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.

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