Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trick Or Treat

When TigerBlog walked out of his doctor's office this past March determined to make a huge overhaul in his diet, today was the day he dreaded.

It's been more than seven months now since TB had an M&M. Not a single one. If you're keeping score, that makes this the longest he's gone in his entire life without one, since whatever day it was when he had his first M&M and thought either "hmmm, this is good" or "one down, 999,999 to go."

In fact, TB hasn't had much of anything sweet since that day at the doctor, when he told him that it was in his best interest to modify his intake.

And so it's been bananas. Lots and lots of bananas. And apples. And cantaloupes. And those really big crunchy red grapes.

And baked potatoes for starch. And fish. And chicken. And spinach salad.

What has this taken the place of for TB? Well, let's just say that for his last Italian takeout he got a veggie wrap instead of chicken parmagiana.

He's had almost no pasta in the last seven months, as opposed to almost daily before that.

What he's really gotten rid of, though, is junk.

Cake? Cookies? Brownies? All gone.

TB has had two pieces of cake in seven months and not a single cookie of any kind. And no brownies.

And no candy. Not one piece. Not an M&M. Not a Kit Kat. Not a Three Musketeers. Nothing.

All of which brings him to today, Halloween, the day when candy rules the world. And TB is scared.

If he's ever going to fall off the candy wagon, it'll be today. And if he does, will he be able to stop himself? Or will all the good he's achieved in the last seven months vanish in a sea of candy wrappers?

TigerBlog has always been a huge fan of Halloween. He still is, even if he's going to try his best not to give in to the temptation.

He was in the supermarket and the Rite Aid next to it last night, and he saw people stocking up on candy, presumably to give away to the trick-or-treaters.

A year ago, TB would have been all in. This year? Hopefully the grapes and bananas will be the difference maker.

If it's Halloween, then it means that tomorrow is November already.

It seems like 10 minutes ago that the fall sports season began, and yet they're actually in the stretch run now. In fact, the first league titles of the 2013-14 season will be awarded this weekend, when at least two and as many as five will be decided.

The Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships will be held Saturday morning at the West Windsor Fields, and both races feature loaded fields. Princeton is ranked nationally in both men's and women's cross country, though that alone doesn't make the Tigers the favorite in either race.

In fact there are three ranked teams on each side. For the men, it's Columbia, Princeton and Harvard. For the women it's Dartmouth, Princeton and Cornell.

In other words, the races figure to be great.

Princeton's field hockey game against Cornell starts at noon Saturday, and a win would mean at least a tie for the 19th Ivy field hockey title in the last 20 years for Princeton.

Right now, Princeton is 5-0 in the league, followed by Penn at 4-1 and Cornell at 3-2. Should Princeton win and Penn lose to 1-4 Brown, then Princeton would the outright title and automatic NCAA tournament bid.

On the other hand, wins by Princeton and Penn would set up a game next Saturday at Penn between the Tigers and Quakers with the automatic NCAA bid to the winner. Cornell is mathematically alive, though a Penn win over Brown would eliminate the Big Red, even should they defeat Princeton.

The women's soccer automatic bid and outright championship would go to Harvard with a win over Dartmouth. A tie would clinch at least a share of the title but would also wrap up the league's automatic NCAA bid.

Princeton may not be headed to a second straight league title, but a win over Cornell Saturday will clinch a winning season for the Tigers.

Yale is running away with the women's volleyball race and could clinch the outright title this weekend, with two more still to play after that. Regardless, a Yale championship seems inevitable.

That would leave men's soccer, where the race is still completely wide open, where six teams are still alive, including Princeton.

Oh, and football, where Princeton and Penn are both unbeaten. That race too won't be decided for awhile.

It certainly won't be won or lost this weekend. Unlike as many as five other championships.

First, though, it's Halloween.

Hopefully all the kids will have fun, get stocked up and be safe.

As for TB, he'll try to go without the candy and still try to enjoy the day.

After all, it's the one day each year when everyone embraces the two best colors there are.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


TigerBlog's door is closed now, which is a rarity.

He keeps it open nearly 100% of the time, closing it only for three reasons:

1) on the hottest summer days to keep the air conditioning in
2) when there's an office meeting
3) when the alarm in the lobby goes off

The alarm is a blood-curdling piercing sound that smashes all around Jadwin Gym. TigerBlog isn't sure what sets it off. He just knows that when it goes off, he has to close his door until it stops - or else he will turn into something from "The Walking Dead," a show, like "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" that he just couldn't get into.

Actually, he thinks there are two alarms in Jadwin Gym. One is for the case where Dick Kazmaier's Heisman Trophy is stored. The other must be some master building alarm.

They both appear to have the ability, as Duke once said in "Doonesbury," to "sterilize frogs at 100 paces." Or maybe it was dogs. TB can't remember.

Now that the alarm has been turned off, TB's door is back to being open.

He keeps it open because it gets either way too hot or way too cold in here otherwise, depending on the season. And he keeps it open so he can keep an eye on the people who walk back and forth; he feels a bit isolated when the door is closed.

Mostly he keeps it open so he can literally say his "door is always open" for anyone who wants to stop by. While most people say "hi" as the walk by, there are several regulars who take him up on this and actually come in to talk.

One, for instance, is assistant football coach Eddy Morrissey, who can be counted on to rather forcefully give his take on the salient issues of the day. The same is true of women's track and field coach Peter Farrell. And water polo coach Luis Nicolao.

And Nancy Donigan from the compliance office. Nancy is a bit more understated than the others, but she gets the same high marks for humor value.

Nancy actually had to use the extra OAC computer for a few days to update the Department's Student-Athlete Handbook, a document that in 38 pages outlines all of the rules and requirements and expectations and policies of the Department of Athletics.

TB hadn't looked in awhile at the little blurb about the OAC that is in the handbook each year. Apparently in a very long while.

When he finally did yesterday, he updated it - and was struck by the differences before and after. If he ever had one sure-fire reminder of just how much the OAC has evolved in a short time, this was it.

Here was the blurb that used to be in it. Obviously, it was written several years ago:

The Office of Athletic Communications is responsible for planning, implementing and supervising short- and long-range programs of internet, media relations, publications and broadcasting for the
Members of the office respond to various media requests and coordinate all media arrangements
for varsity athletic contests a well as some game management responsibilities. The office prepares news releases for distribution to local, regional and national media outlets, as well as cultivating hometown media contacts.
The production of recruiting/media brochures for each sport is the responsibility of the office. In
addition the office publishes a variety of game programs and roster cards that are distributed free of
charge at home events. The office also prints various other material, such as schedule cards, ticket applications and seasonal all-sport schedules.
The Office of Athletic Communications also assists with the marketing and promotion of the department and its teams, including the Department’s official athletic Web site. It devises and assists in the coordination of promotional events at athletic contests, works in conjunction with the ticket office to generate ticket sales and prepares advertising for print and electronic media outlets. Athletic Communications also encompasses radio and television broadcasting. The office negotiates various agreements with local, regional and national broadcasting outlets.

And here's what TB wrote yesterday:
The Office of Athletic Communications is responsible for the publicity for the University’s 38 varsity sports teams.
The OAC produces content for the University’s official athletics website,, and for its official video site, Each of the 38 teams has a sport contact assigned from the OAC, and that individual is responsible for maintaining that team’s page on the websites. Included in this are pregame stories, postgame recaps, schedules, statistics, rosters, archival information, written features, record books and recruting information, as well as video highlights, interviews and feature stories.
In addition to the two main websites, the OAC also has a blog - TigerBlog, at - that is updated every business day by noon with a more informal look at Princeton sports. There is also a weekly podcast produced and posted each Thursday.
The department’s videostreaming efforts also originate within the OAC. Princeton is one of the national leaders in live and on-demand streaming, with nearly 200 events broadcast each year across 22 sports. The OAC is also the Department liaison for negotiating television contracts, including the current deal with ESPN.
With the growth of social media, Princeton’s OAC maintains a presence on Twitter (including in-game updates for every athletic contest), Facebook, Instagram, Vine and other sites. As social media becomes a larger and larger part of the everyday workflow, the OAC’s charge is to stay current on technologies and avenues.
The OAC is also responsible for some game-management tasks, such as securing public address announcers, for projects celebrating overt pride,  for licensing and for the department’s media relations efforts. The OAC also works collaboratively with other members of the athletic department and the University in general on any number of projects.
The Office of Athletic Communications also assists with the marketing and promotion of the department and its teams. It devises and assists in the coordination of promotional events at athletic contests, works in conjunction with the ticket office to generate ticket sales and coordinates all advertising ventures.

It's two completely different operations.

Sports information used to be about producing media guides, writing news releases and assisting the media, as well as in-game stats and such. When TB first started here, there was a file to keep track of hometown placements, of how successful the OAC was at getting newspapers around the country to put in a sentence or two about Princeton athletes from that area. This was a measure of success.


It's about bringing content directly to those who want it - parents, recruits, alums, fans - in any form they want it and in any format you can.

Computers. Phones. Tablets. Written stories. Podcasts. Blogs. And video. As much video as possible.

The Tiger Sportsline? TB laughs at the memory of when the Sportsline was the best way to get scors quickly after games. Now? Twitter, where there are regular in-game updates of essentially every single Princeton event, home or away.

TB was able to listen to the end of the football game on his phone last weekend. His phone. He can get video there too.

The more video, the better. The OAC produces way more video content now than TB ever imagined, and it's still not enough to satisfy demand. And this from people who were hired originally for their ability to do publications.

TB obviously knew this all along, but reading the original blurb and writing the second made it so clear once again how much his profession has changed.

And, as he has said, he can't imagine he'd still be doing what he's doing if it still was the same profession it was back in 1995 or even 2005.

Today, it's a fast-paced profession, one where you're never exactly completely off from work. It's challenging, and it's fun.

It's not a bad way to make a living.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Fireworks Are Hailing Over Little Eden Tonight

One of TigerBlog's favorite Bruce Springsteen songs - which makes it one of his favorite songs by any artist - is the song "4th of July, Asbury Park."

The first word of the song is "Sandy," the name of the girl that the singer is hoping to spend his Fourth of July with on the Asbury Park boardwalk. It doesn't get much more Springsteen than that.

When TB hears the song, it takes him right to that boardwalk. Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie? If you've been to the boardwalk in Asbury Park, you know immediately that the most famous line in the song refers to the fortune teller who operated out of a little white shack with an eyeball painted on the side.

The Sandy in the song is a Jersey Shore girl, one who is listening to the singer tell her how he's tired of "hanging in those dusty arcades, banging them pleasure machines; chasing the factory girls underneath the boardwalk."

Sandy, he tells her, "the Aurora is rising behind us. The pier lights our carnival life on the water." Love me tonight, he says, "and I promise I'll love you forever."

The song is from 1973, from the album "The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle." TigerBlog was a kid then, growing up not far from Asbury Park.

Even now, 40 years later and 1,000-plus times having heard it, TigerBlog is whisked immediately to the Jersey Shore when he hears it, taken back to a place with heart and character and toughness and color, a place with its unique sights, sounds, smells. 

It's not a pristine place by any stretch, but it has something that those beaches don't. It has its own feel, and either you love it or you hate it, and if you're in the first group, there's no place quite like it; if you're in the second, then you're missing the whole point of the place.

A storm named, ironically enough, Sandy, came through here one year ago tonight and destroyed much of that same Jersey Shore. Asbury Park was hit hard by Sandy, though not nearly as hard as so many other areas a little further south, most notably Seaside Heights, and to the north, most notably the Rockaway beaches of Queens.

There are areas that still have not recovered, houses that will never be rebuilt, businesses that will never reopen.

A bit more inland, here in Princeton, the rain never hit that overwhelmingly, but the wind knocked out power, in some places for a month.

TigerBlog was relatively safe during the storm, though the only place he could find that had power was his office, where he slept for one night and where he went to charge his phone and laptop, which were his only sources of information and entertainment.

Work? Princeton was closed for three days, Monday through Wednesday. Shockingly, it reopened Thursday; most schools wouldn't be back until the following week.

The 2012 Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships were held at Princeton's West Windsor Fields the weekend before the storm hit, with competition on a perfect autumn Saturday, when talk of the coming storm was just starting to dominate every conversation.

The 2011 Heps? Also at West Windsor Fields. This time, the story wasn't about the weather that was coming but the weather had already arrived, as the most significant snow fall of that entire winter came actually in the fall. It looks pretty now in the pictures from that day, but it made running at Heps treacherous - and destroyed the home weekend scheduled with Cornell.

This weekend's schedule is similar to what it was going to be two years ago, with football, field hockey, women's soccer, men's soccer and women's volleyball all hosting Cornell Saturday.

The day starts with the Heps cross country championships, which this year will be an incredible event, with multiple nationally ranked teams in both races.

It even includes women's hockey against Colgate, rather than Cornell.

In other words, Saturday is one of those ridiculously busy days around here, the kind that really make working in Ivy League athletics challenging and rewarding.

The weather forecast is for absolutely completely perfect conditions, sunny and the mid-60s. It may rain Friday, but it'll clear out long before the games start Saturday. Maybe the cross country course will be a bit muddy, but doesn't that make it better?

There is no forecast for a repeat of 2011's blizzard of 2012's superstorm.

The first made for some cool pictures.

The second is still being felt not far from here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Back Here, One Year Later

TigerBlog still hasn't seen Quinn Epperly's game-winning touchdown pass to Roman Wilson from Saturday's 51-48 three-overtime win over Harvard.

He started out watching the game on Fox College Sports, and when he had to leave shortly before halftime, he set his DVR to record the rest. Plus an extra 30 minutes.

That took the window to four full hours, which ended up taking him to second overtime, or, as it turned out, about 10 minutes too few to see the end.

He listened to the rest of the game on the radio, hearing Dan Loney on WRPB. Until TB went out of range of the signal (which is pretty far, by the way), which just happened to be around the same time that the TV recording time expired.

In other words, it wasn't a very good time to be losing it.

So there was TB, on the highway, panicked that he wasn't going to hear the end of the game. So what did he do? He got it in his phone.

How wild is that?

Well, compared to where society was when TB was a kid? Forget a kid. When he first started working here? Unimaginably wild.

Compared what happened in the game itself? Not very wild at all.

Princeton gave up 48 points against Harvard, or more points in a game it won than it ever has in the history of the program.

Even if you factor out the overtimes, the game was 35-35 at the end of regulation. Only twice has Princeton allowed more than 35 points in a game it won or tied - a 59-37 win over Brown in 1991 and a 41-36 win over Cornell in 1982.

And then there's Quinn Epperly.

TigerBlog used to watch Keith Elias play for Princeton in the early 1990s. The expectations for Elias were extraordinary, since he put up numbers each week that other players would love to have done once.

If Elias put up 150 yards and two touchdowns, it was just normal for him, even though the vast majority of college running backs never approach a day like that.

As for Epperly, well, he's taking what Elias did to another level.

No other Princeton football player has ever put up numbers like through six games, an his number become even more ridiculous when you consider that he shared the position through most of those six games.

Against Harvard, Epperly went 37 for 50 for 321 yards and six TDs, without a pick. He was also Princeton's leading rusher with 86 yards, giving him 407 yards of total offense.

The 37 completions set a school single-game record. The touchdown passes broke the school record and tied the Ivy League single-season game, held by James Perry, Princeton's offensive coordinator, who also threw six against Columbia in 1997.

For the year, how about these numbers for Epperly:

passing - 93 for 132, 70.5% completions, 1,075 yards, 15 touchdowns, one interception.
rushing - 61 carries, 353 yards, 5.8 yards per game, 11 touchdowns

Epperly is now the only Princeton player ever with more than 10 passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns in the same season (Ron Landeck had 13 passing and 10 rushing in 1965 as the only other player in double figures in both).

It's more than just Epperly, of course. Princeton's offense is incredibly balanced.

The Tigers average 534.2 yards per game and 43.8 points per game. The school single-season records are 439.2 yards per game (in 1983) and 38.8 points per game (in 1950, unless you consider the 70.8 in 1885, which TB doesn't, and if anyone from that team has a problem with it, email TB).

Princeton's leading rusher is DiAndre Atwater, who has 74 carries in six games, or 12.3 per game. There are seven players who average at least five yards per carry. There are 14 players who have caught at least one pass.

And where does all this leave the Tigers?

On the one hand, exactly where they were 52 weeks ago, when Princeton defeated Harvard to go to 3-0 in the league, tied with Penn as the only unbeatens. The Tigers then lost three of their last four.

The schedule isn't easy, starting with Cornell Saturday at home and then with games at Penn, home with Yale and at surging Dartmouth.

The league has a long way to go.

On the other hand, the win over Harvard last year was a bit of a fluke. An incredibly exciting amazing one, but still, coming from down 34-10 with 12 minutes to go to win 39-34 isn't exactly a successful formula.

This year? TB thinks Princeton outplayed Harvard Saturday and deserved to win that one. At the very least, those were two very even teams, and if they played 10 times, each would win five.

In other words, it was no fluke.

Princeton has come a very long way in a short time under Bob Surace and his staff, who are now 10-4 in their last 14 games after going 2-20 in their first 22.

The first six weeks of the 2013 season have been extraordinary. The last four? TB can't help but think - or at least hopes - that very recent history won't be repeating itself.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Princeton vs. Harvard x 5

TigerBlog has always tried to get his kids - and other people's kids - to understand how to avoid trouble.

His basic rule is this: If they have to stop and ask themselves if what they're thinking about doing is a good idea, it isn't. When in doubt, don't do it.

He's recently added this corollary: the busier teenage kids are, the less likely they are to get in trouble. It can be sports, music, other extra-curricular activities, schoolwork - every hour they spend doing those things is one hour less that they can be bored and open to bad decisions.

Beyond that, when teenage kids do get in trouble, it usually seems to include one or more of these five things: hanging out with the wrong people, being out after midnight, drugs/alcohol, sex and/or gambling.

The last one isn't something that gets the attention of the others, but it can be just as devastating.

And it's everywhere, especially in the NFL, with its point spreads, over-unders, Super Bowl polls and everything else.

Gambling can become as addicting as drugs, and TB had a friend in college who fell into the pattern of losing and then trying to make it back on the next game, only to dig the hole deeper until it became a huge problem.

Few things pose a bigger threat to the integrity of athletics than gambling, and point-shaving scandals have been hugely devastating. That's part of the reason that the NCAA is so adamant about getting its anti-gambling messages out there.

And if you work at an NCAA school, you can't miss the message. Gambling - any gambling on any sport that the NCAA sponsors - is not permitted. In any form. No matter how small.

The OAC has an NCAA basketball pool each year, but for no money. Even if it was for a $5 or something like that, it would be a very big deal, and people's jobs could be lost over it.

TB and his co-workers are constantly making wager-like comments but never, ever would actually include money as part of the deal.

Wager-like comments?

Like yesterday, for instance, when this was the question:

"If you get two points for a win and one for a tie, who would win Saturday, Princeton or Harvard?"

It's a huge Saturday in Cambridge, as Princeton takes on Harvard - five times.

It starts at noon with field hockey and continues at 1 with football, 4 with men's soccer and women's hockey and 7 with women's soccer.

It's the weekend following midterms, which means that Princeton's teams will be either 1) tired or 2) chomping at the bit.

Princeton is currently in first place or tied for first place in the league in field hockey, football and men's soccer. Harvard is currently in first place or tied for first in football and women's soccer and is very much in the thick of it in men's soccer.

In other words, these games will be huge.

In men's soccer, for instance, Princeton is 2-0-1, tied with Penn and Yale. Harvard is 2-1-0, which leaves the Crimson right there as the league race is at the halfway point.

Of the eight men's soccer teams in the Ivy League, only three are currently over .500 overall.

In women's soccer, all eight schools are at least .500 and seven are over .500. Princeton has had some awful luck in its league games, and the Tigers season shows how hard it is to go 7-0-0, which is what they did a year ago.

Only five teams have ever gone 7-0-0 in Ivy women's soccer. Harvard is currently 4-0-0 and the only Ivy team that has a chance for a perfect league record and is 8-0-1 in its last nine games. Don't think Princeton wants to ruin all that?

The reverse is true in field hockey, where Princeton is alone in first at 4-0 and Harvard is 1-3, tied for sixth. Women's hockey season is just starting out.

And then there's football.

Princeton is 2-0 in the league. So is Harvard. So is Penn, for that matter. Princeton has looked great this year. Harvard is very strong. Penn is the defending champion.

And of course Harvard remembers what happened last year, when Princeton came from 34-10 down with 12 minutes to go to beat the Crimson 39-34.

At the time it seemed miraculous. Now? The idea that Princeton can score 29 points in 12 minutes hardly seems shocking.

The fall/winter overlap is starting, but even with that, the only home events this weekend are in men's water polo. The men's hockey team is close to home, playing at the Prudential Center in Newark in the Liberty Hockey Invitational today at 4 and tomorrow at 7.

The big games are in Cambridge this weekend though.

Princeton vs. Harvard, times five.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Animal House

TigerBlog killed a squirrel the other day.

No, he didn't throw a rock at it or anything. The squirrel ran across the road, saw another car coming and doubled back right under TB's car.

TB thought he might have missed him, until he heard the little speed bump sound, indicating the end of the road, literally, for the little guy.

In fairness, TB tried to slow down, except there were cars behind him and he didn't want to cause an accident. It was either TB or the squirrel.

Less than half a mile later, TB saw another dead squirrel on the road, and so he began to wonder if there was some weird squirrel cult apocalyptic suicide thing going on in Mercer County. Then he figured that it was probably just bad luck for the two of them.

TB didn't really feel all that bad about being the instrument in the death of the squirrel. Like he said, it was TB or the squirrel.

Still, he had killed an animal. Had he run over a dog or cat, he would have been crushed - maybe not as crushed as the squirrel, of course - for a long time.

TB knows a dog named Shelby, a yellow lab who is 14, moves slow, sheds her skin, appears to be hobbling and has teeth that have rotted in her mouth to the point that her breath is horrific. He has seen pictures of young Shelby, and she looked like such a vibrant pet. Now? Shelby is close to being put to sleep, and mercifully so.

It'll be a humane end for Shelby, who has by all indications lived about as good a life as any dog can hope for and who has apparently been a great companion, a best friend, as dog's are known. She's a pretty dog too, even at 14, except the whole breath part makes it hard to want to get too close to her face.

And yet when TB hears the news, he'll still feel pretty badly about it. Imagine being the instrument of the death of the young pet who happened to run into the road? That would be horrible.

So why didn't he care about the squirrel?

After he left the dead squirrels, TB drove to Princeton, where he saw a bunch of deer running around on the jayvee baseball field. It got him wondering how they got inside the fence in the first place.

Yes, there's an opening, but did all the deer line up to go single file? Or did they hop the fence? That would have been quite a leap on their part.

Let's see. Squirrels. Dogs. Cats. Deer.

What other animal news is there?

In the Ivy League, there are Lions, Tigers and Bears (oh my). And Bulldogs too.

In all, there are four animals, three colors (Crimson, Big Red, Big Green) and one religious movement (Quakers).

In the SEC, there are two Bulldogs (Georgia and Mississippi State), a Tiger (Auburn) and a take off on a color (Crimson Tide).

Did you know that those schools all took their nicknames from Princeton, Yale and Harvard? It's true. When they were first choosing nicknmames, they patterned themselves after the Big Three of the time, the HYP schools.

Princeton actually came pretty close to being the Lions, rather than the Tigers.

If you've been to Princeton's campus, you might have noticed that there are two Lions guarding the front of Nassau Hall, facing Nassau Street. If you go there on a typical nice fall Sunday, you'll see wave after wave of little kids who sit on them while their parents snap pictures.

Those Lions were a gift of the class of 1879, back when the University was just starting to field athletic teams but had not yet had an actual nickname evolve.

According to the Princeton Companion, the building was almost named Belcher Hall after the governor of the colony at the time it was built in 1756. Mr. Belcher instead suggested Nassau Hall, after the King of England at the time, who was from the House of Nassau.

Even though it was more than a century before, it started in motion a series of events that would lead Princeton to become the Tigers, not Lions, something that came to the fore in the 1880s.

This led to the adoption of orange as the primary color of the schools fledgling athletic teams, who presumably did not have an apparel deal with Nike at the time. Orange was chosen in honor of William of Orange of the House of Nassau.

Then, when black stripes were added to the football jerseys, it gave the impression of Tiger stripes. Then, in 1882, a newspaper account of a game said that Princeton had been playing like Tigers or fighting like Tigers or something like that.

Eventually, the nickname stuck. It was helped along, of course, by a bunch of spiriting school songs of the time that all had the word "tigers" in them.

And it explains why there are Lions, not Tigers, outside Nassau Hall.

TigerBlog isn't a huge fan of the "Tiger" logos, rather than the "P" logos, because of the fact that there are so many schools on all levels who have the nickname of "Tigers." The striped P is more easily identifiable with Princeton itself.

TigerBlog does love the orange and black for school colors and the Tiger nickname, even if he doesn't think he looks great in orange.

He loves the simplicity and tradition of both.

And of course so much of his wardrobe these days is tied up in the nickname and the colors, so he better be okay with it.

Go Tigers.

Just rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Moo's Friends

The World Series begins tonight. TigerBlog will make two predictions.

First - he'll go with the Cardinals in seven games. He has no idea why, other than the Cardinals seem to always win the games they need to win.

Second - TigerBlog will watch very little of it.

There was a time when the World Series was a big deal to TB.

One of his first sports-watching memories is of the 1969 World Series, which the Mets famously won against the heavily favored Orioles. That Series, by the way, ended on Oct. 16, as opposed to this one, which is starting on Oct. 23.

Also, of the five games in 1969, none lasted more than 2:33, and that was a 10-inning game. The other four went 2:13, 2:14, 2:20 and 2:23.

Contrast this with four-hour games that are regularly played now. Game 1 of the recent ALCS between the Tigers and Red Sox, for instance, took 3:56, featured nine total pitchers - and ended 1-0.

TB had this great World Series history book back when he was a kid that traced every World Series, beginning with the first one, back in 1903, between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans, the forerunner to the Red Sox. There was no World Series in 1904, and there has been one every year since except for 1994, when a strike cancelled it in a year that the Montreal Expos might have won.

For a long time TB was a pretty good authority on the history of the World Series, because of that book. And other books he read, back when kids read books about sports, something he thinks doesn't happen as much these days.

Anyway, TB hasn't watched one pitch of the baseball postseason this year, though he probably will watch at least a few innings of the World Series at some point.

He's not 100% sure why he hasn't watched the baseball playoffs.

Maybe it's because the games are interminable. Maybe it's because he views baseball completely destroyed by the PED scandals.

Or maybe, just maybe, it's only fun for him if he's rooting against the Yankees? Can that be the reason?

He knows the reason he didn't watch the Real Sports feature on the field hockey team and its relationship with Carmella Loschiavo, a seven-year old with Down's Syndrome suffering from pediatric brain tumors that are currently in remission. The field hockey team and Carmella - known as "Moo" - were paired through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.

TB didn't see it because he doesn't have HBO. He has Showtime, because that's where "Homeland" is.

Still, he'd like to have seen the feature. Princeton, the defending NCAA champion, has embraced Moo in a way that creates such a special situation, where completely healthy, in their physical prime college athletes, give their time - and affection - to a little girl who hasn't been anywhere near as lucky as they have been.

Beyond winning the NCAA championship or the Ivy League title, this is one of the best parts of college athletics.

To healthy little kids who play youth sports, the college athletes they come to see might as well be Peyton Manning or LeBron James. For a sick little girl who has suffered her whole life, it's an even bigger deal.

Princeton field hockey is at Harvard this weekend. The Tigers are the only unbeaten team in the league, with games remaining against the Crimson (1-3) and then Cornell (2-2) and Penn (3-1).

In a weird scheduling quirk, Princeton hasn't been home in a long time, since Oct. 4 to be exact. That game, a win over Columbia, is Princeton's lone home game in a 36-day stretch, one that ends with games Nov. 2 against Cornell and Nov. 3 against Rider.

Should Princeton win the league, it'll be back in the NCAA tournament, where it won five games last year to win the program's first NCAA championship.

Princeton was one of the favorites to win it last year. This year, the Tigers would have to make a run as an underdog if it gets into the NCAA tournament.

To Moo, the Tigers are already big winners.

Next time you read a story about all of the negatives of college athletics, remember what Princeton field hockey is doing for a seven year old girl. One who really, really needs them.

And then think about how many other teams around the country are doing the same.

College athletics? They can be a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Twin Celebrations

Janine and Rochelle Willis look completely alike, even by identical twin standards.

All identical twins are, well, identical. For the most part. There's always something that gives one away or the other.

In the case of the Willis twins? No way. They look more alike than any two identical twins TigerBlog has ever seen. 

TigerBlog couldn't tell them apart nine years ago, when they were defenders on the Princeton women's soccer team. And he certainly hadn't gotten any closer to figuring out who was who when he saw the two of them at Roberts Stadium Saturday.

Actually, he couldn't tell which Willis was which when he was putting together the video for the Princeton soccer NCAA Final Four celebration, which was what brought the Willis twins to the soccer doubleheader against Columbia.

The video was part of the dinner that followed the two games, and it was in honor of the program's two NCAA Final Four teams - the 1993 men and the 2004 women.

As TB was putting the video together, he had some pretty good clips of the women's team bowling, eating in a hotel, getting ready for their Final Four game, that sort of stuff. And the twins were featured prominently.

Except he didn't know which was which. So he had to make three small videos of the clips he had and then ask which Willis it was.

And so it was that shortly before halftime TB was hugged by one Willis and then the other, and he has no idea which one was which.

TB isn't much of a hugger. MotherBlog? Now there was a hugger. All 5' 3" of her. She could hug with the best of them.

As for TB, he's much happier standing off to the side.

This past Saturday wasn't a day for that.

Almost every member of the 2004 women's team came back nine years after they stampeded through the Ivy League, into the national Top 10 and all the way to the Final Four in Cary, N.C. Now they were back, in their late 20s and early 30s, some of them married and mothers themselves, all of them with a lifetime bond with each other that appears a decade later as unbreakable as it was the night they beat Washington to reach the Final Four.

The 1993 men's team was back as well.

It was 11 years earlier that the men's team knocked off Columbia, Penn State and Hartwick to get to the Final Four. Princeton had gone 6-1-0 in the Ivy League in 1993, with the loss to Columbia. There was also a loss to Hartwick in the regular season.

The three NCAA tournament wins that year were by a combined 10-2, as the Tigers avenged two of their losses along the way.

TigerBlog was the OAC contact for the 2004 women's team, and he covered the 1993 men's team's three NCAA wins while at the newspaper. He knew the women's players well, recognized each of them - not that it was that hard to do, since they don't look any older than when they played.

The men are now in their late 30s and early 40s. TB didn't know them nearly as well, but he recognized a few faces and most of the names.

Like the women, they had done something extraordinary together, and like the women, it was obvious that the men had something special that will never go away.

Princeton is one of 11 schools to have reached the NCAA Final Four in both men's and women's soccer in the last 20 years. The men are the most recent Ivy school to reach the Final Four, and the women are the only Ivy school ever to do so, as well as the only Ivy school to reach the Final Four in a 64-team NCAA bracket.

Oh, and the other 10 schools? It's: North Carolina, UMass, Santa Clara, Stanford, SMU, Duke, UConn, Portland, Ohio State and Wake Forest.

That's pretty good company.

TB's job Saturday was to help coordinate the halftime celebrations. As he did so, it dawned on him that he had been at all seven NCAA tournament wins between the two teams, and he couldn't help but wonder how many others in attendance had also been at all seven.

When the women's ceremony was over, the team posed for pictures off to the side. They stood together, and then there was picture of each class - which they called "seniors," "juniors," "sophomores" and "freshmen," as if they will hold those designations forever when they are together.

As TB did the video for the dinner, he was taken back to both team's biggest moments. He also noticed that the writer for the 1993 men's soccer team for the Daily Princetonian was none other than Grant Wahl, now among the top soccer writers in the world.

Mostly he thought back to Lourie-Love Field, the place that Roberts Stadium replaced. Myslik Field, the Roberts Stadium game field, is on the same spot that used to be Lourie-Love, except that Roberts Stadium has actual concrete, seats with backs, a concourse, bathrooms and concession stands.

What TB remembered most was three women's games. First, there was the win over Harvard, when Emily Behncke tied it with about 40 seconds left in regulation, Emily Vogelzang kept it going with a save on a breakaway in OT and then Esmeralda Negron won it.

Then there was the Sweet 16 win over Boston College, on a pair of Behncke goals. And then there was the win over Washington, with an early goal by Behncke and then, after U-W tied it, goals in the second half by Negron and Kristina Fontanez to win it.

TB saw how the crowd size built at Lourie-Love one game to the next to the next, until more than 2,500 jammed into the place for the Washington game. It was the momentum from that run that led to the construction of Roberts Stadium.

Unlike its replacement, Lourie-Love wasn't exactly a palace. It had rickety wooden stands - and that was it.

But it was a great place to watch a game, especially in the falls of 1993 and 2004, when two groups of Princeton soccer players put together something unbelievably special.

They came back Saturday to hug - and to celebrate and remember.

Celebrate, that is, their trips to the Final Four.

Remember, that is, the unbreakable, unforgettable, clearly obvious connection that they will have forever.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Talking Kazmaier With Ken

Ken is 81. His sweater turns 40 next year.

At least that's what he said. Bought it in 1974. In New Orleans. For $10.

It certainly looked comfortable. It was rust colored, sort of a burnt orange. Maybe it was brighter when he got it all those years ago.

Ken's not an orange guy.

He's more red and blue, red as in Cornell, where he went as an undergrad, and Columbia, where he went to law school.

Knowing he was talking to someone a little more familiar with orange and black, Ken asked how Princeton football had done this weekend. TigerBlog said that they had beaten Brown 39-17 after being down 17-0.

Then Ken took the conversation in a direction that TB hadn't anticipated.

"I think the best player I ever saw," he said slowly, "was Dick Kazmaier. He could do it all. Run. Pass. Even punt."

Ken was two years behind Kazmaier, which means he was a sophomore at Cornell the year that Kazmaier was a senior at Princeton. That would have been the 1951 football season, when Kazmaier won the Heisman Trophy.

Perhaps Kazmaier's best game at Princeton was that season against Cornell at Palmer Stadium.

TB knows the game well. He's read and written about it for years. Both teams were undefeated coming into the game, and it was supposed to be a huge test for the Tigers, who hadn't lost a game since 1949.

Instead, Kazmaier put on a clinic against the Big Red, completing 15 of 17 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns and carrying 18 times for 124 yards and two more touchdowns. Add it up and it was 360 yards and four touchdowns for Kazmaier and a 53-15 win for Princeton.

TB's take on the game has always been what he's read about it.

Ken? He had a different take. 

He wasn't at the game at Princeton, but and his friends did take the train to Ann Arbor to see Cornell-Michigan a year later, another game in which Cornell lost big. He did point out that Cornell beat Michigan at Schoellkopf Field in 1951 of course.

As for the 1951 Princeton-Cornell game, Ken listened to it on the radio. Back then, he said, they'd also show the games in the student center during the week, and this time, even though everyone in Ithaca knew Princeton had won big, there was a huge crowd to see the replay.

By the end, he said, they were clapping for Kazmaier, because he was that good.

Ken knew way more about Kazmaier than just that game. He knew he was from Ohio. Knew he was small. Knew he turned down a chance to play for the Chicago Bears to go to Harvard, for business school.

He knew Kazmaier was famous for being a true gentlemen, and he wasn't surprised when TB told him that in all the times he'd talked to Kazmaier, he never once said anything about himself, only about his teammates, his teams, his coaches, his opponents.

Ken's two alma maters lost Saturday.

TB's employer won, though it didn't start out looking so great for the Tigers, who fell behind 17-0 after a fumbled punt led to a field goal and then touchdowns on a 71-yard run and a blocked punt return.

So what did Princeton do?

Rip off 39 straight points, that's what. And operate at peak efficiency for the final three quarters. Especially in the third quarter.

Princeton trailed 17-6 at the break, but it was a big six, as the Tigers put together a good drive just before halftime. And then the third quarter was a thing of orange and black beauty.

Princeton outscored Brown 19-0 and rolled up 239 yards of offensive in the quarter. That would be on 26 plays of offense, by the way, so that's an average of 9.2 yards per play.

Every play, it seemed, worked exactly as it was supposed to, exactly how it was drawn up. It was surgical.

Princeton added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, making it a 33-0 second half.

And this was against a good team.

Quinn Epperly tacked on three more touchdowns, giving him 20 in five games (11 rushing, nine passing) and leaving him one TD pass away from joining Ron Landeck as the only players in school history to reach double figures in rushing and passing touchdowns in the same season.

But this was a total team effort, and by the time it was over, Brown had simply been overwhelmed.

So where does that leave the Tigers?

On a bus to Harvard this weekend for a huge game with the Crimson.

Harvard, Penn and Princeton are all 2-0 in the Ivy League. Yale and Dartmouth are both 1-1. Ken's two alma maters plus Brown are all 0-2.

There are nothing but Ivy League games remaining for all eight teams. Princeton has put itself in position to play some huge ones heading down the stretch.

A year ago, Princeton shocked Harvard 39-34 after being down 34-10 with 12 minutes left. The Tigers will not be sneaking up on the Crimson this time around.

This time it'll be the Ivy League's top two offenses. Between them they average 81 points per game, and Brown, the third-place offensive team, is more than seven points behind second-place Harvard.

In terms of offense, they average 965 yards per game as well. Of those 965 yards, Princeton accounts for 537, which is only 98 more yards per game than the school record for total offense per game, set in 1983.

Lost in the offensive explosion that has been the first half of Princeton's season is the fact that the Tigers rank first in the league in scoring defense and yards allowed.

The goal is to win the championship. To do so, you have to first put yourself in position to play for the championship.

Princeton has done that through five exciting weeks.

The big games between the three remaining unbeatens begin this weekend in Cambridge and continue in Week 8 (Princeton-Penn) and Week 9 (Harvard-Penn). Yale and Dartmouth will still be heard from as well in the championship race.

There are some big moments in Ivy League football coming up during the second half of the season.

Princeton will be right in the thick of it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Drive Thru

TigerBlog knows it was a basketball trip, not a football trip. The time he traded the fries for a Frosty at Wendy's, that's is.

It was definitely on the way back from Brown too.

TB was with Tom McCarthy, then the radio voice for Princeton, and Mark Eckel, who had covered the weekend to Yale and Brown for the Trenton Times. They were heading south on 95 when they stopped at Wendy's - back when TB ate that stuff.

Had it been current day, TB would have brought his own bananas and grapes and let it go at that.

Anyway, the order at the drive thru was for three fries and two Frosty's. TB, the driver, took the food and drove away.

As they started down 95, whoever didn't have the Frosty immediately regretted it. Then the three saw a sign for another Wendy's, so TB pulled off 95 an exit or two south of the first Wendy's.

This Wendy's is on the left side as you get off the exit that takes you to the University of Rhode Island and Newport, right when you get off 95.

It was fairly late at night too, since it was already 40 minutes or so south of Providence and the group didn't leave until Eckel finished his story.

TB pulled into the second drive thru and was going to order another Frosty when he said instead something like this: "uh, yeah, we were just here and ordered three Frosty's and two fries but you gave us two Frosty's and three fries instead." TB wasn't really serious.

So what did the kid at the drive thru at 11 or so on a Saturday night do? Apologized and gave TB another Frosty. For free.

TB was so stunned that he just took it. What he wanted to do was pay for it and say "hey, buddy, do you remember anyone coming here in the last few minutes who ordered three Frostry's and two fries? Does this car look in any way familiar?"

That's TB's favorite story about traveling to Brown.

Basketball travel for TB has mostly involved late, late nights driving home. For football, the trips were usually on Fridays.

Each time TB vowed to leave by 10 am or so to miss the traffic on 95 in Connecticut. Each time he ended up leaving around 2 - and getting slammed on the way to Providence or Hanover or Cambridge.

The Friday nights before the games were great times back then, often spent hanging out with the opposing school's sports information people, back when people in Ivy League sports information all knew each other. 

TigerBlog won't be making the trip this weekend to Providence for Princeton-Brown football. Instead, he'll either watch it on TV - if he can figure out if he gets Fox College Sports Pacific - or listen to Dan Loney on the radio.

TB does like Brown's stadium very much as a place to see a game, though he can't stand the walk up to the press box or to the top part of the stands. Still, it's a charming place to be on a fall afternoon.

It's a huge game for a Princeton team that has looked very, very good through four weeks.

At the end of the day Saturday, each Ivy League team will have completed its non-league schedule and played two games, and the schedule will have reached the halfway point.

Were TB in charge of making such decisions, this week would be an off week for all eight Ivy League schools, and the season would have started one week earlier.

Meanwhile, back in the world were TB is just an observer, it's Week 5 for Ivy football.

Right now, Harvard is 2-0 in the league and 4-0 overall and it hosts the same Lafayette team that Princeton beat 42-26 last week. If nothing else, the game will offer some comparative scoring opportunity.

Brown is 3-1 and the Rhode Island state champ after defeating URI and Bryant, as well as Georgetown. The goal is to win the Ivy League, though, and Brown already has one blemish, a 41-23 loss to Harvard.

Princeton and Penn are the only other undefeated Ivy teams, both at 1-0. Princeton thumped Columbia 53-7 in its Ivy opener, while Penn outlasted Dartmouth in four overtimes. Dartmouth and Yale are 1-1 after the Big Green bounced back from that crushing Penn loss to beat the Bulldogs last weekend.

Princeton is at Brown Saturday and Harvard next Saturday. It's back-to-back trips up 95, and they will go a long way towards defining the season.

Princeton has scored a ton of points and gained a ton of yards through four games. It's also put its most exciting team in all the time TB has been watching the team play on the field.

By this point of the season, it's impossible to win a league championship. It is possible to lose one.

Princeton has taken the first step in the direction of playing for a league championship, by winning its league opener and having momentum going forward.

Step 2 is to put itself in position to play meaningful games in November. The next two weeks will help decide if that happens.

The Brown game is particularly fascinating, since the Bears are playing for their league lives after the loss to Harvard.

Ivy League football is a sprint. It seems like 20 minutes ago that Princeton's coaches were talking about how they couldn't wait to get started.

Now the season is almost half over.

The first half has been fun and entertaining.

The second half is all business, hopefully, for Princeton fans at least, successful business.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Search Engine

The meeting yesterday was headed by Mitch Henderson and Kristen Holmes-Winn and featured a pretty good turnout of Princeton coaches and administrators.

The subject was a big one around these parts these days. The search for the next Ford Family Director of Athletics.

Gary Walters announced he was stepping down as AD at the conclusion of the current academic year back at the department staff meeting in early September. Walters is in his 20th year as the Princeton athletic director, which means that almost everyone who works for Princeton Athletics has known only one boss.

There are a few still here from when Bob Mylsik was AD.  From the head coaching ranks, there are both track and field coaches (Peter Farrell, Fred Samara), both swimming coaches (Rob Orr, Susan Teeter) and women's lacrosse coach Chris Sailer, as well as football associate head coach Steve Verbit.  From the staff, there is Associate AD Karen Malec, ticket manager Stephanie Sutton, compliance assistant Nancy Donigan and football administrative assistant Stacie Traube.

There are probably others. TigerBlog did that off the top of his head. He's sure he's forgetting a few people. He apologizes.

The overwhelming majority of people who work here started since Gary became AD. Two started the same day as Gary - TigerBlog and women's squash coach Gail Ramsay.

It's going to be a total culture shock for the department when the new athletic director starts - and for the new AD as well.

The search committee that has been formed to choose Gary's successor includes Henderson, the men's basketball coach, and Holmes-Winn, the field hockey coach.

When Gary Walters became AD at Princeton, Henderson was graduating from Culver Military Academy. Since then, Henderson became a star player on some of Princeton's greatest basketball teams ever, graduated from Princeton, spent more than a decade as an assistant coach at Northwestern and now is entering Year 3 at Princeton as its head coach.

From high school grad to established head coach at his alma mater. All while Gary Walters has been the AD.

As for Holmes-Winn, she was a freshman at the University of Iowa when Walters became the AD.

And now they are part of the group that will have to come up with his replacement.

As part of this process, the search committee has had a series of meetings like yesterday's with the athletic department. There have already been ones with students and general faculty/staff, and there is another one for alumni scheduled for Nov. 16, prior to the Yale football game.

The discussions are live versions of the questions asked on the athletic director search website, where those interested are asked about the qualities that the new AD should have, the major challenges that he or she will face, if there is anyone specific in mind for the position and if there are additional comments. It's similar to the website that was set up for the search for the University president that was held recently.

The meeting yesterday was really interesting for TigerBlog in that it showed a real insight into what the coaches (who did most of the talking) are thinking about as it relates to a new boss and what their perceptions are about what that new boss will have to focus one once he or she is here.

These are interesting times in college athletics and Ivy League athletics, and there will be no shortage of issues to deal with during the next AD's tenure.

TigerBlog said little at the meeting, as he was content to listen to what others had to say. What he did offer was that when he looks at candidates for positions at Princeton, he asks two questions: Can you do the job, and can you do the job here?

In other words, do you have the background and skills necessary to do the job itself. That's question No. 1.

Question No. 2 is can you do that job at Princeton, with its unique set of challenges, advantages, expectations. This isn't a Princetonian snobby elitist thing - any place in any field has whatever makes it different.

TB, for instance, doesn't think he'd be a good fit for his position at a place like, say, the University of Florida anymore than whoever is at Florida would necessarily be a good fit for Princeton.

In addition to that, there is the issue of taking over for someone like Gary Walters, who has been there for so long, has overseen a department that has had so much success on his watch and has a very strong personality that permeates through the entire department. That alone will be a challenge for the new AD.

That was TB's other comment.

Anyway, it was a pretty quick hour discussion yesterday, and TB came away intrigued by really all of the comments that were made.

Once these meetings are over, the committee can go into the hard work of identifying candidates, interviewing and doing all of the other tasks that go along with such an important decision. That work, by the way, will be far from the public eye, as it should be.

TigerBlog won't even begin to speculate now on who the next AD at Princeton will be.

For now, he will wait and see what the committee decides. He'll know the results soon enough, and then he'll have a new boss.

To say it will be fascinating is an understatement.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tie Game

If you were to invite FatherBlog to the beach, there's a 50-50 chance he'd show up in a jacket and tie.

Okay, maybe not 50-50. At least 40-60 though.

It was FatherBlog who taught his son to tie a tie, a long, long time ago. It was FatherBlog who tried to instill in his son that he should wear a tie to work every day, regardless of what the job was.

And it was FatherBlog who winced that rainy, muddy Thanksgiving Day in the 1980s, when TigerBlog set out to cover a high school football game wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.

These days, TigerBlog is most likely to be found wearing Princeton Athletics gear during his work day. Oh, he still has some ties, a few of which are Princeton-centric, including a great yellow Princeton lacrosse tie.

He also has two red-and-blue ties, but that's just a coincidence.

TigerBlog Jr. goes to a school where ties are required every day. TB always chuckles when he sees a group of students there, especially late in the day, when the ties aren't exactly in perfect order.

TB can tie a nice tie, with a good, crisp knot that aligns perfectly with the collar. Even if he doesn't have to do it that often.

The OAC is the home of head shots for Princeton's athletes, and hundreds and hundreds of young men have come into TB's workplace and attempted to tie ties without a mirror.

In most cases, they use the same tie for an entire team. The first player will put it on, get his picture taken and then give it to the next. Often they will share the same dress shirt and jacket even, if necessary.

It's all part of team bonding, TB supposes. Well, the tie part. Even the jacket. The shirt part is a bit gross.

It's quite a sight, seeing a line form, knowing that there is one tie for an entire team, knowing that TB is going to hear "how do I look?" and "is my tie straight" a few dozen times in the next half hour or so.

In all the years that this has gone on, TB has encountered two freshmen who didn't know how to tie a tie. TB will not be naming names.

The most recent example was Monday. Like the first time, TB showed him how to tie it, and he did okay for the first try. Not great. But it was a start.

And when you see his picture on, you won't be able to tell that the back of the tie drifted down below the front.

All this talk of ties got TB thinking about, well, ties. Of a different sort.

The 1995 Princeton football team won the outright Ivy League championship at Dartmouth. Heading into the final weekend, TB put the list of possible scenarios in his game notes.

Prior to that game, there was the possibility of anything from an outright championship to a four-way tie between Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell and Penn, who all played each other that weekend. Almost as an afterthought, TB included what would happen in the event of tie games.

As it famously turned out, Brock Harvey scrambled to inside the one-yard line with four seconds left, and Alex Sierk hit the field goal that tied Dartmouth 10-10, giving Princeton the outright title.

There was no overtime back then, so the tie stood.

Suppose there had been overtime in 1995. What would Princeton have done on the final play of regulation? Go for the touchdown and the championship? Kick the field goal to go to overtime?

TB has to think it would have been worth the risk from inside the 1. After all, there's probably close to an 85% chance or so that you'd score a touchdown, while overtime is 50-50.

Football doesn't exactly lend itself to sudden-death overtime, though TB prefers the college OT method to the NFL one. 

The 1995 game against Dartmouth was the last one Princeton played where ties were possible. The rule to have overtime came in in 1996, and Princeton was involved in an OT game in Week 1, when it lost to Cornell.

This would be Season No. 18 with the overtime rule in college football, and Princeton has played 14 overtime games in that time, going 8-6. The biggest win of those OT games was the 2006 two-overtime win over Penn, 31-30, in a game that featured the famous Jeff Terrell-to-Rob Toresco pitch on fourth down after Terrell was stopped short of the goal line.

TB loves overtime in men's lacrosse, because it can end at any time and the drama is constant. He doesn't understand why women's lacrosse doesn't play sudden death as well, instead playing two three-minute OTs and only then sudden death if it's still tied.

Field hockey has to have a winner. Soccer doesn't. When soccer does need a winner, it goes to penalty kicks, something TB hates. Basketball overtime should only be three minutes, not five.

And what's so bad about a tie in football anyway? The rule probably exists to take the pressure of coaches from having to explain why they kicked the extra point to get a tie rather than going for two and the win.

Anyway, ties aren't so bad.

Once you learn how to tie them.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Go Egypt

TigerBlog has spent much of the last few days working on the video for the Princeton soccer celebration that is coming up this weekend.

Princeton hosts Columbia in women's and men's soccer this Saturday, with the women at 1 and the men at 4. The day will feature halftime ceremonies honoring each team's NCAA Final Four appearance, with the 2004 women and 1993 men on hand.

TB has been putting together a video for the big dinner that follows the games.

Back in 2004, TigerBlog was the OAC contact for the women's soccer team. As he goes down the path of the video, it's hard to believe that nine years have passed.

Back in 1993, he was still at the newspaper, and he actually covered Princeton's first three NCAA tournament games that year, as the Tigers defeated Columbia, Penn State and Hartwick at Lourie-Love Field to reach the Final Four. It's hard to believe that was 20 years ago.

Actually, it's easier to believe that 20 years have passed since then than it is to believe it's been nine years since the 2004 women matched the men's accomplishment.

Time can be weird that way.

As TB goes through old video, he is immediately taken back to big moments of the 2004 season.

Actually, the team's highlight video from that year began in 2003, when Princeton lost a frustrating 2-1 game to Villanova in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. As the video said, "2004 would be different."

And it was. Starting with a 2-1 win over a Texas A&M team that came to Lourie-Love ranked fifth nationally, Princeton stormed through the year, falling only to Wake Forest and Colgate while winning 15 times during the regular season, including going 7-0-0 in the Ivy League.

The NCAA tournament featured four games at Lourie-Love Field, wins over Central Connecticut, Villanova, Boston College and finally Washington to reach the Final Four.

The 2004 Princeton women's soccer team remains the only Ivy League women's soccer team ever to reach the Final Four and the only team in any Ivy sport to reach the Final Four of a 64-team NCAA bracket.

It's amazing how much different things were 11 years earlier.

It starts, of course, with the hairstyles of the 1993 players and fans, at least as far as TB can see from the video he's been watching. Rob Pawloski, the goalkeeper on the team, has a ponytail that sticks out through a baseball cap that he wore during the games; TB doubts he still has the same look.

Beyond that, all of TB's pictures from 1993 are black & white prints that had to be scanned. Everything from 2004 was color, and they were already electronic.

There was no internet in 1993, so getting information on that team isn't as easy. Everything from 2004 is stored online.

The 2004 women's soccer coaches and players don't look too much different nine years later.

The men? Well, there is the matter of the head coach, Bob Bradley.

In the video, he looks really, really young. Not that he looks old now, though he certainly has been through a lot in the 20 years since he took the Tigers to the Final Four.

He left Princeton shortly after that and got in on the ground floor of Major League Soccer. Then he became an assistant coach for the U.S. men's national team, under ironically enough, Bruce Arena, who was the head coach of the Virginia team that defeated Princeton in the 1993 semifinals.

Bradley was then elevated to the top spot for the USMNT, and he led the Americans to the 2010 World Cup, where he also won his group, before falling to Ghana in the knockout round.

For all of that success, Bradley was let go as the U.S. head coach. TB gets that this is the nature of coaching on the international level.

Bradley is now the head coach of the Egyptian national team. As it's turned out, that has become the hardest job in coaching in the world.

A country that politically is barely being held together has at least been able to rally around its soccer team, which is undefeated in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. It's not easy having that kind of pressure hanging over your head as a coach. This isn't about winning to save your job. It's about winning while there are massacres going on all around you.

All that stands in the way of Egypt and its first World Cup berth since 1990 is Ghana, the same country that knocked Bradley out in the round of 16 in 2010. Egypt plays home-and-home with Ghana, and the winner advances to the World Cup. The loser is out.

The first of those two games is today at noon Eastern time, at Ghana.

Scott Bradley is Princeton's baseball coach and Bob's brother. He just walked by and told TB he's nervous.

While looking for footage and stills for his video, TB came across the 1992 team photo, which has Bob Bradley in the back, looking like a young Bob Bradley, or young Charlton Heston, if you prefer.

In front is a little boy holding a soccer ball and wearing a Princeton jersey. It's Bob's son, Michael, now one of the best players on the U.S. national team.

They've come a long way in 20 years.

Today is a huge step in the father's continued journey.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Amazing Quinn Epperly

If you consider the Princeton quarterback depth chart to go Connor Michelsen first, Quinn Epperly second and Kedric Bostic third, then this is how Princeton's opening possession of its 42-26 win over Lafayette Saturday went:

Play No. 1 - reverse to the third-string quarterback
Play No. 2 - completion from the second string quarterback to the first-string quarterback

It took TigerBlog back to the 1992 Princeton-Penn football game, held at Palmer Stadium. Back then, TB had to do a bit of a double take to make sure that it really was No. 1 who came off the edge to sack Penn quarterback Jim McGeehan and preserve the 2014 win.

No. 1 was Michael Lerch, who was about 5-9, 170 pounds and really fast. He was a great player at Princeton, and if you ask anyone who saw him play as much as TB did, they will remember two games.

First was the one at Brown in 1991.

During the week before the game, at what was then a weekly football luncheon, Brown coach Mickey Kwiatkowski rather colorfully talked about how the game plan would be to stop Keith Elias, Princeton's All-America running back.

When he was asked how he played to do that, for instance, Kwiatkowski replied, basically, "with a shotgun."

Elias still had a big day in the game, which Princeton won 59-37. Lerch had a ridiculous day.

Lerch caught nine passes for 370 yards - yes, 370 yards - with touchdowns of 64, 79, 90 and 45 yards. He also rushed once for 15 yards and returned six kickoffs for 78 yards, giving him 463 all-purpose yards.

The receiving and all-purpose yards totals are still Ivy single-game records. They were both Division I-AA records at the time, though both have been broken since - the all-purpose yards record by four yards in 1995 and the receiving record by six yards in 2000.

TB has never heard of either guy who broke the records. One was from Western Kentucky. The other was from Cal-Poly.

Anyway, the Brown game is the first game TB thinks about when he thinks about Lerch.

The second was the Penn game.

Princeton led 20-14 late, very, very late, and Penn was driving to the winning touchdown. Or least trying to. The Quakers were at about the Princeton 20, as TB remembers it, driving towards the open end of Palmer's horseshoe.

On the final play, here came Lerch to line up as a defensive end. And there he went, sprinting past the offensive line to nail McGeehan and end it.

The lesson from that to TB has always been this: In Ivy League football, get your best athletes on the field, even in unconventional ways.

And that's what made TB think back to Michael Lerch as Princeton ran its first two plays.

It's a common football expression that the backup quarterback is the most popular player on the team.

At Princeton, the backup quarterback might also be the best player on the team.

Epperly does everything offensively. He can throw, catch, run, block. He's big and physical. There is an excitement factor every time he touches the ball.

More than anything, he has a knack for creating touchdowns.

Through four games, he has thrown for nine touchdowns and rushed for eight. That's insane.

Prorated over 10 games, that would be 22 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing touchdowns.

Philip King holds the Princeton record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 29. Of course, that was set back in 1889. Elias is second with 19, set in 1993, one year after he had 18, the third-best total.

The record for passing touchdowns in a season is 25, set by Doug Butler in 1993. Jeff Terrell had 17 in 2006 for the second-best total.

TB doubts that Epperly will maintain this pace, but who knows? And if he does, could he actually have a 20/20 season, with 20 rushing and 20 passing TDs?

Forget that. How about a 10/10 season? Only one player in Princeton history ever has done so. Want to guess who it was? Hint - it wasn't even Dick Kazmaier.

Epperly is one TD pass and two rushing touchdowns away from equaling that achievement. Answer coming shortly.

What makes Epperly's numbers even more amazing are that he's rushed the ball 29 times and thrown it 59 times. That's 88 attempts, which have resulted in 17 touchdowns.

After all, he's the backup QB, right?

Oh, and he's had at least three touchdowns wiped out by penalties, including, as TB recalls, one receiving.

The only 10/10 season in Princeton football history, by the way, belongs to Ron Landeck, who had 10 rushing and 13 passing touchdowns in 1965.

Princeton has now reached at least 40 points for the third straight week, something last accomplished when the Nineteen-Oh-Seven team did so for the first five game. 1907? That's 106 years ago.

Of course, the last three games might as well be 106 years ago for as much as they will matter the next two weekends, when the tone for the 2013 season will be set.

Princeton is at Brown this Saturday and Harvard next Saturday. Both games can be seen on Fox College Sports.

Princeton has shown itself to be ridiculously exciting through the first four games of the season.

Will it be an Ivy League contender to boot?

Coming soon to Fox College Sports.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Forbidden Zone

TigerBlog caught the last 20 minutes of "Planet of the Apes" yesterday.

The original Charlton Heston version. Not any of the sequels or remakes.

"Planet of the Apes" was released in 1968. TB can't remember when he first saw it, though he is positive it was not in a movie theater. Most likely it was part of the "4:30 Movie," which aired every day on channel 7 in New York when TB was a kid.

Anyway, the movie is freaky. Heston and two other astronauts - who had been stuck in some weird time warp that completely distorted the centuries - land on a weird planet where all humans are mutes and are treated as cattle by the far superior apes. Eventually Heston is the only human left who can speak, though he has suffered a throat injury that keeps him silent for awhile, until he utters the immortal line: "take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape."

Eventually Heston helps prove that humans who could speak inhabited the planet before the apes, except the head ape doesn't want to hear about it. He lets Heston and a mute woman go, and then he destroys the evidence that Heston came up with in what was known as "The Forbidden Zone." Presumably, the head ape also gets rid of the two apes - and their hippie ape nephew - who were siding with Heston.

The final scene is also famous, as Heston and the mute woman ride on horseback - the horses had to be confused by the whole ape/human dynamic, though other than Mr. Ed, there haven't been too many talking horses - along the beach, unsure of what they're going to find.

Eventually, though, Heston and the mute woman stumble upon some ruins, which the viewer can't really see at first, until it becomes clear that it's the Statue of Liberty. The implication is clear, that mankind had some sort of nuclear war or something that destroyed everything, opening the door for the apes to rise.

TB has always wondered about the last scene.

If one makes the assumption that the Statue of Liberty was destroyed in whatever took out the humans in the first place, then the next question is where the statue ended up. While the scene was filmed in California, it's unlikely that the statue would have made its way across the country across whatever was left of the 3,000-mile land mass and ended up in the Pacific.

So that means that the statue was still in the Atlantic. It's possible that over the few hundreds years that had passed, it drifted up or down the coast. Or maybe it just got wedged on the beach and stayed there.

Heston and the mute woman were traveling with the ocean on their right, which would mean going south to north. If the statue had been in the same basic place as always, that means that Heston and the mute woman were riding along what had been the Jersey Shore.

Since the main ape city wasn't on the ocean but because there were no cars, then it's possible that the apes were centered in what had once been Princeton.

Hey, that's not terrible logic.

There isn't a lot of action in the Forbidden Zone this weekend. Most of the games involving Princeton teams are far away from the ape city.

There are 17 Princeton events this weekend, and only three of them are at home. There are two home men's water polo games, against Johns Hopkins Saturday at 2 and Navy Saturday at 7:30, and the football game Saturday at 1 against Lafayette.

Everyone else is away.

The soccer teams are both at Brown. The field hockey team is at Maryland today and Delaware Sunday. Women's volleyball is at Yale and Brown. Sprint football is at Cornell. There are also events for tennis and golf.

Even men's water polo isn't completely home, as the Tigers will be at Bucknell Sunday.

TigerBlog loves the fall weekends when there are home events all day, with field hockey, football, two soccer games and volleyball. There hasn't been one of those weekends yet this year.

There is one Nov. 2, when everyone is home. There's even Heps cross country that day. And women's hockey thrown in.

This weekend?

It'll be quiet around here, or as quiet as it can be with a home football game. TB will be there.

After all, it might be a light weekend on the schedule, but they all count, and you have to take advantage of them while you can.

It won't be too many centuries until this place is crawling with apes.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

RIP, Glove

The Glove, as it was known in the OAC, passed away last week at the age of 180,000 miles.

No, it wasn't TigerBlog's car. It was a Honda Civic that belonged to Craig Sachson, who covers 12 of Princeton's 38 sports, including football. And its nickname was "The Glove," since the first three letters of the license plate were "GLV."

Craig had no time to mourn. After all, life goes on, and there are always new highways that need to be driven.


TigerBlog has been in the same situation before. The old car is too far gone to fix, and so there is an immediate need for a new one. TB once had his old car towed to the dealer, which he think might have impacted its trade-in value.

TB doesn't like brand-new cars. They scare him.

TB's current car has 155,000 miles on it. He's fine with that. It's dirty, with its share of scratches on the paint. It's also missing one of the floor mats and has a slight divot in the floor itself.

Brand-new cars? Scary. Although they seem to have a nice smell and all, something that faded from TB's current car long before it was infested with kids and lacrosse equipment.

When you have a brand-new car, you're constantly worried about getting it dented or scratched. Or worse.

It's only normal. After all, it's a big investment, and you're sort of stuck with it for awhile. The last thing you want is to, say, hit a deer with a three-month old car.

There's a certain nervousness that goes along with driving a new car. And with leaving one in a parking lot, for that matter.

And so the next generation of "The Glove" is new on the scene. TB wishes Craig good luck with his car.

It'll be making its first two big road trips in the next two weekends, when Princeton heads to Brown and Harvard for football. This week it'll be parked outside Princeton Stadium as the Tigers host Lafayette in their final non-league game.

Ahead is that two-week stretch that will go a long way to defining the season. Consecutive losses will take the Tigers out of the league race. A split would put them in position to play for the league title; a sweep would be even better.

Before then, it's Lafayette.

Like every other sport, the goal in football is the league championship. Unlike basically every other sport, there are only three non-league games.

The first two are the first two weeks, when the season is new and there are all sorts of kinks to work out. Then there's the league opener, and then the prospect of six more league games.

Week 4 always means the last non-league game. Clearly Princeton would trade a loss on Saturday for a run in the league, but when you only play 10 games, you don't want to waste any of them.

Besides, Princeton is on something of a role here. It'll be interesting to see what happens next.

Princeton enters off back-to-back 50-point outings for the first time since 1907. The last time Princeton did it three straight times?

How about 1890, when Princeton reached 50 four straight times.

In fact, the last time Princeton reached 50 points twice in the same season, let alone back-to-back weeks, was 1951, the same year Dick Kazmaier won the Heisman Trophy.

Oh, and Princeton has scored at least 50 points twice in the last two games. Prior to that, Princeton reached 50 points twice in its previous 304 games.

Princeton is averaging 557.3 yards of offense per game, 280 through the air and 277.3 on the ground.

All those gaudy numbers are nice now, but it's only been three weeks. Three pretty exciting weeks, and TB thanks that had the Tigers played Lehigh without spotting the Mountain Hawks two games of experience and conditioning then the second half might have been different.

So next it's Lafayette and then the two big road games.

Is Princeton going to sustain this level of offense through the season?

And more importantly, will November be a big month for this team?

The game against Lafayette won't answer either question. The six weeks that follow will, especially the two that come up immediately.

Still, when there are only 10 chances to play in a season, you take advantage of all of them.

And with how exciting this team has been through three weeks, each Saturday is well worth a look.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jim Jadwin, Sports Information Director

The stranger who introduced herself to TigerBlog in the press box Saturday prior the Princeton-Columbia football game turned out to be Jeane Willis.

Jeane is a senior producer at SNY, the TV home of the Mets. Her nephew Michael Willis is an offensive lineman for the Tigers.

As it turns out, Jeane also was an intern in the Princeton Office of Athletic Communications at one point early in her career. Her trip to the game included a stroll past the OAC, on the Jadwin balcony, for old time's sake.

The Princeton OAC is a radically different place these days than it was when Willis worked here, or when TB first started. The working life of the office bears no resemblance, actually, to what it was even 10 or 15 years ago.

TB was talking about this yesterday with another OAC staffer. It's been an amazing transformation, in every single way, and it's all because of technology.

And yet there exists a pretty strong bond among those who've worked here through the years, almost like they're all alums of the same college, or in this case office.

It's hard to remember the OAC of the early 1990s, when there was no email, no internet, nothing like that. What there was was the U.S. mail, and overnight mail, and faxes sent and received, lots and lots of faxes sent and received.

There is still a fax machine in the mailroom next to TB's office. TB has used it maybe three times in five years or so.

There is still a mail machine. TB has never used the new one, which has been here for years as well. Way back when, he used it every day.

There was even something called "Fax on Demand," through which anyone could access game notes or releases or anything. Updating Fax on Demand was a big thing, and TB can still see himself as he faxes his notes to a central number, from which media members could then retrieve them.

And then there was the ill-fated "JockNet," which he can't really remember the point of, though it was similar to Fax on Demand.

TB can't remember the last time he overnighted anything anywhere. In fact, he wouldn't even know how to go about it now.

Back then, the issue of regular mail vs. overnight express was a big one. It was so much easier to pop something in an overnight envelope and send it off, rather than using regular mail. Except it was so much more expensive.

If someone needed a media guide, off it went overnight. Regardless of when they needed it. Regular mail seemed like so much of a hassle.

The OAC was a media relations office from the time it first hired someone to do sports publicity through a few years after the internet arrived. Everything that was done here was done in the name of assisting the media, because telling the stories of Princeton athletics meant getting those stories to the media. At least 99% of the time or so.

And so that's what SIDs did to get the word out. Pitched story ideas, set up interviews - and then sat back and hoped that the final product would be the message that was originally intended. It didn't always work that way.

As TB said, this is how it was from the time that the University first hired someone for sports publicity.

TB isn't quite sure of the exact lineage, but it does include names like Bill Stryker and Phil Langan and Tom Odjakjian and the guy whom Harvey Yavener ripped in his famous "Sports Information Please" column.

And Jim Jadwin himself.

The address for the OAC is Room 9, Jadwin Gym. One day an envelope came addressed to "Jim Jadwin, Sports Information Director, Office of Athletic Communications, Princeton NJ."

Of course, there is the counter story to that. There was a student worker once who was told to call Robert Morris and Hofstra and ask for their softball rosters. Except she heard "call Robert Morris at Hofstra" and did just that, calling Hofstra's sports info office and asking "is Robert Morris there?"

Eventually, Chuck Yrigoyen took over before giving way to Kurt Kehl and Mark Panus. It was when Panus left that TB snuck in, and he took Kehl's spot when he left to go to the Washington Capitals.

The structure of the office back then had multiple interns, usually for two years. This led to constant turnover, obviously.

Also, because there were no laptops or smart phones, all work had to be done in the office. And because desktop publishing was in its infancy, it took hours to do what now would take seconds, if it was something that was still done.

Because of this, the OAC staff was constantly wedged into the offices on the Jadwin balcony, day and night. Any big project - a football game program, a media guide - often required being here until long after midnight.

In fact, TB remembers clearly missing all of Monday Night Football games when there was a home football game that week, requiring the game program.

He also remembers a certain amount of loopiness after being here so long, including interns timing themselves on who could run out of the OAC, down the balcony, down the stairs, across the lobby, back up the other stairs and back to the office. Or OAC golf, which a nerf ball, a plastic golf club and a course that included having to drive the ball between three different sets of doors.

They were great times of course.

Eventually, the internship positions went away, in favor of full-time positions. The average tenure of the six members of the OAC staff now is slightly more than 10 years.

Everyone has a laptop and wireless internet at home. Everyone has a smart phone.

The key now is video, rather than publications. And social media.

The amount of content produced by the OAC so far exceeds the content produced when TB first started here. The advent of the internet turned the office from a media relations organization to a media relations outfit of its own, with content for all 38 sports that those who competed here in the pre-web era never came close to getting.

All of this content takes less time to produce, but it's also much more time sensitive, which means everyone here is on call basically at all times. It's just how it is.

So when TB met Jeane Willis, he was meeting someone whose job here bears little resemblance to what happens now.

And yet he and Willis were members of the same fraternity, the Office of Athletic Communications at Princeton University.

It's a very special place, where very special people have worked through the years. Some of the best times of TB's life have been spent within its walls.

It's always good to meet an alum.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Did She Say "Nicole Hung?"

TigerBlog promises not to turn this into a weekly review of the most recent Sunday's episode of "Homeland."

At worst, he figures six "Homeland" reviews for the 12 weeks of Season 3.

This isn't one of those six per se, except for one very intriguing part of Sunday's show.

Okay, he'll sneak in a little review. If the first two weeks of Season 3 were a golf tournament, then Carrie and Dana would be about 15-under each and nobody else would have broken par. That's how far ahead of everyone else they are right now as characters, and that's quite a statement, considering Saul, Peter and the new analyst were all tremendous Sunday night.

In fact, Saul's short, 15-second lecture to the new analyst about her head scarf was about as good as any moment the show has had in its first 26 episodes.

Then there was the moment in this episode that wouldn't have made anyone flinch, except for a fan of Princeton women's basketball.

Carrie, who was thrown to the feeding frenzy of the Senate committee by Saul, decides to enact her revenge by talking to a reporter. It doesn't exactly go as she might have hoped.

When the scene starts out, Carrie introduces herself to the reporter, a young Asian woman. And what does the reporter say?

"Hi, I'm Nicole Hung."

At first, TigerBlog wasn't sure he heard it correctly, so he hit rewind to double check.

Yup. Nicole Hung.

If you don't realize it, Nicole Hung is a senior on the women's basketball team here at Princeton. Her name isn't the most common in the world, so TB was a bit shocked by the coincidence that one of Princeton's women's basketball players would have her name randomly used.

To that end, he reached out to former women's basketball manager Amanda Roman, who is a huge fan of Hung's and "Homeland."

Of course Amanda had the answer. Hung's sister, it turns out, is friends with someone whose father is a writer/producer for "Homeland." This automatically makes him a genius.

TB can't confirm this, but he heard that David E. Kelley, the former Princeton hockey captain, used the names of rivals from Harvard and Yale for the bad guys on series like "Chicago Hope," "Ally McBeal," "The Practice" and the others that he did.

As for the real Nicole Hung, she enters her senior season with the Tigers with exactly 300 career points. That ranks her third among current players, behind Kristen Helmstetter (407) and Blake Dietrick (322).

The 2013-14 season starts for Princeton on Sunday, Nov. 10, with a game at Rutgers. That's little more than a month away.

It used to be that basketball season didn't start until Dec. 1. Now it's getting earlier and earlier. TB actually preferred the old way, unlike now, when Princeton will play six games in November and just seven in the entire month of December.

This is going to be a fascinating year for the Tigers.

Princeton has graduated some of the greatest players the program has ever known in the last two years, including by far the best, Niveen Rasheed. In all, three 1,000-point scorers (Rasheed, Lauren Edwards, Devona Allgood) graduated in the last two years, and four in three years, if you want to add Addie Micir from the year before.

In addition, Princeton also graduated Lauren Polansky, Kate Miller, Meg Bowen and Laura Johnson within the last two years. In many ways, the Tigers are starting over.

And yet, don't think that the streak of four straight Ivy League championships and NCAA tournament appearances is going to end quietly.

Princeton averaged 72 points per game two years ago, when Rasheed, Edwards and Allgood all averaged in double figures.

Last year, without Edwards and Allgood, Princeton had only one player in double figures, Rasheed, whose scoring average was basically the same both years (16.9 as a junior, 16.7 as a senior). So how many points per game did Princeton average last year? 71.2.

This year, Princeton might not have one player who is going to score 16 a game, but it has an army of players who can all score. And you know that they can all defend. That's what the cornerstone of Courtney Banghart's teams is. Constant pressure on the opponent.

The Tigers the last few years have been completely prohibitive Ivy League favorites and steamrolled through the league, going 52-2 the last four years against Ivy opponents.

This year won't be a matter of rolling the balls out and seeing what the final margin will be.

But sleep on these Tigers at your own risk.

They will be fun to watch. And they won't be giving up their title without a fight.