Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Weather Wise

TigerBlog doesn't want you to think he's obsessed with the weather or anything.

Still, he did need to share with you what he was thinking when he saw that there were two - two - more snowflakes on his weather app. Well, he would, except he has never cursed in this spot before, and he's not going to do so now.

TigerBlog was out on his bike Sunday afternoon. It was a bit windy, but it was also 60 degrees. It was around 50 Monday afternoon.

In between it snowed about two inches.

How is that even possible?

In the strange world of Princeton weather, it's supposed to be a high of 67 today. And a low of 37. With thunderstorms mixed in there somewhere.

It's supposed to be in the 60s Friday too, with some rain mixed in.

The rest of the forecast for the next nine days has temps in the 40s. It's spring, right?

The five days after that are all in the 60s, but all of those days say it's going to rain. At least that's a little more springlike.

If you think April snow never happens, there was the men's lacrosse game against Stony Brook two years ago, on April 9, 2016. It snowed that day.

Princeton and Stony Brook meet again this Saturday, with face-off at 1 on Sherrerd Field. Stony Brook played St. John's last night at home.

TigerBlog was at Stony Brook back on Feb. 10, when the Seawolves played Sacred Heart. It was warmer that day than it was for the game last night.

It's been a bit of a struggle the last few weeks for the men's lacrosse team. The Tigers have lost three straight, all in the league, to Penn, Yale and most recently Brown.

Because of its 0-3 start in the league, Princeton is looking at an uphill climb to get into the Ivy tournament. Ahead are games against Dartmouth, Harvard and Cornell, all of which are pretty much must-haves for the Tigers.

Before that run, though, Princeton has games against Stony Brook Saturday and then at Siena next Tuesday.

Princeton has a pair of senior midfielders, Austin Sims and Riley Thompson, who are closing in on 100 career points. That's a lot of points for middies, even if Thompson has also played attack in his career.

Of course, any Princeton game these days is must-see, what with the remarkable sophomore attackman Michael Sowers. Just 23 games into his college career, Sowers is already 12th all-time at Princeton in assists and has more career points than great Princeton players like Zach Currier, Kip Orban, Jeff Froccaro, Mark Kovler and Jason Doneger.

His numbers have been staggering from the start. As a freshman, he set the program record for points in a season with 82, with 41 goals and 41 assists. The 82 points and 41 goals are also more than any other Ivy League freshman has ever had. Only four other Ivy League players have ever had a season of 40 goals and 40 assists, and none of those four did it as freshmen.

How good is Sowers? His vision is incredible, as is his balance, his change of direction and his ability to absorb punishment from defensemen who average, oh, six more inches and 60 more pounds.

At his current pace, and without factoring in any postseason games, Sowers is on pace for 348 career points. The school record is 247, held by Hall-of-Famer Kevin Lowe.

He's the rarest kind of player, the one who draws the entire crowd in with the anticipation of what he might do next. You can make comparisons between Sowers and Tom Schreiber, who made the crowd hold its breath every time he had the ball.
They're both ambidextrous. They both have great vision. They both make everyone around them better. Schreiber is bigger. Sowers is quicker. They also play different positions, so Sowers usually initiates from behind while Schreiber, a middie, usually starts from up top.

Oh, and they both shared the No. 22 at Princeton. Is it a flattering comparison for Sowers? Well yeah, especially if you consider that Schreiber - who is returning from a knee injury - is considered now the best player in the world.

TigerBlog has seen a lot of great lacrosse players. The one he'd most compare Sowers to is Mikey Powell from Syracuse, who is similar in size, quickness and style. Powell, by the way, is one of the greatest college lacrosse players ever.

If you meet Sowers, you can't believe he's the same person who has been shredding defenses since he got here - or before, for that matter, since he holds the national high school record for assists. Sowers is quiet, unassuming and humble, and he is without question the most polite Princeton men's lacrosse player TB has ever met. 

If you're a Princeton men's lacrosse fan, you can be pretty happy about having two more years of Sowers after this. If you haven't seen him play, make sure you do.

Princeton may have had a rough few weeks, but the future is definitely very, very bright. Sowers is just a sophomore, but he's not the only young player who is making big contributions.

In fact, Princeton has an army of good young offensive players, including Chris Brown, the only current player with at least one goal in every game so far. Brown is also second on the team behind Sowers in assists (Sowers has 31, Brown has 11).

There have also been two freshmen defenders who have been incredibly impressive in their rookie seasons. George Baughan plays without any fear, and if TB would use one word to describe how he plays, it would be relentless. Or maybe nasty. Those are high compliments for defensemen.

Andrew Song leads all Ivy League freshman and, for that matter, all Ivy League longsticks in ground balls per game. He also has scored two goals, something only two other longsticks have done in a season this decade (Sam Gravitte in 2015 and John Cunningham, who actually had five in 2010).

The promise of next year and beyond didn't really take the sting away from the 14-13 loss to Brown last week. Can Princeton get back into the Ivy tournament race? Sure. As long as there's a chance to get to 3-3, then that's possible.

For now, there's Stony Brook Saturday.

It'll be another spring day, which these days means an iffy weather forecast.

On the other hand, it's another chance to see Sowers. If you're a Princeton fan, or a lacrosse fan in general, the weather shouldn't stop you from being there.

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