Friday, December 30, 2016

The Top Stories Of 2016 - And Wishes For A Great 2017

Welcome to the final entry of 2016.

This would be the 255th TigerBlog of the year. A year ago, there were 254. The year before that was 253. Going back to 2010, there have been two years with 255, three with 254 and two with 253.

As TigerBlog writes every business day, he figured that there had to be more business days in 2016 and 2011. Why? Because Christmas was a Sunday, which made Christmas Eve a Saturday, which made more business days.

Of course, that doesn't explain why 2012, a leap year, had two fewer blogs than 2011. TigerBlog can assure you he did not miss a day in 2012, or any other year, going back to 2008.

The record for blogs in a year belongs to 2009, with what figures to be an unbreakable 272. Why? Because those were the early days, when TB wasn't the only contributor, and there were a few days in there with multiple entries, as well as a few on Saturdays and Sundays.

Back then, TigerBlog's Office of Athletic Communications colleagues wrote a few of the entries themselves, often referring to themselves as "TigerBlog" as well. It got very confusing, and TB didn't want them to have to take on extra work anyway, so he just started doing the overwhelming majority himself. And even when someone else writes a guest entry these days, they write in the first person.

Speaking of 2011, TigerBlog went back to the last entry of that year to see what he'd written. At that time, TB was the interim women's basketball contact, and the Tigers had a game at Hofstra that he'd driven to the night before.

As he read the first few paragraphs, he remembered very clearly the drive up Route 1 and how awful the traffic was. Was that really five years ago? Can five years seem to zoom by so quickly?

That was five years ago. Five years from now? Miss TigerBlog will be a senior in college. Is that an eternity from now, or will it fly by? Or both?

Okay, philosophical thoughts aside, this is also Part II of the top stories of 2016 in Princeton Athletics. If you missed Part I, you can read it HERE.

Or, if you like, TigerBlog can summarize it for you:
* The No. 1 story of the year is Ashleigh Johnson's gold medal in water polo at the Rio Olympics, unless it doesn't count because Johnson's accomplishment wasn't a Princeton accomplishment. On the other hand, Johnson is a current Princeton athlete, so maybe it does. As TB said yesterday, Johnson is the second Princeton undergrad, along with Bill Bradley, to return to Princeton to compete after winning an Olympic gold medal. Decide for yourself if this should count on the Princeton list for 2016.
* Because of that, TigerBlog has either a top 10 or top 11 for this year
* TB went through the first five on that list yesterday, and here they were;
No. 11/10 (depending on if Johnson counts) - women's rowing wins Ivy title
No. 10/9 - softball wins Ivy championship series on the road
No. 9/8 - women's hockey wins the Ivy title and gets at NCAA at-large bid
No. 8/7 - the men's hockey team begins to turn it around
No. 7/6 - the wrestling team has a big year, indoors and outdoors

And that leaves the top five, or possibly numbers six through two, either way.

The interesting thing about these five stories is that they can really be ranked in any order. If TigerBlog asked 100 Princeton fans to vote on which of these would be the top of the list, he'd probably get a pretty even split, something that is pretty unique about this year's top stories.

Actually, TigerBlog put this to a test of sorts, asking his six OAC colleagues and Executive Associate AD Anthony Archbald to rank them. He found, as he suspected, little consensus. 

Anyway, here's the order that TigerBlog puts them in:

6/5 Peter Farrell, Susan Teeter announce their retirements
Peter Farrell and Susan Teeter? That's 72 years and 44 Ivy League championships won between them. Teeter, the longtime women's swimming and diving coach, announced her retirement effective at the end of the 2017 season, but she announced it earlier this month, which makes it a 2016 story. Teeter has led Princeton to 17 Ivy titles in her 33 years at Princeton, and she's also coached 22 All-Americas. Farrell announced his retirement in the spring after spending 39 years as the head coach of women's track and field and cross country. During that time, he won 27 Ivy titles and coached 55 All-Americas and 182 individual Ivy champs. More than their coaching resumes, Teeter and Farrell have influenced a few thousand or so athletes who have competed for them, and they have been legendary ambassadors of Princeton Athletics. 

5/4 The field hockey team reaches the Final Four
The field hockey season seemed to be over after back-to-back overtime losses to Harvard and Cornell late in the year. In fact, as it turned out, it hadn't even begun yet. First, Princeton finished the regular season with a big win over Penn. Then the Tigers got a second chance, with an NCAA tournament at-large bid, accomplished because of a strong non-league schedule and some big wins, including over Delaware. Princeton then made the most of this chance, defeating Penn State 2-1 at Penn State in the first round and then knocking off Virginia 3-2 on a goal with one second to play to reach the Final Four. Princeton's run ended with a 3-2 loss to Delaware on another late goal, and Delaware would then win the championship game as well. For Princeton, it was a tremendous way to end Year 1 under new head coach Carla Tagliente and top assistant Dina Rizzo.

4/3 The baseball team goes from seven wins to an Ivy title and the NCAA regionals
Princeton won seven games for the entire 2015 baseball season, which was the fewest in Division I. The 2016 Tigers won nearly twice that many in the Ivy league alone, going 13-7 to win the Gehrig Division by three games and to earn the host role in the Ivy League Championship Series. Princeton had to wait an extra week to play, as Dartmouth and Yale had to have a playoff to see who would be the Rolfe Division champ, which would turn out to be Yale. The Tigers and Bulldogs then split the first two games, and Princeton would fall behind 1-0 in the top of the first in Game 3. The game stayed that way until the bottom of the ninth, when Princeton scored two runs - on a single, a walk, a wild pitch, back-to-back hit batters, a strikeout and a wild pitch. Final score, 2-1 Princeton. With the Ivy League title salted away, Princeton then earned a spot in the NCAA regional at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

3/2 The women's basketball team again makes history
Princeton has accomplished a lot in women's basketball in recent years, with five Ivy League championships since 2010 and a perfect regular season and the first NCAA tournament win in program history in 2014-15. The 2015-16 Princeton women's basketball team still found a way to do something that had never been done before, not by Princeton or any other Ivy League team. Princeton finished an excruciating second in the league, losing a pair of two-point games to Ivy champ Penn, but none of that really mattered come the NCAA tournament selections, when Princeton earned an at-large bid. It was the first at-large bid in Ivy League basketball history - men's or women's - and as such it marked the first time ever that the Ivy League would get two bids to one NCAA basketball tournament, in either gender. For Princeton, it was the sixth NCAA tournament appearance in the last seven years.

2/1 An Ivy championship in football
It has long been TigerBlog's contention that there aren't too many more exciting football teams to watch than Princeton, with its innovative offense of using multiple quarterbacks and its head coach's willingness to take chances others don't. The 2016 Tigers took that to another level, adjusting the offense in new directions and coupling it with one of the best defenses the program has had in a long time. The result? An Ivy League championship. Princeton went 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the league to earn a share of the championship with Penn. For those who forgot, Princeton defeated Penn 28-0 in a completely dominating performance. The Tigers finished the season as the highest scoring Ivy team as well as the Ivy team that allowed the fewest points, in league games and all games. In Ivy games alone, Princeton scored 48 more points than the next best team and allowed 43 fewer points than the next best. In fact, the last time an Ivy team scored at least 250 points and allowed fewer than 75 (as Princeton did this year with 252 for and 74 against) was in 2002; the time before that was never. Princeton would have six first-team All-Ivy selections 18 total All-Ivy selections, two Bushnell Cup finalists, one Bushnell Cup winner, two All-Americas and one first-team All-America. 

1/Doesn't count - Ashleigh Johnson

And that's the list for this year. What will be on the list for next year? That's for 12 months from now.

In the meantime, have a very very happy, and safe, new year.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Top 10, Or Is It 11, Of 2016

The year 2016 was, um, a bit polarizing, no?

TigerBlog doesn't want to get into politics. Or anything else. He will simply say that in 2016, he can't figure out if what is unquestionably the No. 1 story of the year in Princeton Athletics counts or not.

And so he will start out with No. 1 in his countdown. Then he'll go back to either No. 11 or 10, depending on whether or not No. 1 counts, and then he'll continue tomorrow with the top five. Or top six.

He can't figure it out.

Anyway, the No. 1 story of the year in Princeton Athletics is the gold medal won by Ashleigh Johnson in water polo at the Rio Olympics. Johnson led the U.S. team through the tournament, basically destroying everyone along the way. She was the best player in the tournament, the goalie who made one amazing save after another.

She also earned a ton of great publicity, for herself, for U.S. water polo and for Princeton. She appeared all over TV and the internet, and each time she did, the world saw her smile, heard her enthusiasm and marveled even more at the young woman who was such dominant player in the pool.

Yes, that's clearly the No. 1 story of the year.

Or is it?

It wasn't a Princeton story; it was an Olympic story. So does that count? On the one hand, it has to be a Princeton event. On the other hand, it has to be by a current Princeton undergrad, which she is.

In fact, she is the second Princeton athlete ever to win an Olympic gold medal and then return to compete at Princeton. The other was Bill Bradley.

While TigerBlog mulls over whether or not Johnson's gold medal is No. 1 or not eligible, he'll go to the rest of the countdown.

Here, then, are the top stories in Princeton Athletics for 2016, chosen exclusively by TigerBlog. That means you can blame him if you disagree.

No. 11/10 - Women's rowing shocks No. 1 Brown
The Ivy League championships were originally scheduled for Mercer Lake, but wind conditions forced a change to Lake Carnegie. Princeton then made itself at home, rowing past No. 1 Brown to win its third Ivy League championship in four years. Princeton had lost to Brown by three seconds in its first race of the year, and the Bears came into the Ivy championships ranked No. 1 in the country. Princeton, though, got out to a good start, had a lead of about a length and the midway point and then pulled away to win by more than 2.5 seconds.

No. 10/9 - Softball wins Ivy title on the road
The Princeton softball team ran away from the rest of the South Division, winning by five games to reach the Ivy League championship series. The opponent? Harvard, the North champ, who would be the host team in the event by virtue of having a better record during the regular season. And before 2016, how many teams had won on the road in the Ivy championship series? None. Princeton won Game 1 by a 2-1 score and then, 41 hours later due to rain, lost Game 2 7-1. That left a winner-take-all Game 3, in which Princeton would score in only one inning, the second. Of course, when you put up eight runs in that inning, it usually stands up, as it did in the 8-3 Tiger win. It was the first Ivy title for the program since 2009, and it sent the Tigers to the NCAA tournament, where it fell to James Madison and Longwood.

No. 9/8 - Women's hockey wins Ivy title and gets at-large NCAA bid
The women's hockey team rallied to force overtime in Game 3 of its ECAC quarterfinal series with just 15 seconds remaining, but St. Lawrence would score in overtime to eliminate the Tigers and seemingly end Princeton's season. Instead, the 22 wins that Princeton put up during the year, as well as the Ivy League championship it won, created a resume that earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the second in program history. The Tigers would have to play at Minnesota, which was just fine with them, and Princeton would score in the first minute before the Gophers went on to win 6-2. Minnesota would then win the NCAA championship.

No. 8/7 - A dramatic turnaround in men's hockey
Princeton played 33 men's hockey games in 2016. For the first 23, the Tigers were 1-18-4, with a win over American International in January the lone victory. The last seven of those games came to start the 2016-17 season, and Princeton went 0-6-1 in those games. In fact, Princeton was the only Division I team without a win prior to Thanksgiving. And then? The switch was flipped. In the final 10 games of 2016, Princeton went an astonishing 7-2-1. During that time, Princeton won five games against ranked teams, including four over teams ranked in the top 10. For each of the last three weekends it played, Princeton produced the leading scorer in Division I. Princeton's goals scored per game went from 1.74 per game in the first 23 to 3.90 in the last 10. As the year ended, Princeton was receiving votes in the national poll.

No. 7/6 - Wrestling, outdoors and indoors
The Princeton wrestling team came really, really close to winning the Ivy League championship in 2016, which is an extraordinary accomplishment. The Tigers were unbeaten against the rest of the league and then pushed Cornell before falling, finishing in second place. It was the best finish by the Tigers in the league in 30 years, and Princeton then had its best EIWA finish in 38 years. Princeton also had an All-America (Brett Harner), which, among other things, led to Harner's being allowed to ride on the Jadwin Gym elevator. The 2016-17 season has gotten off to another strong start, with the addition of freshman Matt Kolodzik, who has already moved into the top three nationally in his weight class. In addition, Princeton also wrestled outdoors at Rutgers in High Point Solutions Stadium, where more than 20,000 fans watched on a perfect November afternoon.

Tomorrow - the rest of the top five, or is it six?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Year In Athletic Alums

So at one point yesterday, there was a "Gilmore Girls" marathon on one channel, a "Breaking Bad" marathon on another channel and an episode of "Hill Street Blues" on a third channel.

That's three of TigerBlog's six favorite shows of all time.

He supposes that he could have also added "The Sopranos" and "Homeland" on demand and "The Odd Couple" on YouTube. Either way, it was hard enough to pick from the first three.

The Princeton women's basketball team played Rutgers the Friday after Thanksgiving at 2 in the afternoon. By then, TigerBlog had watched all six hours of "Gilmore Girls, A Year In The Life," which was released on the East Coast 11 hours before tip-off of the basketball game.

TigerBlog gives the sequel very high marks, with one caveat. There was definitely one part that he didn't like at all, and if you saw it, you know which part it was.

As for the rest, it was really, really good. And TB never, ever saw the ending coming, much like he never saw the ending of "The Sting" coming.

And yes, he probably thinks there will be a sequel to the sequel.

Elsewhere in recent TV-watching, TigerBlog watched "The Crown," also on Netflix. It tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II as a young woman, beginning with her marriage and then continuing through the early days of her reign as Queen.

The show was tremendous. There were two things that really stood out.

The first was during her coronation, which her uncle, Edward VIII, watched on TV from France. Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry a divorced American. As Elizabeth is becoming Queen, Edward is being questioned by his friends about why this is such a big deal, and how he explains it is perfect - he refers to his niece as a simple girl with no real curiosity and nothing that makes her special, but put the crown on her head, and "she becomes a goddess."

The second is that John Lithgow gives what might be the best acting performance TigerBlog has ever seen anywhere with his portrayal of Winston Churchill. He's worth the whole show by himself.

Meanwhile, back at the week between Christmas and the New Year, TigerBlog continues his recapping of the year in Princeton Athletics.

Beginning tomorrow, he'll have his countdown of the top stories of 2016. As he made his list, he considered including one entry of the accomplishments of former Princeton athletes.

Instead, he'll run some of them down today, leaving the next two days to just current Tigers.

It was a really good year for Princeton alums in the athletic world. Before TB gets to the list, he can start with what he thinks is the best picture of 2016 of a former Tiger, in keeping with the theme of counting down the best pictures of the year on Instagram and Twitter.

And here it is:

That's Gevvie Stone, after she won a silver medal in single sculls at the Rio Olympics. Think she was happy about it?

Stone's story is a great one. She wrote it herself, actually, before the Olympics began, and you can read it again HERE. It's definitely worth it.

The Olympics were big for Princeton, with 13 athletes who competed and three who won medals, including Stone and Diana Matheson, who won another bronze medal with the Canadian women's soccer team.

Maybe the best non-Olympic performance by a Princeton alum happened on New Year's Day, when Mike Condon made 27 saves in a 5-1 win for the Montreal Canadiens over the Boston Bruins in the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium. Condon grew up not far from there, as a Bruins' fan.

Condon had a meteoric rise up the professional hockey ranks, all the way to NHL starter last season for the Canadiens. This year he's on the Ottawa Senators, where he has continued to establish himself as a goalie with a future, not to mention a present, as he ranks 11th in the league in goals-against average.

Princeton had a big year in Major League Baseball, with an astonishing six alums who made it to the majors: Danny Barnes, Chris Young, Matt Bowman, David Hale, Ross Ohlendorf and Will Venable. That's an incredible number of Major Leaguers for any school.

Seth DeValve became Princeton's highest NFL draft choice in the modern era when he went to the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round. He scored his first NFL touchdown in a Thursday night game against the Dolphins.

Of course, DeValve isn't the only Princeton alum who scored an NFL touchdown this season. Caraun Reid, now on the San Diego Chargers, scored his second career TD, which isn't too bad for a defensive lineman. Unfortunately, Reid's season ended early due to injury.

Tom Schreiber, one of several Princeton alums in Major League Lacrosse, was named the Most Valuable Player of the league after leading MLL in assists with 36 while adding 23 goals. Schreiber helped the Ohio Machine to the MLL championship game.

There are a lot of Princeton alums who are in coaching. TigerBlog will mention two.

Jason Garrett has led the Dallas Cowboys to the No. 1 seed in the National Football Conference. Bob Bradley became the first American ever to be the head coach of a team in the English Premier League when he took over at Swansea.

There were other stories of course for Princeton alums. TigerBlog apologizes to those he's missed.

Starting tomorrow - the top stories at Princeton for 2016.

That is, if TigerBlog can turn off the TV.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Two Games, Two Performances

TigerBlog posted the No. 10 picture in the countdown of the best pictures of the year, and every time he looked at it, he thought he spelled "Jaimie McDonell" wrong.

No matter what, it just didn't look right.

It's a big fear, spelling names incorrectly. Especially when it's hard to delete it and start over, like when it's been on Instagram for awhile.

The picture with McDonell shows her as she celebrates her goal 29 seconds into the women's hockey team's NCAA tournament game against Minnesota, who would go on to the win the national title. The picture of McDonell is great by itself, though it gets additional points from the shocked looks on the Minnesota fans behind her.

Picture No. 9, also put up yesterday, was the last one of Peter Farrell as women's track and field coach. It's a classic shot of Peter, who is clearly talking to everyone and no one at the same time, while everyone else in the picture simply smiles wildly.

The countdown of the top pictures is part of this week's "Year In Review" theme. It'll end here Thursday and Friday with the top stories of the year in Princeton Athletics.

The key word in the review is "stories." It's not the top games, top moments, top performances. Just the top stories.

That's for later in the week.

For today, TigerBlog did want to mention two games and two individual performances that really stood out for 2016.

He'll start with the games.

The first was Game 3 of the Ivy League baseball championship series between Princeton and Yale. Game 1 had gone to Yale with a late rally. Game 2 went to Princeton behind a pitching gem from Chad Powers.

And that meant the winner of Game 3 would head to the NCAA tournament.

Yale led 1-0 after getting a run off Cameron Mingo in the top of the first, and it stayed that way through the bottom of the ninth. That's when Princeton came up with a rally that TigerBlog is pretty sure has never been equaled.

It went like this: leadoff single, wild pitch, walk, hit batter, another hit batter, strikeout, wild pitch. Final score, Princeton 2, Yale 1.

In other words, Princeton scored two runs and made one out in an inning in which it only put the ball in play once, rallying in the process to win the league championship - and earning what would become a trip to Lafayette, Louisiana, for the NCAA regional.

Game 3? It was a wild scene, and not just because of the final pitch.

The other game was last month in the NCAA field hockey tournament. It was Princeton against Virginia at Penn State, in the NCAA quarterfinals.

A day earlier, Princeton had knocked the home team out of the tournament. A few days before that Princeton had gotten an at-large bid after a season that looked lost after back-to-back OT losses in the Ivy League.

Instead, Princeton took full advantage of the second chance. First it was the win over Penn State by a 2-1 score. Then it was the game against UVa.

Princeton led 1-0 and 2-1, but Virginia answered both times. The second time came a little more than two minutes after Princeton had gone up 2-1, tying it up with 15:50 left.

Turns out that was more than enough time. In fact, Princeton only needed 15:49 to get the game-winner, which came from Sophia Tornetta with one second to play. The NCAA tournament is filled with buzzer-beaters, just not the one in field hockey.

So those were the two games.

As for the two performances, of course one of them would involve John Lovett. Honestly, you could pick a random game from this past football season by Lovett and have it be the top performance of the year.

TigerBlog isn't the only one who noticed that Lovett was having a ridiculous season. Lovett was, among things, the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-America.

The game that TB will go with is the one against Cornell. Maybe you remember that one?

If you don't, here's Lovett's line: 10 for 11 passing for 194 yards and four touchdowns; six carries, 47 yards, two touchdowns; two receptions, 19 yards, another touchdown. Added all up, and it came to seven touchdowns in a 56-7 Tiger win.

Seven touchdowns? That's nuts.

So that was Lovett.

The other was Devin Cannady at Columbia.

Princeton trailed that game by five with 29 seconds left in regulation and by seven again in overtime before winning 88-83. Interestingly, that would be the same score Princeton would beat Columbia by at Jadwin Gym later in the season.

In the game in New York, Princeton would have been done had it not been for Cannady. What did he do?

TigerBlog will quote himself from when he wrote about it back in Febuary:

Cannady finished with 23 points, of which eight came in the final 25 seconds of regulation in what was a surreal stretch of basketball. It started when Columbia led 73-68 with 29 seconds left after a pair of made free throws.
Then Cannady needed only four seconds to go end to end and float in a shot to make it a three-point game again. Then, after Columbia made one and missed one to go up 74-70, Cannady caught the ball in transition, took a step back to make sure he was outside the arc and the swished a three, making it 74-73 with 11 seconds left.

Columbia then scored on a layup, making it 76-73. Was it over? Hardly.

That's when Cannady made his most startling, did-he-just-do-that play, dribbling up and without flinching launching one from way beyond the three-point line. Swish. Game tied, to overtime.

That was eight points in 25 seconds. Can anyone top that?

Anyway, those would be the two games and two individual performances that stand out most to TB from the year 2016.

Feel free to disagree.

Monday, December 26, 2016

And The Award For Best Picture Goes To ...

It was a little before 11 Saturday night, and so TigerBlog did what he does every Christmas Eve at that time.

He teared up.

Why? By now, you know why.

It's because "It's A Wonderful Life" was ending. George had already realized he was never getting out of Bedford Falls. He already figured out that the money was gone. He was ready to jump off the bridge - until Clarence appeared at just the right time, just to show him what would have happened had he never been born.

And so, reborn in a sense, George skipped happily through the snow-covered streets of his hometown, knowing that there wasn't good news waiting for him in his old drafty house. Only this time, he was the one that everyone else helped. Suddenly the money wasn't an issue. Suddenly he wasn't going to jail. Instead, it was a celebration of George Bailey, complete with Christmas caroling, laughter and the whole town.

And wine. And with the win came a toast. And who better to make it than Harry Bailey, who flew up from New York City all the way in a blizzard.

And even though TigerBlog knew what the toast was going to be, he still couldn't help but having the same reaction he always does.

"To my big brother George - the richest man in town."

It gets TigerBlog every single time.

Maybe it's because the whole scene is so perfectly done. Here's a man who has spent his entire life helping everyone else in the town, and now the roles were reversed. George was a proud man, and he would the last one who would ever ask for help. It probably never dawned on him that the whole thing could have been taken care of with one phone call to Sam Wainwright.

His wife, in an act of desperation, went to a few people in the town, and it all just grew from there. Eventually, George had to realize how much they all loved him and that Bedford Falls was more than just the town in which he lived. He was the town's heart and soul, and they all knew it.

His brother merely pointed out the obvious. George was the richest man in town.

TigerBlog hopes everyone had a good Christmas or that Hanukkah got off to a good start. For all of the Christmas music he listened to and all the Christmas lights he saw on houses everywhere, it still never felt like Christmas to TB.

Now it's come and gone. And as it does at this time every year, it begins the sprint from Christmas to New Year's.

Now everything goes from the religious and cultural to the pure celebratory that comes with New Year's Eve, and the hope and promise of a new year on the horizon.

Oh, and the look back on the year that is ending.

In college sports, years happen in academic terms, not calendar terms, so this is basically the middle of a year, 2016-17. Still, that doesn't stop people in college athletics from reviewing what has happened in the soon-to-be-over calendar year.

At the end of this week, TigerBlog will have, as he does every other year, the top moments in Princeton Athletics from the year 2016.

In addition, there will also be the top plays of the year, a video that will be up this week.

And also this week, there will be the 10 best pictures of the year. They're not pictures of the top moments. They're the best pictures themselves.

TigerBlog will be posting two of them per day, each day this week, counting down from 10 to one. They'll be on the Princeton Athletics Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Of course, the best picture of anything to do with Princeton Athletics in 2016 was the one of TigerBlog as he neared the end of the zipline from Spain to Portugal. You remember that picture, right?

No? You can see it HERE.

Okay, okay. Maybe it wasn't the best picture of Princeton Athletics.

When TigerBlog first started at Princeton, the goal was to get one or two pictures of each athlete during the course of a year, mostly to use in the following year's media guide. That meant getting a game or two during an entire season photographed.

These days, there's a need for pictures from as many games as possible. Actually, it would good to have one of every event, which is more than 600 each year.

It made for a fun project, to pick the best ones. The first two, Nos. 10 and 9, will be up today, and the rest will be up the rest of the week.

By the way, "It's A Wonderful Life" was nominated for six Academy Awards and won one, for the technical achievement of simulating snow fall, as in when George ran through the streets at the end. It lost four of those awards - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Editing - to "The Best Years of Our Lives," another all-time TigerBlog favorite, though not one that makes TB cry.

Friday, December 23, 2016

It's Time For Christmas

TigerBlog laughed out loud twice yesterday before 10 am. That's a pretty good start to a day.

The first was when he was watching a rerun of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." That Lou Grant. He was one funny guy.

That was around 8 or so. It was less than two hours later that it was Greg Paczkowski's turn.

Greg is Princeton's Associate Director of Athletics for Facilities. He's a really hard-working, no-task-too-small, behind-the-scenes guy, the kind that any good organization needs if it's going to have any chance of being successful.

He can also be funny. Like yesterday.

See for yourself:

That's really, really funny. Like, one of the funniest things TB has seen in a long time.

The "suspect," of course, is the Grinch himself. Today is the 23rd, which makes it two days before Christmas.

It certainly doesn't feel like Christmas to TigerBlog. He's not sure why. It's certainly been cold enough of late.

Maybe it's because the Christmas season itself starts earlier and earlier each year and so maybe it seems like it is never ending. Maybe it's because Hanukkah hasn't started yet - it begins tomorrow night at sundown - and it usually has come and gone long before Christmas arrives.

Maybe it's because TB hasn't seen one Christmas show this year, not even Charlie Brown and his little tree.

As TigerBlog says every year, he likes Christmas as much as any Jewish guy out there. He's a big fan of the music, the movies, the Christmas episodes of TV shows. He can recite "A Visit From St. Nicholas" from memory (you know it. That's the one that starts "Twas the night before Christmas."- or at least he used to be able to; these days, he probably would get some of it out of order (though he definitely can still recite the entire "Cat In The Hat").

TigerBlog offers this up again, as he did a year ago:

His favorite Christmas movie is "It's a Wonderful Life," especially the part at the end that always, always makes him tear up. You know, when Harry makes his toast for George. You can see it HERE.

"To my big brother George, the richest man in town." That always gets TB.

One of the best traditions this time of year is the 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" on TBS. The movie is hilarious, and it's really a series of unrelated scenes tied together loosely, which makes it perfect for checking in and out over the course of 24 hours.

Yeah, yeah, TigerBlog knows. He says the same thing about Christmas every year.

He posts the same links to the same clips. You know, like the one from "It's a Wonderful Life." And these:

* the end scene from "A Christmas Story"

* bonus scene from the same movie

* Judy Garland sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" in "Meet Me In St. Louis"

* Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree

* you'll love this one

* you'll love this one too

That last one goes hand-in-hand with Greg's text from yesterday morning.

Princeton Athletics is a very secular undertaking, which is how it should be.

Christmas, of course, is a federal holiday, as well as a Christian holiday. Princeton Athletics stops for Christmas in a way that it doesn't stop for anything else other than first semester exams.

The men's basketball team defeated Bucknell last night 72-70. It was a good win for the Tigers, over a team that came in 8-4 overall and a perfect 4-0 at home. Princeton was in control pretty much throughout, even if the Bison never really went away and fought all the way to the end, which is actually a pretty good thing for Princeton.

The Tigers were led by Devin Cannady (19 points, seven rebounds), Steven Cook (17 points, seven rebounds) and Spencer Weisz (eight points, 11 rebounds, five assists), with big supporting roles by a few others, especially Myles Stephens. That, by the way, is a winning sentence for Princeton basketball as it looks ahead to the 2017 Ivy League schedule.

The next Princeton Athletic event isn't until this coming Wednesday, when the men's basketball team hosts Hampton (tip is at 5). TigerBlog will be back on the radio for that game, along with Patrick McCarthy; their first broadcast together went pretty well, if TB says so himself.

That's not just the next basketball game. That's the next Princeton Athletic event for any sport. That's five straight days with no events.

The schedule doesn't stop for any other Christian holidays, or holidays of other religions. TigerBlog has been at Princeton games on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (fasting of course), Ramadan, Easter - basically any other religious holiday. And Thanksgiving.

Never on Christmas, which, for this year, is just two days away. Even if it doesn't seem like it. Maybe it's because Christmas Eve is a Saturday and Christmas is a Sunday?

Princeton Athletics will be back shortly.

For this weekend, it's Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Thousand Thoughts

TigerBlog begins today with the answer to the question posed about any other times Princeton men's basketball had a game where two players had at least 26 points.

Here is the list (thanks to research from TigerBlog colleague Andrew Borders):
1963: Bill Bradley (26) & Art Hyland (27), Dartmouth  
1963: Bill Bradley (34) & Art Hyland (26), Brown
1969: John Hummer (32) & Geoff Petrie (31), Indiana 
1971: Ted Manakas (27) & Brian Taylor (26), Dartmouth 
1971: Bill Sickler (26) & Brian Taylor (26), Cornell  
2006: Scott Greenman (27) & Noah Savage (28), Cornell
2016: Steven Cook (30) & Devin Cannady (26), Monmouth

Cook and Cannady did so in Tuesday night's game. That marked only the second time in the last 45 years it's been done.

If you think of all the great players who have played at Princeton in the last 45 years, then that's really saying something. Even with the changes in the pace at which the game is played (first the advent of the shot clock, then the reduction of the shot clock to its current 30 seconds), on any given night in the last 45 years a set of Princeton teammates could have both started dropping in shots.

Kit Mueller and Sean Jackson? Gabe Lewullis and Brian Earl? Steve Goodrich and Mitch Henderson? Bob Scrabis and Joe Scott? Rick Hielscher and Chris Mooney? Nope.

TigerBlog actually thought it might have been Judson Wallace and Will Venable, but that wasn't right either.

Cook's 30-point outburst left him with 892 for his career. He would need to average 7.2 per game to get to 1,000 for his career by the end of the regular season, with his first chance to get to 900 tonight at Bucknell (7 pm tip).

Cook, should he get there, would be the 32nd player in program history to reach 1,000 points for his career. The 31st was Spencer Weisz, who did so earlier this month in Hawaii, and who now has 1,023, one away from T.J. Bray for 29th place.

Cannady, by the way, is closing in on the halfway mark, with 468 points in less than a year and a half. 

As TB thought about it, he wondered how many of those on the list did so in three years. The answer is, interestingly, 16; that would be half the number if Cook reaches the list.

The first 1,000-point scorer at Princeton was Bud Haabestad, who graduated in 1955. In the next 23 years, Princeton would have 15 more 1,000-point scorers, all of whom played three seasons.

Since then, Princeton has had another 15 1,000-point scorers - in 39 seasons.

What does this say? It's pretty interesting to TigerBlog.

On the one hand, the ones who played only three years all played with no shot clock or three-point shot. With no shot clock, the thought would be that games were played at a slower pace, which is what brought about the shot clock itself.

On the other hand, Pete Carril, in his 29 years at Princeton, was all about controlling tempo and pace. At Princeton, at least, the 29 year prior to his arrival were played at a much faster rate.

It makes TB wonder what Princeton basketball would have looked like under a 30-second shot clock at Carril. Could they even have co-existed at all?

Butch van Breda Kolff coached three 1,000-point scorers at Princeton and only one who played more than half his career for van Breda Kolff. The two who played one season for Butch were Art Hyland and Chris Thomforde.

The one who played more than half his career for Butch was of course Bill Bradley, the all-time leading scorer at Princeton with 2,503. The 1964-65 team is the second-highest scoring team in school history, but Bradley was the only one on the team who would reach 1,000 points for his career.

TigerBlog was in attendance when maybe 10 of the 31 Princeton 1,000-point men's scorers got there. He remembers three of them more than any of the others.

One was Chris Mooney, now the Richmond head coach, who reached the 1,000-point mark at Yale in 1994. What stands out to TB is that it gave Mooney 1,000 points in 100 games, en route to 1,071 points in 107 games.

Another was when Sydney Johnson got there and did so in style. Johnson had 996 points when he nailed a three-pointer, was fouled and then made the foul shot.

The third was Gabe Lewullis, who did so in Hawaii at the 1998 Rainbow Classic, which Princeton won with wins over Florida State, Texas and UNC Charlotte. TigerBlog went to the public address announcer and mentioned that Lewullis was two short of 1,000. Would he make an announcement? Sure, he said.

And so at the next media timeout, after Lewullis had gotten there, he made the announcement. TigerBlog wasn't sure how the laid back Hawaiian crowd would react, but they gave him a long, loud standing ovation.

And that's 828 words without ever getting to what TB was going to write about today, which was going to have something to do television shows. Oh well. He'll have to wait for those for another day.

In the meantime, it's Princeton at Bucknell tonight. TigerBlog hasn't yet played head coach Mitch Henderson in ping pong yet, though TB did practice in the Jadwin lobby yesterday morning.

It left him less than optimistic about his chances of winning. Oh well. He'll do his best and see what happens. No stress. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Drawing Mitch

Perhaps you remember the times TigerBlog has written about the Dillon Gym ping-pong tournament?

There have been two of them, and field hockey assistant coach Mike Pallister has won both of them. TigerBlog has seen Pallister play, and it's not surprising that he's the champ.

The quick scouting report on Pallister is this: he's tall, he's athletic, he has long arms, he's super aggressive and he's super competitive.

TigerBlog has never seen Mitch Henderson play ping pong, but he's going with the same scouting report. He's not sure why. He just is.

Why is TigerBlog interested in Henderson's ping-pong ability? It's because this year, there will also be a Jadwin Gym ping-pong tournament.

The draw for this tournament came out yesterday, and TigerBlog drew Henderson in the first round. The always-optimistic TB will be confident heading into the match, though he has a sense Henderson is really good.

TigerBlog's ping-pong mentor was a girl named Joni Meister, way, way, way back in the day, at Camp Toledo. TB is talking a long time ago.

Joni Meister was, as TB recalls, the best ping-pong player there. She never, ever went for a winner. She just steadily returned each shot, endlessly, with her left hand behind her back, and eventually her opponent would miss.

Maybe TB should haven't said that. You know, don't want to give away the game plan to Mitch. On the other hand, TB might be too impatient to play "Meister-Ball" the whole time.

Mitch's team played at Monmouth last night, falling 96-90 in what was objectively a very entertaining game to watch. And the listen to. And a game that was played at a very high level throughout.

TigerBlog alternated between the ESPN3 telecast and the WPRB radio broadcast, and both announcing teams were excellent. Derek Jones and Noah Savage continue to do a tremendous job on the Princeton games, and the ESPN3 guys, whom TB has never heard before, were also really good.

The game did also make a little history, though it's probably little consolation for the Tigers. Princeton's 90 points in the game marked the first time in program history that the team had scored 90 points in a game and lost. It was also the second game in program history, after a 94-92 win over Rutgers in 1960 in overtime, were both teams reached 90 points.

Princeton was done in by a 16-0 Monmouth run in the second half, which happened to correspond with the only point in the game where TB was neither watching nor listening. In fact, when he turned the game back on, he said "wow" out loud to nobody.

Despite the loss, Princeton did get big-time performances by Steven Cook (30 points) and Devin Cannady (26 points), who each put up career highs. The Tigers have a quick turnaround, with a trip to Bucknell tomorrow night.

TigerBlog's main takeaway from the game? This is the kind of December loss that can turn into wins in February.

In other Princeton news, the women's basketball team hosts Wagner. Tip is again at 6, and this marks the fourth straight week that Jadwin will host a Wednesday game that tips at either 5 (men's game last week) or 6 (three women's games).

TigerBlog loves them. So do all of the fans have who have attended them.

The last meeting between Princeton and Wagner was a 75-49 Seahawks win back on Nov. 13, 2007. Courtney Banghart was already Princeton's head coach, and she had exactly zero career wins heading into that game.

Banghart has won 196 since then, and she has taken Princeton to six NCAA tournaments in the last seven years.

One of the most fascinating things about her record at Princeton is that she started out 16-37 in her first 53 games, with a winning percentage of .302. Since then, she is 180-42, for a winning percentage of .818.

That's quite a turnaround.

What else for today?

Oh yeah, TB wanted to make sure you saw the video from the men's hockey team's game against Minnesota State-Mankato from Friday night that his colleague John Bullis put together.

You can see it HERE.

TB loves this video. It shows exactly what it's like to be part of the men's hockey team on a game night, from arrival at Baker Rink to the final horn.

Oh, and Princeton has done something wild for the last three weekends: It's had the Division I leader in points. First it was Max Véronneau, who did it twice, and then this past weekend it was Jackson Cressey.

The men's hockey team is done for 2016, so that streak will end this weekend.

As for 2016, Princeton has nine remaining events in the calendar year, with only the women's basketball game tonight and the men's basketball game tomorrow before Christmas.

And TB will let you know how he does against Mitch. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hooping In West Long Branch

Miss TigerBlog drove up to the traffic light, which was red. She sort of slowed down at least before making a right turn.

TigerBlog, in the passenger seat had already looked over and saw no traffic was coming. He pointed out to MTB that, before making a right on red, she actually had to come to a complete stop.

Her response left him baffled, and a bit concerned. "I thought it was green," she said.

How exactly is that possible? Scary. Very scary.

MTB is a little more than two months away from taking her driver's test. She'll be fine. She'll get her license and all, and then about 20 minutes after she first goes to drive somewhere, she'll be completely lost, even if it's in her own neighborhood.

Oh well.

TigerBlog got his driver's license at the Motor Vehicle office in Eatontown, on Route 36. In New Jersey, your driver's test is on a closed course, and TB was able to negotiate it fairly easily, as he recalls.

Eatontown is the next town from Long Branch, along the northern part of the Jersey Shore. The most famous thing that ever happened in Long Branch was that President James Garfield died there after being shot in 1881.

Long Branch was one of the first major shore towns in New Jersey in the 1800s, but by the time TB was in high school, it seemed like a bit of a forgotten area, along with Asbury Park. Today, both areas have been rebuilt in an extraordinary fashion, one that takes a visitor completely by surprise after being away from either for a few decades.

Today the Long Branch waterfront is a vibrant area, with a nice boardwalk, a major hotel/resort and a great little shopping area with restaurants and such. It's definitely worth a trip there these days, even if it isn't the summer.

Princeton will be making the short drive there today, but not to hang out on the beach. Nope, Princeton is there for what figures to be a really, really good men's basketball game.

Actually, Princeton will technically be in West Long Branch, on the campus of Monmouth University, to take on the Hawks. Tip-off tonight at the OceanFirst Bank Center is at 7.

The OceanFirst Bank Center, by the way, opened in 2009 and seats 4,100. TigerBlog has never been there, but he hears it is very nice.

Monmouth, if you've been paying attention to college basketball the last two years, is for real. The Hawks rose to fame a year ago because of the celebration antics of the guys on the end of the bench, but that overshadowed that those guys have had a lot to celebrate.

Here's a list of some schools Monmouth beat last year: UCLA, USC, Notre Dame and Georgetown. So far this year, Monmouth is 9-2 overall (2-0 in the MAAC) and riding an eight-game winning streak, with the most recent win last Tuesday at Memphis. It's only losses are to South Carolina and Syracuse.

Princeton is playing the first of two road games this week, with a game at Bucknell set for Thursday.

The Tigers will be playing for the first time since the announcement that Henry Caruso will miss he remainder of the season due to a toe injury. Caruso is the second major piece of Princeton's lineup to be out for the rest of the year, after the announcement a week earlier that Hans Brase would be out after reinjuring his knee.

Between the two, they combined for 3,740 minutes and 1,553 points.

Caruso, by the way, is one of TB's favorite kinds of players, the one who is a bit undersized (6-4, 190) but who can be an unstoppable scorer anyway. He just has a knack for putting the ball in the hoop, witness the 1,453 he scored in high school.

It took him a little while to work his way into the lineup, but once he did, he delivered. In fact, he led Princeton in scoring, rebounding and steals a year ago, earning first-team All-Ivy League honors to boot. 

Princeton's biggest strengths last year and the beginning of this have included its depth and the fact that no one player had to be the star night after night after night. On any given night, it could be any one of maybe eight or nine players who could go off.

In fact, if you had asked TigerBlog who is the one player the team could not afford to lose, the answer was never really clear. There were a lot of interchangeable parts, and the result of that was that no player was the definitive No. 1.

It's a testament to that depth that even without Brase and Caruso, Princeton still has a whole rotation of experienced players. The starting lineup has shifted a bit, and it could still shift some more before Princeton heads down the heart of the Ivy League season, with an eye on the first Ivy tournament in March.

Tonight's game isn't about any of that. It's another chance to play another very good opponent, and do so not that far from home.

In West Long Branch.

Go early, and check out the Long Branch boardwalk area and one of the restaurants that has been built there.

TigerBlog highly recommends it.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Hey, Jerry, Sometimes You Talk Too Much

Back in August, TigerBlog wrote about the most romantic moments in movie history.

If you forgot about it, you can read it HERE.

Either that, or he can just say that his top three were:

* the end of "Notting Hill," where Hugh Grant goes to the press conference to win Julia Roberts back
* the scene in "The Best Years Of Our Lives" where Homer shows Wilma what every day life is like without his hands and she only falls more in love with him
* and of course, when Richard Gere literally sweeps Debra Winger off her feet at the end of "An Officer And A Gentleman"

TigerBlog was flipping around the TV yesterday morning when he stumbled on the last scene of another movie, and he cannot believe that 1) he didn't remember it back in August and 2) that nobody pointed this one out to him.

As TigerBlog got to the channel, the cab was just pulling up in front of Dorothy's house, and out popped Jerry Maguire. Then he walked into the house and proceeded to say, first, "hello," and then follow that up with why Dorothy shouldn't give up on him.

Jerry went on from there and started doing what it is he has a tendency to do - talk too much. It didn't matter though. She was already so in love with him that it didn't really matter what he was saying, talking about how she completes him and all. He'd already made his point.

So what did she say?

"Shut up. Shut up." And then? You know what she said.

"You had me at 'hello.' "

Watch it HERE. You know you love it.

TigerBlog had actually just finished watching Episode 6 of "Good Behavior" on demand before he saw the end of Jerry Maguire. That's a really good show, if you haven't seen it yet.

It's been a big month of TV for TigerBlog. He still hasn't talked about the "Gilmore Girls" sequel yet, and then he's seen two other shows too. He'll follow up on those in the next few days.

Why not? It's a slow time of the athletic year.

Christmas is right around the corner. There are only three athletic events this week - men's basketball at Monmouth tomorrow and Bucknell Thursday and women's basketball home with Wagner in another Wednesday at 6 start.

As you know, TigerBlog loves the earlier midweek starts. The 5 pm tip for St. Joe's was great, as have the three Wednesday at 6 women's games.

This past weekend, the men's hockey team played its final games of the 2016 calendar year. To say that Princeton ended on an upswing would be an understatement.

As of Thanksgiving, Princeton had a record of 1-18-4 for the calendar year of 2016. Its only win was a 1-0 win back in January against American International.

For the 2016-17 season, Princeton was 0-6-1. Then Thanksgiving came and went.

Now the Tigers are a different team. In the first 23 games of 2016, Princeton scored a total of 40 goals. Of those 40 goals, 13 came in the first seven games of this season.

Since Thanksgiving, Princeton has been playing a different team.

The Tigers have played 10 games since Thanksgiving and have gone 7-2-1. TigerBlog saw a note last week that said going into Thanksgiving, Princeton was the only winless team in Division I men's hockey and that since Thanksgiving the Tigers had the most wins in Division I.

What's most amazing is that Princeton's wins have come against some of the best teams in the country. Princeton has five wins in that stretch against teams who were ranked, including four against teams in the Top 10 - two each against Bemidji State and Quinnipiac.

Princeton has been scoring goals at a much different rate of late.

In fact, Princeton has scored 39 goals in the 10 games since Thanksgiving, or one fewer than in the 23 other games in this calendar year. If you want to go by averages, then Princeton went from 1.74 goals per game in the first 23 to 3.9 (that's more than twice as many) in the last 10.

This past weekend, Princeton hosted Minnesota State-Mankato, who came to Baker Rink ranked 19th. Princeton promptly won 6-1 Friday night and then lost 5-4 Saturday night in a game that saw Princeton twice rally from a two-goal deficit to tie things, before the Mavericks won on a third-period goal.

Still, that's 10 more goals in two games. And this is with a young team.

TigerBlog is not a hockey guy. He likes to watch the games, though, and he can say that there was nothing fluky about the wins over Quinnipiac or the way Princeton played this weekend. This team is getting there.

What happened to flip the switch? TB has no idea.

Princeton has four games in January before exams, four big games, with a trip to Dartmouth and Harvard and then a home weekend with Colgate and Cornell. Princeton went 0-3-1 against those four the first time around.

Regardless, Princeton is on the verge, it seems, of taking a giant step forward in men's hockey. It's Year 3 of the Ron Fogarty era, and it seems like it's starting to click.

TigerBlog once read a story about Hobey Baker that referred to him as "the most romantic figure in the history of American college sports." For some reason, that description has always stuck with TB.

Maybe it's because he's such a romantic guy himself.

Anyway, the word to describe the men's team that plays in the rink named for Hobey Baker might not be romantic.

Exciting? Yes? Surging? Yes.


Even better. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Let's Fly Away

You know how you know you got up really early one morning?

If, like TigerBlog did once, you got up in the Princeton area, got dressed, went to Philadelphia airport, got on a plane, flew to Kansas City (the one in Missouri), drove an hour to Lawrence (the one in Kansas) - and still got to the hotel in time for the breakfast buffet?

That's getting up early.

That was 17 years ago, when Princeton played men's basketball out at the famous Allen Field House at the University of Kansas. It was a pretty good game, even if KU won 82-67.

Chris Young was the best player on the court, with 20 points (or twice as many as future NBA players Kirk Heinrich and Nick Collison combined to score that night), six rebounds and five assists. C.J. Chapman was 5 for 8 from three-point range for 15 points.

Air travel at this time in those years was standard for TigerBlog. That same year, 1999, he flew to Charlotte and even Nova Scotia for games. A year earlier, the destinations included Ames, Iowa, and Honolulu (something of a contrast). The next year, it was Muncie, Indiana, and New Orleans.

And it was all because of Princeton basketball.

If you work at Princeton, you can certainly see the world. And the country. TigerBlog knows this. So do his co-workers.

As TigerBlog writes this, it's gotten him to wondering when the first time a Princeton team flew to an away game was. The first time Princeton played men's basketball at a location where the current team would go by airplane was Dec. 30, 1920, when the team played at the University of Chicago.

A little less than two years later, the football team would play one of its most famous games ever, also at the University of Chicago. TigerBlog is assuming train for both of those trips.

The 1926-27 Tigers played three straight games around New Year's at Ohio State, Kentucky and Cincinnati. In none of those three games, by the way, did any team score more than 33 points. Again, TB is thinking train.

The 1940-41 Tigers, under Cappy Capon by then, played five games in a 10-day stretch spanning the end of December and the beginning of January - at Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Chicago. Anyone want to try that now?

Were people flying to the Midwest instead of taking the train by then?

Anyway, there's no way to know when Princeton first flew. TB does know that Princeton teams do a lot of flying these days.

Just look at where the Office of Athletic Communications staff has been in the last two months alone.

By TB's estimate, he and his Office of Athletic Communications colleagues have flown more than 60,000 miles total in that time (and that doesn't count the trip to Italy and back that Andrew Borders took with men's basketball in the summer). That, by the way, is equal to 2.5 times around the Earth at the equator.

Each member of the office has been to at least one far-away place (TigerBlog went to Portugal, if you remember) except for Warren Croxton, and he is heading off today with women's basketball for a game at Kansas State (a more-than-2,000-mile round trip).

TigerBlog likes to fly. Well, maybe he doesn't like to fly, but he likes to have flown somewhere. Does anyone really like to actually fly?

What TB really doesn't like is the long, long wait at the airport before he gets on his flight. Sometimes he gets a little antsy. Back when he was doing all that flying with men's basketball, you could get to the airport an hour before the flight and be fine.

Now, obviously, you have to be there hours and hours in advance, especially for international flights. When TB went to Portugal, the team got to Kennedy Airport more than four hours before the plane left, so early that the team couldn't even check its luggage yet.

TB missed a flight once. That was for Bill Carmody's first game as Princeton head coach, at Indiana. TigerBlog, along with Tom McCarthy (radio play-by-play) and Mark Eckel (sportswriter), were to fly on the day of the game to Indianapolis from Newark, except a major truck accident on the New Jersey Turnpike made the three of them late.

As they sprinted  to the gate, they got to see the plane as it backed away. The gate agent didn't agree with TigerBlog that the plane should come back and get them, even though it hadn't gone more than 20 feet or so by that point. TB ran through the airport carrying a box of media guides, by the way. It was quite a workout.

Oh, and as for the game, they got there in plenty of time - after they drove down the Turnpike to Philadelphia Airport to get a flight from there.

The worst turbulence he's ever experienced was on a flight back from Princeton's game in 1997 at North Carolina. That was about 30 minutes of just awful bouncing all over the place, up and down, even side to side. TB didn't exactly love that.

His old next-door neighbor was a pilot for Pan Am for 40 years. When TigerBlog would tell him where Princeton was flying next, his neighbor - Bill - would tell him the route that they'd be taking, what runway they'd probably land on, what way they'd approach the destination, how deep the ocean was in the area, what they'd see along the way.

Bill also shrugged off ever having to worry about turbulence. The wings of the plane, he explained, are designed to bend to almost 90 degrees, and the pilots just keep chatting with each other no matter how bad the turbulence.

Bill once told TB about a time he was flying to Tokyo and was two hours out over the Pacific from San Francisco when he lost two engines on a 747. Oh no, TB said. What did you do? Bill looked at him with a quizzical look and said "well, I turned around."

TigerBlog was flying back on a snowy night once from a tournament in Iowa. As the plane was reaching Philadelphia, it started to go through turbulence. The pilot came on the intercom and said this: "you think this is bad? I can tell you stories."Then, as the plane was closer, he said that it was snowy in Philadelphia and he hates landing in snow because "then I have to clear it off my car. Landing the plane? That's no problem."

TB liked that.

He can't imagine how many miles he's flown in his time here. He has been with Princeton teams in eight different time zones, he knows that.

TigerBlog is definitely a window-seat guy.
He likes to try to figure out where he is - something made easier these days by in-flight maps on the seat back displays, along with movies and TV shows. He likes the landmarks, especially flying over a big stadium.

He likes to look out and see the world around him. Day or night. Land or ocean. Clear or cloudy. He likes to look out and see what he can see and imagine what's going on down there.

It's a pretty big world out there. Working here has made it a little smaller.

It's been a really, really special part of the job.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hey, Coach Danowski, Who's Your Favorite Athlete Of All-Time?

Today's story begins at one of the NCAA men's lacrosse Final Fours in Philadelphia. Or maybe it was Foxboro.

It doesn't matter. Hey, this story isn't even about lacrosse, so if you're thinking "another lacrosse story? I'll skip today," don't.

This story is about Duke men's lacrosse coach John Danowski. If you've ever met anyone who has ever met him, they'll swear up and down that he is a great guy.

TigerBlog has met him but doesn't really know him well at all. He can say that Danowski comes across as what everyone says he is.

Anyway, that day at the Final Four, TigerBlog was getting ready to work, as he always does. It was either the day before the semifinals or early on the day of the semifinals, and a friend of his - whose husband had been TigerBlog Jr.'s first high school coach - wanted to see if she could get her picture taken with Danowski. When he agreed, she sort of leaned up next to him, unsure if she should put her arm around him or just stand next to him. Before she could figure it out, Danowski put his arms around her and hugged her, and in the picture, he is smiling wider than she is.

TB has a sense that that story pretty much defines how Danowski is.

TigerBlog has a similar story about Dick Vitale and former Princeton OAC intern Vinnie DiCarlo, by the way.

Danowski was featured with a Q&A in the current issue of "Lacrosse Magazine." If you don't get it, ask Princeton men's soccer coach Jim Barlow to borrow his. TB is reasonably sure Barlow is a subscriber.

It's a typical Q&A. Some light questions. Some deeper. What's your favorite sports movie? What did you want to be when you grew up? If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? What's most important for a lacrosse team to be successful? That kind of stuff.

The first one is this: Who's your favorite athlete?

And what did Danowski say? Keep in mind, this is Duke's men's lacrosse coach.

That's right. Bill Bradley. The full response: "There are so many great ones. I had a lot of men that I idolized, but Bill Bradley is my favorite. He played for the Knicks - a Rhodes Scholar, Princeton graduate."

TigerBlog would not have guessed that Danowski would say Bill Bradley, who led Princeton to the 1965 NCAA Final Four and is, for TigerBlog's money, the greatest athlete in school history. Just as a reminder, in three years, Bradley scored 2,503 points (with no three-point line), a figure that is still 878 points more than the second-best total (by Ian Hummer). Bradley has the 11 best single-game points totals in program history, and never, ever in his three-year varsity career scored fewer than 16 points in a game.

That last one is the most nuts, TB supposes.

So yeah, that's not a lacrosse story. It's a Princeton basketball story.

Speaking of Princeton basketball, the Tigers hosted St. Joe's yesterday, with tip-off at 5.

As with any St. Joe's game, the Hawk was there. If there's a school out there that takes more pride in its mascot than St. Joe's, it's hard to imagine who it is.

You've heard it before. The Hawk Will Never Die. And there was the Hawk, the entire game, as always, wearing the costume that looks like maroon feathers over tan pantyhose, flapping its wings the entire game. This is a student, a full scholarship student by the way, who flaps and flaps and flaps, never stopping, ever. You have to admire that.

As for the game itself, St. Joe's rallied past the Tigers 76-68 on the strength of a late 11-0 run that turned a three-point Princeton lead at the under-four media timeout into a Hawk win. Princeton's next two games are on the road, at Monmouth Tuesday and Bucknell next Thursday.

TigerBlog loves the early starts on weekdays. Does everyone else? Attendance was 2,360 for the game (televised on ESPNU). What would it have been with a start time of 7?

Regardless of start time, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson - who reached 100 career wins in the victory over Liberty last weekend - used nine players, all of whom went at least 10 minutes. Four players were in double figures, led by Devin Cannady with 17. Princeton also took 62 shots in the game, of which 31 were three-pointers and 31 were two-pointers.

The stat line TigerBlog would like to mention was that of Spencer Weisz, who came very, very close to doing something no Princeton player has ever done.

Weisz, who recently went over 1,000 career points, had 10 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. No Princeton player has ever had a triple-double. That's about as close as anyone has come.

Well, maybe Bill Bradley did it. Probably a few times. It's just that assists weren't kept until the 1974-75 season as an official stat.

And that's it for today.

See? No lacrosse.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Basketball Game Starts At 5. Got It?

Before TigerBlog says anything else today, he would like start off with this public service messge:


It's a change from the original two start times, and it was moved for ESPNU. So here's the deal: If you're close enough to Princeton to come to the game, then do so. If not, watch it on ESPNU.

At 5.

So you have that straight? Good. You have no excuse for being late.

Speaking of a 5 pm tip, TigerBlog loves it. In fairness, it could be because the game is played four floors above his office, which makes travel time to the game easy. He's loved the Princeton women's team's 6 pm Wednesday starts as well, and attendance has been strong for those game.

TB is interested in the game. He's also interested in what the attendance will be. In a lot of ways, starting at that time could be better than a conventional start at 7. Come to the game, and you're home early.

When TB first started covering Princeton basketball, during the Pete Carril years, he's pretty sure most home games started at 8.

TigerBlog will get back to the basketball game shortly. First, a note about Forest Hills High School.

Art Garfunkel performed on campus yesterday, at Richardson Auditorium. TigerBlog wasn't there to see it, though he is a huge fan of Simon and Garfunkel. Actually, he's always been a bigger fan of Garfunkel.

The duo sang some of the greatest songs TigerBlog has ever heard. If TB were to make a list of his 50 favorite songs of all time, there is no doubt that "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "The Sounds of Silence" would make the list. Maybe even top 25.

Those are not the only great songs the two created. Nope, there are lots of them, familiar classics like "Mrs. Robinson," "The Boxer," "America," "Scarborough Fair" and many, many others.

Simon and Garfunkel were one of TigerBlog's first musical favorites, and they remain so to the present. TB has always loved folk music, and nobody has ever done it better than Simon and Garfunkel.

Oh, and the two grew up together in Queens and both attended Forest Hills High, from which they  graduated in 1958. Perhaps they both had a shared crush on a girl one year ahead of them, whose name was Gail, but whom you know better as MotherBlog.

And that's your note about Forest Hills High School.

Anything else before the basketball game?

Princeton had the men's and women's hockey ECAC Player of the Week, with Max Véronneau of the men's team and Cassidy Tucker of the women's team honored. Both of Princeton's goalies earned ECAC honors too, as Colton Phinney was the Goalie of the Week and Steph Neatby was the Rookie of the Week.

When was the last time Princeton had the men's and women's Player of the Week for ECAC hockey? That's right - it was Jan. 16, 2006. Extra credit if you remembered that it was Grant Goeckner-Zoeller for the men and Sarah Butch for the women.

Oh, and thanks to TB's former colleague Yariv Amir for looking that up for him.

And so now TigerBlog can turn his attention to the basketball game, which, as everyone knows, starts at 5. Not 7 or 8. Not 6. 


Princeton is playing its ninth game, but second at home and first at home against a Division I team, after its win over Rowan a few weeks ago. As you think back to that game, what leaps to mind is probably that Princeton scored 108 points, which also means that Princeton is averaging 108 points per game at home.

The opponent, St. Joe's, is exactly the kind of opponent Princeton fans love to see come to Jadwin. A Philadelphia Big 5 school that has made 21 NCAA appearances, including one in the second round a year ago, St. Joe's is close, storied, familiar and always good.

Both teams come into the game at 4-4. St. Joe's was 3-0 before losing four straight - to Ole Miss, N.C. State, Temple and Villanova - and then beating Drexel 72-71 Sunday.

Princeton has won two straight games, defeating Hawaii and Liberty. Those two games were played approximately 5,000 miles apart.

Princeton's next two road games aren't quite as far. They're actually easily driveable, with trips to Monmouth (Tuesday) and Bucknell (Thursday) before two more home games, against Hampton on Dec. 28 and Cal Poly on New Year's Eve afternoon.

Tonight (technically still this afternoon), it'll be Princeton-St. Joe's It should be a good one.

Oh, and one last thing for today.

Hans Brase, Princeton's senior big man, will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. For Hans, it means the end of his career here, after he also hurt his knee last year and missed the entire year.

Brase was a sure-fire 1,000-point scorer had he stayed healthy. Instead, he finishes with 863 points.

Here is what head coach Mitch Henderson had to say:
"Hans did everything he could to fight back from his injury and get healthy for this season. It is very difficult to go through a season-ending knee injury once, let alone to have it happen twice. This is very tough for him and it's hard to see him have to deal with this again. But Hans is such a large part of our team and our culture. And I look forward to him continuing to be a part of this team as we pursue our goals."

Henderson is right. It is really difficult to go through it once, let alone twice. TigerBlog didn't see the injury live, when Brase was hurt at VCU, but on the video it seemed like he knew it right away.

TigerBlog wishes Brase the best. He always represented Princeton well, and it's easy to tell that he is well-liked on the team.

It's not how he wanted to see his career end.

Or when.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Turning It Around At Baker Rink

If you could see one movie, any movie, that you've never seen before, what movie would it be?

TigerBlog has considered this difficult question for a long time. When he first started thinking in these terms, it was "Gone With The Wind," which he finally saw maybe 10 or so years ago for the first time (and thought it was great). After that, it was "The Shining," which he saw about two years ago for the first time (and didn't like at all).

Ever since, the movie at the top of the list was "Toy Story 3."

The third movie in the series was released in 2010, after "Toy Story" in 1995 and "Toy Story 2" in 1998. Perhaps because TB had little kids around the releases of those movies, he saw both, a lot, to the point of basically memorizing them.

Can you imagine the meeting that took place when the idea was first pitched? "So anyway, when the humans leave the room, the toys come to life." Actually, when TigerBlog writes that, it seems more like a horror movie than a comedy.

"Toy Story 2" is a solid B+ movie. The original is not quite an A+, but it's very, very close.

TB's favorite line for from "Toy Story?" It's when Buzz says "Did the hat look good? Tell me the hat looked good."

For some reason - maybe because his kids were a little older - he never saw "Toy Story 3." He'd heard it was tremendous, and he figured he'd see it for himself at some point.

That point came Saturday night, when he stumbled upon "Toy Story 3" when he was flipping through the guide. He gives this one a solid A, a little behind the first one but definitely better than the second. And the end of "Toy Story 3" is very, very well done.

Of course, TigerBlog could have lived without the dumpster. And the garbage truck. And the garbage dump. And the whole incinerator thing was spooky. At least the toys washed themselves off after. 

And Woody? That's one tough, smart cowboy doll. He definitely can think on his feet and makes very quick decisions. And he rolls his eyes very well, considering he has eyes that are sort of glued onto his face.

Oh, and think about it. What if the toys really do come to life when nobody is looking. How do you know they don't?

In reality it's a very tough balancing act to make the "Toy Story" movies work. If they're a little too much, adults wouldn't watch them, and the franchise has been built on being much more than kids' movies. Instead, they do a seriously great job of developing the characters, and the plots are very well thought out, with sharp dialogue and subtle humor - all while still being appealing to children because of the basic premise. They are really, really smart movies. 

Anyway, now that he's seen "Toy Story 3," the next movie up that he's never seen but most wants to is "The Princess Bride."

TB saw "Toy Story 3" after having Army-Navy football on television and Princeton-Quinnipiac men's hockey on the video stream during the afternoon.

Actually, Army-Navy football might be the sporting event that TB has never been to that he most wants to attend.

Princeton swept Quinnipiac, who came into the weekend ranked 7th. It was Princeton 5, Quinnipiac 3 at Baker Rink Friday night in a game that TB was at, and then it was a 4-1 Princeton win in Connecticut Saturday night.

In the "don't look now" category, Princeton is suddenly playing really, really good hockey.

Princeton began the season 0-6-1 before everything turned on almost a dime. Since then, the Tigers are 5-1-0, and four of those wins (the two against Quinnipiac and two against Bemidji State) came against teams who were ranked in the top 10 at the time.

Princeton has three more home games in this calendar year, and they all happen to be this week. The Tigers are home tonight against UMass before hosting Minnesota State-Mankato Friday and Saturday.

As for the ECAC, Princeton currently sits in seventh place, though it has played more games than the teams around it for the moment. That is hardly an issue, as the main thing for the Tigers is that they're establishing themselves and learning to finish games.

Princeton had the lead in the third period a few times during the 0-6-1 start. Now those leads are being held on to and expanded.

And this is being done with a young team.

Princeton has scored 38 goals for the year, of which two have come from seniors. Of Princeton's top 10 scorers, there are three freshmen, four sophomores, three juniors and no seniors.

The leading scorer is sophomore Max Véronneau, who had his second-straight seven-point weekend. TigerBlog isn't sure who holds the NCAA record for most shots faced in a career by a goalie, but Princeton's Colton Phinney has to be way up there on that list.

Princeton, at 5-7-1, has already equaled last year's victory total for the season and exceeded the total of the 2014-15 season. There was nothing fluky about Princeton's wins over Quinnipiac, any more than there was anything fluky about beating Bemidji when the Beavers were ranked 10th.

Even in the leanest of years, Baker Rink is still a great place to see a hockey game. With a team on the rise, it's an even better experience.

TigerBlog saw it Friday night. The fans were into it. There were young hockey fans everywhere. It gets loud. The pace is fast.

It's a rink that is ready to have a winner. Is Princeton there yet? No, not yet.

But it's a lot of fun to watch the turnaround going on at Baker Rink.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Guest TigerBlog - Tradition, And Susan Teeter

TigerBlog opened the middle console of his car last week, the one that TigerBlog Jr. had for six weeks, and found M&Ms. You know, those little packs they give out at Halloween.

TigerBlog took it as a sign that the universe was trying to tell him something. As he does whenever the universe is trying to tell him something, he went with it. 

And so he ate them. 

There were four of the packs, which translated at the time to the number of head coaches at Princeton who have been there longer than TigerBlog. Now, that number is cut by one, unlike the M&Ms, which was cut by four.

Susan Teeter, the head coach of women's swimming at Princeton, announced over the weekend that she'd be retiring at the end of the 2017 season. With Teeter's retirement, the three remaining head coaches who predate TB will be Fred Samara (men's track and field), Chris Sailer (women's lacrosse) and Rob Orr (men's swimming). Gail Ramsay (women's squash) started on the same day as TigerBlog.

To best represent what Susan Teeter has meant to Princeton Athletics, TigerBlog has turned again to his colleague Craig Sachson, who has been the swimming and diving contact for about half of Teeter's 33-year run at Princeton and who knows her as well as anyone.

Here's what he had to say:


It isn’t a catchy tagline for the Princeton women’s swimming and diving program. These Tigers don’t slap a hashtag in front of it, Instagram out a fun picture and go on with their day.

Tradition is a mantra, a way of life for this 22-time Ivy League championship program. It is a culture, developed for you to experience the highest level of success, demanded upon you to both put in the work to achieve, but also to leave a little piece of yourself that enhances the journey for those who come next.

Susan Teeter may be retiring, but so long as that tradition lives, she will never fully leave DeNunzio Pool.

Teeter announced that she would retire at the conclusion of the 2016-17 Princeton season. Her resumé — 222 wins, 22 All-America honors, 17 Ivy League titles — speaks for itself, but it also holds only a fraction of Teeter’s importance to generations of women who swam and dove in Orange and Black.

What so many of the Tigers who competed for her — and those of us fortunate enough to work with her — will remember most is what happened outside of the pool.

Alyson Goodner ’00 graduated the year Princeton began a five-year Ivy League championship streak. The night they clinched the title is one probably neither will ever forget.

Twelve years later, Goodner and Teeter shared another unforgettable day. This time, it was at the former’s wedding, which Teeter officiated (read the Alumni Weekly story HERE). Goodner is one of countless Tigers who continued to seek Teeter’s guidance — or simply her opinion — well after they traded a swimsuit for a diploma.

Make no mistake — Teeter is a fierce competitor. Swimming is a tough sport. You have seniors worried about theses and freshmen dealing with their first years away from home, each often training together twice a day during the winter — nothing like a frigid trek to DeNunzio before most of campus is even awake — with one target weekend marked on all their calendars.

You have different swimmers competing in different strokes, some who will never compete at Ivies, and others whose points you are absolutely dependent on that championship weekend. They must do more than co-exist for countless hours, going back-and-forth-and-back-again inside DeNunzio.

They must make each other better.

They must make the tradition better.

Since 2000, the work Princeton accomplished leading up to that weekend culminated in a championship twelve times. The rest of the Ivy League — all seven teams combined — has done it five times.

Teeter has coached both great teams and great individuals. None was better than Alicia Aemisegger, the 13-time All-America and 12-time Ivy League individual champion. Teeter didn’t make Aemisegger a great swimmer — she came to Princeton that way — but she mentored Aemisegger the way she did every other member of the program before, during, or after.

It made a difference. Just ask Aemisegger, whose experience here was so profound that she remains a leader of the PUCSDT Friends Group.

By the way, Aemisegger’s first collegiate meet for Princeton came 10 years and one month ago. It took place at the University of Michigan. You couldn’t find the results on that weekend. The Princeton football team won at Yale that same weekend — en route to a bonfire and Ivy title — and the volleyball team played for the Ivy title itself.

I covered both teams as well, and simply never posted the swim results. I got caught up in the moment and figured it could wait until Monday.

At 9 am that Monday morning, Teeter called me. She calmly, honestly and directly expressed her disappointment. Her team competed — including this freshman who would quickly rewrite the DeNunzio record board — and its efforts should have been shared.

No email, copied to others. No lingering anger. No talking behind my back.

A simple, honest phone call with a clear, direct message. After that, it was never mentioned again.

That was 121 months ago, and I can assure you that I’ve never posted a recap even a single day later than the result. Not just swimming — any team, any sport, any result.

That’s a small part of the impact Teeter made on me, though it made me better. I’ll remember the laughs, the strategy talks, the life conversations, the post-Ivies hugs before she jumped into the pool for yet another championship celebration.

Teeter will do great things next year and beyond. She’s a mentor, and she’ll make lives better. She took on that role recently with the women’s volleyball team — even dressing as the Tiger for one of their home matches during the past championship season — and she’ll continue to do so. She’ll make lives better. It will be her next victory.

It is Princeton’s loss, of course, but Teeter left a road map to success — in the pool, in the classroom, in your life.

Her legacy is Princeton’s tradition. It started before her, it will continue after her.

But it doesn’t happen without her.

Congratulations, Susan.

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Grand Night For Spencer Weisz

TigerBlog did not get a lot of sleep Tuesday night, so he knew the odds that he would make it all the way through the Princeton-Hawaii men's basketball game, with its tip after 9:30 Wednesday night, were pretty slim.

He thought maybe halftime at first. Then it became clearer that the second media timeout would be more likely.

He's not sure exactly when he drifted off. He does know two things: 1) Princeton was in control by then and 2) he heard the Princeton University institutional spot.

You know the one. It's the one that's on most TV games in which Princeton plays. The really, really well-narrated one.

Okay, it's TigerBlog who did the narrating. Whether it is award-winning or not, TigerBlog can state that he did it in one take. That has to mean something.

He did see the pregame show for the game.

It was Dec. 7, in Pearl Harbor, on the 75th anniversary of the attack that brought the U.S. into World War II. As TB watched Princeton, with its white long-sleeve shooting shirts on one end of the court, and Hawaii, in its green warmup at the other, his attention was diverted by something amazing on the bottom of the screen.

The game was on Fox Sports 1, and there was a crawl along the bottom, as there is for basically every sports or news channel. It's hard to focus on the crawl and the main part of the screen, and the viewer has to choose which to follow at any given moment.

In many ways, these crawls become nothing more than a distraction, since they are everywhere now. And they're usually just promotions of upcoming events on that network, or a repeat of scores or headlines that you've already seen.

Before the Princeton-Hawaii game, though, it was much different. It was an alphabetical scroll of names, and TB at first wasn't sure what it was. Then it hit him.

These were the names of those killed at Pearl Harbor 75 years earlier to the day.

TigerBlog isn't sure who came up with the idea for doing it. Whoever that person is, he/she deserves a lot of credit for doing it.

Of all of the remembrances for the Pearl Harbor attack that TB saw, this was by far the most powerful.

As for the game, Princeton made shots. It changes everything.

The Tigers were 6 for 26 from three-point range Tuesday night against Cal in a 62-51 loss. They were 10 for 24 from three against Hawaii in the 75-62 win Wednesday night.

In the thigs-that-are-interesting department, Hawaii and Cal both scored 62 points, and both shot exactly the same from three (4 for 19).

Spencer Weisz scored 17 points in the game, leaving him at exactly 1,000 points for his career. He becomes the 31st player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark.

Weisz, by the way, was one of three Princeton players (along with Steven Cook and Devin Cannady) to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before the game, alongside three players from Hawaii.

What makes the accomplishment more impressive is that Weisz is not a pure scorer. He is a tremendous all-around player who, as such, can do everything on the court well. He is a winning player, one who inspires a lot of confidence whenever he has the ball or is involved in the moment.

TigerBlog always likes to think of historical comparisons for current players. In the case of Weisz, the player he most reminds TB of from Princeton teams of the past is Sydney Johnson, another player who went over 1,000 points while also being able to do everything else on the court well. By the way, that's high praise for Weisz.

Actually, the numbers Weisz puts up might be somewhat unique.

If he maintains his current career averages for just the rest of the regular season (not counting any Ivy League tournament or postseason games), Weisz would finish with 574 rebounds and 335 assists, to go along with 1,218 points.

You know who the last Princeton player with at least those minimums was? Nobody. No Princeton player has ever had at least 1,000 points, let alone 1,200, to go along with 574 rebounds and 335 assists.

The only Princeton player with at least 1,000 points, 525 rebounds and 300 assists is Kit Mueller, for that matter.

Another fascinating thing about Weisz and his 1,000 points is that he is not the first Princeton player to reach that mark in Hawaii. Or the second. Or even the third.

TigerBlog was there when Gabe Lewullis got to 1,000 at the 1998 Rainbow Classic at the University of Hawaii's Sheriff Center. Women's players Maggie Langlas and Kate Thirolf both went over 1,000 in Hawaii as well - in the same game on the same court, though one year later.

Princeton is back on the mainland, in Virginia actually, to take on Liberty tomorrow at 2. The Tigers will also be home against St. Joe's Wednesday in a game that has been moved to 5.

Princeton will also be home this weekend in hockey (men tonight at 7 against Quinnipiac, women home tomorrow and Sunday against Mercyhurst). There will be home wrestling tomorrow (2 against Binghamton) and men's and women's track and field (New Year's Invitational all day).

Before the weekend starts, TigerBlog would like to congratulate Spencer Weisz. With all of the great men's basketball players who have played here, only 31 have gotten to 1,000.

And he'd also like to congratulate whoever's idea it was to run the names of those killed at Pearl Harbor 75 years ago.

It was very respectful.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

It's December, Which Starts With D

TigerBlog is a huge fan of Christmas music.

By his count, he has 57 songs on his iTunes that he would count as Christmas songs. This is a pretty high number, especially considering TigerBlog's people don't celebrate Christmas, at least not as a religious holiday.

This, of course, is the heart of Christmas season. Every other commercial is about Christmas (it seems that the other half are about how to treat a cold). The parking lot at the mall is jammed every time TB drives by. The Hallmark channel is wall-to-wall happy, uplifting, true-love-conquers-all, everyone-has-a-cute-dog Christmas movies.

And of course, the music.

TigerBlog had dinner with TigerBlog Jr. the other day and at one point went to the men's room. While he was in there, Christmas music was being piped in. It's literally everywhere.  

TigerBlog's favorite Christmas song? It's no contest - "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band version. Actually, by his count, Santa Claus came to town three times yesterday, as TB heard Bruce's and two others, including one by Frank Sinatra that he'd never heard before.

What are his other favorites? TB also loves "The Christmas Song," with the Nat King Cole version just ahead of the Linda Eder version. Oh, and the Dean Martin rendition of "Silver Bells." And "Merry Christmas Darling" by the Carpenters.

 And apologies to the late Bing Crosby. How could TB forget "White Christmas." And "The Carol of the Bells," Trans-Siberian Orchestra version.

And lots and lots of others. 

There are radio stations that are in 24-hour holiday music mode. One even goes commercial free from Thanksgiving to Christmas, playing nothing but Christmas music.

This got TigerBlog to thinking. As he said, he has 57 songs on his iTunes that he would consider to be Christmas songs, and he figured out that the average length of those 57 songs is 2:20. It might not be completely scientific, but maybe it is - the average Christmas song is does seem to be shorter than most regular songs.

So let's go with 2:20 per song. If you play a different song every 2:20 or so for one day, then your station will be playing 617 songs in those 24 hours.

How many Christmas songs are there? How many versions of each?

No wonder TB heard "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" so many times (it was actually four times in a little more than 24 hours). If you need to get 617 songs out there each day, there are bound to be repeats.

Today is December 8, which means that Christmas is just 17 days away. It's a slow time of the athletic year around here, and there are a total of 20 Princeton events between now and then, of which seven are basketball games and five are men's hockey games, four of which are at Baker Rink.

The women's basketball team has only one more home game between now and Christmas. That'll be on Dec. 21, against Wagner. That's another Wednesday evening game, with another 6 pm start. TigerBlog loves the 6 pm start.

Princeton played one of its mid-week 6 pm games last night and defeated Lafayette 65-27.

It was Princeton's first game in December, and it continued the late November defensive push for the Tigers.The numbers tell most of the story.

The Tigers started the season at 0-4, as opponents averaged 63.5 points per game. Since then, Princeton has gone 4-0, which, if TB's math is correct, leaves the Tigers back at .500.

And in the four-game winning streak?

Princeton's four opponents have averaged 46.5 points per game during the winning streak. The math on this one is a little tougher, but TB thinks that's a 17-point reduction from the first four games.

And opposing shooting percentages? Here they are:
Rutgers - 20.4
UMBC - 41.5
Seton Hall - 36.5
Lafayette - 21.2

Princeton's defense was great against Lafayette last night. The 27 points the Tigers gave up equals the fewest Princeton has allowed in the Courtney Banghart era, along with a 78-27 win over Penn in 2011.

Princeton allowed nine points in the first quarter, nine points in the second quarter and then just nine more points in the entire second half. TB wonders if a team has ever held an opponent to fewer single digits in all four quarters since women's basketball went to four quarters last year.

Had it not been for an off-balance leaner from just inside the three-point line as time expired, Princeton would have shut Lafayette out in the third quarter. For the second half Princeton held Lafayette to 15.4 percent shooting.

The Tigers also had three players in double figures, led by Tia Weledji's 20 points in 25 minutes. Taylor Brown had 14, and Vanessa Smith had 11.

Up next for Princeton are a pair of teams that are a combined 15-3, both on the road, as the Tigers head to Fordham Saturday and then unbeaten Kansas State next Sunday. Those will be big-time challenges.
 For Princeton, the key is to be ready to be playing its best come March, and the first Ivy League tournament.

Banghart and top assistant Milena Flores have taken Princeton to the NCAA tournament in six of the last seven years. The list of 1,000-point scorers in that time is a long one, but the real common denominator has been defensive effort.

At one point during the third quarter last night, Princeton got yet another a stop and brought the ball up the court. As the play went past the Princeton bench, TB looked over at Banghart to see if she was smiling.

She wasn't. Not outwardly anyway, but it didn't matter.

TigerBlog knows that a defensive performance like the one her team was giving makes Banghart very, very happy.