Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dog Days

TigerBlog likes to go for walks.

He likes to get his back scratched. He can eat the same basic food every day. He's loyal. He doesn't mind sitting on the couch for long periods of time.

In other words, he would have made a fine dog.

He thinks he would have made a much better dog than cat, though he's not sure why. Maybe it's the whole litter-box thing. TigerBlog could never do that. Yuck.

One thing he would have to object to were he a dog would be going for a "walk" while the owner either ran or, worse, rode a bike. Every time TigerBlog sees this, he wonders how up for it the dog is.

There's really nothing the dog can do, of course. If the mutt doesn't want to run, what choice is there? Stop and get its paws dragged along?

Maybe the dog likes it, though it's hard to say. And do dogs have unlimited stamina to keep up?

TigerBlog actually saw a dog yesterday who was running ahead of its owner, who was jogging. That was really bold of the pup.

TB's favorite dog of the week, though, was one of those little terriers whom he met along the towpath the other day. The dog turned out to be named Otis, which is a really good name for a dog. He was wearing a little dog sweater, which is always cute.

Anyway, Otis was on one of those leashes that extends, giving the dog a chance to run a bit without getting away. And so Otis came charging up to TigerBlog, for which the owner - a man TB didn't know but who sounded exactly like Princeton water polo coach Luis Nicolao - apologized.

Ahead on the towpath were a bunch of geese - a gaggle, as it were. TB asked if Otis was afraid of the geese, and The Man With Luis' Voice said no. Then he took Otis off the leash, and Otis charged at the geese, who hissed, cackled and made a quick getaway as Otis jumped as high as he could. TMWLV mentioned that one time Otis jumped at a duck who was flying away and actually latched on and held on for a split second before falling.

So that was Otis.

In keeping with an animal theme, a Blue Hen is a chicken. In fact, the Blue Hen chicken is the official state bird of the state of Delaware, which explains why its sports teams are the Blue Hens.

Delaware is a really easy drive from the Princeton area, most of the time. It can take a little more than an hour from here to there, unless you get slammed in traffic, in which case it can take twice as long.

The Princeton women's basketball team will be making the trip there tonight, putting its 10-0 record on the line against the 4-3 Hens. Delaware hasn't played in nine days, presumably due to first semester exams.

Of the roughly 700 Division I men's and women's basketball teams, only 22 are still undefeated, including the Princeton women. There are 14 undefeated women's teams, which leaves eight undefeated men.

Here's the complete list:

Women - Princeton, North Carolina, Texas, St. John's, Northwestern, Youngstown State, Akron, Oregon State, Lehigh, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Georgia, South Carolina, UL-Lafayette

Men - TCU, Villanova, Colorado State, Arizona, Kentucky,Virginia, Louisville, Duke

Princeton's women, for the record, are receiving votes in this week's poll. The team would be ranked 30th if the rankings went out that far.

It's impossible to think about Delaware without thinking about Elena Della Donne, who is by far the best women's basketball player that TigerBlog has ever seen live. TigerBlog wrote that her performance in Jadwin Gym a few years back had to be what it was like when Bill Bradley played for Princeton's men.

Della Donne graduated two years ago, but the cupboard isn't bare for Delaware, who will clearly challenge the Tigers.

On the other hand, Princeton figures to be ready.

It's easy to say that this is a team driven by what happened at the end of last year, when losses to Brown and Penn let a fifth-straight Ivy title get away. And yes, there is a lot of that that fuels this group.

But each team is different and each year is different, with a different dynamic. And this team is very, very good. It's deep. It has multiple legitimate scoring options. It has multiple ways of scoring.

Mostly, this team helps prove that Bill Carmody's two-word description of what it takes to win at basketball is true: Make Shots.

Princeton is shooting 48% as a team. Its opponents are shooting 34%. The numbers are even more disparate from three-point range, where the Tigers are at 43% and its opponents are at 25.4%.


Princeton follows up its game against Delaware with a game Friday at 5:30 on Carril Court against Portland State. The men play Lipscomb after the women.

As for the women, the next home game after Portland State is Penn, in the Ivy opener, Jan. 10. That game is still more than three weeks away.

Will Princeton be unbeaten by then? Delaware, Portland State, Monmouth, Hartford, Savannah State or Fordham and then Hampton, all on the road.

And then it's 14 Ivy games.

The first 10 games of this season have been great. That's one-third of the season.

There's a long way to go, and there's no sense to look past Delaware, let alone to what might happen in February.

In the meantime, Princeton's women are good and fun to watch.

Hey, that's not a bad place to be in December.

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