Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Heading For The Zoo

TigerBlog has always wondered at what point he reached the tipping point, in this case the tipping point of having spent more time on the Princeton campus than the Penn campus.

TB spent four years as a student at Penn, which included living there obviously. He also stayed there for two summers, one when he worked as a vendor at Veterans' Stadium and one when he first started at the newspaper.

Of course, he has spent many more years on the Princeton campus, though rarely for 24 straight hours.

At some point, though, he had to have spent more time here than there, though it probably wasn't until a few years ago.

Figuring the academic year is nine months long, with probably a month of breaks built in, then TB was on Penn's campus for eight months a year for four years, or 32 months. Figure the summers added on another three months between them, so that makes 35 months.

Of course, that stretch includes basically every hour of every day. Maybe subtract out a month or two for time not actually on the campus, so that leaves 33 months. With 30.4 days per month, that comes to 1,003 days or 24,076.8 hours.

If TB was at Princeton for eight hours a day, five days a week, or 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, plus an additional, say, six hours on a game day 40 times a year, well, then that adds up to 2,240 hours a year. Divided into 24,076.8 and that comes to 10 years and ninth months, so it's been awhile.

As an aside, that could be the dullest two paragraph stretch in TigerBlog history.

And, if it took more than a decade for TB to become more Princeton than Penn in the physical sense, well, spiritually, he got there much earlier.

If Princeton and Penn rank 1-2 for TigerBlog in terms of time spent on a college campus, then what's No. 3? Well, Rutgers and the College of New Jersey (though TB hasn't been there more than once or twice since it's been called that) are way up there, probably more so than any other Ivy League school.

No. 3, though?

It has to be Rider.

Back in TB's newspaper days, a typical winter week would go like this: Princeton on Friday and Saturday (during the Ivy season), Rider during the week. With a Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) doubleheader mixed in.

And during Princeton's exam break or during the early-season when the schedules were more random? TB would be at Rider.

He was there often during the time Kevin Bannon was the Broncs' head coach, when Darrick Suber was scoring more than 2,200 career points, including the two at the buzzer that beat Wagner in the 1993 Northeast Conference championship game.

One of the best dunkers TB has ever seen - Tim Pennix - was a Bronc, as was William Kinsel, whose nickname was "Doodles" and who was part of a great recruiting story. Kinsel, a four-year starter until he blew out his patella tendon, committed to Rider, but Suber committed to St. Francis in Brooklyn after they'd grown up around each other in Pittsburgh.

When Suber arrived on the campus, he immediately knew he'd made the wrong choice, so he started driving back to Pittsburgh. As he got to 95 in Mercer County, he saw the big sign for Rider, remembered that's where Kinsel was, and drove right over. TB is pretty sure Suber is still the school's all-time leading scorer.

TB was at Rider when the student section first started to be called "the Broncs' Zoo," a name hung on the group by the Trentonian's Jay Dunn, who also wrote a book a long time ago called "The Tigers of Princeton: Old Nassau Football."

As an aside, Dunn also wrote perhaps the most prescient preview story for a game in newspaper history, when he asked Trenton State football coach Eric Hamilton if he'd go for two or kick the extra point for the tie (back before overtime) when the Lions played Montclair State that weekend for the New Jersey Athletic Conference title. Hamilton said he'd kick the extra point and sure enough, that's what he did when TSC scored on the final play; the result was a 31-31 tie and a co-championship.

Meanwhile, what was TB talking about? Oh yeah, Rider.

The school is located about six miles from Princeton, right down 206 in Lawrenceville.

TigerBlog has been on the campus often, for basketball, baseball, soccer, back in his newspaper time. Every time he's been there, he's been impressed with the great school spirit, the sense of teamwork among the people who work there, the way that the small school puts on its events.

It all resonated for him again when he was there for women's basketball a few weeks ago, and he's sure it will again tonight for men's basketball.

Somewhat stunningly, Princeton has never played men's basketball on the Rider campus, not at any point of its history, prior to tonight's game, which tips at 7.

It seems like a natural fit to play a team so close, but that also can get in the way of building such a rivalry. Whatever the cause, the teams play for the first time since Dec. 8, 2002, when Rider beat Princeton at the Sovereign Bank Arena.

For a Princeton team that's on the road for about as long as the Harlem Globetrotters, tonight is the nearest thing to a home game for awhile.

When TB used to be the men's basketball contact, Princeton would often have stretches where it would play six, seven, eight straight games away from home. Every time there'd be a home game, TB would hear people commenting on the team, and he'd think "nobody but TB has really seen them; how do they know."

Of course, this was pre-videostreaming.

Today, the world is much smaller, and Princeton fans are able to see their team play on their computer, listen to the Tigers on the radio and comment all they want on various message boards.

Still, there's nothing like actually seeing the team play. And, for the next two months or so, tonight's game at Rider - cozy, friendly Rider - is as close as the Tigers get to a Division I home game.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is Jay Dunn up to these days? When his book came out in 1977, I ordered it. When it arrived, I read it cover to cover in one sitting until early that morning. Great book. I wish someone would take it from its ending to the present.