Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sit On It

TigerBlog got a new chair for his office.

As it turns out, this is actually a bigger deal than you'd think. His old chair lasted somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 years.

His old chair was red, with a high back and two arm rests. It was no frills, and it was fine.

When Kurt Kehl left Princeton to go work for the Washington Capitals, TigerBlog brought his chair with him from his old desk. Kurt's chair was one of those really old ones, one that didn't look like it was all that comfortable even when it was new.

Through the years, TB never thought about getting a new chair, even as everyone else did. Maybe it was his selfless side coming out. Maybe he just never really thought about his own comfort.

Anyway, two weeks ago or so, he finally broke down and ordered a new one. And it arrived Monday.

It came in a giant box, but it was just two pieces of chair that snapped together. Except TB tried snapping the top part into a part of the bottom that it wasn't meant to go into, which left him scratching his head over why the top kept falling off.

There are old beat up red chairs in TB's office that were left over from Kurt. A few years back, TB trashed two of the four that he had and instead got a futon, which he put together with some help from the business office's Ryan Yurko. By "some," TB means Yurko did it and TB watched.

As TB couldn't figure out why the chair kept falling, he heard Yurko in the mail room, so he enlisted his help again. Yurko came in and immediately snapped the top to the bottom, leaving TB to wonder why he couldn't figure it out.

Then it was time for TB to take it for a test drive, as it were. And he sat down in it for the first time - and it was somewhat heavenly.

It was sort of like what it must feel like when the new monarch first takes to the throne, though those thrones always seem fairly uncomfortable, with the really high backs and no cushions.

There is no algorithm that can accurately capture how much more comfortable his new chair is than his old one. In fact, he sat down in his old one today and was appalled by it - and by himself, for not getting rid of it sooner. No offense to his old chair or anything.

His new chair has something of a new car smell right now, which is good, because the new car smell is fading from TB's new car.

Actually it's hardly new anymore. It's a nice car, and it has something his old one didn't, a temperature gauge on his dashboard that shows the outside temperature.

And what did TB see yesterday? It was 42 degrees.

That's right. It was 42. And raining. On April 29, when the average high temperature in Princeton is supposed to be in the high 60s.

TigerBlog was in the mailroom at one point today, heating up his lunch, he believes, when he ran into softball assistant coach Jen Lapicki, who said the same thing every other spring coach says, that it's amazing how fast the season goes by.

The softball season started for Princeton on Feb. 28 and ended Saturday. That's two days short of two months.

The men's lacrosse team started its season Feb. 22 and played its final regular-season game Saturday, which was two months and four days later.

Those are total sprints.

Even in the fall, the seasons last longer. Football is played over 10 weeks. Soccer and field hockey start in late August or the very, very beginning of September and go into November, which goes a little longer than the fall ones.

Then there's the winter.

Women's hockey opened its season Oct. 25 (exhibitions actually started three weeks earlier) and played until March 1. That's more than four months.

Men's basketball? Nov. 10 through March 24, or one day longer than women's basketball, which started on the same day.

And none of that factors in cross country/track and field or tennis and golf, which go for awhile. 

The challenges are completely different for the two situations.

When your season is so condensed, there isn't really much time for mental fatigue. On the other hand, there's not much time to heal physically if something comes up. A high ankle sprain that costs three or four weeks is not a huge deal to the basketball player in November but disrupts everything for a lacrosse player in March.

TigerBlog remembers sitting at Sherrerd Field watching the men's lacrosse team scrimmage Stevens, a week before the opener against Hofstra. Now the regular season has flown by.

He gets that feeling every year. The feeling he's just seen a sprint.

A two-month sprint, but a sprint nonetheless.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Road Taken

TigerBlog has been giving some thought to his newspaper days lately.

He was 20 or so when he wrote his first story. Back then, he was a quasi-pre-law student who happened to stumble into covering high school football. After that first game - Academy of the New Church at Pennington, he remembers - his career as a lawyer was gone forever.

In all TB would spend more than 10 years as a sportswriter before coming to Princeton.

TB wrote about high schools for the first half of his time in the business and colleges for the rest. He remembers some games, some names, some stories he wrote.

Mostly what he remembers is what a great time it was to be a sportswriter.

Newspapers were big then. Everyone read a newspaper. Picked one up. Turned the pages. Separated out the sections.

These days? Everything is online. It's the way the world has evolved. TB gets it.

He'd like to say he had the foresight to anticipate what would happen to his profession and got out at the right time, but that's hardly the case. The opportunity to work at Princeton came up, and it was just too good to pass up.

There have been times when TB has wondered what would have happened to his career path had he not left the newspaper business. He's sure most people go through that, wondering what might have been different had the other path been taken when a major opportunity forced a decision.

The fact that he left when he did doesn't change what a great experience it was for him. Hey, when you're in your 20s, what could be better than having a job where you can sleep all morning, cover games, write stories, hang out in the newsroom, put a newspaper together, eat dinner at midnight, repeat the next day.

TB loved every part of the process of putting out a newspaper. He was fascinated by the composing room, where long strips of paper would come out of a machine and then be cut up and pasted onto giant boards by people who were essentially artists or in some ways surgeons, including one who was called "Doc."

He loved the satisfaction of fitting story into allotted space, of doing the same with a headline. He loved the power of the presses - the ones that actually printed the paper, which was vastly different than the power of the press.

He was convinced that each year he was in the business would be his last, that he would grow up, as it were. Each year he'd be wrong.

Yeah, what would have happened had he not left for Princeton all those years ago. Oh well. There's no way to know.

For that matter, what would have happened had he actually gone to law school and never gotten into newspapers in the first place?

TB's spring days back then were really busy. He'd often start out at Princeton crew, then go to lacrosse or baseball - more at Rider or TCNJ than Princeton for that sport. Actually, he'd often go to all three, with rowing and lacrosse at Princeton and then the end of the baseball doubleheader at one of the other schools.

This spring has been a weird one, largely because of the weather. Even now, as April is winding down, there have been only a handful of nice spring days.

The next three days are promising to bring two to five inches of rain.

Tomorrow's forecast fascinates TB, in that the high and low temperatures are both supposed to be 52. That means that for the entire 24 hours, the temperature is supposed to never change. TB doubts that will actually be the case.

Astonishingly, there are hardly any remaining home events for the 2013-14 athletic year. There are two track and field meets, some rowing and of course this weekend's Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament, which starts Friday at 4 with Penn and Harvard and then at 7 with Princeton and Cornell. The final is Sunday at noon.

Just like it did more than 30 years ago, another athletic year has come and is almost going. At some point, TB stopped trying to figure out what his next career would be and realized that he had found his calling.

Or maybe he knew it that day at Academy of the New Church.

Monday, April 28, 2014


So you know how you send a text message and then get the little "delivered" note underneath it?

So what do you do if you you don't get that message? Does that mean it wasn't delivered? Or was it delivered but you just didn't get the little return message underneath it?

What do you do?

Send another message to see if you get the "delivered" this time? What if you don't again but the messages are actually get through? Are you then annoying the person?

It appears that nearly 10 trillion text messages are sent each year. Surely some of them must get lost in the world of the "un-delivered."

Then there's email.

How many times is there this exchange:
"I sent you an email."
"I didn't get it."

This sort of happened to TigerBlog last week. TigerBlog got a phone call from someone who said he'd also emailed, but TigerBlog honestly couldn't remember getting the original email. When he asked him to resend, TB noticed that the email looked exactly like one of the million or so he gets that he immediately deletes.

For the most part though, TB assumes that email gets through and that if someone says it didn't get through, then what they're really saying is "it got through. It asked me to do something. I didn't do it. I'm telling you I didn't get it."

These are 21st century frustrations.

Back in the antediluvian days of the 20th century, those frustrations didn't exist. Back then it was trying to call someone on the phone and having it ring and ring with no answer, or constantly get a busy signal, something that people under 25 or so have never experienced.

In case you don't know what one of those is, it was a "beep, beep, beep" that you would get if the person you were trying to call was already on the phone. Then someone invented call waiting.

Fasting forward to today, what do you do when you're on the phone with someone in a relatively casual conversation and then you get another call, one that you want to answer without hurting the first person's feelings? What if that person is in the middle of a sentence? Interrupt?

So then you let the person keep talking and then call the other person back, only now, 30 seconds later, there's no answer. Frustrating.

TigerBlog used to have no way of knowing who called his office phone if there was no voicemail. Now he gets an email saying there's a missed call and the number of the caller.

Usually it's a number TB doesn't recognize. Of course, the curiosity factor weighs in, so he'll call the number back, which becomes something a reverse situation, where TB doesn't know the person he's calling.

TB got one of those missed calls yesterday, and so he called the number back, to find it was an alum in Connecticut wanting to know who won the women's water polo game.

Unfortunately, the answer was Indiana, not Princeton. The Tigers reached the CWPA championship game, only to lose to the Hoosiers in the final. Princeton had been ranked ninth nationally; Indiana was ranked 12th.

Princeton finishes its season at 31-2, which is the school record for most wins and fewest losses. It was a great year for Tigers, even if they fell a little short of the ultimately goal. By one goal. There's a harshness there that crosses many sports on the college level, when a razor-thin margin separates the team that advances to the big prize and the one that is left to think about how close it came.

It wasn't the greatest weekend for Princeton teams across the board.

There were some good performances, especially in track and field and rowing. And the men's volleyball team competed hard in the EIVA  final at Penn State before falling.

The women's and men's golf teams had very good final rounds, and Kelly Shon earned Ivy League Player of the Year honors for the women, who finished second overall for the second straight year.

The defending-champion men went from seventh to fourth on Sunday, though they did get the award for the best tweet of the weekend. That would be the picture of the Ivy League championship trophy, with the words "We'll be back for you soon."

That's 21st century creativity.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Getting Excited

TigerBlog took his new car for his first oil change yesterday, which meant that he had to take his old car, the on that TigerBlog Jr. has been driving, to work.

It was sort of like spending the day with an old friend. Or something like that. Anyway, the one thing TB forgot was the hang tag that allows him to park in the part of Lot 21 closest to Jadwin, so he had to park all the way down at the other end.

By the time he made it close to the building, he saw Yariv Amir pull in and unload his cargo, which consisted of his two young daughters, Morgan and Alie.

The occasion was Take Your Kids To Work Day, and Morgan and Alie were excited. As TB, the Amirs and Peter Farrell - the women's track and field coach who happened to arrive at the same time - walked to the building, TB couldn't help but notice just how excited Morgan and Alie were.

Yariv noticed too. When TB mentioned that he wished he could get that excited about something, Yariv said how his sister said something the line of how she wished she could get as excited about something as her kids get about bubbles.

Take Your Kids To Work Day is a big deal, especially for those who have not reached double figures yet. The program is held in Dillon, so TB isn't 100% sure what the kids do all day.

He does know it involves three things that every kid would love - pizza, the tiger and the pool in Dillon. 

Anyway, it was about four hours later when Maddie Sachson and her dad Craig came back to Jadwin, followed shortly thereafter by the Amir girls. Unlike when they headed to Dillon, they were fairly wiped out by the time they got back to Jadwin - though not so wiped out that the three (all under the age of six) couldn't muster up the energy for some quality coloring.

Kids that age are great. They aren't babies or toddlers, which means that they have a certain level of independence but still need constant supervision. What they have a ton of is innocence, coupled with the ability to see humor in everything. They smile and laugh at every question that they are asked, whether it's how old they are, how they spell their name, if that guy standing there is their daddy.

And they get excited. Wildly excited.

TigerBlog and Farrell are a little past the wildly excited phase that the kids are in, but that doesn't mean there aren't things that still get them fired up.

Farrell, for instance, was wildly excited about the start of the Penn Relays yesterday. By the time Day 1 ended, Julia Ratcliffe won the women's hammer throw with a the third-best throw in the history of the Penn Relays.

They go back a long way, by the way.

Ratcliffe has been on a roll of late, with throws each week that stamp her among the favorites, if not as the favorite, for the NCAA meet in June. That'll get Farrell excited.

As for TigerBlog, he's pretty excited about tomorrow's Princeton-Cornell men's lacrosse game.
Princeton-Penn men's basketball used to be TB's favorite annual sporting event. That has been replaced by Princeton-Cornell men's lacrosse for the last few years.

This year's game won't be played in Ithaca or Princeton - or in an NFL stadium, as it was last year. Nope, this time it's at a high school, Bethpage High School, on Long Island.

The event is called "The Battle of Bethpage," and it's the regular-season finale for both. Cornell knows that it is in next weekend's Ivy League tournament; Princeton knows it is not.

The four teams for the men's tournament are set, as it'll be Cornell, Harvard, Yale and Penn. If Harvard beats Yale, then the tournament is at Harvard. If Yale beats Harvard, then it's at Cornell.

Just because Princeton is not in the Ivy tournament does not mean there's nothing to play for. Far from it, actually.

Princeton is very much in the mix for an at-large NCAA tournament bid, and a win over Cornell would certainly enhance the Tigers' chances. Princeton isn't a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination, but the Tigers do have a strong RPI and some very good quality wins, including the ones over Penn and Hofstra, who are both currently Top 10 RPI teams.

Beyond that, it's Princeton-Cornell.

Princeton has won 26 Ivy titles. Cornell has won 27. Nobody else has won more than the seven that Brown has won.

A year ago, Cornell thumped Princeton at the Meadowlands in the Big City Classic and then saw Princeton come back six days later in the Ivy semifinals with a 14-13 overtime win on Kip Orban's goal.

Both teams can score, and it's possible that this game will be like both of last year's - with both teams in double figures. In the first 73 meetings between the two, that happened once. Then it happened in the 74th and 75th meetings.

If there's not going to be an NCAA tournament for Princeton, then a win tomorrow would be a great ending to the season. Then again, if it's a win, then the season might not be ending tomorrow.

In other words, there's still a lot to play for. And on top of that, it's Princeton-Cornell.

It's exciting, right? TB is ready anyway.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Good Luck To Lamar And Ashley

TigerBlog made a new friend yesterday.

It started when he got a text message from a phone number he didn't know. Usually, text messages come up from someone already in the contacts folder, so it's clear who it is.

When one comes up from a phone number, instead of a name, it usually starts out with "hey, it's so-and-so," and then the rest of the conversation.

This time, it started out with that sort of greeting, though it was coming from someone TB didn't know. Someone named Lamar.

Apparently Lamar was looking for a young woman named Ashley, only he got TigerBlog instead. TB's first thought was that Ashley had given Lamar a made-up number that just happened to be TB's.

As it turned out, apparently at least, Lamar simply entered the number wrong. There was this actual exchange:
Lamar: "I put in the wrong number."
TB: "Good. I'd hate to think that Ashley would do that to you. Let me know how it goes."
Lamar: "Who is this by the way? You seem very friendly and respectful. Usually people act rude."

TB then told Lamar who he was and said that he was adding Lamar to his contacts.

And with that, TB was off to the rest of his day.

The text message is an amazing little thing, isn't it? TigerBlog wonders what the ability to send text messages would have done to make his middle school and high school days different, as he sees the incredible reliance on the medium by his two children - and everyone they know.

TB's philosophy is that it's way easier to text something stupid than it is to say something stupid, which is why so many people get in trouble with things they text.

TB has a friend who has always said that if texting had been invented before calling that people would never text and would always call. The ability to hear someone's voice instead of just seeing the words? Who wouldn't want that.

It's not that much different than having silent movies or ones where you can actually hear what the people say. Despite that, TB is relatively sure that

The next person to text TigerBlog after Lamar was Bill Bromberg, the public address announcer, confirming that he was in for the Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament.

That event is next weekend. This weekend has some big events as well, with the biggest on the road.

The women's water polo team will be competing in the CWPA championships at Bucknell, with the prize a trip to the NCAA championships.

Princeton is ranked ninth in the country and has been dominant all year, but getting back to the NCAA tournament would mean doing so as the No. 2 seed in the CWPA tournament. The top seed is Indiana, the champ of the CWPA's western division and the No. 12 team in the country.

As an aside, the last text messages TB exchanged with water polo coach Luis Nicolao involved a picture of Luis in a speedo from the video for Gary Walters' farewell event, something about sending it to him because his wife wouldn't believe it. Now that is texting at its finest.

Anyway, the water polo event begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday.

The Ivy League men's and women's golf tournaments will also be held tomorrow through Sunday, at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, which is about an hour from Princeton.

Will Green's men's team is the defending champion, while Nicki Cutler's women lost by a single stroke a year ago. One lousy stroke.

Princeton has both defending champs, with seniors Greg Jarmas and Kelly Shon.

Baltusrol is a fairly famous golf course, having hosted the U.S. Open for both the men and women and the PGA Championship for the men, a tournament that will return to the course in 2016. TigerBlog figures he could challenge the course record - for highest score ever recorded.

Fortunately for Princeton, TB won't be one of the golfers going for the Ivy title. Princeton has three women and three men back from last year, and the Tigers figure to be in the chase until the end for both.

There are NCAA tournament spots on the line for women's water polo and men's and women's golf. TigerBlog is rooting for the Tigers - and for Lamar and Ashley.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Musical Chairs

The music has stopped in the Office of Athletic Communications, and almost nobody is left in the same spot as before.

This has been a busy, and somewhat confusing, week in the OAC. 

When last we left Diana Chamorro, she was jumping off the top of the 10-meter platform one day and moving back to California the next. When she left Princeton, it opened up a prime work station in Room 9 of Jadwin, and that's when the musical chairs began.

Now, a short time later, four people have different places to sit, and Diana's replacement will be sitting in a different place than Diana did, bringing to five the number of people who are relocated.

The complicated part was all the phones. 

The people from the telephone office came and changed everyone's number at once, even though nobody had actually moved yet. As a result, each person had to set the phone to forward calls, which works for incoming calls but not outgoing ones.

In that case, the phone display - or the email that says there was a missed call and this was the number - comes from the wrong person.

So Kristy McNeil is moving to wear Yariv Amir used to sit. And they both forwarded their calls so that they would ring back to their old desks, which is where they were still sitting. And that worked fine.

The problem came when they tried to make a call and the person didn't answer. The message told that person that the call came from the new work station, so anyone Yariv called who didn't answer got a message saying he or she had a missed call from Kristy McNeil.

It was all very confusing.

The biggest change to the OAC is the arrival of the first outsider that TigerBlog can remember sitting there. Director of Track Operations Mike Henderson has moved upstairs from C level, so he is now close to the track offices. And the field ones too.

Henderson actually started the carousel moving, and he now sits where Diana used to sit. When he was doing his work, TB walked up behind him and pointed out that he now has a window and a view of the outside, something he didn't have in his old space.

The OAC used to be completely self-contained within Room 9, even if there is an "8" over TB's door.

When TigerBlog first started working there, his desk was where Yariv just left and Kristy just moved in. Eventually, his desk moved to where Craig Sachson - who isn't moving - now sits. Since 2002, he's had the big office next to the mailroom.

TB still has the same desk and chair that were there when he moved into the office, which formerly belonged to Kurt Kehl. In fact, there are also two big black-and-white men's basketball pictures on one of the bookshelves that were there when it was Kurt's office.

That was 12 years ago, by the way.

Of course, the pictures are of Chris Marquardt and George Leftwich, two TigerBlog favorites, so he sees no reason to take them down.

TB also has these old faded-red upholstered chairs that were Kurt's. He got rid of a few of the a few years ago when he added the futon to the office, and in all the time since, he's probably sat on the futon less than five times. And he never sits in the red chairs.

When TB first started in the OAC, he looked out his window and could see a big green field, beyond which was Palmer Stadium, the old home of Princeton football and track and field. Palmer Stadium was a big horseshoe, and the open end faced Jadwin.

When it was built it 1914, that spot was chosen because it offered an unobstructed view of the lake. Of course, that view is now obscured by Weaver Track and Field Stadium, Jadwin Gym, Faculty Road and a bunch of trees that presumably hadn't been planted yet when the old stadium was built.

TigerBlog remembers when he first sat at his desk in the OAC and looked out at the stadium and thought about how cool it was that he found a job in a basketball arena that had a view of a football stadium.

What could be better? Now, all this time later, he still thinks it's cool. It's not a Fortune 500 office building, but it's still cool to look out the window and see a stadium.

When all the moving was going on around him, TigerBlog began to wonder how much time he's actually spent sitting in the OAC. He's coming up on 20 years as a Princeton employee and 25 that he's worked on the Princeton campus.

He's not sure where he would even begin to calculate it. Maybe he'd start with 40 hours a week and multiply that time 50 weeks a year and then multiply that by 20 years.

Doing that gets you to 40,000 hours. That's a long time.

Maybe it's less. Of course, the 40,000 doesn't count his time at the newspaper and the times that he'd be there for way more than 40 hours a week.

Those days are gone, of course. The OAC produces so much more content now than it did 20 years ago, but technology makes it easier to produce that content - and to produce it from places other than the office.

The modern workplace varies radically from the place that TB first came to work just 20 short years ago. It's because of that fact that it doesn't really matter if the track operations director is sitting in the OAC and OAC staff members are spread out a bit.

It's harder and harder these days to figure out when people are working and when if ever they're not. And where they do it from hardly matters at all.

Still, to TB, the little piece of real estate that sits between the mail room and what is now the office of men's basketball coach Mitch Henderson has been a big part of TB's life, and everywhere he looks he sees memories of people, games, funny moments, long hours of work and any number of other great memories. Even Mitch's office and the compliance office of Kelly Widener next to it are part of the OAC, or at least at one point were.

It's a cramped work space, and it's hardly cutting edge in design or furnishings.

But it's been a second home for TB for a long time, and he is very much at home there.

TB has been asked by a lot of young people about career choices, and he always says the same thing: You're going to be at your job for a long time, so you better find something you like to do.

That's been the case for TB ever since he started at Princeton.

He better like it, right? It's been 40,000 hours after all.

That's 40,000 hours, in a very, very special little place.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Keeping The Fire Lit

In the world of coaching, TigerBlog presumes that there have been a lot more David Moyes than Alex Fergusons.

David Moyes is out as the coach at Manchester United. He lasted less than one year - though he will be paid for five more, apparently. His record was 27 wins, 15 losses and nine ties. In the world of international soccer, that's written as 27-9-15.

As an aside, TigerBlog gets that in international soccer, the city name in the team is considered plural, so it would be "Manchester are winning," not "Manchester is winning." What he doesn't understand is why American sportswriters insist on writing it that way. To seem hipper?

Anyway, Moyes didn't quite last at Manchester United. Ferguson? He did.

Alex Ferguson was the coach at Manchester United for 26 times longer than Moyes. During his time at Man U, he won 13 Premier League and two Champions League titles and established himself as one of the greatest of all-time in his profession. He also made a trip to Princeton University, which was undoubtedly the highlight of his tenure.

Unlike Moyes, who lasted for 51 games, Ferguson coached 1,500 games for Man U, winning 895 of them. Apparently replacing him won't be so easy, as Man U will miss the Champions League next year.

TigerBlog still hasn't figured out which EPL team is his favorite, though he knows it isn't Manchester United or Chelsea. It would be like rooting for the Yankees.

He'd consider Liverpool, except you'd accuse him of being a front-runner, as Liverpool is closing in on its first EPL title since 1990. Besides, in the EPL, it's more fun to see who is going to avoid relegation than who will actually win.

Meanwhile, back at the idea of coaching longevity, it's not easy to be a successful coach for decades. First, you have to be successful. Then you have to avoid complacency.

The secret is to treat each year as its own challenge, TB supposes.

Princeton has six head coaches who coached for all 20 years that Gary Walters was Ford Family Director of Athletics and and presumably will still be there when Mollie Marcoux takes over.

Those six are: men's track and field coach Fred Samara, women's track and field coach Peter Farrell, men's swimming coach Rob Orr, women's swimming coach Susan Teeter, women's squash coach Gail Ramsay and women's lacrosse coach Chris Sailer.

TigerBlog isn't sure who hired Ramsay, who started at the same time as Walters.

This past weekend, Princeton won two Ivy League championships. One was in women's tennis, whose coach, Laura Granville, who was born in the same year that Chris Sailer - who led the Princeton women to the championship - graduated from Harvard.

It's an interesting contract to TigerBlog. Sailer, a veteran of 28 seasons at Princeton, won her 10th Ivy title. Granville, in Year 2 at Princeton, won her first.

TigerBlog - also a veteran - first met Chris Sailer when she was already the head lacrosse coach and was also the assistant field hockey coach, back in the late 1980s. It was fairly normal back then for players to play both sports and coaches to coach both.

The world has changed considerably since then. The number of girls who play sports has skyrocketed, and with that has come greater specialization and way more women to fill college rosters. As a result, there are almost no field hockey/lacrosse players anymore.

Sailer has endured through that massive change in the culture of her profession, and she has thrived. She has won three NCAA championships and is the in the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

And, as each year presents a new challenge, she has shown that the fire still burns.

It's been an exciting year for Princeton, with more to come. The Tigers defeated Dartmouth 12-10 Saturday to finish the league season at 6-1, clinching at least a share of the Ivy title. Penn still has two games remaining, tomorrow against Columbia and Saturday against Cornell, and a pair of Quaker wins would mean a co-championship.

Regardless, though, the Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament comes to Sherrerd Field in two weeks. It's the first time Princeton - or any team other than Penn - hosts the event in its five-year history.

Princeton's lone Ivy loss came in its league opener March 8 at Brown, who knocked off the Tigers 14-13 in overtime to drop the Tigers to 1-3.

Since then, Princeton is 8-1, with a 9-5 win over Penn in the mix. The one loss was perhaps the most impressive performance of them all, an 8-7 loss to No. 2 Maryland.

The four teams for the Ivy women's tournament are set, with Princeton as the host and top seed, along with Penn, Cornell and Harvard in some order. The winner gets the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Princeton, in the meantime, finishes the regular season this Saturday at Penn State.

Chris Sailer, in addition to her 10 Ivy titles and three NCAA championships, has led Princeton to 20 NCAA tournaments, and the 46 NCAA games she's coached are the most by any coach in Division I history.

And each year she comes back looking for more.

Some coaches last. Others don't.

It's not an easy profession in general. It's even harder to have the kind of career Chris Sailer has had.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Serving Notice

How many Tweets do you suppose are sent out there for the world to see each year?

The people at Twitter don't publish such statistics, so TigerBlog can't vouch for the reliability of what he learned. As near as he can figure it, there are 21,170,000,000 Tweets per year. That's more than 21 trillion.

Of all of those Tweets, it's hard to imagine any will be better than the one sent out by Scott Jurgens over the weekend. Scott, if you don't know, used to the head of marketing at Princeton and is now an Associate Athletic Director at Montana State.

So what did he Tweet to separate himself from the other 21 trillion, give or take? Just this:

"So I have determined that if Barnaby, my dog, would talk that he would talk and act like Johnny Utah from Point Break!"

It's untoppable, right?

First of all, TigerBlog is on record as saying that he thinks Point Break is a great movie. In fact, he wrote this in 2009:
One of TigerBlog's favorite movies is "Point Break," a great action movie with a tremendous plot and some great performances. Okay, it's true. TB admits it. He was even okay with the job that Keanu Reeves did as Johnny Utah. The movie is basically about a young FBI agent (Reeves) with a crusty old partner (Gary Busey) who chase a bunch of surfer/bank robbers led by their leader (Patrick Swayze). It has some great action scenes and chase scenes, and TB was able to forgive the ending.

Okay, Reeves didn't quite win an Academy Award. But Johnny Utah was a great character. A former college football hotshot quarterback who tore up his knee, ending his chances at the NFL, only to resurface in the FBI - where his first big assignment is to learn to to surf.

TigerBlog's only question - well, he has a bunch of questions - is why Barnaby would most take after Johnny Utah if he could transform from canine to human. And TB thought Barnaby and Jurgens already were speaking to each other.

There's a great picture in Gary Walters' office of the women's tennis team after the Tigers won the championship in 2010. It's a picture of the team as it got off the bus, and there on the end are Walters (TB gets that) and Jurgens (TB doesn't quite get that).

TB isn't sure how Jurgens ended up in the picture. He thinks Scott told him once, but he can't remember the story. Maybe he'll ask Barnaby.

That 2010 women's tennis championship was Princeton's second straight. Now, after three years without a championship, the 2014 women's tennis team is back on top of the league and headed to the NCAA tournament.

Princeton defeated Columbia yesterday 6-1 to finish a perfect run through the Ivy League at 7-0, and that's not something that's easy to do. To get to 7-0, Princeton had to defeat three ranked teams - Yale, Harvard and Columbia. The wins over Yale and Columbia were over the teams that shared the league championship a year ago.

Princeton did not have a senior in the lineup yesterday. The six players who played the singles matches included three freshmen, along with a sophomore and two juniors. There was another freshman who played doubles.

Laura Granville is in Year 2 as the Tiger head coach. A year ago, Princeton went 4-3 in the league, with losses to Yale, Harvard and Columbia. In fact, Princeton lost to the Lions 7-0 to end the 2013 season.

This year is another story. Princeton has won 10 straight matches, ending its non-league season by defeating Florida International, Maryland and FDU.

Then, in its perfect league run, Princeton had only one 4-3 match, the win over Yale, which would be Yale's only league loss. The Tigers sealed that win with a three-set victory at No. 1 by Lindsay Graff, a junior.

Princeton clinched at least a share of the league title Friday with its win over Cornell. Columbia, with a loss to Yale, had one league loss, so a Lions' win over Princeton could have set up a three-way tie for the championship.

Instead, this was all Princeton. The Tigers won the doubles point and then five of six singles matches, wrapping up an Ivy title and earning a spot in the NCAA tournament. The draw will be announced next week.

In the process, Princeton had a 13-point swing against Columbia, going from 7-0 down last year to 6-1 up this year.

And keep in mind how young the Tiger lineup is.

Of course, with how competitive Ivy women's tennis is, there are no guarantees. Still, Princeton figure to right there again for the next few years.

This year Princeton sent a message to the rest of the league. Serving notice, as it were.

Princeton women's tennis - 2014 Ivy League champ.

Friday, April 18, 2014

105 Plus 94 Does Not Equal 200

TigerBlog started to get an uneasy feeling just as soon as the words came out of Bill Bromberg's mouth and the fans at Sherrerd Field at Class of 1952 Stadium had stopped applauding.

Did he need two or three?

TigerBlog thought it was three, and then he thought it was two. And then he told Bromberg that it was two, so Bromberg made his announcement.

And TB was wrong. As much as he'd like to blame it on Bromberg, it was TigerBlog's error.

Bromberg's announcement last Saturday that Tom Schreiber had become the fifth Princeton men's lacrosse player to reach 200 career points came in the first quarter, and it was a really nice moment. Even the Dartmouth fans gave him a loud ovation.

The only problem was that Schreiber only had 199 at the time.

TigerBlog knew it almost in an instant, that Schreiber had 105 goals and 94 assists. That's 199, not 200.

So now what? Let it go? Make a correction? Hope nobody noticed?

TB figured that Schreiber would get another point in the game, rendering the announcement a little premature but ultimately not that big a deal. Schreiber already had two assists, and there were still four minutes left in the first quarter.

And besides, Schreiber always got at least three points in a game. He'd done so against Virginia in the 2012 NCAA tournament, and then every game in 2013 and every game in 2014. That was a streak of 26 straight games with at least three points, which is nuts, by the way, especially for a middie.

Ryan Boyle, one of the greatest players in lacrosse history, never had a streak like that when he played at Princeton. When Boyle did the Princeton-Lehigh game on ESPNU last week, he mentioned how casually that streak was noted and yet how absurd it is to think that a midfielder would get at least three points in 26 straight games.

Anyway, possibly because TB jinxed it all with the announcement one point too soon, Schreiber didn't get another point against Dartmouth. He didn't need to, as Princeton won 13-10, and he came close, with several passes that would have been assists had it not been for a pipe or big save by the goaile. And don't get TB started on Schreiber's own disallowed goal early in the fourth quarter.

So that streak ended. On the other hand, he has at least two points in 28 straight games and at least one in 43 straight games.

But he doesn't have 200, which is what the announcement said.

Schreiber has at least two games to get his one more point, something TB is confident will happen.

Of course, as a wiser-than-his-years John Nolan - radio voice of, among other things, Fort Wayne's minor league baseball team and many Princeton sports on the Ivy League Digital Network and radio - pointed out, the obsession with round numbers is a bit odd. So Schreiber is the fifth player to get to 199? Same thing as 200, no?

The four players in Princeton history with at least 200 are Kevin Lowe (247), Boyle (233), Jon Hess (215) and Jesse Hubbard (211).

Schreiber is also getting close to two other huge accomplishments. He needs six assists to reach 100 goals and 100 assists for his career, something only three other Ivy players - none from Princeton - have ever done. He needs one goal and nine assists to get to 30 goals and 30 assists for the year, something only one other Princeton player - David Tickner with 34G, 32A in 1976 - has ever done.

Getting those may take more than two games.

Princeton is at Harvard tomorrow and then on Long Island next Saturday to take on Cornell. Wins in both of those puts Princeton in the Ivy tournament, possibly on its home field. A split means that the Tigers need some help.

In the complex world of NCAA selections, Princeton could make the NCAA tournament without making the Ivy tournament. The easiest way to to sum that up would be this: root for Hofstra to win the CAA, Lehigh to reach the Patriot final but lose to Loyola and Penn if Princeton isn't in the Ivy tournament.

Princeton has won three straight since its excruciating back-to-back one-goal losses at Yale and Brown. Harvard and Cornell are both 3-1 in the league, so winning those games won't be easy. They're both pretty much toss-ups.

As for TigerBlog, the fact that Schreiber didn't have 200 points yet was probably lost on most people who heard the announcement.

It left TB to wonder if he should just give Schreiber an extra assist in his stats this week and take it away next week after he got there. TB quickly dismissed that idea.

It's standard for people to either say "it's not my fault" or to run away from a mistake when it happens. But hey, mistakes will happen. And when you're in the public information business, those mistakes are made, well, in public.

TB owns up to it. This one has his fault.

He saw Schreiber at Gary Walters' farewell event a few hours after the Dartmouth game, and TB told Schreiber that he had messed up. Schreiber said he knew it but was okay with it.

He'll get his one point to reach 200. And he'd trade that in a heartbeat for the two wins that would let his team reach the postseason.

Of course, TigerBlog would love to see him get both.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Week To Remember

It's been quite a few days around these parts, what with the going-away party for one athletic director and the introduction of the new one.

TigerBlog was thinking about the transition from Gary Walters to Mollie Marcoux.

Actually, before he gets to that, he also noticed that autocorrect changes "Mollie" to "Millie," which left him wondering how many times he's going to change it before his phone gets the point.

Anyway, the first person at Princeton to have the designation of Director of Athletics was Ken Fairman, who first assumed that title in 1941 and then held the position until 1973. He actually oversaw Princeton's sports teams beginning in 1939, when his title was graduate manager of athletics.

According to the Princeton Companion - a great reference tool by the way - the athletic administration at Princeton began in the 1800s as an "every man for himself" arrangement - with the emphasis on "man." Each team had a captain, and the captains made all of the administrative decisions.

Then, in 1890, the teams all came together under one athletic umbrella, eventually with oversight from the faculty. This lasted until 1937, when the athletic department - under the leadership of graduate manager of athletics Asa Bushnell - was formed.

Fairman's 32-year run as Director of Athletics is the longest in Princeton history. He was replaced in 1973 by Royce Flippin, who among other things, emailed TigerBlog yesterday about a matter completely unrelated to anything to do with the change in athletic directors, though it did mean that in one day, TB heard from three of the five people to hold the title in 73 years.

Flippin was the AD until Bob Myslik replaced him in 1979 and then ran the department until 1994, when Gary Walters took over.

The first four people to hold the position held it for an average of more than 18 years, with Flippin's tenure the shortest and Fairman's the longest. Should Marcoux hit that average of 18 years, then she figures to be TB's final boss.

TigerBlog remembers his first conversation with Gary Walters after they both started at Princeton, and he remembers that it was sort of like a reverse job interview, where Gary asked him all kinds of questions about his background, his future plans, where he saw himself in 10 years, that sort of thing. He also told him he was lucky that he was hired in between Myslik's last day and his first, because he never would have hired a Penn guy.

What TB would really like to do is go back to that moment and ask Gary about his future plans, about where he thought he would be in 10 years. Or if he thought he'd still be the AD in 20 years.

Now those 20 years have flown by. And now it's Mollie Marcoux's time to take over.

What will her future be at Princeton? Will there be a big party for her in 2034 after her 20 years, and if so, will it be in Jadwin Gym, or will it be in the new facility that she spearheaded?

With such a massive changing of the guard, it's easy to think in such big-picture terms these days.

At the same time, the games keep going.

There was a huge one last night, when Princeton beat Penn 9-5 in women's lacrosse. With the win, Princeton has the inside track on at least a share of the Ivy League title and a chance to host the Ivy League tournament.

In fact, Penn has been the only host of the Ivy women's tournament in the four years the event has been held. Now, after the win last night, Princeton would host the tournament with either a win Saturday against Dartmouth (on Sherrerd Field at 1) or a loss by Penn in any of its final three league games - against Columbia, Cornell and Brown.

Princeton is now 5-1 in the Ivy League, followed by Penn at 3-1. Harvard and Cornell have two losses each; Dartmouth is 2-3.

A win Saturday would also mean at least a share of the league title. Another team that can clinch a share - or even an outright - league title this weekend is the women's tennis team.

Princeton is currently 5-0 in the league, with two matches left. The Tigers are at Cornell (0-5 in the league) tomorrow, and a win there would mean at least a share of the Ivy League championship.

Then there is Sunday, when Columbia is at Princeton. The Lions are in second place at 4-1, and they play another 0-5 team, Penn, Friday. Should both Princeton and Columbia win, then the match Sunday would be something of a showdown, though not winner-take-all.

Columbia has already lost to Yale, who lost to Princeton. There can still be a three-way tie for the title, or Princeton can win it outright. There's also the NCAA bid at stake.

On the one hand, it's a week that in many ways is historic in Princeton athletic history. The end of the Walters era, so elegantly celebrated Saturday night. And the arrival of the new AD, the first woman to hold the position.

On the other hand, it's just another week in mid-April, which means big games with big stakes. This weekend, they're coming to campus, for women's lacrosse Saturday and women's tennis Sunday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ford Family Director Of Athletics Mollie Marcoux

The Office of Athletic Communications in Jadwin Gym used to extend further back then it does now, into a back room that is now the office of men's basketball coach Mitch Henderson.

It's the OAC that TigerBlog first walked into a quarter century ago, the one with the little office to the side, behind the printer, which itself sat back by in spot off to the right, wedged in along with shelves loaded with binders, old photos, paper, cardstock and anything else that people couldn't figure out where to put.

Straight ahead as you entered the back room were desks that snaked around the area. To the left were file cabinets, old green ones, probably purchased in the 1940s.

That back room was part office, part playroom. He can still see Kurt Kehl, then the OAC's director, arms raised in triumph, as he hit a nerf ball with a plastic club to win another round of OAC golf.

It was in that room that TigerBlog, then still in the newspaper business, used to pull out his radio shack word processor and write stories about the Trenton State College football luncheon while waiting for a Princeton game to start or a Princeton athlete to come by to be interviewed.

It was in that room that he first began to know the people - and the culture - of Princeton Athletics.

It was in that room that he first met one of his all-time favorite Princeton athletes, Mollie Marcoux.

This was back in, what, 1989. Mollie was a student-worker in the OAC, not to mention a fierce soccer and hockey player. TigerBlog is pretty sure that Bob Surace was the first Princeton athlete that he ever wrote about; Mollie Marcoux might very well have been the first female Princeton athlete he ever wrote about.

Certainly she was one of the first he got to know outside of the athletic arena, as she was a fixture back then in OAC. She was a down-to-earth, friendly, easy-going college student.

And there were the Surace and Marcoux yesterday, the two of them, one the head football coach and the other being introduced as the next Ford Family Director of Athletics at Princeton.

Mollie Marcoux will be the fifth person to hold the title of Director of Athletics at Princeton and like her four predecessors, she is a Princeton alum. Unlike her four predecessors, she will be the first woman to be the AD at Princeton.

And that speaks volumes about the University.

When TigerBlog's alma mater named a non-alum as its new athletic director, TB's first thought was that he couldn't imagine that the new AD at Princeton would be a non-alum. And he was right.

At her press conference yesterday, Mollie was asked one question about being the first woman AD at Princeton, and it was really a non-issue, other than the historical nature of the moment. Had she not been a Princetonian, though, TB imagines that more than one question on the subject would have been raised.

Mollie Marcoux is as Princetonian as it gets.

She came to Princeton from her hometown of Ithaca, and she made immediate impacts in soccer and hockey, earning her a place in, of all places, Rolling Stone magazine, which came to Princeton to do a feature on top women athletes of the time. Mollie's picture appeared on the page opposite then-Florida State volleyball player Gabrielle Reece.

She graduated cum laude from Princeton. She wrote her senior thesis on women's athletics. And she worked in the OAC. What could be better?

In the 24 hours leading up to today's announcement, TigerBlog heard so many people guarantee so many different people would be the next AD that it got to be comical. It's definitely him. It's definitely not him. It's a woman. It's a man. Every person swore up and down that the source was in the know.

In the end, the first TB heard of the name of his new boss was when he clicked on the release from the communications office to put on just before she was introduced on the main floor of Jadwin.

TB's reaction? He smiled, and went immediately back to the back room at Jadwin, and to the stories he'd written about her through the years. He texted the news to Kurt, who has spent 12 years working with the Washington Capitals and Wizards and who used the same word to describe her that TB had already used to a few former colleagues - awesome.

Kurt also related the story of the photo shoot from Rolling Stone, which was done on a frozen Lake Carnegie, which almost unfroze because of a generator that nearly melted the ice and sent Mollie into the water.

TigerBlog remembered writing about Mollie for the PVC News when she first had started on Chelsea Piers, in the marketing department, as he recalls. She worked her way up to executive vice president and executive director, with hundreds of people working under her.

And there she was yesterday, coming back to Princeton, much like her predecessor Gary Walters did 20 years ago.

She spoke with passion in her introductory remarks about all the things that make Princeton and Princeton Athletics so special and about how she's honored to be back to lead those efforts. She smiled and laughed. She talked about the coaches and how much she's looking forward to working with them.

She conveyed - oozed - a love of Princeton Athletics, and that's requirement No. 1 for this position. Her energy and charisma were obvious to everyone who had come to meet her, from coaches and athletics staff to student athletes to media members, and it resonated with everyone.

At one point, TigerBlog walked up to her, unsure if she'd remember him. Instead, she smiled, said his name and gave him a hug.

He took that as a sign that he hasn't changed much in 25 years.

Mollie Marcoux has. She's no longer a college student. Her job at Princeton is no longer updating records and clipping newspapers in the OAC.

It's running the athletic department, and that's not an easy task.

TigerBlog is excited to work with her. For her, actually.

It will be interesting, that's for sure. TigerBlog started at Princeton on the same day as Gary Walters, and very few people who work in the Department of Athletics have been there longer than TB, which means that very few have been through an athletic director change before.

That's still a few months away though.

Yesterday was about meeting the new AD, forming first impressions, getting a sense of who will be taking over this summer.

Or, in TigerBlog's case, remembering the first impression that was formed all those years ago, the impression that this was a young woman destined for great things, a young woman whose destiny has brought her all the way back to that same building, ready now to lead that department for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Flying High

FatherBlog was on a flight from Brazil to JFK Friday overnight into Saturday.

TigerBlog heard from him Sunday and assumed that the flight had been routine. In fact, FB was most of the way through their phone conversation before he mentioned that his flight had to make an emergency landing in Norfolk.

Perhaps you heard about his flight? A warning light came on in the cockpit indicating a possible fire in the cargo area, which prompted the pilot to spray a chemical that extinguishes fires. He then brought the plane to Norfolk.

FatherBlog and the other 241 passengers then had to wait nearly eight hours before another plane arrived to take them to JFK. TB supposes that they also had to wait for someone to clear the chemical off their luggage.

TigerBlog asked his father all the normal questions. What did the pilot say? Was everyone panicking?

FB reported that the pilot came on the intercom and informed everyone of the possibility of a fire. He said that when the plane landed in Norfolk, everyone was told to assume a crash position.

Was he scared? He said he wasn't. He also said everyone on the plane was pretty calm.

He also said that there was no customs office at the Norfolk airport, so they had to wait for hours for someone to be brought in to process everyone once they got off the plane, which meant they were sort of quarantined for awhile.

FatherBlog grew up in a working class area of Brooklyn. He went to Boys' High and then didn't go to college, instead going off to work. He spent two years in the Army during the time between Korea and Vietnam, and he was stationed in Germany during that time.

Since there wasn't much to do - or at least that's how he tells it - he had the opportunity to see a great deal of Europe in his free time. It was then, TB has always imagined, that his father was hooked on a lifetime's love of traveling.

FatherBlog worked hard and built up his own insurance business, to the point that he was able to pursue that love every since TB can remember. TB can't even begin to guess how many miles FB has flown in his life, how many international trips he's made, but it's a big, big number.

His favorite destination is the French Riviera. He's been everywhere, though. Seriously. Everywhere.

Eastern Europe. Central Europe. Western Europe. Israel. Russia. Japan. China. South America. He vacationed in both Turkey and Greece while they fought over Cypress in 1974. He's actually seen way more of the world than he's seen of the United States.

He went to the Vatican once during, of all times, Passover, something he referred to as "a yontov with the Pontiff." For those not versed in Yiddish, "yontov" means "holiday.

Back when TB was a kid, he and BrotherBlog would head off to sleepaway camp, first at a place called Camp Toledo for five summers and then one more at another one, Camp Echo.

During those summers, TB's parents would sometimes go on three-week vacations. TB remembers one took them to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and he believes Fiji.

TigerBlog would love to go to Australia and New Zealand, though he's a bit intimidated by how long the flight is. He'd definitely have to go with someone with whom he could have a long, long conversation. Or someone who brought sleeping pills.

For at least one Princeton undergrad, the trip to New Zealand isn't a vacation, it's a commute home.

That would be Julia Ratcliffe, the hammer thrower on the women's track and field team.

Ratcliffe, a sophomore, had a huge weekend for the Tigers at the quad meet with Vermont, Monmouth and St. John's. It was there that she put up a performance that stamped her as possibly the favorite when the NCAA championships roll around.

In fact, her top four throws this weekend all went further (farther?) than anyone else has thrown so far this outdoor season.

Her performance earned her the Division I Women’s National Athlete of the Week award by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. It was the first time a Princeton athlete has ever earned that honor.

Ratcliffe was the Ivy League champion in the hammer throw last year, and she earned second-team All-America honors with an 11th place finish as the NCAA meet.

The outdoor Heps are still nearly a month away and will be held at Yale. The NCAA championships are still two months away, and will be held in Eugene.

That's 3,000 miles from Princeton and 7,000 miles from New Zealand.

That makes it 10,000 miles from here to New Zealand? Well, it's not exactly a straight line, so it's more like 9,000 miles.

Still, that's pretty far.

TB will definitely need to bring someone he likes to talk to if he ever makes that trip.

Monday, April 14, 2014

From The House On Gordon Street

By Saturday evening, the back of Jadwin Gym had been transformed into an elegant ballroom that bore no resemblance to the athletic venue it usually is.

TigerBlog has seen this before, many times actually. This occasion was different.

This time, it was to celebrate Gary Walters and his 20 years as Director of Athletics at Princeton. It was more than a party. It was a celebration in every sense of the word.

And so there was Jadwin, all dressed up. Only this time it wasn't the elegant ballroom. This time, it was a time machine.

It took TigerBlog throughout his own 20 years at Princeton, what with he and Gary having started on the exact same day. And it took him back further, back when he was in the newspaper business covering Princeton, when he first spoke to Gary Walters, back when he wrote a story in 1990 on the 25th anniversary of the 1965 Final Four men's basketball team.

And it went back earlier than that. It took TB back to a place that he can picture even if he's never been there. It took TB back to Reading, a city in Pennsylvania that he's actually never been. It took him all the way back to where this story actually began.

It took him to the house on Gordon Street.

It was here that Gary Walters grew up, in a house that TigerBlog can see, a house that he figures was probably like the house Ralphie grew up in on Cleveland Street, in "A Christmas Story." That's where the time machine finally settled, and then it told the story of Gary Walters moving forward from there.

It's quite a story indeed.

Reading is a blue collar place. Princeton is a place of privilege and in many cases old money. Gary Walters comes from neither.

Back in September, when Gary told the department that he was stepping aside at the end of this academic year, he did so on the Dillon Gym court where he had played all those years ago. The occasion this time was the first departmental meeting of the year, and it was coincidence that it happened to be held in Dillon.

When Gary spoke, he talked about how his father dropped him off, almost 50 years to the day, maybe 50 yards away.

The celebration Saturday night was called a "Roast and Toast," but mostly what it became for TigerBlog was another chance to think about the journey that Gary has made from that courtyard in 1963 to the dais in a dolled-up Jadwin in 2014. And what an extraordinary journey it in fact has been.

Here he was, the same kid from Reading, only now completing his 20-year run in charge of the athletic department. Here he was, a completely self-made man whose career included runs as a coach, television commentator, business executive and finally college administrator - educator, in fact. 

With another basketball great, Frank Sowinski, as the evening's host, Gary's story was told again Saturday night, this time by his closest friends, like the amazing Chris Thomforde, who gets better every time TigerBlog hears him speak and who was already off the charts the first time. Thomforde was a basketball teammate at Princeton who shared, among other things, the cover of Sports Illustrated with Gary back in 1967. He's a religious man and an educator, Thomforde is, and if you didn't know that, you'd think he probably had a long career in show business.

University President Chris Eisgruber spoke, ignoring his prepared words and instead speaking with great passion directly from the heart. Cynthia Cherrey, the University VP for Campus Life, offered her congratulations as well.

And there was Pete Carril, Gary's high school teacher and basketball coach. In one of the better moments of the night, a letter that Carril had written to Gary when he was a freshman at Princeton was read, and it was clear that the letter had definitely helped Gary make the adjustment from wide-eyed Reading boy to Princeton man. 

And there was Peter Roby, the Northeastern AD who played for Gary at Dartmouth. And Larry Lucchino, the president of the Boston Red Sox and a former teammate as well, one whose playing time was derailed by the fact that he could never beat Gary Walters out for the point guard spot.

And by former colleagues, like Erin McDermott, the University of Chicago AD. Erin, who spent 13 years working with Gary at Princeton before leaving a year ago, gave a nearly perfect speech in which she incorporated dozens of Gary's favorite sayings - Garyisms, as it were - to both Roast and Toast her former boss. It was hilarious and heartwarming all at the same time, and that's not something easy to accomplish.

There were more than 50 others who spoke on video, including Bill Ford, who spoke about how the theme of "Education Through Athletics" inspired him to endow Gary's position. Another former teammate, Bill Bradley, one of the greatest college basketball players of all time, spoke of a move of Gary's that he tried in vain to copy - even if the video showed his executing it as Gary had. It didn't matter. Bradley's message was clear - Gary was a great player, a great teammate and even in 1965 as an undergrad, passionate about Princeton.

Each segment of Gary's life was introduced by a short video, and then there was the big video at the end, the one that ran 18 minutes and included comments from so many colleagues, friends, Princeton coaches.

It began with a tongue-in-cheek part in which several Princeton coaches talked about how they weren't even aware after all this time that Gary had even played basketball at Princeton, including the Speedo-clad water polo coach, Luis Nicalao. It ended with several thank-yous from many different people with many different connections to Gary, ending finally when Carril said as only he can "I don't want to thank him for anything."

In addition to the formal program, there was also a 90-minute cocktail hour before and an equally as long party after.

TigerBlog saw so many people he hasn't seen in years. Bill Carmody was there. So was Jamie Zaninovich of the Pac 12, who came all the way from California. And Bradley AD Mike Cross, who came from Peoria. And Hank Towns, the former equipment manger, who came from Trenton.

John Thompson III was there. So was Steve Kanaby from the Colonial Athletic Conference. Kanaby told TB when he left Princeton, oh, three years ago that he would check in every week; this was the first time that TB had heard from him since. But that's okay, because it was like he'd never left.

Janet Dickerson, the former Campus Life VP, was there. And Guy Gadowsky, the former men's hockey coach who is now at Penn State and who had to make the four-hour drive back after the party and yet didn't want to leave quite yet.

There were former basketball players. Friends from Reading. People who had played for him at Union and Dartmouth.

They came back by the hundreds to see Gary, to celebrate with him. It reminded TB of another Christmas movie, not the one with Ralphie but the one with George Bailey.

And that's when TB really put it all together. Gary is Princeton's George Bailey.

Oh, he may have actually left a little more than the real George Bailey, but he's always come back. As a student. A coach. And ultimately as AD.

And this was like the final scene in the movie, when George was in trouble all those Christmases ago in Bedford Falls. They all came back.

It was time to celebrate Gary Walters and what he had meant to all of them, what he had done for all of them, and so back they came, no questions asked. They dropped everything, just like they had for George.

If anyone has ever loved a party, it's Princeton's George Bailey. He worked the room, hugging, shaking hands, laughing, smiling.

This was different though. This time, TB could sense that his boss for the last 20 years was a bit overwhelmed by it all. When it was his turn at the microphone, he said he was "speechless," and he really was. For a few seconds. Then he was able to speak. Hey, it's Gary. He can always speak.

When it was over, Gary had posed for a picture with practically everyone there. TigerBlog got his picture taken with Gary as well, just the two of them.

Gary put his arm around TB, who reciprocated, as both smiled. Then Gary walked away, and TB couldn't help but smile even more as he watched him move on to the next person, the next group, fully aware that they had come back for one reason only - to be with him on his big night.

Gary Walters, like George Bailey, deserved it. He's given so much of himself to the University, to Princeton Athletics, to all of the people in the room, and now they were here for him.

And TB was left to observe the obvious.

Gary Walters has had a great run at Princeton, 50 years-plus, 20 years as the AD. Gary Walters has done amazing things since his beginnings, way, way back at the house on Gordon Street.

Gary Walters has had a wonderful life.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Pre-Tournament Begins

TigerBlog isn't sure if Tuesday night's Princeton-Lehigh men's lacrosse game was the most exciting in Division I this season or just the second-best one played that day.

If you thought Princeton's 10-9 double overtime win over Lehigh was wild, what with the whole tying it with 2.7 seconds left in regulation and all, how about the Sacred Heart-Holy Cross game? Sacred Heart trailed 11-3 in the fourth quarter - the fourth quarter - and then ripped off eight goals to tie it and before winning 12-11 in overtime.

So what's better, a relatively unheard of comeback or a game that goes to two overtimes without ever having either team lead by more than one?

In the case of Princeton's game against Lehigh, the score was tied at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8 and finally 9-9.

Getting to 9-9 wasn't exactly easy.

Princeton trailed 9-8 with 1:10 to go, Lehigh with the ball, out of a timeout. TigerBlog always thinks the team with the ball in that situation hurts itself by calling timeout, since the defense can come out the timeout ready to pounce on the ball, rather than scrambling while play is ongoing.

In this case, the Tigers doubled the ball and trapped it in the corner, gaining possession and clearing it to Tom Schreiber, whose shot was saved by Lehigh's outstanding goalie Matt Poillon. The game might have been over there, except that Poillon's outlet pass shorthopped its target near midfield, allowing Schreiber and Will Reynolds to converge and get it back. Schreiber's next shot hit a foot in front of the goal and bounced back near midfield, where Mike MacDonald picked it up and got it to Kip Orban, who beat Poillon and the clock with 2.7 seconds to spare to send it to overtime.

And then another overtime.

And then Schreiber got the ball free about 10 yards in front of the goal after slipping a screen and, well, he was never going to miss from there. And he didn't.

For Princeton, it was a great win. Hopefully for the Tigers it doesn't become the highlight of the year.

With three weeks to go in the regular season, Princeton is trying to make its push for the two big tournaments, first the Ivy League one and then the NCAA one. This weekend starts the three-game pre-tournament.

The schedule has Princeton at home tomorrow (1) against Dartmouth, a team that beat the Tigers in Hanover 10-9 last year in a game that did a great deal to haunt Princeton come NCAA selection night.

Next week is a trip to Harvard, who just happens to be the last unbeaten team in Ivy League men's lacrosse. And then it's off to Long Island to take on Cornell in what is called the Battle of Bethpage April 26.

Right now, Harvard is 3-0, followed by Cornell at 2-1, Penn and Yale at 2-2, Princeton and Brown at 1-2 and Dartmouth at 0-3. This weekend starts the sorting out, with Yale at Brown tonight and Harvard at Penn tomorrow, in addition the Tigers and Big Green and a non-league game of Cornell and Hofstra.

It's actually tough for a Princeton fan to know which teams would help the Tigers by winning. Princeton obviously wants Lehigh to win out and at least get the Patriot League final against Loyola.

Princeton has already beaten Penn and Hofstra, so the better they do, the better Princeton's win is. On the other hand, a Penn loss to Harvard means Princeton's win isn't as good as it would be if Penn keeps winning, but it could help Princeton get into the Ivy tournament and make a potential win over Harvard be better should the Tigers pull that off next week.

The same logic applies to Hofstra-Cornell. The win over Hofstra gets better with a win over Cornell; a Cornell win gives Princeton a top 10 or even top 5 opponent to go against on Long Island. 

And it's probably better for Princeton if Brown beats Yale, since Yale figures to be battling Princeton for an at-large NCAA bid should neither get the NCAA bid. But then that all depends what would happen after that, as Brown still has to play Cornell and Yale still have to play Harvard.

Princeton can solve all of its own problems by winning out.  It desperately needs a win against Dartmouth after a season where two wins (Hofstra, Manhattan) were followed by two losses (Hopkins, Carolina) and then two more wins (Penn, Villanova) and then two more losses (Yale, Brown) and now two more wins (Rutgers, Lehigh).

Princeton has never lost consecutive games to Dartmouth and is 30-1 all-time in Princeton against the alma mater of head coach Chris Bates.

That game is not the only home event this weekend.

The men's golf team hosts the Princeton Invitational tomorrow and Sunday, and there is home women's tennis against Harvard (tomorrow) and Dartmouth (Sunday), home men's and women's track against Monmouth, St. John's and Vermont (fairly random group) and men's lightweight rowing against Cornell.

By the way, speaking of golf, TigerBlog hasn't played since 2000 or so, but he'd like to get out at least once this summer. He's adding that to his other goal of catching a fish.

It's still spring, though. It's actually early spring, but time is running out on the lacrosse season.

The game Tuesday was a great one. The one tomorrow is a huge one, the first of at least three in a row.

Princeton is hoping for much more than that.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Reeling It In

TigerBlog has never caught a fish. He's been fishing. He's just never caught a fish.

Both of his children have.

Miss TigerBlog, back when she was still Little Miss TigerBlog, once got a fish on the end of her line on a riverbank. She was maybe three or four at the time. When she felt the fish on the line, she got so scared that she turned and ran away from the water, and in doing so dragged the fish out of the river and up onto the bank, without ever actually reeling it in.

TigerBlog Jr. has caught a few fish. He had caught a small one when MTB added a new dimension to the time-honored way of fishing, and then he answered hers with a bigger one of his own. TB is pretty sure they were trout.

As for himself, TB came up empty, even though he was fishing in a stocked river. He's pretty sure the fish were mocking him by the end. "Can you believe this guy? Maybe we should just in his boat and then jump out." That sort of thing.

Maybe this summer he can try it again. Certainly there has to be at least one fish out there that TB can get without having to order it off the menu.

TB is pretty sure that in the five or so times he's been out, he's had a fish or two on his line, only to let it get away. He did reel in a wooden plank one time, fought it hard all the way to the boat. TBJ still makes fun of him for that.

Hooking the fish is only part of it. Getting it all the way in is the problem. Maybe MTB's way is the best way.

The women's lacrosse team had a big one hooked last night. Unfortunately, it got away at the end.

Reeling one in among the top four teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference isn't easy.

The top four teams in the ACC are North Carolina, Maryland, Syracuse and Boston College. Oh, and what are the odds that you could have gotten in, say, 2000, that of those four school, Maryland would be the one NOT in the ACC within 15 years.

Anyway, those four also just happen to be ranked 1-4 in this week's Brine Division I women's lacrosse media poll.

And those four combined are 33-1 in non-league games, with the only loss among them a 7-5 UNC loss to Northwestern, who is ranked fifth.

Princeton hosted Maryland last night on Sherrerd Field, which has now seen two games in two days, with a combined score of Princeton 18, Other Guys 18, with two great one-goal outcomes. The men rallied to tie Lehigh with 2.7 seconds left and then win it in the second overtime. The women were not as fortunate, as they came up just short against No. 2 Maryland 8-7.

Princeton led 4-1 early and 5-3 at halftime. It was 7-6 Maryland when Alexandra Bruno tied it with 4:54 to go, but Maryland won it on a free position goal with 1:39 to go.

Had Princeton been able to reel it in, it would have been a great confidence - and resume - building as the season heads down the stretch.

Regardless of the outcome, Princeton can't focus too long on it. Not with the Ivy League race where it is.

Princeton is one of what appears to be six teams in the hunt for four spots in the Ivy League tournament with three weekends left in the regular season. This one is a huge one. Well, they all are.

Actually, it's a huge eight-day stretch for the Tigers.

Penn is currently 2-0 in the league. Princeton and Harvard are both 3-1, followed by Brown, Dartmouth and Cornell all at 2-2.

Princeton is at Harvard Saturday and then home against Penn Wednesday and Dartmouth next Saturday. And that's it for the Ivy League portion of the Tigers' schedule.

The regular-season winner gets the designation of Ivy champ and gets to host the tournament.

The winner of the Ivy tournament gets the league's automatic NCAA tournament bid.

Those are the big prizes that are still in the water, waiting to be reeled in.

A win last night would have been great. The biggest games are still to come for the Tigers. There are a lot of tiebreakers to determine seeds, host and participants in the case of ties.

Win all three Ivy games and Princeton is the league champion (or co-champ) but definitely the tournament host. It doesn't get less complicated than that.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Buy Me Some Peanuts And Crackerjack

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day ...

You recognize that? It's the opening line from a very famous poem/story.

Then there's Katie Casey or Nelly Kelly.

Katie Casey was baseball mad. Nelly Kelly loved baseball games.

Those are the alternating first lines of another famous song, from two different versions. They have different verses but the same choruses.

The Mudville Nine? They lost that day, 4-3. They had a chance in the ninth inning to pull it out, of course. They were down a run with two out and none out before Flynn and Blake hit back-to-back singles, bringing up the big man himself, mighty Casey.

In modern day baseball, Casey would have been on his second or third team by now and be locked into a long-term, $100 million deal. He'd hit a lot of longballs, strikeout a lot, rarely run hard out of the box and be essentially inaccessible to the local fans.

Back in 1888, he was the hometown hero.

Anyway, TB doesn't have to look up what happened next: "Oh somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright. The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light. And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout. But there is no joy in Mudville. Mighty Casey had struck out."

Or is it has?

As for Katie and Nelly? Well, they were the kind of dates that you always wanted to find, the ones who wanted to be taken to the Polo Grounds, as opposed to the art museum. Not that TigerBlog doesn't enjoy a good impressionist exhibit or anything.

The common chorus for Katie and Nelly?

It starts out: "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." Perhaps you've heard it.

It has to be up there with "Happy Birthday," "My Country Tis Of Thee" and the Star Spangled Banner an as the most universally known songs in American history. And "Born to Run."

TigerBlog loves both slices of Americana.

"Casey at the Bat" was actually a newspaper column from 1888, written by either Earnest Lawrence Thayer or Earnest Thayer Lawrence. TB never gets that straight.

"Take Me Out To The Ballgame" came out 20 years later. Frank Deford, a Princeton alum, wrote a story in 1988 suggesting that Katie Casey was the daughter of Casey from Mudville. TigerBlog didn't know that until he saw it on Wikipedia. He already knew the rest.

He also knows that in the movie "The Naughty Nineties," Dexter Broadhurst (Bud Abbott) sings "Take Me Out The Ballgame" as part of a vaudeville routine, presumably before the song was written. Sebastian Dimwiddle (Lou Costello) interrupts him with questions about the St. Louis lineup, which of course has Who on first, What on second and I Don't Know on third.

TigerBlog would rather watch "Who's On First" or reread "Casey At The Bat" rather than actually watch Major League Baseball right now. It's a little early in the season for it.

Plus, there's so much lacrosse on TV and the web all the time now, who has time for baseball?

It's even too early for TigerBlog to work up a good hate for the Yankees yet. He's on the Phillies bandwagon (it's like rooting for Tom McCarthy), but that train probably isn't going anywhere this year.

If anything, TB will keep early-season tabs on Princeton's four Major Leaguers.

There's Chris Young, making a comeback with the Seattle Mariners. Young pitched two innings in relief, striking out two and not allowing a baserunner in his first appearance.

There's David Hale, who pitched five shutout innings in his first start of the year for the Braves. He got a no-decision, but he's establishing himself as a legitimate Major Leaguer.

There's Will Venable, who is an established Major League with a history of getting off to slow starts and then heating up. He's had 21 at-bats and is hitting just below .200 early on for the Padres, but he will start putting up power and speed numbers relatively quickly.

And there's Ross Ohlendorf, who has yet to pitch this year for Washington Nationals.

Those four are TB's main interest in baseball right now.

And the current Tigers, who host Monmouth today and then play 10 league games in eight days, beginning with four at Columbia this weekend.

It's still the National Pastime, even if lacrosse is closing fast.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Away From The Spectacle And Money

So TigerBlog was wrong. Again.

Kentucky didn't beat UConn 76-64 in the NCAA final. Instead, UConn beat Kentucky 60-54 to cap a fairly memorable run to the NCAA title.

TigerBlog had long since fallen asleep by the time the Huskies won their championship. Guess he'd seen the Chris Webber commercial once too often for his brain to stay focused. Or maybe it was that commercial with the hamster as the father in the French family, the one that says "you're not nearly cool or smart enough to understand what we're doing here, so just take our word for it that we are so clever and creative."

The NCAA final was a great spectacle, the end of a tournament filled with wonderful games throughout. And UConn clearly earned its championship, right? The Huskies were on the verge of being knocked out in their first game before tying St. Joe's late and winning in OT, but from there no game was closer than five, UConn beat the No. 1 overall seed (Florida) and a No. 2 seed (Villanova) by 10 and beat the two teams with the most momentum (Michigan State and Kentucky).

Still, there were three things about this NCAA tournament that nag at TB.

First, it's complete and total proof that the regular season means little in college basketball. UConn finished third in the AAC. It got swept by SMU. It also got hot at the right time.

In college basketball, that's all that matters.

Second, there is the wild over-commercialization and spectacle that the NCAA championship has become. It's more like the Super Bowl, with 80,000 people in a football stadium. Did you see how far away from the court some of those 80,000 people were? And for astronomical prices, on top of that.

Finally, there's the whole one-and-done mentality. It may be legal and it may be effective. It's also unseemly in the world of college athletics.

Kentucky played eight players in the NCAA championship game. Of those eight, seven of them are freshmen and the other is a sophomore. Imagine how good they'll be when those freshmen are seniors, right?

Well, of course they'll never be seniors. That's the whole one-and-done idea. Come to college for a year and then go to the NBA.

TigerBlog doesn't blame any of those seven Kentucky freshmen. What choice do they have? The way the rules are currently written - by the NBA, not the NCAA - they can't go straight from high school to college.

But really, what does anything that happened last night have to do with education? It had a lot to do with money, that's for sure, and that's what's driving the whole paying athletes/unionization talk. Ironically, the Northwestern football players who started the union movement aren't looking for payment, just improved benefits.

Still, what the average member of the sporting public - or worse, lawmakers - see is the obscene amount of money that last night generates and how none of it is going to the players. How UConn coach Kevin Ollie - by all accounts a good guy - is underpaid because he only makes a little more than $1 million per year, while there was a story that TB saw yesterday that suggests that UConn star Shabazz Napier often goes to bed hungry because he doesn't have any money to buy food.

Tonight's women's championship game is fascinating on many levels as well. The UConn women are 39-0 and the Notre Dame women are 37-0, and they meet in Nashville for the title.

Of course, for years, they both couldn't be undefeated, since they were both in the Big East. Now? Notre Dame is in the ACC and UConn is in the AAC. And why? Because despite already having one NCAA basketball championship and on the verge of the other, UConn's football team wasn't attractive enough to anyone in the game of conference realignment.

Oh, and there's the whole angle of the two coaches, UConn's Geno Auriemma and ND's Muffett McGraw, who apparently don't like each other. If TB happened to be cynical, he'd suggest that the whole lack of civility angle was fabricated to generate additional interest in the game.

TigerBlog likes the NCAA tournament. He liked it more when it was played in arenas by teams loaded with seniors, not freshmen, at a time when a player like Napier wasn't the exception but the rule.

Maybe it's because back then, TB wasn't working in college athletics quite yet. Maybe it's because he does now that he hates to see all of the good things clouded by the money and the spectacle that unfortunately is the face of college athletics.

TigerBlog has a few things to get done today.

He needs to write a preview story about the baseball team's game against Monmouth tomorrow and mostly get ready for tonight's men's lacrosse game against Lehigh. You can see that game at 7:30 on ESPNU, by the way.

Princeton and Lehigh, by the way, disagree on the history of the series, as Lehigh has games against Princeton in 1940 and 1941 in its record book that Princeton does not have in its. Maybe they were played. Maybe they weren't. Lehigh thinks Princeton won both of those, so it's not like the Mountain Hawks are padding their stats.

Either way, it's been awhile since Princeton and Lehigh have played. For schools located a little over an hour apart, it seems like they could have played at some point in those 64 (or more) years.

They meet tonight as Top 20 teams who are hoping that their seasons extend into the NCAA tournament, though both have work to do to get there.

TigerBlog would much rather be at a game like this one than at the men's basketball Final Four. He's happy to stay far away from the spectacle and money.

He's not 100% sure what that says about him, other than that he's working at the right school.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kentucky By 12

Just in case you haven't heard it a thousand times already, the narrative for tonight's NCAA championship game goes something like this: "the two great Cinderella stories, UConn and Kentucky."

It's a seventh seed (UConn) versus an eighth seed (Kentucky), though it's hardly what you would think of when you talk about the great Cinderellas in NCAA history. You know, like Villanova in 1985.

Now that was a Cinderella.

In some ways, the 1985 Villanova team is roughly the same as this Kentucky team. For awhile, it wasn't a guarantee that either would even be in the tournament. Then, once in the tournament, there were all kinds of close games for both.

Villanova in 1985 won its first three NCAA games by two, three and four points. Kentucky won its four regional games by seven, two, five and three points and then beat Wisconsin by one in the national semifinal.

Kentucky has been on a wild run this NCAA tournament. The Wildcats have played in three unbelievable games, three of the best NCAA tournament games in recent memory, with wins over Wichita State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. You could argue for awhile over which of those games was the best, but all three were epics.

It's just that Kentucky should never have been an eight seed. Not with this collection of talent. Somehow, this Kentucky team lost 10 games this year.

Maybe it's because of how many freshmen start, five to be exact. Maybe it just took this team longer than it might have guessed to become fully acclimated with the pace of the college game and the chemistry of playing with each other.

Now? The overwhelming talent is showing.

TigerBlog had a final of Kansas and Creighton, and his logic was pretty spot on. A team led by a marquee freshman and a great supporting cast against a team that is led by a senior who is carrying them all the way. He just had the wrong freshman (Andrew Wiggins instead of Julius Randle) and the wrong senior (Doug McDermott instead of Shabazz Napier).

The final, TB assumes, will be like the last few UConn games, where TV will fixate on Napier's mother in the stands and show her at least 15 times. What goes through the directors' mind with all the shots of one player's mother? One is fine.

TigerBlog can't imagine Kentucky doesn't roll to this win. He doesn't think the game will be within 10 points when it's over. He'll go Kentucky 76, UConn 64 as a prediction.

He also hopes that if it is close, the refs stay out of it at the end. He's not optimistic about that. And can there be no replay reviews? Is that asking too much?

TigerBlog recently saw the "30 For 30" on the Big East, the highlight of which was the 1985 season, the one where the Big East sent three teams to the Final Four - Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's.

The best part of that season was the sweater that Lou Carnesecca wore during the Big East tournament the replica of it that John Thompson (not the Princeton John Thompson) wore for the final.

And the line that the Princeton John Thompson had after last year's Big East tournament, when he said that he would have preferred that Syracuse not leave "all this, for a few more dollars."

TigerBlog will make another prediction for the championship game - Bill Bradley's record for most points in a Final Four game will stand.

Bradley, back in 1965, scored 58 points against Wichita State in the consolation game, something that used to be played between the two semifinal losers. As an aside, the NCAA refers to the "losers" as "non-advancing," presumably so as not to have to call someone a loser.

Princeton defeated Penn State and North Carolina State to reach the 1965 East Regional final in College Park, Md., where the Tigers destroyed heavily favored Providence 109-69.

Princeton's run to the championship ended with a 93-76 loss to Michigan, who in turn lost to UCLA in the final. Meanwhile Princeton came back to defeat Wichita State 118-82 in the consolation game.

Bradley had scored 41 against Providence in the regional final. For the tournament, he averaged 35.4 points per game and earned Most Outstanding Player honors.

Nobody will come close to his 58 points tonight.

TigerBlog doesn't think UConn will come all that close to Kentucky.

Of course, he hasn't been right about too many predictions lately.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hoping Your News Is Good News

Back when he was a kid, the primary access to daily current events was either through the newspaper or the news on TV.

The preferred newscast in TB's house was the Channel 7 news from New York City, with anchors Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel. Grimsby was a grizzled, somewhat sarcastic announcer, one who ended every newscast with his signature sign-off: "Hoping your news is good news."

It's a rather simple saying, and yet it has a ton of optimism to it. Hoping your news is good news.

It applies to the world of college athletics, certainly. As the late, great, certainly quotable Al McGuire  - he was the basketball coach who won an NCAA title at Marquette in 1977 and then went on to a long career in broadcasting - said when asked about the challenges of coaching in college: "just when you think you have everything under control, one of the cheerleaders ends up pregnant."

TigerBlog talks all the time about the perils involved in college athletics. Hey, you put that many strong-willed, competitive, adventurous young people together, and you just hope for the best when it comes time to make decisions.

Anytime TB reads a story about decisions gone bad among college teams, he never (okay, almost never) experiences schadenfreude, which, by the way, is a great word. Nope. He always (okay, usually, depending on the school) thinks "thankfully that wasn't here at Princeton."

Anyone in college athletic administration who thinks it can't happen on his/her campus is fooling him- or herself.

Princeton's athletic administration spends a ton of time stressing to coaches and directly to athletes the importance of making good decisions. It's like parenting. You can do it all you want. When it gets to be key decision time, all you can do is hope it sunk in.

Like Grimsby said, you can hope your news is good news. You also have to be proactive about doing everything you can to make it happen, and then you have to just hope for the best.

And you can be happy when you're on the right side of the news.

Princeton certainly was this week, in the form of hockey player Jack Berger.

It seems that Berger connected with a local six-year-old through one of Princeton's "Skate With the Tiger" events and made such an impression that the boy - Colin Doan - wanted to try playing hockey.

Eventually, his mother sent a video of the boy as he was telling people he wanted to be just like Jack Berger to Princeton men's hockey coach Bob Prier, who forwarded it to Berger. Eventually, Berger showed up at Colin's school as a guest reader, and it just so happened that Berger read to the class of kindergarteners one of TB's favorite authors: Dr. Seuss.

The episode was recounted in the Trentonian earlier this week, and it made for the kind of story that any school craves.

TB was first made aware of it by Daniel Day from the communications office. Dan tweeted it on the main university account and wanted to make sure TB saw it, while also commenting that he loved stories like that. And who wouldn't?

TigerBlog has never met Jack Berger. He's certainly heard a lot about him though.

He strikes TB as one of those too-good-to-be-true-where-do-these-people-come-from types that make working at Princeton pretty special. It's also something that TB never takes for granted.

Way back when when he was in the newspaper business, TB wrote that about Chris Mooney, then a Princeton basketball player and now the head coach at Richmond. It applied then, and it's applied to so many of the athletes TB has seen through the years here.

Berger is no exception.

The captain of the hockey team, Berger is on his way to medical school at some point, after he exhausts his opportunities to play professionally. As the story about Colin shows, he certainly has a big heart. He's a tremendous public speaker, and he has a natural leadership and presence to him.

He's exactly the kind of person you want out there in the public, like at a "Skate With the Tigers" night.

In Jadwin Gym there's often a great deal of talk about how Princeton's athletes are the best ambassadors for the program. Let them out in the community, and everyone responds. TB has seen it any number of times.

The Jack Berger/Colin Doan relationship is a perfect example, but it's hardly the only one.

They don't do it for the publicity. They do it because it's a great thing for college athletes to do, especially at a school like Princeton. They do it because they're role models and they understand that.

They do it because that's just how they are.

Certainly Jack Berger is. When he's involved, the good news appears to follow.