Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Little Moxie

If you couldn't tell, TigerBlog wrote yesterday's entry before the national championship game between Alabama and Georgia and then just stuck in who won.

That's because he knew the game wouldn't end until midnight and he wanted to be prepared. He usually writes the day before, unless there's something extraordinary, like a big night game or, as was the case in the men's basketball win over USC, an unexpectedly big night game.

TB actually started writing at 2 am Eastern time after that game.

As for the football game, Alabama won 26-23 in overtime. TigerBlog didn't watch a single play after halftime, when he fell asleep. He did learn later on that Alabama coach Nick Saban had benched his started quarterback, Jalen Hurts, at halftime, with the Tide down 13-0.

Instead, freshman Tua Tagovailoa came in and led Alabama back for the victory, which came on a 41-yard TD pass in the OT, by the way. Hurts, by all accounts, handled the situation way, way better than basically any NFL player would have, especially considering he'd started 28 straight games before that and Alabama had won 26 of those.

As for Saban, you can hate him all you want. TigerBlog doesn't like him. For one thing, he comes across as less than the happiest guy in his public persona.

For another, he wasn't very nice to Nate Ewell when Nate, the former Princeton OAC student worker/lacrosse manager, worked with him at Michigan State. TB holds grudges.

For all that, though, you have to give him credit for making that move. Coaches, especially football coaches, are notorious for not in any way wanting to be blamed if things go wrong. Had 13-0 become 27-0, Saban would have been blasted for not sticking with Hurts.

Put another way, an Alabama loss in which Hurts plays the whole way and nobody is questioning Saban. An Alabama loss in which he makes that change and everyone is blaming him, which isn't good for the ego.

Instead, he made the move he thought would give his team the best possible chance to win. It took some moxie to do so.

TB still wanted Georgia to win. He roots for Georgia, since it was MotherBlog's last home state. She actually lived in Atlanta, in the Buckhead section, so she was much closer to where the game was played than she was to the Georgia campus, but still, TB roots for the Bulldogs.

Of course, Saban notwithstanding, it seems like the refs were in on it, from what TB read after the game.

Another game - match? - that ended too late for TB this week was played at Stanford last Friday night (started at 11 Eastern). This one was in men's volleyball, between Princeton and Stanford.

Men's volleyball season started Jan. 2 for Princeton, and it will run until late April for the league playoffs and if Princeton should reach the NCAA tournament. Does that make it a winter sport or a spring sport?

Either way, it's a team that didn't exactly start off with a soft schedule. In fact, Princeton went to California last week for four matches, all against teams in the top 12.

That takes a little moxie too, no? 

It started on the same exact Galen Center floor where the men's basketball team beat USC in December. This time, it was No. 12 USC who won, but it was in four very competitive sets.

Next up was No. 2 Long Beach State. Then it would be No. 8 Stanford and No. 11 Cal-State Northridge.

Princeton came back from that trip 1-3. There are some 1-3 starts that are much more impressive than others.

Princeton's win came against Stanford. It was certainly dramatic, as the Tigers went up 1-0 and 2-1 and then won the fifth set at 16-14.

The win was Princeton's best - in terms of rankings - ever in its 21 years as a varsity program. 

Of Princeton's first eight matches, seven of them are in California. The Tigers will make a return trip after exams for three more matches, against UC-San Diego, UCLA and Pepperdine. By the way, if you'e never been to Pepperdine, you should check it out some day.

The lone non-Californian match during that time is this Friday, when Princeton hosts IPFW (that's Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. That match will start at 7.

Sam Shweisky is the head coach of the men's volleyball team. Were he not coaching volleyball here, he'd probably be a professor or dean or something like that. He's a thoughtful guy, and usually a quiet and upbeat guy, and he is very invested in building a strong team character and dynamic.

 Ah, but don't let that lull you. He's also an intense competitor.

And one that wants to challenge his team. His early-season schedule shows you that.

The results to date show you that this could be an exciting few months for Princeton men's volleyball.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Saban is a real genius, he'll hire James Perry and play both quarterbacks next season.