Friday, November 16, 2018

Ice And Fire


TigerBlog had a pleasant surprise yesterday morning, when he learned that Derek Jones would be the ESPNU play-by-play voice of the St. Joe's-Wake Forest men's basketball game at the Myrtle Beach Invitational.

Jones, the longtime voice of Princeton men's basketball, was making his ESPN debut, and TB was very happy for him. Jones' Princeton partner, Noah Savage, will also be doing some games this year on ESPN networks. In fact, Noah's debut is as a sideline reporter at a tournament in Charleston at which John Thompson III is the color commentator.

Derek and Noah have been a great broadcasting team for Princeton, so it's not that surprising to TB that they're getting this chance. Princeton has a long history of being the starting point for broadcasters who have made it very, very big, including Howard David, Mike Mayock, Tom McCarthy and John Sadak - it's great to see Derek and Noah as they get this chance.

The trickle down from the fact that they're both out of town is that tonight's men's basketball game at Lehigh on WPRB and the TuneIn app will feature Patrick McCarthy and, probably, TigerBlog. The "probably" part is that he may go instead to women's hockey at home against Colgate.

That game, with a puck drop at 6, is the "Black Out Baker" game, with free admission and the goal of having the biggest crowd ever for Princeton women's hockey. If you do go, you'll see a Princeton team off to a 3-0-1 start in the ECAC against a team that lost in NCAA championship in overtime last year and is 3-1-0 in the league to start this year.

TigerBlog's newest Princeton Athletics colleague Jess Deutsch suggested that a good slogan for the weekend here would be "Ice and Fire." It starts with the "Black Out Baker" game on the Hobey Baker Rink ice, and it concludes Sunday night at 7:30 in front of Nassau Hall with the Big Three football championship bonfire.

Princeton's epic football season comes to end tomorrow when the Tigers host Penn at 1 on Powers Field. The bonfire was secured last week when Princeton added a win over Yale to its earlier win over Harvard, and Princeton is already assured of at least a share of the Ivy League football championship no matter what happens tomorrow.

On the other hand, there's still a whole lot to play for against the Quakers. Obviously.

If you've been following Princeton football at all this year, you might be aware of the fact that this team is currently 9-0 and that no Princeton team has gone undefeated since 1964.

Also, Princeton is 6-0 in the league, while Dartmouth is 5-1 and hosting 0-6 Brown. Should the heavily favored Big Green win, then Princeton would need to beat Penn to finish as the league's outright champ for the first time since 1995.

Princeton will be chasing all sorts of records in this game, team and individual. Among them, the Tigers need 11 points to tie the program and league record for points in a season (437 by the 2013 team) and Jesper Horsted needs five receptions to tie the all-time program record of 193, set by Kevin Guthrie, who has held it since 1983.

There are also obscure records, like most first downs rushing in a season. The record is 145, set in 1968; Princeton has 134 so far this year. That's an average of just short of 15 per game, so an average day will give the Tigers that long-sought record.

As for the Quakers, if you think this game will be easy, you're fooling yourself. Penn is 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the league, tied with Harvard and Yale for third place.

Beyond that, Penn allows just 18.6 points per game and is, well, Penn, so beating this team is never going to be taken for granted.

Of course, this is the first time that Princeton has ended its season against Penn. For each of the last 28 seasons prior to this one, Princeton ended its season against Dartmouth. Not to assume anything, but it's fascinating that it could have been a 9-0 vs. 9-0 game, except the schedule just happened to change this year.

Hey, Penn doesn't care if its shot at unbeaten Princeton came in Week 8 (like it used to be) or Week 10 (like it is now). For the Quakers, it's probably more special to have this shot to spoil the Tigers' dreams of perfection.

There will definitely be ice tonight (and tomorrow, when Cornell is here at 3) and fire Sunday (bonfire at 7).

Will there also be perfect?

You can find that out in between. 

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