Monday, February 24, 2020

On The Bus

TigerBlog's first experience with a happy bus ride home from a Princeton athletic event was the ride back from Dartmouth in 1991, after the men's basketball team finished off a perfect 14-0 Ivy record.

That ride seemed like it took about a half hour or so, even though it actually took the usual five-plus. Because it was a night game, the Tigers didn't leave Hanover until 10 or so that night, so the bus didn't roll back into the Jadwin parking lot until after 3 am.

In the time in between, the Tigers - and their coaches, including Pete Carril - sang and laughed and basically loved the moment for the entire ride back. When the bus did arrive, the team even serenaded its driver with a "Steve Is The Man" chant.

TigerBlog has spent much more time driving to games on his own than he has on the bus. He has usually preferred to be on his own schedule rather than the team's, and it's usually been more convenient to simply drive.

Lately, though, he's enjoyed going on the men's lacrosse bus. It's a great way to see what the players are like away from the just the games or their stats, and it's an equally great way to get a good feel for the pulse of the coaches.

As bus rides go, the one Saturday back from Virginia was a pretty good one for the men's lacrosse team. The Tigers had just knocked off the defending NCAA champion and second-ranked Virginia Cavaliers 16-12, making a huge early statement about the 2020 Tigers.

Princeton presumably will be moving into the national rankings when they're announced today, and possibly even vaulting all the way into the top 10. There's a long way to go in a season in which the Ivy League looks like the best league in men's college lacrosse, and every test will be huge, beginning Saturday when Big Ten-foe Johns Hopkins comes to Sherrerd Field.

As you might have been able to guess, TB will have a bit more on lacrosse as the week goes on.

For today, he's more focused on the ride back, a trip that usually can take a little more than five hours and instead took nearly seven after the major traffic caused by two accidents, first on I-66 in Virginia and then I-495 in that area of Rockville, Chevy Chase, Silver Springs where the highway was probably built with traffic already on it.

The team was a pretty happy group when it got on the bus, and when it got off. In between there were two movies, some food, a quick jump off at a rest stop in Maryland, some music, a lot of laughs and even some sleeping.

For TigerBlog, that run from almost four until almost 11 gave him the chance to follow the evening in Princeton Athletics on his phone. It was a pretty good evening at that.

First up, there was the women's basketball game, which tipped at 6 (and not 5, which TB thought). The first piece of information he saw on the game was that Bella Alarie had left the game, which of course made for about the worst possible scenario.

TB texted his colleague Warren Croxton at the game to find out how Bella was, but by the time he did, she'd already come back into the game. That was the best possible scenario. Then she tore up Dartmouth, which was an even better scenario.

The game was 16-16 at the end of first and 34-32 at the half. Dartmouth had put up almost as many points in the first half as most teams have all game against the Tigers.

Then came the 31-11 third quarter. By the time the game ended, it was 87-55 Tigers, and Princeton had its 17th straight win, improving to 21-1 on the year and staying unbeaten in the Ivy League.

Alarie finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, and she now has 1,622 career points, which leaves her 61 away from Sandi Bittler Leland's 30-year-old school record of 1,683. Princeton has five regular season games and then whatever the postseason has in store.

The next game is tomorrow night, when Penn comes to Jadwin, followed by home games against Brown and Yale this weekend. Princeton is 9-0 in the league, followed by 7-2 Penn, so obviously the game tomorrow is huge.

By the time the women's game ended, the men were pretty far along in their game at Dartmouth. TB was also following along the Ivy League women's swimming and diving championships, as it began to look like that was going to be a big Princeton win.

As it turned out, it was. Princeton put up 1,569 points, topping Harvard by 107 en route to the 23rd title in program history and the first for head coach Bret Lundgaard. How did recruiting go this year?

There were three swimmers in the meet who won the maximum 96 points, and two of them were Tigers - Nikki Venema and Ellie Marquardt, both freshmen.

And oh, that made for 501 Ivy League championships all-time for Princeton.

As the swim meet was winding down, the basketball game was coming down the stretch. TB was watching it on his phone and checking Twitter for lacrosse information, and while on Twitter he saw the women's squash team had reached the national final, where the Tigers would fall to Harvard yesterday.

The men's basketball game, meanwhile, was high drama, and Dartmouth, who had beaten Penn Friday, was going for the sweep while the Tigers, after a loss at Harvard Friday, were looking for the bounce back.

Dartmouth had a chance for the win the final seconds, but the potential winning shot rolled out, allowing the Tigers to have their own good bus ride back after a 65-62 win.

That win left the league standings at Yale at 8-2, Princeton and Harvard at 7-3, Brown at 6-4 and Penn at 5-5. Nobody has clinched an Ivy tournament spot yet, but Princeton looks to be in great shape with two wins over Penn and one already over Brown.

The Tigers will be at Brown and Yale this weekend as they play to get into the tournament and for a possible league title.

Anyway, that's an effective use of time for a long bus ride, no? While riding back from a huge win with one group of Tigers, TB was able to follow all the other Tigers who were competing in their own events.

1 comment:

Mike Knorr said...

I know it's asking a lot with all the events that took place this weekend but one noteworthy event that deserves mentioning is Carly Bullock reaching 150 points for her career after getting 5 goals and 2 assists in the final regular season weekend of her career. I'll bet Yale is happy to see her go. Congratulations Carly.