Monday, October 31, 2016

Hello From Portugal

Hello from Portugal.

TigerBlog, and the rest of the Princeton men's lacrosse travel party, got to this Western European country yesterday morning after a somewhat eventful trip that started in mid-afternoon Saturday at the Caldwell Field House.

So where to start in the first Portugese blog?

With John Lovett, of course.

While the men's lacrosse team was packing and getting ready for its trip, Lovett was being ridiculous against Cornell in football. In fact, he was so ridiculous that TigerBlog couldn't help but think back to another big-time performance against Cornell, the one that Dick Kazmaier put up in his 1951 Heisman Trophy winning season.

Seriously. TigerBlog does not throw Kazmaier's name out there lightly. Lovett, though, was incredible Saturday.

His numbers:
* 10 for 11 passing for 194 yards and four touchdowns, including a 95-yard TD pass to Isaiah Barnes
* six carries, 47 yards, two more rushing touchdowns (he now has 14, five away from tying Keith Elias' single-season school record)
* two receptions, 19 yards, one more touchdown

That's seven touchdowns, which is a school record. And it's a 56-7 win for the Tigers, who will host Penn Saturday in a huge game.

Even from a few thousand miles away, TigerBlog still wanted to start with Lovett. And he knows how he wants to end today as well, and he'll get there shortly.

First, there are some details about the trip so far.

Let TB start with the flight. It was on TAP, the official airline of Portugal. It was on an Airbus 330, which may have been the biggest plane TB was ever on other than a 747.

It was an overnight flight, which TB doesn't usually do well with, because he struggles to sleep on planes. He even tried Tylenol PM, but that didn't do much.

And even for the short time that TB did manage to fall asleep, he was jolted awake by some of the worst turbulence he's ever experienced. The massive plane was tossed all over the sky for maybe 15 seconds or so, and then it went back to being calm - but those 15 seconds were white-knuckle stuff.

The first order of business after landing in Lisbon in mid-morning was to take a three-hour bus ride to the southern part of the country, the coastal region called the Algarve. Princeton's destination was a town called Monte Gordo, which is right on the Atlantic Ocean and right on the border with Spain.

There were two buses to take Princeton to the Algarve. Everyone on TB's bus was asleep except for him and John McPhee - and the bus driver - and Mr. McPhee was on top of pretty much everything to do with the Portugese landscape as the bus headed south.

The route took Princeton down a major highway, and there really were no population centers along the way. In fact, Lisbon, one of the oldest cities in the world and the site for the second half of Princeton's trip, accounts for more than one quarter of the entire country's population.

What there was plenty of along the way, though, was scenery. Trees, including Umbrella Pines, which are basically what you think they'd be. Hills. Brown patches of land, interspersed with greens. Those reminded TB of the Pine Barrens in New Jersey, though Mr. McPhee thought they were more fitting for the Iberian Peninsula.

There were lots and lots and lots of grape farms, with, as Mr. McPhee said, slightly more than 99 percent of the crop will be used for wine. And eventually, there was the ocean, which became visible as the bus turned to the west.

After arrival at the hotel and check-in, it was off to what essentially was a practice for the Tigers. Once back in Lisbon, there will be three games against the English national team, who can be pretty formidible.

Before the practice, though, there was a clinic for a handful of local boys, whose ages turned out to be between 11 and 18. There were eight of them, to be exact, and none of them had ever held a lacrosse stick or seen a lacrosse game before.

As it turned out, they were pretty good for novices. A few of them could shoot with some pretty solid velocity. Zach Currier, Princeton's All-America middie, jumped in as the goalie, and he actually 1) was pretty good at it and 2) was forced to make some pretty tough saves.

After the boys shot around for awhile, it was time for Princeton to get to work on its practice. TigerBlog, as he watched, wondered who these boys were and where they came from.

To get his answers, he wandered up to three women who were sitting behind the field, which was a soccer practice field adjacent to the local soccer stadium. TB asked if they spoke English, and only one said she did.

She was there with her dog, whose name was Mina. And, as it turned out, two of her sons, who were among the eight boys.

The woman, whose name TB did not get, told him some awful stories about the lives of these kids, and others with whom they live in a local community center. Awful stories. About abandonment. About physical abuse. About having no money at all. And, in the case of one teenager who wasn't part of the clinic, one parent in prison for murdering the other.

And here they were, on a field with the Princeton men's lacrosse team. The players on the team are lucky. They have been immune from the kinds of stories that the woman was telling TigerBlog.

These international trips are fun for the athletes, and for those like TigerBlog who get to go. There will be some good lacrosse later in the week. There will be some sightseeing, and the chance to zipline from Spain back to Portugal. There will be food. There will be some nightlife. It's all great.

And yet what it's really about, TB hopes at least, is the idea that maybe Princeton's guys will take a step back and remember these eight kids with whom they crossed paths yesterday.

They're remember how much fun they had introducing them to the basics of a sport they've played their whole lives. They'll remember how they spontaneously cheered when one of the kids ripped a shot past Currier. They'll remember how the kids couldn't wait to throw on the "Princeton Lacrosse" shirts that the players gave them.

And maybe, just maybe, they'll think about the great gift they've been given, to attend a school like Princeton and to play a sport like lacrosse there. And maybe they'll never take that for granted again.

Yeah. TigerBlog is pretty sure that's the point of this trip.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Say Or Press "5" For More Options

You know what's frustrating?

Calling a large corporate entity such as a bank or a utility or something and getting one of those computer voice menus that asks you to say what you want and enter your account number and on and on. TigerBlog had to deal with two of those this week.

The first was a nightmare.

First he had to go through the menu choices, and of course none of them exactly matched up with what he wanted, so he had to guess what the closest one would be. Then he had to go through that whole menu, knowing none of them would be the right one.

Eventually, he got a person on the phone. Then he was transferred. Then again. Then disconnected.

Then he had to call back, knowing he had to go through all the wrong prompts again, hoping to get to where he wanted to be. In the end he never was able to do what he wanted to do. 

The other time he went through one such menu, he found the right choice, selected it, went through additional prompts and was able to do everything he needed to do without ever hearing a human voice.

Going 1 for 2 wasn't that bad, actually.

Most of what TigerBlog has been doing is related to his upcoming trip to Portugal with the men's lacrosse team. He still hasn't started packing, though he did check the weather yesterday and saw that it figures to be pretty nice, except for a chance of rain later in the week in Lisbon, just in time for the games against the English national team.

The women's team leaves today for its trip, going to Amsterdam for its first stop. After that, it's on to Cape Town, South Africa.

Remember when TigerBlog mentioned the zipline from Spain to Portugal and how it's in two different time zones, even though the entire trip is 700 meters? Well, Amsterdam and Cape Town, though separated by more than 6,000 miles, are in the same time zone, which makes it easier on the women's team to adjust.

Being away will cause TigerBlog to miss the next home football game, against Penn, on Nov. 5. It'll be the second time this year he'll have to miss a home game.

Bill Bromberg, the regular basketball/lacrosse PA announcer, filled in for the first game TB missed, against Brown. This time Bromberg is unavailable, so TB reached out to Penn's PA announcer, Rich Kahn, who is one of the best TB has ever heard (don't worry Bill. TB loves you too).

The result is that Princeton will have three PA announcers for five home games. That has to be some sort of Ivy League record, right?

And hey, TigerBlog has done stats at Penn games for his alma mater, so he can borrow Penn's PA announcer for one game. 

As for the games themselves, the Tigers head to Cornell tomorrow off of last weekend's tough loss against Harvard. Yes, Princeton lost that game, but there was nobody on either team after that game had one thing to be sorry about. That game, as much as any TigerBlog has seen here, was maximum effort by both teams at all times.

The result, though, was Princeton's first Ivy League loss.

There have been very few three-way ties in the Ivy League football races through the years. One of them was last year, between Harvard, Dartmouth and Penn.

Can this year be another one? Mathematically it sure can.

 Right now Penn and Harvard are both 3-0, followed by Princeton at 2-1. Next up are Cornell, Brown, Columbia and Yale, all at 1-2, with Dartmouth at 0-3.

The Penn game, as TB said, is next weekend. That is followed on Friday night, Nov. 11, with Harvard at Penn.

The math is obvious.

What else is obvious is that the Penn game is still a week away. This week it's Cornell.

The Big Red are 3-3, with three straight losses (including to Sacred Heart, by the way) after three wins to start the year. Cornell, of course, is coming off back-to-back 1-9 seasons, so the team appears to have turned the corner.

And it's in Ithaca.

TigerBlog's colleague Craig Sachson wrote this in the pregame story on
The Princeton Classes of 1966 and 1977 may not understand that, because they went 2-0 at Schoellkopf Field, site of Saturday's Ivy League 12:30 showdown between Princeton (4-2, 2-1 Ivy) and Cornell (3-3, 1-2 Ivy), which will be shown live on both One World Sports (check local listings) and the Ivy League Digital Network. No other senior class in the last 100 years can make that claim, though the Tiger Class of 2016 wants nothing more than to join that exclusive crowd and keep itself alive in the Ivy League championship race.

That's amazing.

There's no taking anything for granted at this point of the season. Certainly Cornell isn't going to be an easy out.

As for TB, it's almost time for him to pack and head out.

He'll check in from Portugal Monday. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Road Games

TigerBlog is heading to Portugal Saturday.

He's never been there before. He's been to 16 other European countries, though never to England, France or Italy, which he thinks is pretty rare.

His favorite European city so far is Dublin, Ireland. Will he like Lisbon more? He'll let you know next week.

This will be TigerBlog's third international trip with the men's lacrosse team. The first was in 2008, when the team went to Spain and Ireland. The second was four years ago, when the trip was to Costa Rica.

Princeton will play three games against the English national team while in Portugal. The Tigers played the English twice in Spain and won both, by scores of 9-8 and 9-7.

The first half of the men's trip will be in the Algarve, a southern coastal area of Portugal. Among the planned events is a zipline that goes from Spain to Portugal, over a river that separates the two.

It's actually more than just going from one country to another. It's going from one time zone to another, as the Spanish side is an hour ahead of the Portugese side, which means you're going backwards in time as you ride.

TigerBlog has never ziplined. He's been to ziplining places, in Costa Rica and most recently the Poconos. He's never really wanted to try it, what with the whole being afraid of open heights thing and all. If he's ever going to do it, though, this would be the time.

While the men's team is in Portugal, the women's team will also be traveling, though a lot more. Princeton's women leave tomorrow and head first to Amsterdam, where they will play the Dutch national team. After that, it's on to South Africa, where the bulk of the trip will be spent in Capetown.

There's also a third team that will be traveling internationally during fall break. The women's squash team will be spending the week in Greece.

TigerBlog's trip will require some creative packing.

TB hates to overpack, but he has to be ready for a bunch of possibilities. There's the ocean and the city. There are temperatures that may get into the high 70s but also may dip into the low 40s. There's a chance of rain midweek.

Challenging, no? Can he make it through the whole trip with one pair of shoes?

The bus to the airport leaves Caldwell Field House Saturday afternoon, meaning TigerBlog can see one of his favorite events of any Ivy League athletic calendar, Heps cross country, which will be on West Windsor Fields Saturday, with the women's race at 11 and the men at noon.

The cross country races are the only home events this weekend, as almost everyone is on the road, especially in Ithaca, where there will be football, field hockey and two soccer games at Cornell.

The women's hockey team plays its third straight game in the city of Providence. The Tigers swept Providence in the first two games of the season; now they go back to take on Brown tomorrow and Yale Saturday in New Haven. The men's team opens its season tomorrow night at Michigan State.

Where else are Princeton teams going to be? Oh yeah. Men's golf is in Hawaii. And men's water polo is at Iona and St. Francis of Brooklyn.

The women's volleyball team is Dartmouth tomorrow night and Harvard Saturday.

Princeton is on quite a roll in women's volleyball. Princeton won its final seven regular season matches last year, and then, after falling to Harvard in the Ivy playoff for the NCAA bid, has now won its first eight of this year.

More than just the wins, Princeton has won seven straight matches by 3-0 scores. The only league team to win a game off the Tigers was Penn in the opener, a match Princeton won 3-2. Since then, it's been a run of 3-0s, including this past Friday against the Quakers.

The current standings show Princeton at 8-0, followed by Yale at 6-2 and Columbia at 5-3. Harvard is next, at 4-4.

Clearly Princeton is playing with some momentum and some margin for error. On the other hand, things can change very quickly, especially the closer to the finish line the race gets.

TigerBlog will almost surely bring his "Princeton Volleyball" longsleeve dri-fit shirt on the his trip. The orange one. Very comfortable.

He also has an older longsleeve dri-fit that says "England Lacrosse" on it, a gift from an English coach back in 2008.

That one will definitely make the cut for this trip.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Story Time

TigerBlog ordered a pizza and a salad the other day.

The pizza was a complicated one. TB asked for a large pie, onions on the whole pizza, mushrooms on one side, green peppers on the other. His side would have been the mushroom side.

He also asked for a salad.

He went to the pizza place, one that he's been to about a million times. In fact, it probably would have been cheaper for him to simply buy the pizza place back in 1995, when he first started going there, rather than spend all the money he's spent there through the years.

It's a really good little place. It's not fancy by any stretch. The food is always good, pizza or entrees. The service is always good. And, like most good family restaurants, the same people have been working there for the more than 20 years TB has been going.

Anyway, TB was due for one mishap at the place, and this was it.

When he got home, he found that he had a large pie, with mushrooms and pepperoni on the entire thing. He also had no salad, but he did have friend calamari.

Oh, and he also had a receipt that said "Betsy" on it.

TigerBlog assumes that "Betsy" got the pizza and salad TB wanted. What are you supposed to do in that situation? TB's solution was to eat what he had and not worry about it further.

He's not 100 percent sure what Betsy did for dinner.

Oh, and you won't believe this story.

The pizza place is about a mile from where TigerBlog Jr. and Miss TigerBlog went to the orthodontist. TB took them there for years, and for thousands of dollars.

Visit after visit there were the same few women who worked behind the desk. They'd always say hi. They were very friendly.

MTB got her braces off a year or so ago, so it's been awhile since TigerBlog has been there. When he got to the Princeton-Denver men's lacrosse scrimmage two weeks ago in Baltimore, there was one of the women from behind the desk at the orthodontist.

What are you doing here, TB asked.

And her answer? She is Bill Tierney's sister.

All of those years, and TigerBlog never knew that. All of those years going there wearing Princeton Athletics and Princeton Lacrosse gear, and it never came up.

Bill Tierney's sister? How in the world did TigerBlog never know this?

While TB is sharing stories, he came back to the office yesterday afternoon to find that his colleague John Bullis was a guest lecturer at a class at Clarion University.

Bullis, one of Princeton's video dudes extraordinaire, was teaching via Skype or something, to a class of video students. Their assignment is to create an original video feature, and Bullis is something of an expert on video storytelling.

He and his partner at Princeton, Cody Chrusciel, were at a conference this summer in Atlanta when they met the class professor. Bullis shared a video he had recently done here, and he was extended an invitation by the professor to speak to the class.

The video that he made was about 11-year-old Jack Guthrie and his remarkable recovery from a coma after a skiing accident.

Jack is the youngest child of Kevin and Sari Guthrie. His older brother Jeffers is a freshman on the men's lacrosse team, and he also has a sister named Claire.

His mother used to be Sari Chang, and she was a Heps track and field champ at Princeton. His father? Well, Kevin Guthrie is one of the very best football players TigerBlog has ever seen play here.

Kevin was a wide receiver and a phenomenal all-around athlete. He holds the Princeton records for, among other things, receptions in a game, season and career. His single game record is 16 - sixteen - against Bucknell in 1983, and three of those went for touchdowns.

Guthrie teamed with Derek Graham to form the best 1-2 receiving combination in Princeton history. Guthrie, a 1984 grad, finished his career with 193 receptions. Graham, who graduated a year later, is second with 177.

Third place? That would be a tie between Matt Costello and Chisom Opara, at 154 each.

The video tells the story of Jack's injury and recovery. It shows him at his worst in the hospital. It shows him as he learns to smile again. It shows him as he gets better and better.

And, of course, it shows the impact Jack has had on the current Princeton football team. It's a great piece, the kind that Bullis excels at producing. He's the same person who produced the documentary on Chuck Dibilio last year.

You can watch it HERE.

It's definitely worth the seven minutes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Thanks, Leo

The weekly Princeton Office of Athletic Communications meeting is held every Monday.

Among the issues each week is the selection of the Princeton athlete of the week for the website. For the record, it's officially called the "Coach USA Princeton Athlete of the Week."

This week's winner is Molly Contini of the women's hockey team. Princeton is off to a 2-0 start after sweeping Providence as the Tigers go for a second straight Ivy League title and trip to the NCAA tournament.

Before choosing Contini, TigerBlog joked that it should be some guy named Leo.

Who is Leo?

He's the one who hacked the Twitter feed @putigers_live. If you were looking for in-game updates this weekend on the usual site, well, you noticed that suddenly you were following Leo and his investment service, not the feed for Princeton updates.

TigerBlog has learned all kinds of things about how accounts get hacked and how very little could be done about it once it's gone. On the other hand, the feed @putigers_live was already outliving its usefulness.

The main athletics Twitter feed, @putigers, was originally used for in-game updates. Lots and lots of them. Eventually, it was too many of them, and it was costing Princeton followers.

That's when @putigers_live was created. Just for in-game updates. Lots and lots of them.

And what happened to @putigers? It went from around 6,000 followers to the nearly 14,000 it has now. And @putigers_live? It never really got a lot of traction and in fact had just recently gone over 1,000.

So now what?

Well, @putigers_live is gone forever, so don't go looking for. The question is what to do next.

And that's a big issue. See, what TigerBlog looks for in social media isn't what his OAC colleagues do, and it's really hard to get consensus here on E level, let alone across the entire audience. All anyone can do is try to make good guesses.

Even before ol' Leo showed up, the decision had been made to try to push in-game updates to the team Twitter feeds. Yes, it decentralizes them. But at the same time, it gives consumers a chance to get all the updates they want, without the ones they don't.

TigerBlog is interested in every Princeton sport. Most people aren't.

What is the audience anyway? It's varied in every way.

There are recruits for each sport. Current athletes and their friends and families. Alums. General fans. Donors.

They vary in age, ways of accessing social media, favorite platforms, what they're looking for when they're online - everything. Do you want to read stories? Do you like to see infographics?

TigerBlog does know that flooding @putigers with in-game updates is a bad idea. It's not what the audience wants.

And then there are other questions.

What should go on the Princeton athletics feeds and what should go on the team feeds? Should things be posted to both?

TB is pretty sure that everyone wants to see video highlights as soon as they can, during games. The big goal. The interception. The dunk. Quickly.

Where should that clip be posted for maximum exposure, without overdoing it and getting people to unfollow?

TigerBlog was at the men's lacrosse alumni game Saturday morning and took a 10-second video of the handshake line. He decided to put it on the men's lacrosse Instagram page, where it had more than 1,100 views and nearly 200 likes. Not bad. The same video on the Princeton Athletics page wouldn't have done as well.

Anyway, these are the issues that are regularly under discussion here in the OAC. It's clear that the social media piece is as big as anything else that is produced by college athletic communications offices these days. It's reaching directly to the audience that's interested in you, and you know they're interested in you because they followed you in the first place. The key is to keep them following you and to give them the content that they most want, even if that's not the same for each of the 14,000 followers.

TigerBlog has to chuckle at it all. It wasn't that long that he was in the media guide and media relations business, right?

And then there was the shock brought on by Leo.

Getting an account hacked was a tough thing. It took TB a few seconds to figure out that Leo wasn't something being promoted on Twitter and that he was where @putigers_live had been. If you go to, you'll get the message that the page doesn't exist.

Just like that. Gone.

That's hard to deal with, right?

Then there's the whole idea of how many different passwords everyone has for every account out there. And who can remember what email was used to establish it in the first place? You know, you can only have one Twitter account for each email.

It was all so overwhelming.

TigerBlog thought he needed to get away after all of that. Maybe go sit on a tropical beach and have a tropical drink.

Can they put one of those little umbrellas in a glass filled with Yoo-Hoo?

Monday, October 24, 2016

In The Booth With Digger

Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the other guys.

This past Saturday was one of those days.

Back in 2012, Princeton swept Harvard in football, field hockey, men's soccer and women's soccer. TigerBlog had this to say after that weekend:
As for TigerBlog, well, he's always cautious when it comes to days like that. You never want to get too high or take anything for granted, because days like that don't come along very often ... There are a lot of other weekends coming up, and they all can't be this good. It's important to be humble and move on to the next.

Humble in victory. Resolute when the shoe is on the other foot. Either way, there's no dwelling on what just happened.

This past Saturday was Harvard's turn. The Crimson came to Princeton and won in all four of those sports, taking the four games by a combined six points/goals. There were three one-goal games, one in OT, and an OT football game.

If you're a Princeton fan, it was a tough one. On the other hand, there's another 4-0 day coming for your Tigers. And another 4-0 day coming for the Crimson as well. Somewhere down the line, both are inevitable.

It's the beauty of having such a rivalry.

Princeton and Harvard have clearly had the best athletic programs in the history of Ivy League athletics, combining for 852 of the 1,828 championships won all-time. That's just short of 47 percent of all championships won.

If you want the breakdown, it's Princeton with 452 and Harvard with 400. Princeton has been in double figures in Ivy championships in an academic year 23 times. Harvard has done it nine times. No other Ivy school has ever done it.

TigerBlog spent his Saturday in the PA booth at Powers Field at Princeton Stadium, watching the football game between the two. It was an outstanding, well-played, hard-fought game, one that went Harvard's way 23-20 in overtime.

Princeton showed great character in rallying from 14-0 down and finally tying the game with 49 seconds to on the second of John Lovett's touchdown runs. Lovett continues to be a player unlike any other, and here was his line from Saturday: 15 carries, 43 yards, two touchdowns rushing; six receptions for 57 yards; two completions for 28 yards.

There was more than just Lovett. Princeton's defense was tremendous, holding Harvard to 102 rushing yards and 317 total yards.

It's hard to say who Princeton's best defensive player was.

Kurt Holuba, who had 10 tackles and three sacks? Sam Huffman, who had nine tackles and an interception? Rohan Hylton, who had an amazing interception and 30-yard return in the fourth quarter, with five tackles to go with it? Luke Catarius, who led Princeton with 12 tackles? James Gales, who had six tackles, a great interception of his own and a great performance against Harvard's explosive Justice Shelton-Mosley?

In the end, it was two very evenly matched teams who played a great game. Someone had to win. Someone had to lose.

As for TB, his day was spent with Steve DiGregorio. The man known basically to everyone as "Digger" is a former assistant football coach at Princeton from when Steve Tosches was head coach, and he texted TB shortly before the game, saying that his family had bailed on going to the game with him and could he spot for TB in the booth.

TigerBlog usually doesn't have a spotter, so that was helpful.

And, since he's an ex-football coach (and a longtime high school coach since he left Princeton), he offers that perspective to what's going on, both on the field and on the sidelines. In a game like the one Saturday, that added an interesting take on things.

When Harvard got up 14-0 and looked like it was taking control, for instance, TB asked Digger what coaches do in that situation to turn things around. Whatever formation either team showed, Digger had an insight into what they were tipping off. He was even right some of the time. Okay, most of the time.

Mostly, though, Digger adds his humor to any occasion, and his humor is pretty much exactly like TB's. So are their tastes in movies and TV shows, so any obscure reference to "The Odd Couple" or "M*A*S*H" or "Mission Impossible" is easy to pick up on.

Then there's the fact that they worked together for so long. Here is a partial list of former Princeton athletic department staff whose name came up in the booth during the game:

John Johnston, Chet Dalgiewicz, Inge Radice, Kurt Kehl, Mark Panus, Kris Pleimann, Tim Bennett, Mike Falk, Bob Dipipi, Donna Nebbia, Joan Kowalik, Sue Johnson, Marge DeFrank, David Rosenfeld, Pete Carril, Joe Scott, Howard Levy, Hank Towns, Cap Crossland, John and Davey Cruser.

It's okay if most of those names are unfamiliar to you. They're people with whom Digger and TB worked, and three hours in the PA booth Saturday took the two of them back 15, 20, 25 years, bringing with it some laughs and some great stories.

So many people have come and gone through the department since TigerBlog arrived. He's friendly with most who have left. He has a few friendships that have endured through the years. Digger is one of his best friends.

As for the game, it ended when Harvard quarterback Joe Viviano just stretched across the goal line in the overtime, touching off a Crimson celebration in the corner of the end zone.

A few moments later, the teams met to shake hands. There wasn't a traditional handshake line or anything formal at all. It was just a mass of players, Harvard and Princeton, congratulating each other on leaving everything they had on Powers Field on this day.

Yes. This day. It belonged to Harvard.

There will be others that belong to Princeton.

TigerBlog was cautious in 2012 when it was Princeton's turn. He's confident in 2016 that Princeton will have another such day.

Maybe, though, that wasn't enough to keep you warm Saturday night.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Harvard At Princeton Four Times

Harvard is at Princeton tomorrow. In four different sports.

All four Harvard teams come here unbeaten in the Ivy League. That'll get your attention, right?

You know who would have been all over this weekend? Harvey Yavener.

Way back when, Yav, as he is known, was the person who wrote more words about Princeton Athletics than anyone else in a given year. Or decade.

TigerBlog worked with Yav at the Trenton Times. It was Yav who taught TB many of the ins and outs of writing and working in sports that TB still values today.

Yav covered everyone and everything at Princeton, way more than football and basketball, even if he and Pete Carril were really close. Yav was the first male reporter TigerBlog ever met who had a real love of women's athletics and who appreciated women's athletes for their skill and determination.

He'd interview an athlete for an hour and write long, flowing pieces that hardly ever touched on what they did on the field. He'd write epic game stories that made the most mundane event seem like high drama.

As for Yav, he's been retired for awhile. He is one of TigerBlog's favorite people ever. TigerBlog wanted Yav to respect him when TB worked for him, even if Yav was, you'll pardon the expression, a big-time hard ass. That was Yav.

One day, though, Yav did tell TigerBlog that he loved him. It made TB smile back then, and it makes him smile now thinking about it, nearly 30 years later.

There were a lot of nights that Yav and TigerBlog went to one of Yav's favorite restaurants in Trenton, in the Chambersburg section, after their work was done, usually around midnight. Yav would order for both of them. They'd sit. They'd eat. They'd talk. About everything and anything. And then Yav would pay. TB's money was never any good when Yav was there.

Why mention Yav? Because he turned 87 yesterday. He's retired, and there isn't a Princeton athlete now who's ever heard of him. But there are legions of them out there who remember when it was their turn to be interviewed by him, even if they remember no other reporter to whom they ever spoke.

TigerBlog called him yesterday. He always does on his birthday. Hasn't missed one in a long time. It's always good to hear his voice, one that he's imitated a million times, a voice that was responsible at various times for some of the funniest, most instructional, most sarcastic, most absurd, most insightful, most genuine and even once most heartwarming things that TB has ever heard. 

So happy birthday to Yav. It's been awhile since he's been to this campus, but he would be loving this weekend here, that's for sure.

As incredible as this might seem, this weekend marks the start of women's hockey season.

The Tigers, who won the Ivy League and reached the NCAA tournament last year, open the season with a pair of games at Providence, tomorrow and Sunday, both at 2.

There's also a women's volleyball match tonight, as the Tigers host Penn. Princeton is 7-0 in the league, and only Penn has won a game off Princeton to date.

Mostly, though, this weekend is Harvard at Princeton weekend. The Crimson will send four teams to Princeton for games tomorrow - and all four teams are unbeaten in the Ivy League. Does that get your attention?

TB will start with the soccer doubleheader, with the women's game at 1 and the men's game at 4.

Princeton has had its struggles in the league, going a combined 1-4-2 between the two teams, who are a combined 14-5-0 outside the league.

Whether or not Princeton can get back into the league races is not the issue for tomorrow. Getting the opportunity to give Harvard its first league loss is. And, for the Princeton women, even if there will be no second-straight Ivy title, there is still a really strong shot at an at-large NCAA tournament bid, which makes every game huge.

Then there's the field hockey game.

Princeton has won 21 of the last 22 Ivy League field hockey titles. Under the direction of first-year head coach Carla Tagliente, Princeton is now 4-0 this year and has outscored its four opponents by a combined 18-1.

Harvard is also 4-0. Harvard has outscored its opponents 11-2, and both of those goals came from Penn, who lost to the Crimson 3-2.

Big game? Obviously.

There's another big game as well. That would be in football.

Princeton and Harvard are both 2-0, as is Penn, who plays Yale tonight. The football game on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium kicks off at 1.

The last two Princeton wins over Harvard, in 2012 and 2013, were among the best football games Princeton has played in the last 25 years or so.

The 2012 win saw the Tigers win 39-34 after trailing 34-10 with less than 12 minutes go. TigerBlog was there and still really isn't sure how Princeton pulled it off.

The game-winner came on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Quinn Epperly to Roman Wilson with 13 seconds to go.

In the complex world of how games evolve, Princeton need three touchdowns and three two-point conversions to tie the game. The first two TDs were followed by successful two-pointers, making it an eight-point game. The third TD, with 2:27 left, was followed by an unsuccessful attempt, leaving the Tigers down 34-32.

TB thought then and still thinks now that Princeton would have lost had it been successful on that last attempt. Why? Because Harvard tried to run out the clock and didn't. Had the Crimson needed points to win, it's more than 50-50 that it would have gone that way.

A year later, Princeton beat Harvard 51-48. Again, the game-winning points came on a pass from Epperly to Wilson.

The last two years have been all Harvard, with wins by 49-7 and 42-7. TigerBlog will say that tomorrow's game will be somewhere in between the greatest game ever played at Princeton Stadium and a blowout.

So those are the four games. Let's see how they play out.

Yav? He would have covered field hockey and then come to football, raving about the kid from Princeton he just interviewed.

Yeah. No doubt about that.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Just Thinking

TigerBlog was back at it yesterday, on the bike, on the towpath, once again taking advantage of the ridiculous weather.

TigerBlog is one of the friendly people on the towpath. He says "hello" or "good morning" to everyone he sees, or at the very least gives the head nod as he goes by. Most people return the gesture, though some don't. Of that group, most of them are listening to music. Some, TB assumes, are just not that nice.

As he rode yesterday morning, it was already in the 70s, which is higher than the average high of 65.

Unlike Tuesday's workout, TB was alone yesterday.

TB doesn't listen to music when he rides by himself. Every now and then he does find himself singing, maybe louder than he thinks. Yesterday he was singing "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by the Eagles, for reasons he's not exactly sure of, other than it was really peaceful he supposes.

Sometimes, songs just pop into your head and stay there. For that matter, sometimes other things do as well.

Among the things TB thought of as he pedaled yesterday were:

* The new feature on the website is about to go live.

The first of the new "Achieve, Serve, Lead" series was about to go live on

The series will feature a different Princeton athlete each Wednesday, with the focus on the complete experience that the athletes have and what they bring to all three facets of that heading.

The first one in the series features Steffen Seitz, a back-up goalkeeper on the men's soccer team. Beyond just his athletic career, Seitz also teaches philosophy in prisons and has also tutored inmates one-on-one. He spoke about feeling an obligation to get out from just the Princeton community during his time here and make a difference where he could.

This is part of what he had to say: "Criminal justice reform might be the most pressing civil rights issue of our generation, because we imprison people at unprecedented rates, and while this is one way for me to get a new perspective on this broken system, it also gives me a chance to interact with people who I'd otherwise never interact with. Gives me the chance to help people and allows me to feel like I'm able to make a difference, which has been really rewarding for me personally."

You can see the entire first entry in the series HERE.

And you can come back each Wednesday for a new one. It's an important series, TB thinks, in the way it will personalize the things that are most important to Princeton Athletics. They're not just words on a page or on a banner. These are real people, young people, who do so much in their lives beyond just play a college sport.

* How can you swap out a real hip for a fake one so fast?

Remember the "Cool Field Hockey Moms" from earlier this fall? Well, one of them, Sue Hackman, needed hip replacement, and she had her surgery Monday. TigerBlog sends out get-well wishes.

How long do you think hip replacement surgery takes? TigerBlog assumed it took several hours. Nope. It took 45 minutes. That seemed fast to TB.

 * When is the story in the New York Times with Pete Carril in it coming out?

TigerBlog got an email earlier this week from a New York Times sportswriter who was doing a story about the Golden State Warriors and wanted to talk to Pete Carril. TigerBlog put him in touch with the legendary Princeton coach, who then confirmed that he'd spoken with the reporter and actually liked him.

As TB rode, he wondered if the story was out yet. It doesn't appear that it was.

He also started thinking about some of the funny things he's heard Carril say through the years. For whatever reason, two little anecdotes came to mind:

1) when told that one of his players had made the all-tournament team at an in-season tournament, Carril said "so did the guy he was guarding."
2) when a reporter asked him to comment when one his players had earned an academic award with a 3.8 grade point average, Carril said "he'd be better off with a 3.6 and more work on his jump shot."

Funny stuff. TigerBlog has no idea why he thought of them.

* Who could do a list of the top 10 moments in Gilmore Girls history and miss the obvious?

So the day after Thanksgiving will be more than a great shopping day. It'll be the day that the four new 90-minute episodes of "Gilmore Girls" is released on Netflix.

TigerBlog saw a list of the top 10 moments in the original seven seasons of the show, and it missed the three that TB would have on his list. The top one on the list he saw? The first kiss between Luke and Lorelei.

The actual best moment in the history of the show was the karaoke scene in the third-to-last episode, when Lorelei sings "I Will Always Love You" to Luke.

*Where is Princeton football in the FCS rankings?

Princeton hosts Harvard Saturday at 1 in a matchup of two of the three unbeaten Ivy League football teams. Both teams enter the game at 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the league.

TB was pretty sure Princeton wasn't ranked, but he wondered where the team was, if anywhere, in the receiving votes category.

As it turns out, the Tigers are others receiving vote, not votes. As in one. Harvard is 26th, one spot away from the Top 25, with 236 points, and two spots ahead of Sacred Heart, with 134. Penn has four points. Princeton has one, tied with Duquesne, Wagner, Eastern Kentucky and Southeastern Louisiana.

Does this matter for the game Saturday? Not a bit.

* Why was there the need for the electronic sign if there was already a stop sign?

There had recently been one of those electronic signs near the Grad College that basically read "all vehicles must stop at the stop sign."

Isn't that obvious?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Oh What A Beautiful Morning

If you happened to have the good fortune to be outside in the greater Princeton metropolitan area yesterday morning, then you know that weather doesn't get much better than that.

It was in the 60s, no humidity, no wind. The sun warmed you without overwhelming you.

TigerBlog was outside for a morning workout, wearing his favorite combination of shorts and a light sweatshirt. In this case, it was the "NCAA Lacrosse" sweatshirt he got at the Final Four in Philadelphia a few years back. It is among the most comfortable items in TB's closet.

This was Oct. 18. That makes today Oct. 19, which means that TB will start out by wishing happy birthday to one of his favorite people at Princeton, assistant women's basketball coach Milena Flores.

TigerBlog can't remember the earliest he ever remembers seeing snow in this area. He does know that it snowed on Oct. 29, 2011.

It was on that day that Princeton hosted the Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships and a football game against Cornell. There was supposed to be home men's and women's soccer and field hockey as well, but those got pushed back a day.

Why? Because four inches of snow fell in Princeton that day. Before Halloween.

If there's been an earlier snowfall, TB doesn't remember it. He does know that the snow that fell on that October Saturday was basically all of the snow that fell around here that fall and winter. The temperature rose quickly after that snowfall and it was all gone in a day or two.

Oh, but did it wreak havoc on the area that Saturday. It also made for some great snow pictures from the cross country race. And it destroyed attendance at the football game.

That was Oct. 29. Yesterday was Oct. 18, and about as far away from snow as you can get.

It was probably the same kind of weather that Rodgers and Hammerstein had when they came up with "Oh What A Beautiful Morning" for their show "Oklahoma."

The high temperature yesterday in Princeton was 82, which, by the way, was nine degrees off the record of 91, set in 1908. The low for the date was 26, in 1982. The average is 65.

It's been a pretty good week of weather around here. It was so nice Sunday that TigerBlog found himself at the beach. The one in New Jersey, not the one in, say, Hawaii.

After his workout, TigerBlog hustled to Jadwin Gym, arriving in the D Level conference room at 9:59, with one minute to spare for the weekly event meeting.

At some point in the meeting, someone mentioned Palmer Stadium, and it dawned on TigerBlog that of all the people in the room, only he and one other - Event Goddess Karen Malec - had ever been to Palmer Stadium.

If you don't remember, Palmer Stadium closed after the 1996 football season. It was torn down in March of 1997. Princeton Stadium (now Powers Field at Princeton Stadium) opened in 1998.

With how great the weather has been around here, it's hard to imagine that half of the football season has already come and gone. TigerBlog missed the football game last weekend to attend the men's lacrosse event in Baltimore.

As a result, he has seen only one of the first five games this season. The last time Princeton played a football season during which TB saw only one of the first five games was way back in 1989.

Princeton's goal for each football season is to get to this point in position to make noise in the Ivy race, and these Tigers have clearly done that.

Princeton is 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Ivy League. That makes this Saturday's game against Harvard relatively huge, as the Crimson (and Penn) are also 2-0.

Another team that has set itself up for some meaningful moments down the stretch is the women's volleyball team.

A quick glance at the Ivy League standings tells you a lot of the story. Princeton is 7-0, followed by Yale and Columbia, who are both 5-2. Everyone else in the league is under .500, with Penn and Harvard both at 3-4, Cornell and Brown at 2-5 and Dartmouth at 1-6.

Princeton knows better than anyone how radically different the first trip through the league can be compared to the second. A year ago, Princeton went 3-4 in its first seven matches and then 7-0 the rest of the way, earning a share of the league championship.

Princeton lost the playoff game for the NCAA tournament bid to Harvard, and that game is the only blemish the Tigers have in their last 15 against Ivy opponents.

This year's team is more than just 7-0. It's 7-0 with six 3-0 victories. The only Ivy team to win a game off of Princeton was Penn, who pushed the Tigers to five games at the Palestra in the Ivy opener.

Those two get back together Friday night at Dillon Gym as Princeton makes the turn for home. TigerBlog has no idea what the Ivy record for 3-0 wins in a season is, but he has to think not many teams have won six by a 3-0 score in the first time through the league schedule.

Princeton is either hoping last year repeats itself (going 7-0 the rest of the way) or doesn't repeat itself (3-4 on one trip through the league; 7-0 on the other).

The forecast for Saturday here is a little more seasonable, with sunny skies and 56 degrees forecast for kickoff. The forecast for inside Dillon Gym Friday night is, in a word, loud. 

Yesterday morning? It was just perfect.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

William G. Tierney Field

Bill Tierney stood at a podium.

Behind him was the field that is named for him. Beyond that was the scoreboard with his name on it.

Displayed on that scoreboard still, more than an hour after the final whistle of the day this past Saturday, was the final score. Again, Bill Tierney's team had more goals than the other team, even on a day when the outcome didn't count.

Moments earlier, Bill's son Trevor, an All-America goalie who played for his father at Princeton and led him to the 2001 NCAA championship, had spoken.

"My father never wanted to have his name on a field at a training facility for players," Trevor said. "My father wanted to have his name on a training facility for referees."

That was funny.

Then Bill Tierney started to talk. TigerBlog will get back to what he had to say shortly.

TigerBlog has spent a lot of time around Bill Tierney in his lifetime. The first college lacrosse game TB ever saw was Penn-Brown when he was in college. The second was a 1990 Princeton game, in Tierney's third season as Tiger head coach. TB was with Tierney from then until 2009, when the coach left to take over the program at Denver.

The most emotional TB has ever seen Tierney was after the 2001 NCAA win, his sixth at Princeton, the only one he won or ever will win with both of his sons, Trevor and Brendan, on the team.

After B.J. Prager's game-winning goal in overtime brought down Syracuse 10-9, Princeton players, coaches and pretty much everyone on the sideline ran all over the Rutgers Stadium field, hugging, jumping on each other, dog-piling.

TigerBlog stood off to the side, taking it all in. He had plenty of first-hand experience with Tierney, and he knew that anything that had ever happened before that on a lacrosse field, including three other NCAA titles in overtime and two others that were won by 10 and 12 goals, Tierney's reaction was always the same. It was like he expected everything to play out exactly as it had.

That 2001 win was different, because it involved his sons. That time, Tierney dropped to his knees and buried his head in his hands, weeping, overcome with the moment.

That was the most emotional that TB has ever seen Tierney, dating back to when he first met him, back in 1990.

The second most emotional? That was Saturday.

The setting was a little up I-83 from Baltimore, at the U.S. Lacrosse headquarters. Part of the new facility is a playing field, one that will be used for any number of events, including U.S. national team training and exhibitions and nearly 15 college games this coming spring.

The name of the facility? William G. Tierney Field.

Bill Tierney has won seven NCAA titles, with six at Princeton and a seventh at Denver. He has taken his teams to 14 Division I Final Fours. He built both programs from the ground up.

Princeton had never been to the NCAA tournament before Tierney got there and hadn't won an Ivy title in more than 20 years. Denver had reached one NCAA tournament and lost its only game prior to Tierney's arrival there in 2009.

He is, without question, the greatest lacrosse coach of all time.

The event Saturday brought his former team, Princeton, together with his current team, Denver. It was a fall scrimmage, which normally would mean no score, players in pinnies, a handful of spectators and a tailgate for each team after.

This wasn't that. Not in any way.

This was a celebration, of the facility, of the people whom Tierney has touched and especially of the coach himself.

For much of Saturday, it was business as usual for the man they all call simply "T." It was a fall scrimmage for his team, which is smarting after losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament a year ago and is primed for a big run this coming season, quite possibly to his eighth championship. It's what keeps him motivated, knowing there's always another season and another challenge to come.

There he was before the game as always, with his counterpart, in this case Princeton's new head coach, the eminently likeable Matt Madalon. Tierney has clearly bought into what Madalon is bringing to the Princeton program, and the two of them have built a solid bond in a short time, beginning with Madalon's call to Tierney as soon as he got the job.

If you don't know Bill Tierney, he's not exactly what you see on the sidelines during a game. His intensity on game days is legendary, and he hasn't really mellowed all that much through the years.

Away from the field, though, he's quiet. He speaks softly pretty much all the time. The worst thing he ever calls anyone is "knucklehead," and even then he means it with great fondness.

He has time for everyone who ever comes up to him to tell them their story, their connection to him through their coach, or maybe their uncle who played for Bill in high school, or maybe their cousin who played against him. Always - 100 percent of the time - Bill knows exactly who the person is, remembers every detail and comes back with some sort of compliment for the person in question.

In the lacrosse world, there are few bigger "celebrities," for lack of a better word, than Bill Tierney. And yet there is almost nobody more approachable.

Publicly, he is completely humble and modest, more so than he needs to be. He gives all the credit to his players and assistant coaches, as if he was just along for the ride, as if it's coincidence that NCAA championships have followed him.

Privately, he succeeds because he surrounds himself with the best people he can and then empowers them to do what they do.

More than anything else, TigerBlog can sum him up with two words: loyalty, and accountability. He has your back at all times - and he demands that you live up to your end of the deal. TigerBlog felt it as the athletic communications contact all those years. Imagine what the players feel.

His loyalty to his people is reciprocated. Once you're one of Bill Tierney's guys, you're one for life.

So there they were Saturday. His guys. Lots of them, from every stop of his coaching career, especially from Princeton.

This is what Princeton does. It celebrates better than any group TigerBlog has ever been around.

This year is the 25th anniversary of Tierney's first championship, also 10-9, also over Syracuse, also in overtime (that one on a goal from Andy Moe). The Class of 1992 was well-represented there Saturday, beginning with Ed Calkins, who helped spearhead the effort to name the field after Tierney in the first place.

There were others there too. And they came from all over. Chad Muir, one of the 1992 guys, came from Texas. Kurt Lunkenheimer, from 1999, came from Florida, just like Calkins. There were doctors. Lawyers. Financial leaders.

All back to support their college lacrosse coach.

And then, as TB said, Tierney began to speak. And again, he was emotional.

He talked about how blessed he's been in his life. Literally. Tierney always starts every postgame press conference by thanking "the Lord and his Blessed Mother," and he expanded on that to talk about how he doesn't understand why he's been chosen to be so fortunate in his life.

He thanked his family, all of whom were there (his wife Helen, his sons Trevor and Brendan and his daughters Courtney and Brianne).

He thanked his players. The coaches who worked with him, especially David Metzbower at Princeton and Matt Brown at Denver. He singled out Bryce Chase, his "best friend" at Princeton. He even mentioned TigerBlog and his counterpart at Denver, the amiable Niko Blankenship.

At the end, he said that he didn't want his tombstone to say how many national championships he'd won. He wanted it say that he loved all of his players.

It was heartwarming to watch. It was from the heart, and every word was genuine.

After Tierney was done, the party resumed. There was a ton of food, from both teams and from U.S. Lacrosse. As TB always says about lacrosse, somebody wins, somebody loses and everybody eats.

And there on the table under a tent were two small posterboards, and the invitation to write a note to the coach.

TigerBlog has written a lot about Bill Tierney in his life. He hasn't really written much to Bill Tierney.

So what would he write in two lines?

TigerBlog thought about all of what the sport of lacrosse has meant to him for the last 28 years. He thought about all of the great games and wins. He thought of all of the great people he's met in the sport, at Princeton, in the lacrosse media, from other schools, through his children's participation. And of course he thought about how special it's been to be around several generations of Princeton men's lacrosse players.

More than that, he thought about what lacrosse has meant for him as a father. It's been the bond that has connected him and his son more than anything else. It's the sport through which he has seen his daughter mature, athletically and as a person, from a little girl barely interested in playing to a confident, driven teenager who gained much of that perspective on the field.

And who introduced TigerBlog to all of this? Bill Tierney.

How different it all might be, TB thought as he stood there, had he not had the great fortune to cross paths with Tierney all those years ago.

So what did he write. He wrote this:

"Thank you for bringing the sport of lacrosse and everything that has come with it into my life. You're the best."

And he is. The best. On the field. On Tierney Field.

And anywhere else.

It's an honor to be one of his guys.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Black Cat And A Brown Win

How should TigerBlog refer to Jingles?

CatBlog? MeowBlog? The Official Pet of TigerBlog?

The last one isn't really accurate. Jingles is not TigerBlog's cat. He's Miss TigerBlog's cat.

TB is not a cat guy. He loves dogs. As he likes to say, his dream is to be the nice old retired man who is always walking his dog.

Cats? His only previous cat experience was way back when when he lived in Trenton in his friend Jim Chesko's house. Chesko had two cats, Cybil and Lola. Cybil was the friendly one. Lola was the really, really, really unfriendly one.

MTB uses words like "majestic" and "beautiful" and "perfect" to describe, uh, MeowBlog. He's a nice enough cat. He's a little more than a year old, and he's certainly made himself at home in that time.

And he is a good looking cat. TigerBlog's favorite picture of him is when MeowBlog is perched on top of the fridge, next to the Princeton lacrosse bobblehead.

You couldn't tell that Jingles was handsome by looking at him Saturday night around 9:30. That's because he was hidden under the couch, petrified when MTB came back from a formal event with eight friends, of which seven were girls and one was a boy named Kevin.

To Kevin's credit, he hung in there nicely with a room full of girls. TigerBlog probably wouldn't have done as well when he was 16.

Oh, and as for TB, he was banished from the couch, where he'd been flipping between Ohio State-Wisconsin and the baseball playoff game, to the couch in the other room, where eventually MeowBlog poked his head out.

Then he and TB said together on the couch, listening to the giggling from the other room. This went on forever, or at least until around 11 or so.

What happened to those little kids TB used to know, by the way? When did they grow up? 

It was the end of a fairly busy day for TigerBlog. He wasn't able to attend the Princeton-Brown football game (for reasons that he'll share tomorrow), which left Bill Bromberg to do the public address at Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

TB assumes Bill, the regular PA announcer for Princeton basketball and lacrosse, did a perfectly fine job. That's because TB didn't any complaints.

That could also be because when you win a big league game 31-7, like Princeton did against the Bears, nobody complains about the PA announcer.

TigerBlog followed the football game via Twitter. When he first checked, Princeton was up 14-0. That was in the first quarter.

It got to be 21-0 and then 28-0 at the break. The second half was cruise control, setting up a rather big game coming up this weekend, when Harvard comes to Powers Field.

Once again John Lovett was amazing. His numbers?

* 6 for 7 for 71 yards and two touchdowns passing
* 7 carries, 21 yards, one touchdown rushing
* 1  reception, 7 yards

Lovett wasn't alone in playing well.

Chad Kanoff was 16 for 23 for 185 yards and a TD. James Frusciante caught two touchdown passes, both from Lovett. Isaiah Barnes had four catches for 81 yards, including the TD from Kanoff.

For the first five games of the season Princeton is averaging 34.6 points per game and has been over 30 points in all four wins. The lone loss still saw Princeton score 28.

All of this takes the Tigers to next Saturday and the game against Harvard.

The Ivy League football season is at the exact halfway point. Each team has played all three of its non-league games and two of its seven Ivy games, and there is now a five-week sprint to the finish with four league games each weekend.

As an aside, TigerBlog would love to see a week off now for the league and then the five-week sprint after that.

Right now there are three 2-0 teams - Princeton, Harvard and Penn. There will be at most two after this Saturday, with the winner of the game at Princeton at 3-0, where Penn will be if it can get past Yale Friday night.

Cornell and Yale are both 1-1. Dartmouth, Columbia and Brown are all 0-2.

As another aside, Sacred Heart defeated Cornell 31-24 this weekend.

Princeton defeated Harvard is a pair of wild games in 2012 and 2013. Harvard has won the last two years, by 49-7 in 2014 at Princeton and 42-7 last year in Cambridge.

This year, TB suspects, will be a tad closer than the last two. Harvard will come in also at 4-1, after a 27-17 loss against Holy Cross Saturday.

On its most simplistic level, it'll be the No. 1 scoring defense team in the league (Harvard) against the No. 1 scoring offense team in the league (Princeton). Harvard is second in the league in scoring offense; Princeton is third in scoring defense.

Princeton and Harvard, at Princeton. With first place on the line. 

It's a pretty good way to start the second half of the season.

Friday, October 14, 2016

You Gotta Lovett

TigerBlog was riding his bike the other day when out of nowhere a song popped into his head.

And so he started singing, actually out loud. Did you ever do that? You're singing audibly, though you think nobody can hear you?

Anyway, this song got into his head, and so he was singing it as he rode. "A long, long time ago. I can still remember how that music used to make me smile ... "

Of course you know the song.

"So bye, bye Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry."

TigerBlog has written about "American Pie" before. In fact, he went into pretty depth about the song in January of 2011. Remember when TB wrote this?:
TigerBlog first heard the song back at Camp Toledo in the old, old days. For those who don't know, "American Pie" is maybe the most analyzed song in the history of American music, not to mention among the very best. 
It's a Don McLean song from 1971, one that starts "A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile." It's familiar chorus goes: "Bye, bye, Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry. Them good ol' boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing this'll be the day that I die."
The meaning of the song is a mystery. Google "American Pie meaning" and 800,000 responses come up, lead by the website TigerBlog has heard interpretations that include references to Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, the Kennedy assassinations, Martin Luther King and others.

Actually, that's a good question. How many people who read now were readers back in 2011? Certainly the audience has grown dramatically, but how many are still with TB from 2011, or even back to 2009 or 2008, when TB first started doing this?

Is there someone out there who has read every entry? Today is Entry No. 2,116. Whose read them all?

Anyway, TigerBlog digresses.

His point is that when he got back to his car and turned it on, the song on the radio was ... "American Pie."

It was spooky. Can TB see the future? Would you want to see the future even if you could?

Here's one prediction that TigerBlog is fairly certain will come true: Princeton will host Brown in football tomorrow. Kickoff is at 3.

It's Oct. 15, and it's the second home game of the year for Princeton. Michigan, by the way, played five straight home games to start the season before playing its first road game last week at Rutgers (it seemed to work out okay for the Wolverines).

For Princeton, it's the first of six straight Ivy League games to end the season, of which four are at home, including the game next week against Harvard.

Princeton is unbeaten in the league. Okay, it's 1-0, but it's still something-and-0.

There are three "something-and-0" teams in Ivy football. Harvard is 2-0. Princeton and Penn (who plays Columbia tomorrow) are both 1-0.

The direction of the Ivy League football season is still uncertain for the Tigers. Certainly it'll get more defined in the next two weeks, with Brown and Harvard at home.

Through four weeks, TigerBlog can marvel, though, at what John Lovett is doing.

Actually it goes back to last year. From the start of the 2015 season through now, Lovett has carried the ball 79 times. Of those 79 carries, 18 of them have gone for touchdowns.

That's extraordinary.

Lovett is third in the FCS in points per game at 13.5. The two players ahead of him are Chase Edmonds of Fordham and Corey Avery of Sam Houston State.

Edmonds has 105 carries and 12 rushing touchdowns. Avery has 60 rushing attempts and eight rushing touchdowns.

Lovett? This year he has 35 carries and nine rushing touchdowns.

Lovett is on pace for 22.5 rushing touchdowns this season.

The Princeton record for touchdowns in a season is 19, set by the great Keith Elias in 1993. You know how many rushing attempts he had that year? How about 305.

You know how many rushing attempts Lovett is on pace for this year? How about 87.5.

What TigerBlog doesn't have is a record of how many times Lovett has turned third-and-short or fourth-and-short into a first down, keeping a drive alive, keeping the ball away from the other team. Lovett is an extraordinary weapon.

And he's more than just a short yardage threat.

He's technically, actually, a quarterback. He is 19 for 30 for 149 yards and two touchdowns this year. The last two years combined he is 30 for 45 (that's 66.7 percent completions) for 243 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.

Oh, and he's also the second-leading receiver on the team this year, with 10 catches for 103 yards this year. Last year, he caught 25 passes for 318 yards and another touchdown, which adds up to 35 catches, 421 yards and one touchdown.

Those numbers are insane. So is his impact on the Tigers offense, which is averaging 35.5 points per game.

Lovett alone is worth the (very low) admission price for Princeton football.

Princeton versus Brown. Kickoff at 3.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Merci, And Some Other Stuff Too

Miss TigerBlog was at the top of the driveway, in the driver's seat.

The driveway can be a little tricky, since if you go straight back from the top, you'll run over a bush on one side and then tear up the grass on the other. You need to turn the steering wheel to keep the car on the pavement.

So what did MTB do? She turned it basically all the way to one side, which took her directly into the path of the bush. Then she overcompensated, turning it all the way to the other side, putting her right on the grass, at about a 45-degree angle to the driveway.

At that point, TigerBlog pointed out to her that sometimes you need to make only slight adjustments to the wheel, not make massive turns. Even as he said it, he thought it sounded more profound than just advice about how to back a car out of the driveway.

For now, let's just leave it at that and move on to some Princeton stuff:

* TigerBlog speaks very little French.

One word he knows is "fromage," which means "cheese." Another is "merci," which means "thank you."

Mike Condon put an Instagram post up yesterday with one word across the front: "Merci."

Condon, a Princeton alum, was released by the Montreal Canadiens and then immediately picked up by the Pittsburgh Penguins, for whom he will be the backup goalie. He was supposed to be the backup in Montreal last year, but injuries to Carey Price forced Condon into the starting spot.

He played well, great at times actually, including in the Winter Classic, when he led Montreal over Boston at Gillette Stadium. Condon grew up outside of Boston and was a lifelong Bruins fan. He finished the year with a record of 21-25-6, and that would have been better had Montreal not experienced offensive malaise for much of the year.

Considering that Condon figured to play a handful of games behind Price, his performance was admirable. And now he is on a new team, but not before he posted these words next to his picture:

Would like to take a moment to thank both the fans of @canadiensmtl and the organization itself. From top to bottom everything was pure class. 
After my senior year in college, I only had 8 wins. Despite that fact, the Habs were the ONLY team to offer me an NHL contract and I will never forget that.

I have nothing but respect an admiration for everyone associated with @canadiensmtl and want to say thanks for letting pursue my dream. It was an honor. - 39

How do you say "classy" in French?

* The women's volleyball team was 3-4 in its first trip through the Ivy League a year ago. It worked out just fine, as Princeton rolled from there, going 7-0 the rest of the way and earning a share of the championship.

This time, Princeton is off to a 5-0 start heading into a home weekend against Brown tomorrow (7) and Yale (Saturday at 5). 

Despite the good start, there's a long way to go until a possible repeat for the Tigers.

Princeton is 5-0, a game ahead of Columbia and Yale, both of whom are 4-1. Columbia defeated Yale 3-2 earlier this season; Princeton took a 3-0 win at Columbia this past weekend.

Every other team in the league has at least three losses. It's starting to shape up as a three-team race, but then again, a year ago at this time, nobody would have guessed Princeton was about to make the run it did.

Princeton is led by Cara Mattaliano, who was the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year last year and was the Ivy Player of the Week last week. Princeton has also had an incredible three players win Ivy Rookie of the Week - Jessie Harris this week, with Devon Peterkin and Maggie O'Connell earlier this season.

* TigerBlog will be outside of Baltimore Saturday. Why? Lacrosse, of course.

Princeton's men's lacrosse team, led by first-year head coach Matt Madalon, will be at the U.S. Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md., to see the Tigers play their fall game. Face-off is at 2.

And who is the opponent?

The Denver Pioneers, coached by Bill Tierney. It may be a neutral site, but it's definitely home field advantage to Tierney. It's his field, after all. William G. Tierney Field.

Ed Calkins, a member of Tierney's 1992 NCAA championship team at Princeton and the U.S. Lacrosse Foundation Board chair, led the charge to build the field and name it for his coach. The game Saturday will be the first college game played on Tierney Field.

TigerBlog has wanted to see a Princeton-Denver game since Tierney left Princeton after the 2009 season. To date, it hasn't happened. This is just a fall scrimmage game, not an actual game, but it's close enough.

It'll be a big day for the Tigers, with events scheduled around the facility. And a chance to play Denver, a team that is loaded for 2017 - and has a chip on its shoulder after falling short of the Final Four a year ago.

In case you need reminding, Tierney won six NCAA championships at Princeton - in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2001.

He then went to Denver, which had never won an NCAA tournament game prior to his arrival.

No problem. He has taken them to four Final Fours and the 2015 NCAA championship, Tierney's seventh.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Day Of Atonement

The holidays of TigerBlog's people came late this year.

As TB has said before, they never come on time. They're either early, or they're late. TigerBlog learned that as a kid, when every year, every time the Jewish holidays approached, some adult would say that they were early or they were late. Every year, without fail.

Today is Yom Kippur. It falls each year on the 10th day of the month of Tishrei, which varies from year to year on where it falls in either September or October. The earliest it can ever be is Sept. 14, and the latest is Oct. 14, so yes, it's a bit late this year.

It follows Rosh Hashanah by eight days in the Jewish High Holy Days. Yom Kippur is the most sacred day of the year for TB's people.

It means "Day Of Atonement," and it is basically what you'd think it is, a day of prayer and reflection to atone for one's sins of the previous year.

In addition to the prayer and reflection, Jews all over the world will be fasting for 24 hours as part of the atonement. No food. No drinks. For 24 hours.

It's a little different than Passover, during which for eight days Jews do not eat anything leavened, which essentially means no bread, pasta, cereal, that kind of stuff. It certainly brings up the question of which is tougher - one day without food or drink or eight days without dietary staples?

TigerBlog was asked by one of his goyish colleagues about what it's like to fast for 24 hours. Do you eat a huge meal beforehand? Nope, TB said. Just business as usual and then tough it out. You get a little hungry by the end.

Something that TB has also said before is that he is as Jewish as someone can be who has a son who graduated from a high school called Holy Ghost Prep and now attends a college called Sacred Heart. Still, he wouldn't dream of not fasting for his 24 hours for Yom Kippur.

As kids, TB, BrotherBlog and their cousins Paul and Janet would always see how long they could go before they'd eat. It was like a game.

As adults, it's much more serious. The Jewish religion is complex, with a lot of rules and traditions that TB won't pretend to know, but he does take this one very seriously. He likes to joke about it - have to get any last-minute sinning in before Yom Kippur, free to sin again after it - but the holiday is important to him.

Sandy Koufax did not pitch in the 1965 World Series on Yom Kippur, something MotherBlog would say to guilt her younger son into almost anything at any time of year. "Sure, you can do that ... but Sandy Koufax didn't pitch in the World Series on Yom Kippur."

TigerBlog has been a part of Princeton Athletic events on Yom Kippur, mostly football games, but he has not eaten or had anything to drink during any of them. He remembers one year when he went to services at Brown before a game at Brown Stadium and saw a member of the Brown team there in his football uniform.

That year, by the way, TigerBlog broke his fast at a Wendy's off I-95 at sundown on the way back from the game.

If you've been reading TigerBlog for a long time, then you've heard some of these stories before. That's okay. It's part of the tradition for TB, to think back about the years gone by and his memories of the Jewish holidays, as a kid and adult.

The Ivy League considers itself to be a secular league when it comes to scheduling for athletic events. There are games on the major holidays of all religions, and TigerBlog has seen Ivy League athletes who have balanced their place on a team with their religious beliefs for decades.

Certainly the league can't schedule around holidays. Where would the line be drawn? Well, it's sort of drawn around Christmas, but if Christmas fell on Ivy League basketball and hockey weekends, then, well, TB isn't sure what would be done.

TB will back tomorrow and Friday, talking about, among other subjects, the great start in the league for the women's volleyball team and the incredible John Lovett of the football team. And where he'll be Saturday.

But that's for the rest of the week.

Today is the holiest day for TB's people. He is fasting to atone for his sins.

It's not easy to go 24 hours without eating or drinking, but it's worth it.

Plus, it's not optional.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Fish Named TigerBlog

The heavy rain - and a small mechanical problem with a boat - kept TigerBlog from fulfilling a lifetime dream Sunday afternoon.

TigerBlog has never caught a fish. Ever. He's been fishing; he's just never got a fish.

You already know this if you've been reading TB for awhile. He's lamented his fate before.

He's told you the story about how Miss TigerBlog, when she was about four, caught a trout in the Schuykill River with her mother's father, an avid fisherman. She hooked the fish on her line and got so scared that she turned and ran. Rather than reeling the fish in, she dragged it out of the river and across the rocks as she sprinted the other way.

Eventually she stopped running. By then, he grandfather had simply picked the fish up off of the rocks and showed it her.

MTB wore a great hat while she fished. TB still has a picture of it.

TigerBlog does not have a picture of the fish MTB caught. He does have one of the fish TigerBlog Jr. caught that same day.
Their maternal grandfather, by the way, was named John Joseph Schauder, who among other things was a United States Marine and a nearly 40-year employee for the Philadelphia Electric Company. He passed away several years ago after fighting cancer the same way MotherBlog did - hard, but with humor and grace.

TBJ has caught a bunch of fish in his life. MTB hasn't been fishing again. To get her to go at the age of 16 would probably require a majority vote of her friends, via group text.

TigerBlog has also told you about his own experiences, including that one time, when he had a fish on the line, out of the water. He could see it. In another five seconds, the fish would be in the boat, and TB would finally have that picture of himself with the first fish he ever reeled in - only to have the fish wriggle off the line and dive back into the water, though not before he gave TB his middle fin on the way down.
Okay, TB made the last part up. But he did see the fish. There he was. And then he was gone.

He was pretty sure he was going to catch one Sunday. He was going with John McPhee, and between the two of them, they've caught a million fish in their lives (TigerBlog 0, Mr. McPhee 1,000,000).

In fact, McPhee had assured TigerBlog that he would be catching one, no problem, and that they were not coming back from the Delaware River until he had.

Instead, they never made it out of the starting gate. The pouring rain didn't help. Neither did the problem with the boat.

TigerBlog was looking forward to the fishing trip since McPhee agreed to take him, back in the spring or summer. That sort of made it a disappointing weekend.

On the other hand, it wasn't as bad as it must have been to be a Rutgers football fan.

TigerBlog and TigerBlog Jr. listened to the Rutgers-Michigan game on the radio Saturday night on the way back from Sacred Heart, for TBJ's lacrosse-practice-abbreviated fall break, which ended yesterday.

By now you know that Michigan defeated Rutgers 78-0 and that RU got one first down in the game. It didn't help the Rutgers cause that Ohio State defeated Rutgers 58-0 a week earlier, and you know Jim Harbaugh wanted to send a message to the Buckeyes with his team's performance.

Not that Michigan ran the score up. It was basically all running plays in the second half.

The Rutgers radio announcers, Chris Carlin and Ray Lucas, definitely wear their scarlet hearts on their sleeves. They actually were very impressive in this game, as they really did manage to keep things focused on positives while accepting the complete one-sided nature of the game.

The highlight of the broadcast, of course, was the commercial for the Battle of the Birthplace, an outdoor wrestling match at High Point Solutions Stadium between Rutgers and Princeton on Nov. 19. The commercial mentioned that you can meet Princeton head wrestling coach Chris Ayres and RU head coach Scott Goodale at a meet-and-greet at Moore's Tavern and Sports Bar in Freehold tonight in advance of the match.

The idea of having traditionally indoor events held outdoors in massive stadiums is not new. It's been happening with hockey for years.

TigerBlog isn't sure it's been done with college wrestling to this point. It'll be mid-November, which could mean weather anywhere from days like today (sunny, 60s) to snow.

TB's take on events like this is that they're great.

College athletics are about winning championships and competing and trying to be the best, but they're also about the experience. Things that are unique are things that really enhance that experience, and wrestling outdoors in a football stadium in November is certainly unique.

Rutgers wrestling has become a national power in recent years. Princeton wrestling isn't quite where Rutgers is, but it's still a factor on the national map.

A year ago, Princeton finished second in the Ivy League, losing only to Cornell. The Big Red have now won 14 straight Ivy League championships in wrestling, but Princeton will be aiming to end that streak again this year.

Ayres has built something really special here with the wrestling program. TigerBlog can see Ayres anytime, since the wrestling office is next to his on E level of Jadwin. You can meet him tonight, in Freehold, as the Battle of the Birthplace approaches.

Oh, and the fish? It'll have to wait. Maybe until the spring. Maybe longer.

But it doesn't matter.

There'll be another time.

Somewhere out there is a fish named TigerBlog. One day, TB will meet him.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Desk Top

TigerBlog really likes the desk in his office down on E level.

He had the same desk in his old office upstairs in Jadwin Gym for more than 20 years. It was an old metal one, probably from the first day that Jadwin Gym opened, back in the late 1960s.
It had a bunch of drawers, one of which had something wedged behind it that TigerBlog could never reach, meaning the drawer could never be 100 percent closed. TB banged his knee on that draw at least once a week.

Ah, but his new desk? He's not sure what kind of wood it is. He does know that it's big and sturdy and strong.

When he first got it, there was one of those pencil drawers, on which he continued to bang his knee. This time, though, that lasted about two or three days, after which he removed that drawer.

He has also succeeded in keeping his new desk fairly clean of clutter. The only things on it are a phone, a fan, a really old Princeton Lacrosse backpack and, usually, a bottle of Diet Pepsi Cherry or Diet Peach Snapple.

His old desk was covered in paper. In fact, probably only 25 percent of the desktop - the actual top of the desk, not a computer desktop - was visible.

His new one? He could lie down and take a nap on top of it. Maybe he should bring a pillow in, just in case.

The messiest desk TigerBlog ever saw was the desk of former College of New Jersey (it was Trenton State College at the time) Sports Information Director Pete Manetas. Pete's desk? TB isn't even sure there was a desk. It's possible all of the piles that were stacked up started on the floor.

The first project TigerBlog ever worked on at Princeton was a football media guide. He was constantly printing out updated pages to proofread, and all it did was make his desk a total mess.

Honestly, it never got any better.

It didn't help that he was constantly getting publications mailed to him from other schools or from media outlets. When he first started at Princeton, there was actually an Ivy League rule that each school had to mail two copies of all of its publications and football game programs to each of the other seven schools. Why?

There were also newspapers, memos, invoices, faxes, printing requests - there were lots of printing requests - all of which contributed to the deluge of paper all over the office. Any time he did try to clean it, or just throw everything out, it took about a week before it was back to its usual chaotic state.

These days? It's almost all electronic. Almost nothing comes in the mail. Almost nothing gets printed out. Almost no paper makes its way to TigerBlog, which in turn keeps his desk perfectly clutter-free.

One of the things that used to bring a lot of paper to TigerBlog was the football game program.

No task that TB has been involved with at Princeton was more arduous and time-consuming than the football game program when he first started out here, with the possible exception of the football media guide. Because of the technology at the time, it was a massively labor-intensive project, and it featured endless print outs of newer versions, which constantly needed to be read and re-read.

The current football game program will see PDFs of the pages that change from edition to edition emailed to TigerBlog from his colleague Craig Sachson, and TB will read them on his computer and then email any changes back to Craig. It's a process TB could never have dreamed of on all those Monday nights that turned into Tuesday mornings - like, 3 or 4 am Tuesdays - getting the old program done.

There will be one program this week and another next week, as Princeton will now host Brown Saturday and Harvard a week from Saturday in what will be a huge two-game stretch of this current season, which is reaches its midway point with the visit by the Bears.

Princeton defeated Georgetown 31-17 Saturday to improve to 3-1 overall. The only Ivy game to date was the win over Columbia a week before the Georgetown game.

This is the final weekend of non-Ivy games. By the end of Saturday, every team will have played two league games and its three non-league games.

And, if you've read TB before, you know that he would love to see the Ivy League have a week off after Week 5 and then finish with the five-week sprint to the finish. That's another story for another time.

Right now, Harvard is 2-0 in the league. Princeton and Penn are both 1-0. Everyone else has at least one loss, including Brown, which lost to Harvard 32-22 in its league opener. Brown lost its most recent game to Stetson, who is coached by former Princeton head coach Roger Hughes.

It's easy to look at the season in blocks. There's the first four weeks, with three out-of-conference games and Columbia, with the hopes of reaching this point of the season at 1-0 in the league. Then there's these two games, with the hopes of getting to late October and November with huge games to play.

That's where Princeton is now. The big goal is to reach November with a lot on the line.

Princeton has only played one home game to date this season. The last six weeks will see the Tigers home four times - the next two weeks, then at Cornell, home against Penn, at Yale and home against Dartmouth.

That means four more game programs to proofread.

Don't worry though. TB's desk will still be clutter-free.

Just how he likes it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Weekend Report

The big news out of the Department of Athletics monthly staff meeting yesterday is that there will be an extension of the ping pong tournament.

In its first two years, the tournament was limited to athletic department members in Dillon Gym. Mike Pallister, the assistant field hockey coach, has won both times. He's like a ping-pong combination of Yasser El Halaby and Ivan Drago.

Ah, but this year, there will be a sister tournament in Jadwin Gym. At the end, the winner of the Dillon tournament and winner of the Jadwin tournament will play each other.

So who will be the Jadwin winner?

TigerBlog originally guessed that men's soccer coach Jim Barlow would be the Dillon champ. Barlow is one of the better players over there, and TB knows that he is a really strong all-around athlete, so it wasn't a bad guess.

So who would be his sight-unseen Jadwin favorites?

His first thought was Mike Russo, assistant baseball coach, and James Perry, offensive coordinator in football. TigerBlog has a hunch head men's basketball coach Mitch Henderson might be pretty good as well.

And his own colleague, John Bullis. Maybe Craig Sachson. He's got the racket skills from tennis and squash.

And maybe Jon Kurian from the business office. If nothing else, Kurian will tell everyone he's really good and then blame it on the sun or a pulled hamstring or something when he loses.

Then there's Mollie Marcoux Samaan, the Ford Family Director of Athletics. She's another good all-around athlete, and she's super competitive. And TB suspects she is behind the expansion of the tournament, so she must know she has a chance.

TigerBlog, by the way, is a decent ping-pong player. He's not quite as good as Barlow, which probably puts him somewhere in the top half of players around here but nowhere near the top.

Now if there was a "who can type the most words per minutes" contest, then TB would like his own chances.

As for actual Princeton Athletic events for the weekend, the football team is at Georgetown tomorrow. Georgetown was 3-0, including a win over Columbia, before its 31-17 to Harvard a week ago.

Princeton is playing its final non-league game before finishing with six straight Ivy League games. The Tigers defeated Columbia 48-13 a week ago after scoring touchdowns on seven straight possessions.

John Lovett, Princeton's sort-of quarterback who can run, pass or catch, ranks first in the league and second in the FCS in points per game with 12.0, after scoring six rushing touchdowns in the first three games.

If you want more on the football game, Craig has you covered HERE.

Speaking of the staff meeting, TigerBlog learned two things about Ivy League soccer there.

On the women's side, he learned that Brown has allowed only two goals the entire season. That's two goals against in 10 games.

On the other hand, Brown has scored seven goals in those 10 games, which translates to 5-3-1 overall, 1-1-0 in the Ivy League. Brown has played three 0-0 ties so far this year.

Next up for Brown is a date with Princeton on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium tomorrow at 4. Princeton is 9-1-1 overall, 1-0-1 in the league. Princeton also has scored 21 goals in those 11 games, tied for the top number in the league.

On the men's side, Princeton will host Brown at 7 in the second game of tomorrow's doubleheader. TigerBlog already knew that three games in the first week of the Ivy season ended in ties. He didn't realize until Jim Barlow said it at the meeting that the fourth game ended in double overtime, as Penn defeated Cornell on a goal that came eight minutes before it would have been an eight-way tie for first.

The field hockey team is at Columbia today, looking to go to 3-0 in the league. If Princeton wins that game, it'll be tied for first with whichever team wins the Harvard-Brown game tomorrow.

Princeton then hosts Duke Sunday.

The women's volleyball team is already 3-0 in the league, which is a three-game improvement on last year. Of course, Princeton turned that 0-3 start last year into a 10-1 finish that earned a share of the championship.

Princeton takes to the road this weekend for the first time in the league when it heads to Columbia tonight and Cornell tomorrow. It's early, yes, but Princeton and Columbia are the lone unbeatens in the league right now.

There's also home men's water polo Sunday and home men's tennis all weekend.

As you can see, it's something of a busy weekend for Princeton. But at least the fall/winter crossover hasn't started yet, right?

Soon enough.

You know what there are 21 of today?

Regular-season college men's hockey games. Egads.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Nobel News

TigerBlog went into the Frist Campus Center yesterday to get his flu shot and figured it would be like every other year.

Maybe there'd be a five-minute wait.

This time, it was much different. There was a line out the door and back up the stairs. Were more people getting a flu shot? Was it just coincidence that everyone went at the same time?

There was a monitor at the top of the stairs who was telling everyone that it was about a 25-minute wait. In this way, it was like walking into a restaurant and hearing there'd be a 25-minute wait for a table.

What do you do in that situation? What's your cut off for how long you'll wait? TigerBlog knows someone who won't go to a restaurant and sit down immediately no matter how uncrowded it is; he wants to go to the bar first and then sit at his table.

Anyway, how long do you wait out a table at a place in which you're already standing? Usually, by the time you find another place to eat, your table at the first place would probably be ready.

That's what TigerBlog was thinking when he considered leaving Frist and coming back later.

As it turned out, it felt more like going through airport security rather than waiting for a table at a restaurant. The line went down the stairs and into the room, where everyone had to fill out their consent form.

And then it snaked back and forth through dividers until you go to the front, at which point you were sent to the next available table. That's the part that felt like airport security.

 In TigerBlog's case, it was table No. 3. Start to finish was pretty much 25 minutes, just like the maitre D - uh, student worker - said when TB got there. Just as impressive was the other student who said that it would be about 15 minutes from that point until he got his shot.

How long did it take? Exactly 15 minutes.

As TB walked over to Frist, he walked past a sign, like a lawn sign, that said "Nobel Prize press conference in Frick Chemistry Building" with an arrow pointing in the right direction.

Considering that physics professor F. Duncan Haldane was named as a Nobel winner Tuesday, having the signs out yesterday meant one of two things. Either 1) somebody moved very quickly to get them made or 2) Princeton has pre-printed signs for its Nobel winners' press conferences, perhaps assuming that there will be one each year.

If TigerBlog is counting correctly, then Haldane is Princeton's 41st Nobel Prize winner. Kudos to whoever updated the webpage that has the list of Nobel winners on it to already include Haldane.

The coolest thing that TB saw surrounding the news about the latest Nobel winner at Princeton was that Haldane celebrated by going to teach his regularly scheduled class. How amazing would that be?

TigerBlog would do that. If he won the Nobel Prize for blog-writing, he'd still write another one the next day.

Craig Sachson, TigerBlog's colleague, tweeted a picture of the press conference sign. Vikram Rao, a former Daily Princetonian sportswriter, tweeted back that Craig would always be a Nobel Prize-winning SID to him.

It's not quite the same award as a Nobel Prize, but Princeton did have two of the five national winners of the 2016 NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete Awards. This award goes to one winner in each of five regions around the country, out of more than one million high school football players.

Princeton's winners are John Orr, the South Region winner from Tennessee, and Andrew Griffin, the Central Region winner from Indiana. Both are freshmen on the Princeton football team, and the award recognizes only their high school achievements.

So that's two of the five winners nationally from Princeton.

Sometimes, it's worth taking a step back from the games themselves and their impact on Ivy races and focusing instead on the bigger picture of the institution itself. Princeton University is an extraordinary place, where the every day result of doing business the way Princeton does is that it produces Nobel Prize winners, national scholar-athlete winners and basically everything else in between.

Last year alone Princeton Athletics produced a Pyne Prize winner, a Spirit of Princeton winner and a Rhodes Scholar - while winning 15 league championships.

That's not too shabby.

It's what keeps everyone who works here so focused and driven, year after year. There's a standard that's been set here, and it's not one to be taken for granted.