Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Avoiding The Mall

TigerBlog got off of I-95 at Route 1 last night and then went past the Quakerbridge Mall, whose parking lot was jammed.

What else should TB have expected? It was three days before Christmas, after all, and that could only mean one thing - getting to the mall to finish (or in some cases, start) shopping.

TigerBlog wasn't one of those on the way to the mall. No, he was on his way back to Jadwin Gym, to watch Princeton-Liberty men's basketball.

Since he wasn't pulling into the parking lot, he could be amused by the chaos at the mall.

If you have little kids or ever had little kids, then you know that you agonize over what to get them and how much to get them for Christmas. There are several problems with this.

First, Christmas morning becomes more about the ripping open of presents than it is about enjoying any of them.

Then, there's also the issue that your "big present" doesn't necessarily overlap with what they want to play with. You got them the iPad; they want to play with the art set that cost $20 and was an afterthough.

Christmas is supposed to be about peace on Earth. It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.

Instead, it becomes about stress more than anything else. All that planning. All that shopping. All that time looking for a spot at the mall and the perfect gift.

And then, for one angelic moment, there they are, neatly wrapped, spread out under the tree, a perfect moment of calm that vanishes into carnage as soon as the kids get up and start ripping open present after present. In less than 10 minutes, boxes, gift wrap, bows and everything else are scattered everywhere - and you're left to swear that next year will be different, even as you know it won't be.

TIgerBlog loves the commercials where the husband gets the wife a new car for Christmas. This is genius. He wouldn't do that if he didn't need a new car, so he'd have to buy the car anyway. This way, it makes it seem like he's giving her this great expensive gift when he's actually taking the easy way out of gift-giving.

Oh, and speaking of the easy way out, how about ordering online or just getting a gift card? Then the mall parking lot is never your concern.

As TB said, he wasn't turning into Quakerbridge. He was going straight to Jadwin, for the final home basketball game of the calendar year and the second-to-last home event for Princeton Athletics in 2014, with only Sunday's ESPNU-televised men's hockey game against Quinnipiac at 4 still to go.

Before TB left to come back to Jadwin yesterday, he did get to see the end of the game between Memphis-BYU in the Miami Beach Bowl. If you missed it, things got a tad ugly at the end, when the teams fought - for real - after the Tigers defeated BYU 55-48 in two overtimes.

Usually, the average sports brawl is more pushing and shoving than anything else. This time? No, this was really, really ugly, with punches thrown, helmets used as weapons and blood drawn.

This is one of TigerBlog's nightmares, that he'll be at a Princeton game and something like will happen. Athletic administrators at both schools have to be dealing with things today that they'd prefer to not have to deal with, especially if they have to get to the mall.

The Princeton-Liberty game didn't feature anything close to a brawl.

The Flames came into Jadwin ranked 349th in RPI in Division I, which was two spots higher than they were last week, when they were 351st. That's out of 351 teams, by the way.

TigerBlog didn't understand how this was possible, considering Liberty was 5-6 and that there are still three winless teams in Division I. When TB went to look today, Liberty was no longer on the list at all, and only 349 teams are listed.

Liberty hardly looked like the worst team in Division I. The game was competitive until Princeton pulled away midway through the second half, though TB never thought Princeton would lose.

Steven Cook led the Tigers with 16 points. Princeton is now 5-8, with games at Wake Forest on New Year's Eve afternoon (1:00 tip in North Carolina) and then home against Norfolk State on Jan. 6 before the Ivy opener against Penn Jan. 10.

So where are the Tigers now?

Princeton has some pretty good pieces. Cook and Spencer Weisz do almost everything right and are a lot of fun to watch play. Amir Bell, the freshman point guard, looks like what young stars look like. Princeton has size. It can shoot from the outside. There is depth.

The Ivy League as a whole looks pretty strong. Harvard, obviously, was the team that had all the preseason hype, and the Crimson have some good wins - as well as a 76-27 loss to Virginia the other day that is a bit head-scratching.

Yale has beaten UConn. Columbia played UConn tough and played Kentucky tougher than anyone else. Brown, Dartmouth and Cornell look better than last year. Penn is, well, always going to be Penn.

TigerBlog will be surprised if anyone goes 14-0 in the league this year. He'll also be surprised if anyone goes worse than 2-12 or 3-11, meaning every game will be a big challenge.

Princeton opens with Penn and then is off for first semester exams, followed by the D3 game against Rowan and then home games against Harvard and Dartmouth. Yes, Princeton will know a great deal about its 2015 season by the time that first Ivy weekend ends.

It seems pretty far away, of course, and it is more than a month from now.

For now, it's almost Christmas. Get the presents wrapped. Let the carnage begin.

No comments: