Monday, October 14, 2019

D Plus

From his perch in the Princeton Stadium press box, TigerBlog could see Jeremiah Tyler in warmups before the game, before he even put on his uniform, and he could tell that Tyler was about to play really well.

And that's exactly what happened.

There was something about the way Tyler was getting ready that really stood out, for some reason. By halftime, the junior linebacker from Detroit would have six tackles, three for loss, as the Princeton defense already showed what kind of night it was going to be.

The final score was Princeton 28, Lafayette 3, as the Tigers improved to 4-0 on the year, heading into a sprint of six Ivy League games in six weeks.

Princeton threw a complete blanket over a good Lafayette offense, one that came into the game with an average of 383 yards per game. How dominant was Princeton's defense? Consider all of the following:

* Lafayette had 162 yards of total offense

* Princeton held Lafayette to 1.5 yards per rush and seven first downs

* Lafayette had the ball 12 times. Only once did the Leopards cross midfield

* Of those 12 drives, they ended with eight punts, two interceptions, once on downs and the one field goal

That's a pretty good night for the Princeton D.

Even better is that Tyler was hardly a one-man wrecking crew. It was more like an 11-man wrecking crew on essentially every play.

No player had more than six tackles, and 13 players had at least two. There were two other players with six tackles, including Joey DeMarco, who had two sacks to go along with the tackles. Delan Stallworth was the other player with six.

There were five players who had at least half a sack - DeMarco, Tyler, James Johnson, Matthew Jester and Daniel Beard. Two other players - Sultaan Shabazz and Jayden Wickware - had interceptions.

Princeton's defense has allowed an average of 260 yards per game, a number that ranks second in the FCS, trailing only Kennesaw State. Princeton is also second in the FCS in scoring defense, allowed 10.8 points per game. TB will get back to the team that is first in a minute.

Keep in mind, this is a defense that lost, among other players, two first-team All-Ivy League linebackers from a year ago. And yet the Tigers have been on wipe out mode all season.

Princeton also comes at you in waves on the defensive side of the ball. It's a unit with a lot of depth, a lot of it young depth.

Up next for this team is a trip to Brown, where the Bears average 414 yards of total offense per game. That game will be the halfway point of the season.

And where do things stand as the halfway point approaches?

Princeton is 4-0, winner of 14 straight. The Tigers are one of three teams in the FCS who are unbeaten, along with top-ranked North Dakota State and Ivy rival Dartmouth.

The Big Green have been very impressive so far this season, especially this past Saturday's 42-10 win over Yale. Princeton and Dartmouth meet in Week 8, Nov. 9, at Yankee Stadium, as part of the 150th anniversary of college football celebration.

Princeton has three games between now and then - the trip to Brown, a home game against Harvard and a trip to Cornell. In other words, there's just way too much to do between now and the game at Yankee Stadium for anyone to even think about a second-straight 7-0 vs. 7-0 matchup featuring Princeton and Dartmouth, who played an epic game last year that Princeton won 14-9.

Harvard, along with Princeton and Dartmouth, is unbeaten in the Ivy League. No league game is going to be easy.

Still, Princeton has looked very sharp so far this year. Maybe the best part is the fact that it's been a total team effort, and each week it's hard to figure out which players to nominate for Ivy Player of the Week because there are endless options each time.

A week ago, the team's official Offensive Player of the Week was offensive tackle Henry Byrd. After the Tigers rushed for 203 yards and had an 11-minute edge in possession time against Lafayette, TigerBlog nominated center Alex Deters.

Princeton has gotten to this point of the season exactly where it wanted to be - unbeaten, with room for improvement and laser focused on the coming challenges.

It's a good place to be 40 percent of the way through your season. 


Friday, October 11, 2019

Football Nostalgia

TigerBlog was talking with Stacie Traube, the longtime assistant in the football office, about something the other day when she brought up the first Princeton freshman to score a touchdown in a varsity game.

The first year of freshman eligibility for football in the Ivy League was 1993, and Princeton had three freshmen who won varsity letters that year: Nick Avallone, Ben Gill and Marc Washington. None scored a touchdown that year.

In fact, it wouldn't be until the 1994 season when a freshman would score a touchdown, and it wouldn't be an offensive player who did so. It was actually linebacker Tim Greene, who blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown in Week 3 against Bucknell.

It was actually a huge play, as it came with 2:09 to go in the game and the Tigers behind 7-6 and gave Princeton a 12-7 win in Palmer Stadium. TigerBlog, then in his first go-round as the football contact, remembers calling Greene's hometown newspaper to get them to include the news.

Perhaps that's why he remembered Greene's hometown when Stacie brought him up. It was Cartersville, Ga.

He's less certain how he remembered Greene's actual first name, when Stacie tested him. It's Ronald.

How TB knew that he has no idea, but he answered it immediately.

Greene, by the way, would end his career as a 1996 and 1997 first-team All-Ivy League selection. He was also a captain of the 1997 "Road Warrior" team, the one that played away all season (well, one home game at The College of New Jersey and a neutral site game at Giants Stadium) as Palmer was demolished and Princeton Stadium built.

It's always good to stroll back to the old days. The old days? Does that make TigerBlog old?

He looked at the 1995 media guide yesterday (those are books that used to get printed before the season and couldn't be altered at all; Bruce Wood, longtime Dartmouth chronicler, is the only person TB knows who misses them) and, among other things, saw the page that had pictures of the administration and support staff. Athletic communications was not included on that page.

There were 28 people pictured on the page, of whom three currently still work here: Stacie in the football office, Elysee Nicolas of the grounds crew and ticket manager Stephanie Sutton.

While TB is being nostalgic, he goes back to the 1989 Princeton football season, one in which the Tigers ended a 20-year drought by winning the Ivy League championship. The team's first-team All-Ivy center that year was Bob Surace, who is now its head coach.

TB doesn't quite make it back to 1987, when Surace was a sophomore and John Garrett was a senior wide receiver. John is the older brother of Bushnell Cup winners Jason (1988) and Judd (1989), also teammates of Surace's. Jason, of course, is now the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Those two will set aside their long friendship tonight when Princeton hosts Garrett, who is the head coach of the Lafayette Leopards. Kickoff on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium is at 7; you can see the game on ESPNU if you're not in the Princeton area.

Surace and Garrett have more in common than one varsity season together at Princeton.

Surace was the head coach at Western Connecticut in 2000 and 2001, putting together a fairly impressive 18-3 record in those two seasons. Then one day his phone rang, and it was an invitation to join the Cincinnati Bengals' coaching staff.

The caller? John Garrett.

During their time in Cincinnati, the two were neighbors who commuted to work together. They were close friends with families who were close to each other as well.

And tonight, they're on opposite sidelines. That was also the case two years ago, when Princeton and Lafayette last played (a 38-17 Princeton win in Easton in Garrett's first season with the Leopards).

The game is the final non-league one for both, who finish their season with six straight league games. Lafayette is 0-5, but the Patriot League figures to be a wide-open dogfight.

The Ivy League does as well. There are currently five unbeaten FCS teams, and three are in the Ivy League - Princeton, Dartmouth and Yale. The latter two play tomorrow in Hanover.

Princeton is coming in off a tough 21-10 win over Columbia in the Ivy opener. The first of the remaining league games is next weekend at Brown, which is coached by former Surace offensive coordinator James Perry.

That'll be a different kind of nostalgia.

And that'll also be the halfway point of the season, shockingly enough.

The rest will be here fast - six league games, including one at Yankee Stadium against Dartmouth.

First, though, it's Lafayette tonight at home.

Old friends. It's always good to see them - even if you're coaching against them.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Iron Men

The men's soccer game against Delaware Tuesday night had just started when TigerBlog noticed something fascinating on the Blue Hens' bench.

There was one player on it. Just one - and he was the backup goalkeeper.

In other words, Delaware had only 10 healthy field players for this one, and so they'd all have to go all 90 minutes. And that's what happened.

Of course, even playing against a team with no subs, the Tigers had to go out and win the game, which the Tigers did 3-0. Daniel Diaz Bonilla scored his first career goal to start the evening, and Spencer Fleurant finished it with his first two-goal game.

Yes, Princeton was able to use eight players off the bench and, not surprisingly, outshot Delaware 11-2 in the second half. Does not going to the bench automatically mean a loss though?

Any Princeton men's basketball fan can tell you the answer to that is a resounding "no."

Back in the first round of the 1999 NIT, Princeton found itself playing at home against Georgetown. In that game, Princeton head coach Bill Carmody played the same five players for all 40 minutes each, while Georgetown substituted frequently.

The result?

Princeton 54, Georgetown 47.

TigerBlog sat in the first seat on press row next to the Princeton bench. At one point, it began to dawn on him that the Tigers had not subbed at all in the game, and he was trying to figure out if Carmody and his staff realized it - and if so, was this the plan.

In the end, two of Princeton's five players had four fouls, but there was no sense of subbing for them. Instead, the same five went start to finish.

Today's trivia question - can you name the five players? TigerBlog will list them at the end (hint - one of them had six points and 18 rebounds, and only one Princeton men's basketball player that TB has ever seen could have put up that stat line).

It's the only game TigerBlog can think of where a team, in any sport, never subbed. Maybe he's overlooking something obvious? And he's not counting squash or golf or tennis or a sport where your lineup is simply your lineup.

Anyway, that's what TB thought of when he saw Delaware go with 11 players Tuesday night.

Next up for the men's soccer team is a second-straight road Ivy road trip, this time to Brown. It's a doubleheader with the women, with the women's game at 3:00. 

The women defeated Dartmouth 1-0 last Saturday, evening their Ivy record at 1-1. In that game, Natalie Grossi recorded her 30th career shutout, making her the first Ivy goalkeeper male or female to reach 30 career shutouts.

Whenever you're the only person in Ivy League history to do something, that's a pretty amazing thing to have on your resume.

As for the women's soccer team, there are two currently unbeaten teams in the Ivy League - Brown and Harvard. That obviously makes the game Saturday a big one. Princeton heads to Providence knowing that if it wins out, it wins at least a share of the league championship.

Princeton will be home this weekend in two Ivy League sports.

The field hockey team is home at 1 Saturday against Columbia. The Tigers, who are ranked seventh this week, are 2-0 in the Ivy League, set to take on the 1-1 Lions.

Princeton should be extremely well-rested, at least by its standards, since it hasn't played since Sunday. That's six whole days. The six days prior that? It featured three games, all of which were decided by one goal, including a 5-4 OT win over then-No. 2 Duke.

The women's volleyball team hosts Brown Saturday and then Yale Sunday at 1 on ESPNU. Princeton is currently 2-1 in the league, behind 3-0 unbeatens Cornell and Yale - with a very long way to go in the race.

There are other events this weekend too, on the road though. The men's water polo team plays Iona and St. Francis in Brooklyn Saturday and then at Fordham Sunday. There's a big men's and women's tennis event in Oklahoma.

And of course the football team hosts Lafayette tomorrow at 7 on Powers Field.

By the way, the answer to the trivia question: Brian Earl, Ahmed El-Nokali, Gabe Lewullis, Mason Rocca (he had the 6/18), Chris Young.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Fast Fast

Every now and then, TigerBlog goes back in the archives to see what he's written about certain holidays or events and such and then quotes it back in the current year.

Usually he does this because he remembers what he wrote and figures he's already said exactly what he wants to say in the way he wants to say it. That's because he can almost always remember what he's written through the years.

Yesterday, he read something from two years ago that he didn't remember at all and that made him laugh out loud.

He did a search for "Yom Kippur" to see what he's said about the Jewish Day of Atonement, which is what today is, and he found this from just two years ago:

If you've never tried to fast for 24 hours, it seems more daunting than it really is. Yes, you get hungry. No, it's not overwhelming. The worst part is looking at the time and thinking about how much longer you have to go.
If you really wanted to make it tough to atone for sins, then instead of going 24 hours without eating, it should be having to go 24 hours without using a smartphone or computer or checking email or getting texts or using social media. 


That's actually even more true now than it was then.

TigerBlog and his people will be fasting for 24 hours as part of the High Holy Days, a time of reflection and self-awareness that begins with the Jewish New Year and culminates in the holiest day of the year, a day of repentance.

As he said it seems overwhleming. No food and nothing to drink for 24 hours? Yikes. Who could do that?

In reality, it's not that difficult. The mistake is stuffing yourself before you start, because that won't help in the long run. For the first few hours, you have to fight off the instinct to have something to drink or a snack or something. In the last few hours, you have to not stare at the clock.

Other than that, it's not a big deal.

Of course, there's always that day during the year when circumstance prevents you from eating for awhile and you look up and realize you've gone always an entire day without food and think "why couldn't this have been Yom Kippur?"

So sure, you get a little hungry. And maybe you get a headache. But that's part of the deal.

Hey, it's the single most important ritual in the Jewish religion.

But no electronics for 24 hours? TB hasn't come close to being able to do that for the last, oh, 10 years or so. In fact, he may have to try that one of these days. He won't last until 7 am, he thinks.

His experiences with Princeton Athletics at the holiest day of his people have varied. On a normal year, he will take the day off and often go to services.

In other years, the holiday has corresponded with a game.

He remembers vividly the time he went to services at Brown, in a temple across the street from the football stadium. While there, he saw a Brown player in his football uniform.

There have been other times as well, including once at Lehigh when he was on the radio, fasting, about five feet from a giant tray of chocolate chip cookies. That was a real test of repentance.

For this Yom Kippur, he worked at the men's soccer game against Delaware last night.

He did so with no food and no drink, and it wasn't that difficult.

He did have two laptops and his cell phone.

Good thing they didn't have those 5800 years ago.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Fun Few Days Of Field Hockey

TigerBlog starts out today with a question.

When you order take out, they give you the same credit card receipt as if you sat in the restaurant and ate there. Knowing that, when you get take out, do you leave a tip? If you do, how much?

TB isn't sure about this one. He's never been sure.

Apparently, neither is anyone else. He did a search for "do you leave a tip with takeout" and got a lot of different answers.

He did find one survey that suggested that only 13 percent of people leave a tip when they buy takeout.

His sense is that if you pay cash for something and there's a tip jar near the register, then you're likely to throw a dollar or two into it. This, of course, requires that the people behind the counter see you do it, since you need to feel like they understand that you tipped them or else what was the point? A credit card though? Yeah, he's not sure.

Of course, when it comes to tipping etiquette, nothing really sums the entire situation up quite like THIS.

For the record, in his entire professional career, TigerBlog has never once received a tip for anything he's done.

Well, when he first wrote about Princeton rowing for the newspaper, then-head coach Dan Roock gave him a Princeton rowing hat, which was his first-ever piece of Tiger gear. Does that count as a tip?

If anyone deserves a tip this week, it's the Princeton field hockey team. DISCLAIMER - That's speaking rhetorically (or is it metaphorically?), understanding full well that NCAA rules prevent actual tips from being awarded.

The Tigers had themselves quite a week.

It began with a 1-0 win over No. 11 Delaware Tuesday night. Hannah Davey scored the only goal in that one with 2:09 to go - and that would be the least dramatic of the Tigers' three games.

Next up was an Ivy League game against Yale Friday afternoon. This time, instead of having the first goal with 2:09 left, the first goal came 2:16 in, and it came from the Bulldogs.

So did the second one, which came less than three minutes later. Stunningly, it was 2-0 Yale early in the first quarter.

Princeton came back though, scoring the next three, including the first two of the career of sophomore Claire Donovan, but Yale wouldn't go away, tying it at 3-3 with a little more than six minutes left to force overtime.

If you remember the Princeton-Yale game of two years ago, it was also a game where Yale led only to have Princeton come back and win it late. That time, it was Ryan McCarthy, who scored on a penalty corner with 0:00 on the clock.

This time it was another McCarthy, Ryan's sister Ali, who scored the game-winner, this time in overtime.

Is that enough drama for the week? Nope. It was just betting started for the Tigers.

After the Yale game, Princeton hopped on a bus and drove to North Carolina to take on No. 2 Duke Sunday afternoon. How'd that one go?

Well, Ali McCarthy scored the first goal. Then Duke scored the next four, making it a 4-1 game late in the second quarter.

Did Princeton say "hey, they're ranked second, we got two good wins this week, we're done?"

Nope.

First McCarthy scored again, making it 4-2 at halftime, and then Marykate Neff made it 4-3 in the third.

It stayed that way until, of course, the final minute, because what would a Princeton game be without very late game drama. In fact, there were just 43 seconds left when Clara Roth tied it, forcing the overtime again.

And, again, the Tigers would score the winner, this time from Davey, the hero from Delaware. Princeton 5, Duke 4.

Of Princeton's last 15 games, there have been 14 decided by one goal. That's extraordinary.

Princeton has now played 11 games this year (10 against ranked teams) and had five go to overtime.

The rest of the regular season now features five Ivy games and Boston University. Princeton and Harvard are the two ranked Ivy teams, and they met last year in the regular season (Harvard won) and NCAA quarterfinals (Princeton won). That game is Oct. 26 in Cambridge, which means that both teams have two other Ivy opponents to worry about first.

In Princeton's case, that means Columbia home Saturday and then a trip to Brown and BU the following weekend.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Good To Have A Tough One

Kevin Davidson started to walk away after finishing his postgame interviews Saturday and summed up the entire afternoon perfectly in a few short words.

"It was good to have a tough one," the Princeton senior quarterback said.

He was definitely right about that one. After two weeks of putting up video game numbers and having the starters out in the fourth quarter, Princeton found itself pushed for 60 minutes by a tough Columbia team. The Tiger would win 21-10, stretching their winning streak to 13 straight while taking the Ivy opener on a day that was anything but easy.

And that was the best sign.

How would Princeton respond to its first serious test? The answer turned out to be "very well."

Columbia brought to Princeton Stadium 1) a defense that was top five in the FCS in a bunch of categories, 2) Ronald Smith, who broke the Tigers hearts on the same field two years earlier with a 63-yard TD reception with 1:12 left for a 28-24 win and 3) an attitude that the Lions deserved a shot at the Ivy title as much as anyone.

Add to that the fact that the Tigers, whose previous two first halves ended by a combined 70-21, found themselves behind at the break 10-7 and you can see that a win was hardly preordained.

One issue that Princeton had in the first half was that time of possession was completely lopsided, as Columbia had the ball 20 minutes to Princeton's 10. Sometimes that's not that big a deal, when, say, one team scores really quickly.

Sometimes it is a big deal. Princeton's offense never really got into great rhythm in the first half, largely because it hardly ever had the ball.

It all changed in the second half. Possession time was even. Princeton put together three long drives - two that ended in touchdowns and a third which essentially killed the second half of the fourth quarter to salt the game away.

The defense in those final 30 minutes allowed no points. The closest Columbia got to scoring was on a field goal attempt that would have made it a 14-13 game early in the fourth, but Joey DeMarco got a hand on the kick, and that was that.

Princeton's defense held Columbia to 206 total yards and 1.1 yards per rush. There were four sacks. Columbia's two quarterbacks combined for a great completion percentage by hitting on 24 of 30 passes (80 percent), but the fact that it added up to just 166 yards indicates that the Tigers tackled well.

There were several players who seemed to be everywhere, including linebackers James Johnson (11 tackles) and Jeremiah Tyler (10 tackles, 3.5 for loss, one sack) and defensive lineman Samuel Wright (2.5 sacks, seven tackles).

As for the offense, Davidson came into the game having completed 81 percent of his passes. Against Columbia, he "only" completed 63 percent.

He looked so good in the first two games that his numbers against Columbia seemed a bit tame: 22 for 35 for 271 yards and a TD, with his first interception of the season.

You want a little context on those 271 passing yards? You know who never threw for at least 271 yards against an Ivy League opponent? John Lovett.

Yes. That's not exactly apples to apples, since Lovett did so many other things to perfection and brought with him more intangibles than any Princeton football player TigerBlog has seen.

But still. It does tell you a bit about how high Davidson has set the standard for himself and that his performance was still first-rate. He is poised, moves well outside the pocket and has an incredible arm - all qualities he displayed in the second half yesterday.

He calmly led his team on those long drives in the second half, and he made the biggest play of the day when he dropped a perfect pass in to Dylan Classi on a 3rd and 10 from the Princeton 31 on the drive after the blocked field goal.

Had he and Classi not made that play,  Columbia would have the ball and a chance to drive the other way for the lead. Instead, it took just four more plays to get in the end zone for the score that pretty much put the game away.

That touchdown, by the way, came on a 31-yard run from Ryan Quigley. He and Collin Eaddy continue to be a great complement to each other, and the two running backs accounted for all three Tiger scores against Columbia.

Next up is Lafayette, Friday night at 7 at home and on ESPNU, in the final non-league game of the year. Then it's six Ivy games in a six weeks.

Princeton, as TB pointed out last week, has won 12 Ivy titles and has won the league opener in all 12 of them. That was what was on the line Saturday afternoon.

Get a win and take that first step.

And that's exactly what Princeton did.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Michael Sowers, And An Ivy Opener In Football

If you were on goprincetontigers.com yesterday, perhaps you noticed TigerBlog's nearly 4,000 word feature on Sowers. If you didn't, you can read it HERE.

Of everything that TB has done here at Princeton and even with the changing world of how people consume information now (often in 280 characters or less), his favorite is still writing feature stories.

HERE'S another one, on football offensive linemen Brent Holder and Alex Deters. 

He was planning on writing one on Sowers in the spring before Inside Lacrosse approached him about the idea of doing one as fall ball is beginning. TB jumped at the chance.

The result is a story that he thinks pretty much tells you who Sowers is. As TB says in the story, he's the single most polite Princeton athlete he's ever met and he's the best lacrosse player he's ever seen.

That second statement is pretty bold, considering, he's seen, among others, Tom Schreiber, Jesse Hubbard, Kevin Lowe, Ryan Boyle, Scott Bacigalupo, David Morrow and Zack Currier. That group is either already in the Hall of Fame, about to be inducted or pretty much a lock to get there one day.

One thing TB didn't include in the story was that Sowers enters his senior year fifth in Division I history in points per game (6.07), which is the best total in 38 years, and that he already ranks 20th in Division I history in career assists. That's with a full season to go.

Should he match his point total of last year, he'd move up to seventh all-time.

Here's something else TB had to cut from the story: A few years ago, TigerBlog Jr. decided he wanted to put together a team to play in the Philadelphia summer box lacrosse league, and so he did. 

Then, the next year, he decided he wanted to win the league, so he went out and recruited Michael Sowers to be on his team. Box lacrosse is a very, very physical version of the sport.

This is what TigerBlog had to say to his son when he told him the news that Sowers was going to play with him, knowing that his son had already had four shoulder dislocations in his lacrosse career: "If you get hurt, I'm going to be mad. If Sowers gets hurt, I'm going to be really, really mad."

Fortunately, neither would end up getting hurt. And, along with Princeton's George Baughan, they would in fact win the championship that summer.

Hey, like he said, it was getting up around 4,000 words.

Speaking of TBJ, he used to play Pop Warner football before middle school, and he played on a team in fifth and sixth grade that include a kid named Dylan De Iuliis. That "kid" went on to become a linebacker on Colgate's NCAA quarterfinal team last year.

When TBJ's Pop Warner team would practice, TB clearly remembers Dylan's younger brother, who would have been in second or third grade at the time. He'd stand on the fringes of practices, hoping the ball would roll to him or something.

You could tell he wanted to be a football player.

These days, Dawson De Iuliis is a Princeton sophomore. He's also a defensive back and key member of the Tiger special teams.

Dawson's father, Dino, was one of the Pop Warner coaches back then. He also played football at Middle Tennessee State.

TB hadn't seen him in years before he saw him before the Bucknell game last week, along with his wife Kathy and Dylan. It was great to see them and catch up.

Next up for Dawson and his teammates is tomorrow's home game against Columbia, which kicks off tomorrow at 1 on Powers Field. It's the Ivy League opener for both.

Princeton has won 12 Ivy League titles. It has won its Ivy opener in all 12 of those seasons - and only three times this century has a team lost its Ivy opener and won at least a share of the title, with two of those a co-championship with the team it lost to in that first game.

Princeton is 2-0, averaging an FCS-best 52.5 points per game, with a quarterback (Kevin Davidson) who is completing 81 percent of his passes and four receivers who have combined for 10 TD receptions.

Columbia on the other hand has one of the best defenses in the FCS, a top five statistical defense. Columbia also has a great set of wide receivers with Ronald Smith and Josh Wainwright.

On top of that, Columbia is in the year after the year with all of the injuries. The Lions had a ton of injuries in 2018 and still went 6-4.

Like Princeton, Columbia is thinking about playing for an Ivy League championship next month.

There's no chance that you were at the first Princeton-Columbia game, since it was back in 1874. You might have been at the last Princeton-Columbia game in Princeton, two years ago, when the Lions stunned the Tigers on a 63-yard touchdown catch by Smith with 1:12 to play.

As TB said, kickoff is at 1. It should be a pretty good matchup.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Lot Of Teams Play This Weekend; Will Mike Ford?

If you are one of the people who emailed TigerBlog yesterday to let him know whether or not your senior thesis had a colon in it, well, he appreciates that you had fun with it like he did.

He got 11 emails yesterday from Princeton alums with their thesis titles. Of those 11, there were seven who had colons in them.

That's way more than 43 percent.

If you didn't read yesterday, then 1) you're wondering what in the world he's talking about and 2) why didn't you?

You can click HERE to see what he was talking about.

By the way, TB said yesterday he likes semicolons better than colons, so he decided to work one into today's headline. 

TB enjoyed that whole thing so much that he included it on a list of trivia questions that Mollie Marcoux Samaan asked him to put together for today's monthly staff meeting.

Another one involved Mike Ford, the Princeton alum who spent this season with the New York Yankees. Ford, the only player ever to be the Ivy League Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, had a very productive rookie season.

In fact, Ford had 143 at-bats for the Yankees this year. How many home runs did he hit?

If you guessed 12, you'd be correct. That's a lot of home runs in a short amount of at-bats.

Ford actually hit .259 and scored 30 runs. In the world of baseball analytics, the 12 home runs and 30 runs scored matter way more than the 28 strikeouts. His .909 OPS would be considered pretty much excellent.

The Yankees begin the playoffs tomorrow night against the Twins in the American League Division Series. Ford probably won't know if he's on the 25-man roster for the series until the deadline tomorrow morning, but TigerBlog is hoping he will be.

He'd certainly include him. He's a lefty with power in Yankee Stadium. That bat would come in handy at some point in the series, TB would think.

Plus, the Yankees have been dealing with injuries all season. It was those injuries that gave Ford his chance in the first place, and he made the most of it.

He certainly appears to have a future, either in the Bronx or somewhere else.

So that's one of the things that TB wanted to share with you today.

What else does he have for you on your Thursday?

While the Yankees head into the playoffs, it'll be a typically busy early October weekend for Princeton Athletics.

As far as Ivy League events go, there are three teams who are playing at home this weekend in league matchups.

The football team is home against Columbia Saturday at 1 in a matchup of one of the top offenses in the country (Princeton's) and one of the top defenses in the country (Columbia). TB will have more on that one tomorrow.

In the meantime, he refers you to THIS STORY he wrote about senior offensive linemen Brent Holder and Alex Deters and what it's like to be on the O line when your quarterback (Kevin Davidson) and receiver (Andrew Griffin) are setting Ivy League records.

As for the rest of the fall teams, the women's volleyball team, who defeated Penn last weekend in its Ivy opener, hosts Columbia tomorrow night and then Cornell Saturday.

The field hockey team is home tomorrow at 5 against Yale before heading to Duke to take on the second-ranked Blue Devils Sunday. This was after a 1-0 win over yet another nationally ranked team, Delaware, Tuesday night.

If you're going to be in the Hanover, N.H., area, there's a soccer doubleheader Saturday afternoon between Princeton and Dartmouth. The women's game is at 1, followed at 4 by the men.

The Princeton women dropped their league opener to Yale last weekend, but there's a long way to go in a league where very, very few teams go unbeaten.

As for the men, this is the Ivy opener. They come in with a four-game winning streak, which includes a 6-3 win over St. Joe's Tuesday night. That's a lot of goals. In fact, that's the most Princeton has scored in a game since a 7-3 win over Seton Hall in 2011.

There will also be home men's water polo, against Harvard Saturday at noon and then Sunday against Brown (10 am) and MIT (3).

The women's golf team, women's tennis team, women's cross country team and men's cross country team are also playing away this weekend.

The complete schedule is HERE.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Wednesday TigerBlog: Thoughts On A Story TB's Friend Todd Sent Him.

Wednesday TigerBlog: Thoughts On A Story TB's Friend Todd Sent Him.

That's a good title, no?

It was yesterday morning when TigerBlog got a text from his friend Todd. The story was from a website called "towardsdatascience.com," and it was about how nearly half of Princeton's senior thesis all-time have a colon in the title.

The story even used a term for this that may or not be made up: titular colonicity. You can insert whatever punchline you wish to insert.

Seriously, here's what it said:
Princeton’s thesis database lists nearly seventy thousand titles, dating from when first establishing the senior thesis in 1926 to the class of seniors who graduated in June. We can use this huge dataset to discover how titular colonicity (yes, there’s actually a term for it) got its start.

The basic premise of the story is that someone or a handful of someones took the time to analyze the Princeton senior thesis database to to see what percentage of the time the author used a colon in the title. This is also broken down by majors.

HERE is the story. It fascinated TB, for some reason.

At first TB thought it was a gag, some sort of parody of a science website. Here were the two main headlines yesterday afternoon:

"Conversational Sentiment Analysis ... Methods for determining sentiment towards named entities" and "Top 5 Mistakes With Statistics In A/B Testing ... A/B tests (a.k.a. online controlled experiments) are widely used to estimate the effect of proposed changes to websites and mobile apps"

Seems on the level.

According to the story, 43 percent of Princeton's all-time senior theses - and there have been 67,359 of them - have had a colon in the title. That's a lot.

TigerBlog has never liked using colons. He much prefers semi-colons, but there's probably not a lot of those in titles.

TB has always loved the senior thesis database, which you can find HERE.

Whose thesis do you want to know about? Bill Bradley?

"On That Record I Stand" – Harry S. Truman's Fight For The Senatorship In 1940. Wait. That's a long dash, not a colon.

Bradley and Truman were both from Missouri. Between them, they'd serve five terms in the U.S. Senate, which is something Bradley couldn't have know when he was figuring out what to write about in 1965.

It would be 13 years between when Bradley would graduate from Princeton to when he was elected to the first of his three terms in the Senate. In between, he'd win two NBA championships with the Knicks, who haven't won one since.

Who else?

How about Rachael DeCecco, who was Rachael Becker when she won the 2003 Tewaaraton Award and led Princeton to its second straight NCAA women's lacrosse championship (and third overall). She's also two weeks away from getting into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Her thesis?

Depression and the Elderly: A Function of Loss. She's one of those colon people.

When TB went to check on Rachael Becker, he also saw Max Becker, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Clarkson in the 2018 ECAC men's hockey championship game, sending the Tigers to the NCAA tournament.

His was this: "Bitcoin: Financial Instrument or Speculative Asset? An Analysis of Bitcoin in the Foreign exchange Market."

You're seeing the trend. 

She's one of three Princeton alums who are going to be inducted in Baltimore on Oct. 18. The other two are Ryan Boyle and Matt Striebel. Colons? Hmmm.

Here's Boyle's: "An Investigation of Meditation: The Influence of Meditation on Stress, Risk-Taking, Creating Thinking, Framing Effects, and Locus of Control."

Here's Striebel's: "Green Lights and Other Forms of Earthly Transcendence: "Anguished Yearning" and the American Dream."

That's a lot of colons for the Hall of Fame.

Surely some random Princeton athlete must not have had a colon.

Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan: "The Social Construction of Sport and Gender: A History of Women in Golf, 1890-1955."

Colon.

Men's soccer head coach Jim Barlow: "Deepening the Chasms: A History of Race Relations in the One Square Mile Paradise of Hightstown, New Jersey."

Colon.

Wait. He finally found one.

Caroline Lind, like Bradley an Olympic gold medalist. Actually Lind won two gold medals, in rowing.

Her title?

"Flow In Rowing."

No colons.

That was fun. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Players Of The Week

So say part of your job is to decide which players to nominate for player of the week each week.

And say that you have two players whose weeks were 1) record-setting and 2) completely intertwined in essentially every way. And the rules said you couldn't nominate both.

Then what would you do?

Well, that's where TigerBlog was yesterday.

You had Kevin Davidson, who threw an Ivy League-record seven touchdown passes against Bucknell Saturday. And you had Andrew Griffin, who tied the Ivy League record by catching four of them.

There was more, too. Davidson was 29 for 37 for 381 yards and no interceptions. Griffin caught nine passes for 200 yards. Both were big-time, dominant performances.

On top of that, neither would have set any of those records without the other. Griffin had to get open and catch the ball, but doing so without having Davidson deliver the ball would have been worthless. To TB, they were both equally impressive.

So now what?

In the end, TigerBlog nominated Davidson for Ivy Player of the Week and then successfully advocated with his Office of Athletic Communications colleagues to have Griffin be the goprincetontigers.com Athlete of the Week.

James Stagg, a freshman defensive lineman with a very bright future, was the Ivy Rookie of the Week after a sack and an interception that he returned to the two.

Griffin was so good against Bucknell that it almost became an oversight that Andrei Iosivas, who didn't catch a pass at all last year as a freshman, caught two more touchdown passes, giving him back-to-back two touchdown games to start his sophomore year.

Or that Princeton's wide receivers have caught 10 touchdown passes in two weeks, which leaves them - Griffin, Iosivas, Dylan Classi and Jacob Birmelin - more than halfway to the 18 that current NFL players Stephen Carlson and Jesper Horsted caught a year ago. Griffin, by the way, has already matched the five that Carlson had a year ago - and Carlson is third all-time at Princeton in career touchdown receptions.

The Tigers open their Ivy League season Saturday at home against Columbia (kickoff at 1). TB will have more on that later in the week.

While the subject is Players of the Week, Princeton also had the Ivy League field hockey Player of the Week, junior Clara Roth, who won for the second time this year.

Roth had two goals in a 4-3 overtime loss to No. 4 Maryland and then came back with two goals and two assists in a 4-0 win over Dartmouth in the Ivy opener in Hanover Saturday.

Princeton has scored 20 goals this season in eight games (seven against ranked teams), and Roth has either scored (five) or assisted (seven) on 12 of them.

When TB looked up where Roth was from, he learned that she's from a town in Germany called Schweitzingen, which sits about six miles southwest of Heidelberg and dates back to the eighth century. He considered logging on to Wikipedia to add Roth to the town's list of notable people.

And why not? She deserves to be listed.

She was the 2018 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year after leading the team in goals (13) and points (34) while the season ended in the Final Four. She was first-team All-Mid Atlantic Region and third-team All-America, after earning honorable mention All-Ivy and second-team all-region as a freshman.

She's currently tied for 11th in career assists at Princeton, and she's on the cusp of being listed in all-time leaders in goals and points.  

Roth and the Tigers play another ranked opponent tonight, as they travel to No. 12 Delaware. Like Princeton, Delaware has won an NCAA field hockey national championship this decade.

It's also the start of a very busy week for Princeton, who hosts Yale Friday at 5 in the second Ivy game. Speaking of second, that game will be followed by a trip Sunday to second-ranked Duke.

After that, it's a run of five Ivy opponents and unranked Boston University for the rest of the regular season.

And hey, TB just realized it's October 1st. That means, among other things, that the fall season is going to reach its peak, right around the time that the foliage does as well.