Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Golfing With The Hoopsters

The first person TigerBlog saw when he got to Springdale yesterday afternoon prior to the start of the Friends of Princeton Basketball golf outing was Amanda Roman.

Amanda spent four years as the manager of the women's basketball team. She was the fifth member of the great class of 2013, the one that won four Ivy League championships and reached four NCAA tournaments.

TigerBlog wrote about Amanda a few times, since she is the daughter of a friend of his from Penn and TB is the one who connected Amanda with Courtney Banghart and the basketball program in the first place. Also, Amanda was a huge "Homeland" fan, and she actually wrote a guest blog about the final episode of the season in 2012.

Anyway, it's always good to see Amanda. She's from a golfing family, and her father Jon played at Hofstra.

Oh, and she's engaged. She works for the Jets. She's marrying a guy who works for the NFL. TigerBlog is happy for them.

As you remember, the last time TigerBlog was at Springdale was for the men's lacrosse golf outing, back in July. TigerBlog, of course, is an awful golfer, and he made that perfectly clear with the way he played that day.

This time, TigerBlog didn't even attempt to play. He did stop by for lunch, and afterwards, to see some familiar faces after they got done playing 18.

Miles Clark was there. Miles graduated in 1996 and is now a lawyer in Washington, D.C., with two kids. If there would be a "basketball managers" Hall of Fame, Miles, like Amanda, would have made it on the first ballot.

In addition to the two managers, there were also former players, men's and women's. There was a big turnout from the team of 1983, who was honored as the 35th anniversary of its Ivy title looms.

TigerBlog met Jeff Pagano, someone he knew a lot about but had never talked to before. Then he saw him hit one shot, with a driver off the 10th tee, and he hit it perfectly straight and really far. Apparently he's a really good golfer.

He also saw Howard Levy, Rich Simkus and one other member of the 1983 team. A year later, that third member would score more points in an NCAA tournament than any other Princeton player other than Bill Bradley. Can you name him?

The NCAA tournament in 1983 was a 52-team event, and Princeton defeated North Carolina A&T 53-41 at the Palestra in a play-in game. After that it was off to Oregon State, where Princeton defeated Oklahoma State before falling to Boston College.

Give up on the other player? He scored 38 in the play-in game in 1984, when Princeton defeated San Diego.

Yes, his name is Kevin Mullen. You know him as Moon Mullen.

There aren't too many Division I schools anywhere who can measure up to the basketball programs at Princeton.

The women's team has made eight straight postseason appearances, including six to the NCAA tournament. The women earned an at-large bid to the NCAAs two years ago, something no Ivy League team had ever done before.

The men's team has won 27 Ivy League championships and has carved out a unique place in the history of college basketball. Princeton's basketball resume includes an NCAA Final Four in 1965, an NIT championship in 1975, nationally ranked teams in the 1990s, an offensive philosophy that continues to impact the way the sport is played and, most recently, a 16-0 run through the league that no other team had ever been asked to do before, what with the advent of the Ivy League tournament.

More than all of that, though, Princeton basketball has this incredible loyalty among the people who have played here. It even manifests itself in the coaching tree, as the last four head coaches - John Thompson III, Joe Scott, Sydney Johnson and Mitch Henderson - are all alums.

Henderson had a painter's cap, if that's the correct term, from the 1983 team's appearance in the NCAA tournament. It was Henderson who read the rules of the Shotgun start before sending all of the golfers out to their starting holes.

Somewhat shockingly, Henderson is entering his seventh year as the head coach of the Tigers. He has never had a losing season at Princeton, either overall or in the Ivy League, and he has averaged 10.5 Ivy wins in his six years, a figure that doesn't include the two Ivy tournament wins a year ago.

His Princeton teams play like NBA teams in terms of offensive tempo, and they continue to defend extraordinarily well, despite all of the extra possessions in the games these days. He has recruited great players to Princeton. and the on-court product is exciting and successful.

Beyond all of that, though, he is the perfect person to be running the show, with the way he combines coaching ability with a great understanding of the value of his alumni base and the history of this great program. It's not hard to see why those alums, from all eras, have great respect for what he's done here.

The men's and women's teams aren't too far away from the start of practice, and they're both hoping to extend the season into the NCAA tournament come March.

Yesterday wasn't really about any of that. This was about celebrating, where Princeton basketball is now and where it has been in the past.

And there aren't too many places where that's done better than it is here.

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