Friday, April 29, 2016

Blake, Bugs And A Busy Weekend

Yesterday was Take Your Kids To Work Day.

TigerBlog is pretty sure this began as Take Your Daughter To Work Day, as an effort to introduce girls to jobs that might previously have been though of as male-only. Since then, it has expanded to include boys and girls.

Princeton Athletics, under the direction of Kim Meszaros, has always had a nice program for the kids of department staff. Yesterday was no different.

Blake Borders was here yesterday. He's the son of Andrew Borders, TigerBlog's colleague in the Office of Athletic Communications.

Blake isn't quite two yet, so he's a little young for the activities that Kim puts together. Blake did like the pizza and chocolate chip cookies.

Maddie Sachson was there too. She's seven or eight or so. Yesterday was right in her wheelhouse.

Her dad Craig is another OAC colleague. Maddie played squash and ran track and went swimming and ate and did a whole bunch of things that left Craig almost completed sweated through his shirt.

As for Blake, he mostly hung out with his dad, and Warren Croxton, Andrew's office mate. At one point yesterday, TigerBlog poked his head in to see how Blake was, and he saw that Blake was watching some contemporary cartoon on a computer. TigerBlog didn't know what it was, though he knows his kids never saw it when they were younger.

Put on Bugs Bunny, TigerBlog suggested. So Andrew did.

And clearly Blake liked it. Bugs was having some fun with Elmer Fudd. What's not to like? Blake laughed. So did TigerBlog.

If nothing else came out of Take Your Kid To Work Day, Blake met Bugs Bunny. Imagine how hard Blake would have laughed if he'd been watching "Bugs and Thugs" or "Racketeer Rabbit," Bugs' two best performances.

TigerBlog could watch Bugs all day long. You know what he can't watch?

The NFL draft. He doesn't understand the fascination with it. For every 20 players selected, the average fan has not heard of 19 or more. Plus, the odds of finding a good player in the first round is about the same as finding one in the fourth round.

TigerBlog's only interest is whether or not Seth DeValve is drafted. Like the overwhelming majority of the American sporting pubic, TigerBlog is more interested in Ivy League baseball and softball this weekend than he is the NFL draft.

The threat of rain Sunday in Princeton has changed the schedule. Princeton is now at Cornell today in both baseball and softball and home in both tomorrow.

The baseball team enters the weekend one game up on Penn in the Gehrig Division. The Quakers have four with Columbia.

As TB has said earlier this week, it's still possible for all eight Ivy baseball teams to finish 10-10, but that is unlikely. TB isn't sure what the tiebreakers there would be, but it would be fascinating.

Because everyone can get to 10-10, nobody is eliminated yet. That could change today, when one win by Princeton and Penn would eliminate Cornell and Columbia. In fact, one Princeton win means there could no longer be a four- or even three-way tie in the Gehrig Division.

Clearly, every game matters this weekend. Princeton wins the division outright by sweeping, something no other team can say. So that's a start.

On the softball side, Princeton is three games up on Penn, giving the softball team a lot more margin for error than the baseball team. On the other hand, nothing is in the bank yet.

The softball team will win the South Division title with any combination of wins or Penn losses that adds up to two. Unlike the baseball team, though, the softball team cannot host the Ivy League Championship Series, which will be played at either Dartmouth or Harvard.

The baseball playoff could be at the Gehrig or Rolfe Division winner. Obviously the baseball picture is quite muddled.

The women's lacrosse tournament can be at Princeton, Penn or Cornell, depending on this weekend.

Simply put, a Penn win over Cornell and Penn hosts. A Princeton win over Brown means the Tigers get a share of the Ivy title, but the Tigers cannot win the championship outright. The winner of Cornell-Penn is assured at least a share of the championship. A Princeton win over Brown and a Cornell win over Penn means Princeton hosts. A Cornell win and Princeton loss means Cornell hosts.

Okay, maybe it wasn't so simple.

The women's water polo team is at the CWPA tournament at Harvard this weekend, chasing the league's bid to the NCAA tournament. The Penn Relays continue today and tomorrow. There's a lot of home rowing this weekend.

Oh, and there's also the 79th meeting between Princeton and Cornell in men's lacrosse. TigerBlog's contention is that Princeton-Cornell men's lacrosse ranks third all-time in Ivy League rivalries, behind Princeton-Penn men's basketball and Harvard-Yale football.

That game is tomorrow at noon. You can see it on ESPNU.

It makes for better television than the NFL draft, but maybe not as good as Bugs Bunny.

And that's your weekend in Princeton Athletics. It's a busy one, with some big outcomes on the line.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Stopwatch

Jim Barlow has been the men's soccer coach at Princeton for 20 years?

Wait. Wait. This isn't more nostalgia, though that has been a theme this week. This is more history than nostalgia.

The whole point about Barlow and 20 years is that he was presented with a stopwatch by a former teammate of his, Tim Foley. It had an inscription on the back that indicated it was given to Al Nies in 1925.

The inscription mentions the "championship team" of 1925, which begs the question of which championship?

Going back to 1925, there was no Ivy League or NCAA tournament. In fact, the Ivy League predated the NCAA tournament in men's soccer by four years, as 1959 was the first year of the national championship event and 1955-56 was the first year of Ivy competition.

Was there a national champion voted on prior to that? TigerBlog can't find a record of it, though he'd guess one exists.

The NCAA record book doesn't list a champion prior to the start of the tournament. It only lists final polls back to 1971.

As for Princeton's record book, game-by-game results don't exist prior to 1938. Only coaching records do.

About the only reference TigerBlog could find was the Princeton Companion, sort of a Princeton encyclopedia. This is what it said about Princeton soccer:

The Intercollegiate Association Football League was formed in 1905 by Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Haverford, and Penn, and joined by Yale in 1908 and by Princeton in 1911. Princeton competed in this league until 1926, in the larger Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association until 1932, in the Middle Atlantic League until 1955, and after 1955 in the Ivy League. 

It also had something funny to say, in the way writing was done at the time:
Princeton's best season in the early years came in 1916 when it tied for first place but lost the postseason playoff to Penn, 3 to 2, on a snow-covered field a week before Christmas. Center forward Arthur Preyer '19, who had learned to play soccer in Holland, scored both of Princeton's goals. Two of Penn's three goals were scored by its inside right, an All-American whose name was William Nassau. ``Just how we let this man get away from us,'' the Alumni Weekly commented, ``is a matter worthy of consideration.'' 

And finally this on Al Nies:
Al Nies, the first full-time coach, who served from 1919 to 1934, saw Princeton soccer through one of its most successful eras. Five of Nies's sixteen teams were league champions: 1921, 1922, 1925, 1926 (tied), and 1927; and five finished second: 1919, 1920, 1923, 1924, and 1932 (tied).

Al Nies was the third soccer coach in school history, after J. Duncan Spaeth coached the Tigers to a 2-4 record in 1909 and then someone known simply as "Holden" coached the team in 1915 and 1916. There is no record of Princeton's having played in between in the athletic record book, though the Companion suggests Princeton had a team in 1911.

As for Al, his record was 76-38-19 at Princeton as the men's soccer coach.

TigerBlog recognized the name Al Nies from the men's lacrosse record book. Nies was the first coach Princeton ever had in men's lacrosse, and his numbers with the lacrosse team were remarkably similar.

Nies coached 133 games with the soccer program to get that 76-38-19 record. He coached 120 games with the men's lacrosse team from 1921 (when the program was restarted after a nearly 30-year absence) until 1935.

His record? 74-39-7. Two fewer wins. One more loss.

Anyway, that's a little history lesson.

As for the present, if that stopwatch that Barlow was given works, then perhaps he could take it to Philadelphia today for Day 1 of the three-day Penn Relays.

The Penn Relays are older than soccer at Princeton, dating to 1895. They began as a series of relay races between Penn and Princeton, by the way.

The 2016 event will feature more than 15,000 athletes, from high schoolers to international competitors. And of course collegians.

Princeton will be there. If you want the complete list of Princeton's entries, you can go HERE.

If you want to see the races themselves, you can go to Franklin Field. Attendance the next three days will far surpass the numbers who go there to watch Penn football.

This will be the last Penn Relays for Princeton women's head coach Peter Farrell, who is retiring after 39 years this season. TigerBlog has spent enough time talking to Farrell to know that he loves the Penn Relays.

There's another big track meet next weekend. That would be the Ivy League Heptagonal championships. That's serious business, with Ivy League titles on the line for men and women.

The Penn Relays? They're serious too, but in a different way.

The official name is the Penn Relays Carnival, and that's exactly what it is.

A three-day carnival.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bound For Rio

TigerBlog got an email yesterday that said "you are becoming nostalgic."

He won't say who it was from. He'll give you a slight hint, though, and see if you can figure it out for yourself.

Ready? Here it is: He was the Ford Family Director of Athletics before the current one.

When TigerBlog went back to the last two days, he did notice that he had been stuck in the 1980s a bit so far this week. Ah, the 1980s. Those were the days.

Anyway, he's going back a little bit today, though not quite as far. He's actually not sure just how far back he's talking about, though it wasn't anymore than seven or eight years ago.

The place was Triumph, the restaurant/brewery on Nassau Street. TigerBlog was having lunch with Princeton's ESPN contact, a young woman named Meghan O'Leary.

Princeton's ESPN contract is unique. TigerBlog isn't sure of too many other schools that have their own deal with the Worldwide Leader.

It's been 11 years since the deal began, and the current deal extends through 2019. It brings Princeton seven events per year on an ESPN television platform. This year's seventh event is Saturday's men's lacrosse game against Cornell.

Through the years, TigerBlog has dealt with maybe 15 or so different contacts at ESPN, with whom he's worked to figure out which events will be televised, with a lot of give-and-take between both sides. It's a great relationship, and it has worked out well for Princeton, especially with ESPN's willingness to broadcast sports beyond football and basketball.

Anyway, Meghan was one of the first of those contacts.

As Meghan sat at Triumph, she told TB about her longer term goals, beyond ESPN. She had been a volleyball and softball player at Virginia as an undergraduate, but since graduating she had taken up a new sport.


Her goal was to reach the 2016 Olympics, she told TB that day. As they ate, a man walked up to their table, noticed the "Princeton Athletics" shirt TB was wearing and said he had never been in town before but he loved Princeton. Then he asked TB what he did, and TB explained it. And when he asked Meghan if she worked for Princeton Athletics, TigerBlog said "no, but she's going to be in the Olympics in 2016."

Guess what? She is.

Meghan, who has gone on to have a strong career in international rowing, qualified for the Rio games this past weekend in Florida, when she and her rowing partner, Ellen Tomek, won the double sculls at the Olympic Trials.

Meghan said that was her goal all those years ago, and she made it happen. That's extraordinary.

Next up is the push to win a medal. The doubles event isn't easy, but hey, she's there and ready to compete.

Princeton will have its share of Olympians, again.

If you remember, the 2012 Summer Olympics were great for Princeton, who sent 15 athletes and two alternates to London and saw them win seven medals. Of U.S. colleges, Princeton ranked ninth. Had Princeton been a country, it would have finished 31st of 204.

Princeton has had at least one representative at every Summer Olympics since 1896, except for the 1960 Games in Rome.

The Tigers will definitely be represented by at least eight Olympians in Rio.

So far, those who have earned a spot in the Olympics are:

* Ashleigh Johnson in women's water polo. The U.S. is overwhelming favored to win a medal and is the favorite for gold.

* Katie Reinprecht, Julie Reinprecht and Kat Sharkey in field hockey. The two Reinprechts were starters in the Games four years ago.

* Kat Holmes in fencing.

* Gevvie Stone and Kate Bertko also qualified Sunday in Florida in rowing.

* Diana Matheson in soccer for Canada. Matheson scored the goal four years ago that gave France the bronze medal.

There are still others who will be trying to get there, especially in rowing.

Princeton also has 17 track and field athletes, if he is correct, who will be at the Olympic Trials this coming July 1-10 in Eugene, Ore. Among that group will be Donn Cabral, who reached the steeplechase finals in 2012.

And there are swimmers too.

In the end, Princeton may approach the 15 who were there four years ago.

The 2016 Rio Olympics begin Aug. 5 and run through Aug. 21.

TigerBlog will be rooting for Princeton. And for Princeton's former ESPN contact.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

That's The Spirit

TigerBlog had a meeting yesterday afternoon.

The subject? The Gary Walters ’67 Princeton Varsity Club Awards Banquet, which is actually one month from today.

Yes, another academic year is flying by.

When TigerBlog was in the newspaper business, he started out each September with the idea that he'd do one more academic year and then, when it was over, go get a "real" job. MotherBlog used to say all the time when TB was little that he'd never be able to make a career working in sports, that someday he'd have to get a "real" job.

Ah, how wrong she was.

TigerBlog has seen a lot of people leave what he does to get "real" jobs. That's up to them. TigerBlog isn't quite sure when he stopped thinking in terms of "one more academic year." It was a long time ago.

He long ago figured out that what he does is a "real" job. In fact, he's finishing up his 33rd academic year in the sportswriting/communications/athletic administration business.

There was a time when the new academic year didn't really start until then-Trenton State College president Harold Eickoff would announce at the preseason media/booster luncheon his prediction, which was always the same. "I predict," he would say, "that every Trenton State team will go undefeated all year."

These days, the banquet is one of the major signs that the academic year is pretty much over. There are only a handful of competitions from that point on, usually in rowing and track and field.

The end of April brings with it the countdown to the final home events of the year. Another sign that the academic year is ending? The email that TB got the other day that said that the event meeting would be cancelled.

By TigerBlog's count, here is the remaining home schedule for 2015-16:
* men's heavyweight, men's lightweight and women's open rowing this weekend
* men's lacrosse against Cornell Saturday
* baseball against Cornell Sunday
* softball against Cornell Sunday
* Heps track and field May 7-8

And that's it.

At least that's it for scheduled things.

It's possible that the same weekend as Heps track will also see Princeton host the Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament and/or the Ivy League baseball championship series.

As exciting as it would be to see all eight Ivy League baseball teams end up 10-10, a possibility that TigerBlog pointed out yesterday, he'd actually rather not see that come to be. Instead, he'd like to see Princeton clinch the Gehrig Division this weekend against Cornell.

If it all goes well for Princeton, the Tigers will win the division and then host the Rolfe winner by having a better record than the Rolfe champ. Right now, Princeton and Yale are both in first place, at 10-6.

Of course, the Gehrig Division comes first, and the Tigers are only one game up on Penn right now.

Then there is the women's lacrosse tournament. Three of the spots are already sealed, with Princeton, Penn and Cornell all at 5-1 and in the field.

The final spot will go to Harvard with a win over Yale this Saturday. Should Yale win, and Dartmouth beat Columbia, then there would be a three-way tie for fourth at 3-4. Without boring you on the details, Dartmouth would then be the fourth team. If Yale beats Harvard and Columbia beats Dartmouth, then Yale would be the fourth team.

Princeton would get at least a share of the league title with a win at Brown Saturday. There cannot be a three-way tie, because Penn plays Cornell Saturday as well.

Simply put, a Penn win and the Quakers host. A Penn loss and Princeton win and Princeton hosts. A Princeton win and the Tigers and the winner of Penn-Cornell share the title. A Princeton loss means the winner of the Penn-Cornell is the outright champion and host.

No matter what, the Penn-Cornell winner is assured at least a share of the Ivy League title.

Brown, Princeton's opponent, is 1-5 in the league, but the Bears just beat Dartmouth this past weekend. And they beat Princeton the last time the Tigers were in Providence.

So there you have it. The remaining home schedule. And the possibly at home schedule.

Oh, and one more thing for today.

There were eight University-wide winners of the Spirit of Princeton Award. To quote the Daily Princetonian:

The award recognizes a select group of undergraduate students who have made positive contributions to various facets of the University, including in the arts, community service, student organizations, residential living, religious life and athletic endeavors.
All undergraduate students were eligible for the Spirit of Princeton award and could have been nominated by faculty members, alumni, staff and fellow students in the Princeton community. The nominations were reviewed and final winners selected by a committee comprised of administrators and undergraduate students.

Of the eight winners, two are varsity athletes. 

One is football player Ian McGeary. The other is swimmer Beverly Nguyen.

You can read about them HERE.

It's an incredible accomplishment for both, given the time constraints of being a varsity athlete. Then again, TigerBlog has never ceased to be amazed at how the athletes here do it, managing their time as athletes while succeeding as students at a school like Princeton and still finding time to serve the community.

They achieve. They serve. They lead.

And they inspire. 

Why hasn't TigerBog ever wanted to get a "real" job? It's because of the McGeary's and Nguyen's of the world of Princeton Athletics.

Monday, April 25, 2016


When TigerBlog was a sophomore in college, he got a terrible number in the room draw.

You know. The lottery that lets you select your housing for the following year. TigerBlog's number was awful.

His freshman year roommate was the perfect roommate. He and TB weren't quite friends, but they co-existed perfectly. Never an argument. Never a problem.

Back then, his roommate was certain he wanted to be a doctor. Today, he is Dr. Seth Rubin, an ob-gyn who practices about a half hour from Princeton. TigerBlog hasn't seen or talked to him in decades.

Still, they were good freshman roommates. As a sophomore, TB thinks, Seth went to live in a fraternity house. TB wanted to get a good single, but his number was bad, so most of the good rooms were gone.

With few choices left, he randomly selected a room in the lower part of the Quad. If you've ever been to Penn's campus, the Quad is the enormous series of dorms that stretch up Spruce Street from about 35th to 39th. It is 512,512 square feet of dorm space.

TigerBlog ended up in one of the forgotten parts of the structure. Ah, but as it turned out, he also lucked out a bit.

The room he randomly chose was in a section of a dorm that was being renovated, and so what should have been a floor with eight rooms instead only had two. It was TigerBlog and one other person, a guy from Minnesota. He and TB had a whole floor to themselves for a year, including a bathroom built for eight.

Anyway, the guy from Minnesota, whose name TB cannot for the life of him remember (Phil, he thinks), was a huge fan of two musical acts: Husker Du and Prince.

TigerBlog had never heard of either. Phil (let's call him that) was a huge fan of both.

Shortly after that Prince began to make it big. As you know, he became a mega-star and had a long career, before he passed away last week at the age of 57.

Despite Phil's efforts, TigerBlog never became a huge Prince fan. He liked some of his songs - "Little Red Corvette," "1999" and "Raspberry Beret" especially.

Prince? He was okay. Not the worse. Far from the best.

He didn't make TB cringe, but TB never wanted to go see him in concert. And what was with the whole "artist formerly known as" thing?

That doesn't mean that TB wasn't surprised to hear of Prince's death, which is obviously a shame. He senses wherever he is and whatever his name actually is, Phil took it harder than TB.

Oh, and TigerBlog definitely never got into Husker Du.

One thing TB thought of with the news of Prince's death was the presence of all of those bumper stickers that people have around here, with Prince's picture and then the word "Ton." You know. Prince+Ton.

 This was a good weekend for the softball team from Prince+Ton.

The Tigers took three of four from Columbia, which kept them three games in front of Penn in the Ivy League's South Division. The North Division got a little tighter, as Dartmouth's runaway instead has become a one-game lead over Harvard.

The Ivy League championship series will be either Princeton or Penn at either Dartmouth or Harvard. Brown, Yale, Cornell and Columbia have been mathematically eliminated.

The North winner will definitely host the ILCS. Dartmouth is 14-2, followed by 13-3 Harvard. Those teams play four times this coming weekend. The math is obvious.

The South winner will be either Princeton or Penn. Princeton has four to go against Cornell (two at Cornell Saturday, two home against Cornell Sunday), while Penn is home against Columbia Saturday and at Columbia Sunday in its final four games.

The Quakers would have to make up three games on Princeton to force a one-game playoff and four to win outright. In other words, Princeton's magic number is two - it needs a combination of wins or Penn losses that adds up to two.

On the baseball side, it wasn't as good as weekend for Prince+Ton, but the John Thompson rule does apply. You remember the rule? As long as you're in first place when the weekend ends, you're fine.

Princeton is in first place in the Rolfe Division, with one weekend to go. The Tigers dropped three of four to Columbia, though, so they will take a one-game lead over Penn into its four games against Cornell.

Unlike softball, Princeton will play at Cornell Friday, not Saturday. The rest of the weekend is the same as in softball.

By the way, if the final weekend of Ivy League baseball goes like this:
Brown sweeps Yale
Harvard and Dartmouth split
Princeton gets swept by Cornell
Columbia takes three of four from Penn

... then all eight Ivy League baseball teams will be 10-10.

Will it happen? Unlikely. But it's a cool note.

Princeton and Yale are both 10-6. Princeton was swept by Yale, so the Tigers could only host the ILCS by finishing with a better record than the Bulldogs.

Of course, Princeton needs to finish with a better record than Penn, Columbia and Cornell before it can worry about the championship series.

Still, it's makes for a pretty exciting end of the leagues season.

So that's Ivy baseball and softball.

As for Prince, rest in peace. You left behind a long legacy of original music and millions of fans, even if TigerBlog wasn't one of them.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Conversation With Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly, Part II

Kristine Lilly talked about playing sports - any and all sports - in the backyard in Connecticut, with her brother, four years older than she, and his friends.

TigerBlog, sitting in the back of McCosh 50 last night, could close his eyes and see it.

They played soccer, of course. And football. And basketball. And baseball. And anything else.

It's easy to see, right? A bunch of boys tell her "You're just a girl. You can't play with us. You're not good enough." And then about five minutes later, they're like "um, er, okay."

And really, that's what happened over and over again for Lilly and Julie Foudy, her co-panelist for the Princeton Varsity Club Jake McCandless ’51 Speaker Series - and the rest of those they played with on the U.S. women's national soccer team for all those years.

No, they were told. You can't play with us. You're girls. You're not good enough.

And then they'd see them play. And again, always - "um, er, okay."

Foudy and Lilly talked about how they made national team as teenagers, high schoolers. Only there was nobody to play.

No Women's World Cup. No women's soccer in the Olympics. What good was being on the national team?

So just like Lilly did in her backyard, they simply made it happen. They pushed. They demanded. They set the bar high.

And then they delivered beyond anyone's wildest expectations.

Now, in 2016, it's easy to forget what it took to get them to where they are. No soccer player who has ever lived, male or female, has represented his or her country in international play more than Kristine Lilly. Julie Foudy is fourth on that list.

They have won multiple World Cups. They are Olympic gold medalists. They have played soccer all over the world.

So yeah, looking back, it may be easy to see Lilly in her backyard.

But if you could go back to those days and could ask that little girl - and the other little girls with whom she'd make history - what they thought life as an athlete would be, there's probably no way they would have been able to imagine what would become of them.

To TigerBlog, that's the biggest contribution they've made.

The talk in McCosh 50 was well attended. There were some young girls there, soccer playing girls themselves, and they asked good questions during the Q&A portion of the night. But they hardly made up a majority of the room.

Nope. It was a pretty even distribution between men and women. Ever since they made their breakthrough in 1999, men have watched women's athletics and embraced women's athletics in ways that never would have been dreamt about before that.

And so the women on the stage last night weren't "women" athletes. They were just athletes.

Famous ones. World famous ones.

This was like having having the event with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and having them say "yeah, our 1927 team was pretty good." It was like having Paul Hornung and Bart Starr talk about how football got a little bigger while they were playing for the Packers together.

Lilly and Foudy were part of a team - no, make that a movement - that really changed the sporting world. Their 1999 World Cup championship was the game-changer, and it has done more than any single athletic event to bring women's athletics in the mainstream.

Lilly and Foudy came to Princeton to speak about their experiences, and about the state of women's athletics.

Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux, herself a soccer (and ice hockey) player at Princeton, was the moderator, and she introduced both, who seemed genuinely embarrassed by the lengths of their resumes. Both then spoke for a few minutes, and that was followed by some questions from Marcoux and then open questions of the audience.

Among the themes:

* the value of the team - both spoke about what it meant to them to be a real, true team, not just a bunch of individuals. They talked about how everyone on the team embraced her role, and it took all of them together, even the ones who didn't play in the games, to become champions. They talked about how close everyone on the team was, and how much they miss not seeing each other regularly anymore

* get out of your comfort zone - Foudy showed a graphic that had a small circle with the words "your comfort zone" in it and then a much larger circle, not touching the first, that said "where the magic happens." Get out of your comfort zone, she said. And then she showed a video of a young girl at the top of a ski jump who had to talk herself into jumping off - only to find that the experience brought her greater confidence to move ahead

* leadership and service - The Princeton Athletics theme of "Achieve, Serve, Lead" was discussed. Leadership? It's personal, not positional, Foudy said. Service? Don't do it just to check a box on a college application. Do it because you want to make change, for the better. Find your passion and pursue it.

* advice to the young players - have fun. And play to win. One doesn't have to exclude the other.

They were very entertaining. They told stories about what it was like to be on the wave of history. They personalized it, with stories about making fun of Mia Hamm's famous shampoo commercial and a video practical joke they played on Brandi Chastain.

They talked about the current controversy about pay disparity between the men's national team and the women's national team. They talked about how much still needs to be done to grow the women's game internationally.

As TigerBlog sat there and watched and listened and took some notes, he kept coming back to something Mollie Marcoux said early in her introduction. The 1999 World Cup championship was a sporting event that was so noteworthy that people remember where they were when they saw it.

She's right.

There aren't that many sporting events like that for TigerBlog. He's not talking about Princeton here, obviously. There are hundreds of those from Princeton.

But beyond that? The Miracle on Ice, for sure. The Giants when they won the Super Bowl.

And the 1999 Women's World Cup final.

TigerBlog was in Seattle, visiting BrotherBlog, and he supposed to be flying to Philadelphia at the time. That flight, though, was cancelled, and he was put on a flight to Dulles Airport instead.

The plane landed after the game should have ended, but because it went overtime, it was still going on when TB got off the plane. He saw a TV and a crowd around it, and he realized what was going on.

He got to a spot where he could see the TV just as the penalty kicks were starting. His car was at the Philadelphia airport, his luggage was who knows where ,but so what. Everything else could wait.

He wanted to see the end of the game.

When the U.S. won, a roar went up in the terminal. It was a roar of sports fans, male and female.

They were celebrating the achievement of one of the most remarkable and important teams in the history of American sports. Girls who can't play? Hah. No.

These were women who were champions, and trailblazers.

It was great to hear two of their best speak at Princeton last night. They were beyond impressive.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Conversation With Julie Foudy And Kristine Lilly

TigerBlog's contention that if you ask 10 random male sports fans to name 10 female athletes, they will name three (maybe four) women's tennis players and the rest will be women's soccer players.

By "random male sports fans," TigerBlog isn't talking about the first 10 men who walk into Jadwin Gym to watch Princeton basketball.

He's talking about 10 random men at an NFL game or an NBA game. Men whose view of college sports is just big-time football and basketball.

They'll give you Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and maybe Caroline Wozniacki. And then the rest will be soccer players.

TigerBlog first started covering college sports in 1989. Back then, he was in the newspaper business, and he worked with a legendary Trenton sportswriter named Harvey Yavener.

Generation after generation of Princeton athletes can talk about their experiences with being interviewed for a story by Yav. The average interview lasts about five or 10 minutes. Yav? An interview with him meant a half hour, 45 minutes.

Each time, Yav would come back and rave about what he'd learned about these athletes. And the funny thing was that they were almost never football or basketball players. No, they were athletes from every sport, male and female.

It was such a rarity back then. Yav would send TigerBlog to cover basketball games at Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) or Rider, where they would play doubleheaders, and TB would be the only one covering the women's game. When the rest of the sportswriters got there for the men's game, they'd make fun of TB for covering "the girls."

Today? The world is different.

Women's athletics have skyrocketed in the last few decades, especially in terms of media coverage.

And this isn't just with having the NCAA women's basketball tournament on television. Today's world includes women who regularly broadcast men's sports, including the NBA, Major League Baseball and major college football and basketball.

Where did it all start? With tennis. The top women athletes from when TigerBlog was a kid were all tennis players, like Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

As an aside, TigerBlog covered a lot of tennis in the early 1980s and got to interview Navratilova more than once. She remains one of the most gracious and accommodating athletes TigerBlog has ever written about.

Tennis, though, only took women's athletics so far. Why? If you ask TigerBlog he'd say it's because tennis perpetuated the notion that women's athletes had to be ladylike or else nobody would watch them.

It took soccer to destroy that myth, especially in the 1999 World Cup. This was the World Cup that was played in the U.S. and ended with Brandi Chastain as she whipped off her jersey to celebrate in just her sports bra after her Cup-winning penalty kick.

All of the sudden, it wasn't the idea that maintaining the femininity of women's athletics is what mattered. It was that they could play so hard and get so dirty and compete so aggressively and celebrate so openly and never have to apologize for any of it.

Women? They were still women. They were just women who could sweat as much as any man.

Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly are veterans of that 1991 team, and of many other successes with the U.S. women's national team. In fact, both were long-time captains of the team. They are among the most famous names in the history of women's sports in this country.

Foudy has gone on to a long career in broadcasting. She has established herself as an honest voice, a strong voice. When you watch a game that she is doing, you don't think of her as a "woman" announcer. You think of her as an "excellent" announcer.

You can hear her voice tonight at Princeton, as part of the Princeton Varsity Club's Jake McCandless ’51 Speaker Series. The event - "A Conversation with Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly" - is free and open to the public.

Oh, yeah. Where and when? It's in McCosh 50 at 7:30 tonight.

Princeton has a long history of success in women's athletics. Men's sports here had a head start of nearly 110 years on the women's teams, but almost since Day 1 in 1971 the women have been a model of what is possible in college athletics.

What's changed most about women's athletics here in TigerBlog's time isn't the success of the teams or the commitment of the department and University to providing the athletes the best possible experience.

No. It's been the evolution in how the teams are received by the public, especially the male public and male students.

TigerBlog remembers watching Princeton women's teams play in front of tiny crowds, with almost no male following. Today, venue after venue has larger crowds, with more men and boys in attendance. This is especially true at women's basketball, but it applies basically across the board.

The driving force behind that acceptance, TigerBlog believes, was the U.S. women's national soccer team.

Tonight, you can hear from two of its most prominent members.

Maybe Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly just wanted to play and never really considered the larger societal implications. Maybe they did. Either way it's fine.

They have had a huge effect on women's athletics, at Princeton, and everywhere else.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ten, Again

The women's tennis team won the Ivy League championship Sunday.

With that, Princeton reached an achievement that it does more academic years than not: double figures in Ivy titles.

For Princeton, women's tennis made it 10 for 2015-16. If you're keeping score, it's field hockey, women's soccer, women's volleyball, women's cross country, men's fencing, women's fencing, women's ice hockey, men's swimming and diving, men's indoor track and field and women's tennis.

Reaching double figures in Ivy League championships in an academic year is nothing to take for granted. Not at all.

Since the formation of the Ivy League in 1956-57, the only school other than Princeton to reach double figures in an academic year is Harvard who has done it seven times.

Including this year, Princeton has now done it 23 times, including seven of the last eight academic years. Princeton also reached double figures for nine straight years at one point, from 1993-94 through 2001-02.

These are extraordinary accomplishments.

It's a testament to the the great coaches and athletes who have competed here, as well as a departmental and University-wide commitment to having a broad-based athletic program that strives for excellence across the board.

Yes, that's sounds a bit trite, but it's not. It's genuine.

The all-time record for Ivy titles in an academic year is 15, which Princeton achieved in 2010-11. There are still 11 Ivy League championships remaining to be crowned in 2015-16, and TigerBlog would say that Princeton has a shot at 15, though it would take a lot to go right.

Still, getting to 10 is incredible. It's not just something that happens. It takes a lot of effort.

As for the women's tennis team, the championship won Sunday was not an easy one.

When you think of the sports in which the Ivy League is best top to bottom, this year it's probably women's tennis. All eight teams are ranked in the top 75, and every league match was basically a toss-up.

Princeton, as TB said Monday, won the title at 5-2, marking the first time in league history that a women's tennis champ had two losses. Also, this was the first time that the last place team (in this case, three teams at 2-5) didn't go 0-7 or 1-6.

For Princeton that makes three straight outright women's tennis championships. For head coach Laura Granville, she joins Zoltan Dudas (women's fencing), Kristen Holmes-Winn (field hockey), Will Green (men's golf), Rob Orr (men's swimming/diving), Fred Samara (men's track and field), Peter Farrell (women's track and field), Courtney Banghart (women's basketball) and Susan Teter (women's swimming and diving) as current Princeton head coaches who have won at least three straight outright Ivy titles in their careers.

As for teams that are on a current streak of at least three straight Ivy League outright championships, TigerBlog thinks this is the complete list: Princeton women's tennis, Princeton field hockey, Cornell wrestling, Columbia baseball, Columbia men’s tennis, Harvard women’s golf, Harvard women's indoor track & field.

So that sort of puts the women's tennis streak into some historical context.

Oh, and TigerBlog wanted to give a shout out to his broadcasting colleagues in the Office of Athletic Communications.

This past weekend, three members of the OAC staff (not including TigerBlog) were called into broadcasting duty. There was Cody Chrusciel, one of the video dudes, who is also doubling as the play-by-play man for Princeton men's lacrosse. He also did softball on the Ivy League Digital Network Sunday.

Cody at least is an experienced broadcaster. And a really, really good one. He could probably make a career of the broadcasting piece alone.

It was the first thing TigerBlog noticed about Cody on his interview here. His voice. He's a natural.

Then there were the other two OAC'ers who got behind the mic this weekend.

One was Kristy McNeil, who never before had done any broadcasting. She jumped on with Jeff O'Connor to do the women's lacrosse game on the ILDN and ESPN3.

Originally, TigerBlog was going to do the color commentary and Kristy was going to do stats, but she wanted to try the broadcasting end. And she did really well. She kept it simple. Talked about the teams. Didn't try to be too shtick-y.

It was an excellent debut.

The other broadcaster/communications person was Andrew Borders, who at least had done some games in college, at UCLA, a long time ago. Andrew jumped on to do softball on the ILDN Saturday.

Oh, he also did stats and public address at the same time. That's pretty impressive, no?

Hey, the key word is "communications," right?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Head Coach Brian Earl

Brian Earl was a baby-faced 18-year-old when TigerBlog first met him.

It was back in 1995, when Earl came to Princeton to play basketball. TigerBlog had heard of him, knew that he was bringing with him a reputation for being a big-time outside shooter.

It took about five minutes of Earl's first game for TB to love how he played. By the time Earl graduated four years later, TigerBlog had seen every game he played but one.

Earl finished his career as the 1999 Ivy League Player of the Year, with 1,428 career points, and, at the time, as the Ivy League's all-time leader in three-pointers made. He had a team-best 21 points in the 1998 NCAA tournament win over UNLV, and he helped Princeton ruin the last game ever at North Carolina State's Reynolds Coliseum in the second round of the 1999 NIT.

His best performance? It came in the comeback game at the Palestra in 1999, when Princeton rallied from 27-3 down and 40-13 with 15 minutes left to beat Penn 50-49. Earl had 20 points that night, almost all of it in the second half, most of it when an empty possession would have destroyed the comeback.

HERE are some highlights.

When TigerBlog thinks back to Earl as a player, he remembers all of those games - he went 40 minutes in all of them, by the way. He remembers all of the nights on the road, when Earl was the focal point of venom from opposing fans that TB has never heard matched in the league. If it was nasty or obscene, it was yelled at Earl.

He remembers the story he wrote about Earl for the game program when Earl was a senior, how he wrote about the way Earl looked like you could knock him off his feet with the slightest nudge. Only you couldn't. No. He kept moving. Kept fighting. Stone faced at all times.

And then, as TB wrote, it was "three more in his pocket."

And yesterday, he thought back to a conversation he had with Gary Walters, the former athletic director, back when Earl was a player. It was a conversation in which TB told Walters that he thought Earl would make a great coach.

TigerBlog always thought that about Earl. It wasn't because he was such a great player. It was because he definitely saw the game, made everyone a better player, saw the big picture of what the team was trying to do.

Today Brian Earl is a baby-faced almost 40 year old. And he's a Division I head coach.

Earl was named the head coach at Cornell yesterday. He'll be heading to Ithaca after spending the last nine years as an assistant coach at Princeton, under Sydney Johnson and Mitch Henderson.

Those three, by the way, are half of the six Princeton alums who are now Division I head coaches. The other three are John Thompson, Mike Brennan and Chris Mooney.

Earl takes over a team that finished tied for last this past season, though he does get Matt Morgan, a freshman who averaged 19 a game this year.

Cornell has gotten a great one.

He has a lot of Bill Carmody/John Thompson in him. Don't be fooled by his understated personality and inherent calmness. He, like Carmody and Thompson, may be quiet, with a subtle, sarcastic sense of humor and a laugh that is more of a smile.

But make no mistake.

Like the other two, he is a fierce competitor. Like the other two, he's one of the most competitive people TigerBlog has ever met.

It came out in every game he played. He's a tough guy, and has been since Day 1 in 1995.

Now he's going to bring that toughness to Ithaca.

He's one of the most well-liked players Princeton has ever had. He is one of the greatest players Princeton basketball has had, and still to this day, only Douglas Davis (with 276)  has come within 48 threes of the number Earl put up.

He was part of an extraordinary era in Princeton basketball. He played in the win over UCLA, hitting a huge three-pointer in the second half. He was part of Pete Carril's last team and Bill Carmody's first.

He helped lead the Tigers into the top 10 as a junior, when Princeton went a remarkable 27-2.  For TigerBlog's money, it would take a lot for any Ivy team since to beat that team.

Now he's trading his Orange and Black for Big Red.

It'll be really weird to see him at Cornell, instead of at Princeton. He's been one of the best representatives Princeton Athletics has had in TB's time here, as both an athlete and coach.

So good luck to Brian Earl as he embarks on his head coaching career.

No matter what he does at Cornell, he'll always been a Princeton guy to TigerBlog. A great one, at that.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Weekend Sunshine

TigerBlog stood behind the Princeton softball bullpen for a few seconds yesterday.

It was between games of the doubleheader against Penn. Princeton had just won the first game 5-4 on a beautifully manufactured run in the bottom of the seventh, with a single by Kaitlyn Waslawski, a perfect bunt between the pitcher and first baseman by Kayla Bose with heads-up base-running by Waslawksi that made it first-and-third with none out and then the game-winning single by Keeley Walsh.

As TB walked past Lisa van Ackeren, the Tiger head coach held up her hand and said "walk-offs deserve high-5s."

Now Ashley La Guardia was warming up for Game 2, and TigerBlog was trying to figure out if he could put bat on ball against her. You know. If he saw 10 pitches, could he foul even one of them off? Maybe.

La Guardia would go four innings and pick up her sixth win of the season. For Princeton softball, it completed a two-day stretch where Princeton took three of four from the Quakers.

As a result, Princeton is now 7-5 in the South Division in the Ivy League. The Tigers are three games up on Columbia, who is in second place. The Tigers play the Lions four times this coming weekend in New York City. 

On the whole the weekend for Princeton Athletics wasn't quite as perfect as the weather. Still, it was a pretty good one.

With apologies to everyone else who had a big weekend, here are some of the highlights:

* there was an Ivy League championship and NCAA tournament bid clinched for the women's tennis team

* the women's lacrosse team had a huge, huge win, putting the Tigers in line for an Ivy title and possibly the host role for the Ivy League tournament

* the baseball team won three of four against Penn as well, putting Princeton up by three against both Penn and Cornell and five up on Columbia, also this week's opponent

* the men's lacrosse team had a remarkable game with Dartmouth in which the Tigers were shut out in the first half and then did the shutting out in the second half, something TigerBlog has never seen before. The 7-3 win over the Big Green keeps Princeton alive in the Ivy tournament race, with a must-have game at Harvard Saturday

* the men's heavyweight rowing team won the Compton Cup at Harvard, something it hadn't done since 1957. Princeton also won it for the second straight year, something it hadn't done wince 1956 and 1957

Again, TigerBlog apologies to everyone else, but let's look a little closer at a two of these teams.

The women's tennis team won its third-straight outright Ivy League championship and will now appear in its third-straight NCAA tournament. Both of those are program firsts.

The 2016 season was a pretty wide-open one in Ivy League women's tennis. No team in the league had fewer than two wins or fewer than two losses, which means top-to-bottom in the league was separated by only three games.

In fact, this was the most balanced women's tennis season in league history.

The Ivy League first crowned a champion in the sport in 1979. Until yesterday, there had never been a team to win the championship without a record of either 7-0 or 6-1.

Also, there had never been a year in which a team finished last without a record of either 1-6 or 0-7.

This year? The best record was 5-2. The worst was 2-5.

In other words, every team could beat every other team. And it was Princeton who came through.

Princeton knocked off Columbia 4-3 Friday in Princeton, which made the match against Cornell for at least a share of the title. Princeton then won that one 5-2, and the championship became an outright one when Penn beat Columbia yesterday.

Up next for Princeton will be the selections for the tournament, which will be May 3.

The other team TB wants to talk about is the women's lacrosse team.

Princeton hosted Cornell Saturday in a game that matched the last two unbeatens in the Ivy League race. Princeton trailed for more than half the game before rallying to win 8-7, the outcome not decided until Ellie DeGarmo's 16th save, which came with 16 seconds remaining.

With the win, Princeton clinched at least a spot in the Ivy tournament. The Tigers can pretty much wrap up the host role Wednesday, when Penn comes to Sherrerd Field.

Of course, Penn can stay alive to host the tournament should the Quakers get a win Wednesday. Princeton and Penn, by the way, are the only schools ever to host the Ivy tournament.

If Princeton beats Penn, then the only two schools that could still mathematically host the tournament would be Princeton or Cornell.

After Princeton plays Penn, it finishes its regular season with games against Columbia and Brown, who are seventh and eighth in the league. If Princeton wins those two games, it would earn at least a share of the Ivy title.

If Penn defeats Princeton, it would host the tournament by also beating Yale and Cornell. So yes, there is a long way to go. And Penn is always, always tough. In fact, the Quakers played No. 1 Maryland to a 12-8 game, which is one of the closest games the Terps have played.

That's for Wednesday though.

This weekend? It was filled with sunshine in Princeton. Literally and figuratively.

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Taxing Weekend

Today is April 15. Tax day, right?

Of course TigerBlog hasn't filed his taxes yet. And when he reached out earlier this week to Sal, his accountant, to see if everything would be done by Friday, Sal said this deadline isn't until the 18th.

Before TigerBlog gets into the whole "taxes due on the 18th" thing, let him tell you about Sal. If Sal wasn't a CPA, he'd be a DJ at one of those classic rock stations somewhere. His office is jammed with music memorabilia, especially tickets from concerts going back decades.

Sal's favorites? Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Buffett. That doesn't make him a bad person.

If TigerBlog has one question about Sal, it's whether or not he owns a suit or tie. 

TigerBlog isn't sure how he stumbled upon Sal in the first place. At one point, his accountant was a guy named Joe Grillo, but he retired and moved to Arizona a long time ago.

Since then, Sal has been the man. And much like Ron the mechanic, Sal has benefited from having TigerBlog refer to him a ton of people from the athletic department.

So that's Sal. And why aren't taxes due today?

Well, as TB understands it, taxes are due on April 15th, unless that's a weekend or a Federal holiday. And that's sort of where things are now.

April 16 is Emancipation Day, which commemorates the signing of the Emancipation Act by President Lincoln. For the record, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on Sept. 22, 1862 - five days after the Battle of Antietam - and went into effect on Jan. 1, 1863.

As it turns out, Emancipation Day is celebrated in the District of Columbia on the closest weekday to April 16 if April 16 turns out to be on a weekend. And, as TigerBlog learned, any holiday in the District of Columbia is automatically considered a Federal holiday.

So that means that because April 16 is a Saturday, then the holiday is moved to Friday the 15th in the District of Columbia, making today a Federal holiday. And pushing taxes back to Monday.

If you're done with your taxes, then you don't care about any of this. If you're not, get them done - but make sure you carve out time for what is a huge weekend for Princeton Athletics.

Huge, as in a lot of events. Huge, as in events with big impacts.

If TigerBlog is adding right, there will be 10 teams that compete at home this weekend, with a total of 22 events on the schedule. Again, that's just at home.

It's hard to say what the biggest events are.

Could it be the four games that the softball and baseball teams play against Penn this weekend? Both teams have doubleheaders tomorrow and Sunday, with first pitch in baseball at noon and softball at 12:30.

Princeton is in first place in the division in both baseball and softball. A split of the four games keeps them ahead of the Quakers. Three of four? That would huge. One of four? That would change the conversation the other way.

On the softball side, Princeton is 4-4 in the division, with Penn and Columbia at 2-6 and Cornell at 1-7. If you're a Princeton, you're rooting for Columbia and Cornell to split or Cornell to win three of four, to go with Princeton victories.

In baseball, Princeton is having a major, major bounce back season. One year removed from a 7-32 season, Princeton already has twice as many wins with 14 and an above-.500 record at 14-13 after Wednesday's win at St. John's.

Unlike the softball team, Princeton has only a one-game lead on Penn. Princeton  is 6-2 in the division, followed by Penn at 5-3, Columbia at 3-5 and Cornell at 2-4.

So yes, this weekend's four games are huge.

Maybe the biggest event of the weekend is women's tennis at home today against Columbia?

Princeton, the two-time defending league champ, is one of three 3-2 teams in the league (along with Penn and Cornell). Columbia in first place at 4-1. A loss to Columbia today would eliminate the Tigers.

Or maybe it's the women's lacrosse game against Cornell.

Forget the 15-6 loss to No. 1 Maryland Wednesday night. The two biggest games for Princeton are the next two, with Cornell tomorrow at noon and Penn Wednesday night.

Cornell is 4-0 in the league. Princeton is 3-0. Harvard is 3-1. Penn is 2-1.

If Princeton beats both Cornell and Penn, it would have only winless Columbia and Brown left and would have the inside track to winning the Ivy League title and hosting the league tournament.

On the other had, if Princeton were to lose one, then things get much more muddled, especially since Cornell still plays Harvard and Penn and Penn and Harvard still have to meet.

So yeah, those are big games.

The women's game is the opener of a doubleheader, with the Princeton men against Dartmouth at 3. The Tigers are playing to get back into the Ivy League tournament picture.

There's also home track and field for the men and women, home men's tennis, home women's open rowing and men's lightweight rowing, home women's water polo. The whole schedule is HERE.

The weather here this weekend should be perfect. The only one of all those events that has an admission charge is the men's lacrosse game, and you can write the cost of your ticket off on your tickets.

Or maybe not. TigerBlog will ask Sal.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

All Grown Up

Because you've read every entry TigerBlog has written going back a ways now, then surely you remember the subject from July 27, 2011.

You don't? You can read it HERE.

TigerBlog can summarize it if you don't actually want to click on the link. It's a story about a nine-year-old boy named William and his hero Jack, age 14 or 15. Jack is a lacrosse teammate of William's older brother - and of TigerBlog Jr.

Jack would enter high school a little more than a month after TigerBlog wrote about them. Now it's nearly five years later.

William is the one about to enter high school. Jack is in college, at Dartmouth to be exact.

It doesn't seem that long ago to TigerBlog that Jack and TBJ were in eighth grade. Or even fifth grade. Freshmen in college? Where did the time go?

It's been an interesting spring for TigerBlog. His son is playing lacrosse in college, and many of his former club teammates have been playing against him or against Princeton.

Game after game, TigerBlog has been seeing the kids, er, men, he first met nearly a decade ago, when they were new to playing the sport. At the time, TB figured if one of them made it to play in college that would be a lot.

That's the conversation he had Tuesday on Sherrerd Field, about 90 minutes before face-off of Princeton-Lehigh, with Zach Drake, a Mountain Hawk freshman. It was Zach's father Jim who first introduced TigerBlog Jr. to the club team - it was called "Twist" - he would be part of for seven summers and from which TBJ has taken memories that will make him smile for the rest of his life.

Zach - who hurt his knee in the preseason and is redshirting after surgery -  shared TB's basic opinion that he never imagined how many of those kids would end up playing. He, like TigerBlog, figured that they were far down the lacrosse food chain, never realizing that the area in which they were playing, outside of Philadelphia, was actually one of the most fertile lacrosse breeding grounds in the country.

In a group that was super-serious about lacrosse, Zach was one of the ones who kept everyone loose. Obviously a great player if he was recruited by Lehigh, Zach never seemed to be taking anything all that seriously, even though he really was. He played hard and well, but he did so with a smile at all times. TigerBlog was always amazed at how Zach could contribute all he could on the field during a game while carrying on a running conversation with the parents on the sideline. Not a taunting, check-me-out conversation. More just a running commentary about how the game was going.

Together TB and Zach ran down the list of guys that had played together back when TB wrote about Jack Auteri back in 2011 and earlier and how they were doing now. Grant Ament, who is Penn State's leading scorer. Drew Schantz, who has already established himself as one of the top shortstick D middies in the country as a Notre Dame freshman.

Mike Eveland, a defenseman at Robert Morris. Michael Major, an attackman at St. Joe's. TBJ, of course, a goalie at Sacred Heart. Jake Henze, a middie at Monmouth. Matthew Anderson, a defenseman at Chestnut Hill. Matt Vetter, a middie at Tampa. On and on the list goes.

A game earlier, when Stony Brook was at Princeton, TigerBlog talked to Connor Howell, a Seawolves attackman and the player who had led the club team in career scoring during their summers together. It was good to see him.

How is it going, TigerBlog asks. How did you do in school? What's the lacrosse future? How do you like the team?

He'll have the same conversation with Jack Auteri Saturday, when he and his Dartmouth teammates are here. Jack is sort of like Zach (they won a Pennsylvania state title together at La Salle High in 2013) in that he plays super hard with a super laid-back personality. Jack, a face-off man, was Twist's unofficial captain and leader.

And now he'll be the latest to come and play against Princeton. As it was with Connor and Zach and everyone else TB has crossed paths with this spring, it'll be great to see him.

Princeton doesn't have any Twist kids, though it does have players who played against Twist in summer club events through the years. The game against Dartmouth, in addition to providing TigeBlog with the opportunity to see an old friend, is a huge one for both teams, one of whom will come out of it with its first Ivy win.

The Tigers are coming off a 13-6 win over Zach's team. Princeton's game against Dartmouth is the first of three straight Ivy games to end the regular season.

The goal for Princeton in 2016 is the same as it's always been: reach the Ivy League tournament. It won't be easy, but it is still achievable.

Princeton has played a brutal schedule in 2016, and in fact NJIT in the opener and Lehigh Tuesday night are the only teams Princeton has played this year who haven't been ranked - and Lehigh has been receiving votes for much of the year. 

The Tigers are an optimistic group heading into the stretch drive. Perhaps it's fueled by the fact that some subtle changes have given Princeton a more stable lineup and allowed a few players to start to emerge as stars.

One of them is sophomore Austin Sims, who since he has focused on playing more on offense than two-ways has scored 15 goals in five games, with five straight multi-goal games, something only three other Princeton players have done in the last six years.

Another is freshman Mike Morean, whose emergence as a shortstick D middie has enabled players like Sims to concentrate on offense. Morean, from Colorado, has great speed and tenacity, with a nose for causing turnovers and picking up ground balls.

Zach Currier continues to amaze with his all-around game, one that makes you forget that in addition to everything else he does, he's also second on the team in scoring. Gavin McBride continues to be a very reliable scorer who can play either attack or midfield.

And then there's Ryan Ambler. By the time the year is over, Ambler - who played against TBJ in high school - will be in the top 10 in scoring at Princeton and the top six or seven in assists. He's also one of five players in program history with more than 70 career goals and 80 career assists - the other four are Kevin Lowe, Jon Hess, Tom Schreiber and Dave Heubeck.

Yes, it's been a difficult season for Princeton lacrosse. No, it's ultimate goals are not out of reach.

Three Saturdays. Three Ivy League games.

First, of course, it'll be time to say hello to the latest kid who is now all grown up. He'll be wearing No. 29 for Dartmouth.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Man Without A Cell Phone

TigerBlog learned something yesterday that he didn't know. Or never really considered.

In what year did the first woman receive a college diploma in the United States. And where?

Here's your hint. It wasn't at Princeton. Here's another hint. It was more than 130 years before Princeton awarded one.

The answer is 1840. It was awarded by the Georgia Female College, which is now Wesleyan College. The one in Macon, Ga., not the one in Connecticut.

The woman who received it was Catherine Elizabeth Benson Brewer. Why was she first? Was she the only woman in her graduating class? Nope. She was first alphabetically.

TigerBlog is humored by that.

He learned about this from a story in the student newspaper for the University of Washington. It was part of a profile of Joe Janes, the official brother-in-law of TigerBlog.

You can read it HERE. Be forewarned: It has absolutely nothing to do with sports. TigerBlog is putting it out there to boost family circulation.

Joe is a professor in the UW (simply "you-dubb" to anyone in the Pacific Northwest) information school. The basic point of the story is that he does a podcast series about anything and everything. TigerBlog has heard them; they're informative and entertaining.

So listen to one. Maybe you'll learn something.

The story mentions that during his interview he showed the same humor that often makes it into his podcasts. Joe is not the "fall down laughing, everyone cracking up around him" kind of funny. His humor is subtle and understated, which makes it 1) more effective, 2) the kind you'd expect from someone in his job and 3) the kind that TigerBlog appreciates the most.

It also mentions the view from Joe's office. The best view on the UW campus is looking out towards Mount Ranier - a view that disappears about nine months of the year due to the rain. As Joe said the last time TB was out there, they lure you there with the view and then you can't see once you get there. 

Like basically everyone else in Seattle, Joe is transplanted from someplace else, in his case, Syracuse. He holds a bachelor's and Ph.D. from Syracuse, and he is a huge fan of the Orange in sports, especially football and basketball.

He is also the only person TigerBlog knows who, in the year 2016, does not have a cell phone. It's even more insane when you consider that he's in the information business.

TigerBlog isn't sure if Joe has ever done a podcast with a sports theme. He'd text his brother-in-law and ask him, but, well, no, he can't.

So, instead, he had to email BrotherBlog, who forwarded to Joe who emailed TB. Arduous.

Anyway, the answer is yes. You can read it HERE. It's about the rules of English soccer.

And if you want the link to check out the entire series, it's HERE.

Princeton Athletics, by the way, has long had its own podcast. It comes to you every Thursday, courtesy of Craig Sachson.

Craig has been podcasting for seven years now. The first one featured Liz Costello, the former distance runner.

Tomorrow's, by the way, will feature men's tennis coach Billy Pate, women's open rower Georgie Howe and baseball player Zack Belski (he of the eight-RBI game last weekend; his team is at St. John's tonight, on ESPN3).

So here's what you do. Listen to Joe's podcast. Listen to Craig's. See which one you like better.

Before you can listen to Craig's podcast tomorrow, there is the little matter of the big game on Sherrerd Field tonight. That would be the one between the Princeton women's lacrosse team and top-ranked, defending NCAA champion Maryland. Actually, that's two-time defending NCAA champion Maryland.

Maryland has won more NCAA women's lacrosse championships than any other school, with 12. The Terps are unbeaten and ranked No. 1 this year and are the heavy favorite to win again, but hey, anything can happen.

Princeton has won three NCAA women's lacrosse championships, which is tied with Virginia for third all-time. Northwestern, who has won seven, is in second.

There have been 11 teams who have won an NCAA Division I women's lacrosse championship. There have been only five in the last 25 years: Princeton, Maryland, Northwestern, Virginia and North Carolina.

The only other Ivy team ever to win the NCAA championship is Harvard, which did so in 1990. The first winner? UMass, in 1982. The others with at least one: New Hampshire, Temple, Delaware and Penn State.

Princeton will follow the game tonight with huge Ivy League games Saturday against Cornell (Princeton and Cornell are the lone unbeatens in the league) and next Wednesday against Penn.

But first, there's a chance to take on the best.

The game tonight begins at 7. There is no admission charge. The weather will be perfect. You have no excuses for not being there.

You can't even blame it on wanting to listen to the podcasts. You can do that on your phone.

Unless you're Joe Janes. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Diamond Reflections

TigerBlog was in the supermarket the other day when he overheard a conversation from a couple behind him.

"Let's try it," she said.

"What's the worst that can happen," he said. "It can't kill us."

Okay, now that's intriguing, right? It was even more intriguing because TigerBlog was in the cereal aisle at the time.

What could it be that they were willing to try? What had them so scared?

The couple looked to be in the late 60s/early 70s range. TigerBlog decided to scout out their cart to see what all the fuss was about.

They really didn't have anything controversial. And they had nothing cereal related, so it's obvious that this discussion had been going on for a few aisles.

As far as TigerBlog could tell, they had go be talking about an energy drink. There was nothing else there. Unless they were thought they might be allergic to something else but where willing to chance it.

TB is going with the energy drink. Perhaps if he sees some wildly energetic 60- or 70-year olds, he'll know he was right.

As an aside, TigerBlog has never tried one of those energy drinks. He's guessing it would have zero effect on him. Actually, now that he thinks about it, maybe he will try it to see what happens. Like the guy said, what's the worst that can happen?

Anyway, after he left those two, TigerBlog saw another couple. They were much younger. He was wearing a Villanova shirt. She was wearing a Phillies' shirt.

So maybe that was their way of saying win-some, lose-some? Or not wanting to seem like they were bragging.

Villanova, of course, won the NCAA men's basketball championship last week. The Phillies will not be winning any championships anytime soon, and in fact they might just be awful this season.

Oh, and to the comment from last week, yes, Tom McCarthy earned a World Series ring when the Phillies won in 2008. Now? He's doing TV for a team that is likely to lose 100 games and will be unlikely to be in contention at any point of the season.

There are two teams that TigerBlog can give you who are definitely in contention as the season moves along, and that would be the Princeton softball and baseball teams. In fact, both are in first place in their divisions after having played 40 percent of their Ivy schedules.

Both teams have a huge weekend coming up, with four home games against their closest rivals in the standings. 

And both have done exactly what they've needed to do. TigerBlog hasn't looked this up because it would take way, way too long, but he's guessing that a good percentage of Ivy League softball and baseball divisional champions were in first place after the cross-divisional games were completed.

It makes some sense. If you enter a four-game series against a team that you're behind, you at least need to win three of four to change the dynamic. And that's not easy to do.

Let's start with the softball team.

Princeton is 4-4 after its eight games against the North Division teams. All four North teams are at least .500; only Princeton in the South Division is.

Penn, at 2-6, is in second. Columbia and Cornell are both 1-7. Dartmouth is 8-0 to lead the North, and that includes a sweep of Princeton - though one was a one-run game and the other went 10 innings.

Princeton is home for four with Penn this weekend. To tie Princeton, Penn needs to win three of four.

The baseball team has a better record than the softball team, but it doesn't have as big a lead.

The Tigers are 6-2 after this weekend, which saw them get swept at Yale and then turn around and put 36 runs in two games of a sweep of Brown. The highlight was an eight-RBI performance by Zack Belski, breaking an 84-year old school record for RBIs in a game.

Like the softball team, the baseball team has four games at home this weekend against Penn. Also as in softball, Princeton and Penn are 1-2 in the division in baseball.

Penn will come to Clarke Field at 5-3 in the league. Columbia is next at 3-5, and Cornell - who still has two to make up against Dartmouth - is 2-4.

Again, the math is fairly obvious.

The softball team finished second in the South Division a year ago behind Penn. The baseball team finished last in the division and with the worst record in the league.

This year? It's a whole new ballgame for both. And both are taking advantage of their chances so far.

As a result, they both get to be home for four really big games this weekend.

Free admission. A very, very promising weather forecast.

Play ball. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

April Snow Showers

Apparently TigerBlog isn't the only one who feels that the best word to describe Peter Farrell is "beloved."

Friday's TigerBlog, a tribute to the retiring Princeton women's track and field coach, has become the single most read entry in the eight-year history of doing this.

Maybe it's because of the fact that there are so many track and field alums, or maybe it's because Peter is a well-liked, well-respected man. Either way, thousands of people read the blog Friday, and over the weekend.

If you missed it, you can find it HERE

So now what? Was it just a bunch of Peter Farrell fans who had the link forwarded to them, or are you all still out there, back for more? Hmmm. What should TigerBlog talk about in that case?

Politics? Noooooooooo.

TV shows? Did you see Season 4 of "House of Cards?" It was pretty good, something to watch while waiting for the new season of "Gilmore Girls."

Actually, "House of Cards" counts as politics.

How about a joke? Hmmm. What did the bilingual dog say? Meow. Get it? Meow?


Did you hear about the cyclops teacher? Only had one pupil. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.


What else?


How about the weather?

The weather around here officially makes no sense. Let's review your last few months in Central Jersey.

October was like summer. November was like late summer. December was like what autumn used to be around here. January was okay, except for the blizzard that dumped 33 inches of snow here in one day.

Don't worry. It didn't last. Late January and early February were warm for the most part, and the snow was gone by Valentine's Day. The first few lacrosse games were played on sunny days, with temps near the 60s.

March was okay. Nice for the most part. Cold here and there. Nothing brutal.

April, though. Well, that's been a different story. It's been frozen for most of April.

This past Saturday, when the average temperature in Princeton is 60 degrees, it was 33 at gametime for lacrosse. And a cold, dreary rain fell in the area, with some sleet and flurries mixed in.

Of course, that was nothing compared to what was going on just south of here, in Philadelphia. It was a few degrees colder there, which meant that it was snowing.

Hard. Like a blizzard.

TigerBlog watched two lacrosse games on the computer as they were being played in Philly, and it might as well have been New Year's Day in Alaska. And this was April 9.

The weather didn't slow down the Princeton women's lacrosse team. The Tigers sprinted away from Yale Saturday afternoon 16-5, outshooting the Bulldogs 50-25.

The weather this week is supposed to warm up at least. Rain or shine, though, nice or messy, it will be big week for the women's lacrosse team. Actually make that a huge week.

Princeton has three home games in eight days, each with a rather important subplot.

First up will be Maryland Wednesday night. That's unbeaten, unanimous No. 1 Maryland, the defending NCAA champ.

Princeton will welcome the 12-0 Terps to Sherrerd Field first. Then a 9-1 team comes in Saturday for a game that has more immediate significance.

It will be Cornell at Princeton Saturday at noon (the opening game of a doubleheader, with the men against Dartmouth at 3). Princeton and Cornell are the only remaining unbeatens in Ivy League women's lacrosse.

Cornell has one loss on its record now - to Maryland, 17-9, two weeks ago. The Big Red are also at Penn State Wednesday before the game at Princeton.

The winner of the women's game Saturday will have the inside track to the Ivy title and to hosting the Ivy League tournament.

The women's lacrosse standings right now have Cornell at 4-0, Princeton at 3-0 and Penn and Harvard with one loss each. Yale is next at 2-2.

Cornell still has Princeton, Harvard and Penn on its schedule. Princeton already has a win over Harvard and then the game against Cornell Saturday.

And is there a time to recover after that game? Nope.

That's because the next game after that is the following Wednesday, when Penn comes to Sherrerd Field. Penn's Ivy loss was against Dartmouth, who is 1-3 in the league.

Penn and Princeton are the only two teams to host the Ivy League tournament, in the six-year history of the event.

It's not an easy run for the Tigers. When it's over, Princeton will have only Columbia and Brown left on the Ivy schedule. Neither of those two has won a league game yet.

So, to recap, it's the No. 1 team in the country (the defending champ to boot), the only other unbeaten Ivy team and then the team that has traditionally been the biggest rival. In eight days. All at home.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Judging by how it's gone lately, that's anyone's guess. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sticking A Fork In Peter Farrell release on Peter Farrell's Retirement

TigerBlog already knew what Peter Farrell was going to say when it was his time to speak at the Department of Athletics staff meeting yesterday.

It didn't make it any less stunning to actually hear.

Maybe it's because here was Princeton's only women's track and field coach in the 39-year history of the program, a man who is 69 years old, a thoughtful man, a serious man, a graduate of Notre Dame. Here he was, pretending to stab himself with a fork.

You know, he said. As in "stick a fork in me." And why? "Because I'm done."

That's how Peter Farrell broke the news that he is retiring, bringing down the curtain on a career that saw him coach five decades of women here. The number of athletes has to reach into the thousands.

Farrell spoke for about 15 minutes yesterday at the staff meeting, and in typical fashion most of it was funny. When he was done, he was given a long, long standing ovation from the assembled members of the Department of Athletics. This was a genuine outpouring of emotion.

And speaking of emotions, there were more than a few tears. It's possible Peter himself teared up. Whether he did or not, he sat down in a chair while everyone else stood applauding. He was clearly overwhelmed by the moment.

That's what saying goodbye does, especially after 39 years.

Peter knew months ago that this would be it for him. He just didn't want a big production to be made about it.

The Princeton coach whom TigerBlog can most compare Peter Farrell to is Pete Carril.

They were both ultra-successful coaches, of course. Carril as you know is in the Hall of Fame.

Peter? He's won 27 Ivy League championships between cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field. He coached 55 All-Americas and 182 Ivy League individual champs. He is the only Ivy women's track and field coach to win the "triple crown" by sweeping the three league titles in the same year.

Beyond that, they are both a coach-as-philosopher. A conversation with either one that starts with sports will almost surely take you in a completely different direction, one that ultimately is about people and what makes them tick, positively or negatively.

They both have a dry, understated sense of humor. Neither laughs uproariously, just breaking enough of a grin, giving off a sense that they are mildly amused. In reality, TigerBlog has always thought, their minds are just working so fast that they've already moved past the punchline to whatever's coming next.

They're both outstanding public speakers, largely because they both speak directly from the heart. They don't BS anyone, and they have little tolerance for BS when it comes back.

They are among the absolute most genuine people TB has ever met. They are both incredible story-tellers, with incredible stories to tell, of their lives from long before Princeton to the present.

TigerBlog has written often about Carril and how he was no child of privilege. And yet here he was, for 29 years, at a place of privilege. His upbringing shaped everything about him at Princeton. He learned a work ethic early on from his father, who spent 40 years working in the steel mills in Bethlehem, Pa., and he had no tolerance for anyone who tried to cut corners.

Like Carril, Farrell has never forgotten where he came from. 

Farrell is from New York City, in Queens. His father went to Manual Trade High School and won a bronze star in Italy in World War II.

Peter's older brother Tom ran at Archbishop Molloy High School and eventually would win a bronze medal in the 800 at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Peter also went to Molloy and then to Notre Dame, where he was a five-time All-America. He might have been headed to the Olympics too had not injuries and pneumonia slowed him at the wrong time.

Instead, he went into coaching. He started the girls' track and field program at Christ the King High School in New York.

And then, in 1977, Sam Howell hired two new track and field coaches at Princeton, one to coach the men's team and the other to start the women's program. The men's coach was Fred Samara. The women's coach was Peter Farrell.

They started on the same day - September 1, 1977. Fred was in the audience yesterday, still the men's coach, not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Books can be written about the dynamic of their relationship since that first day.

But Peter? Now is his time to step away.

TigerBlog and Peter Farrell got off to a rocky start when they first met, largely because Farrell used to steal the newspapers out of TB's office. It didn't take long for TB to get past that and realize that Peter Farrell is unique, special, honest and in his way brilliant.

Through the years, TigerBlog and Farrell have spent hours talking about anything and everything. Princeton sports, yes. But way more than that.

Politics. Religion. Pop culture. Movies. Actors. Music, especially Bruce Springsteen. Really anything.

Peter Farrell is one of TigerBlog's all-time favorite people. Not just from Princeton Athletics. From anywhere.

And now he'll be leaving. He deserves it. He's spent 39 years as a coach, educator, mentor, friend, advocate, confidante, sounding board, advisor to his athletes and his co-workers.

He's come to work each of those days with the same unwavering drive, competitive spirit and integrity.

People like him don't walk through the door every day - even if two of them did on the same day nearly 40 years ago.

Now he's going to walk out the door. Stick a fork in him, as he actually pretended to do yesterday.

At one point of his talk yesterday, Peter paused and put his head down. TigerBlog couldn't tell if he was struggling to hold it together; if he was, he was able to keep going a few seconds later.

Hey, this is what goodbyes are like. TigerBlog knew it was coming, and yet he was stung by the finality of it all.

He's happy for Peter. He's earned the next chapter in his life.

During his talk yesterday, Peter spoke about how the Sam Howell Invitational would be starting this weekend. Then he told the audience a little about who Sam Howell was. And he mentioned a word that is on the plaque for Sam in the Jadwin Gym lobby.

And when he said it, TigerBlog knew immediately that this was a word that perfectly described Peter. One word.


Yeah. That's Peter.

Beloved. For 39 years. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Here's The Pitch

With all the talk about how well the Princeton baseball team did last weekend, TigerBlog completely forgot that the Major League Baseball season has started.

Princeton, in fact, is already 1-1 on the young season.

Ross Ohlendorf got the win on Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds, who beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2.

At one point, which lasted about 100 years or so, the Reds always played the first game of the season. These days, Opening Day is a bit different (read, commercialized).

Now 33 years old, Ohlendorf is with his sixth Major League team. Can you name them? You get a few paragraphs to do so.

Chris Young is with his fifth team. Can you name them?

Young's current employer is the Kansas City Royals. Young is coming up on his 37th birthday, which is making TigerBlog feel pretty old.

Young was the losing pitcher Tuesday against the Mets. Young went five innings, allowing two runs, both on a Neil Walker home run, and three hits, while striking out four.

In his win against the Phillies, Ohlendorf threw five pitches. In his loss to the Mets, Young threw 92 pitches.

Oh, and their teams?

Ohlendorf started out with the Yankees and then went to the Pirates, Padres, Nationals, Rangers and now Reds. Young started with the Rangers and has gone to the Padres, Mets, Mariners and now the Royals.

While Young got a loss Tuesday, he also picked up something pretty cool. His World Series ring.

If you remember back to October, Young was a key reason why the Royals defeated the Mets to win the World Series. Actually, it was October into November.

If you forgot about it, then click HERE.

Princeton alum Matt Bowman, another pitcher, is on the St. Louis Cardinals. Bowman made his Major League debut last night, throwing two scoreless innings in relief in a 5-1 loss to the Pirates. Bowman allowed one hit and struck out two.

TigerBlog wishes him a long career. Let him pitch well into his 30s, just like Young and Ohlendorf.

Another Tiger alum in the Major Leagues is Tom McCarthy. Well, sort of.

McCarthy used to be the radio play-by-play voice of Princeton football and basketball.

His two most famous calls at Princeton came at the end of the Princeton-UCLA men's basketball game in 1996 - "there'll be a new champion in the NCAA tournament" - and during a football game in Palmer Stadium - "Washington up the middle, gain of three, and Walt, don't even think about eating my cookie."

The "Walt" of that other story is Walter Perez, who is a longtime reporter on the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia. TigerBlog was standing in the entry to their booth when Tom said it; TB is pretty sure the crowd mic picked up his laughing.

Like Young, by the way, McCarthy also has a World Series ring. And some choice radio gigs in the off-season, like NFL football and the NCAA basketball tournament.

Then there's John Sadak, another former Princeton radio voice.

Sadak did Princeton basketball for several years. He is now the radio voice of the Yankees' Triple-A team in Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Their nickname is the "Railriders."

TigerBlog is pretty sure Sadak is headed to the Major League job as well.

For now, he's also doing college football and basketball. In fact, he was the national radio voice of the women's Final Four, which means that pretty much everyone who was listening to him turned the game off as UConn completely blew out the field again.

Princeton's current basketball play-by-play man is Derek Jones. He and Noah Savage are a really good combo.

Jones, when he's not doing Princeton games, runs the radio station at Rowan College in South Jersey. He also does football there as well.

TigerBlog can see both Derek and Noah making it big. At the same time, it would be great if they could stay doing basketball at Princeton for the next decade or two though.

Then there is another new voice at Princeton. That of Cody Chrusciel.

Cody is one of Princeotn's two video guys. On his interview for the position, TigerBlog thought his voice was a natural for broadcasting.

As it turns out, it was. Cody has done a lot of on-air work in his life, and he asked for the opportunity to do some broadcasting in addition to his video work.

Since then, he's done radio for basketball and lacrosse and Ivy League Digital Network work on any number of other sports. Cody is a great broadcaster.

And apparently TigerBlog knows on-air talent when he sees it. Or hears it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Congrats, Jay. And Calm Down.

The two best buzzer-beaters in NCAA men's basketball tournament championship game history are now Lorenzo Charles' dunk to give North Carolina State the 1983 title and Kris Jenkins' three-pointer Monday night to give Villanova the 2016 title.

There was really only one thing missing from those two shots, and that's the fact that had the game-winning shots not gone in, there would have been overtime. Neither was make-or-break, but that's a small point.

Had Gordon Hayward's shot against Duke from half-court gone down in 2010, that would have trumped both, by the way.

Perhaps the most incredible thing about the shots from 1983 and the other night is the difference in the reactions from the winning coaches.

Do you remember what happened after the 1983 game? You can see it all HERE.

Of course you remember though. Jim Valvano sprinted around the court looking for someone, anyone, to hug.

And Monday night?

Villanova's Jay Wright was quite the opposite. You can see his reaction HERE.

If you didn't know any better, you'd think his team lost.

Valvano and Charles, by the way, would both meet a tragic fate, and neither lived to see 50. In fact, they both died at 47, Valvano famously from cancer and Charles in a bus accident.

TigerBlog ran into Princeton head football coach Bob Surace yesterday morning. Surace showed TB his pre-tournament prediction in ESPN's pool - compliance note, it's completely free and above board and fine with any NCAA rules.

Before the tournament began, Surace predicted a Villanova championship, and a 75-74 win over North Carolina in the final. No, really. Surace did that. He showed TB and everything.

That's an incredible prediction.

Actually, now that TB thinks about it, Surace's reaction to correctly picking the finalists and nearly picking the exact final score was way more animated than Wright's to having his team actually win.

The UConn women made it four straight NCAA titles last night, with yet another romp, this time over Syracuse.

TigerBlog respects how good UConn is. As he's said, he doesn't think the Huskies have to apologize for being that good. It just makes it dull, that's all.

TigerBlog would be more interested in watching the championship game if there was a competitive side to it. If a men's team dominated the same way, it would be hurt the excitement of watching it the same way.

Before the turning of the page on the basketball season, there is one note. Princeton assistant coach Brett MacConnell was named to the NABC 30 Under 30 team, which honored 30 assistant coaches across the country who are under 30 years old.

MacConnell has done a great job with Princeton, especially in its recruiting efforts. His work in that area has helped Princeton land players like Devin Cannady and Amir Bell in the last two years, and this past year he helped Princeton to a 22-7 record and the NIT.

It's a great honor for MacConnell, especially considering everyone else on the list, which you can see HERE.

And with that, let's talk about the spring. Or what is passing for it.

March was pretty warm. April has not been. In fact, there has been accumulating snow in much of the Northeast this month. Not in Princeton, mercifully, but it's been freezing here too.

It'll actually be somewhat nice out this afternoon. Low 50s and sunny.

The baseball team is home today against Monmouth. Princeton has won five straight games, including four straight in the Ivy League to start the season. The Hawks are off to a 4-1 start in the MAAC.

As TigerBlog has said, it's really hard to catch teams in the division when you know that you have to win three of four on a weekend. It's important to play from ahead.

It was really important for Princeton to do so this past weekend, since every team in the Gehrig Division is either .500 or above. Princeton is the only 4-0 team, with Cornell at 2-0, Penn at 3-1 and Columbia at 2-2.

Cornell was unable to get its doubleheader against Dartmouth in last weekend due to the weather.

This weekend is the second, and last, cross-over weekend, with the Tigers at Yale and Brown. Then it's three straight weekends of four games against the Gehrig Division.

There's a long way to go, obviously, but with only 20 games during the Ivy sprint, each one is huge.

Of course, this weekend's forecast is iffy, and that creates another challenge, getting all the games in.

Oh, and TB will end today with one more basketball thought.

Villanova gave its students the day off to celebrate yesterday, cancelling classes.

It got TigerBlog wondering something to which he has no idea. Maybe someone out there does?

Has Princeton ever cancelled classes for a campus-wide celebration of something, sports or otherwise? Anybody?