Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Calm Before The Tip

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was in Jadwin Gym yesterday. There is a picture of him and a Princeton hat on the University's main website.

It seems like the kind of thing a spiritual leader would do if he had a sense of humor.

TigerBlog has no idea if the Dalai Lama has seen the part of the movie "Caddyshack" in which Bill Murray famously and hilariously talks about caddying for the Dalai Lama on a course in Tibet. If you've seen it, you know what TigerBlog is talking about; if you haven't or want to see it again, click HERE.

Please don't mistake this for a lack of respect for the man or the position. Far from it. What TigerBlog is pointing out is that the Dalai Lama who was in Jadwin yesterday comes across, from what TB has read and heard from those who were there, as an engaging, smiling human being as well as a spiritual figure, which is definitely a good thing.

As such, TB supposes, he probably gets a chuckle out of the "Caddyshack" clip, especially the line "big hitter the Lama." And if he doesn't? Well, it's still one of the funniest scenes in any movie that TigerBlog has ever seen.

TigerBlog didn't really know much about the Dalai Lama prior to the announcement of his visit to Princeton, other than that he was the leader of a large sect of Buddhists and that. He still doesn't quite understand it all, especially how the next Dalai Lama is chosen.

TigerBlog wasn't in Jadwin for the event.

Instead, his day took him to Philadelphia, to speak at a class at Drexel, a graduate sports management class. It's something that TB has done many times before at New York University, but this was a first at Drexel.

The class was in a building between 31st and 32nd, and TB wanted to park behind the Palestra and walk over. His friend and colleague at Penn, Michael Mahoney, arranged for him to get into the lot, and he was all set.

With some time to kill before heading over to the class, TB found himself in the Palestra, during women's volleyball practice. The men's and women's basketball teams are Penn were practicing in a new practice facility, since volleyball took preference as an in-season team.

TB always loves to walk into the old building next to Franklin Field, even if it's on a Tuesday afternoon during volleyball practice. He has so many memories in that building, back to the first Princeton-Penn game he ever saw, back when he was a freshman at Penn.

TB, Mahoney and Penn broadcaster Brian Seltzer were talking when Quaker head men's basketball coach Jerome Allen came out of the lockerroom, to be interviewed.

Mahoney introduced him to TigerBlog, who through all these years had never before met Allen, who immediately gave TB a dirty look because of the "Princeton Athletics" shirt he had on. Mahoney mentioned that TB works at Princeton, and TB immediately followed up with the fact that he was a Penn alum.

Allen responded with something along the lines of that being even worse or something like that. It was a pretty funny exchange.

Then the the group walked outside, in front of the Palestra, where Seltzer did his interview with Allen, something that was interrupted first by an ambulance with a blaring siren and then by a low-flying helicopter.

The front of the Palestra has changed radically since TB first saw it. Gone are the tennis courts that used to be there, replaced by a pretty nice grassy area.

It was a picture perfect afternoon, temperatures in the mid-70s, a slight, comfortable breeze. TigerBlog pointed out that the building to the right as he faced 33rd Street - a rather sterile building called the David Rittenhouse Lab - was the sight of his last ever class and final exam at Penn.

It was such a calm moment, out in front of the Palestra in the uncharacteristically warm late October sunshine.

It's quite a contrast to the winter that is coming. College basketball will be beginning soon, and the long chase to get a spot in the NCAA tournament come March will be underway.

Princeton opens its men's season at home two weeks from Friday against Rider. The women open their season the same night at Pitt.

The regular season for both ends on March 10. March 10? That's basically four months from when it starts.

Specifically, that's 116 days from the start of the regular season, discounting any postseason.

The women's soccer regular season? It goes 64 days. The men's goes 71 days. Those are total sprints.

Basketball? It's a long, long path.

Right now, teams are talking about practices and closed scrimmages and the like. Pretty soon it'll be tip.

The regular season for both Princeton teams, by the way, ends at the same building outside of which TB stood yesterday afternoon. That night will be much more intense, much more crowded, than yesterday, when all the building had was volleyball practice and a few stragglers.

It was calm yesterday. The calm before the tip.

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