Friday, November 30, 2018

First, A Second

TigerBlog suggested yesterday that Princeton has a good chance to finish in the top 10 at the end of the fall for the NACDA Directors' Cup standings, which measure overall athletic success through a formula based on NCAA championship participation and success.

Then the first rankings came out, and Princeton was ranked No. 2. That's in all of Division I.

Those rankings included only three sports - men's cross country, women's cross county and field hockey - all of which Princeton advanced in, earning significant points. Princeton will still earn additional points for the fall from the men's soccer team, the women's soccer team and the men's water polo team, all of whom reached the first round of their NCAA tournaments.

When it's all added up, TigerBlog figures he'll be right about the top 10.

The Directors' Cup is always a good barometer of where programs stand, because you can't just be good at two or three sports and do well. You need to have success across the board, and that's what has defined Princeton Athletics for a long time.

Princeton has been the highest finishing Ivy League school 22 times in the 25 years the Cup has been awarded. While that is an important accomplishment, what's more impressive to TigerBlog is how consistently well Princeton has done nationally.

Here are Princeton's ranks for each of the last 25 years:

2018 - 40
2017 - 48
2016 - 33
2015 - 41
2014 - 44
2013 - 35
2012 - 39
2011 - 38
2010 - 32
2009 - 40
2008 - 60
2007 - 63
2006 - 47
2005 - 42
2004 - 33
2003 - 34
2002 - 21
2001 - 24
2000 - 57
1999 - 31
1998 – 25
1997 – 60
1996 – 23
1995 – 29
1994  - 34

A year ago, Princeton was the only non-Power Five conference school in the top 40 in Division I. If you don't want to look through all of those numbers, then Princeton has been out of the top 50 only four times and has been as high as 21st, back in 2001-02.

The average finish has been 38.9.

Anyway, remember when TigerBlog said yesterday that he was done talking about the fall? Well, he sort of meant it, until the Directors' Cup standings came out.

It's still technically the fall, at least for a few more weeks, even though today is the final day of November. The new month will begin with a weekend that has three home events, all of which are 1) intriguing and 2) not overlapping.

In fact, the two games tomorrow couldn't be scheduled any better for Princeton fans who want to see both.

The men's basketball team is home against George Washington at 4 tomorrow, followed at 7 by the men's hockey game against Quinnipiac at Hobey Baker Rink. As you remember from yesterday, the women play tonight at home against Quinnipiac while the men are up there, with the locations to switch tomorrow.

Then, Sunday, there's another basketball game on Carril Court, this time as the women take on Davidson.

The men's game gives you another chance to see the amazing Devin Cannady, who continued his unbelievable start to his senior year with 28 more in a win at Maine Wednesday night. Cannady is now averaging 23.3 points per game, with at least 21 in all three games he's played.

His shooting numbers are insane: 22 for 37 from the field overall (.595), 14 for 24  (.583) from three-point range and 12 for 12 (you can figure this one out yourself) from the foul line. Also, he hasn't exactly been shy about shooting from very, very long distances.

You can go watch this game at 4 and then head over to the rink, where the 19th-ranked Tigers take on the 10th-ranked Bobcats in what has been a very good series in recent years. Quinnipiac and Princeton are currently sitting 1-2 in the ECAC standings, though it is very early and there is a long, long way to go.

Ryan Kuffner hasn't been scoring at quite the rate that Cannady has. That might be asking a bit much, getting 23.3 per game from a hockey player.

On the other hand, Kuffner is No. 2 in Division I in both goals per game and points per game. And his teammate Max Veronneau is fourth in Division I in assists per game and 12th in points per game.

That's men's basketball at 4 and men's hockey at 7, with a chance to see some of the best players ever to play those two sports here.

As for Sunday's game, it's a chance to see the best 1-7 team that's ever taken a basketball court, the Princeton women. The Tigers have played a brutal schedule, and they've done so with a team that has been rocked by injuries. If Princeton had its three injured players (Bella Alarie, Taylor Baur, Qalea Ismail) all season there's no way that record would be 1-7.

It's actually been fun to watch the team forced to develop in the face of that schedule and without the injured three. Maybe not fun, but certainly interesting. And Courtney Banghart and her team know how much this is going to pay off when those players are back, everyone shifts back into the right position and role and the team has a chance to get settled before the Ivy season.

So that's the weekend here. Three games in two days. All of them worth checking out.

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