Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Six Of The Last Eight

Were TigerBlog a coach, he probably wouldn't be a "win one for the Gipper" kind of coach.

Pete Carril had a great quote - of course he did - about pregame pep talks. It came after his team beat UCLA in the opening round of the 1996 NCAA tournament, and it perfectly captures something TB has always believed about sports.

To paraphrase Pete: "You can give the greatest pep talk in the world. Win one for the Gipper. And none of it matters if the guys you're talking to don't believe they can win the game."

It's so true. TB has believed this forever. So many games, especially close games, are decided because one team is positive it's going to win and the other isn't.

TB would be more of a sports psychologist type of coach than the Kurt-Russell-as-Herb-Brooks-before-the-US-played-the-Soviets type. And that doesn't mean he wouldn't be super competitive or intense.

TB isn't sure why he started thinking about this topic yesterday. It did get him wondering about the different styles of the various Princeton head coaches.

Who are the emotional ones? Who are the ones more like TigerBlog?

And specifically, what is an average pre-race speech by Lori Dauphiny like?

Dauphiny is the women's open rowing coach at Princeton. This past Sunday she coached her team to the Ivy League championship, which happened to be her ninth during his tenure. It also happened to be her sixth in the last eight years and third straight.

Her resume also includes two NCAA championships, in 2006 and 2011. She's also never failed to take her team to the NCAA championships, dating back to the very first one, back in 1997. Princeton has been in the top five nine times and has made 16 of 21 grand finals, all under Dauphiny's watch.

Her entire bio is impressive, including the parts about all of her alums who have gone to the Olympics and have won medals there. You can read it HERE.

The 2018 Princeton first varsity 8 boat led wire-to-wire, for the season and for the Ivy League championship race. The Tigers are unbeaten this year against Ivy opponents, and the Tigers never trailed in the race that mattered the most, the one for the league title Sunday on the Cooper River in South Jersey.

Princeton led by a half-second after 500 meters and then by two full seconds at the midway point, 1,000 meters. In the end, Princeton won by nearly three seconds over second-place Yale.

Princeton also won the second varsity 8 race, its first win since 2012. Here's what Dauphiny said when it was over:
"The 2v beat all odds. They had a rocky season but they never gave up and in the end it all paid off. Their race was exactly that; they never gave in even when four seats down on the leader. They really stepped up and took on the challenge. I couldn't be prouder of them and the team."

That sounds like Dauphiny.

The next step for the women's open team is the NCAA championships, which will be held in Sarasota, Fla., in two weeks.

The men's national championships will be held one week later and much closer, at Mercer Lake. The heavyweights finished fourth in the first varsity race at Eastern Sprints this past weekend, while the lightweights were second in the first varsity.

One of the things that's always fascinated TigerBlog about working in Princeton Athletics is the incredible difference between sports that exist here. Whenever there's a head coaches meeting, TigerBlog finds himself looking around the room, wondering how one coach got into one sport and another got into another.

There are common denominators though. All coaching is very much about identifying talented players, teaching them whatever X's and O's happen to apply and putting them in position to be successful. And motivating them.

So where does Lori Dauphiny fall into that camp? What is the secret for all of her success?

There's another head coaches meeting later this week. Maybe he'll ask her there.

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