Monday, December 16, 2019

Take A Pause

Is it too soon to call Grace Baylis a former Princeton athlete?

Baylis has been the starting goalie for the Princeton field hockey team for the last four years. With the end of the season, it also marked the end of her career with the Tigers.

Of course the field hockey team went out in style, reaching the NCAA championship game before falling to North Carolina. Still, the question is whether or not Baylis is a former athlete?

Either way, she's a current student and a current Student-Athlete Wellness Leader. Her positive contributions to Princeton Athletics and the University as a whole will continue through graduation in June.

TigerBlog spoke to both Baylis and Doug Davis (another former athlete) recently. In Davis' case, he's definitely a former athlete. In fact, he recently turned 30, something, he said, that caused him to immediately get a little slower.

In speaking with them, TB was struck by their differences and yet their Princeton-born similarities.

Differences?

Davis grew up in Philadelphia (45 minutes from Princeton) and went to high school at the Hun School (two minutes from Princeton). Baylis grew up in England.

Davis played basketball. Baylis plays (played?) field hockey.

Davis is third-leading scorer in Princeton history with 1,550 career points (TB doesn't need to tell any Princeton fan what the two biggest ones were). Baylis, a goalie, had no career points.

On the other hand, they also have two big similarities.

First, TB would say they're both underrated.

Despite his 1,550 career points and 276 career three-pointers made (second all-time at Princeton and just five away from Brian Earl's school record), Davis was never a first-team All-Ivy League selection. In fact, he was honorable mention once and second-team twice.

TigerBlog remembers being pretty surprised at the time that Davis was never first-team. He clearly though Davis deserved it.

Oh, and in case you forgot, the biggest two points he scored were the two at the buzzer of the 2011 Ivy League playoff game at Yale, a win over Harvard that vaulted the Tigers into the NCAA tournament. 

As for Baylis, she was the starting goalie on three NCAA Final Four teams, including one that reached the national championship game. She was always a steadying rock on the defensive end of the field on teams that spent pretty much her entire time ranked in the top 10, often in the top 5, and probably never lower than 15th or so.

For that, she was a three-time honorable mention All-Ivy League selection.

Like TB said, they're both underrated.

What else do they have in common?

Through their Princeton experience, they have come to appreciate the great sense of community that exists here. And they understand the challenges that come with being a Princeton Athlete.

And they've both wanted to help.

Baylis, one of the directors of the Student-Athlete Wellness Leaders, and Davis, now a teacher and the head boys' basketball coach at Princeton Day School, have both been instrumental in the new "Pause Wall" that recently made its debut in the Caldwell Field House.

The wall stands just inside the door that faces out towards Weaver Track and Field Stadium. It is filled with messages that athletes leave for other athletes, as well as information on wellness and other programs that are available on campus.

The title word "Pause" was not chosen accidentally.

The intent is to have Princeton athletes stop - pause - as they walk into the field house, coming from whatever class they had or whatever film session they had or wherever else they came from, on their way to practice or the training room or something, and reflect on the positives and mostly just catch their breath.

It's easy to get caught up in the pace of the school. Taking such a pause seems so natural, but it's not always the case.

That's why having such a wall is such a great thing. Athletes are encouraged to read the inspirational messages that are already on the wall or to leave new ones of their own.

It was made possible in part by a grant from Tiger Well, a Princeton program that assists projects and activities in pursuit of campus wellness.

The official unveiling of the wall was a well-attended event featuring athletes, coaches and administrators. It was obvious that the athletes were drawn to the project, and to the messages that they saw and left.

Doug Davis was there. Grace Baylis was too. Baylis, in fact, spoke on behalf of the SAWLs as part of the ceremony.
 

Friday, December 13, 2019

Highly Defensive

Is 32 points, 19 rebounds, six blocked shots and six assists a good night for a basketball player?

How about if that line came in a game that brought a championship to end a perfect season? And how about if the player whose line it was happened to be a senior?

Yeah, that's not too shabby, right?

Want some hints as to whose line that was?

Hint 1 - the player has a strong connection to Princeton basketball.
Hint 2 - it was a 1993 high school state championship game in Massachusetts.
Hint 3 - the same player had a team-high 15 points in the 1992 state final, bringing the team's two-year record to 50-0.

Give up?

Those numbers belong to Carla Berube, the head coach of women's basketball at Princeton. Berube put those numbers up at Oxford High School in Western Massachusetts, a team she led to a pair of state titles.

Her team almost won three straight championships, but her sophomore year ended with a semifinal loss to Southwick High School. Who was Southwick's best player that year? Rebecca Lobo.

Berube and Lobo would be teammates at UConn, where Berube would add another perfect season her sophomore year, helping the Huskies go 35-0 while winning the NCAA championship.

Berube mentioned her high school coach, John Doldoorian Jr., in yesterday's edition of "Conversations With Carla," the weekly podcast that she and TigerBlog do (you can listen to it HERE). She speaks with great admiration for her high school coach, the one who coached her before Geno Auriemma did at UConn.

TigerBlog has heard a lot of coaches here talk about a lot of high school coaches through the years. The basic premise is that having a great high school coach gives young athletes such a huge advantage.

On the other hand, TB also heard an unnamed Princeton coach say this about an unnamed Princeton athlete: "He could have been really good. His high school coach should be taken out into the town square and flogged."

Berube talked about how her high school coach was the first to really stress defense, something her college coach would as well. From the first day she was hired at Princeton, Berube has spoken about that end of the floor, and her first Princeton team is clearly buying in.

The Tigers are off to an 8-1 start under Berube heading into tomorrow's game against Penn State at home (tip off at 3). Princeton won its first four, lost in overtime at Iowa, and has won four more since.

The game tomorrow gives Princeton another shot at a Big 10 team.

Princeton is allowing 53.2 points per game, which is 16th-best in Division I. The Tigers also lead the Ivy League in blocked shots per game and steals per game.

Princeton has played nine game this season. Of those nine, Princeton has held its opponent to 53 or fewer points six time, including four straight. Also, there have been four opponents who have been held in the 40s, including three of the last four.

Couple that with the fact that Princeton is 18th in Division I in fewest turnovers per game, and you have the foundation of a winning formula.

What's even more impressive is that Bella Alarie has been on the court less than 40 percent of Princeton's minutes so far this year due to injury. There are six players on the team who have played more than Alarie has.

Alarie, of course, is the two-time reigning Ivy League Player of the Year and three-time first-team All-Ivy League selection. She was just named the Philadelphia Sportswriters Association Amateur Athlete of the Year, something you can read more about HERE.

Princeton follows its game against Penn State with games at Missouri and at St. Louis next week. After that it's a Dec. 29 game against New Hampshire in Jadwin Gym before the Ivy League opener at Penn on Jan. 11, followed by first semester exams.

Penn, by the way, is another really strong defensive team, one that actually allows fewer points per game than Princeton has to date.

Princeton and Penn have dominated Ivy women's basketball this decade. This year figures to be a great Ivy race, with seven of the eight teams above .500 right now.

In the meantime, it's Princeton and Penn State tomorrow on Carril Court. Once again, tip is at 3.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Headliners

Back when TigerBlog was in the newspaper business, he spent 95 percent of his time covering games and five percent of his time working inside getting the paper out.

His favorite parts about working inside were 1) writing headlines, 2) the excitement of meeting different deadlines for different editions and 3) going out to eat after midnight in the Chambersburg section of Trenton.

Writing headlines can be as challenging as writing stories. Even today, TB sometimes takes longer to come up with the headline each day than he does writing the entire entry.

TB can't remember how many times people gave him a hard time for the headline on one of his stories in the paper, even though they were written by someone on the copy desk. Conversely, he would write headlines on other people's stories, and presumably, other people would blame them for not liking the headlines that TB had come up with.

For a newspaper, the headline has be a certain size, over a certain number of columns, which in turn limits how many characters you can use. This can impact creativity.

TigerBlog is pretty sure he's mentioned this before, but he can still remember his two favorite headlines. One was after the Philadelphia Eagles were having trouble with their kicking game and brought in two free agents for tryouts without signing either. The other was when the Philadelphia Phillies were in Pittsburgh and outfielder Lenny Dykstra had to come back to have emergency surgery.

TB's headlines:

"Eagles' kicking circus auditions two new clowns" and "Dykstra's appendix out at home"

The second one was better.

TB's former colleague Kurt Kehl used to be the designer of the football game program. He used to love when the headline matched the main picture that was used, like the time that TB wrote a story about All-Ivy defensive end Darrell Oliveira.

For that story, there was a picture of Oliveira as he swatted the ball away as a quarterback threw it. The headline was "No Passing."

TB has always been fascinated by the idea that every game starts with an endless number of possible headlines and then ends up with just one at the end.
Sometimes, when your team loses, it's the headline you hate to have to see (or worse, write).
 
The headline in the Trenton Times after the 1996 Ivy League men's basketball playoff between Princeton and Penn could have gone a million different ways, but it ended up being this: "Princeton Wins, Carril Retires."

For goprincetontigers.com or here at the blog, headline writing is a little easier, since you can adjust the number of characters pretty much however you want. It also affords another arena to be creative.

There are six stories that rotate through the main page of GPT at any given time. At one point yesterday, three of the six headlines featured the word "named" in them.

At this time of year, that's a good sign. The "named" in each case referred to Princeton athletes who had been "named" all-something.

Two of them were field hockey related. The other was women's volleyball.

For women's volleyball, Maggie O'Connell was named to the All-Region team. You can read that HERE.

In field hockey, the coaching staff earned a collective honor, being named the Mid-Atlantic Region staff of the year. You can read about that one HERE.

There haven't been a lot of coaching staffs who have had to deal with what Princeton's field hockey staff did this year, as head coach Carla Tagliente gave birth about two-thirds of the way through the season. The rest of the staff made sure the team didn't skip a beat, winning the Ivy League championship and then three NCAA tournament games to reach the national final before falling to North Carolina.

Of course, you can't have that kind of season without having great players. Princeton certainly had that.

In fact, three of them were named All-Americans: Clara Roth on the first team and Julianna Tornetta and Hannah Davey on the second team.

You can read about them HERE.

Anyway, the point of all this is that when you see the word "named" in a headline, it's usually a pretty good sign.

Actually, as TB goes back and looks, the last five headlines on the field hockey page all have the word "named" in it.

That's how you know you had a really good year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Honoring Jeremiah Tyler And Andrew Griffin

TigerBlog was at the corner of 41st Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan Monday afternoon when he saw something he'd never seen before.

A truck made a wide turn onto 41st but couldn't quite complete it without taking out the light pole, so the driver tried to back up and then finish the turn. The car behind the truck never budged, and the truck's rear hit the car's hood.

The driver of the car did nothing. The truck then tried to pull up and turn again, and when it did, the car behind it pulled up as well, as opposed to getting out of the truck's way. Again the truck had to back up, and again it struck the car.

If you don't believe TB, you can ask Princeton's multimedia director Cody Chrusciel, who was driving while TB was in the passenger seat. The person in the car next to theirs tried to yell at the driver of the car that was being struck to watch out, to no avail. Then in typical New York City fashion, he switched from offering concern to offering scorn of the four-letter variety, while laughing at the same time.

Cody finally was able to get across 10th Avenue and head towards the Lincoln Tunnel and then get in front of the car that was hit, and it's hood was pretty much caved in. And yet still the driver did nothing. The truck driver even motioned to TB and Cody, thinking it was their car that he'd hit, because he wanted to get out and exchange information.

Then the other car went into the tunnel and continued on its way. TB suggested Cody follow the driver to find out why she had never pulled over (he was only kidding on that one).

It was a lot of time in the car with Cody Monday, since it took three hours to get from Princeton to the Hilton on 54th Street and then two hours to get back.

It was worth it though, to be in New York for the Bushnell Cup presentation and to support Jeremiah Tyler, the Princeton junior linebacker who was one of two finalists for Ivy Defensive Player of the Year. Dartmouth's Jack Traynor was the winner after the senior's third first-team All-Ivy League selection, while Yale quarterback Kurt Rawlings was the Offensive winner.

Being the runner-up takes nothing away from the extraordinary season that Tyler had. He led the Ivy League in tackles for loss and was second for Princeton in total tackles while earning unanimous first-team All-Ivy League honors.

The event in New York was a very nice one, with all eight league Directors of Athletics and head coaches in attendance. Princeton was also represented by a large group of Tyler's teammates, who also made the trek into the city to be there for Tyler.

Princeton has had the most Bushnell Cup winners (12) of any school in the league. That's an impressive number.

Rawlings, by the way, was Yale's 11th winner, which ties the Bulldogs with Harvard for second behind the Tigers.

The presentation of the Bushnell Cup came about an hour after the announcement of the CoSIDA Football Academic All-America team. Princeton was represented there as well, as senior wide receiver Andrew Griffin - a computer science major - was named to the first team.

This isn't an easy accomplishment to pull off.

As TB said, Princeton has had 12 Bushnell Cup winners. Princeton has also had 15 NFL draft choices and 44 overall professional football players, not to mention 72 first-team All-Americas.

How many national first-team Academic All-Americas has Princeton had?

Griffin is the fifth.

Here's the complete list:
Richard Sandler, 1968
Kevin Fox, 1976
Kevin Guthrie, 1982 and 1983
Alex Sierk, 1998
Andrew Griffin, 2019

For Griffin, it was the culmination of a remarkable career.

He spent his first three years as a backup wide receiver and special teams player, stuck behind Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson, the all-time Princeton greats who were playing his position then and who are playing (and doing well) in the NFL now.

When he finally got his chance, Griffin made the most of it. He started all 10 games and made 34 receptions for 490 yards, and he was fifth in the Ivy League in TD receptions with six, including four against Bucknell to tie the Ivy League single-game record. Griffin won Princeton football's Richard Colman Award for outstanding scholarship.

He was voted to the District II All-Academic team and then put on the national ballot. When the team was announced, there he was.

He's an extremely impressive young man. Princeton head coach Bob Surace has called him "the kind of person you get in coaching to coach," which is about the best praise you can get.

So congratulations to both Tyler and Griffin.

They're both exactly what you want to see out of the athletes who represent you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Tripleheader Tuesday

Remember that Florida-Gulf Coast women's basketball team who came to Jadwin Gym back on Nov. 17?

Princeton won that game 67-53 despite having Bella Alarie for only 11 minutes due to injury.

So what's the big deal about that game now, more than three weeks later? Turns out that the game at Jadwin is the only loss for Florida-Gulf Coast, who is now 10-1 on the season, including a win over Notre Dame.

The Eagles are the second team out of the Top 25, in the "others receiving votes" category, in this week's AP poll. They're also ranked 15th in Division in RPI.

That's a pretty good win for the Tigers.

Oh, and guess who is ranked fifth in this weeks RPI? It's 7-1 Princeton.

The top five in RPI through Sunday's games are: Oregon State, Missouri State, UConn, Stanford and Princeton. The next five are: Louisville, DePaul, Creighton, Gonzaga and Northwestern.

Obviously those rankings will shake up considerably as the year goes along. Still, Princeton is clearly off to a good start and continues to be a major factor in the national conversation in women's basketball.

And, even more impressively, the Tigers are doing this against a tough schedule, and without having had Alarie for three games (and only a small part of the F-GC game). And Alarie, the two-time Ivy Player of the Year, isn't the only player who has missed time, including Abby Meyers, who missed the first four.

Despite that, Princeton is at 7-1, with only an overtime loss at Big Ten member Iowa in between the Tigers and an unbeaten start. They've done this under a first-year head coach, Carla Berube, and a new coaching staff.

Princeton is allowing just 56 points per game (leading the league in blocked shots and steals), and opponents are shooting 36 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from three. The Tigers are also getting better as games go along, outscoring opponents by an average of 15.5-14.8 in the first quarters and then an average of 18.4-13.3 in the other three quarters.

Most recently, Princeton went on a 19-3 run in the second half to defeat a very good Marist team  62-50. Princeton's constant has been its defense, with five of eight opponents held to 50 points or fewer and a sixth held to 53.

You next chance to see the Princeton women's basketball team is, of all days, today. In fact, it's a very busy day at Princeton, with home games in women's basketball, men's basketball and men's hockey.

Also, because of how the schedule is set, you can see at least some of all three. It's tripleheader Tuesday.

The women's basketball team hosts Hartford at 5, followed by the men's game against Monmouth at 8. In between, facing off at 7, will be the men's hockey team, who takes on American International.

Monmouth brings a 4-5 record into the men's game. The Hawks have played as many games in Florida and Kansas so far this year as they have in New Jersey.

The game tonight will be Monmouth's only game in a 24-day stretch.

Princeton's Jaelin Llewellyn is coming off a career-high 28 points in the Tigers' most recent game, an 82-76 loss at Drexel last Wednesday. Llewellyn and Richmond Arirguzoh have combined to average more than 31 points per game between them.

Both basketball teams have had freshmen who have come on strong of late.

The men have Tosan Evbuomwan, who played 13 total minutes with five points in the first three games. Since then, in the last four, he's averaged just about 25 minutes per game, with an average of 9.3 points per game (and three games in double figures).

For the women, it's been the emergence of Ellie Mitchell, who has played 57 of her 131 minutes in the last two games. That equates to an average of 28.5 in the last two after 12.3 in the first six. She also has 19 points and 27 rebounds in those two games, with 17 of those 27 on the offensive glass.

As for the men's hockey team, the game tonight matches the Tigers against the defending Atlantic Hockey champs. AIC a year ago reached the NCAA tournament, knocking off No. 1 seeded St. Cloud State in the first round before falling to Denver in the quarterfinals.

Monday, December 9, 2019

A Wrestling Weekend To Remember

TigerBlog watched "The Irishman" on Netflix last week.

He spread it out over three days, in fact. He's not sure he could have made it through a movie that length in a movie theater, though he does remember when he saw "The Right Stuff" in the theater way back in the pre-Netflix days of 1984.

That movie, if you've never seen it, is about the Mercury astronauts. It runs 3:12, which is fine for a football game but not to sit still for a movie. Anyway, TigerBlog's friend Ed Mikus Jr. dragged him to see it, despite the fact that TB had no interest in a move that long.

It started at 8. At what TB thought was about 30 minutes later he looked at his watch, to see that it was actually 10:40. So maybe he could have done "The Irishman" in the theater.

Or not.

Here is his mini-review: Instead of watching "The Irishman" once, watch "Goodfellas" twice. Or better yet, watch "Goodfellas" once and "Dog Day Afternoon once." That way you get peak DeNiro, Pesci and Pacino - and it'll only take you about 60 minutes longer to do so.

Yeah. That about covers it.

TB also watched another movie this weekend, one that he'd seen a bunch of times before: "Almost Famous." Now that's a great movie, especially the scene where Russell talks to William's mother on the phone. There aren't too many scenes in any movie anywhere better than that one.

The movie is the story of an up-and-coming band that is just hitting it big. The name of the fictional band - modeled after "The Allman Brothers" - is "Stillwater."

As TB was watching the movie, the Princeton wrestling team was actually in Stillwater, taking on Oklahoma State. It was the start of an incredible weekend for the Tigers. 

If you're interested in just results, then you can say the Tigers went 0-2. If you're interested in the big picture, then you can say that nobody who was part of the team this weekend will ever forget it.
The big picture is always so much better.

Princeton, ranked 12th nationally, began the weekend in the aforementioned Stillwater to wrestle against No. 9 Oklahoma State. The weekend then concluded back at Jadwin yesterday afternoon, against No. 1 Iowa.

Between the two matches, Princeton competed in front of about 6,000 fans.

And, by the way, the Tigers acquitted themselves quite well. They actually won more matches than Oklahoma State, but a forfeit led to an 18-15 OSU win.

Then, back in Jadwin - which happens to be 1,350 miles from Stillwater - Princeton fell 30-9 to the Hawkeyes. Even with that defeat though, Princeton put on a great show for the large community of New Jersey wrestling fans.

The entire weekend seemed like one huge match of nationally ranked wrestlers after another. There were bouts that could provide rematches in the NCAA finals if everything breaks right.

Princeton had three wrestlers who won both of their matches: Patrick Glory, the No. 4 wrestler at 125, Travis Stefanik, unranked at 184, and Quincy Monday, ranked ninth at 157.

All three defeated wrestlers ranked higher than they are.

Patrick Brucki, an All-America a year ago and the No. 2-ranked wrestler at 197, went 1-1 on the weekend, with a win over Oklahoma State's No. 6 Dakota Geer and a loss to Iowa's No. 3 Jacob Warner. That's a lot of intensity in a weekend, sort of like a mini-NCAA tournament.

Princeton is now off until the 19th, when it hosts 20th-ranked Rider. Princeton is the highest-ranked Ivy League and EIWA team, and there will some huge Ivy matches come the new year.

This weekend didn't affect any of that, but it was still an incredible experience. It was a great bit of scheduling to be able to pull off, and it probably created all kinds of logistical headaches to coordinate.

In the end, it was well worth it, as Princeton had, as TB said, the kind of weekend that they'll all remember forever.

And isn't that the point of it?

Friday, December 6, 2019

Home. Away. And Both.

This is a 21-event weekend for Princeton Athletics.

That's a reasonably busy stretch from today through Sunday. If TigerBlog counted correctly, there will be 13 Princeton teams who compete during the next three days.

After that, the rest of the month quiets down quite a bit.

In fact, beginning Monday, there will be 11 more days in the month (and year) with at least one athletic event and 12 without any. That includes a week-long stretch from the women's basketball game on the 20th at St. Louis to the men's hockey game at home against Quinnipiac on the 28th where there are no events at all.

Other than final exams in January, it'll be the longest run without any events from late August until the last athletic event of the academic year.

If you're counting it all up, there are 21 events this weekend, then 12 more between then and the break before Christmas, followed by eight more between Christmas and New Year's. In other words, there are 21 events this weekend and then 20 more from Monday (the ninth) through the New Year.

There are some teams that are home this weekend. There are some that are away.

And there are some that are both home and away.

One is the men's track and field team, which will be competing at its own New Year's Invitational here and in Boston at a different meet, both Saturday. That will be a matter of sending some athletes to one and some to the other. It's not quite the itinerary of the other Princeton team that is both home and away. 

That would be the wrestling team. It's not exactly like the Tigers are at, say, Rider or Rutgers tonight and then home Sunday. And it's not like they're playing just any teams on their weekend.

TigerBlog, for that matter, can't remember a team that has bitten off what the Tigers are doing this weekend. Princeton opens its weekend tonight at 8 Eastern (7 Central) at No. 9 Oklahoma State. Then it's back on the plane to come home to host Iowa Sunday at 2.

And where is Iowa ranked? How about No. 1?
'
To recap, that's a flight to Oklahoma, a match against the No. 9 team in the country, a flight back to Princeton and then another match against the No. 1 team in the country. Sunday's match, by the way, will be in Jadwin Gym.

Iowa, by the way, last wrestled this past Sunday, defeating Wisconsin 32-2. Wisconsin was ranked, hmm, checking, checking ... sixth in the country.

You have to give it to Chris Ayres and his staff for doing what they've done to make Princeton nationally relevant in wrestling. The Tigers are the 12th-ranked team in the country, making them the highest ranked EIWA and Ivy League team.

From the preview on goprincetontigers.com:
Against Oklahoma State, two possible highlight rematches include third-ranked Nick Piccininni of Oklahoma State and Princeton's fourth-ranked Patrick Glory, which went 10-4 to Piccininni last year, and second-ranked Patrick Brucki of Princeton against Oklahoma State's sixth-ranked Dakota Geer, when went to Brucki last year 8-4.

Against Iowa, Glory could have the chance at 125 to wrestle two-time defending NCAA champion Spencer Lee, who took an 18-2 technical fall in last year's match.  Quincy Monday, ranked No. 9 entering this match, could have the chance for a rematch against current No. 4 Kaleb Young, who took a 7-4 win at 157 last year.

The full preview is HERE.

There's also a pair of home hockey doubleheaders, with the men's game against Colorado College this afternoon at 4 followed at 7 by the women's game against Cornell, while tomorrow it'll be the women first at 3 against Colgate and then the men at 7 against Colorado College again.

There is also home men's and women's swimming and diving, home men's and women's track and field and home men's and women's squash. The women's basketball team, at 6-1, is at 5-1 Marist tomorrow night at 6.

And of course, tonight at 7:30, there is the first round of the NCAA women's volleyball tournament, as Princeton is at Penn State. It's Princeton's eighth NCAA appearance and third in four years.

HERE is the complete schedule for the weekend (and month, for that matter).

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Finalist And The First Round

Okay, that's three straight days with snow in the Princeton area.

TigerBlog is not a fan. On the other hand, none of its really stuck around very long, and it did look sort of pretty as it fell in big wet flakes.

It's not even winter yet, of course. That's still a little more than two weeks away. It's wintry, though, as the first week of December rolls through.

Will it be a white Christmas? Will it be a white winter? Last year wasn't too bad in terms of snow.

TAGD - Tiger Athletics Give Day - has come and gone, with a record amount of $3,185,738 raised in 24 hours, running the six-year TAGD total to more than $13 million. That money has gone directly into programs that benefit the current student-athletes, and Princeton Athletics is grateful to all those who so generously donated this week.

Also, if you didn't get a chance to check out the "Tiger Feud" videos - modeled on "Family Feud" - you can do so HERE, HERE and HERE.

The host was Noah Savage, a former men's basketball player. You can just say that Noah was born to do stuff like this.

In other big Tuesday news, Princeton football player Jeremiah Tyler was named a finalist for the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League's Defensive Player of the Year. Tyler and Dartmouth's Jack Traynor are the two defensive finalists, and quartebacks E.J. Perry of Brown and Kurt Rawlings of Yale are the finalists on offense.

The awards will be presented Monday afternoon in New York City. Tyler, a junior from Detroit, is a very deserving finalist, after his unanimous first-team All-Ivy League season that saw him lead the league in tackles for loss and generally wreak havoc on a weekly basis with one impact play after another.

In addition, his enthusiasm is as obvious as his explosiveness.

Princeton had had a great run of football success this decade, and that's translated into Bushnell Cup success as well. In fact, the Bushnell Cup dates to 1970, and from that first year through 2012 (a total of 43 seasons), Princeton had six Bushnell winners - Walt Snickenberger (1974), Jason Garrett (1988), Judd Garrett (1989), Keith Elias (1993), David Patterson (1995), Jeff Terrell (2006).

Of course, for most of that time, there was only one Bushnell winner. The league split the award into offensive and defensive winners in 2010.

Since 2012, Princeton has had six more winners -
Mike Catapano (2012 • Defensive), Quinn Epperly (2013 • Offensive), Mike Zeuli (2014 • Defensive), John Lovett (2016 • Offensive), Chad Kanoff (2017 • Offensive), John Lovett (2018 • Offensive).

In addition, Princeton has also had four other finalists who did not win - Trey Peacock (2010 • Offensive), Caraun Reid (2013 • Defensive), Kurt Holuba (2016 • Defensive) and Jesper Horsted (2018 • Offensive). Horsted, of course, lost out last year to his teammate Lovett.

Princeton went 8-2 this fall and came within a Hail Mary and a recovered onsides kick of a second-straight Ivy League championship. Tyler is not the only key piece of that team who returns next year, and Princeton figures to be right back in the hunt for another championship after having won three in the last seven years.


The fall season, by the way, is still not over for Princeton Athletics.

The women's volleyball team will be at Penn State tomorrow night in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Princeton is there for the third time in four years.

It's also Princeton's eighth overall, and seven of those eight have included Sabrina King as either a player (1997, 1999, 2000), assistant coach (2007) or head coach (2016, 2017, 2019). King is not the only one on the team who knows what to expect from the big stage; there are seven players on the team who were there in two years ago.

Then again, the opponent also knows a thing or two about being involved this time of year.

Penn State is ranked seventh nationally and is the No. 11 seed in the tournament. The Nittany Lions, who tied for second in the Big Ten, are making their 39th NCAA appearance. Just so you know, there have only been 39 NCAA tournaments in women's volleyball.

Penn State has also won seven NCAA titles, including six since 2007.

In other words, it'll be quite a challenge and quite an atmosphere for the Tigers.

On the other hand, that's the fun part.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A TAGD Thank You

And here TigerBlog thought he'd seen it all in his 30-plus years covering Princeton Athletics.

Ah, but it turns out he was wrong.

Until yesterday, he'd never seen Chris Sailer, the Hall-of-Fame women's lacrosse coach who has taken Princeton to three NCAA championships, in a football uniform, complete with helmet and pads. And now he has.

 
And now you have too.

Perhaps the most amazing part of the video isn't her inability to kick a football (though TB thinks she can do better than that in reality). It's the fact that the people who are walking past in front of Dillon Gym hardly seem fazed at all that there's a woman in a football uniform running with the ball, going out for passes and attempting a field goal, not to mention spiking the ball and then dancing.

As TB is located in Jadwin Gym, across the campus, it begs the obvious question of whether or not this is normal activity for Dillon? He knows that Dillon is famous for its ping-pong games. Phantom football too?

The occasion, of course, was TAGD, the sixth edition of the 24-hour fundraising challenge that went from midnight to midnight yesterday.

Sailer's fun video wasn't the only good one of the day as the team's brought out their best social media efforts.

The wrestling team is always good for some TAGD laughs, and those Tigers came through again with this effort:
 
That's pretty good, right?

There was all kinds of social media presence, ranging from the funny to the thoughtful tributes about what the Princeton experience means to some of the current athletes.

There was also the debut of "Student-Athlete Feud," a play on the game show "Family Feud," which featured teams of athletes, with your host, Noah Savage. Now that was funny stuff. 

TAGD was once again a success, and again a way to celebrate the extraordinary loyalty that has always defined Princeton University as a whole and Princeton Athletics specifically. Again, as someone who attended Penn, TB can vouch for you that it's just a different world here at Princeton.

TB wrote this last year on the day after TAGD, and he'll go back to it again:
There's something of a feel of Election Day to TAGD.

There are early results and forecasts. There are projections. The polls, as it were, are open for a finite time.
 
Mostly, it's a sign of faith in the direction of the current programs, a message of approval for the athletes - and a reaffirmation of what the Princeton experience meant to so many people who have competed here through the years. Princeton Athletics clearly appreciates it.

The TAGD sentiment was captured relatively perfectly by Tom Schreiber, the men's lacrosse alum. Schreiber, by the way, is a great enough player to be considered by many the best player in the world right now, and yet his defining characteristic isn't his skill, it's his humility and class.

This is what Schreiber posted yesterday: "Most of the great things in my life can be directly or indirectly tied back to the opportunity to attend Princeton and play for Princeton men's lacrosse. I'm thankful for that that afforded me that opportunity and am proud to support the next generation as part of Tiger Athletics Give Day."

That's pretty much the point of the day. It's also a point that so many people seem to agree with, as they once again have done so much to show their support on another TAGD.

So on behalf of everyone here at the Department of Athletics, TB wants to thank everyone who contributed to enhancing the experience for Princeton's 1,000 varsity student-athletes, who will benefit directly from the generosity.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

It's TAGD 6

Tiger Athletics Give Day No. 6, and it's been an extraordinarily successful addition to the Princeton Athletics calendar. And one that's been a lot of fun.

For information on TAGD, including how to make a gift, click HERE

TigerBlog wrote about Jesper Horsted's first career NFL touchdown catch yesterday.

When you think of Horsted's college career, you think of a big wide receiver who has great hands, especially in the end zone. You think of the fact that he is the all-time leader in receptions and touchdown receptions at Princeton.

You even think of him as a first-team All-Ivy League baseball player who had to choose which of the two sports to play professionally.

What you may not think of, at least without being reminded of it, is that he was also the narrator of last year's video on TAGD.

Of all the videos that Princeton Athletics has produced through the years, it's very likely that the TAGD video last year was TB's favorite, as Horsted narrated a famous Grantland Rice poem while athletes from all 37 teams posed in their venues. It ended with Horsted on camera, in full uniform, putting his helmet on after he says:
"For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,

He marks - not that you won or lost -
But how you played the Game." 


That was last TAGD.

Today is the sixth TAGD. The first five have enabled Princeton to raise more than $10 million as the competition among its Friends' groups has become an annual part of the calendar.

TAGD grew out of the 150th anniversary of the first athletic event in Princeton history, a baseball game against Williams College on Nov. 22, 1864. Since its beginning, TAGD has helped Princeton Athletics raise more than $10 million, with a record $2.7 million a year ago.
 
In addition to the dollars raised, another impressive number from last year was 8,693. That was the number of gifts that Princeton received a year ago.

That's an extraordinary number. It also speaks to something much larger.

The loyalty that the experience here breeds is like nothing else that TigerBlog has seen anywhere else. There is an unspoken, but obvious, responsibility on the part of those who have come through here to give back to the next generation so that those experiences can exceed theirs.

That has been one of the main takeaways from the TAGD experience to date. Another is the intensely competitive nature of everyone associated with Princeton Athletics, as each Friends' group wants to outdo the others in its bracket or overall.

It's also turned into a great deal of fun.


And today figures to be more of the same, with the annual social media presence (use the hashtag "#TAGD") and video content and contests. This year, one of the themes has been "on the hunt," which speaks to the idea that despite its overwhelmingly impressive history and the success that Princeton teams continue to have, nobody here is taking anything for granted or ever would take anything for granted.

That kind of sustained success has involved so many generations of athletes and coaches leading to the current group, the ones who will benefit directly from today's generosity.

Princeton Athletics uses that money to invest in the education and experience of its 1,000 student athletes and 37 varsity teams. Those athletes then use what they learn here in their educational and athletic pursuits and go off in so many different areas to make such a positive impact in their communities and globally, all fueled by their time as Princeton Tigers.


And that's what TAGD is really about.

So enjoy the celebration that TAGD has become. And, on behalf of the entire athletic department and all of its athletes, thank you once again for stepping up and showing the loyalty that defines Princeton.

It's TAGD. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

TD Horsted

TAGD is tomorrow. It's Tiger Athletics Give Day No. 6, and it's been an extraordinarily successful addition to the Princeton Athletics calendar. And one that's been a lot of fun.

For information on TAGD, click HERE.

The weather forecast for snow and ice in the Northeast yesterday resulted in new worst travel day of the year.

Instead of the Sunday after Thanksgiving, it became the Saturday after Thanksgiving. TigerBlog heard of and read about horror stories of drives that normally take two or three hours drifting past five.

The Thanksgiving weekend ended with some awful weather as November turned to December. TB hopes that you had a great holiday and that any travel woes weren't so bad.

As for Thanksgiving Day itself, the best part wasn't necessarily anything to do with turkey or stuffing or even green bean casserole. Nope. It had to do with Jesper Horsted, a rookie tight end with the Chicago Bears.

A year ago, Horsted was a senior wide receiver at Princeton, record-setting receiver at that. Horsted is the Tigers' career leader in both receptions (196) and receiving touchdowns (28), and he was a Bushnell Cup finalist a year ago, losing out on the honor to his teammate, quarterback John Lovett.

The other starting receiver opposite Horsted was Stephen Carlson. Lovett, Carlson and Horsted all made it to the NFL this year - essentially all three as tight ends (though it's really hard to assign a position to what Lovett does, though, with a uniform number of 40, he's definitely not a quarterback).

Lovett has spent the entire season on injured reserve with the Kansas City Chiefs, but all indications are that he has a nice future there. Carlson was activated three weeks ago from the Cleveland Browns' practice squad and now has four catches, including a touchdown reception, in three games.

Carlson caught two passes for 28 yards in a 20-13 loss to Pittsburgh yesterday. His first catch went for 21 yards and included a massive stiff arm.

If you're keeping track, by the way, Carlson had one fewer catch for one fewer yard than Odell Beckham Jr. did in the game. Carlson also averaged 14 yards per catch, compared to 9.7 for Beckham.

As for Horsted, he was injured on his pro day and went undrafted. The Bears, who signed him and saw him have a big end to the preseason, released him and brought him back to the practice squad at the first opportunity.

Like Carlson, Horsted spent much of the season on the practice squad, and he had to wait an extra week for his first NFL appearance. His debut came two weeks ago in a win over the Giants, a game in which he caught one pass for four yards.

That game was followed by the Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions in Detroit. On this huge stage, Horsted did more than just make a name for himself. He may have saved the Bears' entire season.

Overstatement? Nope.

Chicago trailed 17-10 late in the third quarter when Horsted hauled in an 18-yard TD pass from Mitchell Trubisky. The catch, like Carlson's TD, was not an easy one.

Trubisky dropped the ball over two defenders, leading Horsted into the end zone. Horsted had to catch it with two defenders who were closing in on him and the his back to Trubisky.

Horsted's catch tied it at 17-17. Chicago would win 24-20. Trubisky finished with 338 passing yard and three TDs and was the hero of the day ... but how different it could have been.

Had Horsted not caught the ball and allowed a Detroit defender to take it away from him, then it's likely that Chicago loses that game. A loss would have taken Chicago to 5-7 on the year and essentially out of the playoff race.

Instead, Chicago is now 6-6, and a late-season playoff run is still a possibility. At the very least, Chicago finishes the season at Minnesota, a team the Bears have already beaten once this year. The Vikings are 8-3, with a game at Seattle tonight.

The Bears need to be within a game of Minnesota for the final wild card spot heading into that last game. They'd have no chance had they lost Thursday.

Would they have lost had Horsted not made that catch? There's obviously no way to know, but his catch was as big a play as the Bears had in their biggest game so far.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Have A Great Thanksgiving

The All-Ivy League football team came out yesterday, and Princeton had 14 players represented.

That's a good number.

What's most impressive for TigerBlog is that Princeton had seven second-team selections, with three first-team picks and four honorable mention. That's the kind of team this was. It was a team with depth and balance and spirit, and it could be any number of players each week who could step up and be the one TB nominated for Ivy Player of the Week.

He was happy to see Jeremiah Tyler was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy League selection. That's the kind of season he had. It's possible that Tyler will be one of two finalists for the Bushnell Cup when that is announced next week.

If he had to pick one place to quibble with the selections, he would have liked to have seen running Collin Eaddy be a first-team pick. Eaddy ran for 799 yards and led the Ivy League with 12 touchdowns and was named second team.

On the other hand, a tweet from Princeton running backs coach Jamel Mutunga about Eaddy did elicit a comment from a Princeton football alum, a certain Dean Cain:
 

The other person whom TB would have loved to see get some recognition was Ryan Quigley, a senior running back who ran for 481 yards and six touchdowns. TB was hoping Quigley would have been honorable mention at least.

This was TB's first season back as the football contact, and he loved it. The team was fun to watch, and the players and coaches were great to work with. He got to see this group from a much different perspective, and his main takeaway was that they just loved to play, and loved to play together.

Maybe that's why he wanted to see Quigley rewarded, because he played with such obvious joy.

And that's it for today.

As you know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. If you've been reading TB since the beginning, you might remember that he says the same thing each Thanksgiving, so he'll again share that with you:

As holidays go, you can't do much better than Thanksgiving. It's got it all, really: a huge meal (with turkey, no less), football, family, history (dates back to 1621), start of a four-day weekend for most people, leftovers. It's even a secular holiday, so every American can dive right in, regardless of religion.
 

The Lions and the Cowboys, obviously, always play at home on Thanksgiving, and the NFL has now added a third game (maybe a little too much). Beyond watching football, how many out there have played their own Thanksgiving football games, all of which, by the way, are named "the Turkey Bowl?"

The holiday may lag behind Christmas in terms of great Hollywood movies, and "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is no match for "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Still, there are some great moments in movies and TV shows around Thanksgiving.

Rocky and Adrian had their first date on Thanksgiving – "To you it's Thanksgiving; to me it's Thursday," Rocky said romantically – as did Meadow and Jackie Jr. on "The Sopranos" (it didn't quite work out as well as it did for Rocky and Adrian). "Everybody Loves Raymond" had two pretty good Thanksgiving episodes, the one where Marie makes a low-fat dinner and the one where Debra makes fish instead of turkey. As an aside, TigerBlog's Aunt Regina once made Cornish game hens instead of turkey, so he knows how they all felt. And of course, there was the Thanksgiving episode of "Cheers," which has the big food fight at the end.

The Woody Allen movie "Hannah and Her Sisters" starts and ends on two different Thanksgivings. "Miracle on 34th Street" is a Christmas movie, but it does start with the Thanksgiving parade in New York City.

And of course, there is the best of all Thanksgiving movies: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." It'll make you laugh a lot and cry a little, and it ends on Thanksgiving.


TB wishes everyone a great holiday and hopes that maybe you take a few minutes to think about what you really are thankful for these days.

Happy Thanksgiving, Tigers.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving Week

This past Wednesday Princeton had two alums score a goal in an NHL game on the same day.

In case you forgot, that would be Taylor Fedun with Dallas and Eric Robinson with Columbus.

If that wasn't impressive enough, you can add what happened Sunday to the mix. On Sunday, two more Princeton alums - Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson - both had a reception in an NFL game.

That's remarkable stuff, no?


TigerBlog wonders how many other schools can say they had two alums with NHL goals on the same day and two alums with NFL receptions on the same day, all within the same week. It can't be many, right?


If TB had to guess, he'd say it would have to be a Big Ten school. Or Notre Dame. Maybe he'll try to research that.

If you want to open it up to the calendar year, how many colleges had the trifecta of NHL goals, NFL receptions and Major League Baseball home runs? Princeton has had that, when you include Mike Ford, who had 12 home runs this season for the Yankees.

Carlson made his second reception in his second game, both of which have been wins by the Cleveland Browns.

Anyway, that's something impressive to start out your Tuesday.

This Tuesday isn't like most, since it's Thanksgiving week. Any time the fall sports season extends beyond this point, it's a sign of good things.

The Princeton women's volleyball team is the lone fall team that is still competing. The Tigers are set for a fun Thanksgiving after defeating Yale 3-1 Friday night in the Ivy League one-match playoff for the NCAA tournament bid.

The selections will be this Sunday, Dec. 1, at 8:30. Princeton has reached the NCAA tournament for the eighth time.

Princeton and Yale continued their dominance of Ivy women's volleyball by tying for the league championship. The 2019 tournament will mark the eighth time in nine years that the Ivy League has been represented by either Princeton or Yale, and the Tigers are going for the third time in four years.

The match Friday night saw the Bulldogs win the first set and then Princeton come back to win the next three. The Tigers pulled away in Game 4, winning 25-15.

The NCAA volleyball tournament will be the final fall event for Princeton. If you're keeping score of such things, Princeton has eight teams that have their championship decided in the fall, and seven of those eight have won a league title within the last two falls.

Again, impressive.

The end of crossover season will see things calm down a bit around here. This week, because of the holiday, is a bit slow.

There are two men's basketball games, including a home game tonight against Arizona State. Princeton defeated the Sun Devils, who were ranked 16th at the time, 67-66 last year in Tempe a year ago.

Arizona State, 3-2 on the season, has gone to back-to-back NCAA tournaments. The Tigers are coming off a 79-54 loss at Indiana in their most recent game.

Next up for Princeton will be a game at Bucknell Saturday. The men's hockey team is also away this weekend, and when TB says away, he means it.

Princeton is in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the Friendship Four tournament. The Tigers will play Colgate, a team they haven't seen since, well, Friday, when they tied 2-2. This game will not count in the ECAC standings, and the teams will meet for a third time on Jan. 31 at Hobey Baker Rink.

The other two teams in Northern Ireland are Northeastern and New Hampshire. The games are Friday and Saturday.

It makes TB wonder what an American Thanksgiving in Northern Ireland would be like. 


Monday, November 25, 2019

The National Runner-Up

The Princeton football team came out of the locker room at Franklin Field to start the second half Saturday and ran right past TigerBlog, who was standing on the sideline.

He was facing the other way, and when he heard the rumbling behind him, he turned around to see the wave of players go by. The first person he saw, somewhat randomly, was sophomore running back Trey Gray.

A few moments later, Gray took a huge hit on the kickoff to start the second half and was motionless on the turf for a few very scary minutes. Very, very scary minutes.

Fortunately, there's a happy ending to this story. Gray was taken off the field on a stretcher and kept overnight in the hospital, but by then he'd already moved his arms and legs and spoken to his coach and the medical staffs from both teams, who did an amazing job in those first few moments.

And, even better, there was Gray yesterday afternoon at the Princeton football banquet, receiving a large ovation from his teammates.

Princeton won the game by the way, defeating Penn 28-7 to finish an 8-2 season and push the record to 18-2 over the last two years, giving Princeton 18 wins over a two-year stretch for the first time since 1950 and 1951.

Bob Surace ran his record for his first 100 games at Princeton to 56-44. Considering he started out 2-20, that's really impressive.

TB texted Surace yesterday afternoon when Surace was in team meetings, and Surace only had one question for him:

What's the field hockey score?

Surace of course meant the Princeton-North Carolina field hockey game, which was at halftime when TB got Surace's text.

Princeton and North Carolina met yesterday in the NCAA championship game. It was Princeton's fourth appearance in the field hockey final and first since the Tigers won it all in 2012.

When TB texted Surace, it was 2-1 UNC. TB, who was watching the game, figured that whoever scored next would win. That's how it played out, as the Tar Heels pulled away to win 6-1.

UNC has now put together back-to-back 23-0 seasons and NCAA titles.

Princeton got to the final by knocking off Virginia 2-1 in Friday's second semifinal, after UNC had taken out Boston College 6-3.

Interestingly, the team that scored first lost all three games at the Final Four.

Princeton gave up the first goal to UVa Friday but fought back. It was the Cavaliers who had the better of it early but who couldn't open up any real distance thanks to some great saves from Grace Baylis, and Princeton tied it when Hannah Davey used a burst of speed through the middle and a great pass into the circle that Ali McCarthy ripped into the cage.

The game-winner came from Julianna Tornetta, who sent a shot across her body off a scramble to make it 2-1.

For Princeton, that was win No. 13 in a row. The winning streak would end against Carolina, but that takes nothing away from what the Tigers were able to put together this year.

Or, for that matter, what Princeton has done in Carla Tagliente's first four years.

If you're keeping track, Princeton under Tagliente has either won the Ivy League or reached the Final Four - or in the case of this year done both - each of her first four years. Her totals are one NCAA final, two Ivy titles and three Final Fours.

And one baby. You can see the baby all over the team's social media.

In fact, you can also see on social media what a cohesive team this is. It's a team with a great tradition and culture, and all of the winning is directly related to both.

Reaching the NCAA championship game is a major accomplishment. Falling short against a team like North Carolina doesn't change any of that.

Yes, winning it all would have been great. Still, don't minimize what a run like Princeton's means to the players and coaches who have experienced it.

There's the travel to the Final Four site - in this case Wake Forest. There's the banquet before the Final Four. There are the practices and then the on-site stuff, and finally the semifinal games themselves, which bring a different level of intensity than any they've experienced before.

It comes from being one of the only four teams that has gotten that far. And then one of the only two. It is not an easy thing to accomplish, in any sport, in any year.

Congratulations to the Princeton field hockey team.

What they did was incredible.

Friday, November 22, 2019

A Very Big Friday

Welcome to a rather big Friday in Princeton women's athletics.

There are three huge events today, two of which are on campus and one of which is available for free on your laptop or phone or tablet or even wristwatch if you have the right kind.

TigerBlog will take you through these chronologically.

First, at 3:45 from Wake Forest, it's Game 2 of the NCAA field hockey Final Four. The opener matches North Carolina and Boston College, and then the second game will feature Princeton and Virginia.

The winners will meet Sunday at 1 for the NCAA championship.

Princeton is back in the Final Four after dominating Syracuse and second-seeded UConn last weekend in Connecticut, winning those two games by a combined 7-1. Princeton is making its ninth appearance in the Final Four and is hoping to make its fourth NCAA final.

Princeton has won one NCAA title in program history, back in 2012.

You can watch the game right HERE.

The full pregame preview is HERE.

Princeton is 15-4 and the winner of 12 straight. The Tigers have not lost a game this year by more than a goal, and three of their four losses came early in the season to teams that ended up seeded in the top four. The result of playing the normal brutal schedule was seen last weekend in Storrs.

Princeton has been down this road before, with three Final Fours now in the four years that Carla Tagliente has been head coach.

Is there anything different about this year? Well, for starters, Tagliente has her team in the Final Four despite giving birth during the season.

After you watch that game, then you can head to Hobey Baker Rink to see the "Black Out Baker" game between Princeton and Clarkson. That's a pair of top 10 teams who are going head -to-head, with the eighth-ranked Tigers and fifth-ranked Golden Knights.

Clarkson, by the way, has won two of the last three and three of the last six NCAA titles.

You can read the preview HERE.

The puck drops on that game at 6. An hour later, Princeton and Yale meet in a one-match playoff at Dillon Gym to see who will be getting the Ivy League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Princeton and Yale tied for the Ivy title, having split their matches with one other loss each, Princeton to Cornell and Yale to Harvard. The Tigers get to host by virtue of having won more sets in the two matches - with a 3-0 earlier this year at Dillon win and a 3-2 loss last weekend in New Haven.

Princeton has won 18 Ivy women's volleyball titles. Yale has won 11. One or the other (or both) has been the Ivy League champion every year this decade.

The preview for women's volleyball is HERE.

By the way, Princeton's last NCAA tournament trip was two years ago, when the Tigers first had to defeat Yale in a playoff match to get the automatic bid when the teams tied for the league championship.

So that's your big Friday in women's athletics at Princeton.

There is also the football season finale tomorrow at Penn. While TB is giving you links to previews, HERE is that one.

Princeton goes into the game needing three things to happen to get a share of the Ivy title. Of those three things, the only one Princeton controls is the game at Penn. Should the Quakers win, then Princeton and Penn will finish tied for third.

Should Princeton win, though, then that would be one hurdle down. The other two would be the need to have Harvard beat Yale and Brown to beat Dartmouth.

This will be the 111th meeting between Princeton and Penn in a series that dates to 1876. This will also be the 100th game as Princeton head coach for Bob Surace.

Kickoff at Penn is at 1.

Of course there are all kinds of other events this weekend as well.

The schedule can be seen HERE.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Pro Day

It's pro day here at TigerBlog.

Princeton alums continue to make their mark in professional sports, and Tuesday night was something that might have been a first. Princeton had two players who scored a goal in the NHL on the same night.

Eric Robinson, who was the captain of the 2018 ECAC championship team, had a goal for the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was his second goal of the year - in three games played.

They were also Robinson's first two NHL goals, both of which have come against Montreal and Carey Price.

Taylor Fedun, another Princeton alum, is on his fifth NHL team in seven seasons, and he has seven career goals and 26 career assists, of which six of those assists have come this season with the Dallas Stars.

Fedun also added a goal Tuesday night, scoring in the Stars' 6-1 win over Vancouver.

That's pretty impressive stuff.

Also Tuesday, Max Veronneau, who had two goals and two assists when he went from Princeton to the Ottawa Senators last season, made his first appearance for the Sens this year when he played at Detroit.

Speaking of pro athletes, TigerBlog and Bob Surace had just finished their weekly podcast in the H.G. Levine Broadcast Center yesterday and walked back outside into the hallway when they saw Jason Gallucci, the Princeton Athletics Director of Performance.

With Jason was someone TB didn't recognize. He was clearly an athlete, and TB would have guessed he was a football alum until Surace didn't recognize him either.

That's when Jason introduced him. Turns out it was Mike Ford, the former Princeton baseball player and current member of the New York Yankees.

Ford certainly looks the part of a current Major League Baseball slugger, which is what he is. Ford drilled 12 home runs in 143 at-bats this past season, his first.

When Ford, who is the only one ever to be named the Ivy League Pitcher and Player of the Year in baseball, hit his first home run, TB mentioned that it's one of those accomplishments that can never be taken away. It stays on the resume forever.

The same is true of catching your first NFL touchdown pass, which is something that Princeton alum Stephen Carlson did last week for the Cleveland Browns.

Carlson's touchdown catch was not an easy one. He had to wrestle the ball away from Pittsburgh's Mark Barron and control it after that, all while making sure to get both feet down in the back of the end zone.

It was a great play. It also came on a night when it got overshadowed a bit by the nonsense at the end of the game, which Cleveland won 21-7.

Carlson's TD catch came on a pass from Baker Mayfield, making Carlson probably the only player who has ever caught a touchdown pass from both Mayfield and current Princeton senior quarterback Kevin Davidson.

In fact, Carlson caught 16 touchdown passes at Princeton, which is the third-best total in program history. Those 16 TD passes came courtesy of four different players. Can you name the four?

You already know Davidson is one of them. Who are the other three?

Two of them should be relatively easy right? John Lovett and Chad Kanoff.

The other?

While you think about that, TB was happy to see that Jesper Horsted was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster of the Chicago Bears. Horsted, a first-team All-Ivy selection in both baseball and football at Princeton, caught eight passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns after coming back from injury in the preseason.

Like Carlson, Horsted is also a tight end in the NFL. His debut will come in Chicago against the Giants Sunday.

Horsted is Princeton's all time leader in receptions (196) and TD receptions (28). During his Princeton career, he - as well as Lovett - also had touchdowns receiving, rushing and throwing.

And to whom did Horsted throw his touchdown pass?

Stephen Carlson.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Princeton At Indiana

TigerBlog got a text message yesterday asking about leaving tickets for "the game tonight."

Which game, was TB's first thought.

Princeton Athletics, of course, had no events last night. He had a hunch that the reference was to this coming Tuesday, when Princeton will host Arizona State on Carril Court at Jadwin Gym.

When that was confirmed, TB got this response:

"I will now take pleasure in admonishing a certain family member who hates to be wrong."

That's pretty much what parenthood is once your kids get into their 20s. That, and requests for money.

Princeton hosts Arizona State next week. This week, there's another big-time challenge.

Princeton is at Indiana tonight, with tip-off at 7 at Assembly Hall. Indiana comes into the game at 4-0, with 1) no team that has stayed with 11 of the Hoosiers, 2) an average score of 93.5-66.5 and 3) no Power Five opponents yet.

Tonight's game can be seen on the Big Ten Network.

This will be the fifth meeting between Princeton and Indiana. It'll also be the first time that one venue has hosted two games in this series.

The teams first played on Dec. 27, 1969, a game that Princeton won 82-76. That game was played where?

Pauley Pavilion, of course, the fabled building on the campus of UCLA. In fact, the next night, Princeton lost to UCLA 76-75 in the second game of the Bruin Invitational.

UCLA in the 1969-70 season would go 28-2 and win the NCAA title, the team's fourth straight in a streak that would eventually grow to seven in a row, all part of a 10 championships in 12 years run.

Meanwhile, back at the series against Indiana (who has only won five NCAA championships), the next game was at the 1972 NIT in Madison Square Garden, again a Princeton win, this time 68-60.

Game 3 in the series was the only one played in the 1980s. This time, it was an 83-54 win by the Hoosiers, in a game played in Indianapolis.

Then, in Game 1 of the 1996-97 season (which happened to be Bill Carmody's first as head coach), Princeton lost to the Hoosiers 59-49, also in the same Assembly Hall where tonight's game will be played.

That's the only game in the series to date that TB has attended - barely, he should add, after he missed his flight that morning out of Newark and then had to get to Philadelphia to fly to Indianapolis and drive to Bloomington.

Mitch Henderson, an Indiana native, was a junior point guard on that team. He had a six-point, three-assist, two-steal game for Princeton.

That game was technically Princeton's third straight in the state of Indiana, after the two NCAA tournament games the previous March in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Princeton, you might recall, knocked off UCLA in the opening round 43-41 before falling to Mississippi State in the second round in what would be Pete Carril's 775th and last game as Tiger head coach.

It was, in fact, in Indiana that Carmody officially was named Carril's replacement.

Princeton has started the current season at 0-3, but hey, nothing that happens before Thanksgiving can really define a season. Or even Christmas for that matter.

The Tigers have been led by senior Richmond Aririguzoh and sophomore Jaelin Llewellyn, who are both averaging 17.3 points per game. When was the last time Princeton had two players average that many per game for a full season?

Geoff Petrie and John Hummer in 1969-70.

Drew Friberg is averaging 13.3 points per game for the early season. Also, his nine three-pointers are a team high.

So that's Princeton-Indiana at 7 tonight on the Big Ten Network.

And it's Princeton to host Arizona State Tuesday night at Jadwin Gym. You remember how last year's game at ASU went, right?

Anyway, you can watch tonight's game.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Final Four, Again

Princeton had run out the final seconds of its 2-0 win over second-seeded Connecticut in the NCAA field hockey quarterfinals, putting the Tigers back into the Final Four for the second straight year and third in the last four years under head coach Carla Tagliente.

At around the same time, the women's basketball team also finished its game, a 67-53 win over an outstanding Florida-Gulf Coast team that went 28-5 last year and almost knocked off Miami in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Princeton did this without Bella Alarie for the last three quarters and Carlie Littlefield for the last 15 minutes or so.

TigerBlog watched both games, with women's hoops on the TV (once he finally figured out how to log-in to ESPN+ on his TV) and field hockey on his computer. When the games ended, he figured he'd check on the rest of the field hockey bracket.

That's when he saw that Virginia had beaten Maryland in overtime, setting up a UVa-Princeton semifinal. And the other semifinal would match North Carolina and the winner of the Louisville-Boston College game, which was just going to OT.

TB figured he'd put the overtime on and root for Boston College, since Nell Webber, one of Miss TigerBlog's best friends from high school, and former high school field hockey and lacrosse teammate, plays for BC.

What happened for the next 35 minutes or so was just riveting.

First, the teams played through two 10-minute 7 v 7 periods where a goal would send the team who scored it to the Final Four. Louisville outshot Boston College 8-3 in those 20 minutes, and actually 8-2 in the first 19:56 of those 20 minutes, before a BC shot as time just about expired hit the post and excruciatingly trickled out instead of in.

Of course, the only reason the game was still going was the extraordinary play of BC goalie Sarah Dwyer, who made 10 saves in the game, three of which came in the two OTs, the first of which was as good a save as you'll ever see in a field hockey game.

Because there needed to be a winner, the teams then went to a shootout. Each player who shot had eight seconds to dribble in from out of the circle and shoot as many times as possible before it either went in or went out of the circle or the horn sounded.

Louisville went up 2-0. BC came back to tie it 2-2. After five players, it was 3-3, which meant that whichever team could get a score and a stop would win. Both teams score in Round 6. BC scored to start Round 7, and Dwyer got the stop that sent the Eagles to the Final Four.

As TB said, it was riveting. It was what makes college athletics so special, with two teams who were competing to get to their sport's biggest collegiate stage and competing really, really hard.

TB will now root for a Princeton-Boston College final.

The Final Four is now three ACC teams and Princeton. The Tigers got there the way they always get there, by playing a ridiculously hard regular season schedule that has them primed for when the lights get brightest.

Dwyer wasn't the only goalie to have a huge day Sunday. Princeton's Grace Baylis was also really sharp, especially on two big back-to-back point blank saves that kept the game scoreless in the first quarter.

Princeton would take the lead when MaryKate Neff scored on a tip-in after a corner in the second quarter and doubled that on Hannah Davey's goal early in the fourth. Princeton outshot UConn 10-8, and Baylis made five saves on the day. 

Princeton is 15-4 on the year, winner of 12 straight. The four losses are all one-goal losses, and three of those came against teams that were seeded first, second and third in the NCAA tournament.

That's how you get your team ready to play in the postseason.

Princeton and Virginia did not meet during the regular season. The have played 15 times, with Princeton ahead in the series 8-7, and with the most recent game last year's NCAA opener on Bedford Field, won by the Tigers 2-1.

The Cavs are 18-4, with losses to Maryland and North Carolina (Princeton also lost to both) and then two to Boston College, one in the regular season and one in the ACC tournament.

This will be Princeton's ninth trip to the Final Four. That is an incredible level of sustained success for a program that has gotten there under three different head coaches and a roster that has turned over many, many times.

It'll be Princeton-Virginia at Wake Forest Friday at 3:45, after the game between BC and North Carolina. The championship game is Sunday at 1.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Tough To Be Perfect

Kevin Davidson tried to connect with Dylan Classi. Yale's Dathan Hickey got to Classi around the same time as the ball to knock it away, incomplete, and that should have been the end of it.

Instead, the ball, just before hitting the ground, instead hit Hickey's foot and popped straight up in the air. And that still would have been the end of it, had a diving, fully extended Kyle Ellis not corralled the ball, again, just before it hit the ground.

On a day when it didn't need any luck, Yale nevertheless got some on that play. And then got a little more after the game on Powers Field ended.

That came in the form of the stunning final score from Hanover: Cornell 20, Dartmouth 17. Couple that with the Bulldogs' 51-14 win over Princeton, and you suddenly have a highly contested Ivy League race heading into the final weekend of the season.

Dartmouth and Yale are now 5-1 each, followed by 4-2 Princeton. The schedule next weekend has Princeton at Penn, Dartmouth at Brown and Harvard at Yale.

For Princeton to get a share of the league title, it would need a win over Penn and then losses by both Dartmouth and Yale.

For TigerBlog, there was one big thing that the last two weeks have really made clear. It's really, really tough to go unbeaten in the Ivy League.

The first year of official Ivy League football was 1956, making this the 64th season of Ivy football. In all those years, only 14 times has a team had a perfect season, league and non-league games included:

Princeton 2018
Harvard 2014
Harvard 2004
Penn 2003
Harvard 2001
Dartmouth 1996
Penn 1994
Penn 1993
Penn 1986
Dartmouth 1970
Dartmouth 1965
Princeton 1964
Dartmouth 1962
Yale 1960

Only once has a team put together back-to-back perfect seasons, and that was the Quakers in 1993 and 1994.

The longest stretch without a perfect season was 16 years, from Dartmouth in 1970 to Penn in 1986. The current era hasn't been quite like that, but it is a rarity.

Harvard (twice) and Penn (once) were perfect three times in a four year stretch to start this century. In the 15 seasons since, it's only happened twice - Harvard in 2014 and Princeton last year.

Dartmouth came into the weekend 8-0. Cornell came in 2-6. Does that sound familiar? That was the same scenario in 1995, when Princeton was 8-0 and Yale was 2-6 - and Yale won that game at Palmer Stadium.

Princeton and Yale came into the weekend with one loss each, both to Dartmouth, Princeton's a week ago at Yankee Stadium. The Tigers and Bulldogs renewed their rivalry for the 142nd time, and this one was all Yale.

Cornell, meanwhile, was keeping it close against Dartmouth, though Dartmouth seemed to have the lead throughout. By the time TB got back to the press box after Princeton's postgame interviews, and he checked the score one more time. This time it was 20-17 Big Red.

And apparently, the Big Red was in victory formation. Then it was over. TB could tell this not only by the app on his phone but by the massive cheers coming from the Yale tunnel and Yale fans, who also had figured out that Cornell had given the Bulldogs the win over Dartmouth that they needed.

And, also with that, there would be no perfect Ivy League team in 2019. It's not quite a 1972 Miami Dolphins thing, where the alums of that team open champagne to celebrate once every NFL team has lost a game, but Princeton remains the most recent Ivy League team to have a 10-0 season.

Of course, that was one year ago.

Princeton in 2018 was one of the most dominant teams the Ivy League has ever seen. Putting together back-to-back seasons like that was not going to be easy. Hey, Princeton had gone 54 years without a perfect record prior to a year ago.

Being perfect isn't easy.

It's apparent in 2019, when a 2-6 team can take down an 8-0 team in Week 9, just like in 1995.

It also makes you appreciate it all the more when you have one. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

The 142nd Meeting

If you'd like an example of how TigerBlog would use the imaginary database of all things Princeton Athletics should one actually ever exist, he has one for you.

Princeton hosts Yale in football tomorrow (1 p.m. kickoff on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium), and both teams come into the game with a record of 7-1. In fact, they're both 4-1 in the league, each with a loss to Dartmouth and perfect records against everyone else.

This got TB to wondering how often Princeton and Yale have met when the teams both have either one loss or no losses?

The teams always play the second to last week of the season - or used to play the last game of the season in the 1800s and into the 1930s, when Yale replaced its season finale with a different team. As a result of when they've always played, they always have most of their season under their belts by then, so it's not like they were 2-0 against 1-1 or something like that.

If TB had that perfect database, he'd simply be able to enter something like "hey, what years did Princeton and Yale play when both had either no losses or one loss" and the answer would be right there.

Instead, he had to do what he did yesterday - take the year-by-year results of each and compare them.

The answer is that the last time this happened was 2006, when Jeff Terrell rallied Princeton from a 28-14 deficit for a 34-31 win. TB was at that game, and it's one of the best Ivy League games he's ever seen.

Before that? You have to go back to 1960. That makes this something of a rarity.

This is the 142nd meeting between Princeton and Yale. It's the second most played rivalry in college football, trailing only Lafayette and Lehigh, who will play next week for the 155th time.

Princeton and Yale have, rather extraordinarily, played every year since 1876 except for three times during the two World Wars - 1917, 1918 and 1944.

The 2019 version should be a pretty good one. Yale lost to Dartmouth in Week 4 and have won four straight since, including a season-turning two-touchdown rally in the final two minutes against Richmond the week after the Dartmouth game.

Yale has scored 46, 45 and 59 points in the last three weeks. That's a lot of offense.

Princeton is playing for the first time since its 17-game winning streak ended last week at Yankee Stadium against Dartmouth 27-10. The Big Green are home against Cornell tomorrow, where a win would clinch at least a share of the league title.

A loss, though, would open the door for the winner of the Princeton-Yale game to get right back into the league race. Next Saturday's Week 10 schedule has Harvard at Yale, Dartmouth at Brown and Princeton at Penn.

The football game is a big one. There are other big events this weekend as well.

The men's hockey team plays its home openers, tonight against RPI and tomorrow against Union. The women's basketball team has two games, tonight at Seton Hall at 7:30 and then Sunday at 1 at home against Florida-Gulf Coast, a team that went 28-5 a year ago, won the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament titles and almost knocked off fourth-seeded Miami in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

There is also the first round of the NCAA field hockey tournament today, as Princeton takes on Syracuse at UConn at 2:30. The other game in Storrs features the home team against Fairfield at noon today, with the winners to meet for a spot in the Final Four Sunday at 1.

Then there's the women's volleyball team.

The Tigers suddenly find themselves in an interesting situation after the news that Penn's women had cancelled the last weekend of their season.

Princeton is at Brown tonight and Yale tomorrow night. Princeton enters the weekend 11-1 in the league, ahead of 10-2 Yale and 9-3 Cornell. Everyone else has been mathematically eliminated.

Should Princeton win its last two, then it'll be the champion no matter what. Yale will not be playing Penn tonight, which means the Bulldogs are off until they take on the Tigers tomorrow, which requires Princeton to travel to Providence, play the Bears, travel to New Haven and then play Yale, who will not have traveled at all or played until tomorrow.

Depending on what happens, there's also the chance that Yale could replace the Penn match with one against Brown Sunday.

No matter what, Princeton has reached the last weekend of the season exactly where teams want to be - knowing that if it wins out, it's headed to the NCAA tournament.

There are also other events. You can see the complete schedule HERE.





Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thank Your SID

The first email that TigerBlog received yesterday said only one word: "Behncke."

When he saw the email, TB had a one quasi-word thought: "duh."

TB would end up hearing from a bunch of people yesterday about sibling pairs at Princeton, a reference to yesterday's entry where he was wondering how many such siblings had each earned multiple first-team All-Ivy League honors.

He knew he was overlooking some people. He can't believe he forgot the Behncke's.

That's a soccer playing family that produced three first-team All-Ivy League Princeton siblings, including two who were first-team more than once. Between the three of them, they had six first-team All-Ivy League selections.

Griff, the oldest, was first-team in 1999. Matt was first-team in 2000 and 2001.

Emily, the youngest, was second-team as a freshman in 2002 and then first-team in 2003, 2004 and 2005, not to mention the Ivy League Player of the Year her senior year. She also scored the biggest goal of the 2004 regular season, a last-minute goal to force overtime against Harvard that 1) ended a very long scoreless stretch against the Crimson and 2) gave Princeton the momentum (after Esmeralda Negron's game-winner in overtime, set up by Diana Matheson) that led to a run that went all the way to the NCAA Final Four.

He got a bunch of suggestions on others that didn't quite fit the original requirement - a minimum of two first-team All-Ivy awards for each sibling.

He also got a few lineages of uncles/nephews and multi-generation relatives who played here and in some cases all earned some form of All-Ivy, if not first-team. And, of course, there are many others out there who have competed here from the same family without any all-league recognition.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who responded. And if you know of any others, let TB know.

One of the messages he got included this at the end: "It would be a cool database to have of all the family athletes."

Yes, it would be.

Of course, such a database would be of great use in the field of athletic communications. So would the ability to easily research something like, say, the last time something happened or how many Princeton players all-time ever had a game with 20 points and 10 rebounds, or the most games with multiple goals scored or something like that.

The record sections here in the Office of Athletic Communications are good, but they're not built for everything. Oh well.

Speaking of athletic communications, this past week was considered "thank your SID" week by the national athletic communications organization, known as CoSIDA. If you're not familiar with the term "SID," it stands for "sports information director."

For TigerBlog, it's a nostalgic, somewhat antiquated term. It refers back to a time when the profession was completely different, back when it was almost all publications and media relations. And a lot of mailing out of press releases.

These days, it's about content production, the kind that frames the message and the brand of the athletic department. This is vitally important in so many areas, including recruiting, fund-raising, student-athlete experience, wellness, alumni relations and beyond.

It is through the communications department that these messages are sent out in all directions, though a website, on social media, to the outside media, directly to fans and recruits, in whatever form information is consumed these days. Even on a daily blog.

It's a much more intense - and exciting - profession than it was when TB first started doing it. The pace is much faster, and the deadlines are much more fluid. There is no shortage of stories to tell and no shortage of ways to tell them, and the demand continues to grow.

As TB has said many times, he'd never have stayed here this long if the profession hadn't done the 180 it has done. The challenge to be ever more creative is what makes it fun.

He'd also like to call your attention to two members of the profession, his Princeton colleagues Andrew Borders and Warren Croxton. It's been an interesting few months in the OAC, with a major restructuring and some big personnel changes.

Warren and Andrew have been asked to do a great deal above and beyond during these months. Looking at the production from the outside, it's unlikely that you could tell anything had changed.

So TB will thank both of them on "thank your SID" week.

And on behalf of SIDs everywhere, TB says "you're welcome."