Friday, March 4, 2016

Another Busy One

TigerBlog was leaving yesterday afternoon around 5:15 or so when he saw his colleague Cody Chruchiel, who was about to get on the elevator in Jadwin.

TigerBlog had just gotten off that same elevator, uneventfully at that. TB off. Cody on.

Then, a few minutes later, TB got a text - part of a group text actually - with a picture of Cody, who said that he was now stuck on the elevator. TigerBlog promises he did nothing to sabotage things.

In the end, it would take Cody about 20 minutes to free himself from the elevator.

TigerBlog has been stuck in an elevator once, in Ireland, along with about 20 men's lacrosse players. It only lasted about two minutes, but it wasn't exactly fun.

Cody took it all in stride. After all, it was a Thursday afternoon. Those aren't high-stress moments.

It dawned on TigerBlog that in his profession, the time during the week is usually the low stress time. It's the weekends when everything ratchets up.

This weekend is no different.

One of the events this weekend will be the CSA national squash championships. In advance of that, there was a story on about the coming induction into the College Squash Hall of Fame of Princeton alums Yasser El Halaby and Julia Beaver.

When he saw the story, TigerBlog's first thought was "how are they not already in?"

TigerBlog can't think of El Halaby without thinking of the late, great Bob Callahan, the long-time coach of the Tigers who passed away a little over a year ago. When Bob recruited Yasser from Egypt, he came into the Office of Athletic Communications and said that he had recruited the squash version of Bill Bradley.

And he had.

Yasser would win four individual squash national championships before graduating in 2006, becoming the first men's player ever to do so. When TigerBlog saw him play, he marveled at the way he could wear down an opponent with uncanny consistency on every shot. He didn't overpower them physically. He broke them down mentally.

As for Beaver, she was close to El Halaby with three individual titles before she graduated in 2001. Princeton also won two Howe Cup national championships while Beaver was the No. 1 player.

And now they're going to be in the Hall of Fame, which is where they belong.

The Hall of Fame inductions are part of the CSA individual championships, which are part of yet another busy weekend for Princeton Athletics. Well, maybe not as busy as some recent ones, what with only 14 teams who will be competing.

Only 14. Hah.

It's a mix of what it always is this time of year, with postseason events like the squash championships and huge late season events mixed with early season games for spring teams. It's even opening weekend for the baseball team, who plays three games at Louisville.

There will be six teams who play 10 home events between today and Sunday. TigerBlog spoke yesterday about how busy Carril Court at Jadwin Gym will be, beginning tonight with women's basketball and continuing tomorrow with another women's hoops game - including Senior Night - as well as EIWA wrestling.

There will also be other teams at home who are playing with no admission charge: men's tennis, women's tennis, men's volleyball and women's lacrosse.

The women's lacrosse team plays tomorrow at home against Dartmouth in the Ivy League opener. It used to be that Princeton would play Dartmouth and Penn in the same week, but now Dartmouth has moved to the Ivy opener.

The Big Green are 3-1 and receiving votes in the poll after wins over UMass-Lowell, New Hampshire and BU and a 16-6 loss to No. 3 Florida. Princeton is ranked sixth and unbeaten.

It's a pretty big way to jump into the league.

The men's lacrosse team is at Hopkins tomorrow at 1, on ESPN3. Princeton will be playing the first of three straight games against nationally ranked Big Ten teams, with Hopkins away and then Maryland and Rutgers at home.

You could say that this is a tough stretch for the Tigers, but really there isn't any part of the schedule that isn't a tough stretch. Hey, the Ivy League has more Top 10 teams than the Big Ten, and those two - Yale and Brown - are two of Princeton's first three Ivy opponents.

Then there is the men's basketball team.

Princeton left yesterday to go to New England for games at Harvard tonight and Dartmouth tomorrow night. By the time Princeton returns in the wee hours Sunday morning, there will be one of three realities for the Tigers:

1) clinched the Ivy title
2) eliminated from the race
3) race still undecided

With so many possibilities, each game is huge. The Tigers are tied with Yale in losses with one each. Columbia has three and desperately wants to get to tomorrow night at home against Yale with a chance.

This is no time for a team to be looking beyond, as John Thompson has always said, the next possession.

There was an athletic department staff meeting yesterday morning. As he does at every staff meeting, Jon Kurian of the business office was running down a few procedural things. He mentioned that if anyone was submitting an expensed meal, it had to mention everything on the bill individually, not just a total and a tip.

You know, for accounting purposes and all.

"We're very health conscious in the business office," Kurian said to a few laughs.

 That was yesterday morning. By tonight, a big weekend of competition will have begun.

It'll be a bit more serious.

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