Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Okay Smart Guys

You remember Ernie, right?

TigerBlog has mentioned him a bunch of times. He's the amiable head of athletic communications at Johns Hopkins, and he and TB go way back.

It's always good to see Ernie, either at a Princeton-Hopkins game or at an NCAA game, like this past Saturday night, when TB was in Baltimore for the 88th meeting between the Tigers and Blue Jays.

It was a busy night at Hopkins. And a windy one.

If you've ever been to Hopkins, you know that the lacrosse/football stadium is called Homewood Field, and it's one of only two places in college lacrosse that has more NCAA men's lacrosse championship banners than Sherrerd Field here at Princeton.

If you're on the press box side of Homewood, then to your right is the baseball field. It's a FieldTurf field, and a really nice one. This past Saturday, there was a doubleheader on it, which meant a very long, very frozen day for the Blue Jays baseball team.

Homewood hosted a lacrosse doubleheader, as the women's team defeated Furman 19-0 before Princeton's 16-9 loss to the Hopkins men.

And behind Homewood was the building that also is home to the basketball arena. The men's lacrosse game began at 6. At 8 was an NCAA second-round men's basketball game between Johns Hopkins and MIT.

What did Ernie have to say about that game?

"First one to 1600 wins."

If you need TB to explain the joke, then chances are you didn't get 1600.

MIT would end up winning the game, which was a pretty good one. TigerBlog wrote his lacrosse story from press row there, so he got to see about 15 minutes of the game.

Like most Division III facilities, the gym at Hopkins is relatively small, which means it gets relatively loud when it's filled, like it was for the NCAA game. It was the first Division III basketball game TB has seen in a long time, and it took him back to when he covered Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) games for five years.

Back then, there'd be Princeton on Friday and Saturday nights, with TSC (or TCNJ) games and Rider games mixed in during the week. There were also days when he'd be at one of the other two Saturday afternoon and Princeton at night.

Anyway, Princeton's lacrosse locker room was down a stairwell, where it always is. MIT's was next to Princeton, with a shared common area at the bottom of the stairs.

TB was standing in that common area as the Princeton players started to leave and head up the stairs after showering. This was also halftime of the basketball game, so the MIT players were coming down the stairs and passing the Princeton players as they did.

Princeton and MIT. At Johns Hopkins.

That's a lot of smart athletes in a small space.

Yes, the lure of playing in games like the Big East men's basketball championship game at Madison Square Garden is huge. The problem is that too many people think of college athletics simply as that, or big-time college football - and with both come all the excesses that cause all the very familiar problems.

Most of the people playing college sports are doing so because they love the sport they play and are honored and lucky to be able to continue to play it. Some, like the athletes TB saw Saturday night from all three schools, are doing so while at some of the most difficult academic schools in the world.

And they love to play just as much as any athlete who is wearing an Oklahoma football uniform. And it's just as important to them.

If you want to see some more smart guys, you can come to Sherrerd Field tonight at 6. It'll be Princeton against NJIT in men's lacrosse.

If you don't know much about NJIT, it's an elite engineering school. It's also one trying to make its way in the world of lacrosse.

The team is in its fourth year. This will be the third meeting with Princeton, who has won the first two by a combined 43-12.

Up next for Princeton will be Rutgers here Saturday at 1, followed by Penn in the Ivy opener a week from Saturday at 4. The season has just started, but it will zoom by.

Speaking of zooming, Michael Sowers has zoomed to the brink of 100 career points. He enters tonight's game with 97 of them, with 46 goals and 51 assists, in 18 career games.

Should he get three points within the next three games, he will become the fastest Princeton player to reach the 100 point mark. Currently the record is 22 games, set by Wick Sollers and David Tickner, who both did it in the same game, back in 1976.

Anyway, it's Princeton and NJIT tonight at 6.

It's another matchup of smart guys.

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