Thursday, September 24, 2020

Questions 2 And 3

To the poster who left the comment asking TigerBlog to answer three questions about the emotional effects that certain Princeton events have had on him through the years, TB will be answering the other two at some point.

It's just that they're really difficult questions: 

2. What events have made you angriest or saddest? If that works for you, then proceed to List 3. What events have been most thought-provoking? Not just an emotional experience, but a cerebral one.

Actually, he'll take a shot at those two right now.

What makes an event thought-provoking? Or cerebral?

It has to have a larger issue at stake than just the outcome of a game, TB supposes. Interestingly, at least to TB, this is the tougher of the two questions, and yet it's the one where an answer immediately leapt into his head. 

He'll get to that shortly.

But first, the second question asks about which events have made him the angriest or saddest. 

Angry? Has he ever had actual anger about an event at Princeton?

He can equate sadness with losing a really tough game. That would be easy enough. Which games made him saddest?

Well, there was the 2009 NCAA men's lacrosse quarterfinal game, a 6-4 loss to Cornell at Hofstra. Princeton dug itself an early hole and never came all the way back in one of the most intense, fiercely contested, highly defensive games he's ever seen. Here's what TB wrote about that game:

If the Princeton men's lacrosse team thought its first game against Cornell this year was frustrating, the sequel turned out to be worse.

Princeton had been ranked No. 1 in the country heading into the regular season game at Cornell but lost 10-7. Then the Tigers lost the quarterfinal game. Cornell would lose in overtime to Syracuse in the championship game that year, and, much like in the shortened 2020, Princeton, Syracuse and Cornell were the best teams in the country.

That quarterfinal loss also was the last game Bill Tierney would coach at Princeton. His postgame quote was epic: "Sometimes in athletics, it doesn't work out the way you want." 

That game was excruciating to watch, in that TB kept thinking Princeton would get untracked, but Cornell would never allow it. HERE is what TB wrote after that game.

That Princeton team did have a great note, though. The Tigers went 13-3 in 2009, losing twice to Cornell and twice at Hofstra.

Was he sad after that game? Yes. He knew Princeton had a real chance at the NCAA championship. Was he angry after the game? No. 

Angry implies some sort of injustice has occurred. For angry, let's go to the 2015 NCAA women's basketball tournament.

As you may recall, Princeton went 30-0 in the regular season that year. The reward for Princeton? An eight seed. Eight? For 30-0. That made TB actually angry. 

That's the worst seed you could get. It meant an 8 vs. 9 game (Princeton defeated Wisconsin-Green Bay in that one), which meant the No. 1 seed in the second round - on the No. 1 team's home court. That meant Maryland, who ended the Tiger season at 31-1. 

TB wrote this after the game: "It wasn't a fair draw for the Tigers. What they deserved was to play at home, in Jadwin, as a fourth seed. What they deserved was to get Maryland in the next round, on a neutral court."

That's still true to this day. It was an injustice, and it's why TB was angry about what happened.

As for as an emotional, cerebral experience, he again goes back to men's lacrosse, to the 2004 NCAA semifinals.

Princeton played Navy in that game and lost 8-7. The Tigers had a bunch of chances, but as TB recalls, Navy goalie Matt Russell had an incredible game, including stopping Peter Trombino with seven seconds left. 

What made that game emotional and cerebral? 

That Navy team was made up of players who knew that there was a really, really good chance that they'd soon be going from lacrosse fields to battlefields. And that's what happened. 

Many of those players who took on Princeton that day ended up in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some of them did not come back.

Because of what was happening at the time, that Navy team became the heavy sentimental favorite of any casual fan. That put Princeton as the team that almost everyone rooted against. 

And it was really hard to be a Princeton representative that Final Four. TB definitely wanted the Tigers to win, but he fully understood why everyone else wanted Navy. And one of his top memories of that day? It was watching the Navy players during the national anthem. 

TB thinks back to that game both to answer the question and to remember the memory of Brendan Looney, a midfielder for Navy that day who went on to become a Navy SEAL.

This week marked the 10th anniversary of Looney's death in Afghanistan. 

TB highly recommends reading THIS STORY by Matt Kinnear in Inside Lacrosse from earlier this week.

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