gym to the Shea Rowing Center Wednesday for the Erik Wiehenmayer luncheon.

As an aside, among other things this week, TigerBlog has learned the correct spelling for "Wiehenmayer." At least he thinks he has. That's correct, right?

It's not a very far walk from the gym to the boathouse. Plus, TB had a great parking spot in Lot 21, something that doesn't happen much these days.

When he left the talk, he walked out with Bob Surace, the head football coach. Surace then offered TB a ride back to Jadwin, and TigerBlog took him up on it.

When they got back to the parking lot, it was basically jammed. Surace very calmly drove row by row, hoping to find a spot, until he and TB found the very last spot available, all the way in the last row before FitzRandolph Road.

Keep in mind that this is the head football coach. TigerBlog doesn't imagine that, say, Urban Meyer ever parks in the very last row and walks in. And if he does, he doesn't simply shrug it off while being happy that he got a spot at all.

That's one side of Bob Surace. Another side is his success as a coach. 

Remember when TB wrote about the number 42 recently? Well, he still has 42 on his mind today.

Actually, this time it's 42-42. That would be Bob Surace's record as a head coach at Princeton.

This is the third time Surace has been at .500 for his Princeton career. The first was in Week 2 of the 2010 season, when Princeton defeated Lafayette that week 36-33 to get  Surace to 1-1 at Princeton.

From that point, as he began the process of building the team his way, he would win one of the next 20 games, which would leave him at 2-20 early in the 2012 season.

Since then? Well, he's 42-42 now, so that would make him 40-22 in the last 62. That includes a pair of Ivy League championships, not to mention a 4-0 start to this year.

TigerBlog has mentioned this before, but what Surace has done is similar to what great coaches like Courtney Banghart and Bill Tierney have done at Princeton - erase deep holes early in their careers to get back to .500 and beyond.

If you're looking forward to 43, that opportunity, and the chance to get over .500 for the first time in his career, comes tomorrow, when Princeton hosts Brown at 1. Princeton is 4-0, 1-0 in the Ivy League.

Brown? The Bears are 0-1 in the league, 1-3 overall. The win is against Georgetown two weeks ago. The Ivy loss was home against Harvard, 31-17.

Princeton and Dartmouth (2-0, playing Sacred Heart tomorrow) are the lone unbeatens in the league. They meet at Princeton in Week 8.

By the way, it didn't dawn on TigerBlog until early this week that the Sacred Heart-Penn game last weekend matched his alma mater with his son's soon-to-be alma mater. Also by the way, if you didn't check out that game, Sacred Heart trailed 24-0, took the lead 27-24 and then lost 31-27 as Penn drove for the winning TD with 1:19 to play.

For your final by-the-way, Sacred Heart is in the middle of playing three straight Ivy teams. The Pioneers lost 43-24 to Cornell in a game that was never close and then had the close one against Penn that was only close for a little while. Next up is Dartmouth.

Other than the fact that Princeton and Dartmouth have been very impressive, what do any of the results suggest so far? You can play with the results all you want, but the reality is that the sample size is still a bit too small. What does the fact that Cornell thumped Sacred Heart but Penn barely won that game, that Sacred Heart and Penn both beat Bucknell and by nearly identical margins (16 and 17) and that Harvard was two touchdowns better than Brown but lost to Cornell, who lost to Yale, who lost to Dartmouth?

TB supposes that everyone will find out soon enough.

This is Week 5. At the end of the day tomorrow, all eight Ivy teams will have played three non-league games and two league games and have five league games to go.

No matter what, Princeton has some big football games to play in the next few weeks. And it's also true that every game is big now.

The Tigers are off to a great start. They're led by a coach who took the long way back to being even.

Don't let the fact that he was happy to walk from the last row of the parking lot fool you. He may not have a big ego, but he has a big competitive streak.

Surace got to .500 last year at 38-38 before the Tigers dropped their last four. Now the 4-0 start has him back to even. 

TB is positive he never wants to be below .500 again.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

No Barriers II

TigerBlog has known Eddie Timanus for a long time.

Eddie is a USA Today writer - and five-time Jeopardy champion - who covers national men's lacrosse. One of TigerBlog's favorite things on Twitter, other than Princeton Athletics highlights, is Eddie's song lyrics as he says goodnight to the "Twitterverse" each night.

He also seems to go to bed rather early, but that's okay. TigerBlog can usually figure out the song, since Eddie leans heavily to the classic rock genre.

Eddie's a good man. He often tweets about his son, whom he refers to as "da kiddo," and his cat, as well as Final Jeopardy questions and of course college athletics. As the Twitterverse goes, Eddie brings a refreshingly wholesome approach.

Among Eddie's great gifts is his sense of humor, which he displays easily in person and which will come through on Twitter.

In fact, he'll often make some fun of himself regarding one feature that TB has neglected to mention yet. Eddie Timanus is blind.

When TB sees him at the NCAA lacrosse championships each year, or during the season at some point, Eddie is accompanied by his father Chuck, who serves as his guide. And as his eyes at the games.

TigerBlog thought of Eddie and Chuck as he watched another blind son with his father yesterday. This time it was the amazing Erik Weihenmayer and his father Ed.

Erik was the featured speaker at last night's Princeton Varsity Club Jake McCandless Speaker Series event. It was the second time Erik has spoken, as he also did so in the same building back in 2005.

This time around, Erik reminded TB of why he remembered him as such a great speaker. From the first second he starts to talk, he just grabs the entire room, which hangs on every word he says.

It doesn't hurt that his story is amazing. He's blind, and yet he has not allowed that to slow him down at all.

Erik spoke about the way his father - a Princeton football captain, member of the Class of 1962 and Marine Corps fighter pilot in Vietnam - encouraged him not to let his blindness stop him from doing the things he wanted to do. Ed spoke about how parental instincts want you to protect your children from danger but this was more important.

And so, with his father's guidance, Erik set off on a lifetime of adventure that would be difficult to conceive for anyone, let alone a blind man. In his lifetime Erik has climbed the "Seven Summits," which represents the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents. He has run marathons. Most recently he has kayaked the 70 rapids of the Grand Canyon.

He talks about these achievements as if they're commonplace, no big deal for a blind guy or anyone else.

It doesn't hurt that he's also funny. For instance, during yesterday's talk at a luncheon prior to his evening address, he said all of the following:

* while showing a video of his whitewater rafting in the Colorado River at the Grand Canyon: "What did I learn? I learned why there aren't a lot of a blind kayakers."

* a few moments later, when he disappeared briefly under the water of the rapids: "Don't worry. He lives."

* just before the video, as he asked how many people in the audience had ever been to the Grand Canyon: "don't raise your hands."

* responding to a question about the team he worked with to help him get to the top of Mount Everest: "They were going to bring me 100 yards up and say we were at the summit and save us all a lot of work.

Weihenmayar has a foundation and a book both entitled "No Barriers," and it's somewhat self-explanatory. He finds no barriers in the world, and his foundation takes that spirit and uses it to literally change the lives of so many people who might otherwise have given up.

When Erik speaks, he talks about this friend and that friend, all of whom have had catastrophic events in their lives, all of whom refused to be stilled by them, all of whom have gone on to push through any way they could. It's one inspirational tale after another, all with Erik Weihenmayer as the point person.

There was a great moment at the luncheon, during a Q&A session after Weihenmayar's short talk there. One of the people in the audience was football player Joe Percival, whose mother has lost most of her vision. If you missed the story about the Percival family, try HERE and HERE.

His mom, Joe said, was taking up marathon running.

There's nobody better than Erik Weihenmayar, of course, to give him and his mother advice. There's nobody better than Erik Weihenmayar to inspire her.

There are no barriers in his world. Why should there be barriers in anyone's?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

No Barriers

There are few people at Princeton easier to like than Joe Dubuque, associate head coach for the wrestling team.

The wrestling room is next to the Office of Athletic Communications on Jadwin's E Level, so TigerBlog has considerable opportunities to see the coaches. They're all great guys.

Joe, a two-time NCAA champion at Indiana, came in two days ago to excitedly talk about the "Vision Quest" spoof that the wrestling team had put on social media.

He came in yesterday to mention that Matthew Modine had responded to the tweet that had the video in it. Modine was the one who played Louden the love-struck high school weight-losing wrestler in the movie itself.
This was big. Modine is a major Hollywood star, and here he is, retweeting Princeton wrestling.

Modine has been in a lot of movies, but his best has been his role as Private Joker in "Full Metal Jacket." That's as intense as movies get.

TigerBlog thinks that "Full Metal Jacket" is a better movie than "Platoon," which won Best Picture back in 1986. As far as Vietnam War movies go, he gives "Full Metal Jacket" the edge over "Apocalypse Now" as well, though there is a long way to go between any of those and "The Deer Hunter."

He was also great as the pilot in "Memphis Belle," which is a very underrated World War II movie. It's about the crew of a B-23 that needs to fly one more mission before it can become the first crew to fly 25 combat missions, only the last one is really, really difficult. And there's a movie crew that is trying to tell a glorious story, even if it's insensitive to all of the tragedy around them.

And now, most famously, he has retweeted Princeton wrestling. And commented.

If you're looking for star power, albeit less well-known star power, TigerBlog can refer you to tonight's Princeton Varsity Club Jake McCandless Speaker Series event featuring Erik Weihenmayer.

The event will be held tonight in Richardson Auditorium at Alexander Hall, at 7:30. It is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. You can get yours HERE.

This will actually be Weihenmayer's second appearance in the series, which TB believes is a first. His previous talk was back in November of 2005, and TB was at it.

Weihenmayer was born with retinoschesis, which gradually causes the retina to deteriorate. He had  partial sight through his childhood before losing his vision completely at age 13.

So what's his talk about? How that limited the things he could do in his life and how he came to be okay with that?

Uh, hardly.

His talk is entitled "No Barriers," and it's very applicable, as nothing in this world has been a barrier for Erik Weihenmayer. Not the highest mountains. Not running marathons. Not whitewater. Nothing.

There aren't too many people more accomplished, more adventurous and more courageous than Erik Weihenmayer. He's climbed the highest peak on all seven continents - the "Seven Summits" - something that fewer than 400 people have ever done.

In addition, he and his father Ed, a 1962 Princeton graduate and a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, biked from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with 75 others, most of whom were veterans of the war. 

And he's done it without his eye sight.

The first time Erik spoke at Princeton, he talked about his climb up Mount Everest. That's scary enough with your vision.

Beyond just the mountain climbing, Erik has recently kayaked the Grand Canyon and its 70 rapids. Again, he's done that blind.

TigerBlog was here for Weihenmayer's first talk, and he was simply riveting.

He's pretty sure tonight's talk will be as well.

The title of his speech is also the name of his foundation, which encourages thousands of challenged people each year to share his spirit. He has worked extensively with wounded war veterans as well. You can see a lot more information about what "No Barriers" is all about HERE.

From the website: "Our mission is to unleash the potential of the human spirit.  Through transformative experiences, tools and inspiration, we help people embark on a quest to contribute their absolute best to the world.  In the process, we foster a community of curious, brave and collaborative explorers who are determined to live the No Barriers Life."

Jeez. Does it get any more impressive than that?

See you at 7:30.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Crazy For You

TigerBlog said he'd start with the number 773 today, and so he will.

Princeton gained 773 yards of total offense in its win Saturday against Lehigh. That's the most Princeton has ever had in any game, dating all the way back to the 1800s - though TB has never seen a stat sheet from the 1869 games against Rutgers or anything.

That's a lot of yards. That's nearly a half a mile of offense in one game.

The result was the most points Princeton has scored in a game since 1934, when the Tigers defeated Amherst 75-0. There was also a 66-0 win over Williams in 1950, which equaled the number of points the Tigers had Saturday.

And with that, TigerBlog will get back to football in a few seconds. First, he wants to share with you this video from the wrestling team on Twitter.

TigerBlog got the reference immediately. If you were between, say, 15 and 25 in 1985, you probably got the reference too.

It's a play on the movie "Vision Quest," which came out in 1985. It's classic mid-1980s, with Matthew Modine as a high school wrestler who drops down two weight classes to go up against the three-time state champion, all while falling in love with the older Linda Fiorentino (whose character was from, of all places, Trenton, N.J.).

Yeah, throw in some Madonna songs, like "Crazy For You," and you have a classic. And now the wrestling team - the always creative wrestling team - has taken it up a few levels.

And now TB can't get "Crazy For You" out of his head. In fact, he just started whistling it.

I never wanted anyone like this
It's all brand new, you'll feel it in my kiss
I'm crazy for you, crazy for you

Again, a classic.

Okay, now back to Princeton football.

Princeton currently ranks first in the FCS in scoring offense (53 points per game) and total offense (607.2 yards per game). Princeton is also second in scoring defense (8.3 points per game), seventh in total defense (260.8 yards per game) and eighth in rushing defense (88.0 yards per game).

TB's colleague Craig Sachson has put together a bunch of other notes about the Tigers through four games:

* Princeton has scored 212 points this season through four games. The last time Princeton scored that many in the first four games was 1888. Yes. 1888.

* Princeton has allowed 33 points in four games. The last time Princeton allowed that few through four games was 1987.

* Princeton has not allowed a second-half point.

* Princeton has allowed 33 points through four games. There are four players - Nicolas Ramos (40), Jesper Horsted (38), Charlie Volker (36) and John Lovett (36) - who have scored more by themselves.

* Princeton has scored a touchdown on 28 of its 46 possessions. Of the other 18, eight have ended in field goals and three ended with the end of a half.

And then there's the one that TB gave you yesterday - Princeton has played eight halves and has scored at least 30 points in five of them.

What does it all mean? Right now it means that Princeton is 4-0, with six Ivy League games to play. The next one is Saturday, at home against Brown.

Princeton is one of four unbeaten teams in the FCS, along with North Dakota State, Colgate and Dartmouth. Princeton and Dartmouth are the only two Ivy teams without a league loss.

In case you forgot, Princeton and Dartmouth will not meet in the final game this season. Instead, they'll play on Powers Field on Nov. 3, in Week 8.

That's a long way from now. All Princeton can do is focus on the next opponent, which in this case is Brown, a team that lost its Ivy opener to Harvard and is playing to get back into the league picture.

This weekend's game is part of Alumni Weekend, which is also a change from year's past, since it won't be Harvard or Yale, both of whom are on the road this year. This game is also the halfway point of the season, and it's the start of that six-game sprint to the finish.

What will it look like when the season ends?

The season record for points (in the modern era) is 437. That means Princeton needs to average 37.5 the rest of the way to match that.

Will that record fall? Will this be a championship season? There are still more questions than answers.

Through four weeks, though, this is a team that has been a lot of fun to watch and has been playing at a level in all phases of the game that few before it here have matched.

Should TB bother to work in something about how it's a team that Princeton fans can be crazy for, or does that just go without saying?

Monday, October 8, 2018

They Roared

The Giants, it turns out, reached the 30-point mark for the first time in 37 games when they got to 31 against the Panthers yesterday.

Then it all turned out to be all for nothing, as Graham Gano drilled a 63-yard field goal as time expired, giving his team 33.

Princeton, on the other hand, has reached the 30-point mark every game so far this season - in the first half alone. In fact, Princeton has played eight halves this year and has scored at least 30 in five of them.

TigerBlog last week talked about the No. 42. He figured he'd be starting out this week with the number 733 - but that's going to have to wait a day.

Usually, Mondays this time of year here feature something about that weekend's football game. TigerBlog will get to that this week as well, except he'll be doing it tomorrow.

Today? The number is 79. Yes, 79. And not 80.

TigerBlog will get to that shortly. Today, though, TigerBlog starts with the women of Princeton.

If you pay attention at all to Princeton information, then you know this past weekend was the "She Roars" event, which brought 5,000 women alums back to campus for a series of celebrations, discussions and lectures.

If you haven't been to the Princeton social media feeds, it's definitely worth checking out. The featured guests were Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, both Princeton alums (as is fellow Justice Samuel Alito), who spoke in Jadwin Gym Friday night.

There were many other highlights, and they have been chronicled in depth on the University's Twitter, Instagram and webpage.

As for athletics, Princeton's Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan hosted a roundtable entitled "Be a TIGER: Optimize Performance and Wellness." Joining Mollie in the discussion Saturday morning were women's open rowing coach Lori Dauphiny, women's hockey coach Cara Morey and women's lacrosse coach Chris Sailer.

The focus of the talk was, as the title suggested, advances in performance training, including the use of technology and analytics to enhance performance. There was also a large chunk of time devoted to the importance of building strong team cultures.

Oh, and in the beginning, Mollie talked about the overwhelming success Princeton's women's athletes have had since the earliest days of competition back in the early 1970s. TigerBlog ran through it last Thursday, with some facts and figures to document that success and then a timeline. You can see it HERE if you missed it.

There was also a well-attended reception after the women's soccer game on Sherrerd Field.

And now, there's the number 79, which ironically is connected to a group of women who left campus for the weekend. Still, while they weren't at Princeton, they still did a lot of roaring.

The Princeton field hockey team had itself a huge weekend. It started Friday, when the Tigers were at Columbia for a 4-0 win.

That victory improved the Tigers to 3-0 in the Ivy League, having outscored its opponents 12-0. That's pretty good.

After that the weekend continued with a trip to UConn for a game yesterday. UConn, of course, is no average field hockey team.

No, UConn is the defending NCAA champion, and until a week ago, the Huskies were cruising with a 33-game winning streak, one that was snapped in a 4-2 loss to Maryland in a rematch of last year's NCAA final.

The game yesterday was Senior Day for UConn, whose current seniors have been to the Final Four each of their first three seasons. And their record since they'd arrived in Storrs heading into the game? UConn was 79-4.

That number has stayed at 79, after Princeton stunned the Huskies 5-2. This win was not a fluke either.

It's the most goals that UConn has given up in a game in five years. Princeton outshot UConn 17-8, and the Tigers had a 10-5 edge in corners. Clara Roth scored seven minutes into the game, and the game stayed 1-0 until halftime. The second half, then, would feature six goals.

UConn would trail 3-1 before scoring to make it a 3-2 game with 20 minutes left. With the game at its crucial point, Ali McCarthy built the lead back to two 20 seconds after the UConn goal and then scored again a little more than three minutes later.

Princeton is 10-3 on the season, and five of those wins have come over teams whose RPI was in the top 15 a week ago. Princeton is 2-2 against the top five (the Tigers are fourth), with wins over No. 3 Duke and No. 5 UConn and one-goal losses to No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Maryland.

Ahead for Princeton are its last five Ivy games, which means two more Top 20 RPI games - against No. 10 Harvard and No. 20 Penn. Harvard is 3-0 in the league (with a win over Penn) and 11-1 overall.

Princeton will play one league game a week now, each of the next four Saturdays, beginning this Saturday at home against Brown. Harvard is at Princeton the following week, with a trip to Cornell and a home game against Penn to finish the regular season.

The NCAA tournament will come up after that.

There's a long way to go for the Tigers, who chase another Ivy title and another run deep into November.

This weekend, when all the roaring Tigers were not on campus, was a great one along that road. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Hosting Lehigh

TigerBlog's belief is that, even in a 280-character world, there's still a place for a well-written feature story.

Yes, attention spans are not what they used to be. And yes, the sports media world is more about "the hot take" than it is about long-form writing that really goes into depth to let you get to know the subject. Twitter is the main source of information, and it's easy to get addicted to scrolling through until something catches your eye, for a few seconds at least, until it's on the next.

TigerBlog likes how the communications field has evolved in his time here. He's said that often.

No matter what, though, he'll always enjoy the challenge of writing a long, engaging, comprehensive feature.

His colleague Craig Sachson has now written two this year about senior football players. The first was on Stephen Carlson, the wide receiver, and you can read it HERE. This is before he added two more touchdown receptions against both Monmouth and Columbia.

The most recent one is about Joe Percival, whose story is incredible. You can read Craig's feature HERE.

TigerBlog doesn't want to give it away, but Percival, a defensive lineman, has had to deal with more in his family situation than most college students, including the fact that his mother - who is thankfully still here - was actually given Last Rites at one point. Read the story. It's worth it.

Now, TigerBlog also feels obligated to tell you that the story was the subject of a video feature a year ago. You can see that HERE.

Yes, the video gives it more immediacy and all. Still, TB doesn't want you to think he's saying that the video is automatically more impactful than the feature story. 

Percival will be on the cover of the game program tomorrow for Princeton's home game against Lehigh. Kickoff is at 1.

This is Princeton's final non-league game of the season. After this will be six Ivy games in six weeks, including four at home.

Princeton is off to a sizzling start. The Tigers are 3-0 and ranked 23rd in the FCS, and none of their games have been particularly close.

In fact, the average score at halftime of a Princeton game so far has been 34.7-8.7, which is fairly ridiculous. So is the fact that Princeton has allowed 8.7 points per game, which means that Princeton has yet to give up a second-half point.

Princeton scored at least 30 in the first half of every game and average 48.7 per game. The Tigers have not committed a turnover. They have averaged 8.3 yards per play. That's also ridiculous.

You want more ridiculousness? Princeton averages 7.7 yards per rush. The average yardage on the ground per game is 323.

Princeton ranks second in the country in scoring offense and total offense, third in the country in scoring defense and team passing efficiency and fourth in rushing offense.

Were it Week 9, those numbers would suggest complete dominance. Now they suggest a team that is playing really well, with a lot of confidence and depth and with a long, long way to go.

Lehigh ranks 110th in the FCS in rushing defense, allowing more than 250 per game, but that's a bit misleading, as the Mountain Hawks have played Navy, as good a rushing team as there is. In fact, the Mids went for just short of 500 on the ground in that one.

Lehigh has definitely challenged itself this year, with games against nationally ranked (FCS) Villanova and also most recently against Penn, which the Quakers won 30-10 two weeks ago. The Mountain Hawks had an off week last week, so they should be fresh after that three-game gauntlet. The season began with a win over St. Francis (Pa.).

For Princeton, there will be a time this year - lots of them actually - when the score isn't lopsided and outcome isn't decided by halftime. It could certainly be tomorrow. Lehigh has won five of the last six and 13 of the last 17 meetings between the two.

As for the league race, everybody has played one Ivy game and two non-league games. Everybody has one of each the next two weeks before it becomes all Ivy games the final five weeks.

The four unbeatens are Princeton, Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale. That number falls by at least one this weekend, since Dartmouth is at Yale tonight. Harvard is at Cornell tomorrow in the other Ivy vs. Ivy game this weekend.

Princeton will be home next Saturday against Brown, also at 1. For this weekend, it's Lehigh.

It's another chance to see a team that's trying to build on an amazing start. And a chance to see, among others, Joe Percival, who is amazing in more ways than just as a defensive lineman.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

She Roars

So Princeton is sitting on 483 Ivy League championships all time. That's a lot.

How many of those are from women's teams? The answer would be 206. That's also a lot. Consider that Princeton's 206 women's championships are more than the total number between men and women of four of the other seven Ivy schools.

The Ivy League first started crowning champions in the 1956-57 academic year. The first women's championship was awarded in the 1973-74 academic year, and that was only one championship, in rowing, won by Radcliffe.

The following year, 1974-75, saw Radcliffe repeat in rowing and Princeton win its first championship by taking the Ivy women's basketball tournament. Those would be the only two championships for women that year, with three the next, when women's hockey joined the list.

Keep in mind that in those years, the Ivy League awarded 18 championships for men. TigerBlog wonders what that must have been like.

There figures to be a lot of women on the Princeton campus this weekend who could tell TB what it was like to be a Princeton athlete in the earliest days of women's teams. Or what it was like to be a student in the first few years of women's students at Princeton.

The occasion is "She Roars," a three-day conference celebrating the women of Princeton and their contributions to all walks of campus life, including athletics. Here are some other Princeton women's athletics numbers:

* all 18 Princeton varsity teams have won at least one championship since 2010, and all have won multiple championships in their program's history
* there have been 22 individual women's national champions
* there have been 33 team women's national champions
* there have been 35 Olympians
* there have been four Rhodes Scholars

That's an amazing record. In honor of the "She Roars" event, TigerBlog has also put together this timeline, with some of the highlights of Princeton women's athletic history. He apologizes to all the incredible athletes and teams not listed, since the timeline could have been three or four times longer:

Princeton women’s athletics timeline

April 12, 1971 – Princeton plays its first intercollegiate women’s athletic event, a tennis match against Penn; Princeton wins its first 39 dual matches

1971-72 – Princeton adds five more women’s varsity teams: basketball, field hockey, swimming and diving, squash, rowing.

1972 – Wendy Zaharko wins the individual squash national championship, the first national title ever by a Princeton woman, team or individual

1973 - Cathy Corcione, who swam in the 1968 Olympics as a 16 year old, wins the 100 butterfly and 100 free at the national championships and then teams with Jane Fremon, Barb Franks and Carol Brown to win the 200 free relay

1973 – lacrosse becomes a varsity sport

1975 – the women’s basketball wins Princeton’s first Ivy League championship by a women’s team; Princeton wins the first four Ivy League women’s basketball titles

1976 – Emily Goodfellow becomes the first (and still only) 12-letterwinner in Princeton Athletics history, male or female; Goodfellow won four letters each in field hockey, squash and lacrosse

1976 – Carol Brown becomes the first Princeton female athlete to win an Olympic medal when she wins bronze in the women’s 8 rowing in Montreal

1977 – volleyball becomes a varsity sport

1978-79 – cross country, track and field and hockey become varsity sports

1980 – soccer becomes a varsity sport

1982 – Princeton places seven runners in the top 125 at the national cross country championships

1982 –Princeton defeats No. 6 Mississippi and No. 5 Southern Methodist to finish in eighth place at the national tennis championships

1982 – softball becomes a varsity sport

1984 – Princeton wins the Howe Cup national championship for women’s squash for the 10th time in 12 years

1988 – women’s fencing becomes a varsity sport

1992 – women’s golf becomes a varsity sport

1994 – Princeton wins the first of its three NCAA women’s lacrosse championships, with titles also in 2002 and 2003

1995 – the softball team reaches the Women’s College World Series and returns the following year

1997 – water polo becomes a varsity sport

1998 – women’s lightweight rowing becomes Princeton’s 18th varsity women’s sport

2002 – Lauren Simmons finishes second in the 800 meters at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships

2003 – Princeton wins its fifth straight national championship in women’s lightweight rowing

2004 – Princeton reaches the NCAA women’s soccer Final Four, becoming the only Ivy League school to do so

2004 – Avery Kiser becomes Princeton’s only three-time Ivy League individual champion in women’s golf

2006 – Princeton wins the national championship in women’s open rowing

2009 – Princeton goes 1-2-3-4-5 at Heps cross country – something that has never been done before or since – and then goes on to finish fifth at the NCAA championships; the women’s cross country team wins five straight Heps titles from 2006-10

2010 - Alicia Aemisegger finishes her swimming career by finishing second at the NCAA championships in the 1,650 free; Aemisegger would be a 13-time All-America with nine top five NCAA finishes and 12 Ivy League individual or relay titles

2012 – Caroline Lind wins her second gold medal in women’s rowing at the London Games, becoming Princeton’s only female two-time Olympic gold medalist

2012 – Princeton wins the NCAA field hockey championship, the only time an Ivy League school has done so

2013 – Princeton wins the combined NCAA team championship in fencing

2014 – Julia Ratcliffe wins the hammer throw at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships, becoming the only individual NCAA champion in program history

2014- Mollie Marcoux Samaan, an All-Ivy League selection in soccer and hockey, becomes Princeton’s first-ever female Director of Athletics

2015 – Princeton finishes the regular season 30-0 in women’s basketball and records the program’s first ever NCAA tournament win

2015 – the women’s volleyball team rallies from an 0-3 start to win the Ivy League championship; Princeton repeats each of the next two years and is the favorite in the league for the current season

2015-16 – Princeton wins 10 Ivy League championships in women’s sports alone, becoming the only school ever to reach double figures in a single gender in one academic year

2016 – the women’s hockey team wins the Ivy title and earns an at-large NCAA tournament bid; the Tigers also advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2006

2016 – Ashleigh Johnson of the women’s water polo team wins an Olympic gold medal with the United States at the Rio Games; she becomes the only female ever to return to Princeton and compete after winning Olympic gold

2016 – the field hockey team reaches the NCAA Final Four in Year 1 under head coach Carla Tagliente

2017 - the women's soccer team defeats 21-time national champion North Carolina to advance to the NCAA quarterfinals

2018 – Fencers Maia Chamberlain and Kasia Nixon win NCAA individual championships in saber and epee

2018 – the women’s lacrosse team wins its fifth straight Ivy League championship

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Thinking About 42

TigerBlog used to watch a lot of baseball on TV.

Most recently, he was a huge fan of the Atlanta Braves, largely because of the fact that MotherBlog had lived in Atlanta before she passed away and that he and she had gone to a few games there. It didn't hurt that it was also right at the beginning of the Braves' dominance of the 1990s, or at least dominance of the National League that, sadly, turned into only one World Series title.

As an aside, TigerBlog is still bothered by the 1996 World Series loss to the Yankees. The Braves were the way better team that year. 

Back then, Braves games were on TBS, at least every night except for Wednesday, when they were on SportsSouth, the local Atlanta sports network that wasn't available on TB's own cable system.

Once TBS went away from televising the Braves, TigerBlog got less and less into watching. He's never been a Yankees fan, and he did like the Mets for awhile before he got into the Braves. If he had to pick a favorite team now, it would be the Phillies, but mostly because of Tom McCarthy, the former Princeton football and basketball announcer who is now the TV voice of the Phils - and whose son Patrick is a radio voice of Princeton football and men's basketball, among other things.

The Major League Baseball postseason has arrived, coming after a long regular season of which TigerBlog watched very little. In fact, TB watched way, way, way more of the World Cup and the World Men's Lacrosse Championships than he did of Major League Baseball.

He didn't even realize that the Braves, and not the Nationals, won the National League East. He was all set to root for the Nats in the postseason when he realized he could root for the Braves instead. He's not a Dodgers fan, so he'll root for them to lose. Oh, and the Brewers. He's okay with them.

He'll be rooting for the A's over the Yankees, of course, in the AL Wild Card game today. He might have rooted for the Cubs, but they just won a World Series.

He likes the Indians because of its Princeton connection, with general manager Mike Chernoff a former Tiger, Class of 2003. The Indians open with the Astros, and TB will definitely be rooting for the winner of that series against either the Red Sox or the Yankees-A's winner.
Major League Baseball has something in common with Princeton, besides Princeton's long history of sending players to professional baseball. What is it?

The number 42.

That was the number worn by Jackie Robinson when he broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. It was 50 years later that Major League Baseball announced it was retiring the number 42 across all of its teams in Robinson's honor.

It's the only number to be so honored in the sport.

At Princeton, the number 42 is also retired across all sports, and it is in fact that only number as well to be so honored. In Princeton's case, it's to honor two of the three most legendary athletes the school has ever seen, football player Dick Kazmaier and basketball player Bill Bradley.

The third? That's Hobey Baker, who played before uniforms had numbers, which must have made stat-keeping really, really difficult.

Kazmaier won the 1951 Heisman Trophy while leading Princeton to a second-straight unbeaten season. Playing in the single wing formation, Kazmaier could run or throw, and he did both extraordinarily well, throwing for 2,404 and rushing for 1,950 in his three years on the varsity.

Kazmaier came from a small Ohio town called Maumee as an undersized back who was the fifth-string on the freshman team. He went from that beginning to winning the Heisman by a record margin while also being named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.

Who were second and third that year in the AP voting? Golfer Ben Hogan and baseball player Stan Musial.

As for Bradley, he destroyed the Princeton men's basketball record book, putting up numbers in three years - with no three-point shot - that nobody has approached in more than 50 years.

Bradley is Princeton's all-time leader with 2,503 career points. The next-best total is 1,625, which is 878 points away. That's amazing.

Bradley also has Princeton's top 11 single-game point totals. He's the only player in program history to have a 40-point game (he had 11 of them). His 58 points in the 1965 Final Four consolation game against Wichita State still stands as the most ever in a Final Four game and the most in a Princeton game.

Perhaps most extraordinarily, Bradley never scored fewer than 16 points in a varsity game. That's insane.

Both were highly accomplished away from athletics, as Kazmaier passed on the NFL to embark on a long career in business and public service before he passed away five years ago and Bradley, a two-time NBA champion with the Knicks, was a three-term U.S. Senator from New Jersey who would run for President.

Princeton had sort of unofficially retired 42 long ago in football and men's basketball, and it became official in all sports 10 years ago. The ceremony was hosted by John McPhee, who had been Kazmaier's roommate at Princeton and whose first book was about Bradley and the 1965 Tigers entitled "A Sense Of Where You Are."

The last Princeton athlete, by the way, to wear the No. 42 was men's lacrosse player Greg Seaman, who already was No. 42 and who graduated in 2009.

Why bring all this up now?

TigerBlog is a big believer in history. He wonders how much of it the current generation of Princeton athletes knows or cares to know.

There is so much history here, and one of his roles is to make sure it doesn't get lost as more and more time goes along. Part of that is why he's written this today.

There should be no forgetting No. 42. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Taysom And Two Ties

TigerBlog has a new favorite NFL player.

His name is Taysom Hill, of the New Orleans Saints. Hill is essentially the back up quarterback, though he's on the field way more than your average NFL backup QB.

In fact, the Saints may be guilty of stealing from Princeton's playbook a bit, since Hill was on the field Sunday against the Giants on several plays when starting QB Drew Brees was as well. It was a lot like two years ago with Chad Kanoff and John Lovett, and it had something of the same effect.

TigerBlog's favorite play was when Hill, who was undrafted free agent from BYU who was originally signed by the Packers before being cut and landing on the Saints, lined up in the shotgun, with Brees wide to the right and a single running back, Alvin Kamara, next to Hill. The Giants, looking completely confused, had no idea what was coming next.

They were definitely thinking Hill was going to run it, or maybe flip it to Brees, who would then throw it. What happened? Simple handoff to Kamara, nine-yard touchdown run.

TigerBlog has seen Princeton do that a lot. Odd formations and personnel mess with the defense, and often the result is that the most simple play is the last thing the D sees coming.

During the broadcast, Tony Romo - who is great, but just needs to not drift into trying too hard to be funny - mentioned Hill's speed as a reason that the Saints liked him and now use him. In the game against the Giants, Hill threw a pass off a fake punt, carried four times for 18 yards and caught one pass. He would have had another completion, this for a TD, had the ball not been dropped in the end zone.

As TB watched Hill, he wondered if Lovett could be that kind of a player in the NFL. Lovett at 6-3, 230, is a little bigger than Hill. How fast is Lovett compared to Hill? Could he bring that same dimension?

It's a huge weapon to have, that's for sure. Maybe Lovett could be an NFL tight end, but TB likes to think he can be someone's Taysom Hill next year.

The biggest lock of the week was the 1-2 Patriots at home against the 3-0 Dolphins, where a loss would have dropped New England three games back in the division. Final score? New England 38, Miami 7.

One of these days, the Patriots won't be good.

The biggest Dolphins fan that TB knows is Jim Barlow, the men's soccer coach at Princeton. TigerBlog recently asked Barlow how he became a Miami fan growing up in Central New Jersey, and he said he jumped on the bandwagon after the perfect 1972 season.

Jim Barlow is nothing if not honest.

Barlow's team played its Ivy opener Saturday against Dartmouth on Sherrerd Field. Dartmouth, the defending league champion, went up 2-0 early, and it was looking like it might get away from the Tigers.

Instead, Dartmouth's starting goalkeeper got a red card, and Princeton, playing one man up the rest of the way, tied it with a pair of goals, both of which were orchestrated by Kevin O'Toole.

The first came just six minutes after junior Sean McGowan made his first appearance of the season. O'Toole, a sophomore who has also been injured this year, headed the ball to McGowan, who knocked it into the goal.

O'Toole then controlled a chip into the box and put it inside the far post, tying the score less than a minute before intermission.

Neither team scored after that, though Princeton came agonizingly close in the second OT, when Cole Morokhovich drilled one off the goalpost. Princeton outshot Dartmouth 26-19 for the game, and, while everyone would rather win, a tie against the defending champ when down 2-0 isn't an awful way to start the league season.

The men's game was the opener of a doubleheader Saturday. The women's game that followed saw the Tigers and Big Green tie again, this time 0-0.

Like the men, the women also hit the post in the second OT. Unlike the men, the women also put one in the net in the second OT, only to have it disallowed.

Princeton outshot Dartmouth 29-3 but just couldn't get one in. The result was a tie, and a 1-0-1 record after two league games.

How hard is it to go 7-0-0 in the league? After two weeks, there is exactly one team that is 2-0-0, and that's Columbia. Four others - Princeton, Dartmouth, Harvard and Penn - are all 1-0-1.

Princeton hosts Bucknell tonight in its final non-league game. After that are five games on five straight Saturdays, the first of which is this coming one at home against Brown at 4.

That game is the opener of the doubleheader, as the men will play the Bears at 7.

And of course both games are free.

Which is more than TB can say for the Taysom Hill jersey he saw for $149.00 on the Saints website. Oh well. He'll still root for him anyway.

Monday, October 1, 2018

A Pretty Much Perfect Friday Night

Today is the first day of October, which you may or may not have realized.

Sadly, it's getting darker earlier these days. Come Nov. 4, it'll be time to turn the clocks back an hour, and after that it'll be dark out even earlier than 5 in the afternoon. Yeah, that's no fun.

As it gets darker out, sometimes you lose track of what time it actually is. Take Friday night, for instance.

TigerBlog looked up and saw it was 7:50, which hardly seemed possible at that moment for some reason. Then he did some quick math, realizing that it was halftime of a football game that had begun at 6 and so yeah, it really was closing in on 8.

That football game was Princeton-Columbia, the Ivy opener for both. It matched a pair of teams who had started the season with two non-league wins, and it figured to be a good barometer of where both teams stood in the context of the coming league race.

As it turned out, if you're a Princeton fan, Friday night was perfect in a lot of ways. Final score: Princeton 45, Columbia 10.

For all of the big numbers Princeton put up, and TigerBlog will get to those shortly, consider that Princeton put up 45 points on one of the top defenses in the FCS on a night when Jesper Horsted - as big a weapon as there is anywhere - had 23 yards on two receptions.

A week earlier, Horsted caught three touchdown passes against Monmouth. The week before that, he caught two against Butler. He's Princeton's career leader in receiving touchdowns. For Princeton to put up 45 points on a night when Horsted didn't reach the end zone says a lot.

One player who did get there was Stephen Carlson, who caught five passes for 86 yards to go along with two receiving touchdowns.

Carlson has had a remarkable career. He's 6-4, 230 and agile, with great hands. He has 15 career touchdown receptions, and only four players in program history have more. One is Roman Wilson, who is one ahead of Carlson.

The other three are Horsted, the career leader with 20, and then Derek Graham (19) and Kevin Guthrie (also 16). That's it. That's the entire list ahead of Carlson.

TigerBlog watched Graham and Guthrie play for Princeton in the early 1980s, and for all the time since, he thought he'd never see a better tandem. Horsted and Carlson? They're different, and the game is different. But you can make a case for them.

Meanwhile, back at the gaudy numbers, Princeton has, in three games, scored 44, 30 and 30 points - in the first half. Think about that. Also, Princeton has yet to allow a second half point.

Columbia came into the game this weekend ranked second in the FCS in rushing defense, allowing 35 per game. Princeton got more than 10 times that amount, with 360 yards on the ground alone.

The game was 30-10 at the half, which meant it was pretty much over by then. Any doubt was erased when Collin Eaddy went 66 yards for a touchdown on Princeton's first third-quarter possession.

The straw that stirred the drink, as Reggie Jackson used to say about himself, was once again John Lovett though. Lovett was just a force who overwhelmed the game.

For the night, the Tiger quarterback put up 174 rushing yards while scoring two of his own TDs on the ground, to go with the two he threw to Carlson. This came one week after he was named national Player of the Week by two different outlets.

In Lovett, you have a quarterback who is built like a linebacker, who can throw for 332 yards and five touchdowns one week and then run for 174 and two TDs the next and who has a league Player of the Year award already on his resume. That's quite a weapon.

Through three weeks of the season, every team in the league has played one league game, which means four 1-0 teams (Princeton, Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale). Princeton has Lehigh at home this Saturday at 1, and then it's six straight Ivy games as the sprint to a championship chase begins.

As TB said, it's October now. The Ivy championship will be won in November.

As for September, you can't win a championship then, and Princeton has hardly done that. Still, it was a 3-0 month, one that ended with a perfect Friday night.