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. 

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