Thursday, January 31, 2019

An Unanswerable Question Of Equity

TigerBlog was talking to someone yesterday about an issue that he's long considered and has mentioned here before.

What would Princeton Athletics look like now if it wasn't for Title IX?

In other words, what would women's equality in athletics look like in 2019 if the law hadn't mandated it in 1972? Would Princeton still be in the dark ages of gender equity?

The idea that Princeton would favor its men's teams over its women's teams isn't even the remotest thought on anyone's mind around here. When TB first started here all those years ago, equity was already a big issue.

Was that progress just because of the law?

It's a fascinating unanswerable question. TB would love to think that Princeton is committed to equality because it's the right thing to do, not because the law says it's required.

At the same time, it's also a cultural thing. Had the culture not changed a long time ago, before TB ever got here, would the opposite culture still be lingering?

TigerBlog sat next to Janet Morrison Clarke, a 1975 graduate and early women's hockey player, at the Ivy Football Association dinner last week. He never really got a chance to talk to her about what she thinks of all of this, but maybe he will at some point. Certainly her take, and that of the women who started athletics here, would be great to hear.

TB has heard plenty of stories through the years about the way it was in the 1970s, when there was a much different culture. Looking at it today, it's a completely different world, as women's teams are outfitted the same, have the same access to strength and conditioning and athletic medicine, have the same presence on the webpage, have the same facilities, have the same budgeting, as the men's teams.

It was not always that way.

There are plenty of women who competed here who bought their own uniforms, or could only practice at times that didn't conflict with the men's teams, or even suffered carer-ending injuries because there wasn't the same athletic training staff that there is now.

Did all of that change because of the law?

TigerBlog does a weekly podcast with Courtney Banghart, the head women's basketball coach. It was supposed to be every Tuesday during the season, and it was until last week, when it was done on Thursday. As for this week's, well, it was supposed to be yesterday, but it'll be up today. Don't worry.

During last week's discussion, TB mentioned to Courtney that he'd seen a picture of two women assistant coaches, one from the San Antonio Spurs and one from the Dallas Mavericks, and he asked Courtney if she could ever imagine having women as head coaches for men's college basketball teams. She said yes, she did, something that would have been unthinkable in the past.

Also, as TB has said often, for all of her championships, NCAA tournaments and postseason appearances, perhaps Courtney Banghart's greatest accomplishment has been the way she and her team have cultivated male fans, adults and boys. Going back before she was here, the audience for women's basketball was almost exclusively female.

Now it's very balanced, and it's very much an event when there's a game. And speaking of equality, this is the first year of the videoboard in Jadwin. The idea of doing an intro video for the men but not the women never was a thought.

The men's and women's basketball teams have combined to play three Ivy League games, by the way, all against Penn. Starting Friday night, they will play a combined 25 more, all in a 36-day stretch.

It starts with a doubleheader at Columbia tomorrow (women at 4, men at 7) and another one at Cornell Saturday (women at 5, men at 7:30).

TB is a big fan of the doubleheaders, for two reasons. First, it gives fans a chance to see both teams on the same night. Second, it gives the event staff a weekend without basketball.

TB used to cover both ends of the doubleheaders he covered at The College of New Jersey, back when it was Trenton State College, and he'd often be the only one there for the women's game. He'd love to see the Ivy League go to doubleheaders every weekend.

Of course, that asks that questions of who would play first and how would TV scheduling impact that. Would the women want to play first, or would that give the impression that those games aren't being valued?

Maybe it'll come to that one day. It would be a win for the league's basketball fans.

As for women's athletics in general, well, they've certainly grown a lot since their humble - and inequitable - beginnings.

The question is whether or not this was driven solely by the law.

TB hopes that's not the case.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Homecoming On Ice

TigerBlog was pressed into service last night at the women's hockey game against Penn State to do the shot chart.

Tony Piscotta, the man who usually does the shot chart for Princeton men's and women's games, is out of commission for a little while, so TB had to fill in. The shot chart is a big thing in hockey, and the job is to enter every shot in the game on a piece of paper laid out like a hockey rink, with the uniform number of the player who took the shot written in the basic spot on the page where it was taken, with symbols to denote whether it was on goal, saved, wide, blocked, off the pipe or a goal.

There is no similar shot chart in lacrosse, and TB couldn't help but think that there might be value in having one, at least for curiosity sake. They're not done in lacrosse, though they're a staple in hockey.

TB had only done a hockey shot chart once before, and he completely messed it up, mixing up the different team's shots, putting them on the wrong side of the page, all kinds of stuff like that.

Last night was much smoother, though you really have to concentrate so you don't miss anything.

The first shot entered was a goal 2:03 into the game, from Sarah Verbeek on the right side. In other words, No. 10, circled to show it was a goal, written down to the right of the goal, in the circle.

That goal started Princeton on the way to a 4-2 win over the Nittany Lions in a game that was never really in doubt. For Princeton it was yet another very impressive performance in a season that has had a lot of them.

The Tigers, ranked fourth in the country, hadn't played since Jan. 12, meaning it was 17 days between games. Penn State, on the other hand, was playing its fifth game in nine days.

If Princeton was rusty from the layoff, you couldn't tell by watching the beginning of the game last night. Verbeek's goal started it, and then Maggie Connors made it a 2-0 game after six minutes. The lead would grow to 4-0 on goals by Sarah Fillier and Carly Bullock in the second period, and Penn State would get two late ones back in the final 3:34.

Connors, by the way, stretched her streak of consecutive games with at least one goal to seven and added an assist. Fillier also had a pair of assists to go with her goal as the two freshmen continue to be incredible, with a combined 28 goals and 33 assists between just the two of them.

Princeton improved to 14-2-5 with the win. It also extended its program-record unbeaten streak to 19 games.

The Tigers even matched their win total for all of last season, when they went 14-14-4 and reached the ECAC quarterfinals. This year they're currently in first place by two points over Cornell as each team in the league has eight league games to play, and that stretch starts for Princeton with home games this weekend against St. Lawrence and Clarkson.

The game last night was a homecoming for Penn State coach Jeff Kampersal, a 1992 Princeton grad who was an All-Ivy League and All-ECAC selection as a defenseman for the Tigers who played in 107 straight games in his career and who is still ninth all-time in goals scored in a career for a defenseman.

He then went into coaching, spending 21 years as the head coach of the Princeton women's team before leaving for Penn State two years ago.

Remember the other day, when TB asked if there were other former Princeton head coaches who left to coach somewhere else but came back to coach against Princeton in Princeton? He came up with three: Don Cahoon, who brought UMass hockey to Baker Rink, Beth Bozman, who coached Duke field hockey after Princeton, and Steve Dolan, the current track and field head coach at Penn.

To that you can add Kampersal last night (and Bill Tierney on March 26).

Kampersal surely wanted to get away with a win over his former team, but he has to be at least a little happy seeing how good the team is this year. And, even from his perch in the press box, TB could see the affection that the players have for their former coach, as he received hug after hug as he went through the postgame handshake line.

And that was last night's game, which had more than usual amount of sentimentality going for it.

Starting Friday, it's the stretch drive, one that will be all business for a Princeton team that is chasing a league championship and an extended stay in the postseason.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Rooting Interests

If you're looking for good career advancement opportunities, you could do worse than be the offensive coordinator under Bob Surace.

Consider the first two who have held that position at Princeton. First, there was James Perry, who went from being Princeton's OC to being the head coach at Bryant and now at Brown, his alma mater.

TigerBlog saw Perry at the Ivy Football Association dinner last week and said congratulations. He'll be an easy guy to root for - unless he's either playing against Princeton or if Princeton needs Brown to lose. Otherwise, it'll be easy to root for him.

Then there's Perry's replacement, Sean Gleeson. After helping Surace build the highest scoring offense in Ivy history and going 10-0 this year, Gleeson is off to Oklahoma State as the offensive coordinator.

This is a pretty wild accomplishment. That's Oklahoma State, as in the Big 12, as in the Power Five. As in recently beat Missouri 38-33 in the Liberty Bowl.

That's a big jump from the Ivy League. And it shows you a few things. First, it shows that the Princeton offensive explosion in recent years hasn't gone unnoticed on the national landscape. Second, it shows the respect that Surace has as well.

Princeton football has won three Ivy League titles in the last six years, and the Tigers have averaged 37 points per game in that time, which also corresponds to the six years that Gleeson was on the staff. That's pretty good stuff.

If you want to read the Oklahoma State website story on the Gleeson hire, you can read it HERE.

TigerBlog wishes Gleeson luck. He'll root for OSU in the Big 12 now.

It's either interesting or understandable how many of TigerBlog's allegiances to teams are driven by former Princetonians who play or coach there and then how they change when that Princeton connection changes. The most obvious example of this is Georgetown men's basketball, with whom TB lived and died while John Thompson III was the coach and now whom TB roots against every time the Hoyas play.

There's also the Ottawa Senators, who were TB's favorite team until they got rid of former Princeton goalie Mike Condon. If, say, Max Veronneau or Ryan Kuffner or Josh Teves is in the NHL next year, TB would root for that team, regardless of who it is.

TigerBlog can also root for the Penn State women's hockey team, coached by Princeton alum and former women's head coach Jeff Kampersal. Except for tonight of course.

Kampersal and the Nittany Lions are in Princeton tonight (puck drops at 6) to take on the Tigers at Hobey Baker Rink. That's the fourth-ranked Princeton Tigers by the way.

TB tried to think of the last time a former Princeton head coach came back to Princeton to coach against the Tigers in any sport. Guy Gadowsky has coached the Penn State men against Princeton in State College and at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia but never at Baker Rink.

There has to be someone obvious that TB is overlooking, right? Not women's basketball. Not men's basketball.

He can tell you the next time it'll happen. That would be March 26, when Bill Tierney and Denver come back to Princeton in men's lacrosse. TB presumes he'll mention that game again at some point before it's played.

Princeton hasn't played since Jan. 12, when it tied Colgate 4-4 one night after beating Cornell 5-0. Princeton hasn't lost since October, when it dropped a pair of games to No. 1 Wisconsin to open the season. Since then Princeton is 13-0-5, a program-record for longest unbeaten streak.

When TB last looked at the ECAC women's hockey standings, Princeton was 10 points up on second-place Cornell. Since then, Cornell has gone 4-0-0, adding eight points and pulling within two of the Tigers.

After tonight's Union-RPI game, every team in the ECAC will have played 14 league games, with four weekends of two games each remaining. The top four teams will host an opening round series, and the highest remaining seed will host the league's semifinals and championship game.

Princeton has never hosted the championship weekend, and it's hardly a certainty that the Tigers will this year. Still, Princeton enters the stretch drive in first place.

Princeton is 11-0-3 in the league, for 25 points. Cornell is next with 23, followed by Clarkson at 22 and then Colgate with 18. The fifth place team is now St. Lawrence, with 16, which means that no team hasn't clinched a home first-round series yet.

The Tigers get back into the league race this weekend at home against St. Lawrence and Clarkson, and then there is a trip to Brown/Yale, a home weekend against Union/RPI and then a trip to Clarkson/St. Lawrence.

The close race means that every game is huge. 

The game tonight doesn't impact the ECAC standings. It's a chance for the Tigers to get back on the ice - and for an old friend to come back to the rink in which he played and coached.

Monday, January 28, 2019

An Orange-And-Black Tie Night

TigerBlog walked up to Gavin O'Connor to introduce himself as a classmate from Penn.

Before TB could say a word, O'Connor glanced at his orange and black bow tie and gave him a dismissive look that was mostly facetious.

"You're a Princeton guy," said O'Connor, a filmmaker whose credits include directing "Miracle," as good a sports movie as you'll ever see.

Then TB mentioned the fact that they were in fact members of the same class at Penn.

"Then why the orange and black?" he said.

When TB explained he's been at Princeton for about 30 years, O'Connor said "Okay, well, then you can wear that instead of red and blue."

The occasion was the Ivy Football Association honors dinner this past Thursday at the Sheraton in Manhattan. It was a black tie event or, in the case of TigerBlog, an orange-and-black tie event.

TB, by the way, does not rent clothes, so he bought a tux for this event. He needs to wear it three times for it to have paid for itself over the cost of renting, so if you have something formal to invite him to, he's all set.

Each of the eight Ivy schools had one honoree, and it was quite a distinguished group. O'Connor, an All-Ivy League and All-America linebacker on three league championship teams at Penn, was the Quaker honoree.

In fact, when it was his turn to speak, O'Connor told the story of how on his recruiting visit with then-head coach Jerry Berndt, he mentioned how he wondered if it would be possible to change the school's nickname to something tougher. While everyone laughed, TB thought "you mean like Tigers?"

As an aside, when TB was a student at Penn working at the radio station there, he did a weekly pregame interview with Berndt, who once made him do 20 pushups for being five minutes late.

The evening began with eight cocktail parties and continued in a giant ballroom with 1,200 people in attendance. Each of the eight honorees was featured in a six-minute video, and then each had a chance to speak.

Because the banquet is held every other year, the 2017 and 2018 Ivy League champions were honored, as were the Bushnell Cup winners for the last two years. It had a very Princetonian feel to it.

The person who introduced the Bushnell Cup winners was Ed Marinaro, the Cornell great running back who was the runner-up to Auburn quarterback Pat Sullivan in the 1971 Heisman Trophy voting. Marinaro went on to a long career as an actor, most notably as Office Joe Coffey on "Hill Street Blues."

When Marinaro introduced former Princeton quarterback Chad Kanoff, the 2017 winner and now a member of the Arizona Cardinals, he started reading all of Kanoff's accomplishments. Marinaro, who was very funny, said simply "thousands and thousands" and then stopped and said to Kanoff "you don't mind if I don't read all this stuff, right?

Speaking of funny, there was Harvard's Joe Azelby, a 1984 grad and linebacker for the Crimson who played one year for the Buffalo Bills before beginning a wildly successful career as a money manager for J.P. Morgan Chase. Like, managing $100 billion successful.

Azelby, during his talk, mentioned how the others being honored along with him represented all of his failures in his life, such as:
* he was with two doctors (Cornell's George Arangio and Columbia's Paul McCormick) and said that he wanted to be a doctor when he went to Harvard but got a C-minus in freshman chemistry
* he was with two NFL head coaches and mentioned that his one season with the Bills saw the team go 2-14. He was released when it was over and wanted to get into coaching, but "it never came up"
* he was with one sitting governor, Dartmouth alum John Carney, the governor of Delaware, and he mentioned that he ran for a local office once and "got trounced"
* lastly, he said that in a mid-life crisis he wrote five screenplays in 18 months and sent them to O'Connor, who responded with "don't quit your day job"

Azelby's deliver was perfect, and he had the entire room cracking up.

One of the NFL coaches was Houston's Bill O'Brien, a Brown alum. Yale's honoree was Kevin Czinger, who, according to the IFA website, " remarkable knack for moving from one significant “hot” area to the next. Today, Kevin is the founder, lead inventor, and CEO of Divergent 3D.  Divergent 3D’s mission is to revolutionize car manufacturing by creating a new production system that incorporates 3D metal printing."

They were all extremely impressive, but one thing that TB has learned through the years is that everyone is competing for second place when one of the speakers for the night is the Princeton honoree, Jason Garrett, the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Jason is one of the very, very best public speakers TB has ever heard. He can be funny and poignant, pretty much at the same time, without ever coming across as patronizing in any way.

He was the clear winner Thursday night.

He was when he talked to the Princeton group at the cocktail reception, when he talked about the bonds that he formed with his teammates while playing for the Tigers and how they've endured for all this time. It was everything Princeton Athletics wants to be, a group of former players 30 years later, still completely invested in each other's lives, all because of the culture they shared as undergrads.

And then he won again when he spoke to the entire room, telling a story about when the Cowboys were in Philadelphia in November, at 3-5 on the year, seemingly going nowhere. It was a Sunday night game, and the team's hotel was near the Penn campus, so Garrett decided to go for a run during the day at Franklin Field.

He talked about running and thinking about what he was going to say at the IFA event, and by extension what he could say to his players that coming night. And he thought about what it was he learned at Princeton that he took with him, that would apply in that situation, when it came to him - he'd learned to fight. When things get rough, you don't shy away from them. You fight through them.

It was a great speech, like every other speech TB has ever heard from Jason Garrett.

And it was a great night. It was a celebration of all that is great about playing Ivy League football, with the highly successful alums who were honored to their teammates and friends who came from literally all over the country to be there with them.

It was the first of these events that TB has attended. He was glad he did.

And, in a room full of Ivy Leaguers, including one of his most prominent classmates, he was proud to be known as a Princeton guy.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The End Of The Penultimate Break

TigerBlog has worked on the Princeton campus for a long time, nearly 30 years to be exact.

The physical makeup of the campus has changed dramatically in that time. To TigerBlog, though, it's been gradual, so he hardly has noticed the radical changes. If you were a Princeton student 30 years ago and haven't been back much? The campus probably looks wildly different.

It's sort of like when TigerBlog goes back to Penn. There are buildings that look exactly the same as the days when he was a student there, and there are other parts of the campus that he can't even recognize.

The same applies to the changes in the procedures on the campus and in the athletic department as well. When TB first started covering Princeton, for instance, freshmen weren't eligible for varsity football and there was no strength and conditioning, among many other things.

Hey, there wasn't even a webpage. There was barely email.

Every now and then, TigerBlog looks back on the way things were when he first started here and realizes two things. First, if they hadn't changed about 180 degrees he probably would have not been able to continue doing it.

Second, there was a real charm to it back then. TB can't help but smile and chuckle when he thinks of all the things that went into athletic communications in the 1990s or so that no longer remotely apply now.

There were so many nights when TB would stay late in his office with the rest of the OAC staff, finishing one publication or another. Back then, there was no way to do such things outside of the office, because of the pesky little fact that the laptop wasn't yet part of every day life.

Even if there had been a laptop, it wouldn't have helped anyway, since TB's iPhone now has about 10,000 times the storage capacity of his MacIntosh desktop computer in 1994. And, by the way, TB thought his Mac back in 1994 was some futuristic tool sent to help make things easier for him at that time.

The advances in technology have completely reinvented what athletic communications has become. It's changed the way people consume information and therefore the way information is provided, and things like producing published media guides have long gone away in favor of podcasts, videos, social media and even a blog.

There have been so many changes to the way things used to be. The football media luncheons were a staple of mid-week falls around here. It's been years since Princeton has had one.

What's the point of all this nostalgia?

Well, TB realizes that there is another major change coming, that in the next few years will seem radical and then will become just another normal part of business around here, leaving the way it's always been to fade further and further from memory.

The break for first semester exams comes to an end tomorrow, with the men's and women's track and field HYP meets at Jadwin Gym and the women's tennis trip to North Carolina. Come Sunday, there will be home men's basketball (against Wesley at noon) and home men's tennis (Liberty at 10, Army West Point at 3).

With the resumption of events, Princeton University and its athletic teams move one step closer to the massive change in the academic calendar that's coming in the 2020-21 academic year. For the first time ever, Princeton University will have first semester exams before the holidays.

That leaves one more year of the current setup, and one more year of the two-plus week break in the athletic schedule for final exams that has come each January. It's something that's been unique to Princeton, and it's something that the people who work in athletics at Princeton have just gotten used to.

For TigerBlog, the thought of the January exam break will always take him back to when the break in men's basketball was the time to do the men's lacrosse media guide, to make sure it was done in time for the season. That was his goal each year, and each year he got it done.

Like everything else that has come and gone around here, TigerBlog will miss how it used to be while at the same time appreciating the next step forward. And the January exam break will join the long list of things that once were a big part of TB's job but don't exist anymore.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Almost Time

TigerBlog has no problem with Mariano Rivera as a first ballot Hall-of-Famer and even as a unanimous one.

He does have a few issues though. First, it's not that Rivera shouldn't have been unanimous. It's that why was he the first unanimous one? Who didn't vote for Babe Ruth? Or Joe DiMaggio? Or Hank Aaron?

On the other hand, at least it means that Derek Jeter can't be the first unanimous selection. Hey, if anything, players should only be on the ballot for one year. Either you're a Hall of Fame player or you're not.

TB's take on Rivera is that yes, he was the dominant closer of all time. In many ways, he tilted the balance of power for the Yankees because the other team knew that if it trailed after eight innings, it was over.

Having said that, the closer phenomenon has never made sense to TB, since it's the only position in sports that TB can think of where coaching strategy is driven by stat-keeping. Managers now would never dream of bringing in the closer in a non-save situation or, more importantly to TB, when the game is actually on the line, say, when it's 3-2 in the seventh with the bases loaded and one out.

Also, TB could point out that for all his greatness, Rivera is most famous for two blown saves, one against the Diamondbacks in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series and one in Game 4 against the Red Sox with the Yankees up three games to none in the 2004 ALCS.

Pitchers and catchers will be reporting soon to Florida and Arizona. First pitch for Princeton baseball is March 1, when the Tigers open a three-game series at George Mason. The softball team opens a week earlier, when it plays in Liberty's tournament with a five-game weekend.

Yes, spring is coming.

The spring semester is coming too. First semester exams are winding down, though they do run through Saturday. And when they end, so too does the break in athletic events.

No Princeton teams have played since the squash teams played at Yale on Jan. 13. The women's basketball team hasn't played since Jan. 5, which seems like a long time ago.

This won't exactly be the busiest weekend of the year, but it is a weekend with athletic events. There will be five teams who compete this weekend, and then it really kicks into high gear the following weekend, as February arrives.

The only one on the road is women's tennis, who has a series of matches at North Carolina. 

The men's and women's track and field teams host the HYP meet Saturday. The men's tennis team hosts Liberty and Army Sunday. The men's basketball team hosts Wesley, also Sunday.

The men's basketball team is 2-0 in the league, having swept its travel partner, Penn. The other six Ivy teams have all played one game against their travel partners, and they'll all have played the second game by the time Princeton tips with Wesley.

After that, it'll be six straight weekends of Friday/Saturday games leading to the Ivy League tournament. Right now, all eight teams are thinking they have a real chance of being in New Haven for the third edition of the event. It should make for a fascinating month-plus of basketball.

There are also three travel-partner games on the women's side this weekend. Princeton and Penn will play again at the Palestra on Feb. 26.

In addition to the three Ivy games on the men's side this weekend, Penn will also play St. Joe's Saturday. The Princeton-Wesley game Sunday will then become the last non-league game for any Ivy team on either side of the regular season.

If you're looking for a sign that Ivy League basketball has progressed, with a handful of league games having been played and the overwhelming majority of games played to date non-league games, there are two teams out of 16 who have losing overall records.

There are three that are .500, and one of those is the Princeton women, who played a brutal non-league schedule and did so with major injuries for most of that time. The other 11 teams are all over .500.

Anyway, if you're a basketball fan, the Ivy League is going to be putting on a good show the next six weekends.

And if you're a Princeton fan, you're ready to see your teams play again. In basketball and every sport.

Starting this weekend, you get your chance again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Today's Announcements

If you watched the NFL championship games over the weekend, you got to see two thrillers, both of which went to overtime.

First, the Los Angeles Rams knocked off the New Orleans Saints 26-23. Then the, sigh, TigerBlog can hardly stand to write it, the New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 37-31. The Rams' win was tainted a bit by an uncalled pass interference penalty that almost surely would have resulted in a Saints win. The Patriots' win was tainted by the fact that now everyone has to watch another Super Bowl with the Patriots in it.

The real winner from Sunday's games was Tony Romo, who has in a very short time become either the best or second-best football color commentator ever. TB would have thought that John Madden in his prime was untouchable, but Romo might be better.

He's good beyond just his uncanny ability to say what's going to happen next when the offense gets to the line. No, just like Madden, Romo seems like he's having endless amounts of fun while he's broadcasting, with energy and humor and undeniable likeability.

TB has always thought that fans tune in to watch games they want to see and tolerate the announcers if they're ones they don't really like. As a viewer, you don't really have any control. There are times when TB has had people tell him they've muted the announcer, and TB has done that with certain ones, even ones who might surprise you to hear that TB can't stand to listen to.

Having announcers you like, though, definitely makes watching a game more enjoyable. 

Speaking of announcers TB really likes, while Princeton Athletics may have been quiet the last two weeks because of first semester exams, the Princeton men's basketball announcing team has not been.

Derek Jones and Noah Savage, who have established themselves a great announcing team on Princeton men's games, have branched out with a few ESPN games this season. A week ago they did their first non-Princeton game together on ESPNU as Tennessee State defeated Tennessee Tech 79-62.

Derek also had Loyola's 75-67 win over Indiana State last weekend, though not with Noah. That game was part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the Sycamores 1979 run to the NCAA championship game.

You may remember the 1979 final. It matched Michigan State and Indiana State, or, more accurately, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

TigerBlog was talking to Derek yesterday about the experience, and he suggested that Derek could make a list of the 100 people he knows who know the most about college basketball history and ask them to name someone else from the 1979 Indiana State team other than Bird and maybe one or two could.

It's great to see Derek and Noah doing so well. It also makes you appreciate them as Princeton fans.

With no Princeton games to watch last weekend, TB found himself flipping back and forth between the East-West Shrine Game, to see Princeton wide receiver Jesper Horsted, and the Penn-Temple men's basketball game.

The play-by-play man for the Temple-Penn game was Tom McCarthy, who mentioned during the game that he had spent nine years doing Princeton games on the radio, many of them with TB as his color commentator.

Horsted caught two passes in the senior all-star game for 42 yards, of which 38 came on this play:
Jesper had a good week between practice and the game. TB is looking forward to seeing what happens to Horsted as the draft gets closer. He's also hoping someone sees how much success the Saints had with Taysom Hill and say "hey, that Princeton quarterback could do all the same things."

Lastly, TB would like to leave you with this question for today.

Penn, whom Princeton swept before exam break to get out to a 2-0 Ivy League start, defeated Temple 77-70 to get to 3-0 in the Big Five. Penn's City Series success makes Ivy League basketball look really good.

Anyway, this is the last year for Temple head coach Fran Dunphy, who will be retiring at the end of the season. Dunphy, of course, spent 17 years as the head coach at Penn before moving to Temple.

Here's TigerBlog's question - Has any opposing coach in any sport who had a pretty good amount of success against Princeton ever been as easily liked by Princeton fans?

TB can't think of one. He certainly has always liked Coach Dunphy. He's a very hard guy not to like.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

And The Answers Are ...

Guess what TigerBlog isn't doing today.

He's not doing a podcast with Courtney Banghart, the head women's basketball coach. This week's "The Court Report" will have to wait until tomorrow, since Courtney is on the road recruiting today.

This ends their streak of doing their podcast every Tuesday for the basketball season. This included podcasts on Christmas and New Year's Day.

Oh well. Tomorrow will be fine.

For today, TigerBlog will be revisiting the "Who Am I" questions from last week. There were six of them, three alums and three current athletes:

The alums:

1) Who Am I?
I have the top two single-season point totals in Princeton women's basketball history, but I am not the all-time leading scorer in program history. I did score at least 32 points in game three times in my career.  I am also in the top 10 in program history in rebounds and free throws made and attempted, but not in three-pointers made.
2) Who Am I?
Excluding events that are no longer contested, nobody currently holds a Princeton men's track and field record longer than I have. That record, the one that has stood the longest, is actually in a different event than the one I competed in when I was in the Olympic Games.
3) Who Am I?
I am in the top five in Princeton men's hockey history in career goals, assists and points, and I had more than twice as many of each in my NHL career than I did at Princeton.

And the current athletes:

1) Who Am I?
My best single-game rushing performance this year was 104 yards better than the next best by any of my teammates this year - and the fifth-best single-game performance in program history.
2) Who Am I?
I'm a freshman on the No. 4-ranked team in the country and I'm tied for the team lead in goals right now.
3) Who Am I? I'm the only player on the men's lacrosse team who had at least one goal in every game last season.

And the answers?

For the alums, it's Meagan Cowher, Augie Wolf and Jeff Halpern. For the current athletes it's Collin Eaddy, Maggie Connors and Chris Brown.

That was a fun exercise for exam break.

TigerBlog didn't realize that Cowher had the two highest single-season point totals in program history until he looked it up. He would have guessed Niveen Rasheed had one of them, but it turns out she has the third, fifth and eighth.

The school record for career points is 1,683, held by Sandi Bittler, who graduated 29 years ago. Cower is second all-time, 12 points back at 1,671. Rasheed is fourth at 1,617, five points back of Claire Tomasiewicz, though TB figures Rasheed lost out on about 250-300 points or so with a torn ACL that caused her to miss the second half of her sophomore year.

If you're wondering about Bella Alarie, she has 913 career points. At her current pace of just short of 20 points per game, Alarie would get to 1,168 at the end of the regular season, not counting the Ivy League tournament or any postseason. That would leave her 515 points away from Bittler's record. Cower's single-season record is 532.

In other words, it'll probably end up being close as Alarie approaches Bittler's record. Like Rasheed, Alarie also missed significant time due an injury; in her case, the first nine games this season.

As for Wolf, he holds the school records for the discus and the shot put, but he set the discus record in 1982, one year earlier than he set the shot put record. He then went on to finish fourth in the shot at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games.

Lastly, Halpern had 60 goals, 82 assists and 142 points in his Princeton career. His NHL numbers were 152 goals, 221 assists and 373 points.

Then there are the current athletes.

Collin Eaddy ran for 75 yards on the first play of what became Princeton's 59-43 win over Yale. For the day, he'd finish with 266 yards on the ground with three touchdowns, the second of which came on his second carry of the day.

Eaddy's big day left him in fifth place on Princeton's single-game rushing list, behind only Keith Elias (299 versus Lafayette and 272 versus Lehigh, both in 1992), Jordan Culbreath (276 versus Dartmouth in 2008) and Homer Smith (273 versus Harvard in 1952).

By the way, TB went to look up the exact numbers that Eaddy had against Yale and first clicked on the schedule on the football page, and seeing that "10-0" on the top is still really cool. Also, TB forgot that Princeton had three players carry the ball against Yale and all three had at least 100 yards (Eaddy with 266, Ryan Quigley with 113 and John Lovett with 110). How often has that happened?

Maggie Connors has 14 goals for the fourth-ranked Princeton women's hockey team, tying her with Carly Bullock for the team lead. Connors' fellow freshman, Sarah Fillier, leads the team with 20 assists and, with her 12 goals, also has a team-high 32 points.

That's an incredible 1-2 combination of freshmen for Cara Morey's team.

Lastly, Chris Brown had a goal in every game for the men's lacrosse team last year, making him the only player to do so last year and only the second Princeton freshman ever to do so (Peter Trombino also did it back in 2004).

Monday, January 21, 2019

Guest TigerBlog - The Feeling

TigerBlog has a long-standing open offer for guest entries, and Tad La Fountain ’72 has submitted a few through the years. Today he once again has the floor for a piece that is appropriate for today, Martin Luther King Day. TB will be back tomorrow, when he'll answer the "Who Am I" questions from last week. 

For today, here are some words from Tad La Fountain:

There’s a wonderful scene in “Diner” - Barry Levinson’s movie about a group of young men in Baltimore at the end of the 1950s. Like “The Big Chill” or “The Breakfast Club,” the cast included a bunch of actors who went on to successful careers; in this case: Mickey Rourke, Daniel Stern, Steve Guttenberg, Ellen Barkin, Paul Reiser, Tim Daly and Michael Tucker. Like a bazillion other movies, Kevin Bacon was in the film, playing the role of Timothy Fenwick Jr. When Boogie (Rourke) and Fen are driving in what appears to be the horse country northwest of Baltimore out near the McDonogh School, Boogie spots a beautiful young woman riding her horse and waves her down. Their interaction is remarkably brief, and she rides off, leading Fen to pose one of life’s great questions: “You ever get the feeling there’s something going on that we don’t know about?”

Fifty years ago last spring, I was wrapping up senior year in boarding school when I was contacted by F. Gardiner Cox ’41. Having won the 5.5-metre sloop World Championship the previous year, a former National Intercollegiate champion while at Princeton and a member of the Intercollegiate Sailing Hall of Fame, Gardner was mounting a campaign for the Mexico City Summer Games (with Acapulco as the sailing venue). There would be extensive sail testing and one of his two crewmembers wouldn’t be available for a couple of Sundays; could I fill in? This was a bit staggering - I’d be replacing Dr. Stuart Walker, who literally wrote the book on small boat racing (which had served as my sailing bible growing up) and ended up a member of the National Sailing Hall of Fame. The bowman was Steve Colgate, veteran of a couple of America’s Cup campaigns and likewise a Hall of Famer. This was akin to a high schooler being asked to take BP with the ’27 Yankees.

I got to spend hours on the Delaware River on a beautiful 30-footer as we tried different combinations of mainsails, jibs and spinnakers while sailing against an identical boat also designed by Britton Chance, Jr. (Chance’s father had won the Gold Medal in 5.5s at Helsinki in 1952 and had a remarkable scientific career at Penn, but he also had a Princeton connection – he facilitated the enrollment of a young polio victim from a relatively modest background at the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia; Dick Fisher ’57 ended up captain of the Princeton wrestling team, later served as a Princeton trustee and capped his career by becoming CEO of Morgan Stanley). 

At one point during our trials, Steve Colgate needed to poke his head belowdecks to make an adjustment at the bottom of the mast. Since he was bowman, he had the responsibility for the line running through the end of the spinnaker pole set to the windward side (known as the guy) that controlled how far the spinnaker was kept away from the mast; as middle crew, I was tending the sheet – the line that trimmed the spinnaker in and out from the point established by the guy/pole combination. If Steve pulled the guy back too far, the spinnaker would collapse. Conversely, if he let it run out, the sail would start pulling the boat leeward instead of forward. It’s a tricky role that requires constant attention, and he could have very easily passed the guy to me. Instead, I watched in amazement as he ducked below, blind to everything going on above the deck, holding the guy behind his back. Even as he dealt with the adjustment at the foot of the mast, the spinnaker was always kept at the perfect angle. After a couple of moments, he resurfaced, and we continued as before.

I was dumbstruck. I wasn’t onboard because I was incompetent; in fact, even though I had all the cockiness of a 17-year-old who had enjoyed some substantial success in the sport, that confidence in my abilities wasn’t misplaced. But I had just been given a glimpse of a completely different level of competence, and it was both jarring and humbling. There was something going on that I clearly didn’t know about.

That 1968 was an extraordinary year has long been acknowledged. Two rivers coursing through America since the beginning of the decade - Vietnam and the civil rights movement - came together that year. Either one would have subjected the country to painful challenges; the combo plan called American society’s well-being and possibly even its existence into question.

Our Vietnam engagement has been shown to be both ill-conceived and ill-fated. We’d like to think that it at least served as an expensive learning experience (as in “Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment”), but there has been a substantial body of evidence that the educational aspect has been more honored in the breach than the observance.

The civil rights movement was (and still is) the polar opposite. It is nothing less than the manifestation of fundamental human decency and its relevance to everyone who draws a breath. Furthermore, it is inexorable – there is simply no way the species advances if groups are systematically left behind. But even though this effort is grounded in the best of our religious beliefs and is referred to in our fundamental civic documents, it has never been easy and has often come at high cost.

On June 12, 1963, World War II veteran Medgar Evers, the Mississippi NAACP field secretary, stepped out of his car in Jackson and never made it to the house for dinner. Gunned down on his driveway, Evers was assassinated with his family just feet away. After the funeral, hundreds of mourners out of the crowd of 5,000 began a simultaneous demonstration, singing “Oh Freedom” and “This Little Light of Mine.” The police charged the group, arresting 30. It appeared that a full-blown riot was inevitable. 

A lanky white man proceeded to position himself between the two groups, with each showing an itch to create chaos. He yelled to the groups “My name is John Doar! D-O-A-R. I’m in the Justice Department in Washington. And anybody around here knows that I stand for what’s right!” He then walked around and convinced the crowd to disperse, avoiding what would have been sure bloodshed.

Everyone knows the greatest basketball player to ever wear a Princeton jersey. But the greatest Princetonian to ever play basketball was John Doar ’44. Often in conjunction with Attorney General Nick Katzenbach ’43, John Doar spent years in the South consistently displaying levels of moral and physical courage that defy most of our imaginations. Repeatedly, and at key junctures, John Doar demonstrated what he stood for, and it was invariably right. For most of us, being able to lead a life of such integrity in the face of such danger was a glimpse of something going on that we just didn’t know about.

Jazz, with its Afro-Cuban roots, is the quintessential American art form. It’s not cacophony – there are rules and forms, even as lines are improvised and liberties are taken. But it’s clearly not in the European symphonic tradition, with every instrument’s part being carefully delineated. At any point, one of the players can take over the piece and be the leader. Then, solo done, the player flows back into a supporting role. The players feed off each other; they must listen to the others even as they play their own roles. It is the musical equivalent of great team play.

Watching the integration of American sports over the last 50 years or so, we’ve seen Naismith’s game taken to the streets. Two-handed set shots are now alley-oops and backhand jams. But the best ballers know when to take the solo and when to revert to the supporting role. And when we talk about “Education Through Athletics,” what we’re really talking about is developing an understanding of what is right, what we should stand for, and learning how to muster the physical and moral courage necessary to make that stand when it’s our time to solo.

April 3, 1968 – the night before he was assassinated – Dr. King told an audience in Memphis that “It really doesn't matter what happens now.” And then he went on:

“What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I'm happy, tonight.

I'm not worried about anything.

I'm not fearing any man.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

We can’t help but get the feeling there was something going on that we don’t know about. But taking a day every January to reflect on the significance of the man and the movement is both fitting and proper.

And the name of Gardner Cox’s 5.5-metre sloop? Cadenza – “a virtuoso solo passage inserted into a movement in a concerto or other work.” Sounds downright jazzy.

Friday, January 18, 2019

More "Who Am I?"

Other than the fact that the coming forecast includes nasty words like "snow" and "ice" and "negative wind chills," this is sort of like a summer Friday.

So far in Princeton, there has been one somewhat serious accumulation of winter weather, back on the night of Nov. 15. Remember that? TigerBlog does, especially the amazing wind that was blowing the snow all over the place all night.

On that night, it took forever to get wherever it was you were going, since nobody was really ready for winter weather back then. Heck, that was even before Princeton's football season ended.

Since then, there has been one small dusting of snow and a few flurries here and there. TigerBlog is very much okay with that.

Is the coming weather a sign that winter is about to ramp things up? TB hopes not. It seems like the last few years, the worst of winter shows up in February and into March and then tries to hang around into April. TB would be fine if that didn't happen.

TigerBlog still hasn't seen a reliable forecast about just how much snow is going to be here this weekend. Why can't he just find a weather report that will say "the snow will start at this moment. It will continue until this time. In between you'll get this much snow. Have a nice day."

Anyway, it's going to be wintry. So why is it like a summer Friday?

Because there are no Princeton athletic events this weekend, that's why.  There aren't many weekends quite like this. There were a few last weekend and will be a few next weekend. This weekend is nothing.

The last time there was a weekend without a single event was the weekend before Christmas, which wasn't that long ago. The time before that was mid-August. The next time will be June.

This weekend, of course, is because of first semester exams, which cause a very rare free weekend. It's quite a contrast to the weekends TB described yesterday, the ones coming up in February that will be here in no time.

Also like on a summer Friday, it leaves TB without much to talk about, at least nothing that's pressing. There's a ton out there on the horizon of course, with winter teams who are going to jump into the sprint to the finish line just as soon as Feb. 1 rolls around.

But what about today? TB thought about it, and he decided to give you a few more "Who Am I?" quizzes, like the one from last week about Howard Levy. In fact he thought about making Howard the answer to all three of these, but he didn't.

So, here are six quizzes. Your hint is that the first three are alums and the last three are current athletes.

You can cheat by looking in the record sections on if you want. TB will entertain any guesses, and he'll have the answers Monday.

The alums:

1) Who Am I?
I have the top two single-season point totals in Princeton women's basketball history, but I am not the all-time leading scorer in program history. I did score at least 32 points in game three times in my career.  I am also in the top 10 in program history in rebounds and free throws made and attempted, but not in three-pointers made.

2)Who Am I?
Excluding events that are no longer contested, nobody currently holds a Princeton men's track and field record longer than I have. That record, the one that has stood the longest, is actually in a different event than the one I competed in when I was in the Olympic Games.

3) Who Am I?
I am in the top five in Princeton men's hockey history in career goals, assists and points, and I had more than twice as many of each in my NHL career than I did at Princeton.

And the current athletes:

1) Who Am I?
My best single-game rushing performance this year was 104 yards better than the next best by any of my teammates this year - and the fifth-best single-game performance in program history.

2) Who Am I?
I'm a freshman on the No. 4-ranked team in the country and I'm tied for the team lead in goals right now.

3) Who Am I? I'm the only player on the men's lacrosse team who had at least one goal in every game last season.

Okay, what are the answers?

TigerBlog will have them for you Monday. Hopefully there won't be too much snow on the ground by then. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

No. 84, Jesper Horsted

You know what is one month from yesterday?

That's right. It's lacrosse opening day. How about that? It's not that far removed from Christmas and New Year's, and practice is still two weeks away.

Opening day? That's now just four weeks from Saturday. The women are home against Temple. The men are at Monmouth.

There will be 15 home lacrosse games this coming season, seven for the men and eight for the women. There will be two doubleheaders, on March 2 (men vs. Johns Hopkins, women vs. Columbia) and March 23 (women vs. Brown, men vs. Yale).

There's a lot of excitement and anticipation for both teams as they think about the 2019 season. Also, women's lacrosse coach Chris Sailer brings 399 career wins into the year as she looks to become the second women's Division I coach ever to reach the 400 mark.

On the men's side, this is Year 1 of some major, major rules overhauls, including the addition of a shot clock and a change in the dimensions of the substitution box that will result in way more transitional play. Princeton, as much as any team, will be helped by the rules changes.

That's all the lacrosse TB will give you today. Still, just a month to Opening Day? That's exciting.

February is crossover season for Princeton Athletics, and nearly half of Princeton's varsity teams - 18 of 37 - will be competing on the first Saturday of the month alone. There will be 15 on the second Saturday and then 17 on each of the last two.

That's a total of 67 events on just the four Saturdays of the month of February. With just about 700 events in the calendar year, that means that a little less than 10 percent of the entire athletic schedule for the academic year will be played on just those four Saturdays.

Throw in the 42 events on the four Fridays that month and the 28 on the four Sundays, and that adds up to 127 out of 700 athletic events on the four weekends in February alone.

That, of course, puts a lot of stress on the people whose jobs it is to make all of those events happen. It's also the most fun part of the year, when everything builds to the end of the winter season and the spring teams are just starting out.

It's also quite a contrast with what's going on now, with no events at all for two weeks because of first semester exams.

There is one Princeton athlete who is competing this weekend, and that is football player Jesper Horsted. He won't be wearing a Princeton uniform, or for that matter his familiar No. 4. But he'll be competing in a big game nonetheless.

Horsted will be playing in the East-West Shrine Game, an all-star game that dates back to 1925. Or actually earlier, though it began as a baseball game. Either way, it's an event that raises money for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

This will be the 93rd edition of the game. Horsted will wear No. 84 for the East team, and TB isn't sure if Horsted chose that or had it assigned to him and if he did choose it if he did so to honor his Princeton teammate and fellow wide receiver, Stephen Carlson.

Like every player in the game, Horsted is there to impress NFL scouts. In many ways, the practices during the week are as important or more important than the game itself, and Horsted apparently has already been turning some heads, as his Princeton head coach, Bob Surace, tweeted:
As you know, Horsted is coming off an amazing season after he caught 72 passes for 1,047 yards and 13 touchdowns as Princeton went a perfect 10-0. It was the first perfect season the program has had in 54 years.

Maybe Horsted's best catches, of which there were many, were a few during the key moments of Princeton's only really close game of the year, a 14-9 win over a Dartmouth team that would go 9-1. Horsted finished his career as Princeton's career leader in receptions and touchdown receptions - and as the narrator of the TAGD video.

The East-West Shrine Game can be seen Saturday at 3 on the NFL Network. It makes at least one Princeton athlete you can watch this weekend.

Don't worry. You'll have a lot of other chances to see a lot of other Princeton athletes really, really soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Up To No. 4

TigerBlog and women's basketball head coach Courtney Banghart are in Year 2 of their weekly podcast, entitled "The Court Report."

Last year, the two did their podcast each week throughout the season except for a week between Christmas and New Year's and the first week of exams in January. This year, they were determined to get through every Tuesday.

What TB didn't check, and he assumes Courtney didn't either, was the fact that Christmas Day and New Year's Day were both Tuesdays this time around. Even so, they didn't skip either.

Those were actually easy talks to have, since the team was playing games before and after. Ah, but what about this week, or this month, for that matter, since Princeton's women's basketball team had only one January game scheduled, and that was already more than 10 days ago.

Well, the podcast must go on, and so it did again this week. For TigerBlog, it was a good chance to ask Courtney a bunch of non-basketball questions about her background and interests, and he actually thinks it's one of the best ones they've done.

Listen for yourself HERE.

The women's basketball team next plays Feb. 1, at Columbia and Cornell, which means that the Jan. 29 podcast can at least talk about the games coming up for that weekend. For this coming Tuesday?

TB will think of something.

In addition to being another podcast Tuesday, yesterday was also Dean's Date at Princeton, the day that all written assignments are due. First semester exams start today and run through a week from Saturday, at which time athletic events will resume.

The women's hockey team is off until Jan. 29, when Penn State comes to Hobey Baker Rink, and the Tigers can feel pretty good about where they stand heading into the break. In fact, Princeton's women's hockey team is sizzling right now, unbeaten in 18 straight and ranked a program-best fourth in Division I.

Princeton is an astonishing 10 points ahead of second-place Cornell in the ECAC standings. Yes, Princeton has played four more games than the Big Red, but still, a 10-point lead is extraordinary - and it provides at least a little margin for error for the Tigers. Even if Cornell wins all four of its games the next two weeks (at Dartmouth and Harvard and then two against Colgate), Princeton would still come back from break in first place in the league.

The prize for winning the ECAC regular season championship would be the host spot for the league's final four, provided the No. 1 seed won its quarterfinal series against the No. 8 seed. Princeton has never hosted that event.

Hosting it this year won't be easy, of course. Nothing is even close to settled yet, especially when you consider that ECAC rivals Clarkson, Cornell and Colgate are ranked sixth, seventh and eighth in this week's poll. Princeton is finished with the last two, but it still has to play Clarkson twice in its final eight league games.

And then there's the Ivy League race. The Ivy League champion is decided by ECAC games between the six Ivy schools, which means there are 10 games that double as ECAC and Ivy games. Princeton has played eight of those and is 6-0-2 in them, for 14 points. Cornell, in second with seven points, and Harvard and Yale can mathematically catch Princeton, but the Tigers would clinch that championship with nothing more than one win over either Brown or Yale (on the road) on the weekend of Feb. 8 and 9.

Princeton has great depth everywhere on the ice, and its push up the national rankings and its long unbeaten streak have been greatly helped by a pair of freshmen, Maggie Connors and Sarah Fillier, both of whom won big awards this past week. Connors was the ECAC Player of the Week after a four-goal performance in the win over Cornell and 4-4 tie against Colgate that made her the leading scorer in Division I for the week.

Fillier was named the national Rookie of the Month for December. From the story:
Fillier led the nation's freshmen in scoring during December with six goals and two assists for eight points to help the Tigers post a 4-0-1 record. She scored more goals than any skater, of any year, with her six in five games. She scored in four of her team's five games and had three multi-point performances. For the month she was a +8 and won 49 face offs.

After the Penn State game, Princeton will have its final four ECAC weekends, including home-and-home weekends with Clarkson and St. Lawrence, the trip to Brown and Yale and home games against Union and RPI.

And then it'll be the ECAC playoffs. Those could end up being a lot of fun for this Princeton team.

That's fourth-ranked Princeton, TB should say.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Weekend In Wrestling

TigerBlog was going to start today with the first president of Oklahoma State University until he got sidetracked a bit.

Apparently TigerBlog isn't the only one with memories of the 1996 First Bank Classic, the tournament at the recently imploded Bradley Center in Milwaukee that Princeton won by defeating Ohio and Marquette.

TB got this text yesterday morning from John Thompson III, an assistant coach for that team:

First Bank Classic, My memory......
We are taking the ball out of bounds under our basket. The ball is being taken out on the side of the lane opposite our bench. As always we have a shooter in the opposite  corner of where the ball is being taken out, which means Gabe is in the corner in front of our bench. Mike McDonnell gives Gabe a cup of water. Gabe is standing in the corner with his back to the court, drinking water and talking to Mike. Marquette forgot about him. As the ref hands Syd the ball Mike says “Now.” Mike snatches the cup from Gabe, and Gabe flips around. The ball is already in the air as Gabe is turning. Catches it and splashes a 3.  AWESOME ! 
Mike McDonnell was the manager of those teams. Gabe was obviously Gabe Lewullis.

That's a great story by the way. 

Okay, so now on to the first president of Oklahoma State University.

TigerBlog was able to find out his name, which was Robert Barker, and that's about all. For the rest of this, he's taking the word of the nice gentleman who walked into Jadwin Gym Friday afternoon along with the rest of the OSU wrestling team for a first look at the building, which left them impressed.

He was the one who told TB that Oklahoma State's colors were orange and black because the first president of the school had come there from Princeton. And, in addition, the original nickname for their teams was "Tigers."

As it turns out, the school was founded in 1890 as the Oklahoma Territorial Agricultural and Mechanical College, becoming Oklahoma A&M after the territory became a state in 1907 and finally Oklahoma State University in 1957. TB didn't know that Oklahoma wasn't a state until the 20th century, but that's the case; in fact, Oklahoma was the 46th state, with only Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii to follow.

And the original nickname of the school was actually "Tigers," something that according to the school's athletic website was never really popular:
From the 1890s on, Oklahoma A&M sports teams had been referred to as the Agriculturists or Aggies, the Farmers, and officially - but unpopularly - the Tigers. But by 1924, Charles Saulsberry, sports editor of the Oklahoma City Times, and other writers who regularly covered college events had begun to refer to Stillwater's teams as the A&M Cowboys. Reporters in search of colorful synonyms started sprinkling Cowpokes, Pokes, Waddies, Cowpunchers and Punchers in conversation. 

TigerBlog loves a good piece of historical trivia.

The Tigers, er, Cowboys were in Jadwin Friday to work out ahead of Saturday's wrestling match. The OSU wrestlers walked in and looked around the building before heading down to the wrestling room for practice.

For Princeton it was a weekend in which two Top 15 teams came to Jadwin, first No. 15 North Carolina Friday and then No. 3 Oklahoma State Saturday. It turned into an extraordinary showing for the Tigers, who knocked off North Carolina 23-16 before falling 27-12 to OSU.

Princeton came into the week ranked 25th in Division I.

The biggest by-product of the weekend was a reaffirmation of the fact that Matthew Kolodzik is a legitimate NCAA champion contender at 149 pounds. He's been the top-ranked wrestler at that weight all year, and he stayed unbeaten with a pair of wins over wrestlers ranked in the top six.

Princeton, though, is not just about Kolodzik. Princeton won four matches against the Cowboys, including third-ranked 197-pounder Patrick Brucki, who improved to 19-0 with win over No. 10 Dakota Greer.

Lenny Merkin won at 165 pounds, beating No. 18 Andrew Shomers 9-8 to complete a run of three-straight Princeton wins, starting with Kolodzik's 8-3 win over No. 6 Kaden Gfeller with freshman Quincy Monday's 6-5 win at 157.

Kolodzik began the weekend with a 3-2 win over fifth-ranked Austin O'Connor of North Carolina. Brucki won the clinching match with a pin in the first round.

This was a big weekend for Princeton. There are others to come for sure, including the huge Ivy match Feb. 9 at Cornell, as well as the EIWA championships and ultimately the NCAAs.

Weekends like the one gone by, though, do a lot to solidify Princeton's status among the nation's wrestling elite. Plus it was a lot of fun.

The Oklahoma State wrestlers walked into Jadwin Friday afternoon impressed with the building itself.

They left Saturday impressed with the Princeton wrestlers.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Sweeping Into The Break

When TigerBlog saw that the Bradley Center was imploded yesterday, he immediately went back to his only trip to the arena in Milwaukee.

Like most random places - and some not random places - TB has been to, he's been to Milwaukee for just one reason. Princeton men's basketball was playing there.

This was back in December 1996, for a two-game tournament called "The First Bank Classic." TB's memories of that trip include the following:

* the team flew to Chicago, and then, when told it was only 90 minutes to Milwaukee, basketball/lacrosse player Jason Osier said "they have an airport there?"
* Princeton won, beating Ohio and then Marquette in the final
* it seemed like it was 27 degrees and freezing rain the whole time, which was fine, because TB doesn't think he ever had to go outside, since the hotel was connected to the arena
* Princeton centers Steve Goodrich and Jesse Rosenfeld both fouled out, leaving 6-5 Sydney Johnson to guard 6-10 future NBA star Chris Crawford
* the trophy for winning the tournament was gigantic and had its own seat on the plane home, complete with seat belt

TigerBlog also thinks that the Marquette game is the one when Princeton had committed seven fouls before Marquette had committed any, causing this exchange between then-Tiger head coach Bill Carmody and one of the officials:
BC: "fouls are 7-0."
Ref: "as soon as they commit one I'll call it, coach."

Further, TB is also pretty sure that's the same game when the lack of fouls called against Marquette worked out well for the Tigers, because Marquette had to foul Princeton six times to get them to the one-and-one in a two-point game. The first five were inbounded at midcourt and resulted in an immediate foul.

The sixth, which would have put Princeton on the line for a one-and-one, instead became a 45-foot crosscourt backdoor pass for a layup that sealed the 66-62 win.

Princeton started five players in that game, and three of them are now Division I head coaches - Sydney Johnson at Fairfield, Brian Earl at Cornell and Mitch Henderson at Princeton. There can't be too many examples of a time when a team had three players in its lineup who would go on to be Division I head coaches.

For that matter, you can add in that all four coaches for Princeton then became head coaches. Carmody, obviously, already was one, and still is. The other three members of the staff were Joe Scott (head coach at three places, including Princeton), John Thompson III (coached Princeton and then took Georgetown to the Final Four) and Howard Levy (now the head coach at Mercer County Community College).

Unlike any other coach in Division I men's basketball, Mitch Henderson has only one game left for the month. That game is Jan. 27, at home against Wesley, after a two-week break for exams.

Mitch can go into this particular break feeling pretty good about where his team is right now. The Tigers played a very solid game Saturday while beating Penn at the Palestra 62-53, completing a two-game, one-week sweep of the Quakers.

Princeton now heads into the break at 2-0 in the Ivy League, with 12 games in six weekends awaiting the Tigers once February and March roll around. Princeton has also won four straight since its loss at Duke.

What's most interesting to TigerBlog is that Princeton has been in the 60s in both of its wins against Penn and the one before it, the 67-66 win at then-No. 17 Arizona State.

Why is this interesting? One, Princeton hasn't been getting into shootouts on nights where it's raining three-pointers. In the last three games, Princeton is 19 for 72 from three-point range, and all three are wins.

Second, the Tigers have shown that they can execute when it's necessary. These games have all been close throughout, almost possession by possession in the second half, and Princeton has made every play that it needed to when it mattered most.

Third, Princeton is playing great defense. Arizona State and Penn in the game Saturday both were held below 33 percent shooting, and Penn shot 41 percent in the game at Jadwin. When you defend like that, good things will happen.

Princeton beat Penn on the road Saturday on a day when the Quakers honored their 1979 Final Four team, and the Tigers did it on a day when they were hardly perfect. That's a great sign.

There will be no momentum carryover from that game when the Ivy season kicks into high gear in a few weeks. At the same time, those two Penn wins are sitting there in the bank.

It wouldn't shock anyone if Penn went on a roll from here, and in fact Princeton should be rooting for the arch-rival to knock off some teams. The first goal is to get into the Ivy tournament, but there's nothing wrong with thinking about challenging for the league title and the top seed in that tournament after the two wins over Penn.

Yes, it won't be easy. It's a very good league this year, and no game is a layup. In fact, there's no guarantee for any team in the league that it'll be in New Haven come March 16-17.

Having two wins over Penn in your pocket, though, is a great way to start.

Heading into exam break at 2-0 in the league is reason to smile. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

A Busy Weekend Before The Break

TigerBlog might as well start with Richmond Aririguzoh again and make it a clean sweep of the week for the men's basketball big man.

Princeton is at Penn tomorrow afternoon (2 pm tip at the Palestra) for the second game in eight days between the teams after the Tigers won 68-65 in overtime in Jadwin Gym last Saturday. Aririguzoh is coming off a career-high 20 points, with seven rebounds, to earn Ivy League Player of the Week honors.

It'll be interesting to see the rematch between Aririguzoh and Penn center A.J. Brodeur, who had 18 points and 15 rebounds of his own in the game. Beyond that, there are all kinds of unknowns going into the rematch, and both teams can take confidence in some of them.

For instance, Penn's Michael Wang is another week healthier, while Princeton's Devin Cannady and Jaelin Llewellyn will probably shoot better than a combined 1 for 12 from three.

Beyond any of that, though, it just figures to be a very close, very hard-fought game between the two long-time rivals. And then for Princeton, it'll be the long break for first semester exams.

In fact, all of Princeton Athletics will shut down for exams after this weekend's events, of which there are a bunch. Also in fact, there are 19 events featuring 11 different teams between today and Sunday.

And then after that? All will be quiet until the 26th, when exams are over. For this weekend, there are some great events beyond just the men's basketball game.

HERE is the complete schedule for the month.

The weekend started yesterday, when the third-ranked women's squash team beat No. 2 Trinity 5-4, marking the second straight year the Tigers have beaten Trinity. Up next are the Ivy opening matches at Brown tomorrow and Yale Sunday.

Also, if you haven't seen this week's edition of "Beyond The Stripes," click HERE and check out the impact that Hurricane Katrina had on a brother/sister Princeton squash duo.

As for today's events, TigerBlog will start on the road, in Ithaca.

The Princeton women's hockey team is unbeaten in 16 straight games and ranked fifth in the nation. This afternoon at 3, the Tigers take on the team ranked one spot above them, fourth-ranked Cornell.

There aren't a lot of matchups in any sport between teams in the top five in the national rankings. That alone makes this one special, not to mention the impact it can have on the ECAC race.

Back on Nov. 17, Princeton and Cornell skated to a 2-2 tie, by the way. These teams are 1-2 in the league standings, and they are also the two highest ranked ECAC teams in the national poll.

No matter what happens this afternoon, Princeton will have a quick turnaround to the game tomorrow at 3 at Colgate, who happens to be ranked ninth and who made it all the way to the NCAA championship game last year.

The women's hockey team will return from exams on the 29th to host Penn State. Then it'll be the final eight ECAC regular season games in the first 23 days of February, followed by the ECAC playoffs - and possibly the NCAA tournament beyond that.

You can watch the game today at Cornell on ESPN+.

The men's hockey team, meanwhile, hosts Harvard and Dartmouth tonight and tomorrow with face-off at 7 both nights. Princeton, the defending ECAC champion, tied Harvard and beat Dartmouth the first time around.

Also at home this weekend the women's swimming and diving team will be in DeNunzio Pool tomorrow against Villanova and Rutgers. That meet starts at 11.

Then there is the wrestling team.

The 25th-ranked Tigers host a pair of nationally ranked opponents in matches that have been moved to Jadwin Gym. First up is No. 15 North Carolina, who is in Jadwin tonight (no admission charge). Then, tomorrow at 1, third-ranked Oklahoma State will be in Jadwin (you will need to purchase tickets for that one).

Both matches can be seen on ESPN+.

Here's the first line of the preview story by TB's colleague Craig Sachson:
This type of weekend was almost unthinkable not too long ago, but two of the nation's top programs will make their way to Jadwin Gym to take on a nationally ranked Princeton wrestling team that features a trio of Top-10 wrestlers with NCAA championship aspirations.

And HERE is the rest of his preview.

As TB said, it's an interesting weekend.

And then nothing for two weeks after that, other than exams.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Back In The Old Days

TigerBlog has mentioned Richmond Aririguzoh every day this week, so why not again today?

Aririguzoh, the center on the men's basketball team, was named Ivy League Player of the Week after his 20-point, seven-rebound performance in a 68-65 win over Penn last weekend. He also was featured on this week's edition of "Hard Cuts" as he walked off the court after the game.

You can see that episode HERE by the way.

As Aririguzoh walks, he looks into the camera and starts talking about how great the atmosphere was, how crowded Jadwin Gym was. And he says something really, really strange, something along the lines of "just like back in the old days, back when Coach played."

When TB heard this the first time, it took him a second to process what Aririguzoh was saying. Wait a second. "Coach," is Mitch Henderson. And the days when he played can't really be considered "the old days" quite yet, can they?

Mitch Henderson graduated in 1998. TigerBlog was the men's basketball contact back then, and he saw every game Mitch played here in his four years except for two.

Did you see the one-handed 30-foot bounce pass that Jaelin Llewellyn threaded to Myles Stephens in the first half against Penn? If you didn't, you can see it in the "Hard Cuts" episode.

Over on the radio, TigerBlog mentioned to his partner Patrick McCarthy that he'd seen Mitch make that pass about a million times. Well, maybe not a million.

In fact, when Henderson was a senior, TB wrote a feature story about him that began with the time that Bill Carmody came down to TB's office - which, by the way, pretty much always resulted in something funny - and said "you have to come see this."

It was a Monday morning, after the Tigers swept Yale and Brown on the road (TB thinks it was on the road, but it was definitely Yale and Brown). Carmody was in his office looking at video against Brown, and he wanted to show TB one specific Henderson play.

On the play, Henderson throws a one-handed bounce pass to a cutting Gabe Lewullis for a layup. Also on the play, you could see that four of the Brown players were staring at Henderson as he did it. He had them frozen, presumably because of how much of a magician he was with the ball.

TB remembers writing something along the lines of "that pass would have been unbelievable were there literally 100 others just like it," since at the time he wrote, Henderson had 101 assists on the season. As it turned out, Henderson would finish that magical season with 131 assists, a number that ranks fourth on Princeton's single-season list.

He also has 304 career assists, which leaves him in eighth place at Princeton. The top seven, by the way, includes two centers (Kit Mueller, Ian Hummer) and one forward (John Thompson).

If you saw Henderson play, you remember what kind of passer he was. His ability to throw one-handed passes with either hand and do so immediately off of a dribble was uncanny, and he is easily the best TB has ever seen at doing so.

The pass that Llewellyn threw to Stephens was a lot like the ones that Henderson threw all the time. It brought back those memories to TigerBlog, and it also made TB wonder how many assists Henderson would have had if he had played in a Mitch Henderson-coached offense - one that pushes the ball in transition - with a 30-second clock.

The next opportunity Henderson has to coach a game, by the way, comes up Saturday at 2 at the Palestra, with the rematch against the Quakers. It's a rarity that Princeton plays an opponent consecutively.

For instance, you have to go back to the 1915 and before that 1906 seasons to see the last time Princeton played Penn in two straight games. Both of those times, the second game was played less than a week later and, for what it's worth - which is absolutely nothing - the team that won the first game also won the second.

After the game Saturday, Princeton doesn't play again until Jan. 27 against Wesley, after the break for first semester exams. And then after that it's back into the Ivy League schedule Feb. 1 and 2, at Columbia and Cornell.

So anyway, that was Henderson the player. Now he's Henderson the coach, but does that make when he played "the old days?"

TigerBlog saw something else that took him back 20 years in a flash, by the way. You know what happened on Jan. 10, 1999 - which was 20 years ago today?

It was the debut of a new show on HBO called "The Sopranos."

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

I Am Howard Levy

TigerBlog starts today with the answer to yesterday's "Who Am I?" quiz.

TB gave you the improvement of a player from his first two seasons with the men's basketball team to his last two, and it was dramatic. Then he asked you to guess who it was. 

A few of you commented, and a few others emailed TB directly. That was a fun little exercise, and TB will do it again one of these days.

And that answer was Howard Levy. Howard is very familiar to Princeton fans, after his playing days (he's a 1985 grad) and then his years as an assistant coach here under Bill Carmody, John Thompson III and Joe Scott.

These days Howard is the head coach at Mercer County Community College, as well as a frequent attendee at Tiger games.

The whole thing started, as you recall, when TigerBlog was talking about the great improvement that junior center Richmond Aririguzoh has made this year. Princeton women's basketball coach Courtney Banghart talks about how hard Richmond has worked, how often she's seen him in the gym, in the current episode of "The Court Report," which you can listen to HERE.

There was also a comment from Monday's entry, the one that started with Chris Thomforde. Here was the comment:
After you said that Chris Thomforde was fifth at Princeton in career free throw percentage, I looked up his figure, which was 0.829. That has got to be one of the sport's very highest career stats for a player 6'10" or taller.
Richmond Aririguzoh's FT percentage for this year of 0.776, while obviously derived from a small sample size, must be one of the best run rates for a player 6'9" or taller.
Why there is such a strong correlation between FT percentage and a player's height? Perhaps it has something to do with small muscle versus large muscle motor control. Somewhere there is a Princeton senior thesis waiting to written on this phenomenon.

This got TigerBlog thinking. If you look at the 20 highest free-throw percentages in NBA history, only three of them - Kevin Durant, Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitski - are by players who are 6-9 or taller. Currently in the NBA, on the other hand, three of the six players who are currently shooting at least 90 percent from the line - Durant, Danilo Gallinari and Jeff Green - are at least 6-9. So are seven of the top 15.

What explains this? Maybe it has something to do with how it used to be that the biggest kid was simply planted near the basket, so he never had to learn to dribble or shoot from more than two feet away. These days, your tallest men - and women - are playing facing the basket, developing more than a low post game and with it the ability to develop a shot from away from the hoop.

For a Princeton women's example, for instance, there is Bella Alarie, who stands 6-5 but with guard skills.

Anyway, that would be a good senior thesis topic.

Meanwhile, as TB is sure you're aware, the college football season ended Monday night in a way that made pretty much any non-Alabama fan happy. TigerBlog assumes that about 90 percent of those who watched who weren't fans of either of the participating schools had to be rooting for Clemson.

TB figured the final score would be about what it was. He just didn't think that it would be Clemson who would be the winner, not that he was sorry to see Alabama go down.

With the final college game of the year (other than all-star games), TB can say that there are way too many bowl games that nobody cares about and a lot of them were absolute blowouts. The three playoff games weren't exactly competitive either.

Now that the dust has settled, there are only three unbeaten teams in Division I football for the 2018 season. Clemson and Alabama were both unbeaten coming in, so one of them was going to finish perfect. And then there was North Dakota State, who was the FCS champion.

The third? That would be Princeton. The Tigers, by the way, finished the season ranked ninth in both major FCS polls, which is the highest Ivy League finish in 32 years.

There are 124 teams in the FCS. There are 129 FBS teams. That's a total of 253 Division I football teams.

Three of them finished with perfect records. Princeton was one of them.

Any time you can make that statement, you have to feel pretty good about it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Game Of "Who Am I?"

Remember how TigerBlog said yesterday that he couldn't really think of another men's basketball player at Princeton who had made the kind of jump from his first two years to his third year the way current junior center Richmond Aririguzoh - named the Ivy League Player of the Week yesterday - has this year.

Then he thought of one. It's led to one of TB's favorite games to play, a little game of "Who Am I?" He'll give you the stats, and you try to figure out who it is.

Here are his numbers from Years 1 and 2:
Freshman year - 11 games played, 11 points, 1.0 points per game, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks
Sophomore year - 22 games played, 39 points, 1.8 points per game, 28 rebounds, 12 assists, four blocks

And then here is Year 3:
Junior year - 28 games, 313 points, 11.2 points per game, 117 rebounds, 52 assists, 22 blocks

That's a pretty good jump.

As for Year 4, here's that one:
Senior year - 29 games, 310 points, 11.9 points per game, 169 rebounds, 58 assists, 22 blocks

In the end he worked himself from a player who made limited contributions to a second-team All-Ivy League selection as a senior. His career high would end up being 24 points, something he did twice, including once in an NCAA tournament game.

Also, he never attempted a three-pointer in his career.

Any guesses as to who it is? TigerBlog isn't sure if he should tell you the answer later or wait until tomorrow to see if you can figure it out on your own. He'll think about it for a few minutes.

In the meantime, speaking of men's basketball, the next home game isn't until Jan. 27, when the men's team returns from the coming exam break against Division III Wesley.

That game is one of two remaining in January for the men's team, who also has its rematch against Penn Saturday at the Palestra in the final game before exams start. Those two games are exactly two more than the women have remaining this month, by the way.

Princeton's women's basketball team is off until Feb. 1 and 2, when Columbia and Cornell will be in Jadwin. The Tigers will be well-rested, which is good, since there will then be nine games in February and then four more in the first nine days of March - and that doesn't include the Ivy tournament.

In the meantime, that doesn't mean that Jadwin Gym will be silent now for the foreseeable future. In fact, there will be two intense Princeton matchups there this weekend, just not in basketball.

The wrestling team will be in Jadwin this weekend for a pair of matches against nationally ranked opponents, as North Carolina and Oklahoma State will be here Friday and Saturday. Both matches are in Jadwin, not Dillon, and there will be an admissions charge for the OSU match only.

Those should be two great events, and TB will have more on them as they get closer. To get started, you can listen to this week's edition of "The Higher Standard" podcast with Midlands champ Patrick Brucki HERE. Brucki, of course, was one of two Princeton champs at the prestigious event at Northwestern, in addition to Matthew Kolodzik, the nation's top-ranked wrestler at 149.

Meanwhile, the women's hockey team stretched its unbeaten streak to 16 straight games, extending the school record, with a 4-1 win over Harvard and 5-2 win over Dartmouth, both on the road. Sarah Fillier was the nation's leading scorer the past week with five goals and three assists (that includes the Dec. 31 game against Merrimack), earning her ECAC Hockey Player and Rookie of the Week honors.

Princeton also moved up to No. 5 in the Division I rankings. The Tigers have only lost two games this season, both to No. 1 Wisconsin back in mid-October in the first two the team played.

Keeping the streak going this weekend won't be easy, as Princeton is back on the road, at No. 4 Cornell Friday and No. 9 Colgate Saturday. 

Princeton is nine points ahead of second-place Cornell (and Quinnipiac) in the ECAC standings with 22 points to 13 for the Big Red and Bobcats. The Tigers have played four more games than the Big Red, and Princeton is of course off for the next two weekends after this one for exams.

And so that brings TB back to the "Who Am I" question. Should he give you the answer now, or should he wait to see if anyone figures it out.

Hmmm. He'll wait til tomorrow and see if he hears from anyone.