Friday, April 14, 2017

Ashleigh's Farewell

Back on March 3, 1965, the Princeton men's basketball team defeated Penn 81-71 at Dillon Gym.

Why mention that now? It's because that game was Bill Bradley's last game ever on this campus. Interestingly, Bradley had a season-low of only 19 points in that game.

Yes, that was his season low, 19 points. In fact, of all of the amazing accomplishments that Bradley had here, maybe the most unbelievable is that his career-low was 16 points. In other words, he never once scored fewer than 16 points in a game. Think about that.

Tonight, the women's water polo team will host Bucknell at 7 at DeNunzio Pool. It will be the last game on this campus for Princeton goalie Ashleigh Johnson.

Bradley and Johnson are the only two Princeton undergrads ever to win Olympic gold medals and then come back to compete as Tigers. The opportunity to see such internationally acclaimed athletes compete as Princeton undergrads doesn't come around often.

Johnson was a finalist for the Sullivan Award as the nation's outstanding amateur athlete, an award that Bradley won in 1964 after he was the captain of the U.S. team at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Even though she didn't win, she is a rare treat to see play. If you've never seen Johnson play in DeNunzio, try to get there.

Johnson's home finale is the highlight of the weekend in Princeton Athletics. There are 25 events between today and Sunday, and most of them will be played on the road. For that matter, eight of those 25 will be either baseball or softball games at Penn, with doubleheaders tomorrow and Sunday.

Princeton is in the lead in division in both sports, but there is a long way to go between now and the Ivy League championships series. Princeton is the defending Ivy champ in both.

What else?

Here is TigerBlog's mid-April lacrosse prediction: Maryland will win the NCAA championship in both men's and women's lacrosse.

For the most part, TigerBlog has always been a fan of the University of Maryland's athletic teams.

It started when his cousin Roy went to dental school there in the 1970s and became a huge fan of the Terps. While people usually are more loyal to their undergraduate schools than their graduate schools, Roy never talked about rooting for the school from which he received his bachelor's degree: Brooklyn College.

When Princeton played Maryland in men's basketball at the Baltimore Arena in the 1998-99 season, TB - actually Bill Carmody - left tickets for Roy and his wife of 46 years, Gale, who is actually TB's first cousin. Their seats were right on the floor, in the first row, something that they seemed to like.

Gale is the daughter of FatherBlog's sister, and if you read what TB wrote about driving around Brooklyn the other day, Gale's mother (Edie), father (Herbie) and sister (Toby) have all passed away.

Gale, a longtime high school and middle school English teacher, and Roy live outside of Annapolis, and there aren't too many people TB knows who are happier in their lives than they are. They have their two kids (TB's second cousins Howie and Raina), their grandkids, their tennis.

One of TB's favorite moments with his cousin Roy was at BrotherBlog's wedding in Seattle, when Roy looked out across the Puget Sound from the courtyard of the place where the wedding was and said that he loved Seattle, because "they have a lot of water here." 

In addition to Roy, TigerBlog has rooted for Maryland because of all of the years that the Terps were in the ACC, playing basketball against North Carolina and especially Duke. The 2001 NCAA semifinal game that the Blue Devils won over the Terps still bothers TB.

Anyway, now you have TB's prediction of two Maryland lax titles this year. Only two schools have ever done that - Princeton in 1994 and North Carolina last year.

TigerBlog was getting ready to write his preview story for the men's lacrosse game at Dartmouth when he noticed that Princeton's men's and women's teams were both ranked really highly in Division I in scoring offense. It made him wonder if Princeton led the country in goals per game by the men's and women's teams combined.

And so he looked. The answer is no - Maryland is No. 1, and Princeton is No. 2.

Princeton's men's and women's teams average 29.55 goals per game between them. That's a lot. Maryland is at 30.29. That's a little more.

Neither Princeton's men's team or women's team (at Yale tomorrow - speaking of scoring offense, Princeton and Yale rank 1-2 in the league in goals per game) can clinch a spot in the Ivy tournament with a win this weekend, regardless of what else happens. Well, maybe the women can, because if the women win, then the worst they could finish the season is in a tie for fourth with Columbia (whom Princeton plays in two weeks) and possibly Harvard, or a three-way tie for third with those two, and then win the tiebreakers. TB isn't going to dive that deeply into that, though he can say that it would take a lot for Princeton not to reach the ILT.

He'd rather focus on the top of the standings anyway.

Right now Princeton (3-0) and Cornell (4-0) are the only teams unbeaten. Penn (2-1, a loss to Cornell) and Harvard (3-1, a loss to Princeton) have one loss each.

The schedule tells much of the story for Princeton's women. After the game at Yale tomorrow, the Tigers are at Penn Wednesday and at Cornell Saturday. By the time that Cornell games ends, there will either be a champion and host for the tournament or a three-way tie at the top. Should Princeton win at Yale and Penn, then the winner of the game at Cornell would definitely be the host - but that is getting way, way, way ahead of things.

What TB can definitively say is that this is a pretty good year for Ivy women's lacrosse. While Maryland may be the national favorite, don't be shocked to see some Ivy representation in the Final Four.

As for other home events, there is rowing at home, as TB wrote about yesterday, with the men's heavyweights and the women's lightweights on Lake Carnegie.

There is home women's tennis, against Yale today and Brown tomorrow. There is home men's volleyball, against Harvard tonight and tomorrow against Sacred Heart.

And, as TB said before, the last chance to see Ashleigh Johnson at Princeton.

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