Friday, December 9, 2016

A Grand Night For Spencer Weisz

TigerBlog did not get a lot of sleep Tuesday night, so he knew the odds that he would make it all the way through the Princeton-Hawaii men's basketball game, with its tip after 9:30 Wednesday night, were pretty slim.

He thought maybe halftime at first. Then it became clearer that the second media timeout would be more likely.

He's not sure exactly when he drifted off. He does know two things: 1) Princeton was in control by then and 2) he heard the Princeton University institutional spot.

You know the one. It's the one that's on most TV games in which Princeton plays. The really, really well-narrated one.

Okay, it's TigerBlog who did the narrating. Whether it is award-winning or not, TigerBlog can state that he did it in one take. That has to mean something.

He did see the pregame show for the game.

It was Dec. 7, in Pearl Harbor, on the 75th anniversary of the attack that brought the U.S. into World War II. As TB watched Princeton, with its white long-sleeve shooting shirts on one end of the court, and Hawaii, in its green warmup at the other, his attention was diverted by something amazing on the bottom of the screen.

The game was on Fox Sports 1, and there was a crawl along the bottom, as there is for basically every sports or news channel. It's hard to focus on the crawl and the main part of the screen, and the viewer has to choose which to follow at any given moment.

In many ways, these crawls become nothing more than a distraction, since they are everywhere now. And they're usually just promotions of upcoming events on that network, or a repeat of scores or headlines that you've already seen.

Before the Princeton-Hawaii game, though, it was much different. It was an alphabetical scroll of names, and TB at first wasn't sure what it was. Then it hit him.

These were the names of those killed at Pearl Harbor 75 years earlier to the day.

TigerBlog isn't sure who came up with the idea for doing it. Whoever that person is, he/she deserves a lot of credit for doing it.

Of all of the remembrances for the Pearl Harbor attack that TB saw, this was by far the most powerful.

As for the game, Princeton made shots. It changes everything.

The Tigers were 6 for 26 from three-point range Tuesday night against Cal in a 62-51 loss. They were 10 for 24 from three against Hawaii in the 75-62 win Wednesday night.

In the thigs-that-are-interesting department, Hawaii and Cal both scored 62 points, and both shot exactly the same from three (4 for 19).

Spencer Weisz scored 17 points in the game, leaving him at exactly 1,000 points for his career. He becomes the 31st player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark.

Weisz, by the way, was one of three Princeton players (along with Steven Cook and Devin Cannady) to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before the game, alongside three players from Hawaii.

What makes the accomplishment more impressive is that Weisz is not a pure scorer. He is a tremendous all-around player who, as such, can do everything on the court well. He is a winning player, one who inspires a lot of confidence whenever he has the ball or is involved in the moment.

TigerBlog always likes to think of historical comparisons for current players. In the case of Weisz, the player he most reminds TB of from Princeton teams of the past is Sydney Johnson, another player who went over 1,000 points while also being able to do everything else on the court well. By the way, that's high praise for Weisz.

Actually, the numbers Weisz puts up might be somewhat unique.

If he maintains his current career averages for just the rest of the regular season (not counting any Ivy League tournament or postseason games), Weisz would finish with 574 rebounds and 335 assists, to go along with 1,218 points.

You know who the last Princeton player with at least those minimums was? Nobody. No Princeton player has ever had at least 1,000 points, let alone 1,200, to go along with 574 rebounds and 335 assists.

The only Princeton player with at least 1,000 points, 525 rebounds and 300 assists is Kit Mueller, for that matter.

Another fascinating thing about Weisz and his 1,000 points is that he is not the first Princeton player to reach that mark in Hawaii. Or the second. Or even the third.

TigerBlog was there when Gabe Lewullis got to 1,000 at the 1998 Rainbow Classic at the University of Hawaii's Sheriff Center. Women's players Maggie Langlas and Kate Thirolf both went over 1,000 in Hawaii as well - in the same game on the same court, though one year later.

Princeton is back on the mainland, in Virginia actually, to take on Liberty tomorrow at 2. The Tigers will also be home against St. Joe's Wednesday in a game that has been moved to 5.

Princeton will also be home this weekend in hockey (men tonight at 7 against Quinnipiac, women home tomorrow and Sunday against Mercyhurst). There will be home wrestling tomorrow (2 against Binghamton) and men's and women's track and field (New Year's Invitational all day).

Before the weekend starts, TigerBlog would like to congratulate Spencer Weisz. With all of the great men's basketball players who have played here, only 31 have gotten to 1,000.

And he'd also like to congratulate whoever's idea it was to run the names of those killed at Pearl Harbor 75 years ago.

It was very respectful.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

It's December, Which Starts With D

TigerBlog is a huge fan of Christmas music.

By his count, he has 57 songs on his iTunes that he would count as Christmas songs. This is a pretty high number, especially considering TigerBlog's people don't celebrate Christmas, at least not as a religious holiday.

This, of course, is the heart of Christmas season. Every other commercial is about Christmas (it seems that the other half are about how to treat a cold). The parking lot at the mall is jammed every time TB drives by. The Hallmark channel is wall-to-wall happy, uplifting, true-love-conquers-all, everyone-has-a-cute-dog Christmas movies.

And of course, the music.

TigerBlog had dinner with TigerBlog Jr. the other day and at one point went to the men's room. While he was in there, Christmas music was being piped in. It's literally everywhere.  

TigerBlog's favorite Christmas song? It's no contest - "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band version. Actually, by his count, Santa Claus came to town three times yesterday, as TB heard Bruce's and two others, including one by Frank Sinatra that he'd never heard before.

What are his other favorites? TB also loves "The Christmas Song," with the Nat King Cole version just ahead of the Linda Eder version. Oh, and the Dean Martin rendition of "Silver Bells." And "Merry Christmas Darling" by the Carpenters.

 And apologies to the late Bing Crosby. How could TB forget "White Christmas." And "The Carol of the Bells," Trans-Siberian Orchestra version.

And lots and lots of others. 

There are radio stations that are in 24-hour holiday music mode. One even goes commercial free from Thanksgiving to Christmas, playing nothing but Christmas music.

This got TigerBlog to thinking. As he said, he has 57 songs on his iTunes that he would consider to be Christmas songs, and he figured out that the average length of those 57 songs is 2:20. It might not be completely scientific, but maybe it is - the average Christmas song is does seem to be shorter than most regular songs.

So let's go with 2:20 per song. If you play a different song every 2:20 or so for one day, then your station will be playing 617 songs in those 24 hours.

How many Christmas songs are there? How many versions of each?

No wonder TB heard "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" so many times (it was actually four times in a little more than 24 hours). If you need to get 617 songs out there each day, there are bound to be repeats.

Today is December 8, which means that Christmas is just 17 days away. It's a slow time of the athletic year around here, and there are a total of 20 Princeton events between now and then, of which seven are basketball games and five are men's hockey games, four of which are at Baker Rink.

The women's basketball team has only one more home game between now and Christmas. That'll be on Dec. 21, against Wagner. That's another Wednesday evening game, with another 6 pm start. TigerBlog loves the 6 pm start.

Princeton played one of its mid-week 6 pm games last night and defeated Lafayette 65-27.

It was Princeton's first game in December, and it continued the late November defensive push for the Tigers.The numbers tell most of the story.

The Tigers started the season at 0-4, as opponents averaged 63.5 points per game. Since then, Princeton has gone 4-0, which, if TB's math is correct, leaves the Tigers back at .500.

And in the four-game winning streak?

Princeton's four opponents have averaged 46.5 points per game during the winning streak. The math on this one is a little tougher, but TB thinks that's a 17-point reduction from the first four games.

And opposing shooting percentages? Here they are:
Rutgers - 20.4
UMBC - 41.5
Seton Hall - 36.5
Lafayette - 21.2

Princeton's defense was great against Lafayette last night. The 27 points the Tigers gave up equals the fewest Princeton has allowed in the Courtney Banghart era, along with a 78-27 win over Penn in 2011.

Princeton allowed nine points in the first quarter, nine points in the second quarter and then just nine more points in the entire second half. TB wonders if a team has ever held an opponent to fewer single digits in all four quarters since women's basketball went to four quarters last year.

Had it not been for an off-balance leaner from just inside the three-point line as time expired, Princeton would have shut Lafayette out in the third quarter. For the second half Princeton held Lafayette to 15.4 percent shooting.

The Tigers also had three players in double figures, led by Tia Weledji's 20 points in 25 minutes. Taylor Brown had 14, and Vanessa Smith had 11.

Up next for Princeton are a pair of teams that are a combined 15-3, both on the road, as the Tigers head to Fordham Saturday and then unbeaten Kansas State next Sunday. Those will be big-time challenges.
 For Princeton, the key is to be ready to be playing its best come March, and the first Ivy League tournament.

Banghart and top assistant Milena Flores have taken Princeton to the NCAA tournament in six of the last seven years. The list of 1,000-point scorers in that time is a long one, but the real common denominator has been defensive effort.

At one point during the third quarter last night, Princeton got yet another a stop and brought the ball up the court. As the play went past the Princeton bench, TB looked over at Banghart to see if she was smiling.

She wasn't. Not outwardly anyway, but it didn't matter.

TigerBlog knows that a defensive performance like the one her team was giving makes Banghart very, very happy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dec. 7, 1941

TigerBlog remembers every detail of Sept. 11, 2001. He'll never forget any of it - the horror, the fear, the sadness, the uncertainty of what would come next.

He imagines the same for those who were in TB's stage of life back when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, back on Dec. 7, 1941.

That was 75 years ago today.

Within four days, the United States was at war, both against Japan and against Nazi Germany and Italy. By the time the World War II would end, more than 16 million Americans would have fought in either the Pacific or Europe. Of that number, nearly 700,000 would be wounded and more than 400,000 killed.

By contrast, in the entirety of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since the Sept. 11 attacks, there have been approximately 7,000 American military deaths and 50,000 military personnel wounded in more than four times as long World War II lasted. Those numbers are tragic in their own right; the numbers from World War II are essentially 10 times higher in a quarter of the time.

The final major battle of World War II was the Battle of Okinawa, which lasted basically six weeks. The U.S. losses in just that amount of time were 12,500 killed and 38,000 wounded.

Can you imagine if those casualty figures existed today?

The attack on Pearl Harbor came on a Sunday morning and left the U.S. with 2,400 dead and 1,200 wounded even before war was even officially declared. That's also roughly the same number of American military personnel who have been killed since 2001 in Iraq.

TigerBlog was in Hawaii in December of 1998, for the Rainbow Classic men's basketball tournament. In all of his time working at Princeton, that remains one of his best memories.

Princeton won the tournament, defeating Florida State, Texas and UNC Charlotte on three straight nights. For TigerBlog, the fact that Princeton kept winning meant that the team kept playing at night, instead of in the consolation rounds of the eight-team tournament, which would have meant games in the afternoon.

As a result, TB and Tom McCarthy, then the radio play-by-play man, were able to get into a good routine - go to the University of Hawaii athletic department to update information in the morning (this was before laptops and wireless internet devices), head to the beach, each lunch at Duke's on Waikiki Beach, back to the beach and then get ready for the game.

You can see why the trip was so good. And that doesn't even take into account the trip to Hawaii, when TB and McCarthy were the last two people to get on the flight to Honolulu after getting in late from Newark to San Francisco and had an entire 747 filled with impatient travelers who wanted to get to Hawaii boo them as they walked on.

At one point during their week in Hawaii, TB and McCarthy went to Pearl Harbor. As you get off the highway, there's a sign that points in both directions, with one arrow towards "Aloha Stadium" and the other towards "Pearl Harbor."

As you get to Pearl Harbor, it's impossible to look up and out and not envision the Japanese bombers as they came out of the peaceful Sunday air, bringing destruction both instant and long-lasting.

TigerBlog remembers that it gave him chills. It was surreal, knowing what had happened there so many years before. It was a typical Hawaiian day when TB was there, which means perfect weather, and it seemed so out of place with what happened there.

And the USS Arizona memorial? It's one of the most somber places TB has ever been. It was like nobody who was there wanted to do the slightest thing that might be seen as being disrespectful to those who died there. 

Princeton's men's basketball team is back in Hawaii right now. They're actually playing in a tournament at Pearl Harbor, whose first game was last night against Cal, with a game tonight against Hawaii. When TB was there, the games were on Hawaii's campus.

The games this week are actually at Bloch Arena, which opened at Pearl Harbor in August of 1941. The tournament is to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack.

It's an honor for Princeton to participate in such an event.  

You know what Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the President of the United States at the time, said after the Pearl Harbor attack. He called Dec. 7, 1941, a "day that will live in infamy."

He was right, obviously.

TigerBlog wasn't around in 1941. He was in 2001.

He doesn't want anyone to ever forget what happened on either of those days.

They're way too important for that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Making HIstory, With John Lovett And Bella Alarie

TigerBlog and Miss TigerBlog walked up to the house the other day to find a box next to the front door.

As TB went to unlock the door, MTB stood there and waited to go inside, which led to this question from father to daughter: Are you actually going to pretend that you don't see the package sitting there?

TigerBlog is about 99 percent sure that had he not said anything, she would not have taken the package inside.

As for TB's other child, TigerBlog Jr. has had TB's car at college, since TB had to take TBJ's car in to get inspected by the end of November. TigerBlog saw his son over the weekend, so they were able to switch cars back.

TB asked his son if the car was clean, and TBJ assured him it was. Then he paused and added two words "sort of."

The final count: six empty water bottles, a box of Fiber One bars, a bunch of Hershey's Kisses wrappers, one unwrapped Life Saver, a few empty random supermarket bags, nearly $3 in change and a few gas receipts. Oh, and four Sacred Heart University parking violations.

So, yeah, sort of.

Actually, though, it could have been worse, TB supposes. 

Meanwhile back at Princeton Athletics, TigerBlog would like to talk about two athletes who have made some history lately.

Yesterday was the day for the Bushnell Cup presentations for the Ivy League offensive and defensive Players of the Year, held as always as the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan. The Bushnell Cup used to be given to just one player (or in a few cases, co-players) before it was split to have a winner on each side of the ball in 2011.

For the first five years of the award, no school had produced the two winners. TigerBlog went into yesterday's announcement hoping for a Princeton sweep, as John Lovett and Penn's Justin Watson were the offensive finalists and Kurt Holuba and Dartmouth's Folarin Orimolade were the defensive finalists. 

As it turned out, Princeton would get only one, Lovett, who along with Orimolade were named the winners. This takes nothing away from Holuba, who is up there with any defensive lineman TigerBlog has seen at Princeton.

Lovett had an incredible season for the Tigers, who went 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the league to earn the 11th Ivy League championship in program history. Among his many accomplishments are the school record for

There are not too many players who can do the things that Lovett can. His numbers are insane, and they don't really measure the impact he has on the field.

But hey, let's consider them anyway. Lovett had at least one rushing touchdown, one pass completion and one pass reception in every game this year. In five of Princeton's 10 games, he rushed for at least two touchdowns and threw at least one TD pass.

He finished the year with a school-record 20 rushing touchdowns, while adding a receiving touchdown and throwing 10 touchdown passes.

TigerBlog looked up how many Division I football players this season have at least 20 rushing touchdowns and at least 10 passing touchdowns.

The answer is two.

One is Lovett, who had 20 rushing touchdowns (and one receiving touchdown just for fun) as well as 10 touchdown passes.

The other is Louisville's Lamar Jackson, who has thrown for 30 touchdowns and run for 21.

And that's the whole list. Jackson, by the way, has been the Heisman Trophy favorite for most of the year.

Also, no player in Division II has done it. Tyler Johnson of Alfred (24 passing TDs, 20 rushing TDs) is the only Division III player who has done it.

Beyond that, what Lovett does is 

In addition, with some help from his colleagues Warren Croxton and Andrew Borders, TigerBlog did a little research about women's basketball freshman Bella Alarie's numbers from the Tigers' last game.

Alarie, a freshman on the women's basketball team, put up 26 points, 15 rebounds and six assists in the 94-67 win over the Pirates last Wednesday. The question? When was the last time a Princeton player had at least 26 points, 15 rebounds and six assists in a game.

The answers?

For the men, the answer is never.

At no point in Princeton's prestigious men's basketball history has a player ever had a game with at least 26 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. Not once. It took Alarie seven games of her freshman year.

Impressive, no?

What about the women's side? Well, there it's a little murkier, since the records aren't complete. It's impossible to say with complete certainty that it's never happened before, but no record of such a performance exists.

There's never been a "triple-double" in Princeton basketball history. Ellen Devoe came the closest, with 29 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocks against Rider on Feb. 25, 1984. She didn't have six assists though. She did have 26 points, 14 rebounds and six assists against Lehigh earlier that season. That's one rebound short.

CB Tomasiewicz and Margaret Meier each had a game with at least 20 points and at least 20 rebounds in the 1970s. They didn't have six assists, but those are still wild numbers.

Meanwhile, back at Alarie, that a ridiculous stat line, especially for a freshman.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Ice Cream, Like The Music, Will Live Forever

If you didn't have your glasses on or just glanced quickly, it might have been a fairly confusing headline.

The first word was "Springsteen." The last word was "died." So yeah, it did require a little shaking of the head and concentration.

As it turned out, the entire headline was "Springsteen favorite: Founder of Jersey Freeze Has Died."

The story, in the Asbury Park Press, was about the death of Carlton Blackmore, not about the legendary rocker. Blackmore was 99, so he had a pretty good run.

His business is still going strong, there on Route 9, across the street from the Freehold Mall, near Freehold Raceway.

Jersey Freeze goes back to 1952. TigerBlog doesn't go back quite that far, but he and Jersey Freeze go back to his earliest days.

Jersey Freeze has lasted through four generations of his family, as his grandparents took him there, his parents took him there, he took himself there and he's taken his children there.

TigerBlog's favorite when he was a kid was the chocolate brownie sundae. He actually went there as a high school senior, in his couldn't-be-cooler 1977 Dodge Diplomat, and spilled just such a sundae all over a young lady he had taken there.

Since then, when he's there, he'll usually go with either the soft ice cream in a cup or a milk shake. He's still not over spilling the sundae.

TigerBlog isn't sure he ever met Mr. Blackmore. He did help keep him business all these years as best he could.

Much like Springsteen himself, Mr. Blackmore has created something that will endure. The ice cream, like the music, will live forever.

TigerBlog has always had the theory that weather should not impact consumption of two things. Put simply, it's never too cold for ice cream or too hot for soup.

Around these parts, it's still fall on the calendar, but it's now winter on the sports schedule.

The final event of the fall season was Friday night, when the women's volleyball team played at BYU in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers didn't win, but they did, as Pete Carril always would say, give a good account of themselves.

Princeton definitely pushed the heavily favored Cougars, falling 3-0 but with scores of 25-22, 25-15, 25-23.

If you want to see how the trip went for Princeton, there are some good videos on the women's volleyball page on goprincetontigers.com. Click HERE to see them.

Before letting volleyball season go, TigerBlog would like to mention two things:

1) his colleague Craig Sachson wrote a great guest blog Friday about head coach Sabrina King and 2) that was a great season that the Tigers just put together. They went wire-to-wire in the Ivy League, won the big matches they needed to, closed it out in the end in dramatic fashion with the win over Cornell after trailing 5-0 in the fifth and then did a really solid job in the NCAA tournament.

So congratulations to Princeton women's volleyball. And with a very young team and one of Princeton's best coaches, the future looks pretty good.

And TigerBlog isn't just saying that because Sabrina gave him one of those great long-sleeve "Princeton Volley" orange t-shirts.

The men's hockey team was the only team that was home this past weekend, which is a fairly rare occurrence around here.

Princeton started its season at 0-6-1 but is now 3-1-0 in its last four, after sweeping Bemidji State last weekend in Minnesota and now splitting at home with Union and RPI this past weekend.

Princeton was done in by a bad second period against Union Friday night, when the Dutchmen score five of their goals in the 7-3 win. The seventh goal, by the way, came as time expired.

It looked like it was heading to a lost weekend for the Tigers when they trailed RPI 4-1 midway through the second period. Actually, it wasn't looking great when it was 2-0 RPI less than three minutes into the game.

It was still 5-3 RPI until David Hallisey made it a one-goal game with 5:39 left and then Ryan Kuffner tied it with just 46 seconds left.

The game-winner in OT was originally credited to Josh Teves but instead was changed to Jackson Cressey, but it hardly mattered who was the one who scored it. All that mattered was that Princeton had a win and some momentum.

The RPI game featured 11 goals, of which eight were power-play goals, including the one in overtime. For Princeton it was the first time it had won a game while allowing at least five goals since a 6-5 win over Cornell in the 1999 ECAC playoffs.

Also for Princeton, Max Veronneau scored four goals this weekend after not having any for the year before that. His four goals and three assists tied him for the national lead in points for this weekend.

Next up for the Tigers will be a home-and-home this weekend with Quinnipiac, at Baker Rink Friday and in Connecticut Saturday.

And that's your Monday.

Volleyball. Hockey.

And ice cream. Really, really good ice cream.

And if she's out there reading this, TigerBlog is sorry he spilled the sundae on you. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Guest TigerBlog - The Soul Of Princeton Volleyball Returns To Provo

TigerBlog was standing beyond the baseline at the start of the women's basketball game against Seton Hall Wednesday night when he saw a familiar face. Actually two familiar faces. One was Peter Farrell's, who retired last year after 39 years as the women's track and field and cross country coach. The other was his wife Shane's.

Peter and Shane just got back from France. Apparently the food there is good, or at least that's what they said. And it seems like the French like their wines too. How was Portugal, Peter asked TB. What was the first thing TB said? Of course. He told Peter how he ziplined from one country to another.

TigerBlog still can't believe he did it. He still can't believe he went out that little door. It actually was one month ago today, as TB thinks about it. Time flies, huh?

Two of TigerBlog's biggest phobias for years and years were fear of heights and Triskaidekaphobia, which is fear of the number 13. He feels like he's gone a long way to conquering both.  

As for the weekend in Princeton Athletics, there are only two home events, both in men's hockey, where the Tigers will host Union tonight and RPI tomorrow night. Princeton comes in having swept Bemidji State, who dropped from 10th in the country to 13th in the country after the Tigers' 3-1 and 4-1 wins in Minnesota.

Also tonight, a little more than 2,000 miles away, it'll be Princeton at BYU in the opening round of the NCAA women's volleyball tournament.

Princeton won the Ivy League championship, going wire-to-wire, and now the Tigers take on the 10th-ranked Cougars as a reward. The match begins at 9 Eastern time (7 local) and can be seen on ESPN3.

Princeton is in the NCAA tournament for the sixth time overall and first since 2007. The Tigers have the Ivy League Player of the Year (Cara Mattaliano), Rookie of the Year (Maggie O'Connell) and Coach of the Year (Sabrina King). BYU, the West Coast Conference champ, is 27-3.

TigerBlog's colleague Craig Sachson is with the Tigers in Utah. He's been with Princeton volleyball for a long time, and it's enabled him to get to know the head coach better than most. 

Craig reports on her in today's guest TB:

The The Soul of Princeton Volleyball is back in Provo.

Sabrina King came here in 1999 as the Ivy League Player of the Year, the driving force for a Tiger team that won its second Ivy title in three years. She would make the NCAAs her senior year as well, then return to the program to help them to two more tournaments.

She returns now as the two-time Ivy League Coach of the Year, a woman who has relentlessly pushed her beloved program back to the top of the league, where it typically stood during her playing days.

Counting tonight’s match, Princeton has made the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament six times. King will have been a member of five of those teams, over three different decades.

She may be as recognizable a part of her team as anybody at Princeton — one of the program’s all-time best players, a veteran assistant and a two-time Coach of the Year — but it’s the way she arrived at this point that tells the story of Sabrina King.

Back in the days of media guides — in that crazy world before the internet — legendary Princeton head coach Glenn Nelson said his star outside hitter could have played anywhere in the country if she was six inches taller. There isn’t a player on the current team shorter than King, and there also isn’t a player within 250 kills of her career total, including two-time Ivy League Player of the Year Cara Mattaliano, who just finished one of the great single-season performances in program history.

King was smart, driven and relentless as a player (third in career kills, third in career digs, fifth in career aces). She loved the team enough that she couldn’t stay away for more than a couple years, so King became Nelson’s full-time assistant for seven years.

King handled all the recruiting at that point, which ultimately resulted in Princeton’s 2007 Ivy title team, the first in league history to go undefeated in Ivy play. She stepped away when Nelson retired; before she left, though, she helped recruit a men’s class — yes, a men’s class — that pushed the team to its first EIVA championship appearance in 12 years.

Once again, the separation was brief. King and Tiger Volleyball belong together; they bring out the best in each other.

For the first five years of her head coaching tenure, King's assistant coach was Sam Shweisky, whose passion for the sport is unquestioned. Still, he is the men’s head coach as well, and that was his focus once the women’s season ended.

Thus, guess who handled every aspect of the program — including the rigors of the full recruiting calendar?

Thanks to the generous contributions from the Friends of Princeton Volleyball, King was able to hire a full-time assistant coach over the winter in Tyler Hagstrom, and a dedicated volunteer coach in Desma Colburn has aided her over the last two seasons.

Make no mistake, though. This roster — especially a freshman class that started three players on this 2016 title team and sent each to the All-Ivy League squad — belongs to King. If she took a moment to bask in the glory, or to seek a little praise, she would be well within her rights.

Don’t hold your breath, though.

Sabrina King celebrates the successes of her peers without complaining about advantages that she didn’t have. She appreciates the assistance anybody provides, whether it should be expected or not. She is a fiery competitor, a proven leader and as good a person as you’ll find.

She’ll walk back on to the court in Provo tonight, 17 years later, a champion again.

An underdog for sure, but so what?

Been there, overcome that.

And she’s done it with the type of class and dignity that should make Princeton proud of one of its own.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

What A Day This Has Been

TigerBlog can't help but wonder how many people back in 1947 bought tickets for the Broadway musical about the leprechaun from Ireland and the Scottish town that appears once every 100 years and got all confused.

"Finian's Rainbow," the story of a man and his daughter from Ireland who move to the U.S. to bury a pot of gold near Fort Knox before a leprechaun can recover it, and "Brigadoon," the story of a Scottish town that appears for one day every 100 years, opened on Broadway within two months of each other in the winter of 1947.

That had to confuse someone at some point, right?  Two light, breezy musicals with the Irish/Scottish backdrop?

"Hey, honey, I got tickets for that show you wanted to see. That musical you heard is really great, with the Scottish leprechaun and the town and those songs."
"Bridagdoon?"
"Uh, no. It says 'Finian's Rainbow.' "

That same year, 1947, was the first year for the Tony Awards, which honor the best of Broadway for each season. There was no Best Musical that year, but there was a tie for Best Choreographer - Agnes de Mille for "Brigadoon" and Michael Kidd for "Finian's Rainbow."

Or was it the other way around? Either way, this has to be the most confusing set of musicals ever to cross paths. 

The most famous song from either show is "Almost Like Being In Love," which may actually be in both. No. It's only in "Brigadoon."

There were movie versions of each, of course. The movie of "Brigadoon" stars Gene Kelly (a TigerBlog favorite) and Cyd Charisse.

The movie version of "Finian's Rainbow" starred Fred Astaire and Petula Clark. What TB didn't realize is that it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

The year was 1968. In an 11-year period, Coppola would also produce "American Graffiti," write the screenplay for "Patton," direct and write the screenplay for "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II" and write, produce and direct "Apocalypse Now."

That's quite a run.

TigerBlog heard "Old Devil Moon" from "Finian's Rainbow" yesterday (he has a version of it by Frank Sinatra), and TB, nearly 70 years after the openings on Broadway, was confused by the two musicals. In fact, for a little while, he thought "Finian's Rainbow" was the one about the Scottish town and couldn't even remember the name "Brigadoon."

TigerBlog prides himself on his ability to remember things. You know, like the name of Ryan Boyle's dog 14 years later.

He was starting to doubt himself a little until his colleague Warren Croxton came in to talk about the women's basketball team's game against UMBC the other day, a game in which Princeton made 14 three-pointers to set a school single-game record.

TigerBlog told Warren that he remembered a game in 1995 when the men's team set a school record with 14 three-pointers, a game played at Fresno State. Current head coach Mitch Henderson, TB said, was 6 for 15 from three in that game.

Then TB looked it up, and he was right. Then he wasn't sure which is more scary, not remembering "Brigadoon" or remembering a small detail from a game 21 years ago.

As for the women's basketball team started the year 0-4 before beating Rutgers, UMBC and then Seton Hall last night. The wins over the in-state rivals were by a combined 57 points, including the 94-67 win over Seton Hall.

Tip-off for the game against the Pirates last night was at 6, by the way. TigerBlog is a big fan of the earlier start time.

If you saw the Tigers opening night against Rider and then last night against Seton Hall, then you would have thought you had seen two different teams.

The Princeton team from opening night played as you might have thought it would having to replace four starters from a year ago. The team last night? Vintage Princeton. It defended well, though with room to improve. And it ran an efficient, balanced offense, with four players in double figures.

The team looked confident on both ends of the court. Players are figuring out their roles. It's a team that's probably ahead of schedule.

The one constant between Game 1 and Game 7 was Bella Alarie, a freshman who continues to be beyond impressive. Last night Alarie put up 26 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. TB isn't sure who the last Princeton women's basketball player to have those numbers in a game was. He also isn't sure who the last Princeton player with 15 rebounds and five made three-pointers in a game was. He will try to look those up.

He does know there has never been a triple double in Princeton basketball history, but it wouldn't shock him if Alarie becomes the first.

Whether the games start at 6, 7 or midnight, Princeton women's basketball continues to be a great attraction.

Oh, and one more thing.

The evolution of college basketball scheduling becomes rather clear when you look back at that Fresno State game 21 years ago and then contrast it with the women's schedule this year. In the 1995-96 season, the men's basketball team played two games in November and eight in December, including three two-game tournaments.

As an aside, TigerBlog was at all three of those tournaments, the one in Fresno and then subsequent ones at Iowa State and Wisconsin-Green Bay. Those sort of events, which took TB all over the country, have pretty much disappeared from the basketball calendar.

The game against Seton Hall last night was Princeton's seventh for the month of November. Princeton will play six games in December.

Oh, and if you want to go back a little further, back in the 1946-47 season, Princeton's eighth game of the year was a home game against Dartmouth. The next game was four days later, at Harvard. This was back before travel partners in the Ivy League, or, for that matter, before the Ivy League.

Last night was Game 7 for Princeton's women. Game 8 for the men 70 years ago was played on Jan. 10, 1947.

That was the same day "Finian's Rainbow" opened on Broadway.

Or was it "Brigadoon."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A TAGD Thank You, And An Overdue Congratulations

Here's the breakdown of athletic apparel that TigerBlog owns, by college represented:

Princeton - 80 percent
Sacred Heart -19 percent
Denver - one lacrosse sweatshirt

Yes, TigerBlog understands that the math here would mean he has exactly 100 such items, so this isn't quite an exact measure.

Oh, and he has a University of Louisiana-Lafayette "Ragin' Cajuns" t s-shirt. How in the world did he forget that?

When it comes to comfortable, the Princeton water polo longsleeve t-shirt is way up there, though the Princeton lacrosse sweats, longsleeve dri-fit and pullover are all right in the ballpark. So is the red Sacred Heart lacrosse pullover.

When TigerBlog went to Portugal, he was in the Jadwin parking lot waiting to get on the bus to go to the airport when he decided he should probably go back to his office and grab his white Princeton Athletics pullover. That one is really comfortable as well (and he's glad he got it, since he wore it basically every day he was there).

The most comfortable, though, is the Denver sweatshirt. It's gray, and it says "Denver Lacrosse" on it in red. It's a little too big for TigerBlog, which is how he likes his sweatshirts. And it's soft, very soft.

TigerBlog literally wears his loyalties on his sleeves. And anywhere the logos go.

These are his loyalties. Princeton, because he's been a part of the athletic department for nearly 30 years. Sacred Heart, because it's where his son goes to college. Denver, because of Bill Tierney, which is really about loyalty to Princeton taken to another level.

What TB doesn't have is anything that says "Penn" on it.

This has always been a fascinating concept to people he's met here at Princeton. They don't understand how someone can turn on his alma mater like that, because here it simply isn't done.

TigerBlog has said this many times through the years, but there is something really special about the loyalty that develops between Princeton and Princetonians. It starts before the first classes freshman year, and it lasts forever.

There's nothing that approaches this where TigerBlog went to school. And maybe anywhere else.

Yes, people are very passionate (most, anyway) about their alma maters, and they root for them forever. And wear their stuff. And have very fond memories about their time there.

It's just different. As a Princetonian, you wouldn't understand it.

Because you're Princetonians, though, you again came out in a big way for TAGD yesterday. TigerBlog checked out the leaderboard on the website a few times through the day, and the gifts were coming in.

Why? Because that's what Princetonians do. They support the school. They support those who are following in their footsteps here.

It's a very, very special thing.

There will be a lot of thank yous coming your way in the post-TAGD time. And they're sincere, because everyone here at Princeton Athletics knows how many things get done because of your support and wouldn't get done without you. And these are all areas that go directly to the student-athlete experience, which is what this is all about. 

The work around the third TAGD took up a lot of the beginning of this week, but TigerBlog does not want to let what the men's hockey team did this past weekend fade away without mentioning it. In fact, he'd like to apologize for letting it go this far.

Princeton went into the weekend at 0-6-1. Its opponent, Bemidji State, was 11-2-1, ranked 10th in Division I and playing at home (in a town that is actually closer to Winnipeg than it is to Minneapolis).

So what happened?

Princeton swept the Beavers, winning 4-1 Friday night and 3-1 Saturday night. It was quite a weekend in Minnesota for Princeton.

The star Saturday night was backup goalie Ben Halford, who made 43 saves for his first win. Meanwhile, Princeton took leads into the third period both nights and was able to close out the wins, something that had been elusive to this point of the year.

It's one thing to think you're getting better. It's another to have some tangible proof of it, in the form of wins. Any wins would have been great. A pair against the No. 10 team in the country was even better.

Princeton is home this weekend, against Union Friday night and RPI Saturday. Both games face-off at 7.

Union is ranked 18th in the country this week. It doesn't really matter, though. Princeton should be a confident bunch as it plays on its home ice at Baker Rink.

So belated congratulations to the men's hockey team.

And sincere thanks to for everyone who made a gift yesterday during the 24 hours of TAGD.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tigers, Tigers, Tigers - And Mark Turgeon - You've Been TAGD

Okay, Tigers, Tigers, Tigers and more Tigers. Wherever you are Tigers. All over the country and the world, Tigers.

Today is TAGD.

That's Tiger Athletics Give Day. The third one, to be precise.

TigerBlog was at his desk yesterday when two-time TAGD champ Luis Nicolao, the men's and women's water polo coach, walked in to say hi.

TigerBlog had done Luis a favor back when he was in Portugal with men's lacrosse a few weeks ago, buying him a pin at the Hard Rock Cafe in Lisbon. Unfortunately, TB forgot to use Luis' rewards number, so he had to give him the receipt so Luis could get the credit to his account, on top of the pin.

As TB was going through a bunch of stuff the other day, he found the receipt. And on the receipt, it mentioned how to get rewards credit online, so TB brought it with him to give to Luis.

For the record, TigerBlog paid for the pin, Luis offered to pay TB back and TB wouldn't take Luis' money. Also, some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet work at the Lisbon Hard Rock Cafe.

Anyway, when Luis came in to get the receipt, he was wearing a TigerUp t-shirt. He's ready for TAGD. TigerBlog could tell yesterday how much he wants to win again, how competitive he is.

That's one of the best parts about TAGD. It takes incredibly competitive people and pits them against each other to see who can do the best job of mobilizing their alums and Friends.

TAGD goes from midnight to midnight, Eastern time. The first two TAGDs rank 1-2 in the most gifts ever given to Princeton in a single day.

If you want more information on TAGD, go to the event website right HERE.

And again, the money that is raised goes directly to helping Princeton's athletes and coaches have the best possible experience they can. It goes right to what each team needs most.

Also, one of the best parts about TAGD is that it's also a competition for the most total gifts, not just the most money, so every single gift is important.

One person who should be giving some money to Princeton's Friends of Basketball is Mark Turgeon, the head coach at the University of Maryland. Will he? No. But he should.

After all, it's the least he could do.

Turgeon is 3-0 against Princeton alums this year, with three wins by a combined 13 points, all three of which were heartbreakers for the former Tigers.

Maryland defeated Mike Brennan and American 62-56 in a game American led with six minutes to go and trailed by one at the under-4 media timeout.

Then it was the Georgetown game. Against John Thompson's Hoyas, Turgeon trailed by six with 37 seconds to go and then rallied to win 76-75. TigerBlog wasn't watching and could only follow on his phone, and he had to refresh it a few times before he believed it was true.

Finally, there was the game Friday against Richmond and Chris Mooney. This time, Maryland needed overtime before it would win by six.

That's three wins in three games, all of which could have gone the other way.

So c'mon Turgeon. You can give a little here to make up for it. Buck up, buddy. You can be a Friend of Princeton Basketball.

As for the current men's basketball team, the Tigers will be playing at VCU. That's Virginia Commonwealth, by the way, a school in Richmond that will be playing in front of its 86th straight sell out crowd.

VCU is 5-1 on the season, with its only loss by eight to Baylor, a Top 10 team, at the Paradise Jam in the Bahamas last week.

Princeton comes in after putting up 108 points in its last game, against Rowan. The Tigers allowed 46. You can do the math.

Yes, Rowan is Division III team. Still, only four times in program history has Princeton scored more points than it did the other day, and all four of those games were between 1965 and 1967.

Next up for Princeton? A trip to Hawaii, to take on Cal and Hawaii at Pearl Harbor. It's see-the-world time for the Tigers.

And again, a little reminder for the Tigers from all over the world. It's TAGD. Have fun, and help out if you can. You know your gift is important, and you know it's appreciated.

That goes for Tigers everywhere. Tigers, Tigers, Tigers - and Mark Turgeon

Monday, November 28, 2016

TAGD Time

If you rang the doorbell on MotherBlog's apartment back when she lived in Chevy Chase, it would play one of her two favorite songs.

That would be "Hail to the Redskins." The other, which didn't play when you rang the bell, was "Do You Hear The People Sing," from Les Mis.

TigerBlog's favorite NFL team has always been the Giants. This used to cause issues at least twice a year between TB and his mother.

TB remembers the Super Bowl when the Redskins beat the Broncos 42-10, the one in which Doug Williams went off in the first half to make it a total rout. The game was played in San Diego, and TB is pretty sure his mother was in California on business at the time. He's positive she called him to make sure he was aware of who was winning the game.

Because of his loyalty to his mother, TB has always had a soft spot for the Redskins. He was rooting for them on Thanksgiving Day against the Cowboys, even though Dallas is coached by a Princeton alum, one TB likes a lot.

TB was also rooting for Detroit. One day, the Lions will win the Super Bowl, and TB will be happy - because it'll make the only legitimate lifelong die-hard Lions fan he knows happy, and that's former Roper Trophy winner John Mack. 

Mostly, though, TigerBlog rooted for the radio announcers in the Thanksgiving games.

Why? Because they were Tom McCarthy for the Lions-Vikings game and John Sadak for the Redskins-Cowboys game.

If you don't remember those names, they're former Princeton radio play-by-play voices. TigerBlog will take the credit for molding them and sending them on their way to the big time.

TigerBlog had his first experience of doing a basketball game with Tom's son Patrick Friday afternoon, when Princeton took on Rowan. Patrick is a senior at The College of New Jersey, where he is a baseball player and a budding broadcaster.

TB has done hundreds of games on the radio, dating back to his own student days at Penn. He's done Princeton football, basketball and lacrosse at various times.

TigerBlog can say with complete confidence that doing the game the other day with Patrick was one of the best broadcasting experiences he's ever had.

As November comes to a close, the Princeton Athletic calendar starts to slow a bit as well. The fall/winter crossover is nearly over, other than women's volleyball in the NCAA tournament.

There is one huge date to circle this month still, however.

And that day is tomorrow. TAGD is coming.

This will be the third TAGD - Tiger Athletics Give Day. In just a short time, TAGD has become a highly successful, highly competitive and highly, well, fun day for Princeton.

Basically, TAGD is a 24-hour fundraising day for Princeton's athletic friends groups and the Princeton Varsity Club. The first two days generated more gifts than any other days in Princeton history.

The first TAGD grew out of the 150th anniversary of the first Princeton athletic event. At the time, nobody really had any idea what to expect.

Now? It's clear that Princeton Athletics is made up of some highly competitive people. Each team began to compete against the others to see who could get the most gifts and the most money, and it was obvious that they loved the competition.

It exploded on social media. The teams came up with their own videos, their own Instagram posts, their own tweets.

It was fun. And it was competitive.

This year's TAGD began with a video narrated by Ashleigh Johnson of the women's water polo team. Ashleigh, as you might recall, won a gold medal at the Olympics this past summer.

As part of Ashleigh's script, she mentioned some of the many, many benefits of TAGD that go directly to the student-athlete experience. The money raised has gone to things like locker room upgrades, out-of-region travel, international trips, advances in technologies, championship rings, new equipment, community service trips, recruit hosting and so much more.

TAGD will begin at exactly midnight and run for exactly 24 hours. You can find out more information, and see Ashleigh's video and a bunch of other social media postings, at the event's official website: tigerathleticsgiveday.com.

TigerBlog is constantly amazed and impressed by the loyalty that Princeton Athletics has generated through the years. Those who have come before feel an obligation to provide for the current generation, who in turn will do the same when it's their turn.

It's most visible at events like the Peter Farrell retirement party earlier this fall, when all of those generations are gathered together in one place at one time.

It's most real on a day like TAGD, when so many people accept the challenge to contribute. And you do this because of what a great experience you had here and how important Princeton Athletics are to you.

So thank you in advance for helping out again. That's tomorrow. Midnight to midnight, Eastern time.

It's almost TAGD 3.0. In a short time, it's become one of the better days around here.