Thursday, February 14, 2019

Making Points

TigerBlog did three podcasts in three hours yesterday.

First he spoke to Courtney Banghart, the head women's basketball coach. Then it was Matt Madalon, who did his first podcast of 2019 in advance of the opening game of his men's lacrosse team's season. And lastly, there was Chris Sailer, whose women's lacrosse team also opens its season this Saturday.

Good thing TB likes to hear his own voice.

As TB said, even if you didn't realize it, lacrosse season is here. The men open their season at Monmouth Saturday at 1, while the women are home against Temple at the same time.

Meanwhile, TB is a big fan of the podcasts. They're easy to do, and they are a really good way for fans of a team to get to hear directly from the coach.

When TB asks questions, he's trying to get into the psyche of coaching and see how it differs from that of a fan. How do coaches see things? What are they thinking?

They've certainly been well-received, and not just the ones that TB has been doing. There have also been ones in wrestling, football and men's basketball.

After TB and Courtney finished talking yesterday, she asked him how far away Bella was from the record. TB knew what she meant.

How far away was Bella Alarie from the school record for points in a career?

This was in contrast to when she asked TB Monday how far Bella was from the record. That record was most Ivy Player of the Week awards in a career.

For that, Alarie is currently tied for second all-time in Ivy women's basketball history with Princeton's Niveen Rasheed with 14 selections, trailing only Allison Feaster of Harvard, who had 21 before graduating in 1998.

When TB finished talking with Chris Sailer, it dawned on him that the three coaches he had just interviewed were all running programs who have current athletes who are going to make serious runs at the existing records for career points. In fact two of them are on a pace to destroy the existing records.

Beyond that, two of the three teams have all-time records that have stood the test of time.

Let's start with Bella Alarie. The record for points in a career for women's basketball is currently 29 years old, having been set by Sandi Bittler (now Leland) in 1990. Bittler, one of the best three-point shooters in Ivy League history, scored 1,683 points in her career.

Alarie, who has been on an insane scoring pace of late, has 1,037 points for her career, which leaves her 646 away from Bittler. Princeton has nine regular season games remaining this year and then 28 more next year, so if you use those 37 games, then Alarie would need to average 17.5 per game to catch Bittler.

If you throw in a few Ivy tournament games and a postseason game or two, then that number drops a bit.

Will Alarie get there? Well, she's averaging 29.0 points per game in the league so far and has been borderline unstoppable of late. The record for average points per game in an Ivy season, by the way, is 27.8, set by Feaster in 1998.

Then there are the lacrosse teams.

The records for career points in men's and women's lacrosse have stood for a combined 27 years. That's 25 years for Kevin Lowe on the men's side and two for Olivia Hompe on the women's.

Hompe had 282 points in her career before graduating two years ago. Sophomore Kyla Sears had 83 points last year as a freshman, which, if she does three more times, would give her 332, or 50 more than Hompe had.

Sears is also on pace for 256 goals. Hompe has the record for that too, with 1995.

Should Sears get to 256 goals, that would give her more goals than any Princeton men's lacrosse player has ever had points. Think about that. For all of the great men's lacrosse players Princeton has had, nobody has ever had more points than she would have goals. That's extraordinary.

Of course, that doesn't take into account the probability that there is someone who is chasing down the men's record that has stood all this time. Kevin Lowe, a US Lacrosse Hall of Famer, finished his career with 247 points, the final one on a goal in overtime in the 1994 NCAA championship game against Virginia.

Again, for all of the great players at Princeton in the last 25 years, the closest anyone else has come has been Ryan Boyle with 232.

Now, though, is the start of the junior year for Michael Sowers, who had a school-record 82 as a freshman and then another school-record 83 as a sophomore. That's 165 after two years, which leaves him, hmmm, 82 away from tying Lowe and 83 away from beating him.

And that's this year. If you double the 165, that takes you to 330.

Alarie, of course, missed nine games this year due to injury. If that happens to Sowers or Sears, then that changes the equation and all.

On the other hand, if they all stay healthy, Alarie continues to score like she has of late and Sowers and Sears continue to score like they have their whole careers?

Well, you can say that those three may just do a bit of a Bill Bradley type of thing on their own team's record books. 

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