Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Player Of The Week

When it comes to TigerBlog's pet peeves, very little can top people who are oblivious to the world around them.

TB cannot stand when people are driving along and can't figure out if they are supposed to make a turn here or keep going and therefore simply stop, without caring that there are 10 cars behind them who are not expecting them to stop. Or when someone is pushing a cart in the supermarket and stops right in the middle of the aisle, so nobody else can get past. Or when someone stops in a doorway to talk to someone they know, not understanding that many other people are trying to get in or out.

He also hates when people use "whom" to sound smart, even if they're using it wrong.

Or when the refs in Little Miss TigerBlog's basketball games can't keep straight which team should get possession on a held ball.

Not quite to that level is Ivy League Co-Player of the Week. Still, the "Co-" can torture TigerBlog.

It's a league of eight schools. Pick one. If someone has a performance that would merit Player of the Week in any other week but someone else outdid it this week, oh well.

And this is a subject that TB has discussed with almost everyone he has worked with at the league office for the last, oh, 20 years.

In all of TigerBlog's dealings with the various coaches here at Princeton, there have been few subjects that can touch off a firestorm quite like the selection of the league's Player of the Week, basically in any sport.

TigerBlog has heard coaches rail against the league, the selection process, the nominations, everything. Often coaches feel there's a hidden agenda at the league (there isn't).

Basically, the way it works is that the athletic communications staff at each school nominates someone for Player or Rookie of the Week. The decision is made by the sport contact at the league for each sport.

And TB understands the tough position that this places athletic communications people at the schools and the league in, since the honor is a nice one and one that is taken seriously by coaches and athletes. It's not always easy to pick the person to nominate, since the one with the best stats is not necessarily the one who played the best that week (something coaches know full well). On the other hand, saying things like "was the player most responsible for the team's success" doesn't really move the league office.

And the league people? Their decision is so subjective that there's often no one right answer. And they're the ones who have to deal with the fallout from angry coaches, so their task is hardly easy.

Princeton rarely had the league's Player of the Week when TB was the men's basketball contact, largely because whoever (not whomever) had a big game Friday night rarely had a big night Saturday night, because the teams had so much balance and depth.

Anyway, TB - in his role as interim women's basketball contact - successfully nominated last week's winner, Niveen Rasheed, who had 23 points and 18 rebounds against DePaul and then 16 and six against Stanford. Both opponents are nationally ranked.

Because of her torn ACL last year, Rasheed has competed in 29 weeks in her career. She has been honored by the league 14 times now in those 29 weeks, between her nine Rookie of the Week honors and five Player of the Week honors (including two this year).

The men's Player of the Week was also a Princeton player, Ian Hummer, honored for the fourth time in his career.

In the name of citing sources, TB takes the following paragraph from goprincetontigers.com:
In wins at Rider and Northeastern, Hummer averaged 20.5 points per game, scoring 21 against the Broncs and 20 against the Huskies. He also had a double-double at Rider, his third of the season, bringing down 12 rebounds while also giving a career-best seven assists. Against Northeastern, Hummer had a career-high five steals.

Rasheed and Hummer are both closing in 1,000 career points as juniors, but they are so much more than just scorers. For the record, though, Rasheed has 854 career points after her 20-point night against Santa Clara; Hummer brings 871 career points into Thursday's game at Siena.

TB wouldn't use the word scorer to describe either one. They're all-around players, both of whom can dribble, pass, rebound, run the floor, defend.

Mostly they're stars, winning players who have a great ability to impose their will on a game.

Watching Hummer at Rider made that crystal clear. He is an explosive player, a "guard in a 6-7, 230-pound body." He's a great ballhandler for a big man, better than any big man Princeton has had since Kit Mueller (with the possible exception of Judson Wallace), and that gives him the extra dimension of creating his own shot.

As for Rasheed, she has many of the same traits as Hummer. She can get a tough rebound, dribble the length of the court and finish or pass off the break. She can guard any player, guard to center. She can get her own shot basically whenever she wants. She rebounds with ferocity. Any loose ball is hers.

These two are the kinds of players who make it worth coming to watch the game, just because of what they might do. They also make their teams so much better.

This week, they're both the Ivy League Player of the Week.

TigerBlog is fine with it. He also would have been fine had neither won, rather than having a Co-Player. But hey, that's just him.

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