Thursday, April 30, 2020

Lucky To Have Them

One of the biggest questions these days is of course what will the world look like post-Coronavirus.

As TigerBlog wrote the other day, gatherings like the Zoom call with the 1981 Princeton football team have become commonplace. TB hears it all the time - "I was on a Zoom call with my college friends; I was on a Zoom call with my family; My friends from our usual hangout and I are having virtual cocktail parties."

In other words, in a time of isolation, the human spirit is still there, and the desire to stay connected has not gone away at all.

If you want to feel connected to Princeton University and get a really good sense of the people who are charged with keeping it safe, then watch this video:

The relationship between Public Safety and the Department of Athletics has always been very strong and continues to be so. The people in the video are either Fellows with individual teams or huge sports fans, or, in one case, the husband of a Princeton senior athletic administrator.

The video ends with a literal splash, courtesy of England-born Sean Ryder. It features John Barbour with a behind-the-back lacrosse move, not to mention appearances in soccer, field hockey and water polo.

Here's the full lineup:
Det. Jim Lanzi - football
Sgt. John Barbour - water polo
Capt. Kevin Creegan - softball
Sgt. Luke Miller - baseball
Ptl. Maleci Malec - fencing
Sgt. Steve Solovey - track and field
Cpl. Marty Krzywicki - rowing
Sgt. Ted Dima - golf
Sgt. John Barbour - field hockey
Lt. Jason Vacirca - wrestling
Det. Jim Lanzi - basketball
Director Kenneth Strother - squash
Officer David Ziegler - volleyball
Cpl. Marty Krzywicki - ice hockey
Cpl. Kristina Tucker - cross country
Sgt. John Barbour - soccer
Officer Luis Aviles - tennis
Sgt. John Barbour - lacrosse
Sgt. Sean Ryder - swimming and diving

Special recognition goes out to Sgt. Dima, who seemed to get all of that shot with his iron. Also to Sgt. Ryder for being all-in on the video.

And of course to Maleci Malec, for his fencing prowess - and for being married to Karen Malec, who oversees event coverage in the Department of Athletics.

TigerBlog speaks for the entire department when he says thank you to the great people at Public Safety. They don't have an easy job, obviously, but the people in the department TB has met have always carried themselves with great class, professionalism and humor.

They have also formed great relationships with the teams, and TB has heard so many Princeton athletes thank members of Public Safety so many times at banquets and on sidelines.

These days, with the Coronvirus situation, they have been charged with again protecting the campus. Again, it's not easy. What you see in the video is who they are, and Princeton is lucky to have them.

Speaking of people Princeton is lucky to have, there is also Liza Hartofilis.

TB mentioned her last week, when he spoke about her role in a New York City hospital as an ER doctor. At one point, Liza Hartofilis was Liza Hillenbrand, a lacrosse player and two-time NCAA champion at Princeton.

Her husband is Sean Hartofilis, one of the top goal scorers in Princeton men's lacrosse history.

Liza was featured on HBO Real Sports earlier this week as part of a story about how a company that usually manufactures lacrosse helmets has switched on a dime to make face shields to protect against the virus. It's a fascinating piece.

Here's a small piece of it:

That is some genuine emotion right there.

And again, as the world deals with something on this magnitude, it's important to recognize the heroes.

They come from all different places these days. It's comforting to know they're there.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

More Bob Holly

When TigerBlog wrote about Bob Holly as part of the look back at the 1981 Princeton-Yale football game yesterday, he should have mentioned that the former Princeton quarterback won a Super Bowl ring with the Washington Redskins after the 1982 season.

Holly was drafted by the Redskins and served as the backup to Joe Theisman that season. If you remember the 1982 NFL season, that was the year that a player strike resulted in a shortened nine-game schedule and then a 16-team playoff tournament in which teams in each conference were seeded 1-8 regardless of divisions.

The Redskins had the NFL's Most Valuable Player that year. Do you remember who it was?

Washington defeated Miami 27-17 in the Super Bowl in a game famous for one play - a 43-yard touchdown run by John Riggins on a the fourth-and-1 in the fourth-quarter with the Redskins down 17-13 at the time.

Riggins - who happened to be the all-time favorite athlete of MotherBlog, who was a huge Redskins fan - was the MVP of the Super Bowl, but not the regular season. Theisman wasn't either.

Washington that year featured an offensive line known as the Hogs and a group of wide receivers who became the Fun Bunch. None of those guys was the MVP either.

Give up?

It was Mark Moseley, the placekicker. Moseley, who made 20 of 21 field goals that season, is famous for a few things.

First, he was the second placekicker to win the MVP award, and the first, Lou Groza in 1954, was also an offensive tackle. Picture that, if you will.

Groza, by the way, stood 6-3 and weighed 250 pounds. By today's standards that's tiny for an offensive tackle but big for a placekicker. Princeton's placekicker last year was Tavish Rice, who was 6-2 and 215, and he's big for a kicker.

As for Holly, his pro career consisted of two seasons with the Redskins and then time with the Eagles and Falcons. His NFL career stats saw him complete 25 of 40 passes for 300 yards and a touchdown, as well as rushing for 49 yards on seven carries. Of those 49 yards, he picked up 20 on one touchdown run in 1985 for the Falcons against San Francisco.

Atlanta lost that game 38-17. Holly's TD run made it 31-17 in the fourth quarter before San Francisco clinched on a touchdown pass from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark, one of the greatest QB-WR combos of all time.

TigerBlog couldn't find any video online of Holly's TD run, but if you click HERE and go to the 27:30 mark, you can see three Bob Holly completions against the Dallas Cowboys from Oct. 27, 1985.

The announcers for that game, by the way, were Verne Lundquist and Terry Bradshaw. And look how big the shoulder pads were back then; TB has noticed that on all these old highlight's he's seen lately.

Holly threw for 2,622 yards in 1981, which at the time was the Princeton single season record. That record, by the way, lasted one year, until Brent Woods broke Holly's record with 2,668 passing yards.

Woods would hold that record for exactly one more year, until Doug Butler threw for 3,175 in 1983. Butler's record stood for much longer, until Chad Kanoff set the record 3,474 in 2017.

The 1980s were a time of big passing numbers at Princeton. In fact, of the top 13 single-season passing performances in program history, seven of them happened in the 1980s.

Four others, by the way, have happened since Bob Surace has been head coach, including the 2,569 that Kevin Davidson threw for in 2019, a figure that ranks fifth.

The 1981 Tigers started out 0-1-1 with losses to Dartmouth and Delaware (in a year Delaware would reach the national championship game). From there, Princeton would lose two more non-league games, one in which the Tigers would get shut out (34-0 at Army) and put up 44 (a 55-44 loss to Maine in Week 8).

As for the Ivy League, Princeton didn't lose again, but did tie Harvard 17-17. The dramatic win over Yale was the Bulldogs' only loss of the year, but the tie against Harvard (the Crimson missed a potential game-winning field goal on the final play) left Princeton a half-game away from a share of the Ivy League title at 5-1-1, behind Yale and Dartmouth at 6-1.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

40 To Life

TigerBlog remembers when his friend Ed Mikus Jr. asked him if he wanted to go see a movie called "The Right Stuff" when it was in the theaters.

If you saw it, you know it was about the Mercury astronaut program. You know it was really, really good. You also know it was three hours long.

Before TB saw it, he knew the first and third ones. He only figured out the second after he reluctantly agreed to go and then realized it was almost over after it seemed like only 30 minute had gone by.

He thought about that Sunday night - late Sunday night - after his Zoom call ended. The subject? Princeton-Yale football, 1981.

For all of the great games in Princeton football history, that 1981 game against Yale is the best of all of them. For his part, TB selected it as the "Game of the Century" during a 20th-century review 20 years ago.

In the first 20 years of this century, Princeton has played five games that could all be considered the best this century to date:

2006, 31-30 OT win over Penn
2006, 34-31 win over Yale
2012, 39-34 win over Harvard
2013, 51-48 OT win over Harvard
2018, 14-9 over Dartmouth

Of those five, all but the 2012 game against Harvard were in championship seasons in which a loss in those games would have meant no championship at all. Does there need to be that component to make it the best ever?

Or could a game in which a team trailed 34-10 in the fourth quarter before an epic rally that still amazes TB when he thinks about it - as in the case of that 2012 game - push it over the top? That's up to you and everyone else to decide.

If you asked TB, he'd go with the 2018 game, which was the difference between 10-0 and not even winning a share of the league title. It was an incredibly intense 60 minutes with great historical context mixed in.

The 1981 Princeton-Yale game had a different kind of historical context to it. Yale came into that game with a 14-game winning streak against Princeton and were favored to stretch that to 15 straight that day at Palmer Stadium.

It certainly seemed that way when the Bulldogs led 21-0 in the second quarter. The Tigers, though, came sailing back, cutting it to 21-15 at halftime and then taking a 22-21 lead in the third quarter.

Yale would regain the lead and push it to 31-22. It was still 31-29 Bulldogs with 1:23 left, when Princeton took over with no timeouts and 76 yards to go.

After three straight Bob Holly incompletions, Yale was one more stop away from another win. This time, Holly found Scott Oostdyke, who barely stretched past the first-down marker. Or at least the refs said so, but more on that in a few minutes.

Holly then marched Princeton down the field, getting to the Bulldog 20 with 15 seconds left and then to the 1 with nine seconds left after a pass interference penalty in the end zone. Then, on the next play, Holly ran it in for the winning TD around the left side. Had he gotten tackled before he got to the end zone, the clock would have run out on the Tigers.

Holly put up ridiculous numbers in that game, completing 36 of 55 for 501 yards and four touchdowns, not to mention the game-winning rushing TD. Derek Graham caught 15 passes for 278 yards.

Now it's almost 40 years later, and the purpose of the call Sunday night was to talk about the game, reminisce and generally have a good time. It's one of the pluses that's come out of this current situation, where people who otherwise would be unable to all be together in the same place at the same time suddenly can be.

Think about it. How many times have that many members of the 1981 Princeton football team been together in the last few decades?

TigerBlog was invited to join the call in the middle of last week by Rich Gorelick, a member of the Class of 1982 and a former class officer. The current class officers have been having a series of Zoom discussions, featuring a wide array of topics, everything from confronting COVID-19 to online yoga.

Gorelick was the play-by-play announcer on WPRB for that game in 1981. He was the moderator for the conversation Sunday night, which featured nearly 80 people, including other class members in addition to the football players.

Gorelick began the event with a moment of silence for those on both teams that day who have passed away, a total of four players and Nick Donatiello, the former Princeton sports information director. That was a very nice thing for Gorelick to do.

For TigerBlog, that 1981 game was a little before his Princeton time. He's read about it, written about it, seen highlights of it. He's interviewed a few of the players who played in it, including Oostdyk, who insisted when TB wrote the story 20 years ago that his fourth-and-10 reception was really 9.9 yards and a favorable spot. He's never really met too many of them, so the Zoom call was a great chance to put some faces to names.

Oostdyk, by the way, repeated that claim about the first down on the call. That drew laughs.

There were dozens of little stories, all of which drew laughs. There were stories about the game, about players from both sides, about the Princeton coaches, about how the season had gone to that point. There were lots and lots of laughs.

It was exactly what you'd think it was. It was a bunch of guys telling their stories and loving every second of it. They remembered every detail, even if they remembered those details differently from each other, like what play, if any, was called by the coaches on Holly's game-winning run.

TB's favorite was from Stan Freck, who intercepted the desperation pass that followed Holly's touchdown and then the kickoff. Freck mentioned how all the while he was celebrating on the field, he still was holding onto the football he'd just caught, and it wasn't until he came into the locker room after that he realized it.

Then he pulled back and showed that very same ball, sitting on a shelf in his house, the word "Yale" visible clearly, as it was Yale's ball, not Princeton's, because Yale was on offense at the time.

The minutes flew by on the call, which stretched nearly as long as "The Right Stuff." Time has flown by in general, as the game is about to turn 40 years old.

At Princeton, the talk is always how choosing to compete as a Tiger isn't a four-year decision but a 40-year one. The implication, obviously, is that your time as a Princeton Athlete will stay with you long after you graduate.

For TB, it's never really seemed like the right slogan. The event Sunday night was further proof of that.

These guys, some of them who have already touched 60 years old, were still teammates, and always will be. The connection they share was obvious to any observer, even TB, who didn't really know any of them. 

It wasn't a 40-year decision. It was 40 to life.

It was a forever decision.

Monday, April 27, 2020

The NFL Guy

Caraun Reid seems to be about the gentlest football player you'll ever meet in your life.

At least off the field, that is.

When TigerBlog first met him nearly 10 years ago, he couldn't believe it was the same guy he watched play defensive line for Princeton. With that soft voice? With those glasses?

Of course, he certainly did look the part, checking in at 6-2 and nearly 300 pounds with no obvious fat anywhere. Yes, he certainly looked like a football player, even if he didn't seem like a football player.

Reid went from Princeton to a long career in the NFL, where he's scored a pair of regular-season touchdowns, one with the Detroit Lions and one for the San Diego Chargers.

Still, anytime TB saw in person or in a game, he kept going back to when he first met him.

He did that yesterday too, when he saw the video that Reid made for Kevin Davidson after Davidson signed his free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns.

First, you can see how soft his voice is. Second, as he says at the end, yes, he can in fact show him how a hit feels.

This was a big weekend for Kevin Davidson. The 6-4, 225-pound senior quarterback at Princeton figured to either be a late-round NFL draft choice or, in lieu of that, an undrafted free agent. The latter route has been a pretty good one the last few years for the Tigers and their alums.

Did any of this seem possible a year ago?

Davidson's story is one of loyalty and perseverance. His path at Princeton seemed at first to include sitting behind Chad Kanoff and John Lovett for two years and then being the favorite to start for two more.

Then Lovett got hurt and missed all of 2017, which brought him back in 2018 as the starter in Davidson's junior year. Princeton went 10-0 that season, and Davidson did get to start one game, throwing for 299 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-10 win over Brown when Lovett was out.

For the most part, though, he spent his first three years as a backup. Heading into the 2019 season, the biggest question was who was going to be win the starting quarterback job.

He went from there to being an NFL guy. That's not a bad jump in a short time.

Davidson started all 10 games last fall, leading the Tigers to an 8-2 record. He was a team leader from Day 1, and his allegiance to the program paid off for both the player and the team.

He showed early on that he had a big-league arm, and NFL scouts were regular attendees at Princeton games.

Davidson completed 209 of 313 passes for 2,569 yards and 20 touchdowns this past season. He set the Ivy League record with seven touchdown passes against Bucknell, and he is the only Princeton quarterback ever with two games of at least five TD passes. He also had the fourth-highest number of touchdown passes and fifth-highest total of passing yards in a season at Princeton.

He ranks second all-time at Princeton in lowest career interception percentage (trailing only Lovett) and yards per attempt (trailing only Dick Kazmaier), and he is third all-time in career completion percentage (behind Jason Garrett and Lovett). His 25 career touchdown passes rank seventh in program history.

Following the season he competed at the East-West Shrine Bowl participant. Then he attended the NFL combine.

His name didn't get called during the seven rounds of the draft, but it wasn't 30 minutes later that he was on his way to the Browns, a team that lists three quarterbacks - including incumbent Baker Mayfield - on its roster.

Davidson has taken the first step towards what so many other recent Princeton football players have done. Both Kanoff and Lovett made the jump, and Lovett has himself a Super Bowl ring with Kansas City.

Like the two quarterbacks, receivers Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson also went the undrafted free agent route last year and made immediate impacts, each with a touchdown reception as a rookie.

And now Davidson is looking to join them, in Carlson's case, literally, since Carlson is with the Browns as well.

It's another Princeton football player on the next level. It's always exciting, and in this case even more so, given the path Davidson took to get to this point. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Zooming By

In a world of Zoom meetings, TigerBlog has observed a new phenomenon.

Every call, it seems, includes a moment where someone says to someone else: "you're muted."

As you're probably aware, when you are on a Zoom meeting, you have the option of muting yourself, which most people tend to do. The only problem is that when you are called on to contribute or simply want to speak up, you have to remember to unmute yourself.

What ends up happening, however, is that the person speaks for a few seconds and nobody can hear what it being said. That's when the "you're muted" cries begin.

Then the person unmutes and then has to start from the beginning.

The other Zoom phenomenon is when someone's either pet or baby makes an appearance. Those are always welcome.

It's a Zoom world these days. And a "zoom" one. Lower case z on that one.

Does it seem to you that the days zoom by now? It does to TigerBlog.

It seems like each day is over in a blink, which is the opposite of what you'd expect. You'd figure that these days would drag, since most of the time is being spent inside, and one day looks very much like another.

Hey, even the time spent commuting has been eliminated. Wouldn't that make it seem like the days are longer?

TB has a theory on this.

It's because there's nothing at the end of the week to look forward to.

Whatever you do on the weekends, it's always out there calling to you as the weekday goes by. And it always seems to be make those week days slow down, right?

This week has certainly zoomed by. It's Friday already.

Had the spring played out normally, it would still be Tuesday. Maybe Wednesday.


Because had this been a normal spring, then tomorrow would have been the lacrosse doubleheader against Cornell on Sherrerd Field. The women would have been clinching their seventh straight Ivy League championship, and the men's game would have matched Princeton and Cornell, both of whom were 5-0 when the season ended.

How great would it have been if they were now both 5-0 in the league?

Oh, and TB fully acknowledges that every other Ivy League men's team figures it would have been unbeaten at this point and that the Cornell women figured it would be they who would be winning the league title, just as Penn and Dartmouth probably figured that they already would have done it.

But hey, the Cornell and Princeton men were ranked second and third when the season ended in March and the Princeton women have won six straight titles. So maybe TB wouldn't have been very far off.

Either way, this week would have dragged for TB. It would have been "can you believe there are still four days left until the game starts?"

Maybe that's why time is moving slowly.

It would have been another big spring weekend for all of Princeton's teams. They all would have had their weeks crawl along, waiting to get out there and compete.

It will still be a big weekend for one Princeton athlete, a fall athlete. This weekend is the NFL draft, and depending on whom you believe and what you read, Princeton quarterback Kevin Davidson will either be selected on the draft's final day or be a very quick signee for some team once it ends tomorrow.

TB has never liked the NFL draft all that much. In fact, he considers it the most over-hyped, under-delivering annual sporting event.

It's made an industry out of draft analysts, and fans cheer and boo their team's selections. And guess what? Nobody knows what's what.

Will Joe Burrow lead the Cincinnati Bengals to a Super Bowl or two and make the Hall of Fame? Will he be average for his career? A total bust?

All three of those are equal possibilities.

For all of the time and money and talk and talk and talk about the draft, nobody really knows much about how any of the players chosen in last night's first round or any of the rounds that follow will actually do. Half of the first rounders will never amount to much.

But hey. There will be stories assigning grades to teams for their drafts once it ends, even though it actually takes a few years to evaluate.

And who has ever heard of any of these guys beyond a few skill positions guys or a defensive player or two? Oh well. That's the NFL draft rant.

In the meantime, TB would love to see Davidson get drafted. He led Princeton to an 8-2 record in his lone year as the starting quarterback, but it's his size (6-4, 225) and arm strength (significant) that will get his name called, if it is.

Last weekend it was Bella Alarie's turn in the draft. This weekend, hopefully, it'll be Davidson's.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Dr. Hartofilis

TigerBlog talked yesterday about some of the efforts that Princetonians have been making in the Coronavirus fight.

He should have included Liza Hartofilis in that discussion.

Liza Hartofilis was Liza Hillenbrand when she was part of two NCAA championship women's lacrosse teams at Princeton. In fact, she was part of three teams that reached the NCAA finals, winning in 2002 and 2003 and falling in 2004.

This was Liza Hillenbrand then:

Wait, that was 16 years ago already?

Liza's married name should be familiar to Princeton lacrosse fans. Her husband is Sean Hartofilis, who ranks fourth in Tiger men's lacrosse history with 126 career goals, of which 27 came in NCAA tournament games, trailing only Jesse Hubbard and Chris Massey in that category.

There are actually a large number of former Princeton women's lacrosse players who married former Princeton men's lacrosse players. Princeton women's head coach Chris Sailer named eight other such marriages off the top of her head.

It got TB to wondering how many college athletes have married other athletes who played the same sport at their school and both won NCAA championships.

Anyway, that's not the point here.

These days, Liza Hartofilis is an emergency medicine doctor in New York City, which has put her exhaustingly at the forefront of the COVID-19 battle, doing way more than her part in this fight. Here is what she looks like these days:

That was obviously a tweet from Sean Hartofilis.

Again, TigerBlog wishes he could bring you the stories of every current or former Princeton athlete who is making these kinds of important contributions during these times. They are amazing people who are doing amazing things when they're needed most.

As April winds down, spring sports would have been at their peak, with Ivy League title races about to reach their conclusions and other championships up for grabs.

Today would have been Day 1 of the Penn Relays, which began in 1895 and which have been contested every year since - 125 years worth - until this year. That means that it went on through wars, other diseases, economic depression and everything else that came along.

TB went to the Penn Relays once, when he was in college. He knows people who think it's the best annual sporting event on the calendar and swear by it.

In many ways that's always been one of the very best parts of working at a place like Princeton. There is such a wide variety of sports, and each one has its own culture and its own group for whom that particular sport is the best.

If you asked the question about what the best event each year is, you'd get any number of responses - and they'd all be the correct answer.

TigerBlog's colleagues continue to produce content even without having had any events in nearly six weeks now. It's been an all-around creative challenge, and it's led to some great pieces that have come out.

It's been a year since the men's volleyball team defeated Penn State in five dramatic sets to win the EIVA championship and advance to the NCAA tournament. In the first edition of "Tiger Throwbacks," men's volleyball head coach Sam Shweisky and three of the seniors from that team talk about the match as they watch it back.

You can see that piece HERE.

It's really good. It's great insight into the match, and it shows the personalities of the players so well. There are so many times during the video where you just find yourself smiling and chuckling and feeling really good that these guys got to have this experience.

And Sam does a great job in keeping the discussion going.

Another video that was out this week was the one "TigTalks" episode that featured Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan. Mollie speaks pretty openly about a lot of the issues that were thrown at her in the last six weeks and how those issues have affected her and so many others.

Again, it's well worth your time. You can see that one HERE.

This has been an unprecedented time. Certainly no AD has had to deal with the things that came Mollie's way this spring. Much like Sam in the other video, Mollie's personality comes out really well in this one.

There will be other "Tiger Throwbacks" coming along. And a lot of other stuff on the website and social media.

In a spring unlike any other, it's comforting to be able to stay connected.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


TigerBlog was about 10 miles into his bike ride the other day when he noticed someone scurrying along in front of him.

It turned out to be a fox. A red one, with a long tail and a menacing look on his face.

Or so it seemed. The fox was about 50 yards ahead of TB, who immediately stopped. Then he and the fox stared at each other for a few seconds.

TB was going up a small hill, so the fox had the edge with the high ground. Would the fox charge at him?

It was a tense few seconds. Then the fox yawned, turned the other way and ran down someone's driveway. Crisis averted.

TigerBlog has been left wondering what would have happened if the fox had other plans. TB looked it up later and saw that a fox can run at speeds of 30-40 miles per hour; TB cannot ride that fast.

Fortunately, it never came to that.

TB has been riding his bike pretty much every day, like usual. The park where he likes to ride has been closed, so he's spent his time on the roads.

During these times, TB has spent a lot of time riding and writing, which sound pretty much the same. He's also done his best to stay in as much as possible, limiting his time to be out to only the most necessary things.

There are, of course, so many people who are doing way more to try to make a difference these days, and TigerBlog is filled with respect and admiration for every single one of them. He told you the story a few weeks ago about Derek Griesdorn, who works in the equipment department, who has taken to sewing masks.

TB reached out to him yesterday to see how many masks he's sewn so far. He's at the 150 mark, and still sewing.

TB also told you the story of Evan Garfein, the former men's lacrosse player and member of the 1992 NCAA championship team who is now a New York City plastic surgeon. Garfein jumped from that to working 12-hour shifts in the emergency room at the forefront of the COVID-19 fight, only to contract the disease himself.

So what happened next?

Garfein recovered, and the day after he was cleared, he returned to working in the same ER.

Princeton has had athletes and non-athletes who have been on the frontlines, and their stories have been told by the University on its webpage and on social media through #tellustigers. If you want to read the piece about how University staff are working 24/7 to support the campus community, click HERE.

There are two other stories TB wants to share with you today.

One is from Dr. Glenn Wakam, a former Princeton football player and now a resident in Detroit. He wrote a piece that was picked up by the New England Journal of Medicine about the heartbreaking stories of Coronavirus patients who are dying alone because family members aren't allowed in hospitals.

You can read that story HERE.

It's not a very long piece, but it is extraordinarily touching.

Wakam, by the way, was a defensive back whose senior season was 2010, Bob Surace's first as Princeton head coach. For his final two seasons, Wakam had 42 tackles, and he also had an interception in the 24-17 win over Yale in 2009. Wakam's pick against the Bulldogs came in the fourth quarter of a game that the Tigers led 21-17 at the time.

Then there is Chris White, the 2013 men's lacrosse co-captain. White is working with other Princeton alums with "Off Their Plate," an organization co-founded by Brittany Urick ’11, who went from Princeton to Oxford to Harvard.

The mission of "Off Their Plate" is, according to its website is this: "Our work creates a conduit for local communities to provide nutritious meals to the hospital teams we depend on and economic relief to local workers who have been affected by COVID."

The organization's website is HERE.

These stories speak to the resilience and the compassion that people all over the country have in the face of something nobody has ever seen before. They also speak to a personification of a motto: "In the Nation's Service and the Service of All Humanity."

These people aren't doing these things for the notoriety. They're doing it to make a difference.

Still, they deserve to be recognized for the rays of light they're bringing in these stormy times.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Father And Daughter

TigerBlog received a comment yesterday asking to see the reaction of Bella Alarie and her family after her selection as the No. 5 overall pick in the WNBA draft Friday night.

For those who missed it, here it is again:
It's perfect, right?

Also yesterday TB mentioned that he had read somewhere that Alarie's selection made her and her father Mark the third father/daughter pair to be NBA and WNBA first-round picks. He tried to find the other two, and he definitely found one: Cheryl Ford, who won thre WNBA titles with the Detroit Shock, is the daughter of Hall-of-Fame men's player Karl Malone, and both were first-round picks.

Who was the other?

Could it be Natalie Williams, a four-time WNBA all-star and the daughter of Nate Williams, who played for eight season in the NBA after being a first-round selection, sort of. Nate Williams was taken in the 1971 Hardship Draft, back when players whose college classes had not yet graduated could only be in a supplemental draft by proving a financial hardship.

Williams was the first player taken in that draft, and the Cincinnati Royals (who started out in Rochester and are now the Sacramento Kings, by way of Kansas City-Omaha) gave up their fourth-overall selection in the first round to take Williams.

Whether or not that counts, the Alaries are certainly on a short list and have clearly made history.

Mark Alarie, by the way, ranks seventh all-time in Duke men's basketball history with 2,136 career points. He then scored 2,432 in his five years in the NBA before knee injuries ended his career.

Between Mark and Bella, they scored 3,839 career points in college. That's a lot of points.

Looking a bit closer, Mark Alarie played 133 college games, while Bella Alarie played 106. In the 1985-86 season, Mark's senior year, Duke played 40 games, reaching the NCAA final before falling to Louisville 72-69, in a game in which Alarie had 12 points and six rebounds in 33 minutes. He also had 12 points and eight rebounds in a 71-67 win over Kansas in the semifinals that season; TB did not realize that current Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was on that Kansas team.

In fact, Alarie started all 133 of his games at Duke. Only one player in program history has ever started more games than Alarie. Any guesses?

Because Mark played so many more games than Bella, it's worth looking at their per-game averages. In this case, they're the same, as both father and daughter averaged 16.1 points per game for their college careers.

Actually, Bella scored 1,703 points in 106 games, an average of 16.066, while Mark scored 2,136 in 133 games, an average of 16.060. If Mark had scored one more point in college, his average would have gone to 16.068, which would have bettered Bella's.

You know. Just in case Bella wants to point that out to her dad every Thanksgiving or so.

Bella, by the way, had the edge in career rebounds (964-833), assists (263-152) and blocked shots (249-104).

Interestingly, according to Duke's online media guide, the Blue Devils have had 67 players reach the 1,000-point mark in their careers, tying with Villanova for fourth place. UNC was No. 1 with 77, followed by Kentucky with 68.

Again, this was prior to the 2019-20 season, so TB can't vouch for anyone who might have gotten there this past season.

Maybe the most interesting thing about that is that Duke would include in its media guide a somewhat not widely known stat in which UNC ranks first.

Before TB forgets, the only player who started more games at Duke than Alarie? That would be current Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker.

Oh, and after spending so much time looking at the Duke record book online yesterday, TB couldn't help but wonder how many times he would have seen the name "Bill Bradley" in that book had Bradley chosen to go to Duke instead of Princeton.

He senses the answer to that is "a lot."

The Duke record for 30-point games in a career is 20. Bradley had more than twice that number (43) in his Princeton career. 

Yes. The correct answer is "a lot."

Monday, April 20, 2020

With The Fifth Pick

Broadway in the 1920s?

That's a great thesis topic. Whose is it?

If you were watching the WNBA draft Friday night, you know the answer to that. It's Bella Alarie.

Of all of the great moments that have occurred in Princeton Athletics in all the time that TigerBlog has been around them, there was something uniquely special about the WNBA draft - for all kinds of reasons.

Unlike the draft in a regular year, this one was being done remotely, which meant all of the interviews and reactions were on video from the homes of the athletes. That isn't quite what TB means.

For starters, this was an actual live event in which the outcome was unknown. It's been awhile since there's been one of those in the surreal spring of 2020.

There have been all kinds of historical events that have been on TV. There have been simulated events that mean to fill the void.

Having something live was a bit different. And very much welcome.

Then there was the fact that Alarie figured to be such a high pick, somewhere in the 8-12 range, as TB wrote last week. She was pretty much a lock to be a first-round pick, something no Princeton player had been before in the WNBA and something only three had been in the NBA.

The show began at 7 with a montage of the top players, and Alarie was featured quite prominently. For Princeton fans, though, the main event still figured to be about an hour away, after the show's introduction and with the selections announced five minutes apart.

The first pick, by the New York Liberty, was obvious. It was Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon, who became the first college basketball player male or female to have at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. Bill Bradley, by the way, had 2,503 points and 1,008 rebounds at a time when 1) Princeton scored a lot of points and 2) assists were not kept as an official stat.

The second pick was Ionescu's Oregon teammate Satou Sabally, who went to the Dallas Wings. Sabally was the first of three selections the Wings would have among the top seven.

By the way, having the top two picks makes you think Oregon would have been a tough out in the NCAA tournament. 

As for TigerBlog, he was watching Season 4 of "Boardwalk Empire" on his TV while following the draft on his laptop. As the show moved into the third pick, TB felt that it was still a few picks away from Alarie.

The fourth pick was Lauren Cox of Baylor, to Indiana. Then Atlanta selected Chennedy Carter of Texas A&M. Then there was a commercial.

Getting closer, TB thought.

Then the show came back from the commercial. Out of the corner of his eye, TB saw Alarie's face.

She was No. 5? Wow.

He moved the video back to when the commercial ended, and it was true. With the fifth pick, the Wings selected Alarie.

The player that Dallas gets is the all-time leading scorer in Princeton women's basketball history with 1,703 points. One of her strengths is her versatility - she can handle the ball, shoot the three-pointer, pass and break a press, but she's also 6-4, so she can guard bigger players, block shots and rebound.

After she was selected, it was her turn to be interviewed. She spoke about her versatility, and she was also asked the standard "it's a Princeton kid so there needs to be an academic question asked too" question, which in this case was the subject of her senior thesis.

TB doesn't really love those questions, because they can shortchange the athletic aspect of the person (in Alarie's case, she was the fifth pick of the draft) and at the same time devalue the academic aspect of the experience of the other players, none of whom appeared to be asked about their own educational careers.

Still, TB was fascinated by the answer - Broadway in the 1920s.

The reaction from Princeton's other teams and Princeton fans was universal. Alarie, even without ever stepping onto a pro court, has already established herself as one of the most-loved Princeton athletes TB has seen, and she graduates with what TB would believe is a 100 percent approval rating.

It comes from how she's played, as in the skills that made her one of the very best in women's college athletics and also in HOW she played, with a rare combination of grace and grit.

And yet for all of that, TB still hasn't gotten to what was the best part, the one that made it such a special event.

It was the video of her reaction, and the reaction of her family, including her father Mark, himself a former first-round professional basketball selection (the 18th overall selection in the 1986 NBA draft). TB saw a note that said they are now the third father/daughter combination to be first round NBA/WNBA picks.

That reaction video, her emotion that led her to cover her face in her hands surrounded by a family whose pride leapt off the screen, is what elevated that moment into one of the best TB has seen for a Princeton athlete.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Draft Night

Who were the two best Princeton men's basketball players between 2000 and 2005?

If you did a poll, you'd find out that Chris Young and Will Venable would get a lot of votes.

Interestingly, both went on to long careers as professional athletes - though not in basketball. Both Young and Venable were Major League Baseball players, and how many schools can say that their best basketball players ended up being Major Leaguers?

For that matter, Bill Bradley was also a great baseball player in high school and on the Princeton freshman team, though his career in that sport ended there.

Young was a righthanded pitcher, all 6-11 of him. His 13-year career, spent with five different teams,  included an All-Star Game appearance, an American League Comeback Player of the Year award and, best of all, a World Series ring with Kansas City in 2015 in which he was the Game 1 winner with three clutch relief innings in what became a 14-inning victory.

As for Venable, he played almost his entire nine-year career with the San Diego Padres. He finished with a .249 career batting average, as well as 81 home runs and 135 stolen bases. He had at least 22 stolen bases in four straight years; only 18 players in all of Major League Baseball stole 22 or more last year.

TigerBlog has written this before, but Venable might be the most underrated men's basketball player Princeton has had in the 30-plus years he's been following the program. There were so many nights where he was the best player on both ends of the court, and he played with intensity and effort at all times.

If you want to compare him to someone, he was a slightly less physical and slightly quicker version of Myles Stephens. Like Stephens, they could both guard pretty much any player on the other team regardless of position.

Of course, Venable was also a great baseball player. He crushed more than one home run at Clarke Field that went way past the rightfield fence, and TB remembers hearing about one that he drilled at Penn that landed on some highway somewhere.

These days, he's the third base coach of the Chicago Cubs. His name has already been in the  mix for managerial jobs, this past off-season with the Houston Astros for instance.

He also was a guest on a team Zoom call with the Princeton baseball team the other day.

In keeping with the basketball theme of the week and today's look at Princeton basketball players-turned-professional athletes, tonight is the WNBA draft.

You can watch it live on ESPN at 7 Eastern. When was the last time you could watch something live on ESPN?

The interest for Princeton fans, of course, is that Bella Alarie figures to be a first-round pick. Alarie, the all-time leading scorer in Princeton women's basketball history with 1,703 points, should hear her name called relatively quickly if the mock drafts are correct.

Princeton has had one player selected in the WNBA draft before, and that was Leslie Robinson two years ago. Blake Dietrick, undrafted out of Princeton, has played for four different WNBA teams since being the 2015 Ivy League Player of the Year.

The Princeton men's program has produced three first-round NBA draft choices, and Bill Bradley wasn't one of them. Bradley, who won two NBA titles with the Knicks (and in 1973 was on what is still their most recent championship team) was a territorial pick, which meant that prior to the start of the draft (and forfeiting their first round pick), teams could select players who played in college within 50 miles of their home arena. The territorial draft was eliminated after 1965, the year the Knicks took Bradley.

That left Princeton with three first-rounders: Geoff Petrie (eight pick in 1970), John Hummer (15th pick in 1970) and Armond Hill (ninth pick in 1976). 

The three-time Ivy League Player of the Year, Alarie has been touted as a future WNBA player her entire Princeton career. In case you're wondering how much WNBA players make, TB saw this in a story:
Players selected with the first four picks receive a base salary of $68,000. Players chosen fifth through eighth receive $65,250 and the rest of the first-round picks would earn $62,500.
The new CBA also boosted the average salary up to $130,000 and the max to $215,000.

TB has seen a few mock drafts, and they all appear to have Alarie in the nine to 11 range. This is from the mock draft, which had her going 10th:
Alarie finished the season averaging 17.5 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Tigers, who went 26-1. At 6-4, she has guard skills and should be able to fit well into any offense. 

In any event, it's a live event, something to watch on TV tonight. And a chance to see Alarie take the first step towards the next big phase of her basketball career.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Path To Princeton I

Yesterday's trivia involved who had the first made three-pointer in Princeton men's basketball history.
The answer, if you read, was Dave Orlandini. TigerBlog will add to that question today: Princeton had four players make at least one three-pointer in the first game of the 1986-87 season, the first with the three-point shot. How many can you name?

In the meantime, keep in mind that Princeton has made at least one three-point shot in every game it has played since. That's a total of 958 games through this season.

Only one other team in the country has at least one made three-pointer in every game since the rule was enacted. That team is UNLV. Vanderbilt had been on the list until this year, when it had a game with no made three's.

It's hard for TB to imagine a game where Princeton doesn't make one, though there have been a handful of games with only one made three.

The other three players who had at least one made three in that first game in 1986, by the way, were Joe Scott, Bob Scrabis and Mike Harnum. Scott, as you might know, was just rehired as the head coach at Air Force, and he immediately hired Sydney Johnson as his associate head coach.

In keeping with the basketball theme for the week, here's another question for you: Who is the only Princeton men's basketball player ever to be the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and then go on to win Player of the Year later in his career?

There have been nine Ivy men's basketball players who have pulled off that double. Who's the Princeton representative of the group?

Here are some more hints:

He is the only player in program history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 three-pointers. His 1,241 points rank 14th all-time in school history, while he also ranks second in assists with 383 and fifth in three-pointers made with 209.

TB didn't realize his scoring numbers were that good, because he doesn't really think of him as a scorer. He means that in the best possible way.

When TB thinks of watching him, he thinks of someone who did everything really well and who made everyone around him much better. The result was a perfect Ivy League season his senior year and a trip to the NCAA tournament. 

Any guesses?

For one more hint, he's the first subject in a new series that debuts today on It's called "Path to Princeton," and it's going to have a feature each Thursday that will highlight the earliest basketball memories, role models, high school and AAU careers, best moments at Princeton and more through first-hand accounts along with photos.

And who is the first subject?

Spencer Weisz.

The 2014 Ivy Rookie of the Year and 2017 Ivy Player of the Year, Weisz was the leader of the team that went 14-0 in the league season in 2017 and then had two win two more games in the first Ivy League tournament to get to the NCAA tournament. Once there, Princeton fell 60-58 to Notre Dame in the first round.

In that NCAA tournament game, Weisz had one of the most amazing all-around stat lines you'll ever see. He played all 40 minutes against Notre Dame, with a team-high 15 points on 6 for 11 shooting, with five rebounds, four assists, two blocks, a steal and not a single turnover.

That's incredible, no?

Weisz has been playing in Israel since graduation. He talks about that in the piece, as well as how he got into basketball in the first place, his time as a high school standout, where he almost went to college (TB could have told him he was making the right choice among his final two), his time at Princeton, his family, all of it.

The piece is really good. It's definitely worth reading, and it's definitely going to make you want to see the rest of the series.

And that's four basketball stories in four days this week. TB will make it 5 for 5 tomorrow.

Want to know what that one will be about?

While he's been giving out hints all week, here's another one: The WNBA draft is tomorrow night.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Learning Something New

Hey, TigerBlog learned something yesterday that he never even considered.

It turns out there is a reason why Arthur Loeb made 203 of Princeton's 216 foul shots in the 1921-22 season. The rules were different back then.

According to an article on the USA Basketball website, the history of the foul shot in basketball in pretty interesting. When the rules were first written, baskets were worth one point and consecutive fouls by the same team earned the other team another point. Then it was three straight fouls for a point.

Eventually baskets became three points and the point for three straight fouls was still one. Then the free throw was introduced, first at 20 feet and then moved in to 15 feet, where it remains. Keep in mind all of this happened between 1891 and 1895 and all decided on by James Naismith, who wrote the original rules of the game.

When the foul shot came into the game, it was scored the same as any other basket - three points. A year later, in 1896, a basket became two points and a free throw became one.

By the way, a little more research indicates that the three-point shot was used in a handful of college basketball games in the 1940s and 1950s but never became a rule. It wasn't until the American Basketball League in 1961 brought it on before it folded in two years that it became an actual rule, and it was popularized by the American Basketball Association - which played with a red, white and blue ball and was one of the greatest professional leagues ever - starting in the late 1960s. It became an NBA rule in 1979 and across all of college basketball for the 1986-87 season.

Meanwhile, back at the free throw, the point allocations were settled for 1896. At first, though, the rules said that if a team was awarded a free throw, then it was allowed to select which player attempted the shot. That rule changed in 1924 to have the player who was fouled have to attempt the free throw.

This explains why Arthur Loeb made 203 foul shots and his teammates combined to make 13 more in that 1921-22 season. Thanks to Jeff Yellin was sending the story along.

It's always fun to learn new things, right? The entire USA Basketball story is HERE.

If you're interested in a small piece of trivia, who had the first three-point basket in Princeton men's basketball history? That same person ranks first in career three-point field goal percentage at Princeton.

In fact, he also has the single-season record for three-point percentage, which was 54.5 percent in his senior year of 1988. Think about that. He made 60 of 110 three-point shots that season.

How many players could make 60 of 110 with no defense on the court?

That 54.5 percent is the Ivy League single-season record, and it ranks 17th in Division I history. Of the 16 players in front of him, TB had heard of four of them.

The most interesting one is Christian Laettner of all people, who was 54 for 97 (55.7 percent) in 1992. TB would have guessed JJ Redick would have Duke's best percentage, but Redick never shot better than 42.1 percent in a season.

Others on the list include Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors now, who shot 114 for 199 (57.3 percent) in 1988 for Arizona. Also, former Monmouth head coach Dave Calloway was 58.5 percent in 1988 as well.

The line then was 19 feet, nine inches. It stayed that way in the men's game until 2007, when it backed up a foot, and then two years ago, when it moved back to 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches, which is the international distance.

The women's college game, by the way, didn't add the three-point line until a season after the men did.

The person who holds the Princeton record finished his career with 975 points. He also was part of the 1988 team that was probably the best in the Ivy League but was derailed by three straight one-point losses in midseason. The Tigers did finish the season with a 21-point home win over Cornell, which had already clinched the Ivy title that year. Princeton then won the next four championships.

And the answer to the trivia question?

Dave Orlandini.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Loeb Rules

If you read yesterday's blog, then the name Arthur Loeb might ring a bell.

Loeb was the leading scorer on the 1921-22 Princeton men's basketball team. In fact, Loeb accounted for 325 of the team's 700 points that season, when the Tigers went 20-5 and won the Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League championship.

Loeb became the program's second player to be a two-time All-American. The first was Cyril Haas in 1916 and 1917.

Who was the third?

Also, Loeb set records for foul shots made in a game and season that stood for a long time. In that 1921-22 season, Loeb had 203 made free throws among his 325 points.

The math would indicate that with no three-point for several decades to come, Loeb scored 122 points on field goals, which would mean he made 203 foul shots and 61 field goals that season.

Did they call things really tightly back then? Was he the Michael Jordan of his time, getting the whistle every time he went to the basket? Did they have the "Loeb Rules?"

Whatever the answer, Arthur Loeb held the record for free throws made in a season until Bill Bradley came along. Bradley still has the top three single-season free throw totals, but Loeb to this day still ranks fourth, meaning that no other player has ever made more foul shots in a season other than Bradley than Arthur Loeb did nearly 100 years ago.

Bradley, by the way, would be the program's next two-time (and then three-time) All-American. No other Princeton players other than Haas, Loeb and Bradley have ever been multiple time All-Americans. 

The team leader this year was Jaelin Llewellyn, who made 85 foul shots. In fact, the top three players on the team this year - Llewellyn, Richmond Aririguzoh and Ryan Schweiger - had 192 between them.

What was it about the game back then? Or about Arthur Loeb's ability to get the foul line.

It had to be something about Loeb. Guess how many foul shots every other remaining Princeton player had combined in 1921-22?

If you guessed "13," you'd be right.

That's 13 total. Not that the next highest total was 13. The next highest total was five, which both Edgardo Correa and Alexander Brawner both had.

In fact, Arthur Loeb still ranks eighth all-time at Princeton in career free throws made, with 342. In the last 25 years, the only Princeton player with more than Loeb was Ian Hummer, who had 349.

TigerBlog tried to find out more about Arthur Loeb and what happened to him after his Princeton basketball days. He could find absolutely nothing, though he did find an obituary for Henry Alfred Loeb, who presumably was Arthur's brother.

Henry's obituary was from Jan. 2, 1998, and it said that he was 90 when he died. It mentions that he went to Horace Mann in New York City and was the youngest of four children.

Henry was a member of the Princeton Class of 1929.

It doesn't mention the names of his siblings, but it does say his father was named Carl Loeb. There was also a Carl Loeb who played basketball at Princeton, so TB will go with the idea that it was Carl Jr. and that Arthur was another brother.

As for Henry, his obit said he was a financier and philanthropist. This was from his memorial page on the Alumni Weekly:
Henry's remarkable philanthropic career included leadership of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, and he was a life trustee of the New School (which gave him an honorary law degree), president of the Mt. Sinai School of Nursing, and a board member of the National Urban League, the Institute for Research on Deafness, and many other charitable organizations. At the start of WWII, Henry volunteered in the Army and became a first lieutenant and tank officer, participating in the Omaha Beach landing. He received a Bronze Star and five battle stars.

That's a remarkable life.

TB will try to find out more about Arthur, both his life and why he shot so many foul shots.

His team made 216 foul shots and he made 203 of them? Seriously, that's about as wild a stat as TB has ever seen from a Princeton team.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Jimmy Darmody ’20

TigerBlog saw a funny Easter-centric meme yesterday.

It was a take-off of the famous "Last Supper" painting by da Vinci, though it had Jesus in a larger portion of the picture and then six disciples in their own boxes across the top. The line was: "We'll give the others another a few minutes to join us."

Clearly, it was a take-off on the Zoom phenomenon.

TB would guess that maybe 90 percent of his readers have been on a Zoom video call at some point in the last four weeks. He'd also guess that maybe 75 percent of them had never been on one prior to that. TB, for one, had not.

As the holidays of Easter and Passover have overlapped again, TB is also guessing that a lot of families who couldn't physically be together used Zoom to connect virtually. It's a great way to keep families close, and in some ways it allows the time that families (or friends) are spending together to be more valued.

The weather for your Easter Sunday was nearly perfect in the Princeton area. In fact, it has not been lost on TigerBlog that the weather has been extremely cooperative this late winter and spring, especially on the weekends.

In fact, going back further, this is one of the most mild winters that has ever happened around here. Best of all, there was almost nothing in the way of snow. As winters go, you can't ask for more.

TB has said a few times that he has been following the simulated men's lacrosse games that a website is doing - and getting annoyed by the fact that he is (and even more annoyed if Princeton isn't doing well). To that you can add that he also has been checking the weather for the locations where games were to have been played as well.

It's all part of the surreal world of the spring of ’20.

That's 2020, by the way.

The spring of 1920 was surreal in its own way, what with prohibition having just become the law of the land.

TigerBlog has been watching "Boardwalk Empire" again, and he forgot just how great a show it is. Perhaps it was overshadowed by "The Sopranos," but the show set in the 1920s in Atlantic City is in the top tier of series that TB has ever seen.

Princeton University features prominently in the show since one of the main characters, Jimmy Darmody, attended the University before dropping out to enlist in World War I. It never really clarifies what his class year was, but the suggestion is made that he was only there for a year.

Since the United States got into the war in 1917, perhaps Darmody would have been a member of the Class of 1920? Also, he dropped out just before he was expelled for punching out the professor who made a pass at his mother, but TB doesn't want to give too much of the plot away.

There is one flashback episode to Darmody's Princeton days, one that includes scenes of a campus that has very few buildings and a train that runs directly through the campus. That train line used to add extra cars on football game days to pack Palmer Stadium, which would have been in its infancy whenever Darmody was there, as it was built in 1914.

Also, in one episode, one of the characters is reading a Philadelphia newspaper that has a headline that says "Penn 5 To Face Lafayette." Because of where the story was at the time, the season had to be the 1920-21 season.

Clearly this referred to basketball. Most people probably didn't notice the headline. TB did. And what did he do?

He went straight to Penn's website to see if there was a 1920-21 game between Penn and Lafayette. The answer?

Yes, the Quakers did. In fact, Penn claimed the 1921 Helms National Championship, something that TB had never heard of before. And en route to a 21-2 record that year, Penn defeated Lafayette 37-12 on Jan. 29.

TB will forgive the fact that he doesn't think the scene was set in January, but hey, close enough. Had there not been a Penn-Lafayette game that year, TB would have really wondered how in the world they picked that for their fictional headline.

Also, in the 1920-21 season, Penn defeated Princeton 33-22 and 27-20, which are more like contemporary football scores. A year earlier, by the way, Penn also claimed the national championship with a 22-1 record that included a 20-0 start. The 20th win came over Princeton 26-23 - in four overtimes.

Penn finished that season with three games against Chicago, the first a loss in Chicago and then wins at home and on a neutral court in Princeton of all places.

Somewhat fascinating is that the Princeton records have the same scores for all of those games. Also, the 1921-22 Tigers played Penn three times, losing the first 20-18. That put Princeton a game back of Penn heading into the last two games of the regular season, both against the Quakers.

Princeton won the second game 34-24 to set up a one-game playoff for the league championship. Back then, the league was the Eastern Intercollegiate League, and there was no co-champion back then, as Ivy League rules today are written.

As a result, the teams played on March 28, 1922, for the championship, and Princeton won that game 28-23. Arthur Loeb had 20 of the 34 in the game to set up the tie and then 12 of the 28 in the playoff game, not to mention 325 of Princeton's 700 points for the season.

So what was TB saying?

Oh yeah. Watch "Boardwalk Empire." It's awesome.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Big Picture

FatherBlog has a best friend from when he was a little kid named George.

The two grew up together in Brooklyn, rising from having very little to having very successful careers. In George's case, he is a lawyer.

Yesterday was George's 59th wedding anniversary with his bride Bunny. The two have always been very nice to TigerBlog in his lifetime, and they are both warm, caring, wonderful people.

Unfortunately, the nearest they got to each other on their anniversary was a hospital lobby. Both are battling medical issues, and though neither has the coronavirus, they were not permitted to be any closer to each other than across a lobby.

The world these days is filled with stories like that, ones that are either heartwarming or heartbreaking or both at the same time. Everyone has heard a few just like that, and most people have their own stories like that they could share.

There are so many people who are giving so much to try to fight this pandemic. Evan Garfein, the former Princeton men's lacrosse player and now plastic surgeon in New York City who put himself in danger by working 12-hour ER shifts and contracted the virus himself, appears to be doing much better, TB is happy to report.

The world needs people like him to end this situation. And they're out there, doing everything they can in every way they can.

They're heroes.

TB had one thought yesterday though. Where does that leave everyone else?

Not everyone can do something to specifically fight against the coronavirus. For most of the world, it means simply staying home, isolating, social distancing at all times.

It got TB to thinking about what he should be thinking about things like the cancelling of spring sports in the face of everything else that is going on. How upset can he be about it in the face of all of the suffering and sacrifice going on in the world?

The answer, he believes, is that it's okay to miss it.

TB speaks for all of his colleagues when he says everyone misses it. The whole point of working in college athletics is to do what you can to help the coaches succeed and the athletes have the best possible experience.

That's always first and foremost. And the best part of that is seeing how it all plays out on the public stage of the games.

No matter what, TB has always loved the games. He finds the competition to be revealing in so many ways, and he's always loved his view of it, from the perspective of knowing the principals involved, seeing what goes into putting teams together, understanding how much preparation has gone into a gameday.

Plus they're just fun.

So can he miss that, in the face of everything going on in the world?

Yes. He can.

And so can the athletes. It doesn't matter if you're a professional athlete whose season may not be played to conclusion or a college athlete whose spring has been turned upside down or a high school or even youth player who won't get on the field this year.

It's okay to feel badly about that and not have to feel like you're missing the big picture.

There will be a next year for most, but not all, of the athletes whose 2020 seasons would not be finished. They can be upset about it, and rightfully are.

This experience will also give them a chance to learn some things, about themselves and about life in general. To borrow a letter from the "Be A Tiger" performance model, this can be a very growth-minded moment for them.

Like all of them, TB would love to be spending his weekend watching spring sports compete. That is not possible in these surreal times.

The big picture suggests that there are more important things in the world to worry about right now. It also suggests it's okay to feel badly about what might have been.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

"Game Ball"

"The football peeks out from a crowded corner of my cluttered desk."

Those words were written by Joe Masi, Princeton Class of 1952. They're part of a poem entitled "Game Ball."

TigerBlog has never been a huge fan of poetry. If you asked him what his favorite things written in verse form (and not set to music) have been, he'd probably say "The Cat In The Hat" and "Casey At The Bat."

If you wanted him to say that in verse, he'd say:
His favorite poem is
The Cat In The Hat
His second favorite would be
Casey At The Bat

He's pretty sure that he's still scarred by having to read "Beowulf" and "The Canterbury Tales" in Ms. Nastaj's high school English class. As he thinks back to it, though, he was pretty lucky to have the English teachers in high school that he had. In fact, he'd put his high school English teachers up there with any teachers he had in his educational career, which, of course, includes that college in West Philadelphia.

Pete Carril always talked about the immeasurable value of great high school teachers and coaches. He himself started out as one, and he always had the greatest respect for those who excelled on that level. He's also not the only Princeton coach TB has heard talk about how much better prepared to excel in college the athletes who had the better high school teachers and coaches were.

And that's all he'll say about that now.

For today, he'd like to talk about "Game Ball."

TigerBlog was introduced to the poem from an email that was forwarded to him by Joe's son Brad. Joe, it turns out, passed away on Jan. 11 of this year one week shy of his 90th birthday.

From the obituary that TB read in the Denver Post, he learned that Joe Masi was a cum laude graduate of Princeton who then went into the Navy as an officer before embarking on a long and successful career in management.

You can read the entire obit HERE.

Brad's email says that his father was diagnosed with cancer in June of 2019 and that from then on, he worked with his dad to put together an anthology of his poems, which they entitled "Depression Baby."

HERE is the link for more information.

Masi was a three-time letterwinner in track and field at Princeton, but the poem "Game Ball" refers to his time with the Tiger football team.

He happened to come along at a time when Princeton was in what was probably its most glorious era. The 1950 and 1951 Tigers both went 9-0, and the team was led by the only player in program history to win the Heisman Trophy, Dick Kazmaier.

Princeton was coached by Hall-of-Famer Charlie Caldwell. The 1950 team is the most recent of Princeton's 28 national championship teams.

It was a great time to be a Tiger.

It was also a tough time to be trying to get playing time.

And that's what the poem is about.

Masi talks about his experience with the football team, including three parts that really stand out. One, he was the subject of a five-page story in Life Magazine in 1950 about what it was like to go against a championship football team as the quarterback of what today would be known as the scout team.

Back then, it was the B team, or the scrubs. And so he talks about how he had hoped to open his locker and see a black jersey, symbolizing that he was no longer to be a scrub and instead was to be Kazmaier's backup, only to see a white jersey, relegating him to another season as the scrub quarterback instead.

And of course, there was the whole reason the poem ended up being called what it was.

TigerBlog never actually read the poem. He didn't have to. He got to see Joe Masi read it.

You can too. THIS IS THE LINK.

Maybe it's because so many of the themes from what he's speaking about still resonate today. Maybe it's because his storytelling is so well done. Maybe it's because TB has read so much about the 1951 football season.

For whatever reason, the video is extraordinary.

And if you're going to watch "Game Ball" at the 13:00 mark, go back about two minutes and check out the one before it. That one reminds you of what it was like for the guys on that 1951 team to be growing up with the events of a decade before.

TB is sorry he never got to meet Joe Masi. He's glad he got a chance to hear him read his poems.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Happy 70th

TigerBlog was still a college student the first time he interviewed Pete Carril.

It was for the Penn student radio station. He remembers it well. It was at the Palestra, at the bottom of an entryway outside Princeton's locker room.

It was a bit intimidating. It's been awhile since TB has felt intimidated by interviewing anyone, but he can remember being intimidated by Carril. Perhaps when it was over, Carril thought to himself: "nice kid; can't wait until he's on our side?"

It's too bad he can't go back to that moment to remember what he was thinking. It certainly couldn't have been "four years with these guys, and then it'll be a lifetime with the other guys."

Beyond anything else, he does remember thinking that Carril was, well, sort of old. At the same time, it dawns on TB that he is now older than Carril was on that day when he first interviewed him. And TB does not consider himself old at all.

Perspective, right?

TB has co-workers in their 20s and early 30s. Do they think TB is old?

When it comes to feeling old, TB thinks that working on a college campus all these years has actually helped him stay young.

So when is someone considered old these days? Again, it's all relative.

When TB was a kid, he probably thought anyone who was 50 was old. That's ridiculous now. Hey, he knows a guy who is 89 who can ride his bike more than 11 miles like it's nothing.

Maybe what would be considered old has changed through the years. Or maybe TB has just gotten older and sees it differently?

Not everyone who is the same age is the same age, as it were. In other words, not all 70 year olds are created equal.

In fairness, when TB saw that Fred Samara had turned 70, he thought he was actually 47. You can take that two ways.

First, Samara has won 47 Ivy League Heptagonal championships as Princeton's head coach of men's track and field. If you factor in all of the Ivy League titles Princeton track and field has won since he arrived as a coach (including his time as an assistant), TB believes that number is 64.

Second, he has the energy of what you would consider to be the average 47 year old.

Ah, but he's 70 now. TB knows this by the video that some of his many, many alums made and then posted to the Princeton track and field Instagram.

That's pretty good, right?

Actually, that's better than good. That's a lot of heartfelt emotion for a coach who has meant a lot more than just championships to his athletes.

TigerBlog has written a lot through the years about the dynamic that exists between athletes and coaches the life lessons that are learned through participating in intercollegiate athletics. A lot of these lessons come directly from the coaches.

The video doesn't begin to capture the quantity of people who have been touched by Fred Samara here. As TB said, what sticks with those who competed for him - and still do - aren't the championships.

The video where they wish their coach a happy birthday reflects all of that. 

But wait. There was more than just that post from the track and field team. There was this one too:

Yup. Mike Tyson.

 And so that leads to this sentence, one that TB never really imagined he would ever write:

"Fred Samara, TB joins Mike Tyson in wishing you happy 70th birthday."

He'd also add "stay young," but he doesn't actually need to do that.