Friday, May 22, 2009

Kevin Lowe, Hall-of-Famer

TigerBlog had seen exactly one lacrosse game in his life - the 1984 or 1985 Penn-Brown game - before being sent to cover the Princeton-Bucknell game at Finney Field on a very cold day in March 1990.

There was no press box at Finney Field, just a scorer's table on one side and stands on the other. TB stood on the sideline, off near the top of the restraining box, sort of how you cover a high school football game. At some point, TB asked someone who the Princeton head coach was, and TigerBlog misunderstood and thought the person he asked pointed at Bryce Chase, not Bill Tierney.

TB spent the rest of the game, a 13-9 Princeton win, wondering why the younger assistant was being so demonstrative. It wasn't until after the game that he figured out Tierney was actually the head coach.

As that season and the next few went along, TigerBlog covered more and more men's lacrosse and began to develop at least a rudimentary understanding of the game. It didn't take much more than that to realize that Kevin Lowe, who arrived at Princeton in 1991, was a special player.

Fast forward to the 1994 NCAA final between Princeton and Virginia, or at least the day before. TigerBlog wrote a preview story and a little pregame box, in which he included this prediction: "Princeton wins - and Kevin Lowe and Scott Bacigalupo go the Hall of Fame someday."

TB turned out to be half right, for now at least. Kevin Lowe's "some day" will be Nov. 7, when he is inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Bacigalupo's time will come soon enough as well.

It was Lowe's goal in overtime that gave Princeton the 1994 title over UVa, and it was his OT goal nine years later for the Long Island Lizards that made him the only player ever to have an overtime goal in both the NCAA and Major League Lacrosse championship games. TigerBlog has always found this ironic, because Lowe was always more of a feeder than finisher.

His 174 assists are the most in program history, and when he graduated, he had the four highest single-season totals in school history as well. Since 1994, some of the greatest offensive players ever to play college lacrosse have played at Princeton, and none has matched his career point total of 247.

Ryan Boyle, with 232 points, came closest, and maybe he would have gotten it had he not missed four games in his career. Jesse Hubbard, Jon Hess and Chris Massey split 618 points basically three ways, and maybe two of them would have reached 300 had it note been for the third.

But they didn't. For that matter, Mark Kovler and Tommy Davis of this year's team are both in the top 20 all-time at Princeton in scoring and were both All-Americas this year. Together they finished with 249 points total, just two more than Lowe had by himself.

Of additional significance for Lowe's selection to the Hall of Fame (by the way, his brother and father are already in the Hall of Fame) is that he is the first player to play for Tierney to be so honored.

The question is, what other players who played for Tierney will follow?

There are several absolute locks, beginning with Bacigalupo, Hubbard, Boyle and David Morrow, the 1993 national player of the year and founder of Warrior Lacrosse. Hess would seem to be a lock as well; Massey again figures to suffer from being the underrated one of the three. Josh Sims has to be a strong candidate. Maybe Trevor Tierney.

Who knows? Maybe one day it'll be Chad Wiedmaier's or Tyler Fiorito's turn.

For now, though, it's only Kevin Lowe. TigerBlog remembers vividly watching him play; hearing his soft-spoken, logical responses to questions; learning a great deal about the sport from him. Through the years, TB has run into Lowe, his wife and their kids on several occasions. He's the same friendly, outgoing, high-quality person he's always been (Lowe, not TigerBlog).

And now he can add Hall-of-Famer to the list.

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