Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Head Coach Meg Griffith

TigerBlog's championship game prediction of North Carolina and Oklahoma is still a possibility, and what about that Geno Auriemma-Dan Shaughnessy feud?

Those will have to wait a few minutes. And the story about the Big Rock will have to wait until tomorrow.


Meg Griffith is leaving Princeton.

Meg has been a part of the women's basketball program for six years, first as Director of Operations for two years and then the last four as an assistant coach. In her six years, Princeton went to five NCAA tournaments and one WNIT.

The team's record in that time has been 145-33, including 78-6 in the Ivy League.

You don't achieve that kind of success without a great network in place. Princeton women's basketball has had that.

It starts at the top, obviously, with head coach Courtney Banghart. TigerBlog would say that after her nine years at Princeton, Banghart ranks either first or second all-time in a listing of the all-time best Ivy League women's basketball coaches.

Now Meg is getting her chance to get somewhere on that list.

It was announced yesterday afternoon that Columbia has hired Meg Griffith to be its new women's basketball coach. TigerBlog couldn't be more happy for Meg, who as a Columbia grad in returning to her alma mater.

A quick glance at the Columbia women's basketball record book indicates that Meg is the sixth leading scorer in program history with 1,061 career points. Her name is all over that record book actually, including the program record for assists in a season with 148.

The new head coach graduated in 2007 and then played in Finland and the Netherlands before starting her career here. In addition to the success she had with the women's basketball team, she also dominated lunchtime basketball, and TigerBlog has never seen anyone who can make a treadmill say "uncle" the way Meg can.

Columbia is getting a great addition to its athletic department. As word of Meg's departure began to spread yesterday, the response was fairly universal. Thrilled for her. Sad that she'll be leaving here.

That's how TigerBlog feels. No matter what the situation, no matter what time of year, no matter the score of the last game, TigerBlog can never remember a time when Meg wasn't upbeat, smiling, happy, laughing. She would always ask about TigerBlog Jr. and Miss TigerBlog, and TB assumes that Meg was like that with everybody else here. It's just how she is. 

Her challenge is a big one. Columbia has finished last in Ivy League women's basketball four of the last five years.

It'll be fun to see her bring her team into Jadwin next winter. TigerBlog wishes her the very best - except when she's playing Princeton, of course.

Meanwhile, back at the NCAA tournament, there's the question of whether UConn's women are bad for the sport because of the extent to which the Huskies simply dominate the field. That was the point that Shaughnessy, the Boston Globe writer, tried to make. Auriemma, the Huskies' coach, didn't quite like it.

You've probably read about it.

TigerBlog's take is that both of their positions are correct, if such a thing is possible. Auriemma doesn't have to apologize for how ridiculously good his team is, but it is sort of dull to know that UConn can just roll through everyone year after year.

It's no fun actually. Now, it's up to everyone else to catch UConn, not up to UConn to come back to the pack. But hey, until that happens, there's not a lot of drama to women's college basketball.

As for the men's tournament, TigerBlog had it UNC over Oklahoma in the final, and that's still a possibility. The Final Four, to be held in Houston, will feature Oklahoma against Villanova and North Carolina against Syracuse.

TigerBlog has read a few stories about how the North Carolina-Syracuse matchup is a nightmare for the NCAA, what with Syracuse having had its issues with the NCAA in the last two years and North Carolina in the middle (or near the end perhaps) of a four-year investigation of academic fraud.

Oh, and the fact that Syracuse has come all the way through to the Final Four as a 10 seed has nothing to do with whether or not the Orange belonged in the tournament in the first place. Outcome doesn't determine whether or not the selection was correct.

Remember the Tippy Martinez story?

TigerBlog didn't watch much of the basketball this weekend. He watched lacrosse of course. And Gilmore Girls. One of these days he'll get to episode 153 of that show.

He'll have to miss the Final Four games in basketball too. That's okay.

As he said before, the tournament decreases in excitement with each passing week. It's an odd phenomenon. And TB isn't the biggest college basketball fan anymore.

He just roots for his teams. There's a short list of them, one that got a little bigger yesterday, when he added Columbia's women to it.

Good luck Meggie. 

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