Friday, December 29, 2017

The Best Of 2017, Part 2

Apparently, depending on when certain holidays fall, there will be either 253, 254 or 255 days in a year that fall on what you can call a work day.

It's on those days that TigerBlog comes to you here. Each year starting in 2010, there have been either 253, 254 or 255 entries.

There were 272 in 2009, back when there were still some in-game updates here and when there were a few days when multiple Office of Athletic Communications people wrote short entries.

The origins of the blog go back to 2008, when TigerBlog's former colleague Yariv Amir created it and then asked the question of what to do with it. At first, there were some really small news items posted here, like the change of a start time or one note about an upcoming game. Nobody read it.

Then there was a short time of in-game blogging, but that didn't really work either. Livestats, after all, basically told the same story.

With a blog but with no blog strategy, TigerBlog had one main thought - he didn't want to create additional work for the rest of his office. Then he figured he might as well write a few stories about his own experiences with Princeton Athletics, even though this was contrary to everything he thought and had been taught: that the news is the news; your reporting the news is not news.

As a compromise, he decided to do it in the third person, and that's where he's been every since. Each New Year, by the way, he thinks about switching over to first person, though he hasn't done it yet.

Lastly, he figured that if he was going to do this, he had to do it every day, or else the audience wouldn't grow to its fullest. He's not sure what he was thinking at the time about how long he figured to do it, but here he is, at the end of another year.

The opportunity to do this every day is important to him. It's a chance to talk about what's going on at Princeton and try to give his perspective, in any number of areas, including its history and its values.

So, as this is it for 2017, TigerBlog would like to wish a Happy 2018 to all of the loyal readers. And even to the disloyal ones.

Before 2017 ends, there are also a few athletic events to go, including four home hockey games - two for the men against No. 1 St. Cloud tonight and tomorrow and two for the women against Boston University tomorrow and Sunday - and women's basketball at home tomorrow at 4 against UMBC. The wrestling team is at Northwestern for the Midlands today and tomorrow.

And there is also the matter of the top five moments of Princeton Athletics from this calendar year.

Yesterday, TB brought you the Nos. 6-10, as well as seven honorable mention entries. Here is the top five of 2017 (again, TB chose these himself):

5. Chad Kanoff and Jesper Horsted destroy the record football record book
Some of the most glamorous records in the football record book dated back to the early and mid-1980s. They lasted through decades, through great players, through championship seasons. They couldn't outlast Chad Kanoff and Jesper Horsted in 2017 though. Kanoff, the quarterback, set 12 Princeton or Ivy League records, including passing yards in a season (Ivy record too) and career, completion percentage in a season for both the program and the league and touchdown passes in a season en route to winning the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy's Offensive Player of the Year. Kanoff also tied the Ivy record for 400-yard and 300-yard games in a season. His favorite target was Horsted, whose 92 receptions and 14 touchdown receptions were Princeton records.

4. Olivia Hompe destroys the Princeton women's lacrosse record book
When the football season started, it seemed like the career record for passing yards in a season was just too far out of reach for Chad Kanoff. On the other hand, the same had seemed true for Olivia Hompe when women's lacrosse season started, when it seemed like the Princeton record for career scoring was just too far out of reach. Instead, Hompe was just completely unstoppable all season, and when she was done, she held the records for single-season and career goals and points for Princeton. It wasn't just the Olivia Hompe show for the Tigers all spring though, as Princeton spent most of the year ranked in the top 5 and then reached the NCAA quarterfinals. Princeton also won the Ivy League regular-season and tournament championships and then defeated Cornell for the third time on the season in a thrilling 11-9 game, one in which the game-winning goal was scored by Elizabeth George, on a Hompe assist, just as one of the hardest rainstorms any team has ever experienced broke out.

3. The men's hockey team wins an epic series as part of a turnaround season
If you take away any historical context, then it's possible that Game 2 of the ECAC men's hockey series between Princeton and Colgate was the best game a Princeton team has played in a long, long time. Princeton, having dropped the series opener 3-2 in overtime, trailed by that same score into the third period. Late into the third period. Like the final seconds of the third period. And then, as time was about to expire, here came a diving Eric Robinson to knock the puck in with just one second to go. Tie game. Then Max Veronneau won it OT and Princeton won Game 3 in another nailbiter, 2-1, the next day. Princeton had expected to finish 12th in the 12-team ECAC men's hockey race for the 2016-17 season but instead finished seventh, to host the ECAC series in the first place. The resurgent Tigers became one of the highest-scoring and most exciting teams in Division I as Ron Fogarty continues to rebuild the program.

2. The men's basketball becomes the first 16-0 team in Ivy history
The year 2017 was going to special in Ivy basketball no matter what, since it was going to mark the first-ever Ivy tournament. Into that stepped a 14-0 Princeton team that in any other year would have won the league by four games. In 2017, though, Princeton needed to do something more to get to the NCAA tournament, and that was win two more games. The first was against Penn on Penn's home court, and it took a Myles Stephens (tournament MVP) put-back on an offensive rebound with five seconds left to force OT, where Princeton then won comfortably. Princeton then pulled away from Yale 71-59 to finish a perfect 16-0 against the league. Princeton then dropped a tough 60-58 decision to Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament opening round.

1. Women's soccer
The top story in Princeton Athletics for 2017 might have been debatable until Abby Givens ended any doubts 8:18 into the overtime back on Nov. 19. That's when Givens just got to a ball that she was able to get just past the goalkeeper and have it just make its way into the goal. This wasn't just any game. This was the NCAA Sweet 16. And this didn't come against just any opponent. This was against North Carolina, the No. 1 seed, the 23-time NCAA champion, the team that had allowed just four goals in 16 games prior to meeting up with Princeton. Givens' goal gave Princeton a 2-1 win in what is one of the greatest and most historic wins in Princeton history. It came two days after Princeton had another improbable win, this time in penalty kicks to North Carolina State when the Tigers were down to their last chance and needed a Natalie Grossi save to even get a shot at UNC in the first place. Princeton won the outright Ivy League championship during its 16-3-1 season and spent most of the year ranked in top 10. The season ended with a loss to UCLA in the quarterfinals.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Best Of 2017, Part 1

This is it, the last two times TigerBlog will be coming to you in 2017.

As with the end of any calendar year, it's a good time to look back at the best of the previous 12 months. Which best, though?

Is it the best games? The best stories? The best moments?

Depending on what definition you want to use, the order can be wildly different. That's in most years. In 2017 for Princeton Athletics, all three are the same.

You can see that tomorrow, in Part 2 of the countdown. For today, TigerBlog offers up the best of 2017 in Princeton Athletics.

By the way, does it have to be a top 10? How about 17, since 1) Princeton has 37 teams and 2) it's 2017.

Also, this countdown will only take into account athletes who competed in Princeton Athletic events in 2017. This lets out, among other things, the long list of accomplishments of Princeton alums in pro sports and current Tigers in international competition the last 12 months. On the other hand, maybe those could have been entries by themselves?

Lastly, TigerBlog picked this list himself, so if you disagree with it (or agree with it for that matter), you'll know whose decisions they were. So here you go, the top 17 of 2017:

Honorable mention
The first seven will be given honorable mention status, so they are in no order. Either that, or they're all tied for 11th.

* there was the women's golf team, which won the Ivy League championship by a near-record 31 strokes. Maya Walton then became the second Princeton women's golfer to qualify for the NCAA championships.

* Ashleigh Johnson solidified her status as one of the greatest athletes in Ivy League history by winning the Cutino Award, the top award in college water polo.

* the women's basketball team qualified for the postseason for the eighth straight year

* Michael Sowers set the Princeton men's lacrosse record for points in a season with 82 (41G, 41), also becoming the first player in program history with at least 40 goals and 40 assists in a season. Sowers also set the Ivy League records for points and goals by a freshman. Gavin McBride broke the 21-year old school record for goals in a season with 54. Zach Currier became the first player in program history with at least 50 points and 100 ground balls in a season with his unbelievable senior year.

* the softball team won its second straight Ivy League championship and advanced again to the NCAA tournament.

* Gabi Forrest earned a stunning win at the Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships, an accomplishment made even more special by the fact that her mother had flown from Australia to watch the race. Forrest went on to advance to the NCAA championships and earn All-America honors.

* Steph Neatby made a program-record 60 saves in an ECAC opening-round series game against Quinnipiac. Princeton would advance to the league semifinals for the first time in 11 years.

And now the top 10. TigerBlog will give you 6-10 today and then the top five tomorrow.

No. 10 - women's volleyball wins playoff at Yale to reach NCAA tournament
Talk about doing it the hard way. For the second time in three years, actually. The women's volleyball team lost three of four Ivy matches in midseason and missed a chance to clinch its NCAA spot on the last night of the regular season, but none of that mattered when Princeton came back to sweep Yale 3-0 in the Ivy League's one-game NCAA play-in match. Even that wasn't easy - Princeton trailed 17-7 in the first game. The Ivy title was the third straight for Princeton, including one two years earlier in which Princeton went from a 3-4 league to start to win its final seven matches.

No. 9 - field hockey
The field hockey team raced through the Ivy League with a perfect 7-0 record. Included in that run was some serious drama, including two Ryan McCarthy goals in the final three minutes of a 3-2 win over Yale, a 3-0 win over Harvard in a matchup of Ivy unbeatens and a 2-1 win over Penn to clinch the outright title after Princeton had trailed 1-0 at the half. Princeton reached the NCAA quarterfinals with a 3-2 win over Virginia on McCarthy's goal in the second OT.

No. 8 - men's cross country
It can often be difficult to figure out which team is going to win as the throng of runners comes across the finish line at a cross country race. The 2017 Ivy League Heptagonal championships were different. This time it was simple. Princeton came in second, third and fourth and then added two more in the top 10 to literally sprint away from the field and win the Ivy title. This came after Princeton won its own invitational and before another spectacular performance, as Princeton would win the NCAA regional meet for the second time (the other was in 2010). The Tigers ended the season with a 28th place finish at the NCAA championships.

No. 7 - The wrestling team finishes third at the EIWA meet and advances seven to the NCAA championships
Princeton finished third at the 1977 EIWA meet and then won it the next year. Between then and 2017, Princeton would not have a top three finish. That changed this past season, when Princeton added another chapter to the rebuilt program's success by taking third. In addition, Princeton sent a program-record seven wrestlers to the NCAA. Jordan Laster would win his 100th career match, and freshman Matthew Kolodzik earned All-America honors.

No. 6 - fencing
The men's and women's fencing teams both brought home Ivy League championships. Then, as a combined entity, the Tigers finished fourth at the NCAA championships, making it seven straight years of finishing in the top four nationally. On the individual side, Princeton had four national semifinalists, including a pair of finalists in the women's epee. Anna Van Brummen would become Princeton's first female NCAA epee champion, defeating her teammate Kat Holmes in the final.

Coming tomorrow, 1-5. Can you guess what they are?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Seven To Go In 2017

TigerBlog has two more things from the men's basketball team's trip to Hawaii.

First, how does Princeton finish fifth if it went 2-1 while the fourth place team (Middle Tennessee State) went 1-2? Yes, MTSU defeated Princeton in the first game, but that's not the point.

Why does a 1-2 team finish ahead of a 2-1 team? Why does winning Game 1 and losing the next two mean more than losing Game 1 and winning the next two?

Not that it really matters or anything. It's just that it doesn't make sense to TB. Never has.

That's one.

The other thing is that for Princeton's win over Akron, the small crowd at the Stan Sheriff Center included BrotherBlog and Joe, the official brother-in-law of TigerBlog. They were originally going to go to the first game, against MTSU, except TigerBlog gave them the wrong information on the start time, so they were at Pearl Harbor when the game tipped.

TigerBlog is pretty sure that's the first Princeton basketball game BrotherBlog has attended. It made him wonder how many Princeton basketball games TB has been to, and he figures somewhere around 400 on the men's side and 150 or so on the women's side.

Those are guesses. Either way, that's a lot more than his brother.

Anyway, the men's team is off until a week from Friday, which happens to be in 2018, by the way. The Tigers will be at the Palestra for the Ivy opener against Penn, followed the next weekend by home games against Columbia and Cornell.

Then it's exam break.

The men may be done for 2017, but there is still basketball to be played at Princeton before the New Year. And hockey. Lots of hockey.

In fact, if you're looking for some pretty good events prior to the end of the calendar year, then Princeton's campus has them.

There are actually seven events left for Princeton teams in 2017. Of those, five are at home.

The two on the road are Day 1 and Day 2 of the Midlands Championships, a big-time wrestling event at Northwestern. Princeton will be in the field there, with wrestling all day Friday and all day Saturday.

As for the home events, the women's basketball team will be home Saturday at 4 against UMBC. The Tigers are led by Bella Alarie, who added yet another Ivy Player of the Week Award for her MVP performance at the team's tournament in Florida last week.

TigerBlog is hoping that there will be no repeat of the last time he saw UMBC-Princeton women's basketball. That was back in 2012, when TB had a flat tire on his way to Baltimore on the side of I-95, near the Philadelphia airport.

Princeton, at 9-3, enters the game with an RPI of 21 in Division I. All three of its losses are to teams in the top 36, including No. 5 Villanova and No. 6 Rutgers.

St. Cloud, the men's hockey opponent at Hobey Baker Rink Friday and Saturday (face-off at 7 both times), has an even gaudier ranking. The Huskies are the No. 1 team in the country.

St. Cloud brings a 12-2-1 record to New Jersey. The Huskies are also 8-2-1 against nationally ranked teams this season and 16-3-1 all-time against Ivy League opponents.

Princeton hasn't played since splitting two games at Arizona State three weeks ago. The Tigers will follow the two games against St. Cloud with back-to-back ECAC road weekends to start the new year - at Cornell and Colgate Jan. 5/6 and then at Harvard and Dartmouth Jan. 12/13.

The games against top-ranked St. Cloud are very attractive, but they're not the only games at Baker Rink this weekend. The women's team will be home Saturday and Sunday against Boston University, with face-off at 3 Saturday and 1 Sunday.

The game Sunday obviously will bring the curtain down on Princeton Athletics in 2017.

If you're interested in a recap of the last 12 months, fret not, as TigerBlog will have the top moments of the year here tomorrow and Friday in the final two entries of the year.

And you can go to the Princeton Athletics Instagram and Twitter feeds to see the top pictures of 2017 as well.

In college athletics, time is measured in academic years, not calendar years. Still, it's always fun to do exercises like TB is doing for the 2017 review.

And in 2017, there have been no shortage of big moments and great pictures. What will be No. 1? What should be? 

Make sure you check it out.

And make sure you come to the games at Princeton before the year ends. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Mele Kalikimaka

How was your Christmas?

Merry, TigerBlog hopes.

Did you get any good gifts? TB hopes you were all on the nice list.

There is no better way for a parent to get a young child to behave than to simply point out that "Santa's watching" and that whatever just happened might have just landed said child on "the naughty list."

Also, if you're the parent of small children, Christmas morning is about quantity. Wrap up boxes with anything you want inside - whether they would want it or not - and then just let them go nuts, tearing into one package after another. In the end, they won't even remember most of what they unwrapped, just the one or two things they want to play with anyway. But they'll love the thrill of seeing all the gifts.

If you did this, then you also know that your immaculate room, the one with the beautifully decorated tree, looked like a tornado blew threw it in about five minutes yesterday morning. Cherish those years. They fly by.

In what can only be termed "great moments in gift giving," TigerBlog Jr. gave his sister a few of his old Princeton t-shirts, which he wrapped up and tried to pass off as new. Somehow, TBJ even had one from Cane Spree from a few years ago. Where did he get that?

If you remember the story from last week about how Miss TigerBlog will be a member of the Class of 2022, you remember the reference to TigerBlog's friend Charlie from Penn. TB got a text from Charlie yesterday, asking him if he was in Hawaii.

Charlie, as it turns out, was in Aruba with his family, watching the Princeton-Hawaii men's basketball game on TV. TB responded no, though he had been in Hawaii for a similar tournament back in 1998.

Princeton won that tournament, the 1998 Rainbow Classic, where the Tigers defeated Florida State, Texas and UNC Charlotte on three straight days to win that one. In all of TB's time at Princeton, there haven't been too many weeks that he liked more than that one.

That tournament didn't start until after Christmas. The 2017 tournament was called the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, and while Princeton didn't repeat its win over 19 years ago, it did have a really, really good run on its really, really long road trip.

Princeton had a late night flight after the game, which ended a stretch of five games in 12 days, with stops in California and then Hawaii. Princeton went 4-1 in those five games, pushing its record for the year back to .500 (after being 0-3 and 2-6 at various times) at 7-7 and looking very much like a team that is serious about repeating its Ivy League championship of a year ago.

The tournament in Hawaii was filled with good games across the board. Princeton's first two went down to the wire, with a last-second loss to a really good Middle Tennessee State team and then an even-more-last-second win over Akron, when Sebastian Much wrapped a pass to Myles Stephens for the buzzer beater.

The loss to MTSU, by the way, came on a jumper by Giddy Potts. It was during the second game, against Akron, when the play-by-play man - Kanoa Leahey, who did a really nice job along with partner Brooke Weisbrod - out of nowhere said "Giddy is a fun name." He said it so matter-of-factly that it worked really well.

The game yesterday was giddier for Princeton in the second half than in the first, as the Tigers pulled away for a 77-63 win over the host team, Hawaii. The game had been 31-31 at the break, at which time Devin Cannady had two points.

TigerBlog would like to let you know exactly what was different in the second half, except he fell asleep during halftime and woke up with a minute to go. Oh well. It happens. A long winter's nap and all.

Cannady finished with 28 points, a season-best, with obviously 26 after intermission. He now has 997 points for his career.

His 1,000th career point will have to wait until 2018, since the tournament was Princeton's last game for this calendar year.

In fact, the Tigers will now have just short of two weeks to get ready for the next outing, the Ivy League opener at Penn, which comes up on Friday night, Jan. 5.

The goal, of course, is to return to the Palestra in March for the Ivy tournament, from which the ticket to the NCAA tournament can be earned. Princeton went 16-0 last season, 14-0 in the regular season and then the two wins in the first Ivy tournament.

It's unlikely that any Ivy team will do that this year, but then, hey, who knows. It was unlikely that anyone was going to do it last year either.

The Princeton team that came back from Hawaii had to be feeling pretty good about the way the rest of this season shapes up. For one thing, Much has upped his game a few levels. There is depth beyond just the Big Three of Cannady, Stephens and Amir Bell. The defense has improved considerably.

And the teams that the Tigers have played have not been pushovers. They've been really good.

Princeton was up to the challenge.

The Tigers have earned a break now. That was one long trip the team just took.

And a successful one - the kind that can turn a season around. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Almost Christmas

This is the last TigerBlog before the Christmas holiday, and so he'd like to begin with something that would have made a pretty good Christmas movie.

It's about two brothers, college athletes, who are caring for their mother, who isn't expected to live to see any other Christmases, or any other holidays, for that matter. And yet here she is, talking about the experience, and talking about her sons, while they talk about her.

It's certainly the foundation of something that you might see on the Hallmark channel. Instead, you can see it on


It's the story of Joe Percival, of the Princeton football team. And his brother Justin, who runs track at Rutgers-Newark. Their mother, Valerie, was supposed to be in the hospital for three days four years ago.

Then they found out she wasn't supposed to be make it through the night. Their high school principal called him out of class and told him that, saying he needed to get to the hospital to be with her.

The rest you have to watch for yourself. It's a heartwarming story. Kudos to TigerBlog's colleague Cody Chrusciel for putting it together. It's a great piece.

While Christmas is just around the corner, there are still athletic events to be played, including one today at 5:30 on ESPNU, but TB will get back to that in a second.

The women's basketball team doesn't play again until Dec. 30, at home against UMBC, but the Tigers just finished up a two-game sweep in Florida at the Gator Holiday Classic.

There was no actual championship game, since the matchups were predetermined. Still, the game yesterday matched the two teams who won the day before, so it was a defacto final.

Princeton defeated St. Joe's Wednesday and Chattanooga - who beat the host Florida Gators Tuesday - yesterday. The Tigers allowed 103 points in two games, and you're going to win a lot of games when you do that.

In fact, the two opponents in Florida shot a combined 41 for 103 for the two games. That's 39.8 percent. Again, when you do that in two games, that's another winning formula.

Princeton enters the holiday break at 9-3, against a pretty tough schedule. The Tigers have won six of their last seven, and none of those six teams scored more than 60. In fact, four of the six scored less than 50.

Of course, you still have to score some points. Princeton had three players in double figures against St. Joe's and then four in double figures against Chattanooga. Bella Alarie had a combined 37 points and 21 rebounds.

And that brings TB to the men's team.

The Tigers flew to Hawaii Wednesday after the huge 103-93 overtime win over Southern Cal Tuesday night. Up next will be games today, tomorrow and then Christmas Day at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

The game against USC was incredible. Myles Stephens put up 30 points in that game, including 8 for 8 foul shooting. Devin Cannady added 23, and Amir Bell had 18. That's 71 points between those three.

In fact, those three are averaging 44.7 points per game between them. That's a lot. 

The game the other night left Cannady with 947 career points. If he hits his average (18.8) for the next three games, then he'd get to 1,000 in Honolulu.

If he does so, he would not become the first Princeton player to reach 1,000 points in Hawaii. In fact, TigerBlog can give you four others who have already done it - Gabe Lewullis, Maggie Langlas, Kate Thirolf and Spencer Weisz. The first three on that list did so at the Stan Sheriff Center, while Weisz did it last year maybe three miles away, at Pearl Harbor.

Bell has 818 career points. A senior, Bell would be flirting with 1,000 points if he maintains his current 9.9 points per game average. Stephens has 680 and a year and a half to go.

As for the tournament, it'll be Princeton against Middle Tennessee State at 5:30 today on ESPNU. That's 12:30 if you're in Hawaii, by the way.

Middle Tennessee won 31 games a year ago, the 31st of which came against Minnesota in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. This year, MTSU is 7-2, with wins over SEC opponents Vanderbilt and Mississippi and a loss to Auburn in its last three games.

The next game will be tomorrow, against either Akron or, possibly, USC again. Think the Trojans want another shot at Princeton?

The third game comes up Monday, which is also Christmas Day.

Does it not feel like Christmas?

Then watch one of these:

* The end of "It's A Wonderful Life" 

* Soap scene from "A Christmas Story"

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

* Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree

That'll make you feel Christmasy. Then again, so will the video of the Percival family.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Miss TigerBlog ’22

TigerBlog isn't sure specifically what year it was - sometime in the early 1990s - when he sat in the old press section at Jadwin before a Princeton-Penn game and had a conversation with Chuck Yrigoyen.
Chuck was the communications director at the Ivy League at the time. TigerBlog was still in the newspaper business. The game was between his alma mater and a team he'd only recently started to cover. The rivalry was at one of its more intense places at that point.

Chuck - as nice a guy as you'll ever meet, by the way - came up to TigerBlog and asked which he was rooting for that night. As a reporter, he technically wasn't supposed to be rooting for either team.

"Princeton," he said, without hesitation.

He was, too. Even early on, he was hooked on the school. Yes, he'd gone to Penn, and yes, as he's said often, he had a great experience there.

It's just that even back then, 25 or so years ago, he knew that there was something different, something unique, something very special about Princeton University.

Nothing that's happened to him since has changed his opinion of the school. He's spent much of his adult life on the campus, and he's gotten to meet so many incredible people here, some of the very best people he's ever seen.

It's more than just that, though. His friend Charlie called the other day. Charlie was his roommate TB's senior year at Penn, and they've stayed close ever since. Charlie is also one of the very best people TB has ever met.

It's just that Penn never bred in TB the kind of loyalty that Princeton does. TB has told you this before, several times. It's true, though.

There's just something different about Princeton. It pulls you in when you're 18 or so, and it holds onto you for the rest of your life. It's a life-changing experience for the very, very few who are fortunate to attend.

That's why last Wednesday was so stressful.

Miss TigerBlog, back in her Little Miss TigerBlog days, seemed like she was an average student, until fourth grade, or maybe third grade. One of those.

That's when, at parent-teacher conferences, her teacher suggested that she needed to get her eyes checked. She said she noticed that MTB did better when she sat closer to the blackboard, and that led her to think there might be something wrong with her eyes.

As it turned out, she was right. Since then, MTB has never been without her glasses or contacts, and once she had them, she became overnight a different student.

There was the summer where she read most of the Harry Potter books. There was middle school, where it became really apparent that she excelled academically. And there have been the last four years, her high school years, where she has taken her academic record up several levels.

She is intense about it. She is hard-working. She is successful. She is also well-rounded, with a strong sense of community.

And so there she was too, last Wednesday, waiting on the response she was going to get from the Princeton Office of Admissions. She had applied Early Action here, and an email came saying that decisions would be announced at 3 p.m.

At 2:36, MTB texted "24 minutes and counting."

TB was nervous, he has to admit. He knew what the prize was. He wanted his daughter to experience a Princeton education, because he has seen up close for so long what it means to those who have had that experience.

Time crawled all day. It crawled even more for the last 24 minutes. Finally, it was 3, and TB logged on, from, of all places, Jadwin Gym. Then he clicked on the link. Then he saw one word in big letters - "CONGRATULATIONS."

Then he called MTB, who had just logged on herself. All TB heard was her screaming. He's pretty sure it was "I got in. I got in."

TigerBlog saw a story the next day that said that within one hour of admissions decisions that 40 kids had accepted. MTB wasn't one of them. She didn't accept until a few days later.

This makes her, of course, Miss TigerBlog ’22.

Her father is pretty sure that he won't be seeing her too much while she's here. He asked her if she was going to mention at the football games that it was her father as the PA announcer, and she laughed and said "never."

TigerBlog Jr. texted a picture of him and his sister congratulating her and saying that he was willing to admit that she was the smarter one. When he saw her, he did try to include that he was the better looking one. She gave him the same look she gave her father.

She also asked her father if he would get her a Princeton sweatshirt. He said "sure, go up to your room. There are three in there."

MTB, of course, has spent a lot of time on the Princeton campus already. She went to nursery school there. She went to summer camp there. She's been to basically every athletic venue. She's been to McCarter Theater.

Back in 2006, when she was six years old, she even had her first broken bone there. It came when she ran into a chain link fence outside of Nassau Hall, during the 2006 bonfire, breaking her collarbone.

MTB wrote about all of these experiences in the essay on her application. At the end, she mentioned that she'd spent so much time there as a kid that she sort of took the place for granted. It wasn't until later that she realized how different it was, how special it was, and what an amazing opportunity it would be to be able to attend.

Most people who know TB would describe him as even-keeled, fairly emotionless. He has to admit that this has made him quite the opposite. Even now, a week later, he still looks at the "CONGRATULATIONS" email every now and then, just to make sure it's real.

When MTB was in elementary school, she and her father went to the annual Father/Daughter dances. One year, there was a sports theme, and each father and daughter were supposed to wear the jerseys of their favorite teams.

TB found the picture of the two of them the other day. Here it is:

They wore Princeton stuff. TB is pretty sure that the jersey MTB is wearing is the No. 13.

Here she is now:

As in, Princeton Class of 2022. Just writing the words makes TB proud.

He can't wait for her to be here, to be embraced by this University, this special place that he has seen up close for so long and yet from now on will look at a little differently.

MTB ’22.

It sounds so good, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Sleeping Through A Great One

TigerBlog really wanted to stay up to watch the Princeton-USC men's basketball game last night.

In some ways, he felt like a little kid again. Back then, if there was a big game on the West Coast, he'd try to stay up, say he'd take a nap during the day, all those things. They never worked. He'd always be out before the game started.

This was sort of like that. 

There were some things working against him though.

For one, it started at 11 Eastern time. For another, it was on the Pac 12 Network, which TB doesn't get. He could have watched it on line and all, he supposes, except for one other thing: When 11 rolled around last night, TB - just like when he was a kid - was fast asleep.

It was nearly two when his phone buzzed. Multiple times. Something about if he was watching the game.

That's when he figured something was up.

As it turns out, TB missed a good one. A great one, actually.

The final from Los Angeles was Princeton 103, USC 93, in overtime. This was a USC team that was ranked 10th in the preseason, and this was on the Trojans' home court.

It's also the kind of win that can help define a season and give a team a springboard to big things the rest of the way. 

TigerBlog wasn't the only one who missed the game. Radio play-by-play man Derek Jones, as TB said the other day, couldn't be at the game either. He also picked the wrong game to miss.

Princeton recruited a fill-in from Los Angeles to do the game, a young man named Nick Koop, whose name rhymes with "nope." He has to think Princeton plays the most exciting games of any team ever.

On the TV side, there was Bill Walton. He seemed to be impressed too:

By all accounts - other than TB's eyes, which were closed throughout it - this was a wild one.

Princeton led by seven with 46 seconds left and got a pair of Devin Cannady foul shots with 33 seconds left, but USC would miraculously rally to tie it and force the OT. The Trojans would tie at 86-86 though, forcing the OT.

Princeton would build another big lead, using a 9-0 run, and this time there'd be no answer. Instead, the Tigers had themselves a stunning win.

After not reaching the 100-point mark during the last 25 years of the Pete Carril years and then never under Bill Carmody, John Thompson III, Joe Scott and Sydney Johnson, Princeton has now been over 100 point three times under Mitch Henderson.

This was the second time ever that Princeton had reached 100 points against a team currently in a Power Five Conference. The other was against Rutgers in 1958. There was also a 109-point outing against Providence, now in the Big East, in the 1967 NCAA East Regional final.

And you can now add last night to the mix.

There were seven players who went at least 40 minutes, including four from Princeton - the Big Three of Cannady (who went all 45), Amir Bell and Myles Stephens, as well as freshman Sebastian Much.

There were five players with at least 20 points, including Stephens, who went off for a career-high 30. Stephens, who added nine rebounds, was 10 for 16 from the field and 8 for 8 from the line. TB didn't see it, but his sense is there were a few back-down-into-the-lane-turnaround-jumpers mixed in too.

In fact, there had to be a lot of makes close to the basket. Princeton shot 20 for 29 on two-point shots in the game. Add in 14 made threes (yes, on 37 attempts, but still 14 made threes is huge) and 20 for 23 foul shooting from the Big Three, and that's a winning formula.

Cannady had 23 and Much had 19. Bell flirted with the first triple-double in program history, finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

It was the first win over a Pac 12 team since, well, you know the game. TB doesn't have to tell you.

If you want him to, though, he'll say it was the 1996 NCAA tournament win over UCLA.

The final score that night was 43-41. This time Princeton scored twice as many points in regulation in the win. The second half alone last night saw Princeton outscore USC 53-50.

The 17 points that Princeton scored in OT, for that matter, were one fewer than Princeton scored in the entire first half of that win over UCLA.

With that win banked, Princeton went 2-0 on the California part of its five-game, 12-day trip. Up next is a flight to Hawaii, and then three more games in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
Actually, that sentence applies to both teams, since USC will be out there too, and the teams would meet again if they both won or lost their first games, Princeton against Middle Tennessee, USC against Akron.

TigerBlog has been awake for more than his share of great games. At some point, you start to sense that something is out of the ordinary, that this isn't just another night and another game. TB's sense is that came relatively early in LA last night.

Last night wasn't one of those nights where TB stayed awake.

He appears to have missed a beauty.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Trending Money

Remember recently when TigerBlog was talking about movies?

As a quick refresher, TigerBlog wrote about "Casablanca," which is his favorite movie ever, and then later about how there are movies you see for the first time and somebody says "you never saw such-and-such?"

So how did TigerBlog not realize that there was an episode of "Gilmore Girls" in which Lorelei invites Luke over to watch a movie and when he says he's never seen it, she replies: "you never saw Casablanca?"

How in the world did he not remember that? Fortunately for TB, he was reminded of it yesterday, when he stumbled on that episode. It's a good one.

Lorelei invites Luke over for movie night. This is before they ever got together. And Rory goes on her first date at Yale.

As for "Casablanca," the opening credits and a few scenes are shown. TB actually saw the movie himself about a day or so after he wrote about it. He has no idea how many times he's seen it, but he's pretty sure he's seen it more than he has any other movie.

It's possible "A Christmas Story" is second on that list, though he had no interest in the live TV version the other night.

Anyway, there it was yesterday, "Casablanca" on "Gilmore Girls." Who would have imagined?

While he was stumbling onto things yesterday, he also saw an unlikely person was trending on Twitter. It was Marc Ross.

Is the name familiar? If your two favorite football teams are the same as TigerBlog's, then you know who he is.

Those teams would be Princeton, where Ross was an All-Ivy wide receiver, and the Giants, Ross' employer for more than a decade. And there he was yesterday, trending on Twitter.

TigerBlog was actually hoping he'd click and see that Ross had left the Giants to become an GM for an NFL team. As it turns out, Ross was interviewed for the vacant GM job with the Giants.

Ross is the current VP for Player Evaluation. He helped build the last two Super Bowl championship teams that the franchise has won in a major way, with his talent for judging talent, as it were.

Now that former GM Jerry Reese has been fired, Ross became the first to interview for the position.

It puts Ross in a tough spot. On the one hand, he's obviously a known to the organization and a person with a proven history of success. At 44 and with more than 20 years experience, he's at the stage of his career where he's ready to be the head man for a team.

On the other hand, the team just fired Reese, and it's hard for Ross to get out of Reese's shadow. Memories being what they are, it's also more likely that he had to explain the current team's 2-12 record rather than how he helped win two Super Bowls.

If the Giants want TB's help, he can tell him that they need look no further than the person they just interviewed.

Ross is one of the most impressive people TigerBlog has ever met. It's obvious from when you first meet him that he has a quality about him, and he's perfect for the position of an NFL GM.

Ross was a wide receiver and punt returner at Princeton. He averaged more than 20 yards per catch in the 1993 season, one of the few receiving records that wasn't obliterated by Jesper Horsted this past season. Ross also holds most of Princeton's punt return records as well.

In addition to being a football player, Ross was also one of the great student workers in Princeton Office of Athletic Communications history. Among other things, Ross would sit in the press section at basketball games at Jadwin and answer the phone when people called for scores.

Back then, the press section was actually in the middle on the side where the benches are, and it was up in one of the south sections, as opposed to press tables. Each game, Ross would sit there, answering the phones - a job that no longer exists - and making everyone laugh.

Since then, he's been back at Princeton several times, scouting players and visiting. Each time, it's great to see him.

His nickname back when he was a student worker was "Money." TB isn't sure exactly how he got it, though he's pretty sure it came from Kurt Kehl, TB's former OAC colleague.

Money is ready for a GM job. He's interviewed before when there have been openings. Maybe he needs to get away from the Giants, but TB doesn't think so. He also doesn't think the Giants are that far away from contending again, with the right person to call the shots.

TB is positive that's Marc Ross. There.

Done deal.

Money is your man.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Flying High

Airports and casinos. Those are two places where the time of day doesn't really seem to matter.

If you've ever been in an airport before dawn, you know what TigerBlog means. They're jammed with activity, as if nobody realizes how early it is.

There are lines. There are people eating decidedly non-breakfast type meals. There are people coming and going to points all over the world.

And all of this is before the sun comes up. And it's no big deal to everyone there.

TigerBlog did the pre-dawn trip to the airport yesterday. He wasn't going anywhere. He was just doing drop off. Still, he couldn't help but notice how crowded it was, especially considering it was before 6 on a Sunday morning.

When TB was a kid, he used to love to check out all the different airlines whenever he'd go to an airport. You know. It says "Terminal A" and then lists all the different airlines. It all sounded so exotic.

Actually, he still thinks that way.

TigerBlog was at the airport early yesterday. This morning it was the women's basketball team's turn.

The Tigers, fresh off of a 58-37 win at Wagner yesterday, were up very early today to head to the airport. Princeton jumped out to a 16-5 first quarter lead and was never really seriously threatened by the Seahawks.

Princeton had three players - Leslie Robinson, Sydney Jordan and Carlie Littlefield - in double figures, with 10 each. A bigger part of the story was Princeton's defense, which held Wagner to 13 for 44 shooting from the field, which equates to less than 30 percent.

Don't look now, but Princeton has held three of its last four opponents - including one who was in the Sweet 16 a year ago - below 50 points. 

The destination for Princeton this week is Gainesville, at the University of Florida's Gator Holiday Classic.

If you're wondering about the weather there, TigerBlog already looked. The forecast, in a word, is "nice." It'll be close to 80 there during the day and then around 60 at night.

Princeton will play St. Joe's Wednesday and Chattanooga Thursday. Those matchups are set.

Chattanooga, by the way, has wins over Indiana, Georgetown, Auburn and Northwestern, among others. The Mocs also played in the NCAA tournament last year after winning the Southern Conference.

The men's basketball team is also spending some time in airports this week. Lots of it, actually.

The Tigers are also doing the good-weather thing too. 

Princeton had its early-morning airport trip Friday, for a flight to Los Angeles. This was the start of a five-game, 12-day road trip, one that got off to a good start Saturday night with an 80-60 win over Cal Poly.

Airplanes aren't the only form of transportation for Princeton this week. The game at Cal Poly was four hours north of Los Angeles, so it was on the bus after the flight. It could be a bit grueling, or could have been, but the Tigers looked anything but sluggish against the Mustangs.

In fact, Princeton hit 16 three-pointers in the game, on 24 attempts. Princeton will lose no game ever when it shoots 16 for 24 from three-point range, regardless of the opponent.

Such shooting would come in helpful tomorrow night, when Princeton plays at Southern Cal. Good news - the game can be seen on the Pac 12 Network. Bad news - it starts at 11 Eastern time.

Princeton and USC have played once, back in 1972. They could possibly meet twice this week, should they both either win or lose their first games at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic Friday. That would be fairly interesting.

TigerBlog assumed that Princeton and USC must have played more than once, by the way.

Also, beating the first opponent in Hawaii won't be easy, since it's against Middle Tennessee State. How good are the Blue Raiders?

They're 7-2 this year, with wins over Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. They also went 31-5 last year, beating fifth-seed Minnesota in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

Princeton will fly from Los Angeles to Honolulu for that tournament. That's a lot of flying.

It's even more for radio play-by-play man Derek Jones, who had to come back to New Jersey in between for a meeting he couldn't get out of. That means his 12-day itinerary is New Jersey to LA to New Jersey to LA to Honolulu and back.

That's a lot of miles.

TigerBlog has spent a lot of Decembers in a lot of airports with Princeton basketball. The travel is part of the overall experience.

So is playing a challenging schedule. Both teams are obviously doing just that.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Welcome To The Bubble

On a day like this past Wednesday, the 10 yard line on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium would have been a cold, lonely place any other year of the facility's existence.

Not any more.

TigerBlog stood on the 10 yard line, the one nearest the stadium tunnels, for more than an hour Wednesday afternoon. It was freezing in Princeton, with temps in the low 30s and a howling wind.

When TB got to Powers Field, there were two women's lacrosse players working on shooting. They wore shorts and pinnies.

Chad Kanoff, the Bushnell Cup winner as the Ivy League football Offensive Player of the Year, came in next, with a group of three others. They were filming something for a class.

Kanoff asked TigerBlog how much time they had to use the field, and TB responded that they had about 10 minutes. At that point, the men's lacrosse team would be out for the last event of its fall schedule, an intrasquad scrimmage. Not one player wore sweats; they all wore game shorts and short-sleeved jerseys.

On a day like this in any other year, with the weather biting the way it was, none of this would have been possible. The field would have been deserted.

That was before the Bubble.

Powers Field has been transformed in an astonishing way with the addition of the Bubble, an inflatable structure that is already having a huge effect on Princeton Athletics.

Construction for the Bubble began in the spring, as TB remembers it. Maybe even last winter.

The actual Bubble went up the week after the football season ended. After that, there was additional construction that had to be done after the structure was in place, such as the lights.

Then the Bubble was done.

TigerBlog, by the way, realizes that he is capitalizing "Bubble" unnecessarily, since it's not being used as a proper noun. Grammar is one of TB's strengths. Possessive case before a gerund. Nominative case after "like" or "as" if the pronoun is the understood subject of the clause, as opposed to the understood object. That kind of stuff.

In this case, he's okay with his error. He feels like the Bubble has earned that respect. In all seriousness, the Bubble is incredible.

If you've been inside a bubble (small b) in the past, then you know that they share two qualities. First, they're loud. It's from the compressor or something. Second, the lighting is never good.

In the case of the Bubble, neither of those is true. The first things you notice about being inside of it is that it's quiet and it's bright.

It's also rather interesting in that you never get the sense that you're standing on the Princeton football field. Yes, it's the same exact field, but with the Bubble there, there's just no sense that you're surrounded by any seats, let alone 27,800 of them. It feels like you're in a completely different venue.

So what's the value of the Bubble (TigerBlog would call it "TB" but that would be too confusing)?

Take just what happened in there Wednesday. No Bubble? No women's lacrosse players who were getting up extra shots. The Kanoff video would probably not have happened.

And the men's lacrosse scrimmage? It would have been outdoors, where it wouldn't have had a fraction of the value it had inside.

Yes, there will be times that teams need to be outside in the elements. But giving them a place to practice or scrimmage that's inside increases the quality and the overall experience for everyone involved.

And of course it's regulation sized, as opposed to the Jadwin pit. If you've never been in the pit (small p), it's behind the indoor tennis courts. It's a nice field, with a baseball diamond but not much more. There certainly isn't a regulation football field down there.

The Bubble will be used by almost any team that plays on a field here. It can be subdivided, so multiple teams can use it at the same time. It can also be used by clubs and intramurals, and even outside groups.

TigerBlog hasn't heard anyone who has been inside the Bubble who hasn't been amazed by it. TB certainly was.

The Bubble will be put up every year after the football season and will be taken down in the spring at some point. TB isn't sure where it gets stored or how small it is when it's completely folded.

As for this weekend in Princeton Athletics, there are three events. The wrestling team is in Delaware tonight at 8 to take on Ohio State. Where are the Buckeyes ranked? Would it shock to know that they're higher in wrestling than football?

Actually they're No. 1 in wrestling.

The men's basketball team leaves today for its 12-day trip to California and Hawaii, with Game 1 tomorrow night at 10 Eastern against Cal Poly.

The women's basketball team is at Wagner Sunday at 1.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Everybody Go To Winberies

TigerBlog was on the radio Tuesday night with Patrick McCarthy for the men's basketball game against Monmouth.

A big part of doing radio, or even PA, is doing the live reads. Those are the announcements you have to read during breaks.

If you've never done anything like that, you start to read the words on the page and don't really consider what it is they're saying. You're just focused on reading, Whatever is put in front of you, that's what's coming out of your mouth.

If you gave TigerBlog a piece of paper that said "nah nah nah nah" at the end, he'd read that and be on the third "nah" before he realized anything was wrong.

Also, which would you rather have, the actual spelling of things or the way they're actually pronounced? Would you do better if something said "" or "go princeton tigers dot com?"

Every now and then, even the great ones start to stumble over the live reads. That's what happened to Patrick the other night.

He was reading one about a sponsor, Winberies. If you've never been, it's a very nice restaurant in Palmer Square.

Patrick, bless his heart, was reading and reading and it seemed like he was getting nowhere. He was about 80 percent through it when he looked up, complete exasperation on his face, and saw TigerBlog sitting there, trying not to laugh.

TigerBlog finally cut him off and said "let's sum this up by saying Winberies has great burgers." Patrick then came back and said that he had had the salmon last time there and it was great.

There are two things about doing the basketball games on the radio that TB really loves.

First, there's doing the games with Patrick. He's the son of Tom McCarthy, with whom TB did Princeton basketball 20 years ago, when Tom was just starting out and Patrick was a baby and an only child.

These days, Patrick is the oldest of four kids and Tom is the TV voice of the Philadelphia Phillies while also doing the NFL and the NCAA basketball tournament. Patrick is a graduate of The College of New Jersey who is now starting out in his own radio career, and he's very, very good.

Around the time that TB and his colleague Cody Chrusciel were looking for someone to do radio for Princeton men's basketball so that Derek Jones and Noah Savage could focus on the Ivy League Network broadcasts, Tom sent TB a link to a game Patrick had done at TCNJ, and TB was impressed.

Patrick was offered the job, and TB said he'd do the games with him. It had been a long time since TB had done basketball on the radio, but he and Patrick have become a reasonably good pairing, if he does say so himself.

Patrick, by the way, has a big future in doing this if he'd like.

The other thing TB likes is interviewing someone at halftime. He'd done that for years and years back when he first did radio, from 1989 through 2004 or so. It's always good to get someone on to talk about Princeton, whether it's a current athlete, or someone who used to play at Princeton or whoever.

TB usually just looks around to see who is there and grabs someone. There's always someone who shows up.

For the game the other night, TigerBlog looked around and saw Bella Alarie of the women's basketball team. She agreed to be on.

The two talked about her experience at Princeton so far, how far she's come as a player in a short time, how good the women's basketball team could be, what it's like to play against players she played with and against in high school. She was very good.

TB also talked about the women's game against Rutgers, which was one night later, last night. He asked Bella if she'd ever been to Rutgers' arena, the RAC, and she said no. TB then told her it was a great place for basketball and that she'd love it.

As it turned out, Rutgers defeated Princeton 70-50, so maybe she didn't love it as much as she might have. The game was a matchup of teams in the top 20 in RPI, with Rutgers at 14 and Princeton at 19.

Princeton did have three players in double figures, including Alarie, whose line was 10 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. Sydney Jordan had 11, and Abby Meyers had 11 points and six steals.

Next up for the Princeton women will be a game at Wagner Sunday at 1, followed by a trip to Florida for games Wednesday and Thursday against St. Joe's and Chattanooga. The last home game of the calendar year will be Dec. 30, when Princeton hosts UMBC.

Then it'll be time for the Ivy schedule. It figures to be a pretty competitive league on the women's side.

Princeton has given every indication that it'll be as big a factor as anyone else. Last night's outcome doesn't change that in the least.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Last Night, Tonight

TigerBlog did a whole season of podcasts with men's lacrosse coach Matt Madalon last spring and has now been doing them weekly with women's basketball coach Courtney Banghart since early November.

He did something on the most recent episode of "The Court Report" that he hadn't done before: He made a mistake and then started muttering to himself and then had to start over.

Okay, at least it was in the first minute.

His mistake was to refer to the Princeton-Rutgers women's basketball game as "tomorrow night." He actually should have said "tonight," since the game is tonight, at 6, in Piscataway. It's a matchup of two Top 20 RPI teams and should be a really good one.

Of course, TB and Banghart were recording it yesterday, at which point the game was tomorrow night. That's not the kind of mistake that TB makes too often.

It goes back to Day 1 in the newspaper business. It was nearly 35 years ago, when he covered the Pennington-Academy of the New Church football game. Pennington won 22-0 by the way.

Anyway, as TB began to write his first-ever story, it dawned on him that he had to write "yesterday's" win. The day always has to be written or spoken from the perspective of the person reading or hearing it.

TB once taped a halftime interview with the late St. Joe's men's basketball coach Jim Boyle. It was for Penn student radio, of all things.

Anyway, TB ended the interview by saying something along the lines of "the second half is coming up ..." when Boyle interrupted him and said "if it's halftime, what's the score?" Then he laughed and put his arm around TigerBlog. It was all in good fun.

The game tonight figures to be a good one. If you saw Princeton demolish Rutgers last year at Jadwin Gym 64-34, forget that. This is a rebuilt Rutgers team, one that is 10-2 and ranked 14th in the RPI. Princeton, at 6-2, is ranked 19th.

Tip is at 6. That's tonight. Not last night.

Last night (really, it was last night), the Princeton men's team played at home, something it won't do again until Jan. 12 against Cornell. Between now and then, Princeton will make what TB believes is the longest road trip in school history, with a 12-day run to California for two games and then Hawaii for three more.

Monmouth was 55-15 the last two years combined. Princeton and Monmouth were 50-14 between them last year.

The teams played an entertaining game at Jadwin, one that the Tigers would win 69-58. It was a weird game, one in which both teams had double digit leads and neither looked like it was going to completely take over.

Monmouth started on a 16-3 run. Princeton answered and finished the first half on a 28-10 run. Princeton built its own 13-point lead. Then Monmouth regrouped.

In fact, Monmouth, who would never lead in the second half, would twice cut it to one, and both times Myles Stephens (game-high 19) would answer with a three, including one that hit the rim, bounced up near the top of the three-point shot and then dropped straight back through the net.

It was still a two-point game at 60-58 with 2:50 left. From then on, Monmouth wouldn't score. Devin Cannady would.

First, Sebastian Much hit one of two foul shots. Then Cannady drained threes, including one from about five feet beyond the arc, to make it 67-58. Then it was a pair of Cannady foul shots, to 69-58. Then it was the buzzer.

Cannady had an interesting night. He didn't score in the first 14:07 of the first half but then had 10 by the break, including a driving layup that beat the buzzer. He didn't score in the first 18:20 of the second half but then scored eight more after that.

It was a good win for Princeton, which now hits the road for that 12-day trip. The first of the five games Princeton will play is Saturday at Cal-Poly.

Before the game last night, during pregame warmups, Cannady put on a dunk display that possibly could have won something on NBA all-star weekend. He bounced the ball off the court and dunked it. Threw it off the backboard and dunked it. Took an alley-oop pass and dunked it.

It was pretty impressive.

What he did in the game itself was a different kind of spectacular. He went all 40 minutes, and he looked like he could have gone 400 without getting tired. His energy drives everything that happens.

The Princeton team that played on Carril Court last night is the Princeton team that can go far in the Ivy League. It was a team that defended when it was most needed, didn't panic when things weren't going well, got major production from its stars and had others make big contributions as well.

All in all, it was a really encouraging night.

Last night, that is.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hosting The Hawks

Milena Flores, the assistant coach of women's basketball, came down to TigerBlog's office yesterday for the reason most people who visit TB's office do.

She had to see Brian Fitzwater, IT guy extraordinaire, whose office is next to TB's. That's okay. TB is used to it.

While Milena was here, the subject turned to movies. Specifically, it was about a movie that TB had always wanted to see and finally did recently, a movie that Milena says she loves.

There's always a movie out there that when you tell someone you've never seen it, their response is an amazed "you never saw fill-in-the-blank?"

There's also a movie out there that you haven't seen that more than any you want to see and just, for some reason, have never gotten around to seeing. Often, the movie that you want to see more than any other is also the movie that most elicits the "you've never seen that?" response.

For TigerBlog, at one point, that movie was "The Godfather." Then he saw it in high school. After that, it was "Gone With The Wind," which he didn't see until Thanksgiving of 2004. Don't ask him why he remembers that. He just does. He also went all those years not having seen it, greeted with amazed looks of "you never saw 'Gone With The Wind?' "

Once he saw Rhett and Scarlett and their adventures, then the movie he most wanted to see was "It Happened One Night." Interestingly, it also starred Clark Gable.

TigerBlog stumbled on that movie on Turner Classic Movies one night about seven or eight years ago and knocked that one off his list. After that, it was "Rebel Without A Cause," which he saw maybe two years ago.

From that point until last week, the movie he most wanted to see but just never had was "The Princess Bride." When TB told Milena that, her response was an incredulous "You've never seen 'The Princess Bride?' "

And now he has. It was great. He loved it. Actually, it's been awhile since he enjoyed watching a movie that much. 

For starters, it was hilarious. There were so many great lines. It was a fantasy, but not too much of one. It made fun of itself a few times. The performances were all great. Where else can you say that you watched a movie and thought that Peter Falk, Cary Elwes and Andre the Giant were all amazing.

Mostly, it's not taking itself all that seriously. It's just a fun movie. And, as TB said, it has so many great lines, he can't pick just one. You want to see the IMDB list of great quotes?

As you wish: HERE IT IS.

Milena's team had itself a big week last week, defeating Lafayette and Quinnipiac. If you don't know how good Quinnipiac is, well, the Bobcats last year did something no Ivy League women's basketball team has ever done, reaching the Sweet 16.

Bella Alarie continues to impress and make the case that she is the best all-around player in Princeton women's basketball history. From the story about how she was honored as Ivy Player of the Week from
Against Lafayette, the sophomore snagged 14 points and 12 rebounds, along with six blocks and two steals in a victory on Wednesday. Her six blocks were one shy of her career high. Against Quinnipiac, Alarie recorded 16 points, 11 rebounds, stole three passes, blocked two shots and was 6-of-9 (66.7 percent) shooting.

Also from the story:
It's the fourth time in her career that Alarie has been chosen as the Player of the Week. It's her 13th weekly award as she was picked Rookie of the Week nine times last year.

As for the men's team, the Tigers are home tonight for the final time in 2017 when they take on Monmouth. Tip is at 7.

Monmouth has generated a lot of attention the last two years as a borderline Top 25 team, one that found itself excruciatingly short of the NCAA tournament both teams. Even so, the Hawks won 55 games the last two years, with only 15 losses. That's outstanding.

This year, Monmouth, like Princeton, is working to make itself the team it wants to be come February and March. These two teams were a combined 50-14 last year, but they are now 5-13 in 2017-18.

They played a great game last year, a 96-90 Monmouth win that featured three players with at least 25 points, all of whom graduated (Princeton's Steven Cook led everyone with 30). The Hawks most notable game this year was a 101-96 loss in four OTs to Penn.

Princeton's next home game after Monmouth will be Penn, but that won't be until early January. Tonight's game figures to be a good one, and another chance for the Tigers to take a step towards being ready for the Ivy League.

There have been flashes this year from Princeton about how good of a team it can be. The rotation for later in the year still hasn't been completely set, and there are still a lot of pieces to try to fit together.

On the other hand, it's still December. From the pregame story on GPT:
The Tigers have overcome tough starts to have a strong Ivy League season before under Mitch Henderson. In Henderson's first season of 2011-12, Princeton started 1-5 before finishing 10-4 in the league, a record that's now one likely in contention for an Ivy League Tournament bid. In 2012-13, Princeton started 3-6 before going 10-4 in the league. In 2014-15, Princeton started 3-8 before going 9-5 in the league. Last season, Princeton started 4-6 before going 14-0 in the Ivy.     

So that's Princeton-Monmouth, tonight at 7 on Carril Court at Jadwin.

Oh, and what movie is it that TB has never seen and most wants to now?

Milena named a few, but TB had either seen them all or had no interest in them. After Milena left, TB looked through the AFI Top 100 movies of all time and figured out the one that he'd most want to see.

What? You've never seen "To Kill A Mockingbird?"

Monday, December 11, 2017

Talking Football

TigerBlog watched more of "College Game Day" than he usually does the other morning, mostly because Army-Navy is one of his favorite games of the year and basically the whole show was about Army and Navy.

Basically. There was also some time spent talking about the Heisman Trophy presentation, and it included live interviews with the three finalists. The eventual winner was Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, and when he was on, there was a graphic underneath that basically said this:

"Led FBS in completion percentage at 71.0 percent."

TigerBlog's first thought was that of course he knew someone who had a better completion percentage than Mayfield.

In all of NCAA college football, all four divisions, there were only two quarterbacks who had a higher completion percentage than Mayfield. One was Grant Russell of Ohio Dominican, who led Division II with a .725 percentage.

Russell, by the way, went 25 for 35 for for 273 yards and two TDs in Ohio Domincan's 42-24 loss to Penn in September. That was a completion percentage of 71.2 for the day. 

The other was Chad Kanoff of Princeton.

Kanoff, who won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, completed 73.2 percent of his passes. That's an Ivy League record, let alone the Princeton one. In other words, no quarterback who competed at an NCAA school and threw the minimum number of passes to be eligible for national rankings had a better completion percentage than Chad Kanoff.

The more you look at Kanoff's numbers from this year, the more impressive they get.

Kanoff actually threw more passes in Princeton's 10 game (388) than Mayfield has in 13 so far for the Sooners (369). Mayfield threw 41 touchdown passes and just four interceptions, by the way, which is remarkable as well.

The Army-Navy game had some amazing numbers of its own.

There were 98 plays from scrimmage in the game, including 95 rushes. That left just three passes. When was the last time you saw a game like that?

Malcolm Perry of Navy did not attempt a pass but did carry 30 times for 250 yards and never once was tackled for a loss. When was the last time you saw a quarterback do anything remotely close to that?

As for the game itself, the sheer intensity of every play is what makes that game what it is. There's no other game anywhere in any sport that can compare to it. The players on both teams know that they they are representing not just their school and friends and those who played there before them but also entire branches of the United States military.

Factor in that they are also military members themselves, with everything that comes with that, and they play so hard from start to finish. Because of all those reasons, there's just no other game quite like it, in any sport, anywhere.

You had to feel for the Navy kicker at the end of Army's 14-13 win. He was asked to kick a 48-yard field goal on a snowy day, with even the best kickers would struggle to do.

TigerBlog wrote all the way back in 2009 about how he thought Navy's football offense was similar to Princeton's basketball offense had been in the 1990s, back before basically everyone copied elements of it. The basic idea is that the teams were playing in a unique style, one that was next to impossible for opponents to prepare for on short notice, and they were doing so in a way that would maximize the team's strengths and minimize its weaknesses.

It was actually a pretty good comparison.

Speaking of football, there are the Giants.

As TigerBlog said, Eli Manning is up there with any professional athlete on TigerBlog's list of favorites. Having said that, one his streak of consecutive games started ended at 210 last week, what was the point of playing him anymore? Don't you want to see what Davis Webb can do if you're the Giants, especially since they figure to be in position to pick one of the quarterbacks in the draft this coming spring?

On top of which, the Giants lost anyway. If you're trying to get something for Eli next year (like from the Jaguars), it's better if he doesn't play the rest of this season.

Here's another football question - why didn't CBS put the Buffalo game (in the blizzard) on nationally? Everyone would have watched that. It would have been the most-viewed game ever.

The national radio team, by the way, was former Princeton play-by-play man Tom McCarthy and former Princeton and NFL player Ross Tucker. Their social media stuff was great. 

It was certainly better than the Giants-Cowboys game.

TigerBlog watched most of the Giants game. It's really difficult for TB, going back and forth between shots of Jason Garrett (Princeton alum, Cowboys' coach, great person) and Jerry Jones (er, not Jason Garrett). 

Lastly, Princeton alum Seth DeValve caught two passes in the Browns' game against Green Bay yesterday. TigerBlog didn't realize this, but DeValve has at least one catch in all 13 Browns games this year.

Unfortunately for the Browns, they've lost all 13 of those games, none more heartbreaking than yesterday's 27-21 overtime loss to Green Bay. Cleveland led 21-7 in the fourth quarter, but a late TD, a bad interception in the overtime and then the winning score on a TD that was mostly trying to set up a field goal left the team at 0-13.

Heartbreaking, yes.

Though nothing on the level of what Navy was feeling.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Congratulations David Morrow

TigerBlog and David Morrow came to Princeton men's lacrosse at the exact same time.

It was in the spring of 1990. TigerBlog was a sportswriter, one who knew nothing about lacrosse. Nothing. Not even how many players were on the field at once.

TB isn't sure exactly how long it took for him to be hooked on the sport. He knows it wasn't very long.

Part of it was lacrosse itself. Much more than that, though, was Princeton men's lacrosse at the time, its players and coaches, and they remain to this day some of the very, very best people TigerBlog has ever met.

There were 44 players on the 1990 Princeton men's lacrosse team. Of that group, there were 21 from either New York or Maryland. If you add New Jersey and Pennsylvania, that number grows to 28 of 44. Throw in Massachusetts and Virginia and it's 32 of 44. Connecticut had another, so that's 34 of 44.

From seven states, all in the Northeast.

If you look at that 1990 roster, it leaps out at you that four consecutive players numerically came to Princeton from Manhasset, on Long Island. Four straight - No. 19 Lars Florio, No. 21 Justin Tortolani, No. 22 John Kenny and No. 23 Mal Meistrell.

Into this mix stepped David Morrow.

He came from Brother Rice High School - the Warriors - from outside of Detroit. He was a hockey player as much as a lacrosse player. He wasn't from a lacrosse area, and he knew it. He carried that around with him for four years. It was the chip on his shoulder.

TigerBlog wrote a story about Morrow - he wrote a lot of them, actually, but he's remembering one right now - about that chip. Morrow was a defenseman. Each week, he'd guard someone from Long Island, or Baltimore, or Syracuse. Each week, he said then, he had to prove he belonged.

No matter how many times he did it, he had to prove it again. And again. That's what he told TigerBlog.

And then he'd go out of prove it, once again.

The NCAA announced yesterday that David Morrow is one of six recipients of the 2018 Silver Anniversary Award. TigerBlog nominated him for the award a few months ago with the thought that if he didn't win, nobody TB nominated ever would.

The award recognizes athletic achievement as an undergraduate and then professional achievement after graduation. It's awarded each year to a handful of recipients on the 25th anniversary of when they graduated.

David Morrow is, by far, the most intense athlete TigerBlog has met at Princeton. And he's met a lot of intense athletes here.

Morrow was lightning fast and strong, with superior natural athletic ability. But more than anything else, he was an intense lacrosse player. 

Ed Calkins, a year ahead of Morrow on the men's lacrosse team and now the president of the Friends of Princeton Lacrosse, used the word "ferocious" to describe Morrow. That works. TigerBlog can't imagine what it must have been like to go against him in practice every day.

All these years later it's that intensity that TB remembers most about watching David Morrow play. Nobody has ever played harder. Nobody has ever wanted to win more. Nobody has ever scared the you-know-what out of the other team the way he did.

Even now, even his email is intense, with a signature that says "dominate," with a fist.

David Morrow turned that on-field intensity into one of the most storied careers any lacrosse defenseman has ever had. His resume includes all of the following:

* 1993 Division I Player of the Year (one of two defensemen to win the award, and the most recent)
* 1992, 1993 first-team All-America
* 1992, 1993 National Defenseman of the Year
* 1991, 1992, 1993 first-team All-Ivy League
* 1992 NCAA champion
* 1992, 1993 NCAA Final Four
* 1994, 1998 World Champion

Then there's the other side of Morrow's story. 

Back when Morrow was a Princeton student, his father was attempting to invent a new kind of snowshoe when he had the idea of replacing existing lacrosse shafts made of aluminum with titanium, which was much more durable and lightweight.

The result was that instead of lugging around heavier sticks that broke at a rate of two or three dozen per year, now there was a stick that could last all season.

It was with titanium that Morrow scored two goals in the 1992 NCAA semifinal win over North Carolina. Here they are, by the way:

By the following year, pretty much all of college lacrosse wanted to use titanium.

Morrow started a company to market his product, and he named it after his high school - Warrior. Maybe it was his way of saying that no matter how much of a lacrosse insider he'd become, he would never lose that chip on his shoulder.

Pretty soon Warrior expanded to do more than build sticks. In fact, Warrior began to be the go-to brand for anything and everything in lacrosse, and kids way beyond the Northeast wanted in.

More than the fancy marketing around the top stars in the sport, Warrior also made it more cost effective to play lacrosse, since one stick could last a long time.

Morrow also was one of the co-founders of Major League Lacrosse, whose first season was in 2001. Today the league is by far the best lacrosse played anywhere in the world, and the players who play in it were among the generation who first came to the sport around the time that Warrior was having its impact.

Beyond his business successes, Morrow has also been committed to bringing lacrosse - and hockey - to organizations helping economically challenged and disabled children to play both. In the past 25 years, he and Warrior Sports have supported more than 70 different charitable organizations with financial and equipment donations.

How much of this is due to Warrior Lacrosse and David Morrow?

A lot. He has done as much, as any single person anywhere, to grow the sport of lacrosse.

The 2018 Princeton men's lacrosse roster has 47 players on it. Of that group, 11 are from New York and Maryland. There are as many players from California as from Pennsylvania or New Jersey, more if you include Aran Roberts, who grew up in Ireland but moved to California and played high school lacrosse there.

Lacrosse has skyrocketed in the last 25 years. David Morrow's fingerprints are all over that growth.

Very few people come along who overwhelm a sport, leaving those who saw them play to marvel at their abilities, and then turn around and change the very fabric of the way the sport is played - and who gets to play it.

David Morrow is one of those.

Bill Tierney, who coached Morrow at Princeton, calls him "an innovator, an innovator in everything he does."

He also said this about him:

"David is driven," said Tierney. "He's opinionated. He's talented. He's super intelligent. He thinks of the future. He's never taken no for an answer. He was the same as a kid, the same as a player. Now he's the same as a business executive. He's edgy. He won't stop working. He won't stop looking to make something better, including himself. He's not afraid of anything or anybody. That's the magic of him."

That's the David Morrow TigerBlog met all those years ago.

That's the David Morrow he'll see in Indianapolis next month.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Road Trips

TigerBlog learned something about the state of Arizona the other day: It's always on Mountain Standard Time.

TigerBlog has never been to Arizona. It's actually one of 13 states he's never been to, as he counted them yesterday. Maybe one day he'll fly to Arizona and then drive clockwise to Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and then back to Arizona, which would account for six of the missing 13 states.

Or maybe he'll fly to Arizona, go to a resort and sit by the pool. That might work better.

Anyway, Arizona does not use Daylight Savings Time but considers itself on Mountain time at all times. That means that it never "springs ahead," which means that it spends the months when everyone else is on Daylight Savings Times an hour behind.

If it's noon in Phoenix on the Fourth of July, it's 1 p.m. in the rest of the Mountain time zone. This means that it's the same time in Phoenix as it is in Los Angeles then. These days, it's an hour earlier in Phoenix than in Los Angeles.

This, of course, begs the question of why Arizona chose to consider itself on Mountain time, rather than Pacific time. Or why it's not Mountain time in the winter and Pacific time in the summer?

The Princeton men's hockey team travels today to Arizona, where it will play Arizona State tomorrow and Saturday. Those games start at 7 Mountain time, which is 9 in Princeton.

Arizona State is 3-8-3 as it plays in its third season of varsity men's hockey. The Sun Devils, like Princeton, both have a tie with Colgate.

Arizona State's roster has players from four countries, 11 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces. The idea of adding hockey, TB supposes, was to build a program that would attract a wide-range of players who might be drawn to the good winter weather and then ultimately compete for an NCAA championship.

Oh, and here's a completely fascinating stat about Princeton men's hockey: The Tigers were ranked 59th (and last) in scoring offense in Ron Fogarty's first year as head coach; they're currently fifth in scoring in Division I in this, Fogarty's fourth season.

That's what you call serious progress.

The men's hockey team's trip to Arizona is slightly longer than the two that the Princeton basketball teams made yesterday. The women were at Lafayette, while the men were at George Washington.

Actually, the women were part of a doubleheader at Lafayette, followed by the Leopard men against Penn.

The women won 53-45 in a game that was never really all that much in doubt. Princeton never trailed in the game, and each time TB checked the score, it seemed to be in the eight to 14 range.

Leslie Robinson had 15 points for Princeton, along with seven rebounds and five assists. Bella Alarie had 14 points and 11 rebounds for another double-double (she missed one in the last game by having nine points and nine rebounds).

Alarie now has 497 career points, through 37 career games. Alarie figures to make a serious run at Sandi Bittler's career record of 1,683 points, a record that has stood for going on 28 years.

As for the men, the game at George Washington, if you followed the livestats, like TB did, then you also noticed that the commercial with Peyton Manning in the woods played over and over and over, every time you went away from the livestats and then came back.

Beyond that, it was another big night for Devin Cannady, who continues to get better and better as his junior year starts to move along. Cannady, who plays with unbelievable confidence and just oozes leadership in everything he does, finished with 23 points in a 71-60 loss.

Myles Stephens was the other Princeton player in double figures with 13, including a massive dunk that you can see here:

Cannady averaged 12.5 points per game for his first two seasons combined. This year, he's at 19.1 per game. That's a huge jump.

As a result, he's just short of 900 points for his career. He also moved past Dan Mavraides and into sixth place all-time at Princeton in three-pointers made in a career, with 167 right now. The five ahead of him?

In reverse order it goes: Spencer Weisz, Douglas Davis, Gabe Lewullis, Sean Jackson, Brian Earl. That's a who's who, by the way. Also by the way, all five of them are over 200 career three's, led by Earl's 281.

Princeton spent most of the night within striking distance of the Colonials but could never tie it.

Next up for Princeton will be Monmouth Tuesday night on Carril Court. It's the last remaining home game of 2017 for the Tigers, who will be on the road in California and Hawaii after that.

The women? They play Saturday at Quinnipiac.

Do you remember where the Bobcats ended their season a year ago? If you said the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, you'd be correct.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Here's Looking At You Kid

Like Ilsa Lund and Victor Lazlo, TigerBlog has also been to Lisbon.

His trip was a little less arduous, of course. He got there with the men's lacrosse team as part of its international trip a year ago, and his "letter of transit" to get back was a boarding pass that he got from a kiosk, not from someone who had hidden them in a piano after they were stolen from two murdered German couriers in the desert.

If you ask TigerBlog what his favorite movie of all time is, he'd have to give you three or four of them. If you really, really, really pressed him on his all-time favorite, he'd probably say ...


He's talked about this before, most recently back when the Princeton men's soccer team was in Portugal this past spring. He brings it up today because he recently saw a story about how "Casablanca" is turning 75.

The movie was released in late November 1942 in New York City. It had its national release in early January 1943.

The story that TB saw talks about all of the behind-the-scenes turmoil that went into filming. He already had heard a lot of it, including the different writers, the way the story evolved literally day-by-day, the low expectations of the final product.

Back then, studios churned out dozens of movies per year, and most of them were forgotten quickly. That seemed like it would be the fate of the little movie about the love triangle in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, set against the seeming hopelessness of World War II.

The movie, by the way, was released when the Germans were still occupying Paris. It would be more than 19 months until the Allied invasion of Normandy. For that matter, it was still more than half a year before the Allies even invaded Sicily. A movie that captured the uncertainty of what was going on and featured a cynical and seemingly non-caring American saloon keeper in Casablanca who ends up standing up to the Nazis in a way that gets his former romantic rival to say "welcome back to the fight. This time, I know our side will win" really resonated and helped boost morale.

The movie starred Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid in the love triangle, as well as some great supporting actors, such as Claude Rains, Peter Lorre and especially Sydney Greenstreet. It was a success when it was released, winning three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and its popularity has only grown in the decades since. The movie holds up because of the acting, the storyline, the constant stream of often quoted lines and of course the ending.

There are so many great scenes, start to finish. TigerBlog has no idea how many times he's seen it, but it's a lot. And now it's 75 years old.

The movie was actually released on Nov. 26, 1942. Princeton basketball fans were able to go to New York to see it, since the Tigers didn't open the 1942-43 season until Dec. 5.

The national release date was Jan. 23, 1943. Princeton had played just six games of the season to that point.

Even when TigerBlog first started covering Princeton, there were no games before Thanksgiving. By this time of the 1989-90 season, for instance, Princeton had played just three games.

The current Tigers have played seven times. Game 8 is tonight in Washington, D.C., where Princeton will take on George Washington.

Princeton is 2-5 on the season. If Mitch Henderson had wanted his team to be 7-0 after seven games, he could have put together a schedule that would have allowed that to happen.

Instead, he's trying to put together a team that will be looking to win a second-straight Ivy League title and then be at its best come Ivy tournament time. That's the challenge for him and his staff.

Speaking of his staff, the most recent episode of "Hard Cuts" follows Kerry Kittles around, from his ride to work through his day. You can see it HERE.

Princeton came into the season with a lot of questions after the graduation of Spencer Weisz and Steven Cook from last year's team. Speaking of Cook, by the way, HERE'S a story about how his professional career is going so far.

So far though seven games, Princeton has started to get answers. Devin Cannady has raised his game a few levels. The three freshmen - Sebastian Much, Ryan Schwiedger, Jerome Desrosiers - have shown they belong. What was really impressive the other day in the loss at No. 10 Miami was the way Much kept shooting with confidence on a night when his shots weren't falling. That tells you a lot about him. You can learn a lot about a player's makeup by watching on a night when things aren't easy.

Are all the answers there? No. But this is how teams get built.

George Washington is 4-4, including a loss to Rider and, most recently, a win over Temple. After George Washington is the last home game of the calendar year, a date Tuesday with Monmouth.

Then it's frequent-flyer miles time, as Princeton will play its final five games of the month as part of a rather long road trip. Or plane trip. It'll start with games at Cal Poly (Dec. 16) and USC (Dec. 19) and then continuing on to Hawaii for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic beginning Dec. 22.

The one after that is Penn, at Penn, on Jan. 5.

Meanwhile, today is December 6th. TigerBlog will leave you with one more link, which ranks the top 50 quotes from "Casablanca."

Here's looking at you, kid.