Thursday, November 30, 2017

Eli, And The Basketball Doubleheader

If you remember the other time TigerBlog told you this story, then thanks for being one of his most loyal readers.

It was more than seven years ago when TB first wrote this:

TB is a huge David Justice fan. Why? Because TB once saw Justice - then with the Atlanta Braves - on a plane from Atlanta to Philadelphia, at a time when MotherBlog was in Piedmont Hospital during her fight against cancer.

TB, sitting in first class because MB had upgraded his ticket, was across the aisle and one row behind Justice. When TB mentioned to the guy sitting next to him that MotherBlog was in the hospital and that Justice was her favorite player, he said that TB should go talk to him, because "where could he go?"

Armed with that logic, TB wrote a note about how his mother had cancer, was in Piedmont Hospital and was a big Braves' fan and could he drop her a line or something. Then TB gave him the note to Justice, who nodded his head.

Later that night, TB spoke to MotherBlog, who said that David Justice had called her in the hospital and spoken with her for about 10 minutes. He followed up by sending her some Braves' stuff, including a ball autographed by 17 players and manager Bobby Cox.

Factoring out any Princeton alums whom TigerBlog knows personally, his list of all-time favorite professional athletes is a small one. Justice is way up there, largely because of the story TB just told. Greg Maddox and John Smoltz too.

Julius Erving is another. So is Phil Simms. And Patrick Ewing.

When TB was a little kid, his favorites were Joe Namath and Willis Reed, though he would have definitely been on the Bill Bradley bandwagon had he known how thing were going to go later in his life. Once you get to a certain age, you stop thinking of sports figures as heroes, per se.

There are some you like because they play for your favorite team or you simply admire how they play. TigerBlog really loved to watch Michael Jordan play, even though he killed the Knicks. Today he really likes LeBron James more than any other NBA player.

His favorite professional athlete of the last 15 years, though, has definitely been New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. He has always carried himself with class, and TB can't remember any time he ever engaged in the seemingly everywhere me-first self-worship that has become routine in the NFL.

Plus, he's one of the greatest clutch athletes ever. Is 9 for 14 for 152 yards and two touchdowns a good quarter? That's what Manning's stats were in the fourth quarter of the first of his two Super Bowl wins over the Patriots, who had been 18-0 on the year heading into that game.

He ranks in the top 10 all-time in the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns, and he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. 

As the news came that Manning would not be starting this Sunday's game against the Raiders, ending his streak of 210 straight starts, TigerBlog took it as another sign that he longtime favorite team has become impossible to root for, just as the Knicks had been for a long time.

The Giants are awful this year. It is not at all Manning's fault.

To his credit, Manning said that he would not want to start the remaining games and then come out just to keep his streak alive. It was easy to tell that as he was being interviewed he was getting emotional, but again, he handled the situation with tremendous grace.

Anyway, TB wanted to say that about Manning before this weekend's game.

As for Princeton, TigerBlog was at the basketball doubleheader last night.

It began with the women's game, against No. 25 Villanova. If Villanova is the 25th-best team in the country, then Princeton is pretty good too.

It was a very entertaining game, one that the Wildcats would eventually win 62-59, holding off  a Princeton three attempt at the buzzer that would have tied it. The game featured an extraordinary performance by Bella Alarie, who scored a career-high 29 points on 9 for 12 shooting from the field, including makes on all three of her three-point attempts. She also had nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

Oh yeah, and she's early in her sophomore year. You can already include her in the discussion of the best players in program history.

As for the men's game, well, it was pretty much the exact opposite of the FDU game from Sunday. This time, Princeton fell behind big (by 22) and made the huge run (cutting it to two twice) before falling to Lehigh 85-76.

If you don't remember back to Sunday, Princeton went up by 27 and then FDU made it a one-possession game before the Tigers won 83-76.

That's very similar stuff.

Meanwhile, back at Eli, TigerBlog went to ride the bike yesterday morning and needed a sweatshirt. He was going to put on his New York Giants one, but he stopped and just couldn't do it. If you're a Giants fan, can you?

TigerBlog? Not this week.

He went with Princeton Basketball instead. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Thank You, A Finalist, A Doubleheader

First, from TigerBlog today, is a TAGD thank you.

The final numbers haven't been completely totaled yet. Still, it's clear that once again, the Princeton faithful have rallied around the current athletes, for the reasons that TigerBlog spoke of yesterday.

It's a sign of faith in the direction of the current programs, a message of approval for the athletes - and a reaffirmation of what the Princeton experience meant to so many people who have competed here through the years. Princeton Athletics clearly appreciates it.

The winners of the various TAGD challenges will be announced shortly. In the meantime, Princeton wants to thank you once again.

With Nov. 28 in the past, there are only two days left in the month. Then it'll be December? That means it'll be Christmas, New Year's, Lacrosse.

As November winds down, TigerBlog can also point out that Chad Kanoff threw for 1,249 yards this month. He did this despite only playing three games in the month of November.

Is that a lot of yards? Well, compare it to these guys:
Sam Darnold, USC 904 yards in November
Josh Rosen, UCLA 1,004 yards in November
Lamar Jackson, Louisville 681 yards in November (he's the reigning Heisman Trophy winner)

Here's another one: Baker Mayfield, 1,469 yards in November, though it did take him four games to get that number.

By the way, for the year, Jackson has thrown for 15 more yards than Kanoff while playing two more games than Kanoff.

Kanoff was named one of the two finalists for the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year yesterday, along with Penn's Justin Watson. Of course you could make the case that Watson wasn't even the best receiver in the league this year, what with the season Jesper Horsted had, but TigerBlog doesn't want to disparage Watson, who obviously is a great player. One stat about Watson: He accounted for 47.6 percent of Penn's receptions, which is the highest number in either level of Division I.

Watson and Horsted, to TigerBlog, are the two best Ivy receivers this decade. Actually, if you throw Harvard's Justice Shelton-Mosley in there too, then those are to TB the best three Ivy receivers of the last 15 years, back to the group of Rob Milanese (Penn), Carl Morris (Harvard) and Chas Gessner (Brown).

Kanoff, though, should be the winner. He set 12 Princeton or Ivy records, and he looked better and better as the year went on doing so, finishing with back-to-back 400-yard games.

That's for Monday though.

For tonight, there's a basketball doubleheader on Carril Court in Jadwin Gym, beginning at 5:30 with the women's game against Villanova and then at 8 with the men's game against Lehigh.

Let's start with the women.

Villanova comes into Jadwin ranked 25th in the country, which should get your attention. Princeton, on the other hand, has done some things that are somewhat eye-opening as well in the early going.

Princeton has had the Ivy Rookie of the Week each week this year, and it hasn't been the same rookie each time. The first two times it was Carlie Littlefield, who has been in double figures in all four games to date. Abby Meyers won the honor this past week, after Princeton's win over Davidson.

Littlefield and Meyers are making the transition to college a very smooth one. Bella Alarie did the same a year ago, when she was first-team All-Ivy and the Ivy Rookie of the Year.

This year, Alarie has raised her game several levels. She's so good now that it's hard to remember that she's only a sophomore. Alarie brings three straight double-doubles into this game, and she does everything on the court - both ends - without forcing anything.

Villanova is a great defensive team. It'll be a really good matchup between these two teams.

As for the men, TigerBlog watched the opener at Butler on TV and has been to every game since. He can tell you that Princeton has improved basically each time out this year.

The No. 1 task has been to blend the three main returnees - Devin Cannady, Myles Stephens, Amir Bell - with those who will be playing major minutes this year. It's a work in progress, of course, which is fine. It's what this time of year is supposed to be.

So far, Mitch Henderson has seen a lot from a lot of different guys. He has a lot to process, and you can see the different combinations that he uses in the early season.

Cannady, by the way, is 20 for 34 from three-point range on the season, including 6 for 6 from three against FDU. That's insane. Stephens was completely unstoppable against FDU, going 9 for 12 from the field but 9 for 10 from two-point range, including makes on his first nine.

Lehigh is a very good team. The Mountain Hawks beat Princeton a year ago in Bethlehem 76-67, and they are as good as any team in the Patriot League. On the other hand, no current Princeton player scored more than six in the game a year ago, which was the second for the Tigers on the season.

And there's this gem from TB's colleague Andrew Borders pregame story:
Tim Kempton, who grabbed a game-high 24 points and 11 boards, won the Patriot League Player of the Year award in 2015 and 2016, and Princeton's Spencer Weisz, the reigning Ivy Player of the Year, both play in Israel, Kempton for Bnei Hertzeliya and Weisz for Galil Gilboa. Their teams will meet Sunday for the first time this season at Hertzeliya.

So that's the women's game at 5:30. The men's game is at 8. It figures to be a good doubleheader on both ends.

And once again. Thanks for everything you did to make TAGD another success. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Talking TAGD

TAGD Website - Click HERE to give today

TigerBlog really liked the recent series of "TAGD Talks" that appeared on and social media.

They're really short videos in which different Princeton athletes describe a few different aspects of their personal experiences here. They're all really good.

If you want to see them, they're right here:

 TAGD Talk No. 1 - Carrington Akosa
TAGD Talk No. 2 - Katie Pratt-Thompson

TAGD Talk No. 3 - Jesper Horsted
TAGD Talk No. 4 - Claire Collins
TAGD Talk No. 5 - Stephanie Sucharda
TAGD Talk No. 6 - Devin Cannady

TAGD, of course, stands for "Tiger Athletics Give Day." Today is TAGD.

It's a 24-hour day of giving, a competitive fundraising competition among Princeton's 37 teams and 17 Athletics Friends Groups. It started at midnight, and it will run until midnight.

There are competitions for the most total dollars and most total gifts, so every donation matters, regardless of amount.

Today is the fourth edition of TAGD. The first one grew out of a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first athletic event at Princeton - a baseball game against Williams in Nov. 1864 - and it has increased in support and competitive intensity each successive year.

TAGD proves something conclusively that TigerBlog has known all along. The coaches here are very competitive people.

They don't like to lose. Games especially. Or at TAGD.

There are different groups who compete against each other for bonus funds, and there is an all-out effort to energize Friends' groups and alums to win each group. This is especially obvious on social media, where the teams themselves put together some really creative messages that they send to their supporters.

Something new this year for TAGD will be a Facebook Live production between 3 and 4 this afternoon. You can find it originating from the University's Facebook page HERE.

The Facebook Live production will include interviews with Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, as well as videos on several Princeton athletes, live interviews with others and the ability to ask questions.

There will also be other videos showing TAGD activities throughout the day. Those will be on social media.

What does the money raised go to here?

It goes to providing Princeton's 1,000 varsity athletes with the best possible experience that is possible. It goes to any number of initiatives that aren't able to be provided through the standard funding for the programs.

It is only through the generosity of all of the people who give each TAGD that Princeton is able to, well, be Princeton. And what does TigerBlog mean by that?

He means be a model college athletic department. He means recruit the best student-athletes in the country and then allow them to be a part of something that enables them to "Achieve, Serve and Lead." He means fostering friendships that last a lifetime. He means developing the same loyalty to Princeton and to the athletic teams here that all of those giving back have, something that sustains the program's long-term success.

Mostly, though, it's an investment in the people who compete here. These are the young people you see in the TAGD Talk video series, plus all of their peers.

They're an incredibly talented, amazingly impressive group of people. TigerBlog, all these years later, continues to marvel at them and what they do, how they compete so successful athletically and academically at such a high level of both.

On the occasions when TB has been asked to talk to recruits, he always says that if you took a graph and plotted the highest academic group on one axis and the highest athletic group of the other, the point where they intersect would be very, very small. Those kids are in that group.

By the way, he thinks he's right by using "axis" there.

Anyway, the investment goes way beyond just the athletic experience for four years. It's not just a few shiny new toys.

It's the investment in the people themselves. It's developing these extraordinary people to their fullest. It's teaching them all of the lessons that are learned here by athletes, all of which take they take with the when they leave here.

And that's when the money raised through TAGD really pays off.

It's the way the experience here stays with them through their lives. It's how that manifests itself as they reach their 30s, their 40s and beyond. It's about the things that they accomplish, small and large, that make such a positive impact on their communities and in many cases way, way beyond as they go down their respective paths.

That's what the money raised through TAGD brings.

If you've given in the past, you know how thankful everyone at Princeton is for your contributions. And again, Princeton Athletics is grateful to everyone who will give today.

Your gifts is doing way more than just helping the Tigers win games.

It's helping fully develop some of the greatest young people you'll see anywhere - the kids who compete in Princeton uniforms.

Thanks again.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Here's To The 2017 Women's Soccer Team

TigerBlog was at courtside yesterday for the men's basketball team's 83-76 win at FDU.

As he sat down in his seat before the game, an FDU administrator sat next to him. And what was the first thing she said?

"That was a great run by your women's soccer team."

Yes. It was. A great run. With an all-time epic win mixed in along the way. 

As it turns out, the two greatest seasons in Princeton women's soccer history both ended with losses to UCLA.

Back in 2004, that came in the NCAA semifinals. In 2017, this past Saturday night in Los Angeles, it was one round short of another Final Four.

You can debate forever which was a more amazing accomplishment - reaching the Final Four in 2004 or beating North Carolina in the 2017 Round of 16. TigerBlog's colleague Andrew Borders called that game, Princeton's 2-1 overtime win a week ago, "The Miracle on Grass."

If you're looking for a major difference between the two seasons, TigerBlog has one for you.

The 2004 women's soccer team was similar to the 1997-98 men's basketball team, or the 1998 men's lacrosse team, or the 2003 women's lacrosse team, or the 2012 field hockey team, among others.

What was the common denominator for those teams?

They all knew they were primed for great things before the season started. They had every indication coming into the season that those particular teams had all the pieces, all the experience, all the talent, everything necessary to make a big run. And they did.

Those are among the greatest teams Princeton has ever seen, certainly in the time TigerBlog has been around. They hardly were surprises.

The 2014-15 Princeton women's basketball team went 30-0 in the regular season and 31-1 overall. It's unlikely too many people predicted that before the year started, and in fact Princeton received only nine of the 17 first-place votes in the Ivy League preseason media poll that year.

The 2017 women's soccer team was closer to that. Princeton had a 10-4-3 record in 2016, but that included a 2-3-2 Ivy season.

What did 2017 have in store? Princeton certainly had potential, but were the Tigers a sure thing in the league? No.

From Day 1, though, it was clear that this team was special. There was a series of strong non-league wins, and then a 6-1-0 run to an outright Ivy League championship. That was followed by an NCAA wins over Monmouth and North Carolina State, followed by that little miracle on the Carolina grass.

The Princeton community, both on campus and in the local area, responded in a big way. In all, it was one of the best seasons any team has had that TigerBlog has seen at Princeton.

As for the UCLA game, the Bruins dominated the first 20 minutes and scored two goals 2:24 apart to take control. It looked like it might be getting completely away.

Ah, but it didn't.

First, Princeton goalkeeper Natalie Grossi was spectacular. If you forgot, it was Grossi's save on a PK against North Carolina State that kept Princeton in the tournament in the first place. Then she made six saves, her season high, in the win over North Carolina.

All that led up to her first half against UCLA, when she was incredible. She made seven saves in the first half alone, and pretty much every one was tricky. Without her, it would have been a blowout by halftime.

Instead, it was only 2-0. Then Princeton changed things around, going toe to toe with the Bruins. And then it became 2-1 in the 54th minute, when Abby Givens - who had the game-winner against UNC - slipped one into the net.

This time, that would as close as Princeton would get. UCLA would answer about six minutes later, and though the Tigers would claw til the end, the final would be 3-1.

The 2004 season earned Julie Shackford the national Division I Coach of the Year Award. The 2017 season should get Sean Driscoll into that conversation as well, and it's hard to imagine that too many coaches, if any, did a better job with a team this year than he did.

The end of the women's soccer season means that the next outdoor sporting event for Princeton will be lacrosse in mid-February. That's exciting, right?

This is a very busy week for Princeton Athletics, and there was a lot going on over the weekend as well. The men's hockey team had a nice win over Bemidji State. Bella Alarie had a third straight double double as Princeton beat Davidson in women's basketball. There was the men's basketball game, where Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens were unstoppable and Princeton held off a furious late charge by the Knights. And the women's volleyball team found out its NCAA tournament draw.

As for this week, there's home men's hockey Tuesday, Friday and Saturday (Quinnipiac, Dartmouth, Harvard). There's a basketball doubleheader Wednesday.

And then there's tomorrow.

It's TAGD, which stands for Tiger Athletics Give Day. It's a one-day fundraising competition between Princeton's teams and Friends' groups, the fourth straight year that Princeton Athletics will be having one.

The first three have been very successful. They've been a sign of the loyalty that alums and Friends feel for the Princeton teams, and everyone involved with Princeton Athletics has been greatly appreciative of the support.

That's TAGD tomorrow, and TB will have much more on that tomorrow.

For today?

It's another chance to recognize the 2017 Princeton women's soccer team. It's accomplishments are among the best that Princeton has ever seen.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

TigerBlog has told you about his Uncle Herbie before.

Herbie - Herbert Springer was his full name - ran a store in Brooklyn with TB's Aunt Edie. Before that, he was a New York City cab driver. He also fought in World War II, in Europe and the Pacific.

In the summers, he and Aunt Edie had a bungalow in the Rockaways, and he'd sit outside in his sailor's cap, playing Pinochle with his friends. TigerBlog couldn't understand the game, or, for that matter, even understand the 48-card deck.

Herbie would pause for few things when he played, but one of them would be to make his nephew a bagel, with butter on one side and lox on the other. Then it was back to the game.

His apartment in Brooklyn was on Ocean Ave., 1947 Ocean Ave., to be exact. TB spent more than one Thanksgiving there.

As TB types this, he can still see his uncle and his unshaven face, his unkempt hair, always covered by the sailor's hat. He can hear his voice, his deep, gravelly New York City voice.

It's been exactly 40 years since Herbert Springer passed away, at the age of only 53. It's weird for TigerBlog to think that he's older now than his uncle was when he died.

He died over Thanksgiving in 1977. Edie would live to 85 before she died a few years ago.

TigerBlog was still a kid when his uncle died. Even all these years later, he remains one of TB's favorite all-time people, and his memories of his time with his uncle are among his best.

 Forty years. Wow. 

His grave has his name - "Herbert Springer" - and then this: "Everyone's Friend." It is so true.

TigerBlog wrote this about his uncle once:
To be around Herbie Springer was to laugh, to carry on, to have a good time. He had friends, sure, but he was also the kind to make friends with everyone he encountered - strangers on the street, people who wandered into his store, friends of his nephew.

He had a huge personality, maybe a bit larger than life. It's just that his life didn't last as long as it should have.

TigerBlog wanted to mention his uncle on the 40th anniversary of his passing. He does so with a mix of sadness coupled with a smile at a reminder of who his uncle was and the good times he spent with him.

TigerBlog also wants to say what he's written every Thanksgiving since he's been doing this, and here it is:

As holidays go, you can't do much better than Thanksgiving. It's got it all, really: a huge meal (with turkey, no less), football, family, history (dates back to 1621), start of a four-day weekend for most people, leftovers. It's even a secular holiday, so every American can dive right in, regardless of religion.

The Lions and the Cowboys, obviously, always play at home on Thanksgiving, and the NFL has now added a third game (maybe a little too much). Beyond watching football, how many out there have played their own Thanksgiving football games, all of which, by the way, are named "the Turkey Bowl?"

The holiday may lag behind Christmas in terms of great Hollywood movies, and "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is no match for "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Still, there are some great moments in movies and TV shows around Thanksgiving.

Rocky and Adrian had their first date on Thanksgiving – "To you it's Thanksgiving; to me it's Thursday," Rocky said romantically – as did Meadow and Jackie Jr. on "The Sopranos" (it didn't quite work out as well as it did for Rocky and Adrian). "Everybody Loves Raymond" had two pretty good Thanksgiving episodes, the one where Marie makes a low-fat dinner and the one where Debra makes fish instead of turkey. As an aside, TigerBlog's Aunt Regina once made Cornish game hens instead of turkey, so he knows how they all felt. And of course, there was the Thanksgiving episode of "Cheers," which has the big food fight at the end.

The Woody Allen movie "Hannah and Her Sisters" starts and ends on two different Thanksgivings. "Miracle on 34th Street" is a Christmas movie, but it does start with the Thanksgiving parade in New York City.

And of course, there is the best of all Thanksgiving movies: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." It'll make you laugh a lot and cry a little, and it ends on Thanksgiving.

Princeton Athletics has some good events between now and the end of the weekend.

You have a choice tonight if you'd like to go to a game in Princeton, as the men's basketball team is home against Lafayette and the men's hockey team is home against Bemidji State. Both start at 7.

The second game of the Princeton-Bemidji State series will be Friday night. The men's basketball team is on the road Sunday, but it's not that far - just up to FDU, for a 2 p.m. tip.

There is also a two-game women's hockey trip to Merrimack (Friday and Saturday) and a women's basketball game at Davidson Saturday at 1.

And of course there is the NCAA women's soccer quarterfinal game Saturday between Princeton and UCLA in California. That game starts at 5:30 local time, so 8:30 in the East.

Princeton, of course, is coming off the huge win over North Carolina, the top seed in the region, in last Sunday's Round of 16 game.

Mostly, though, it's Thanksgiving that occupies most people's time right about now.

It's turkey and football and fun and all that. At its core, though, it's the giving of thanks, right? So be thankful for what - and especially who - is really important to you.

And remember those, like TB's Uncle Herbie, who are no longer here to celebrate the day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Observation Post

TigerBlog would like to talk to you about relationships today.

Spatial ones, that is. Well, maybe that's not exactly what this is, but whatever, it's close.

Picture in your mind the distance between the pitcher's mound and home plate on a baseball field. As everyone knows, that's 60 feet, six inches.

Now picture the distance from the floor of Jadwin Gym to the ceiling. How high do you think that is?

It's 60 feet.

How in the world is that possible? Doesn't it seem like the distance from the mound is a fraction of the distance from the floor to the ceiling in Jadwin?

TigerBlog has stood on a pitcher's mound and looked out at home plate. It didn't seem that far. He's been on the catwalk at the top of Jadwin and looked down and, well, he's lucky he lived through that.

As it turns out, it's also 60 feet from Powers Field to the top of the newly installed bubble that now covers the playing surface. Again, if you think of a pitcher's mound, it doesn't seem that big. If you think of the ceiling in Jadwin, it seems huge.

Here's what it looks like inside before it's 100 percent completed:
The bubble will be up each year now from the end of the football season through the spring. It'll be used by Princeton's varsity teams, as well as club teams, intramural teams and outside groups. That's all going to be happening really soon.

For now, TigerBlog's observation is that it's really cool.

Here are some other observations from the recent weekend in Princeton sports:

* Here's a question for you that TigerBlog was asked yesterday: What's the biggest win in Princeton women's soccer history, the one against North Carolina Sunday or the one over Washington in the 2004 quarterfinals that made the Tigers the only Ivy League team ever to reach the women's soccer Final Four? It's a great question. Princeton, by the way, will be at UCLA Saturday (8:30 Eastern) in this year's quarterfinal, with a chance to match the 2004 team.

* It's extraordinary what Chad Kanoff and Jesper Horsted did to the Princeton football record book. TigerBlog won't review them all here, but you can read about them HERE, as his colleague Craig Sachson put them together. If TB is correct, Kanoff tied or set 12 Princeton and/or Ivy League records by himself. Horsted shattered receiving records that had stood for nearly 35 years.

* Kanoff, by the way, certainly looks the part of an NFL quarterback at 6-4, 225 pounds, with good mobility and the ability to make pretty much any throw. Horsted looks the part of an NFL receiver, and possibly a Major League Baseball player, which is a good problem to have.

* Former men's basketball coach Bill Carmody, early in the 1999-2000 season, had a reporter say that his team had to be "the best 1-4 team of all time." Carmody responded without flinching: "I'd rather be the worst 4-1 team of all time." Good answer. The 2017 Princeton football team went 2-5 in the Ivy League and has to be the best 2-5 team ever. This season will be remembered for the extraordinary performances by the offense and the devastating injuries to the defense. A healthy defense plus that offense would have equaled an Ivy title. Nobody will be able to talk TigerBlog out of that.

* Georgia Tech's women's basketball team has a lot of size. In fact, of the 11 players who played in the 67-56 Georgia Tech win over Princeton Sunday, seven are at least six feet tall and five are at least 6-2. Princeton isn't small, but that was a lot of size. The Tigers played hard until the end and had some chances in the fourth quarter to make it a one-possession game, which isn't bad against the WNIT runner-up from a year ago. Princeton is now 2-1 with wins over George Washington and Seton Hall heading into the Thanksgiving break, and it's already clear that there's a lot to like about this team.

* The same is true of the men's team, which is home tomorrow night against Lafayette at 7. TigerBlog sat courtside Saturday night at St. Joe's, and if you've never been to a game at the Hagan Arena, it's definitely worth going. It's a great 4,200 seat venue, and the atmosphere there for the home opener was great. It included a ceremony honoring all of the former Hawks and they welcomed the newest Hawk. You know, the mascot, the one who never stops flapping.

* As for the game, Devin Cannady put on a great three-point shooting display in the first half, burying shot after shot from further and further away right in front of the jammed student section. Cannady, Amir Bell and Myles Stephens were a combined 18 for 31, with 50 points between them, in the 71-58 loss. Those three are the foundation of a special team. The task is putting the other pieces around them, and Mitch Henderson has plenty of options. Princeton is clearly a work in progress right now, but it's one that has a lot of potential as well. And is exciting to watch.

* The men's hockey team will be home tomorrow and Friday nights against Bemidji State, with faceoff at 7 both nights. The Tigers are going through some growing pains and are 3-3-1 after seven games. A year ago? They were 0-6-1 after seven games. And of their three losses, two (Cornell, Union) were against ranked teams at the time (Cornell is ranked . There's also a 0-0 tie with Colgate in there, and the Raiders are currently ranked 18th.

* The men's cross country team finished 28th in the NCAA championship race Saturday. The Tigers had an interesting season, not running together until just before Heps and then winning that and the NCAA regional easily. As for the women, they were represented by Heps champ Gabi Forrest, who finished 37th at the NCAA championships to earn All-America honors.

* The men's water polo team lost a heartbreaker, falling 12-11 to Harvard in two OTs in the NWPC championship game. The Tigers did have yet another great season under head coach Luis Nicalao, going 22-6.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Make That 13

Is this a good record: 126-12-3?

That's a winning percentage of a .917. Is that good too?

Those were the gaudy numbers that the University of North Carolina's women's soccer team brought into yesterday's NCAA tournament Round of 16 game against Princeton. The next-highest number of NCAA wins in women's soccer belongs to Notre Dame, with 69.

North Carolina's history in women's soccer is better than UConn's history in women's basketball. The Huskies are 114-18 in the NCAA women's basketball tournament, a winning percentage of only .864.

UConn has won 11 NCAA women's basketball championships. North Carolina has won 21 NCAA women's soccer championships, meaning the Tar Heels are one away from doubling up the Huskies.

And they won't get it this year.

In what is unquestionably one of the greatest wins Princeton Athletics has seen, the Princeton women's soccer team defeated mighty North Carolina 2-1 yesterday, winning it on Abby Givens' goal 8:18 into overtime.

Make it 126-13-3.

It's hard to overstate the magnitude of beating North Carolina in the NCAA tournament. It's not something that happens too often, and it happens before the Final Four even less.

UNC has played in every NCAA women's soccer tournament, all 36 of them now, and this will be just the ninth time that the Tar Heels have not reached the national semifinals.

As for this year, UNC is the No. 2 ranked team in the country and went 8-0-2 in the ACC, a league that sent eight teams to the NCAA tournament.

So yeah, it's huge. What makes it more astonishing is that Princeton was one penalty kick away from not getting the chance to play UNC in the first place.

Before TB gets to that, let him rant for a second. PKs are an incredibly dumb way of deciding the outcome of a game. Why in the world would a game be allowed to end that way?

Yeah, yeah. It's because without PKs, a game could last forever, going multiple overtimes and all. So what? If you know you have to score to win, you have to take chances eventually.

If anything, do what field hockey does and take players off the field as you get to OT. Anything would be better than PKs, whether it's the World Cup or the NCAA tournament.

That wasn't the case Friday, though, when Princeton played North Carolina State in the second round. The Tigers led 1-0 on freshman Carolyne Davidson's goal before a late goal tied it, and then the teams played two scoreless overtimes. That left it up to penalty kicks to decide which team would advance.

Princeton missed its first. NC State made its first four, meaning that if the Wolfpack could make the next one, the game would be over. Instead? Natalie Grossi made the save, keeping the game going.

It would have ended there had Tomi Kennedy not converted the next one, which she did. Both teams would miss the next one, and then, after another Grossi save, Davidson finally ended it.

Yeah. It's a terrible system, but if you're going to use it, you might as well win.

And that left Princeton to take on North Carolina, who just happened to be 13-0-2 in its last 15 games. North Carolina had four straight shutouts heading into the game, and in fact opponents had scored just four goals - that's one, two, three, four goals - in that 15-game unbeaten streak.

Princeton then doubled that total. Princeton was outshot in this one 24-8, and Grossi was strong again, making seven saves.

The game-winner came on on bit of a counter, when Givens found herself with just enough room to maneuver the ball past UNC goalkeeper Samantha Leshnak. All that was left was a race to the goal line between the ball and a UNC defender. The ball would win.

With that, Princeton had pulled off a stunner. Again, TigerBlog is not overstating the historical significance of this win.

The Tigers now play in the quarterfinals, next weekend at UCLA, who beat Virginia 2-1 last night on a late goal, after the teams traded goals 30 second apart five minutes in. Should Princeton win that one, it would get to the Final Four.

North Carolina has been to 27 Final Fours. Princeton has been to one, back in 2004. It's the only time an Ivy League team has reached the women's soccer Final Four.

Can this team repeat that feat?

Getting this far is an incredible accomplishment. Especially when yesterday's opponent is added in to the equation.

This was, after all, the University of North Carolina women's soccer team. That's the mightiest of the mighty.

And there was Princeton. Ahead. Then tied. Then going toe-to-toe the rest of the heart-stopping way, eventually winning.

This Princeton team has been special all season. It's now 16-2-1 for the year and has spent pretty much the entire season ranked in the top 25. Now it's one of just eight teams left playing.

And it has a win over North Carolina.

Yeah, that's one of the great NCAA tournament wins any Princeton team has ever had.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Should Have Gone With The Omelette, Home Fries and Toast

TigerBlog went to a diner yesterday for lunch with his friend Corey.

If his math is right, he's coming up on 47 or so years that he and Corey have been friends. That's a long time.

Corey could be the happiest person TB has ever met. He and TB tell the same stories that they told decades ago, and they still laugh at them like it was yesterday.

Corey is a Rutgers grad. He was a sax player in the band for the Scarlet Knights.

TB looks at his kids and wonders which of their current friends they will be friends with when they're in their 50s. He's not sure why his friendship with Corey has endured all this time, just that it has, and it will forever. There's something quite comforting about that.

Anyway, as far as lunch yesterday goes, sometimes when TB is in a restaurant, he'll look around and see what everyone else is eating, to see if something looks good. In a diner, he likes to get breakfast food, even if it's in the afternoon or evening.

He was going to get an omelette, probably the one with lox and onion. Or the Spanish omelette. Or the Western one.

That's when the people at the next table got their food. And one of them got the salad that TB usually gets when he has lunch with Corey, and it looked really good.

TB ordered the salad, and it was really good. Just as he started to eat, though, there were two guys at the counter behind him - and they both got omelettes. With toast and home fries.

Regrets? Maybe a few. Very few things are better than an omelette, toast and home fries in a diner.

If TB really wanted to put in the effort, he would connect that with Princeton Athletics. It's a busy weekend, though, so he'll just get to the events coming up.

At home this weekend would be the men's hockey team, tonight and tomorrow night at 7, against Yale and Brown. And women's basketball, home Sunday against Georgia Tech at 1.

The men's basketball team is on the road, Saturday at 7 at St. Joe's.

There are also a few championship events involving Princeton teams.

The women's volleyball team will take on Yale tomorrow night, at 7, in New Haven, where the winner will earn the Ivy League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Princeton and Yale are the league co-champions, and they split their two matches during the regular season.

Princeton is looking for its second-straight trip to the NCAA tournament. The Tigers have now won three straight Ivy titles.

TigerBlog went to the women's volleyball page on and learned that Princeton's NCAA appearance a year ago was the first in nine years. He also saw a headline that said that Maggie O'Connell had made history while being named the Ivy League Player of the Year.

What kind of history? She's the sixth Princeton player to win Ivy Player of the Year and the second to have won that award and Ivy Rookie of the Year in her career as well. O'Connell, a sophomore, is also the first underclassman from Princeton to win Player of the Year.

If TigerBlog Jr. had chosen the Ivy Player of the Year, he would have gone with O'Connell. And he should know. As Yale's PA announcer, he saw every team play. And he'll be there tomorrow night, behind the mic for the championship match.

HERE is the women's volleyball match preview story. 

The men's cross country team runs in the NCAA championships in Louisville tomorrow as well. The Tigers have had quite a season, running together for the first two weeks before Heps at the Princeton Invitational and then overpowering the league to win the Ivy title.

Then, it was on to the NCAA regional last weekend, where Princeton against ran away from the competition to finish first, winning by an astonishing 52 points. All five of Princeton's scorers were in the top 10 at Heps and in the top 25 at the regional. That left all five of them as All-Ivy and All-Region.

So what's the team's ceiling in the finals?

Princeton's best finish ever was 11th, back in 2012. Can this team beat that finish? Well, the Tigers are ranked 28th nationally, but that poll doesn't really reflect where the team is now. Princeton wasn't even ranked for most of the year, for that matter.

Keep in mind, Princeton's full team together has not lost a race this year.

HERE is the full preview.

The women's soccer team plays in the second round of the NCAA tournament today in Cary, N.C., at 2:30 against North Carolina State, a team the Tigers defeated 2-0 back in early September. Princeton was very impressive in its NCAA opener, a 4-0 win over Monmouth.

N.C. State outshot Princeton 15-9 in the first game, but it was the Tigers who converted two chances. What does any of that mean for this game? Not one thing.

Princeton is the fourth seed in the region and ranked 13th nationally. North Carolina State is ranked 21st. It figures to be a good game.

For the winner, there is probably a third-round date Sunday with North Carolina, who plays Colorado in the other game.

Princeton is 15-2-0 on the year. N.C. State is 15-5-1.

More information is right HERE.

The men's water polo team plays in the Northeast Water Polo Conference Tournament this weekend at Harvard. The Tigers are the top seed in the event.

That preview is HERE.

At stake for the winner is an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

In non-championship events, the football team is at Dartmouth as Chad Kanoff chases some major Princeton passing records and the Tigers attempt to keep the Big Green from having a shot at the Ivy crown. Dartmouth would get a share with a win and a Yale loss to Harvard. Columbia could get a share too with a win over Brown and a Yale loss.

For all of Kanoff's numbers - and Jesper Horsted's and Stephen Carlson's and everything else about the game - click HERE.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

More Baby Steps

TigerBlog has told you this story twice before, the first time in 2010 and the second in 2015.

If you already heard it, then bear with him. It's a good one.

TigerBlog's introduction to broadcasting at Princeton came back in 1989, when he first started doing men's basketball games on what was then WHWH radio - AM 1350. David Brody was the play-by-play man, and TigeBlog was first on as a halftime guest, and then as the color commentator for away games.

Eventually, he did the home games with Brody as well. Actually, it was a three-man crew for home games, with Brody, TB and Rich Simkus, the former Tiger center.

One night in a game at Jadwin, the end of the first half didn't go the way Pete Carril wanted, and he was a tad upset as he left the court. Or, as TB said on the radio, he was something else:

TB: Pete Carril looks pretty pissed off right now.

That was followed by silence from TB's partners.

TB: What? You can't say "pissed off" on the radio?
Brody: Apparently you can, because you've said it twice.

Again a pause.

Simkus: You're beautiful.

TB's takeaway, of course, was that he was beautiful.

That was a long time ago, as TB thinks about it. Wow. Nearly 30 years?

A three-man radio team hardly ever works, but with the 45-second shot clock back then, that left plenty of time to talk. And as TB recalls, he and Simkus played off each other well, especially when they'd talk about how TigerBlog rooted against Simkus was he was a Penn student. Simkus was actually a very good analyst. That was a good broadcast team.

By the way, Simkus was featured prominently in the most recent episode of "Hard Cuts," as well as in the picture for the story on the webpage. See it HERE.

Princeton has had a lot of great announcers through the years that TB has been here, up through the present. The current football team (Cody Chrusciel, Craig Sachson, Dave Giancola) is excellent. The men's basketball team of Derek Jones and Noah Savage is as good as it gets for this level. TB would put them up there with anyone.

By the way, the women's broadcasting team this year for the Ivy League Network is John Mozes and Dei Lynam. That's a great pairing as well. Maybe you remember Dei from all of her years covering the NBA, especially the Sixers.

When Jones and Savage do the home games for the Ivy League Network, then the radio announcers are second-generation Tiger play-by-player Patrick McCarthy, the son of Tom McCarthy, and TigerBlog. Last night Patrick had to go solo on the radio, since TigerBlog had to do the PA for the mens' game against BYU.

TigerBlog likes doing the radio. He's never gotten nervous, perhaps because you can't really see your audience. Then again, he doesn't get nervous on the PA either. Maybe it's just nice to hear his voice.

Actually, there's an old episode of "WKRP In Cincinnati" where Bailey tells Johnny that if he gets nervous, he should just pretend he's talking to one person. That's sort of how it is in radio. Pretend you're talking to one person. Describe the game to that one person.

The challenge last night was to correctly pronounce Princeton freshman Jerome Desrosiers, who is French-Canadian, from Quebec. The phonetic spelling would be this: zheh-ROME de-ROH-zee-EH.

That was a good one. Then again, TB was the PA announcer at Jadwin the night that Brown's Alai Nuualiitia had his career high.

As for the game itself last night, Princeton expected a game in the 80s. The last time BYU was at Jadwin the score was 39-37. The teams sort of met in the middle, as BYU defeated Princeton 65-56.

After the game, Princeton coach Mitch Henderson talked about how his team looked good on offense in the opener against Butler (85-75 loss) and good on defense against BYU and that "somewhere in there is a good team."

TigerBlog yesterday talked about "baby steps," about how a team develops over the course of a basketball season. He's seen Princeton men's and women's teams that seemed to be struggling early turn into Ivy championship teams as they developed.

You can't win championships in November. You simply moving your team along the path of those baby steps, looking for the right combinations and answers and rotations and minutes. That's where the Tigers are right now.

According to Henderson, prior to last night he had gotten two technicals in his life and then doubled it with the two he got against the Cougars. He was contrite after the game and apologetic for what happened. 

Sometimes that happens. TB has seen the best of coaches lose it in the moment. Nobody should judge Henderson by that one moment. TB has known Henderson for a long, long time, and he knows that he is a class act, one who has high standards for his program. He also has tremendous passion, especially for Princeton basketball, and the program couldn't be in better hands.

Next up for Princeton is a trip to St. Joe's Saturday night. That's the next chance to move along towards the goal, which is to be a much-improved team come February. TB has no doubt that will be the case.

BYU coach Dave Rose summed it up really well when he got up to leave after his turn in the postgame interview room.

"Mitch has a good team," he said. "A fun team. They're going to have a fun year."

Then he paused and added this:

"Just not tonight." 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Baby Steps

So when people say they slept like a baby, what exactly do they mean?

They mean they slept great, right?

Babies, though, don't sleep all that great. Babies don't sleep all that much for that matter, and when they wake up, they're miserable.

They look peaceful enough while they sleep, so is that where the expression comes from?

Then there's the expression "baby steps." That means, TigerBlog presumes, small steps, making progress, that sort of thing.

Have you ever seen a baby who has just learned to walk? They sprint everywhere. Baby steps? Their little legs churn up and down as fast as they can. You can lose your mind - and your breath - trying to keep up with them.

Wouldn't that mean "baby steps" should refer to "get to the end point as quickly as possible?"

Where do these idioms come from?

Going on the assumption for a minute that baby steps means making small progressions toward the end goal, then Princeton men's and women's basketball teams are in the baby steps portion of the season.

Both teams have played one game. The women defeated defending Atlantic 10 champ George Washington 72-52. The men lost at Butler 85-75.

So what is known for sure? A few things:
* Myles Stephens is an insanely great player who can do everything on the court, on either end
* Stephens, Amir Bell and Devin Cannady complement each other really well
* Cannady, Bell and Stephens are fearless, whether it's going to the basket or shooting from the outside or pretty much anything
* Bella Alarie will be the best player on the court in pretty much every game Princeton plays
* Carlie Littlefield, a freshman from Iowa, is the real deal
* Tia Weledji or Leslie Robinson (or both) could go for 20-plus on any given night

Oh, and this:
* both teams are a lot of fun to watch.

There are questions, too, of course. There should be in November. Baby steps, remember?

Here are a few:
* how many minutes should the major players be getting?
* what will be the men's team's ultimate rotation, and how many players will be in that rotation, for that matter?
* what will Abby Meyers look like when she gets to play?
* how will both team's incredibly strong freshmen classes develop?
* what is the most optimal percentage of points to come from the men's big three?

The answers to these questions will start to play out over the next weeks.

The women have two games this week, tomorrow night at Seton Hall (tip at 7) and then Sunday at 1 at home against Georgia Tech. Both opponents are strong ones, which is what you want from your early season schedule.

Meyers, the 6-0 guard who scored more than 1,700 points in high school, should be ready to go after missing the opener against George Washington. Littlefield, who played 38 minutes in the opener and scored 14 points, was the Ivy Rookie of Week.

As for Alarie, she had 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks against the Colonials. Her presence forces opponents to account for her at all times, and were Alarie concerned only about her own scoring, then that might be a problem. Instead, she plays without forcing anything, and  which opens things up for everyone else.

The result was an 18-point game from Weledji and 11 points and 10 rebounds from Robinson. That's better than 25 from Alarie with no one else in double figures, and it's a winning formula for the Tigers.

The men have their home opener tonight against Brigham Young, a team who beat the Tigers 82-73 one year ago yesterday, in the 2016-17 opener. The Cougars would go to the NIT last year, when they finished 22-12.

This year, BYU won its opener against Mississippi Valley State 91-61 last Saturday. The Cougars are making their first trip to this area of the year, and they'll be back in two weeks to play at the Barclays Center.

As for the last time BYU was at Princeton, it was Dec. 12, 1981. The final score was 39-38. TigerBlog will be surprised if both teams don't beat that tonight in the first half.

Princeton has never beaten BYU, but then again they've only played each five times. Before last year, the teams hadn't played since the 1991-92 season.

On the other hand, it makes for a great home opener, and an intriguing one. It's always good to play different teams, especially ones from big-name programs from the other side of the country.

Keep in mind, the team on the court tonight is trying to figure itself out and be ready for the conference season and ultimately tournament. This won't be a finished product for either team.

Stephens, for instance, played 11 minutes against BYU a year ago, scoring seven. He would go on to be a first-team All-Ivy selection, the league's Defensive Player of the Year and the MVP of the Ivy tournament.

Hey, it's a long way from start to finish.

Baby steps, right?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Is This The Greatest Season Any Princeton Quarterback Has Ever Had?

Harrisburg, of course, is the capital of Pennsylvania.

York is not. It is, however, close to Harrisburg. They're about a half hour apart actually.

Back when TigerBlog Jr. used to play in summer club tournaments in Baltimore, TigerBlog would stay as far away from I-95 on Sunday afternoons for the return trip. Instead, he'd head up I-83 into Pennsylvania, near York, and then pick up the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Harrisburg.

Harrisburg and York were separated by less than that Saturday afternoon, when TigerBlog was reading the script for senior day at Princeton football. They were the hometowns of consecutive players, Mike Perloski from Harrisburg and Erik Ramirez from York.

TB wondered if they knew each other before they came here. Probably not, he'd guess. 

Not that it matters if their hometowns were close. Here were two football teammates at Princeton for the last four years who grew up a few miles apart. And then there were the rest of the seniors, from 12 different states, stretching from East to West and North to South.

Princeton Athletics always talks about the 40-year experience, not the four-year one. The friendships that are formed on these teams stand the complete test of time, with the starting point of hometowns from anywhere.

As TB always says, it's something that makes Princeton Athletics very, very special. The love for the programs and the impact they have had on those who have come through them never ends.

If you had any doubt about that, the halftime ceremony Saturday hammered it home nicely. Princeton is finishing its 148th year, and it has had 186 football captains all time. Of those 186, there are 84 who are still alive.

And how many of them were on the field at halftime Saturday? How about 52 of them.

It's what Princeton does so well. It breeds loyalty. Its value is stressed from Day 1 when freshmen arrive, and it never goes away.

The 2017 Princeton football season ends Saturday in Hanover, when Princeton plays Dartmouth in a game that could have an impact on the championship race.

The standings through nine weeks have Yale at 5-1 having clinched at least a tie for the title. Dartmouth and Columbia (who plays Brown) are both 4-2, and one or both would get a share of the championship with a win and a Yale loss to Harvard.

Princeton, the 2016 champ, is finishing off a year that will be remembered by a few things. Injuries, for one, which cost the team much of its starting defense, not to mention reigning first-team All-America and Offensive Bushnell Cup winner John Lovett.

Princeton will also remember 2017 for its four excruciating Ivy losses, all of which saw Princeton have the lead in the fourth quarter. It's hard to say how different things might have been with Lovett, since without him, Princeton had to abandon a lot of what it did that made Lovett so good.

Instead of having Lovett and Chad Kanoff in the backfield at the same, Princeton has gone almost exclusively with Kanoff. As a result, Kanoff has thrown 70 more passes through nine games than he did in 10 a year ago, and he's putting the finishing touches on quite possibly the best single-season any Princeton quarterback has ever had.

If you want to look at this purely statistically, Princeton has scored 37.6 points per game, tops in the Ivy League and eighth in the Football Championship Subdivision. A year ago, Princeton scored 34.6 per game.

At the same time, Princeton has gone from second to seventh in the league in time of possession, averaging four fewer minutes per game. This is usually the most misleading stat there is, in that Princeton has a quick-strike offense that can put points up in short bursts, so possession time isn't a great barometer.

On the other hand, this is where Lovett's impact is at its greatest. His ability on short yardage keeps some drives going, which would have kept the ball away from the opponent. His ability to score in close then turns into even more points.

Had Lovett not been hurt, TB's sense is that Kanoff would have pretty much matched what he did and Lovett would have been an even better complement to him because of that. The result would have been an even better offense.

Unfortunately, there's no way to know if that's the case. TB doesn't think it would be like basketball, where any shots that Player A took would take shots away from Player B. In this case, Kanoff and Lovett would have blended together in a way that would have made Princeton's offense unstoppable.

For all that, it's still worth it to consider all of the records that have been or might be shattered this year by Kanoff and his receivers:

* touchdown passes in a season - Kanoff already has the record with 26
* touchdown receptions in a season - Jesper Horsted alread has the record with 12, though Stephen Carlson has 10 of his own (it's the first time in Ivy history that teammates have reached double figures in the same year)
* completion percentage in a season - Kanoff can go 0 for 20 against Dartmouth and still break the record; his 72.2 percent leads the FCS
* passing yards in a season - Kanoff has 3,030, which leaves him 145 away from tying Doug Butler's record from 1983

And, of course, there is passing yards in a career. Kanoff has 7,066 yards with one game to go. The record is 7,291, held by Butler. That means Kanoff needs 225 yards to tie that record.

And that takes TB back to the original question. Is this the greatest season any Princeton quarterback has ever had?

That's hard to quantify, since not all offenses are the same. In fact, you can make a case that Lovett's season a year ago - 20 rushing touchdowns, 10 passing touchdowns, one receiving touchdown - had a great impact.

So you can make your own conclusions.

TigerBlog? He'll just say that he would have loved to see what Kanoff and Lovett together would have done this year.

Monday, November 13, 2017

And That's Four For The Fall

With everything that happened during the very busy weekend at Princeton, TigerBlog wasn't 100 percent sure where to start today.

So, he figured he'd start with two TV commercials that constantly play.

The one where Aaron Rodgers' dog growls at Clay Matthews after he smashes the truck in which Rodgers and the dog had so many great moments? That one is great.

The one where they're breaking Grandma out of the old-folks home to take her to Belize? That doesn't make sense. Are old folks homes prisons?

Okay, with that out of the way, where else to start?

How about with another Ivy League championship, which brings the number this fall to four.

Princeton had already won Ivy titles this season in women's soccer, field hockey and men's cross country. All three of those teams competed in the postseason this weekend, and all three did so really well.

TB will get to that shortly.

The women's volleyball team won its third straight Ivy title, tying Yale for the championship and forcing a playoff Saturday night in New Haven for the league's NCAA tournament automatic bid. Princeton and Yale had entered the weekend tied for first and then both split matches this weekend, leaving the teams tied again.

Princeton defeated Yale in four games in New Haven. Yale defeated Princeton in three games in Princeton. That's what put the teams at Yale Saturday, and that puts TigerBlog Jr. as the PA announcer for the deciding match. As he put it when he found out there'd be a playoff: "more money for me."

The winner of the match Saturday gets to the NCAA tournament. The other three fall Ivy champs were already there.

By the way, the Ivy League has seven official sports in the fall. Princeton won four of the seven championships. That's not too bad a start to the school year.

The first to the postseason was the men's cross country team, which followed up its win at Ivy Heps two weeks ago by storming to the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional championship by placing all of its top five in the top 25 to beat second-place Navy by 52 points.

This is the second time Princeton has won the regional. The other time was in 2010.

Up next for Princeton is the NCAA championship race, Friday in Louisville. Women's Heps champ Gabi Forrest was third in the women's race, probably earning her own spot in Kentucky.

The field hockey team was in Virginia hoping for a return trip to the NCAA Final Four, and the Tigers would play two thrilling games. The first was Saturday, when Ryan McCarthy scored in OT to give the Tigers a 3-2 win in the first round. Princeton would then be on the wrong end of that score yesterday, when North Carolina held on three corners after time had expired to eliminate the Tigers.

If you're keeping score in the first two years of head coach Carla Tagliente, that adds up to two NCAA appearances, three NCAA tournament wins, one Final Four and another quarterfinal.

The field hockey team opened and closed its season against North Carolina. For the women's soccer team, an opening round NCAA tournament loss would have meant something similar, only substituting Monmouth for North Carolina.

The Tigers opened their season with a 3-0 win over Monmouth on Aug. 25. The temperature that day was in the low 80s.

For the rematch, in the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday night, the temperature had dipped about 65 degrees or so, but that didn't stop the Tigers, who were dominant in a 4-0 win. If TB is correct, Princeton has now played 20 NCAA tournament games in its history, with a record of 9-11. That record breaks down as 8-2 all-time at Princeton and 1-9 away from Princeton.

The Tigers get a chance to turn that around this weekend, when they play North Carolina State in North Carolina. Princeton defeated NC State 2-0 back on Sept. 2.

That's not a bad postseason for the fall teams. That's NCAA wins for women's soccer and field hockey, a regional championship in men's cross country and an individual woman runner who qualified for the finals.

There was a lot more to the weekend in Princeton Athletics.

Among other things, there was hockey and basketball. And football, including one pass that broke two school records that between them had existed for 68 years.

There's also plenty of time to talk about them later in the week. 

Some days there isn't much to talk about. Some days there's just too much to cover.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Record Chasing, And The Rest Of The Weekend

As TigerBlog has said many times before, the most unbreakable record at Princeton has to be the 2,503 points that Bill Bradley scored in men's basketball.

Bradley graduated in 1965. Since then, no player has scored more than the 1,625 that Ian Hummer did. That's 878 shy of Bradley, who, by the way, put up his total in three years without a three-point shot.

Spencer Weisz and Stephen Cook, who graduated last year, are both in the top 15 all-time at Princeton in scoring. Together they combined for 2,389 points, or 114 short of Bradley by himself.

TigerBlog likes to throw those numbers out there every now and then to remind you of just how insane Bradley's career here was.

TigerBlog, by the way, saw a story the other day about the recent wedding of WNBA player Elena Delle Donne. If you remember, Delle Donne played at Delaware and had an incredible game at Jadwin one night. TigerBlog wrote THIS about her.

If you don't go back and read it, TB was basically making the case that Delle Donne was the Bill Bradley of women's basketball. It's not that ridiculous a claim, either. She scored even more points than Bradley did - 3,039 of them - compared to the second-place total of 1,675. Nobody will ever approach that.

Also, Bradley has the 11 highest scoring single-game totals in Princeton history. Delle Donne has 15 of the top 16 at Delaware.

And of course all of this brings TigerBlog to Chad Kanoff and Jesper Horsted.

The two Princeton football players are chasing records that aren't nearly as untouchable as Bradley's, but at the same time, they've certainly stood the test of time.

Kanoff  is going after the record for passing yards in a career and a season, both of which date back more than 30 years and are held by Doug Butler. Horsted is going after the 34-year-old school record for receptions in a season, currently held by Kevin Guthrie, and the record for touchdown receptions in a season, which was set by Derek Graham in 1983 and equaled four years ago by Roman Wilson.

Here's the scorecard for the records:
Passing yards in a career - 7,291 by Butler (played from 1983-85); Kanoff has 6,612
Passing yards in a season - 3,175 by Butler (in 1983); Kanoff has 2,576
Completion percentage in a season - 68.2% by Jason Garrett in 1988; Kanoff is now at 74.4%
Receptions in a season - 88 by Kevin Guthrie in 1983; Horsted has 74
Touchdown receptions in a season - 11 by Graham and Wilson; Horsted has 10, Stephen Carlson has 9

Princeton has two games remaining, tomorrow at 1 against Yale on Powers Field and then next Saturday at Dartmouth. The Tigers are still mathematically alive for an Ivy title, which means a lot, and a win tomorrow would bring with it a Big Three championship bonfire, which actually means more to some people.

The football game tomorrow, against a Yale team that would clinch at least a share of the league championship with a win of its own, is just one of many big events this weekend. Some are here. Others are away, with viewing options of all kinds.

Here are some of the other highlights:

* NCAA tournament time
The field hockey team will be at Virginia tomorrow afternoon (2) in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers did not play UVa during the regular season, but they did defeat the Cavs in the opening round of the tournament a year ago, on the way to the Final Four. The winner of the Princeton-Virginia game will get the winner of North Carolina-St. Joe's. For Princeton, this is the 22nd trip to the NCAA field hockey tournament. The women's soccer team is home tonight at 7 against Monmouth in the first round of that NCAA tournament. The Tigers have had a great season and have earned the No. 4 seed in the region. The reward is Monmouth, a team that is 15-1-1 in its last 17 games, after Princeton beat Monmouth 3-0 back in August. The winner of this one gets the winner of Arkansas-North Carolina State, next weekend at North Carolina. 

* Women's volleyball
The Tigers are tied with Yale for first at 9-3 heading into the final weekend, which sees Princeton at Harvard and Dartmouth and Yale at Columbia and Cornell. Should they be tied at the end of the week, they'd be co-champs, and there'd be a playoff for the Ivy bid to the NCAA tournament. Should Princeton and Yale both get swept, then Harvard or Penn could still get in on a three-way tie for the title, though just one win by either Princeton or Yale eliminates both the Crimson and Quakers.

* Women's basketball
It'll be Princeton against George Washington at 6:30 tonight on Carril Court in the season opener. Then it'll be the next episode of "The Court Report" next week to discuss it. Side note - Yale opens its women's basketball season at home against LIU-Brooklyn tonight as well. It'll be TigerBlog as the PA announcer at Princeton and TigerBlog Jr. as the PA announcer at Yale. May the best PA announcer win.

* Men's basketball
Princeton opens the 2017-18 season at Butler Sunday at 6. You can see the game on CBS Sports Network. It'll be the first chance to see what Princeton looks like after a season in which the Tigers were perfect in the Ivy League, won the first Ivy tournament and lost by two to Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament. The goal, clearly, is to get back to the tournament, but that's a long way away. For now, it's a very attractive opener against Butler, one of the top programs in college basketball in the last decade. For Princeton, it'll be interesting to get a first look at how things look without Weisz and Cook and how Devin Cannady, Amir Bell and Myles Stephens mix with the returning role players and the freshmen. Princeton has been an extraordinarily exciting team the last few years. This year figures to be no different.

* Men's/Women's hockey
Princeton takes on RPI and Union, with the women home and the men away. Admission to the women's games are free.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Court Report

For the second time this week, TigerBlog has had someone text him about a bucket list accomplishment.

This time, it was his cousin Nicole who texted him. It started out with her saying "guess what I did" and then sending this picture:

She won and everything. Okay, maybe she didn't win. But she did finish, which is very impressive.

Then she said this: "It was amazing just running through the boroughs, all the different ethnicities and DJ/bands in every neighborhood cheering you on with signs."

And then: "It was on my bucket list."

Congrats to Nicole. TigerBlog didn't even realize she was a runner. Nicole says that she's pretty happy, especially since she was always picked last in gym class as a kid.

As for TB, he has a very short bucket list. Like, maybe five things or so. Running a marathon is not one of them.

He has no way of knowing this for sure, because he's never asked her about this, but his sense is that Courtney Banghart has in fact at some point of her life run a marathon. TB can ask her about this next week when the two of them sit down for Episode 2 of the weekly podcast that debuted yesterday.

You can listen to it HERE.

It's called "The Court Report." That's the whole Courtney/basketball court thing. Pretty clever, no?

The first episode talks about a bunch of subjects, including Courtney's work with USA Basketball this past summer, the coming season, her kids' Halloween's costumes, the alumni base, why her freshmen will be wearing uniform numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Oh, and there was also the part of the conversation about how the basketball season is a marathon here. It starts on the first day of classes, and it keeps going well into March if things go right. TB asked Courtney about the mental part of that, as well as the physical part, of trying to stay strong throughout the grind.

Think about it. The football season lasts 10 weeks. The basketball season lasts 17 or so; the hockey season is even longer than that. 

The Tigers will host George Washington at 6:30 tomorrow on Carril Court in the season opener. Princeton is looking for its ninth straight postseason appearance under Banghart (six NCAAs, two NITs), who has built the program into one of the models in all of women's hoops.

Think about it.  

The game tonight starts things out, a little less than two weeks before Thanksgiving. The plan is to be playing at your best, and most important, around St. Patrick's Day. That's a lot.

As for the on-court product, this will be Year 2 for Bella Alarie, who like Courtney had experience with USA Basketball this past summer. Alarie had an unbelievable freshman year on both ends of the court, and she will now be one of the leaders - along with senior captains Leslie Robinson and Tia Weledji, who played for the national team in Cameroon over the summer - of a team whose four freshmen figure to also make an immediate impact.

If you want to see more about the international basketball experience of the player and coach, click HERE for a video that TB's colleague Cody Chrusciel put together.  

When TB watched the video, he forgot that Banghart had gone to Italy to watch Alarie play for Team USA (at the World U19 Championships). You can tell by Alarie's comments as she discusses it how much it meant to her to have her coach there.

The start of women's basketball season is also the start of a really busy weekend for Princeton Athletics. And a really busy Friday, for that matter. 

In addition to women's basketball, there will also be the NCAA women's soccer game against Monmouth and the women's hockey regular season game against RPI, all of which start at 7. Nothing like a little crossover, right?

Hey, there are actually nine events tomorrow alone. That's an unusually busy Friday.

The women's volleyball team will be playing this weekend for at least a share of the Ivy title. The men's and women's cross country teams will be running tomorrow at Lehigh in the NCAA regionals. The men's hockey team is on the road. 

For that matter, so is the men's basketball team, which opens its season at Butler Sunday night, closing out the busy weekend.

TB will have more on all of those things tomorrow. He doesn't have to throw everything at you today.

It's a marathon, after all, not a sprint.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


You know what was trending on Twitter Monday afternoon?

It was this: #ThankYourSID.

If you don't know what an SID is, it starts for "sports information director." Even though TigerBlog has always preferred the term "athletic communications" to "sports information," they are pretty much the same thing.

So, seeing SID trending on Twitter, TB naturally went to check on it. And what did he learn? It's CoSIDA Membership Recognition Week.

There's even a graphic on the CoSIDA website (CoSIDA stands for "College Sports Information Directors of America) that says this: "we're your storytellers, communications strategists, social media managers, graphic designers, event managers, live stream coordinators, statisticians/record keepers and so much more ..."

That covers a lot, though not quite everything.

So much of college athletics involves being able to connect with different groups. Recruits. Alums. Current athletes and the families/friends. The public.

That's what's at the heart of this department and so many others. You want to recruit athletes. You want to give them the best experience you can when they're here. You want them to stay loyal after they graduate. You want the community to be engaged.

Simple, right? And how do you tell those stories? You get people like TigerBlog and the rest of his colleagues in the Princeton Office of Athletic Communications, as well as around the country.

If you want to #ThankYourSID at Princeton, then here's whom you should be thanking:

Craig Sachson - football, wrestling, m/w swimming and diving, m/w volleyball, m/w rowing, m/w squash
Andrew Borders - men's basketball, women's soccer, softball, m/w tennis, m/w golf, m/w fencing
Kristy McNeil - men's soccer, m/w hockey, women's lacrosse, m/w cross country/track and field
Warren Croxton - field hockey, women's basketball, baseball, m/w water polo
TigerBlog - men's lacrosse
Cody Chrusciel/John Bullis - videostreaming, original video production

It's a great group here. They produce a ton of content. They're reliable, and they are committed to all of the great things about Princeton Athletics, and especially about doing what they can to give the athletes the best possible experience while they're here.

While the subject for the day is thanking SIDs, TigerBlog wants to give a special thank you to Jeff Bernstein, the sports information director at NYU.

TigerBlog has known Jeff for a long time, back to when he was at Manhattan College. TB has known Bill Steinman even longer, back to when TB first started covering Princeton sports.

Bill was the longtime SID at Columbia. You haven't met too many nicer people in your life than Bill Steinman. He was always happy to see TigerBlog, Bill and the late Bill Shannon, who covered Columbia football and basketball for the AP.

TigerBlog spent many nights writing stories in the small offices that used to be the home of the Columbia sports information office, laughing with Bill and Bill.

By the way, Bill Steinman is the brother of Jim Steinman. Who is he? Jim Steinman is the one who wrote all of the lyrics for, among other things, Meat Loaf's album "Bat Out Of Hell." And the song "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young," which is one you've never heard, so you'll have to take TB's word for it that it's great.

TigerBlog met Jim Steinman at a Columbia-Princeton basketball game one night. Bill Steinman introduced him.

Those days were a long time ago. These days, Bill Steinman is in poor health and in need of a wheelchair. When Jeff Bernstein found out that Bill was in a non-motorized wheelchair because he couldn't afford a motorized one, he reached out to a sports information group to pitch in and raise the money necessary.

The original email list took TB down memory lane, by the way. There was one name after another that TB hasn't seen in awhile.

Back when TB first got into Ivy League athletics, the sports information group was a tight one. TB was in constant communication with them, exchanging information before games that has long been a matter of an email or a trip to a web page.

Back then, those relationships led to friendships, or at the very least friendly rivalries. In fact, the first time the sports information group attended the regular Ivy meetings, TB pointed out to the larger administrative gathering that at the dinner the night before, the tables were inhabited school-by-school except for the sports information people, who had all sat together.

TB is happy to report that thanks to Jeff's leadership on this, Bill Steinman is now in the motorized wheelchair that he needs.

Jeff's word was that not having that chair for Bill would be "unacceptable," and so he reached out to a group he had to know would respond.

That's how it works in sports info.

It's a loyal group. It's a hard-working group.

And it often has its collective hearts in the right place.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Back Where They Started

Shortly after TigerBlog turned 50, he played squash with his colleague Craig Sachson. This was nothing new back then. TB and Craig played pretty much every day for years.

If you add up all of the matches, Craig probably won close to 55 percent of the time. When TB won shortly after that birthday, though, it dawned on him that here he was in his 50s, beating Craig, who was still in his 30s.

TB has had only one year that really troubled him. That was when he was 49. It didn't bother him when he was 30, or 40. For some reason, only 49 gave him issues. As it turned out, turning 50 was fun, actually.

TB's colleague Kim Meszaros, the assistant to Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, turned 50 yesterday. TigerBlog wished her a happy birthday, and Kim responded by sending him a text of something she put on her Facebook page (TB does not have a Facebook page of his own).

The text included 50 things that Kim had wanted to do in the year before she turned 50. It was a bucket-list type thing, only for before she turned 50. She'll have to come up with a new list for before she turns 60, and 70, and 80, and so on.

She put check marks next to all the things that she did on that list. Some are small. Some are big.

Learn to use a mitre saw? Check. Hike some of the Appalachian Trail? Check. Drive a truck? Check. Play laser tag? Check.

Run the Philadelphia Art Museum steps? Yo, check.

It's a great list.

Kim came to Princeton in 1995, working first in the football office. She's long since been a staple in the outer office of Room 1, first when Gary Walters was the Ford Family AD and now in the four years since Mollie has taken over.

TB has heard both AD's say how the entire place would have fallen apart many times over without Kim around.

She is in many ways the glue of the athletic department. There are very few things that happen around here that don't make it across her desk, and she seems to handle stress with a little sarcasm and some laughs, which is pretty much the way TB does.

She is also appreciated outside of the athletic department, as her status as one of the University's Presidential Award winners would indicate.

TigerBlog asked Kim to write a guest entry about her experiences here, and she one day might do it. Just not today.

While Kim works on that, TigerBlog will change subjects - to Princeton women's soccer and the NCAA selection show.

Princeton has put together one of the best seasons in program history, which is saying something, considering the history of the program. The Tigers are 14-2-0, and they won the outright Ivy title by going 6-1-0 in the league. They got the 1-0 win Saturday at Penn that they needed to close out the league championship.

Selection shows are interesting dynamics. The teams involved don't know where they'll be placed, and so as the brackets are released, it's a constant game of "is that us?"

Or, if you're a bubble team, "if that's us."
Princeton's RPI has been in the single digits basically all season, so it wasn't like the automatic bid was a necessity to get into the tournament. Still, Princeton had that in its pocket and knew it was a matter of opponent and seed as the show started.

The drama was all related to which part of the bracket would say "Princeton."

TB figured the Tigers for a three-seed in one of the brackets, but he knew there was a chance for a four. And that's how it turned out.

Princeton slid through the first three regions. TB thought he'd see the Tigers matched in the bracket against UCLA when the Bruins were named a No. 2 seed, but instead that became Virginia.

All that was left then was the No. 4 spot in that region, and that was the one Princeton earned.

The opening round will be Friday, at 7 on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium, and sorry, but there will be admission charged.

And the opponent?

It's Monmouth.

Perhaps you remember Monmouth from every entry TB had on Fridays in the summer, when he'd say that there were only a certain number of weeks left until the first athletic event of the year, the women's soccer game against Monmouth. Princeton won that one 3-0, back on Aug. 25.

In case you haven't been paying attention since, Monmouth dropped to 0-2-1 after three games. Since then, Monmouth is 15-1-1, including 6-0-0 in the last six.

The winner of Princeton-Monmouth gets the winner of North Carolina State (one of the four teams in the field Princeton has beaten)-Arkansas. Up next would linger North Carolina.

Oh, and the highlight of the show was when the announcer said that there was a matchup that would excite fans of American football: Clemson-Alabama. That was funny.

TigerBlog has never been to an SEC or ACC football game. Or any conference that is currently in the Power 5 group.

He'd like to one day. It's not a big deal if he doesn't.

It's not like it's on his bucket list or anything.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Falling Back On A Big Fall

TigerBlog owns a watch. He just never wears it.

He tells time the way most people do these days. He looks on his phone.

At first, when it came time to change the clocks, TigerBlog had no idea if his phone was automatically correcting the time or not. It took a few years before he was sure it was.

These days, when it comes time to change the time, that means adjusting the microwave and the stove. And if you still have an actual clock that hangs on the wall, then you have to take it down, change the hands and then try to hang it back up on the hook or the nail. That's the toughest part.

Oh, and the car. That's another one. TigerBlog can never remember exactly how to change the time in the car. It's a twice-yearly pain.

So now it's no longer Daylight Savings Time. You gained an hour of sleep Saturday night into Sunday, which makes TB wonder why it doesn't start on a Sunday night into Monday, when people can really use an extra hour.

And if you have little kids, well, nobody told them they were supposed to sleep later. They woke up at the same time they always do, only it's an hour earlier.

In a rarity, TigerBlog was wearing shorts all day on the day that the clocks were turned back. It's usually a dreary sign that summer is long gone - the fact that it is now going to get dark around 5 and even earlier for the next few weeks. Winter is on the horizon.

Spring ahead is out there. This weekend was to fall back.

Princeton is falling back on a pretty good fall, and this past weekend saw two more teams win outright Ivy League championships. A third got a weekend sweep and now heads into the final weekend of the regular season knowing that another sweep would mean at least a share of the championship.

A fourth team continues to quietly rise from what could have been a disastrous season. Playing for championships is one thing. Everyone can get motivated by that. Playing for pride is a lot tougher.

Princeton's first Ivy championship of the fall was in men's cross country. The second was in field hockey, who earned at least a share of the title last weekend and needed a win at Penn Saturday to clinch the outright championship.

Princeton trailed 1-0 early in the game before rallying to win 2-1. The result was Princeton's 25th Ivy League championship (that's a lot).

The NCAA tournament starts for the Tigers Saturday at Virginia. As you recall, Princeton was a Final Four team a year ago - and the 2012 NCAA champ.

The third Ivy title came from the women's soccer team. Princeton will find its NCAA tournament opponent this afternoon at 4:30 on

Princeton is very likely to play at home in the tournament. The Tigers were also very likely to be in even had they not won the league championship, something that looked like a real possibility after the loss to Columbia on Oct. 14.

Instead, the Tigers won out and then got some help when Columbia tripped up against Yale two weeks ago, putting the teams in a tie for first. Princeton then knocked off Penn 1-0 Saturday afternoon to clinch at least a tie, and when Columbia and Harvard ended up scoreless, that became an outright championship.

The women's volleyball team had a rough weekend in mid-October also, getting swept at Columbia and Cornell. Then there was a home loss against Yale last weekend, one that left the Tigers a game back of the Bulldogs.

This weekend, Princeton avenged that weekend sweep by sweeping past Columbia and Cornell. Yale's split this weekend, with a loss to Harvard Friday, leaves Princeton and Yale at 9-3 each heading into the final weekend, with Harvard and Penn still mathematically alive at 7-5 (there can't be a four-way tie because Harvard plays Penn Saturday).

Princeton is at Harvard Friday and Dartmouth Saturday. Wins in both mean at least a tie for a third-straight Ivy League championship. Yale is at Columbia and Cornell this coming weekend, meaning the Bulldogs will be without their good-luck PA announcer. 

Dartmouth has already clinched a share of the men's soccer championship. Princeton? The Tigers will not be the champs, but guess what?

Princeton is in third place.

The Tigers were 2-6-2 back on Oct. 7, after a loss at Brown. Princeton was also 0-2-0 in the Ivy League, beaten up by injuries and playing an incredibly young team. More than that, it seemed like every game was more flukish, more demoralizing than the one before it, with brutal loss after brutal loss.

If any team could have been forgiven for mailing it in, that would have been the Princeton men's soccer team.

Since then? Princeton is 4-0-2 and is now back at .500 at 6-6-4 overall, 2-2-2 in the league, after a 2-1 win over Penn in overtime Saturday night. Should Princeton beat Yale next weekend in the season finale, it would finish above .500 in both. That would be impressive.

The football team had a tough loss at Penn Saturday. The Tigers are still mathematically alive to be part of a bizarre tie at 4-3 in the league, but TB will get into that more later.

And one more thing for today: Happy birthday MotherBlog, who would have been 78 years old today. She left this world a long time ago, but she hasn't been forgotten.