Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Decade In Review

Well, it's the last day of 2019, which makes it the last day of the decade.

This means that tomorrow starts TigerBlog's fifth decade of covering Princeton sports.

The first four have all been really good ones. Princeton teams have won a lot of championships. There have been epic wins. There have been great players. There have been Princeton athletes with great stories to tell.

It's been more than anyone who works in college athletics can ever hope to experience. TB says this a lot, that he's been fortunate to have been at Princeton all these years, seeing first-hand all of these amazing young people compete, understanding that the core values of the athletic department go beyond just that success, that he's really always been in the business of education and not just athletics.

He's always loved the fact that Princeton's athletes have the other sides to them, the sides of service and academic pursuits. He equally loves the fact that Princeton doesn't use that as way of lowering its athletic standards or as an excuse. That is a major part of what makes this place so special.

Princeton won 117 Ivy titles in the first 10 years of this century. It won 116 in the next 10. What's in store for the 10 about to begin? There's no way to be sure, but the facts are 1) no other league school has come close to the number of championships that Princeton has won and 2) the next Ivy title will be the 500th all-time.

TB received an email yesterday from a member of the Class of 1991 who asked about the 1991 NCAA men's basketball game between Princeton and Villanova, which was as crushing a loss as TB has been around in his time here. That email got TB thinking about how the athletes back then weren't that much younger than he was and how today they're younger than his son and peers of his daughter.

In between, he used to marvel at the idea of how the athletes were born shortly after he was, and then born when he was in high school and then college and then already working at Princeton and so on.

To recap the last decade, goprincetontigers.com did a countdown of the top 10 athletes from 2000-2009. Any guesses as to who the top male and female athletes were in that list?

TB will give you a few paragraphs on that one.

For the decade that ends today, the good people at GPT decided to do something a little different. This time, there are two stories, one from yesterday and one that will be up today.

The first listed the top event for each of Princeton's teams, with 35 events listed (indoor and outdoor track and field counted as one each). Today's list will feature the top athlete for each of the 35 programs.

Here is the link to the first one.

The choices were made by the Office of Athletic Communications staff, which means that they're subjective. Any Princeton fan is entitled to a different opinion, and in fact, the OAC encourages you to share your opinions by emailing them to jprice@princeton.edu.

There are some teams whose top event was fairly obvious (the 2012 NCAA field hockey championship game win is one), but most of them had several that could have been considered. Also, it was impossible not to take into account historical significance.

For instance, which was a better men's hockey game, the 2017 ECAC opening round playoff series Game 2 against Colgate, when Princeton tied it with one second left in regulation and then won it in overtime, or the 2018 ECAC championship game, when Princeton allowed a goal with six seconds left in regulation and then won in overtime?

It's hard to have a better game than that Colgate game, but the championship game was 1) close, 2) accompanied by a league title and NCAA tournament trip and 3) the pick in the story.

There are some easy picks for the top athlete (Ashleigh Johnson in women's water polo should be no surprise) and then others that are brutal. The toughest ones were in sports like men's hockey (Max Veronneau or Ryan Kuffner (or even Eric Robinson), women's basketball (Niveen Rasheed or Bella Alarie, with Blake Dietrick not that far behind), men's lacrosse (Michael Sowers, Tom Schreiber or Zach Currier) and some others.

You'll have to go to GPT today and see for yourself.

As for the last decade, the two No. 1s were Alicia Aemisegger of the women's swim team and Yasser El Halaby of the men's squash team.  The top 10 from that decade is listed HERE.

There was no picking of the top event or the two top athletes of this decade. Maybe TB will give you his thoughts on that after the new year.

In the meantime, email your opinions.

And have a great, happy - and very, very safe - New Year's Eve.

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Year In Review

There are only two days left in this decade, and once Wednesday rolls around, bringing with it the year 2020, then for the first time in 20 years TigerBlog will know exactly what to call the decade he is in.

It'll be "the 20s" again.

This decade? What was it? The 10s? That never sounded right. The last one? TB has no idea. The aughts?

The last 20s weren't just "the 20s." They were "The Roaring 20s," complete with prohibition, flappers, gangsters, Babe Ruth, cars and talkies.

Hey, there's even a Wikipedia page devoted to it.

The last year of the 2010s, if that's what they were, saw Princeton teams win 12 championships, with 10 Ivy titles and two non-Ivy titles. For the record, the winners were: men's indoor track and field, women's basketball, women's hockey, women's open rowing, women's lacrosse, men's golf, men's outdoor track and field, women's tennis, men's volleyball, women's lightweight rowing, field hockey and women's volleyball.

As TigerBlog has said many times before, Princeton Athletics has been fortunate to have so many highlights every year, and even better is that you never know which teams are going to be the ones that rise up in any given year. Also as TB has said, none of this is ever taken for granted by anyone at Princeton Athletics.

What was the biggest highlight of 2019?

That's always a fun exercise. And of course there is no single right answer.

For 2019, you'd have to put the field hockey team's run to the NCAA championship game as No. 1. Well, you wouldn't have to, but TigerBlog will.

What else?

The men's volleyball team's run to the EIVA regular season championship gave Princeton the host role in the EIVA tournament, which the Tigers won with a dramatic five-set win over Penn State. That put Princeton into the NCAA tournament, where the Tigers won their first round match before falling to Pepperdine. That would be No. 2.

The men's golf team won what had to be the most amazing Ivy League tournament ever, as the top five teams were separated by 10 shots. It was even tighter at the very top, where Princeton, Columbia and Yale finished 1-2-3, with Princeton at 875, Columbia at 876 and Yale at 877. That's three teams, with two strokes between first and third.

Call that three.

Next up? The men's track and field team won the indoor and outdoor Heps titles, giving the Tigers another "triple-crown," the ninth in program history. That's fourth.

Fifth? Michael Sowers erased the 25-year-old school record for career points in men's lacrosse in the final game of his junior year. He enters his senior year with 255, after Kevin Lowe held the record of 247 since 1994. Sowers also has the first, second and third best single-season totals in program history, including his record of 90 in 2019.

Sixth? The football team stretched its winning streak to 17 straight games, which made it the fourth-longest streak in program history and second longest since the start of the 1900s. Also in 2019, Kevin Davidson set the Ivy League record for touchdown passes in a game with seven against Bucknell, and Andrew Griffin tied the league record with four TD receptions in the same game.

Seventh? The women's lacrosse team won its sixth straight Ivy League title and fifth Ivy tournament title before reaching the NCAA quarterfinals.

Eighth? The women's basketball team went 26-4 in the calendar year of 2019. The Tigers lost their Ivy opener against Penn in early January and tied the Quakers at 12-2 for the league title before winning the Ivy tournament. This season Princeton is 12-1 and ranked in the top 25 nationally, as well as in the top 10 in RPI.

Ninth? The women's tennis team was a perfect 7-0 in the Ivy League for the second straight year, and the Tigers then won their second-ever NCAA tournament match, defeating Northwestern.

Tenth? The women's hockey team won the Ivy title and received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

That's a pretty strong top 10 (with apologies to the other championship teams, all of whom could have been in the top 10).

There will be more in the way of "a look back" today and tomorrow on goprincetontigers.com and here tomorrow.

Finally, TB would be remiss if he mentioned the greatest moments in Princeton Athletics in 2019 and didn't mention what was actually his No. 1 moment. It came back on March 2, on a day when TB got to see something that, after 30 years of watching other people's kids wear these uniforms, still amazes him that he got to see - his daughter play lacrosse for Princeton.

With apologies, that's his No. 1, of this year or any other. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Will It Be iPhone 20.30 In 2030?

TigerBlog should have included a few other things in yesterday's discussion of the past 10 years and what the future holds.

For instance, he forgot to mention the impact that the smartphone had in the last 10 years on the way communications in general and Princeton athletic communications specifically work. The impact has been, to say the very least, wildly dramatic.

The growth of the smartphone has changed how everyone consumes information, and it's made everything in the communications world much more immediate.

When TB was a newspaper reporter, you had to wait until the next day to read about the game. Often there was no other way to find out who won. And if you were a Princeton, say, fencing alum who lived in, say, Texas, you had really no way to find out who won a particular match.

Once the webpage rolled around, the ability for those Texas fencing alums, and all Princeton athletic alums, to stay connected skyrocketed. Now you could not only find out who won but also could find out who won reasonably soon after the game ended.

Live stats made it easier to follow along in-game. The smartphone took that to a whole different stratosphere.

Now, with smartphones paired with Twitter and Instragram, the in-game experience, and postgame recap have changed. Now you don't only get to see in the stats that Bella Alarie scored to give her 14 points by halftime, you can also see highlights as they happen.

When the game ends, you're greeted by a graphic that sums up the entire game in a nutshell. And the overwhelming majority of people who see these highlights, stats and graphics do so on their smartphones.

The result? Social media numbers are way up. Readership on goprincetontigers.com is down. In 2019, a little more than 60 percent of the people who access GPT do so from a smartphone or tablet. Going back just two years, more users accessed the webpage through desktop than any other way.

From Jan. 1, 2010, through yesterday, GPT had 32,294,996 page views. From Jan. 1, 2000 through Dec. 31, 2009, GPT had three times that many.

Interesting, right?

So what about the next 10 years? Will the smartphone even exist in 2030?

How about TigerBlog? Well, hopefully TB the person will still be doing fine 10 years from now. How about TB the daily entry?

Should TB (the person) find something to write about Monday and Tuesday, then he will have gone through the entire decade and never once missed writing for you on a business day. Of all the things that he's done at Princeton, that streak is the one he's most proud of, he's pretty sure.

What will the next 10 years bring regarding the blog? Will the audience still exist? Will technology have made it obsolete?

While you ponder that, TB will remind you that there are still some pretty good events on the schedule for the rest of the calendar year and the decade.

It starts tomorrow at 7, when the men's hockey team hosts Quinnipiac at 7 at Hobey Baker Rink. Neither Princeton nor Quinnipiac has gotten off to the start its wanted this year, but there are still 16 league games left for each.

The Tigers haven't played in 18 days and haven't played a league game in more than a month, but the game tomorrow starts a pretty busy stretch. Princeton will then be at Quinnipiac Sunday (also at 7) before hosting Dartmouth and Harvard Jan. 3 and 4 and then heading to Clarkson and St. Lawrence the following weekend before first semester exams.

Neither basketball team has played an Ivy League game yet, but that changes for both soon enough, as the men will play Penn twice in six days (at the Palestra Jan. 4, home Jan. 10) and the women will play at Penn on Jan. 11. The return game with Penn for the women will be Feb. 25.

Before all that, there's a Jadwin doubleheader Sunday, with the women against New Hampshire at 1 and the men against Lehigh at 4.

The wrestling team is at the prestigious Midland tournament at Northwestern beginning Sunday, and the defending EIVA champion men's volleyball team opens up with three matches in California, beginning Sunday at UC-Irvine.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Subtle, But Constant

How was your Christmas?

TigerBlog hopes it was a great one. And now that it's over, you can look ahead to the New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and the start of a brand-new decade.

It will soon be 2020. Has it really been 20 years since it seemed like the biggest care in anyone's world was whether or not computers were going to revolt at midnight of Y2K?

As TB mentioned two days ago, he read a story that asked experts in a bunch of fields to make their predictions about the coming 10 years and what might change and what might stay the same. The question was asked in all kinds of fields, from technology to food production and consumption to transportation to health and so on.

The article he read made it seem like the coming 10 years are going to convert the world from where it is now into the stuff of 1970s science fiction and how it saw the world 50 years down the line.

Is that what is really in store? 

This all got TB to thinking back to the last 10 years in Princeton Athletics, and then the 10 years to come.

At its most basic level, does Princeton Athletics as 2020 rolls around bear much resemblance to Princeton Athletics in 2010? What's changed? What's stayed the same?

On its surface, not much is different.

Princeton won 117 Ivy League titles from 2000 through 2009. No other Ivy school came close to 100.

Princeton won 116 Ivy League titles from 2010-today. No other Ivy school came close to 100.

The school colors are still orange and black. The nickname is still Tigers.

If you're looking for the biggest moments in Princeton Athletics history, you probably need to go to the 1950s, when the Ivy League was formalized, and the 1970s, when women first competed for the Tigers. Beyond that, change is subtle, but it's also constant.

When you look at history in terms of 10-year groupings, it's sometimes hard to remember how things stood a decade earlier. For instance, on Jan. 1, 2010, Princeton had never been to the NCAA women's basketball tournament and Bob Surace had never coached a game as Princeton football coach.

Today? There are eight women's NCAA tournaments hanging from the Jadwin Gym banners and Surace has won three Ivy League championships. There are all kinds of stories like that.

The biggest changes, as far as TB is concerned, have come off the field.

On Jan. 1, 2010, Mollie Marcoux Samaan was working at Chelsea Piers. She is now in her sixth year as Ford Family Director of Athletics.

During this decade, Princeton Athletics has seen major changes related to student-athlete support, fundraising (especially the advent of TAGD), communications and marketing and especially what can be termed "performance science," among many other areas.

There have been major changes in facilities, in branding, in graphic design, in staffing. On a simple level, of the 14 people who work in external relations now, only three were here on Jan. 1, 2010.

The world of athletic communications has completely evolved in the last 10 years. The Princeton Athletics Twitter feed was in its total infancy a decade ago; today social media is a driving force in reaching all of Princeton's constituencies, including alums, friends, current athletes and their families and especially recruits.

The use of video has also skyrocketed, to the point where the H.G. Levine Broadcast Center has opened this year to take multimedia to a whole different level.

These are things that were unimaginable 10 years ago. Princeton Athletics has continued to modernize, if that's a good way of putting it.

Of course, the story that TB read the other day also asked what hasn't changed.

The answer to that is simple. Princeton Athletics is still driven by the same basic core values, including giving the athletes the best possible undergraduate experience they can have, focusing on the educational and co-curricular benefits of intercollegiate athletic competition (Education Through Athletics) and impressing on the athletes who compete here that they are part of something more than just their own careers and their teams (Achieve, Serve, Lead).

So what's next? What is coming for the next 10 years?

That's trickier. That's one that TB is going to need to think about for awhile.

In the meantime, like he said, he hopes everyone had a great Christmas.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Twas The Night Before Christmas

Twas a time when TigerBlog could remember all of the words to the poem "A Visit From St. Nick," which starts out "Twas the night before Christmas."

These days, he can't quite remember it all in order, though if prompted with the first word or two of a verse, he can get the rest of it.

His most recent box of Corn Flakes served as a great prompt. It has a picture of Santa on the front and the words to "A Visit From St. Nick" on the side.

Today, of course, is the day before Christmas. TB has always liked the holiday.

As he said last year (and the year before that and the year before that):

The surest way to get TigerBlog to tear up is invite him over, click HERE and to fast-forward to the 7:00 mark.

Never fails.

If you don't want to go through all that, then the link takes you to the last scene of the Christmas classic "It's A Wonderful Life."

The line that always, 100 percent of the time, brings a tear to TB's eyes is Harry Bailey's toast to his brother. TB could watch it in early July on a day far removed from Christmas and still it'll have the same effect.

Want to see some more of TB's favorite Christmas clips? Then watch one of these:

* the end scene from "A Christmas Story"

* bonus scene from the same movie

* Charlie Brown makes a bold purchase

* the Grinch's heart grows

* this one is more serious (go to the 20:00 mark)

* this one is the greatest ever version of any Christmas song ever performed 

* this one is second

* this one is really cute

There are hundreds of other Christmas clips TigerBlog could leave for you. And you also have your favorites that are different from his.

Like most years, it seems like Christmas has sort of snuck up. Is it really the end of December already?

If you're dreaming of a white Christmas, you probably don't want to go to Princeton. There have been very few white Christmases that TB can remember, and this one will certainly not be one.

There are no athletic events this week for Princeton. The weekend will be a busy one, with a bunch of events at home, including in men's hockey (Saturday at 7 against Quinnipiac) and then a basketball doubleheader Sunday (women vs. New Hampshire at 1, men vs. Lehigh at 4).

The wrestling team will also be competing, at the Midlands tournament at Northwestern. The men's volleyball team, who is the preseason favorite to repeat as EIVA champion, opens its season in California, against UC-Irvine Sunday and then Pepperdine Tuesday.

The match against Pepperdine will be on New Year's Eve. It'll also be the last day of the decade, and as TB said yesterday, there are some decade review pieces on the way.

He read a story yesterday that he found fascinating. It essentially was a series of short answers to the questions of "what is the most likely thing to change in the next decade" and "what is the most likely thing not to change in the next decade," and then this question was asked of a bunch of people in a bunch of different fields.

It got TB to thinking back, to 10 years ago, and what has changed the most since then with Princeton Athletics and what is most unchanged. He's not really completely sure, to be honest, since he's come up with a bunch of different answers.

As for the 10 years moving forward? That's anyone's guess. At some point, TB presumes, the world of athletics will become "futuristic," and by "futuristic," he means like what you saw if you ever saw the original version of "Rollerball" with James Caan.

He's reasonably sure that "Rollerball" isn't going to be coming around anytime soon.

On the other hand, if you read the story that TB read, you'd see that these experts are pretty certain that the world of 2030 will bear little resemblance to 2020, including flying taxis. TB isn't sure about that either.

TB will attack these questions a little later.

In the meantime, have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Just like Judy Garland meant you to have.

Monday, December 23, 2019


Everyone, TigerBlog presumes, has seen the infamous Pelaton commercial by now.

You know the one. The wife and mother wakes up to find her gift is a new, very expensive exercise bike, and she then goes through her first year with the machine and how it "changes her."

Opinion seems to be pretty split between whether or not it's an appropriate gift and a fine commercial or the epitome of sexism.

TigerBlog's opinion is a little different. Get a real bike and go outside and ride. Who cares if it's cold. Put on layers.

This is obviously a major holiday week, with Christmas of course coming up on Wednesday.

For Princeton Athletics, it's a very rare week. In fact, it's the only week other than during first semester exams next month when there will be no athletic events at all for the Tigers.

There was a women's basketball game Friday in St. Louis. There will be a men's hockey game at home against Quinnipiac Saturday at 7.

In between? Nothing but holidays.

In fact, Princeton has eight athletic events in the calendar year of 2019. Of those eight, five of them will be Sunday, when the men's hockey team, men's and women's basketball team, wrestling team and men's volleyball teams are all playing.

There will be a basketball doubleheader Sunday at Jadwin Gym, as the women host New Hampshire at 1 and the men host Lehigh at 4.

As for the women's basketball team, the Tigers had quite a run through Missouri last week. Show me (as in the "Show Me State?").

Consider the Tigers to have shown.

First there was a game at Missouri, a Big 12 Conference school that has been to four straight NCAA tournaments.

The Princeton Tigers held those Tigers to 33 points, the lowest total Missouri has ever had, in a 68-33 win.

Here were Missouri's point totals by quarter in that game: 5, 10, 9, 9. That's suffocating.

Up next was a trip to St. Louis, an A10 school that was 7-3 coming in. Princeton won that one 66-50.

Princeton is now 11-1 on the season with only the game against New Hampshire left before the Ivy league season begins. The Tigers are also ranked eighth in Division I in scoring defense, allowing 51.4 points per game.

Princeton is 6-0 in December, and all six of those wins have been by double figures. No team has scored more than 55 points against the Tigers in that run.

That's an extraordinary run of defensive consistency.

The win over St. Louis saw Bella Alarie go for 23 points and 13 rebounds, giving her a program-record 36 double-doubles. Prior to that, Alarie had been tied with Niveen Rasheed.

If you were to find the 50 most tuned in Princeton women's basketball fans of this past decade and asked them who the top player of the last 10 years has been, TB is pretty sure you'd get a nearly 50-50 split between Alarie and Rasheed.

That's a teaser, by the way, since in the next week-plus, there will be some good decade-in-review stuff.

In the meantime, Princeton is on the verge of the national top 25, and could very well be in it when the rankings are announced today. Princeton's RPI is currently 12.

Princeton's stats are what you'd think of when you think of a team that has gone 11-1. The Tigers lead the Ivy League in assists, blocked shots, free throws attempted, free throws made, free throw percentage, rebounds, steals, three-pointers made, three-point percentage, turnover margin, fewest turnovers committed and most turnovers caused. That's a winning hand right there.

It makes you want to see this team play again as soon as possible.

This week, though, nobody is playing. You'll have to wait until Sunday to see the Tigers again.

In the meantime, there are holidays to be enjoyed, gifts to be exchanged, family and friends to be seen and everything else that comes along at this time of year - including a pause in Princeton Athletics. 

Friday, December 20, 2019

Welcome Chas And Elliott

TigerBlog received an email from his former colleague Craig Sachson last week asking him if things in the Office of Athletic Communications had "normalized."

Just writing the words "former colleague" to describe Craig Sachson is still weird, by the way.

TigerBlog's response was that he wasn't sure that a world in which Chas Dorman works at Princeton can every really be normal.

He was kidding, of course. Eventually it'll be normal.

It's just that it does take a little getting used to.

Chas came to Princeton recently after working for 13 years in the athletic communications office at Penn. Yup. A Penn-to-Princeton guy.

Who can imagine such a thing?

Well, TigerBlog can, obviously. His alma mater is Penn, and as he's said many times, he had a great experience there. It's just that he's now spent more than seven times as long at Princeton then he did at Penn, and he long ago came to consider himself much more Tiger than Quaker.

In fact, he has not one single piece of Penn apparel.

Besides, TB has never really been "the Penn guy" at Princeton. Maybe when he first started, but that was a long, long time ago.

Of course, it hasn't been that long that he doesn't remember what Pete Carril said to him. First he asked him what he got on his SATs. When TB responded, Carril shot back - "you can get two guys into Penn for that."

He was kidding obviously. But yeah, he took the rivalry very seriously.

For more than a decade, well more than a decade for that matter, the OAC staff included TigerBlog, Sachson, Kristy McNeil and Andrew Borders. Also for all of that time, Chas Dorman has worked at Penn.

Now Craig has left athletics and Kristy is working at the University of Michigan. In their place have come Elliott Carr, who if nothing else is the tallest person to work in athletic communications at Princeton in TB's 30-plus years here.

Elliott stands around 6-6, TB would guess. He came to Princeton from LIU and North Carolina State before that. Oh, and he's also the first OAC staffer who was born and raised in Australia.

Elliott has immediately established himself as 1) skilled, 2) hard-working and 3) very likeable. Those are great qualities to bring to the table.

He's used to working with a lot of teams from his time at LIU. He's fit in nicely already.

As for Chas, he was certainly a known rather than an unknown. He knows Ivy League athletics inside and out, and he knows athletic communications inside and out as well.

He was also really good friends with Craig and Kristy.

Also, he has a wardrobe that runs toward the, um, sensational, including his bright red pants. Upon first meeting Chas, Mollie Marcoux Samaan suggested that Princeton needed to get him some orange ones.

TB has always liked Chas, and his Penn colleague Mike Mahoney. Chas was the Quakers' men's lacrosse contact last year, and for years before that he covered women's lacrosse, among other sports. He was someone who clearly was smart, focused, sharp and on top of where the profession was going.

Those qualities have only come out even more during the interview process and in his first three weeks here.

The last event for Chas at Penn was the last game of the football season, which just happened to be against Princeton, at Franklin Field. Chas has been Penn's football contact. TB is Princeton's football contact.

It was one of those "winner gets Chas" games. Princeton won 28-7.

Chas joked before the game that there should be one of those exchanges at halftime, like they do at the Army-Navy game. As the final seconds ticked away at Franklin Field, Penn made a nice announcement wishing Chas the best.

And now he's at Princeton, as part of a completely rebuilt OAC.

It's definitely different. Even the furniture has been moved around.

And, to be honest, it's still a bit weird, having Penn's Chas Dorman at Princeton. Weird, but nice.

And exciting. It's a fun time to be part of things here. 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

A Busy Thursday

TigerBlog was still in the newspaper business when then-Trenton State College went to play at Hofstra in the 1990 Division III football playoffs.

Hofstra was moving up to Division I-AA and, as TB remembers, pretty much dominated a really, really good TSC (now The College of New Jersey) team. It was a shame that TSC didn't get to play a more traditional Division III team, because the Lions, who had already beaten favored Ithaca in the first round, could have made something of a run that year.

Oh well. It was 29 years ago. TB is over it.

That game, though, was TB's introduction to Jim Sheehan, the Hofstra sports information director at the time. And now? Sheehan is finally retiring.

TigerBlog stumbled upon a Hofstra Chronicle story about Sheehan, who has been a longtime friend, ever since that 1990 football game. TB has seen Sheehan dozens of times through the year, mostly at lacrosse games.

The athletic communications field is not for everyone. TB has seen a lot of really good people leave the profession through the years, because of the hours and the grind.

In the story about Sheehan, there's this quote:
“I only expected to be at Hofstra for a short time,” said Jim, who started his time at Hofstra back in 1988. “The late Bill Esposito, former SID at St. John’s, who was one of my many mentors, said the optimal tenure in sports information should be 5-7 years. But the exciting growth at Hofstra in the late 80s and early 90s kept me here. Hofstra is a special place and it has been fantastic to see the great changes and additions, both athletic and non-athletic, over the years.” 

If you change "Hofstra" to "Princeton" in that sentence, you have TB's feelings about where he's worked all these decades, as opposed to the "optimal" five to seven years.

If you'd like, you can read all about Jim Sheehan HERE. Or TB will sum it up for you this way: an extraordinarily good guy who worked really hard for a long time and was a first-class representative of a fine institution is retiring. That's not a bad career epitaph, no?

Sheehan's employer will be sending its men's basketball team to Jadwin Gym tonight. Tip-off between Princeton and Hofstra will be at 7.

At the same time across campus, Princeton will be wrestling against Rider in a huge local matchup.

Those two events are the last home events before Christmas. The only other event on the calendar this week is a women's basketball game at St. Louis, followed by an eight-day break for the holidays.

The wrestling team is ranked 12th in Division I after its wild time last weekend, with its trip to Oklahoma State and then home match against No. 1 Iowa. Rider has spent time this year in the national top 25.

Princeton has half of its lineup ranked in the individual top 20s, including No. 3 Patrick Glory at 125 and No. 3 Patrick Glory at 197. The match against Rider features a big-time matchup at 157 between the Broncs Jesse Dellavecchia (ranked sixth) and Princeton's Quincy Monday (ranked seventh).

The men's basketball team swept the Ivy League awards this week, as Richmond Aririguzoh was named Player of the Week and Ryan Langborg was the Rookie of the Week.

Hofstra comes into this game having not played in nine games. Princeton, on the other hand, played Iona Tuesday night in Brooklyn.

Hofstra is 7-4 on the year. The teams have two common opponents, and those results are just confusing.

On the one hand, Princeton lost 67-66 to Monmouth on a buzzer-beating three-pointer, while Hofstra beat Monmouth by 20, 94-74.

On the other hand, Princeton defeated Bucknell 87-77, while Hofstra lost to Bucknell 86-71. There's really no way to reconcile those results.

Princeton will be off after this game until a game a week from Sunday against Lehigh at Jadwin Gym as the second game of a doublheader, after the women's team takes on New Hampshire.

In the meantime, it's a busy Tuesday at Princeton, with home men's basketball and home wrestling.

And, before those events, a congratulations to Jim Sheehan for his great career at Hofstra. And good luck in retirement.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Show Me

Whenever TigerBlog thinks back on all the years he's spent with Princeton Athletics, among his favorite times were when he was the men's basketball contact and the team would go on December trips to in-season tournaments.

The first one TB went to was in 1989, when Princeton traveled to East Lansing to play in Michigan State's Oldsmobile Spartan Classic, in what was then the brand-new Breslin Center. Princeton defeated Arkansas-Little Rock 59-56 in the first round and then lost in the final to Michigan State 51-49.

Bill Carmody, then Princeton's top assistant under Pete Carril and later the head coach, told TB before the Michigan State game that if Princeton got outrebounded by 15 or fewer it would win the game. Princeton was outrebounded by 16 - and lost by two.

TB even went back to the box score to make sure he was remembering it correctly. In fact he was - Michigan State had a 27-11 edge in rebounds.

From there through the next 10 years, TB would see Princeton play all over the country, and often win these events, most of which no longer exist.

There were trips for tournaments to, among other places, Wisconsin (twice), Iowa (twice), Illinois, Indiana, Texas, California, North Carolina, Louisiana and even Hawaii. That was the best one, as the Tigers won three games in three days in Honolulu in December 1998, knocking off Florida State, Texas and UNC Charlotte.

They were always a lot of fun, even if Princeton didn't win. TB usually flew with Tom McCarthy, then the radio voice of the Tigers. To give you a sense of how long ago this was, Tom's son Patrick is now the voice of Princeton on the radio.

The tournaments always gave a chance to see a place you'd probably never go to, and to see what game nights were like on all different levels.

It was during the trip to Michigan State that then-Spartan coach Jud Heathcote, who coached Magic Johnson to the 1979 NCAA title, slipped into his stand-up comedy act at a pre-tournament reception, including making some pretty good fun of Carril. Then again, there was another trip where, in the postgame press conference, Carril was asked to say something about one of his players who made the all-tournament team. All Carril said was this: "So did the guy he was guarding."

As TB said, most of those tournaments have gone by the wayside. There are different kinds of events these days, most of which are at exotic locales, as opposed to on different campuses.

The Princeton women's team is currently in a state where TB never got to see the men's team - Missouri. He did fly to Missouri (Kansas City to be exact) and then drove to Lawrence, Kansas, to see Princeton play the University of Kansas in the 1999-2000 season, a game in which Princeton lost 82-67 despite 20 points from Chris Young, who was the best player on the floor, as opposed to any of the four future NBA Jayhawks.

The current Tiger women are 9-1 as they prepare to take on Missouri tonight and St. Louis Friday night.

Missouri is 3-8, but don't be fooled by that in the least. These Tigers went 24-11 a year ago and defeated Drake in the first round of the NCAA tournament before falling to Iowa in the second round, and they've played a very tough schedule this year to date.

In its last game, Missouri fell 79-72 to 18th-ranked Missouri State.

St. Louis is 7-3, with one of those losses to Missouri.

As for Princeton, its most recent game was a 72-55 win over Penn State Saturday in a game the Tigers controlled throughout. Princeton was led by a career-high 25 points from Carlie Littlefield and 23 from Bella Alarie, who played for the first time after missing three games due to injury.

Alarie now has exactly 1,400 points for her career, which leaves her 283 points away from Sandi Bittler Leland's career record of 1,683. With 17 regular season games left - the trip to Missouri, a Dec. 29 home game against New Hampshire and then 14 Ivy games - she'd need to average 16.64 per game to get there.

Here's a stat that usually will result in a win, by the way: Alarie and Littlefield combined to shoot 17 for 26, and 7 for 9 from three, against Penn State.

Throw in an eight-minute scoreless stretch in the second quarter, and the fact that Princeton held Penn State's Kamaria McDaniel to three points on 1 for 7 shooting with eight turnovers (she had 40 in her previous game against Pitt), and that winning formula becomes even more dramatic.

Princeton now has a chance to play twice in Missouri. It's not an in-season tournament like the ones in the 1990s, but it's the same basic idea: have fun, play some interesting opponents, see a little bit more of the country.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Officially Proclaimed

The 1919 Princeton football team opened its season with a home game against Trinity.

In fact, the 1919 Tigers were home for the first six games of their seven game season, and the only away game all year was a trip to Yale for the final game. TigerBlog supposes that's what you did back then, when you had a five-year old jewel called Palmer Stadium.

TB looked up that game in the Daily Princetonian archives, which are an awesome tool, by the way. If you've never seen them, click HERE to check them out (they go all the way back to 1842).

From the Prince, TB learned that the game had a fifty-cent admission charge, that it rained the day before and that both teams were playing for the first time since welcoming back players who had been serving in World War I. There were two things that weren't referenced at all.

First, this was the first game Princeton would play after the death of Hobey Baker 10 months earlier in France. Baker, of course, was a legendary football and hockey player at Princeton, and he is in the Hall of Fame for both sports.

Second, it didn't make any reference to the fact that this was the start of the 50th anniversary season for Princeton football, after the Tigers and Rutgers had played in Game 1 of college football back on Nov. 6 1869. Hey, if 2019 was the 150th anniversary season, then 1919 was the 50th anniversary.

Was it just not that big a deal? Was a statement on how sportswriting worked back then? Was it referenced anywhere during the season?

Princeton defeated Trinity 28-0 that year and then followed that with wins over Lafayette and Rochester, losses to Colgate and West Virginia, a tie with Harvard and then a win over Yale to end the year at 4-2-1.

This past season, Princeton played three of those teams - Lafayette, Harvard and Yale. 

The Prince pregame story for that Yale game - the 43rd in the series - centered on the size advantage on the lines that Yale had. What were the average weights on those lines?

For Yale, it was 191 pounds. For Princeton it was 183.

Forget the comparison to this year's offensive and defensive lines. Princeton's kickers this past year - placekicker Tavish Rice and punter Will Powers, both of whom were second-team All-Ivy League selections - both stand 6-2 and average 205 pounds.

Rice and Powers were two of Princeton's 14 All-Ivy League selections this year, including first-team picks Jeremiah Tyler (linebacker), Delan Stallworth (cornerback) and Alex Deters (center).

The 2019 Princeton Tigers finished 8-2, winning their first seven to run their winning streak to 17 straight games. They finished third in the league at 5-2, a game back of co-champs Dartmouth and Yale, but Princeton came very, very close to snagging a share of that championship on the final day of the season.

This was also the 150th anniversary of that first game, and that anniversary was celebrated all season. Princeton-Dartmouth was played in Yankee Stadium as part of that celebration, and that game was a huge party for the very loyal Tiger alumni group.

The Empire State Building was lit up on the actual anniversary in orange (for Princeton) and red (for Rutgers). Princeton wore 150th patches on its uniforms and had that logo on its field all season.

And yesterday, there was another honor and another piece of the celebration added in. Princeton and Rutgers were honored at the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton for their participation in the first game and for the anniversary.

The official proclamation was introduced by state assemblyman Erik Peterson, and Princeton and Rutgers were both well-represented yesterday. Princeton's contigent included head coach Bob Surace and sophomore wide receiver Dylan Classi.

The proclamation spoke to New Jersey's roots in the sport's origins and commemorated the two schools. It was a very nice moment for both programs.

The highlights were the proclamation and what happened in the room off of the floor a few minutes before, when Surace met with the Elizabeth Little League team that was also honored and posed for a great picture with the boys, all of whom were wearing their Mid-Atlantic shirts. 

It's hard to sum up the entirety of Princeton football in a few sentences, but here is some of what Surace said in his short remarks:

Since 1869, Princeton has produced 28 national championship teams, 12 Ivy League championship teams, 72 first-team All-Americans, 44 NFL players and even one Heisman Trophy winner, and generations of Tigers have taken the lessons they’ve learned as football players at Princeton and gone on to do great things in fields like medicine, law, the military, education and business – all while living lives of service and loyalty to their communities. This lineage traces its way all the way back to that first game, as Princeton’s captain that day, William Gummere, went on to spend more than 30 years as the Chief Justice of the New Jersey State Supreme Court.

Yeah. It's certainly been quite a run for the last 150 years of Tiger football.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Take A Pause

Princeton Unveils Its Pause Wall

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.


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


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.