Friday, December 31, 2021

Year In Review Part II

Welcome to New Year's Eve and the final TigerBlog of 2021.

This is also the 256th TigerBlog of 2021. Thank you once again for being a loyal reader, unless you're not a loyal reader, in which case, you can add "loyal reader of TigerBlog" to your 2022 resolutions.

TigerBlog writes here every business day. At the end of each year, the total number of entries is either 253, 254, 255 or 256. This year is the second straight with 256. There were 254 in each of the two years before that. It seems sort of random.

TB does end each year in the same way, with a rundown of some of the top events or moments in Princeton Athletics from the previous 12 months. He will be doing that again today. 

He started doing this in 2012. In 2011 he did a list of "bests" of the year. In 2010, he talked about how much the world had changed in the prior 10 years, which actually made for some pretty interesting reading as he went back.

All of the year in reviews did, to be honest. They took TB right back to all of those great moments from all of those great years. 

For the record, here is what TB had as the top story in some of those years:

2012 - the NCAA field hockey championship
2013 - the Ivy football championship
2014 - Julia Ratcliffe wins the NCAA hammer throw
2015 - the women's basketball team's 31-1 season, including a 30-0 regular season and the program's first NCAA tournament win
2016 - the Ivy football championship, with a caveat that Ashleigh Johnson's gold medal in water polo would be No. 1 if it counted. TB has only considered Princeton events, so nothing professional or international, but in Johnson's case, she was still a Princeton athlete at the time
2017 - the women's soccer team's season, including its NCAA tournament win over North Carolina
2018 - the men's hockey team's ECAC championship and NCAA tournament appearance
2019 - he sort of had three stories: the field hockey run to the NCAA final, the men's volleyball EIVA regular season and tournament championships and the men's golf Ivy title, which was a one-stroke win over second-place Columbia and Yale only one more stroke back from there (875-876-877)
2020 - he didn't rank them and instead just had a list of the best moments in no order

He also found this, from 2014:

The evolution of New Year's Eve goes like this: 1) try to stay up til midnight, 2) desperately try to find something fun to do at midnight, 3) pretend you don't care if you have something fun to do at midnight even though you do, 4) don't do anything other than stay up to watch the ball drop at midnight while sneering at those who are in steps 2 and 3, and finally 5) not care that it's New Year's Eve.

That's pretty good. 

And that brings up the end of 2021. TB is going back to ranking them, since he got a bunch of emails last year requesting that he do so again. 

Once again, these are Princeton on-field moments only (so things like the Olympics, or Devin Cannady's 17-point game for the Orlando Magic of the NBA or the world hockey championship won by Sarah Fillier and Claire Thompson don't count). 

And these are only TigerBlog's thoughts, not an official Princeton ranking or anything. TB welcomes any feedback, especially if there are those who disagree.

The Top 10 of 2021:

10. Simen Guttormsen sets the Ivy League pole vault record
Simen Guttormsen vaulted 5.50 meters to set an Ivy League record for the indoor pole vault. What he didn't do was set the family record, which is 5.74 meters, held by his brother Sondre, a Princeton teammate who competed at the Summer Olympics.

9. The men's basketball team goes 2-1 against the Power 5
Princeton defeated South Carolina 66-62 on Nov. 12 and Oregon State, an Elite 8 team a year ago, 81-80 on Nov. 21, while also falling 87-80 in two overtimes to Minnesota on Nov. 14. Princeton is set to open the Ivy League season Sunday at Harvard.

8. The men's water polo team wins the NWPC title and an NCAA game
Princeton rallied to defeat St. Francis (N.Y.) 9-6 in the NWPC championship game, after falling behind 3-0 in the first eight minutes. The Tigers the defeated Fordham in the NCAA first round before dropping a 12-6 decision to UCLA in California. Princeton set a men's water polo record with 26 wins.

7. Beth Yeager makes field hockey history
Beth Yeager came into the field hockey program with lofty expectations as befitting someone who was already a member of the U.S. national team. She went on to set the Princeton record for goals by a freshman with 16 (despite missing the last three games to injury) and became the first Princeton freshman field hockey player to earn first-team All-American honors.

6. The women's basketball team knocks off No. 22 Florida-Gulf Coast
Abby Meyers took over the final 70 seconds of Princeton's game on Dec. 1 at Florida-Gulf Coast, scoring the final five points to give Princeton a 58-55 victory. The win was the Tigers' first over a nationally ranked team since a victory over No. 18 Rutgers in 1978.

5. The women's soccer team reaches the second round of the NCAA tournament
Princeton spent much of the season ranked in the Top 25 and earned an at-large bid and home game in the NCAA tournament, defeating Vermont 2-0 in the opening round. Princeton then had two one-goal leads on fourth-ranked Texas Christian before falling in the second round and finishing the season with a 15-3-1 record.

4. The men's cross country team wins an Ivy title and NCAA regional
Princeton had five of the top nine finishers in the Ivy League Heptagonal championships on its own West Windsor course, earning a dominant league title with 28 points, well ahead of second-place Harvard (43), with Penn in third with 90 points. Princeton then five of the top 11 finishers at the NCAA regional meet to win there as well with 40 points, ahead of runner-up Georgetown (49). Princeton finished 23rd at the NCAA meet.

3. The men's soccer team has a perfect Ivy League season
Princeton went 7-0-0 in men's soccer, clinching the outright championship on a Walker Gillespie goal at Penn with still one week left in the season. Mateo Goody then scored an overtime goal the next week to give the Tigers a win over Yale, completing the league sweep and giving head coach Jim Barlow his 200th career win.

2. Another football championship
Princeton went 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the Ivy League to earn a share of the Ivy League championship, making it four league titles in the last eight seasons for the Tigers. Along the way Princeton defeated Harvard (in five overtimes) and Yale to earn a bonfire, which was an incredible moment of campus spirit and celebration of campus community. 

1. Out of a pandemic, a championship
So what was the No. 1 moment of the last 12 months? It's actually a series of moments. It's all of the moments when Princeton returned to competition last spring, after 13 months of shutdown due to the Covid pandemic. Included in those moments were an All-American performance by Obiageri Amaechi in the discus, an appearance in the NCAA championship regatta by the women's open rowing program to keep its streak of never having missed one alive and an IRA national championship in dominating fashion by the women's lightweight rowing team. More than anything, though, the reemergence of Princeton athletes was a welcome sight and a reminder of the sheer love that goes into competing as a Tiger.

What will be the top story of 2022 in Princeton Athletics? The beauty is that you never can tell before it all starts to play out. 

In the meantime, have a safe and happy new year everyone. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Year In Review Part 1

Well, another year has pretty much come and gone. 

In a matter of a few hours or so (okay, about 35-40 or so of them, depending on when you're reading this), it'll be the year 2022. 

TigerBlog is going to spend today and tomorrow with his own little Princeton Athletics 2021 review. First, though, he did want to mention the passing of John Madden.

It's been 13 years since Madden was last a network football commentator, which means it's likely that current Princeton athletes have little to no memory of ever hearing Madden. It's been almost 20 years since he last worked with Pat Summerall, which means it's been awhile since a current generation remembers seeing the two of them together. To that group, John Madden is probably known as the guy from the video game.

If you got back a bit like TB does, you'll remember Madden as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in the late 1960s and 1970s. TB was not a Raiders fan at all, but there was always something about Madden that made him seem so likeable, even back then.

That quality zoomed out during his TV career, especially when he and Summerall formed the greatest broadcast team of all time. If you didn't see them, then you missed out on something really special. Madden came across as someone who was having an incredible amount of fun every second of every game, and that made the listening experience even better. 

Listening to Madden was like having some crazy fun guy come over to your house to watch the game with you. He knew the game inside and out, but it was so much more than that. He had no shtick, no forced laughter, no cliches. He was just being himself, or so it appeared. When you factored in his legendary fear of flying and the Madden Cruiser bus that he used, he became even more of a larger-than-life personality.

And now he's gone, at the age of 85. There are tons of football fans who, like TB, never met John Madden but are still quite shaken by his death. And so TB wanted to mention him today.

With that, it's time to get to the Year in Review.

TB has always done a recap of the top moments of the year as it is ending. Up until last year, he did a countdown of the top 10 or top 15 or so, ranking them in his own order of what would be the biggest.

Last year, he got away from that and just listed the top moments in no order. Since he won't be doing that part of the review until tomorrow, he'll worry about it later.

For today, he wants to mention four things that happened with Princeton Athletics in 2021 that weren't exactly "events" or "moments" per se but are a huge part of the year that is ending nonetheless.

First, and obviously, there is the Covid pandemic. Once again, Princeton – and all of college athletics – had to navigate a previously unknown world, with no definitive workable solutions that have worked in the past to draw from.

The pandemic wiped out the fall and winter seasons of 2020-21 and then most of the spring, though Princeton was able to compete in seven different sports (four crews, men's and women's track and field, softball) to varying degrees. Just having teams back on the field (and track and lake) at all last spring was a great sign.

This fall operated as close to normal as anyone could have hoped, with every scheduled event played and with fans in attendance. There were highlights galore in the fall, and the winter began with some great performances as well.

Now, though, Covid has come back with a reminder that things aren't quite back to normal. There have been cancellations throughout college (and professional) sports, with the hope – the very, very, very big hope – that this is all temporary. 

Still, 2021 is destined to be remembered as a very Covid-impacted year. TB isn't the only one wishing that 2022 is not.

It's also going to be remembered as the year John Mack became the Princeton Ford Family Director of Athletics. When Princeton has a change in the AD spot, it's always a top story for the year, since there have only been six people who have had that title.

Considering that it's been 80 years since Princeton created the position, yes, only having six ADs is a big deal. Mack, the 10-time Heptagonal champion, has been back at Princeton since September, and he has begun to make his mark in the department and around the campus. 

His short speech in Jadwin Gym back in late summer when he was introduced was typical of who he is, with his passion and love for Princeton University and the athletic program obvious to anyone who heard him talk that day. That was just as clear when he took the microphone at the bonfire after the football wins over Harvard and Yale, or in any of the videos you've seen him in to date.

Third, there were the Olympic Games. Princeton was well-represented in Tokyo, and there were medals won by Ashleigh Johnson (gold in water polo) and rowers Tom George and Fred Vystavel, who both won bronze. There were great stories up and down the list of Princeton's Olympians, including Julia Ratcliffe, who finally smashed through the qualifying standard for the hammer throw before finishing ninth in the event for New Zealand, steeplechaser Lizzie Bird, who finished ninth in her event for Great Britain, and Gevvie Stone, who made her third appearance in rowing.

There were also three active Princeton athletes who competed: fencer Mohamed Hamza, who made his second appearance in the Games, pole vaulter Sondre Guttormsen and steeplechaser Ed Trippas.

Lastly, for today at least, TB would also like to mention his book "I Can Do Anything ... Stories From The First 50 Years Of Women's Athletics At Princeton." HERE is the link if you'd like to get more information and/or buy it.

It might be a bit self-serving, but TB will also remember 2021 as the year the book was finished. 

And with that, he'll be back tomorrow with Part 2.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Some Hoops Numbers

TigerBlog would first like to thank Sabrina King and Sam Shweisky for the words they wrote about Elysee Nicholas, who is leaving Princeton after 40 years there.

They both wrote from the heart, which is the best way to write. Their pieces were really well received, and the subject was a most deserving one. 

That was Monday and Tuesday of this week. For Thursday and Friday, TigerBlog will do some Year in Review stuff. So that only leaves Wednesday.

For today, TB was looking forward to the women's basketball game against Central Florida that was originally going to be at Jadwin Gym. Why wouldn't he be? 

It was Princeton, ranked 42nd in the NET rankings, against yet another really good team, this time at Central Florida team that is 8-2 and ranked 36th.

Sadly, this game was canceled due to Covid issues at UCF. It's the current reality of indoor college sports. TB hopes it's temporary.

With no game to preview, TB can catch up with a few things. 

First, he'll stay with women's basketball and the remarkable rebounding of Ellie Mitchell. There are 28 women in Division I who average at least 10 rebounds per game, and Mitchell is one of them, at 10.1 per game (which ranks her 27th in the country). She's second in the Ivy League, one rebound behind Yale's Camilla Emsbo, the identical twin of Princeton's Kira Emsbo.

Mitchell is averaging 4.0 offensive boards per game, which leads the league and is 23rd in Division I. TB would have guessed she'd have more than four per game, but then again, four per game is a lot obviously.

How many Princeton women's basketball players have ever averaged double figures in rebounds in a season? Three. 

One was Bella Alarie, who averaged 10.6 in 2018-19. One of the others was Margaret Meier, who has the top four single-season rebounding totals in Princeton women's history, including a ridiculous 18.8 in the 1974-75 season. No Princeton basketball player, male or female, has had more rebounds than Meier, who had 1,099 for her career.

Meier's rebounding totals went down each of her four season, from that 18.8 mark her freshman year to 11.8 her senior year of 1977-78. The Princeton women played only 85 games in those four years, or an average of 21.25 games per year. The team in recent years has routinely played in the 30s, which leads to some interesting math.

At her career average of 13.2, and with an additional eight games per year to be on the low end, that would have been an additional 422 rebounds for Meier. Even without those games, she still has 135 more rebounds than Alarie, who is second in women's basketball at Princeton.

Those 13.2 rebounds per game, by the way, still rank ninth all-time in Division I history. Again, that's extraordinary. 

Who is the only Princeton men's player to get 1,000 career rebounds? That would be Bill Bradley, with 1,008. There is a Princeton men's player who had more per game than Meier did, and that was David (Whitey) Fulcomer, who averaged 14.4 from 1955-58. Fulcomer, for his part, finished with 995 boards while playing only 69 games.

Oh, and who is the third Princeton women to average double figures in rebounds for a full season? TB will get back to that.

On the subject of rebounds, Ethan Wright of the men's team ranks 20th in the country in defensive rebounds per game and 26th in the country in double-doubles. Keep in mind that Wright is 6-4.

Tosan Evbuomwan leads the Ivy League and is 28th in the country in assists per game. He averages 5.5 per game, which means he'd finish the regular season with 136, which would be the third-best total in program history. Throw in some postseason games, and he'd move past Kit Mueller (140) into second place, behind only Bill Ryan (161 in 1983-84). 

So those are some interesting basketball numbers.

And the other woman who reached double figures? That would be Ellen DeVoe, who averaged 10.5 in 1984-85. Meier has the top four single-season totals, and Alarie is next. After that DeVoe has the next three.

She also held the women's record for points in a game with 38, set on Jan. 7, 1985, against LIU,  until Alarie smashed that in 2019. Alarie also broke DeVoe's career blocked shots record. 

DeVoe finished her career with 1,290 points.

And, as you probably know already (and will probably say "wow" out loud if you don't), there's also this little fact: Ellen DeVoe is Ethan Wright's mother.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Thoughts On Nicky, Part 2

Today is Day 2 of the Princeton volleyball tribute to Elysee Nicholas, who leaves Princeton after 40 years, most of which was spent on the Department of Athletics grounds crew.

If you'd like to read Part 1 from men's head coach Sam Shweisky, you can do so HERE. As part of their contributions to this tribute, Shweisky and women's head coach Sabrina King sent over a few pictures, including one yesterday with Nicky and Sam and the one TigerBlog has used today.

Going from left to right, that's Sabrina, former Princeton volleyball contact Craig Sachson, Nicky and Sam. TigerBlog can't even begin to guess how many Princeton volleyball matches those four have combined to see, or how many nights all four of them were together in Dillon Gym. 

It was Sam Shweisky who came up with the term "Team Around The Team." Craig and Nicky were both huge members of the Princeton volleyball Team Around The Team. 

For today, here is Part 2, from women's head coach Sabrina King:

Nicky is family.   

We share the same birthday and thus are forever connected. We go way back, since Nicky has been with Princeton Volleyball forever, and I have since 1997. 

When I was a player, he used to call me “the cat” because he thought I had cat-like reflexes. In the early 2000s when I was Glenn Nelson’s assistant, we used to spend hours in the office, telling stories about old school Princeton, and hanging out with the players’ parents.   

He became such close friends with the Liljestroms, who had THREE sons, Jason ’04, RJ ’07 and Scott ’12 come through the MVB program, that they invited Nicky, wife Edelyne and daughter Isabelle out to California to stay with them for a week. Nicky makes those kinds of friends…ones that are friends for life.  He just has such a warm and inviting personality.  

Nicky is always giving advice.   

He observes the world keenly and understands human interactions. In 2011, I became head coach and Nicky was still my wingman.  I remember him gently pulling my then boyfriend and now husband Abel over to the side during one of his infrequent appearances at a home match. He impressed on Abel how important it was to come to the volleyball matches, to make them a priority. Abel became a super fan of course. 

I did not tell Nicky to say those things, but he knew more than I even knew how important that support was to me. In 2016, when our first child Lyla was born, Nicky told me to let everyone hold her…that she would be able to go with anyone if we got her used to different people holding her. So, we passed her around; she was the team mascot.   

Nicky would hold her all the time. She used to run up to him and yell “Micky” and ask why he was “ball” (bald.)  He loved that.

Every time I call Nicky, he says “Sabrina, I was just thinking about you…” and I think it is true. I think he is always thinking about other people.   

If you have ever been to Nicky’s house, there are usually a lot of people there. His house is your house, and thus he is continually taking care of extended and non-blood family. He is the glue that keeps his family and community together, often times in very dark moments.  

His radiant smile belies the pain and tragedy that have created deep wounds in his life.  And still he smiles and gives his whole being to others. 

Princeton Volleyball is still not sure what it will do without its proverbial glue. But one thing is certain, Nicky will always be family.   

Thank you for being a close friend and supporting me my entire adult life -- from cat to free range parent.

--Sabrina King, Princeton Women’s Volleyball


Monday, December 27, 2021

Thoughts On Nicky Part 1

Welcome to the time of year when nobody is really sure what day of the week it is.

For the record, it's Monday. TigerBlog was a bit confused Christmas night, when he thought briefly it was Sunday and had a small panic that he hadn't yet written anything. Fortunately, it was still Saturday.

Also fortunately, he's turning over this space in an unprecedented way today and tomorrow. For the first time, there will be back-to-back guest blogs, with both on the same subject. 

Elysee Nicholas, whom everyone with Princeton Athletics has always called "Nicky," has left after spending 40 years as a Tiger, as a member of the grounds crew. Nicky is an amazingly nice person, one who always asked about TB's children, or how things were going, or who merely smiled. He forged great relationships with so many Princeton athletes, coaches and staff members, and he will be sorely missed, though he has earned the time off now. He's also earned the right to take a bow.

One of the programs he's been very close with has been the volleyball program, and both men's coach Sam Shweisky and women's coach Sabrina King asked to write a few words about him. Today TB offers Sam's words on Nicky, and tomorrow will be Sabrina's turn:

You know the groundskeeper in the film Rudy? The guy who helps the young protagonist fight through all of his internal doubts and realize his potential? You can click here if you need a reminder. That groundskeeper was more than a groundskeeper; he was the facility guy who turned out to be an integral, if not preeminent reason for the team’s success, but more importantly the life lessons learned through sport.


That movie trope/stereotype, as most are, is based in reality, the reality that almost all of the life lessons taught through collegiate athletics don’t happen on the field of play. They happen on the bus, in the cafeteria, in the locker room, with teammates and coaches but often with the unsung heroes of every program. The team-around-the team. The folks who have no glory to be gained and after the net is up and the equipment attended to, have more in the tank to take an interest in the real-life education through athletics.


For Men’s and Women’s Volleyball for the past 40 years that person has been Elysee Nicholas, known to most as Nicky or Nick. When I met Nick in the summer of 2009, my first week at Princeton, he greeted me with a warm handshake and smile. He made me feel as though I had known him my entire life and that he would always be there to support me and the team.


For four decades Nicky has been the backbone for both the Men’s and Women’s Volleyball programs. Mythology has it that somewhere in the 90’s Nick was temporarily moved off volleyball coverage for a day, which sent legendary coach Glenn Nelsen to demand Nick be replaced or he threatened to quit. Nick was back working volleyball the next day.


The most valuable player, the greatest of all time, a friend, a confidant. Call him what you want, but Elysee Nicholas is the reason for any success we have had in my 12 years here. Every season is met with challenges and struggles. And when the mid-terms pile up, and the stress mounts and the coach can’t seem to connect with certain athletes, they always gravitate towards Nicky. He puts his arm around them and they go for a walk, and then magically all is right with the world. Part philosopher, part psychiatrist/psychologist for both players and coaches, Nicky has been responsible for every win of my career and he has always been there for every loss and disappointment. To put an arm around me, to comfort me, and to help me dust myself off and get back up. Nick always had a way to turn things on the bright side and make me and everyone around him excited about the path forward.


Although his emotional work was the real unsung hero of our programs, his physical feats should not go unheralded. Aside from having every game opps fix from adjusting the net height mid-match, to referee stands that buckled, to audio technology and speaker malfunctions mid-national anthem – Nick was there to fix and save the day.


During volleyball camp season Sabrina and I would call him MacGyver as he would rig up 4 volleyball nets across Dillon Gym. This was years before we had enough poles in the ground, and Nick used a series of S-Hooks, twine, and Ph.D. level physics to balance the tension across all nets. It was a 2-3-hour endeavor that only he could have pulled off. It was truly amazing (though potentially not OSHA approved 😊).


In 2016 Men’s Volleyball had a chance to help Nicky as he moved into is dream home. It was a great afternoon getting to spend time with Nicky and for team bonding. You can click here to see the antics that ensued.  It was a great chance to spend time with an old friend and say "thank you" to someone who has meant so much to us and our programs.


So, after 40 years of blood, sweat, and tears – of pouring his life into Princeton, Princeton Athletics, and Princeton volleyball – we want to say thank you Nicky. You mean the world to us. You have made us all better versions of ourselves and you have brightened up every room you have ever walked into.


We are so thankful and grateful that we had you around our team for so many wonderful years. As you transition to the next phase of your life, we wish you much happiness.


We hope you will come back to Dillon often to enjoy games and see the staff and players. We promise we won’t make you bring your S-Hooks 😊


We love you Nick. Thank you for everything.


-       Sam Shweisky (Men’s Volleyball Coach)

Friday, December 24, 2021

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Again

TigerBlog wrote this last Christmas Eve, and he's sending it along again. There is one addition to the list of links, one that, given the Jeff Ingold story from this week, seems to fit nicely. He'll be back with Princeton Athletics-centric stuff again Monday. For today, there's this:

TigerBlog has a large collection of Christmas songs on his iTunes.

He's always been a big fan of Christmas music. He was a trumpet player in high school, and he loved when the concert band, or the jazz band, played holiday music.

What's his favorite? 

It's probably not a shock to anyone who has read this for awhile to learn that it's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band version, of course. That's a big sticking point with TB.

It's the song, but it's also the artist. He's not interested in hearing anyone sing "Silver Bells" except for Dean Martin. The same goes for "Silent Night" and Emmylou Harris. 

It has to be Darlene Love's version of "Winter Wonderland," though his high school jazz band did do its own great version of the song.

"The Christmas Song?" If it's not Nat King Cole's voice that starts out with "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire," it's likely TB won't even make it to "Jack Frost nipping at your nose." 

And does he even have to mention "White Christmas" and Bing?

He has his favorites. 

Having said all that, he does have to give honorable mention to the Beach Boys jazzed up version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."

Oh, and you know what he cannot stand, not even a little bit? TV commercials that substitute its own lyrics for classic Christmas songs. TB would rather listen to fingernails on blackboards.

Today, of course, is the day before Christmas. As he said last year (and the year before that and the year before that and so on and so on):

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 is really cute

* and you can't watch the last one without this one

* oh, and here's one more. Is this a Christmas song, or a showtune? It's both.

* and the new addition for 2021.

* okay, two new additions

Merry Christmas everyone. Hopefully it's safe and happy. 

And he'll leave you today with this, which, unfortunately, is not available on iTunes, at least not by these guys.

And this one especially has to be these guys. 


Thursday, December 23, 2021

A Fun Matinee At Jadwin

It was a few minutes before tip-off yesterday between Princeton and Texas in women's basketball, which is to say that it was a few minutes before noon.

It's one of the benefits of having a game during the time between semesters. You can play on a Wednesday at noon.

Anyway, it was a few minutes before noon when TigerBlog was asked if the 1996 men's game against North Carolina was the last time a team ranked as highly as Texas, who came in ranked 12th in the polls and sixth in the NET, had come to Jadwin.

Nope, TB said. It was Kansas, back in 2001. The Jayhawks were ranked fourth when they came to Jadwin for that game, which was 20 years and 10 days earlier. 

TB's biggest memory of that game is the long three-pointer that Ed Persia hit at the first half buzzer to make it a 35-29 game in favor of the Jayhawks at the break. He thought about that again when Abby Meyers knocked down a three-pointer to make it that same score midway through the third quarter.

Unfortunately, the result from there was similar to the result against Kansas. In the end, the highly ranked team was a little too strong for the Tigers. In 2001, the final score became 78-62 Kansas. Yesterday, it became 70-53 Texas.

It was, in some ways, like an NCAA tournament game. The challenge was to compete with a team that is heavily favored, in this case, a team that has already beaten the likes of defending NCAA champion Stanford this season.

To do so, you have to successfully do one of two things. Either you have to play a perfect game (see Villanova men from the 1985 NCAA final against Georgetown) or get the other team to play a totally imperfect game (see Princeton vs. UCLA in the 1996 NCAA men's tournament).

What Princeton did against Texas yesterday was neither of those. Instead, what Princeton did was somewhere in between, with enough amazing moments to keep it close most of the way but with enough frustrating moments mixed in.

What you were left with was an entertaining game that left a few obvious conclusions. First, starting with the frustrations: 

* Princeton shot 19 for 66 for the game, with a 4 for 29 start that put the Tigers in a hole that was difficult to turn around. Princeton also missed its first 10 three-pointers before making six of their final 16. Texas, with 6-4 Lauren Ebo and 6-4 Latasha Lattimore, made getting to the basket difficult, but Princeton did a great job of finding open players on the perimeter. The shots just weren't falling, especially in the first half.

* Texas was outstanding at finishing, shooting 27 for 52 against the Tigers. The Longhorns excelled at creating their own shots, and a stat of eight assists on 27 made baskets (which Texas had) isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

* Princeton turned the ball over 21 times against the relentless Longhorn defense. Ultimately, Texas was able to wear Princeton down enough to take command of the game.

* The final margin was 17, but it seemed like a much closer game than that. Princeton twice got it to four points in the third quarter.

On the other hand ...

* Abby Meyers was terrific, as she led all scorers with 21 points, almost four above her average. She was in attack mode all game, starting early, when she had all eight of Princeton's first quarter points. Meyers plays a fearless game, and she shoots every shot with great confidence. 

* You cannot play harder than Ellie Mitchell did. She was amazing. Matched up against the Texas inside players, she put up 10 points and 16 rebounds, of which 12 came on the offensive end. She was everywhere, with endless energy, something that's even more impressive when you realize that everything she did all day was contested and that she went all 40 minutes for the first time in her career. Mitchell's 16 boards aren't a career high; she had 19 against Seton Hall earlier this year. She is now second in the Ivy League in rebounding, averaging 10.1 per game, one rebound off the league lead.

* Led by Mitchell, Princeton had a stunning 21-4 edge over Texas in offensive rebounds. When a team shoots better than 50 percent, like Texas did, there aren't too many offensive rebounds to be had, but Princeton swarmed after every loose ball all game.

It would have been better had the final score been a bit tighter, but Princeton stood up to a huge challenge and gave a good account of itself. And a thank you has to go out to Texas and head coach Vic Schaefer for bringing his team to New Jersey.

In the end, it was an entertaining game. What more could you have asked for on a Wednesday afternoon?

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Texas Tip Off

TigerBlog's first experience with University of Texas basketball was back in November of 1997. 

The Princeton men opened their season against the Longhorns at the Meadowlands Arena and won 62-56. There were four Tigers in double figures that night - Brian Earl, Gabe Lewullis, James Mastaglio and Steve Goodrich. 

The lone Princeton starter who didn't reach double figures put up this stat line: 40 minutes, seven points, six rebounds, five assists, zero turnovers. It doesn't get much better than that, right? 

That Princeton player was, obviously, current men's head coach Mitch Henderson. That's an amazing stat line, especially the zero turnovers, considering the ball was in his hands so much. 

The next time TB saw the Tigers play Texas was in December of 1998. Princeton and Texas were two of the teams who competed that year in the Rainbow Classic at the University of Hawaii. Princeton had beaten Texas in the semifinal, after beating Florida State in the first game and then UNC Charlotte in the final.

As weeks go in terms of TigerBlog's Princeton career, that one is up there with pretty much any of them. 

First, it was his only time in Hawaii. Second, Princeton kept winning, so the team kept playing at night. This freed up TB and Tom McCarthy, then the radio play-by-play man, to go to the beach during the day. 

In fact, TB would update his notes and such for the next game first thing in the morning. Then it was off to Waikiki, including lunch around 2 or 3 at Duke's, where every day he ordered the fish of the day special, which came with two scoops of the best macaroni salad you'll find anywhere.

Anyway, after the championship game, TB and McCarthy took an overnight flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles, while the team flew out the next morning. The flight that TB and McCarthy got on was jammed, and the only seats were in the very, very back.

The only people seated near them were the University of Texas team and a woman with a baby who wasn't exactly enjoying the flight. Every time he's seen Texas on TV since, he's thought of all the players who couldn't sleep until the baby did.

His other Princeton-Texas game was in 2004, at the NCAA tournament in Denver. Princeton led by three at the half, but the second half was all Longhorns, who won 66-49. And that's been it for Princeton-Texas.

Until today. This time, it'll be the women who take on Texas, with a noon tip at Jadwin Gym. Wednesday at noon is a great time for a game.

This is the first meeting ever on the women's side between the two schools (the men have played eight times, with each with four wins). And this will be an enormous challenge for the Tigers.

Texas comes in at 8-1 and ranked 12th nationally. The Longhorns' NET ranking is sixth (that's the next generation RPI), while Princeton is a strong 40th on that list.

Texas was supposed to play Arizona, unbeaten and coming off an appearance in last year's NCAA championship game, on ESPNU this past Sunday in Las Vegas. TB was set to watch the game, until YouTube TV took all Disney networks off in a dispute (about money, of course). Eventually the dispute was resolved, but the game never happened anyway, as Covid protocols prevented Arizona from playing.

Instead, Texas played a last-second replacement, the University of San Diego, who has a NET of 81. Texas won 74-58.

The Longhorns eight wins include one against the team that beat Arizona for the national title last season, Stanford (NET is 7). On Stanford's home court. That doesn't happen a lot.

This is clearly a loaded team. Its only loss was in overtime at Tennessee (NET 16). It also has a win over Texas A&M (NET 26). 

On his most recent podcast with Tiger head coach Carla Berube, TigerBlog asked about how this game was scheduled. Berube said it was simply an email exchange among schools who needed games. 

Texas deserves a "thank you" for coming all this way to play. That's not something that a lot of Power Five teams would agree to do. 

As for the game itself, Texas is deep, with no one single player who needs to be stopped. The Longhorns have a great backcourt and size up front. It won't be easy.

But it will be fun. 

Tip-off at Jadwin is at noon. Princeton vs. Texas, for the first time on the women's side.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Jeff Ingold Story

Remember last week when TigerBlog said he was working on a feature story for this week?

Well, HERE is the story. If you're a fan of the show "Ted Lasso," then you'll enjoy this. If you're not a fan, then first go out and watch the show and then read the story.

It was former men's lacrosse player Tom Barnds who told TigerBlog that his four-year roommate at Princeton was the Emmy Award-winning executive producer of the comedy, which airs on AppleTV. This was after TB wrote last week how much he loves the show.

Barnds' roommate for all four years at Princeton was Jeff Ingold, the captain of the 1990 men's squash team, as well as a member of the 1989 Ivy League championship team. TB connected with Ingold through Barnds, who has two sons on the current men's lacrosse team. Ingold gave TB the background on how an idea becomes a TV show, and a hit show at that.

Ingold also talked about how he and Barnds actually grew up together in Birmingham, Mich., even turning a double play in Little League when they were eight years old. Ingold has been in California since graduation, going first for the warm weather but quickly getting into the entertainment business.

He worked his way up to become the Head of Comedy at NBC, which is a big deal in television. The list of shows that he has worked on includes: “Will & Grace,” “The Office,” “Community,” “Scrubs,” “Just Shoot Me,” “Parks and Recreation” and “30 Rock. It was a fascinating to hear about how it all comes together.  

It was even more fascinating to listen to Barnds talk about how his friend would watch Thursday night comedies when they were at Princeton with a very discerning and analytical eye, focusing on what worked and didn't work. It was then that Barnds realized that Ingold was headed to a career in entertainment.

TB's favorite part, though, was when Ingold talked about his Princeton experience, including how much he enjoyed playing for Bob Callahan, the longtime men's squash coach who passed away in 2015 from brain cancer at the age of 59.

Talking about Callahan is always emotional for TigerBlog, who knew him for a long time and who absolutely loved him. Having one of his former players talk about him was very special indeed.

It's hard to explain Bob Callahan in 2021 terms. Maybe he was just a bit old-fashioned, a coach who embodied a word that these days isn't used too much anymore: sportsmanship. 

How to best describe him? He was just a really sweet man, a great family man, a legendary squash coach and just a wonderful person to be around. He was caring and empathetic, and universally well-loved.

Ingold and Callahan have a few common traits, beginning with humility. Callahan would never in a million years have said anything boastful about his success, instead giving all of the credit to his players. It would never have entered his mind. He also handled losing with incredible grace.

For his part, Ingold repeatedly insisted that he deserves little credit for the success of "Ted Lasso." Instead, he is adamant that the show is driven by Jason Sudeikis, who plays the title character, and by Bill Lawrence, Ingold's partner in their production company.

Another commonality between player and coach is that their senses of humor would best be described as "dry." Callahan had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. Ingold's sense of humor apparently is the same.

How does TB know that? He was told first by Barnds, and that was confirmed by Brett Goldstein. If you watch the show, you know who Goldstein is. He plays Roy Kent, and for those who know who Roy Kent is, TB needs to say nothing else.

It was great to talk to Ingold and get to know him a bit, especially since TB can't wait for the start of Season 3 of the show. And it was also great to talk a little about Bob Callahan. 

Also like his coach, Ingold comes across as simply a good guy. 

Maybe that's the best thing that can be said about them both.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Happy 75th

Do you know what was released 75 years ago today (that would be Dec. 20, 1946)? 

TigerBlog will give you a hint - it's one of the two best Christmas movies ever made. The other was released on Nov. 18, 1983.

Guesses? It should be clear.

The one that turns 75 today is "It's A Wonderful Life." The one from 1983 is "A Christmas Story."

To TigerBlog, at least, you can make no other case for any Christmas movies other than those. It's like trying to come up with a better Christmas cartoon than "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

"It's A Wonderful Life" is a beautiful movie. It tells the story of George Bailey, from the fictional town of Bedford Falls, which is near Buffalo. All George wants to do is get out of Bedford Falls, but no matter what he tries, fate intervenes to keep him there.

In the end, it takes Clarence, his guardian angel, to show him that he really does have a "wonderful life." It's a great movie.

It also has the one scene in any movie that is guaranteed to make TigerBlog tear up:

 Yup. It worked again. He can watch that any time of year, no context, just the clip on YouTube and, well, you know.

There was no mention of the movie in the Daily Princetonian that day, but there was an interesting story about the song "Old Nassau," including this: 

In 1858, Princeton had no song indicative of the school's real spirit. The Nassau Lit, the nation's oldest collegiate literary magazine, realizing this, announced that they would offer a prize for the best college song written by an undergraduate. This contest spurred Harlan P. Peck '62, the leading poet of his class, to compose seven stanzas of lyrics entitled "Old Nassau" to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne." It was an immediate success and the prize went to Peck in February of 1859. Though the lyrics won the acclaim of all connected with the University, they were still not satisfied with the melody for they wished an original tune as well as lyrics. This prompted W. C. Stitt, an undergraduate interested in music, to search for a man connected with Princeton to write a fitting melody. At the time, a glee club had ibeen organized under the direction of a German tutor named Karl A. Langlotz, who was affiliated with the College. Realizing this man was the logical choice Stitt asked him if he would attempt to compose a melody, and Langlotz agreed. But time passed and the promised melody did not materialize. However, the perservering Stitt confronted Langlotz with the lyrics written by Peck and once more asked him to write a song. Langlotz thereupon sat at a piano and in one sitting composed the memorable tune, one of the best American alma mater songs that has ever been written.

That's a good story, the kind TB loves to read. That same story also said this: 

At the completion of every Princeton intercollegiate sporting event of importance and at every College parting, the strains of "Old Nassau" can be heard. For 87 years, Princeton undergraduates and alumni have stood bare-headed expressing their feelings "in praise of old Nassau." 

Again, interesting. Every sporting event of importance? They're all important, but hey, that's another story.

With Christmas week here, the Princeton Athletics calendar is pretty light for the rest of the month. There are, in fact, only three teams who will compete between now and the New Year.

The wrestling team will make its traditional post-Christmas trip to the Midlands Tournament at Northwestern. The basketball teams will both be in action, and both teams will play at home.

The men will take on Kean (the alma mater of, among others, Princeton Athletics IT guy supreme Brian Fitzwater) tomorrow at 7 at Jadwin.

The women will have two home games, on each of the next two Wednesdays. The first one is two days away, when the Tigers host national power Texas, with tip-off at noon. It's very likely that Texas is the best women's basketball team who has ever come into Jadwin to take on the Tigers.

Princeton's women will also be home next Wednesday, when Central Florida is here. 

Waiting just after the first of the year will be the Ivy League openers for both, when the women host Harvard and the men are in Cambridge on Jan. 2. That's a Sunday.

Remember, things are different this year in Ivy basketball. First, it's no longer the strict travel-partner format. Second, exams at Princeton end today, as opposed to having them in January.

There is a lot on the horizon in January, the month Princeton Athletics traditionally had a three-week gap for exams.

For today? Go watch "It's A Wonderful Life." If you've never seen it, you'll love it. If you have, you'll also love it.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Speaking Of The Book


TigerBlog was invited by Princeton Executive Vice President Treby Williams to give a talk about the book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at yesterday's University senior staff meeting.

It was quite an honor. TB was allocated 20-25 minutes to speak, which seems like a long time, though he did say he could speak for 20-25 hours or days about the project. 

He was really happy to be able to share what what into the book and some of the stories, and he was especially excited for the opportunity to speak to a group outside of athletics. As he has said before, TigerBlog wanted to write a book that told the stories of women's athletics at Princeton and not an encyclopedia of women's athletics at Princeton. 

His goal was for it to be engaging for sports fans but also for people who might not be in athletics but can appreciate the value that competing at Princeton has had on the women who have done so.

TB told the group a bit about his own background and how he came to be writing the book. Mostly he talked about the women in the book.

Just as in the book itself, he started his talk with Merrily Dean Baker, who was hired at the age of 27 to start women's athletics in 1970. He spoke about some of the other women who are featured, especially Vietta Johnson, a track and field athlete from the Class of 1982 who went grew up next to the housing projects in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. 

Vietta went from Brooklyn to Stuyvesant High School in New York to Princeton to Harvard Medical School. She's had an amazing career as an orthopedic surgeon, including providing free medical care to underserved communities in this country and abroad.

TB shared this quote from Vietta:

“The whole thing has made me a more sensitive person,” she says. “I learned how to be far different
in my approach. I’m not going to let things slide when I see injustice. I’m going to fight it. Today I can
counsel others. But it was Princeton that prepared me for this kind of thing, from my injuries to all the
hard work. I absolutely loved Princeton, and I loved being part of the women’s track and field team.”

There can't be too many more alums at Princeton who best represent everything good about the University better than Vietta Johnson does. She received the Class of 1967 Citizen Athlete Award last year at the senior awards banquet, and it was well-earned for sure. 

During his talk TB used a PowerPoint presentation, which, by the way, was his first one ever. His heading for Vietta's section was "What the book is really about."

Basically, what he means by that is that the common theme of the book is the way that the Princeton experience has shaped the women who have competed here and how they will always draw on their athletic experience for the rest of their lives. And why shouldn't women have that same dimension to help them move forward that male athletes have always had?

That's one of the two biggest takeaways he'd like people to have after they get through the book. The other is what the earliest women pioneers had to go through to have the opportunity in the first place.

The Princeton that they walked into had been fielding men's varsity teams since 1864, and that's a lot of history to have to come in and handle. There were many who helped and some who hindered, and the women had to deal with all of it.

TB would like to thank Treby for letting him speak and all of the people in the audience who appreciated the stories. For today, he leaves you with this excerpt, from the story on Amy Richlin, the first women's rowing captain, who was told that women would not be rowing out of the Princeton boathouse. 

Of course, that proved not to be the case, largely because of Amy Richlin's efforts:

“The very first thing on my first morning I went down to boathouse to look it over,” she says. “I was determined to row at Princeton, so I walked into the boathouse. I was just standing there looking around. Then Pete Sparhawk sees me.”

Pete Sparhawk spent twenty-three years as the head rowing coach at Princeton. A Cornell grad, he had been a member of the 1956 U.S. Olympic team, not to mention a captain in the United States Air Force. He could be intimidating.

“So he sees me,” Richlin says, “and he says ‘What are you doing here?’ I said I just

arrived at Princeton and I’d like to row. And he said ‘no.’ And I said ‘no?’ And he said ‘No women in the boathouse. No women row here. Forget it.’ I asked if I could at least help out, work maybe. And he said no and threw me out.”

Richlin left the boathouse, and her earliest days at Princeton were spent in the

choir and drawing for the humor magazine. Still, the love of rowing was strong, and the way that first meeting went nagged at her.

“I thought to myself that I wouldn’t just accept what he said,” Richlin says. “I made up some flyers, and I posted them. I said if there were women interested in rowing that they should contact me."

A member of the men’s rowing team, Arthur Miller, who happened to be a sophomore also, saw the flyers and contacted her. He gave her some basic advice about how she might go about getting the answer she wanted. To this day, the two are still friends.

Her first Princeton boyfriend turned out to be a weightlifter. He introduced her to Dick Landis, who was then the weightlifting coach, a few decades before the term “strength and conditioning” was introduced. Landis introduced her to lifting weights, something she’d never done before. He also taught her how to organize better. She put together a group of a dozen or so women who wanted to row, and Landis put together a training program for them.

“There were men who asked us if we were afraid that we might get muscles,” she says. “That was the state of women’s athletics then.”

Eventually, Richlin set up a meeting with Sparhawk and Baker, as well as then Director of Athletics Royce Flippin and his deputy Sam Howell. As Baker recalls, she got the same line that Richlin had gotten from Sparhawk about how women would not row out of his boathouse, and she famously corrected him, saying that she wasn’t looking for his permission, only his help. Forced to include women, Sparhawk threw out an offer he thought would not be accepted.

“He said ‘Fine, the women can row at 6 a.m.,’” Richlin says. “I remember it clearly. He said we had to row at 6 a.m. because we’d be too much of a distraction to the men, that our perfume would come across the water. So I said ‘6 a.m.? Fine with me.’ And he turned beet red and said ‘shit’ right in front of all of us. Then he asked what he should call us, oarsmen? And I said ‘At Smith, Miss Benson always called us ladies.’”

And that’s how women’s rowing at Princeton was born.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Three For All

Stephen Curry set the NBA's all-time record for three-pointers in a career Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, when he passed Ray Allen with his 2,974th three.

The Knicks' fans seemed to love the moment, which is a bit odd for TigerBlog, since as a long-time Knicks' fan, he still can't help but imagine what it would have been like had the Warriors not taken Curry with the seventh pick in the 2009 draft.

The Knicks had the eighth pick. TB wanted Curry to be that pick. So did all Knick fans. As TB has said for years, drafts are the biggest waste of time and money, as after all of that preparation, teams still miss so badly on high picks all the time. Were TB an NFL GM, he would always trade down to get as many mid-round picks as he could. It's a volume business. The more you pick, the more likely you are to strike gold.

In the NBA, there are a handful of can't-miss guys, but they are few and far between. The real difference makers in the league aren't usually picked in the top five. Look at Giannis Antetokoumpo. He was the 15th pick in the 2013 draft. You know who was picked before him? Shabazz Muhammed, who averaged nine points a game over six seasons and is out of the league. Before Muhammed was Kelly Olynk. Before him, it was Steven Adams.

How much scouting went into those choices? The same as in 2009. Here's how that went:

The first pick was Blake Griffin. Picks 2-4 were Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden, Tyreke Evans. TB watched the draft, and he hoped Curry would last to eight. Pick 5? Ricky Rubio. Pick 6? Jonny Flynn. Now it was time for the seventh pick. And it was ... Curry, excruciatingly.

Earlier Tuesday, TigerBlog was in the Office of Athletic Communications, talking to his colleagues Elliott Carr and Warren Croxton about Curry. He asked if they knew who the Knicks took at No. 8. The answer? Jordan Hill, who played 252 more minutes for the Knicks than you did (unless Bill Bradley is reading this, in which case you played 22,547 more minutes than Hill did).

The point is that who knows how the Knicks might have been different these last 13 seasons if they had Curry. Oh well.

The three-point record to TB is a bit insignificant, given how many more are shot in the NBA today than were when it first came along in 1979. There aren't too many records these days where the number is simply known. If you're TigerBlog's age, you recognize numbers like 714, 29-2 1/2 feet and 56. Those were real records.

Princeton has always valued the three-point shot in men's basketball. It began in the 1986-87 season (as TB recalls, Dave Orlandini made the first one). 

In the 1986-87 season, Princeton made 143 three-pointers. In the NBA that year, teams averaged 117 three-pointers per team for the year.

If you don't feel like doing the math, Princeton made 143 three-pointers in 25 games, or an average of 5.72 makes per game. In the NBA, the teams averaged 117 for the season in 82 games, which comes to 1.43 per game.

Pete Carril said early on that he'd take three points instead of two for shots his team had been taking for years. TB does not remember hearing Carril use the word analytics.

And if you're wondering, Princeton men's basketball has made 7,581 three-pointers in its history. TigerBlog has no idea where that stands compared to other Division I teams, but it certainly seems like a lot.

He does know that Princeton has made at least one three-pointer in every game it's played since the rule was enacted. He believes there are only two teams who have done so, Princeton and UNLV. Or maybe Georgia Tech. He's lost track.

You can't think about three-pointers and Princeton and not wonder what Bill Bradley would have done had he had the chance to get three instead of two. Bradley scored 2,503 points in three varsity seasons with no three-point shot. You have to figure he would have made a serious run at 3,000 points with it.

The all-time leader in three-pointers made at Princeton is Brian Earl, with 281. Princeton has had six players reach 200 career three-pointers made. Can you name them? 

TB will do it for you this time:

Brian Earl - 281
Douglas Davis - 276
Devin Cannady - 268
Sean Jackson - 235
Gabe Lewullis - 212
Spencer Weisz -209

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Better Than Bradley Did

TigerBlog is pretty excited about the feature story that he has coming out next week. This is one you'll really like.

And that's all he'll say about that for now. He still has to write it and all, though he interviewed the subject yesterday. 

On some levels, this is a much different story than any of the others he's written. Then again, it also has a similar theme, which is that Princeton Athletics leaves such a lasting impact on the people who compete here.

And that's it for now. 

In the meantime, TB told you the other day that Spencer Gloger had scored more points in a men's basketball game against UMBC than any other Princeton player had prior to the game Monday night.

Granted, there had only been three games before then. And, after Princeton's 89-77 win over the Retrievers, Jaelin Llewellyn now holds the distinction after his 24-point outing, which was two more than Gloger had. 

Princeton had two players with at least 20 points in the game, as Ethan Wright had 20 points and, more impressively, 13 more rebounds, as he now is second in the Ivy League with 8.1 per game. Wright, who is 6-4, gets every loose ball. 

Tosan Evbuomwan had seven more assists. He continues to lead the Ivy League, averaging 5.5 per game. The next best total is 3.7.

TB watched the game Monday on ESPN+, from which he learned that Darnell Rogers of UMBC is believed to be the shortest men's basketball player in Division I history. Rogers, at 5-2, played 32 minutes against the Tigers and had 11 points, two assists and even a rebound. 

Basketball is of course unkind to the short. Pete Carril, all 5-7 or so of him, used to carry around a newspaper clipping of a game from the 1950s when he had 16 rebounds for Lafayette. 

Rogers, whose father Shawnta was the 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year for George Washington, has a career-high of four rebounds, but he does average 12 points per game. That's quite impressive.

The Princeton women lost Sunday to Seton Hall, a team with a guard named Lauren Park-Lane who is listed as 5-6, which TB thinks might be a bit generous. Regardless of what her actual height is, it's clear that she knows how to run a team and knows how to make an impact. In fact, she was a first-team All-Big East selection a year ago.

John Thompson III used to say of Scott Greenman, Princeton's 5-9 guard during JT3's days as head coach, that he's always been 5-9 and so he knows how to play at 5-9. Greenman now, by the way, is Mike Brennan's associate head coach at American.

Meanwhile, back at the stat about the most points a Princeton player had scored against UMBC, that got TigerBlog to wondering two things: First, who holds the record for points in a game against each Ivy League school and second, is Bill Bradley the answer for all seven.

By checking the list of the highest scoring games in program history, TB was able to find out some answers. Bradley has the 11 best single-game totals ever by a Tiger men's player, and from that list, Bradley checks off these schools:

Harvard - 51
Cornell - 49
Columbia - 41
Dartmouth - 39

That leaves Penn, Yale and Brown. So where to start? With Bradley of course. 

His best games against each are here: 

Brown - 38
Penn - 36
Yale - 31

From there it gets a bit tricky, though he does know that Brian Taylor also had a 31-point game against Yale. Maybe he should get the Elias Sports Bureau on this?

TB will do his best to fill in the blanks when he has a little more time. He does know that Bella Alarie, who is currently playing in Spain, had games of 45 against Columbia and 41 against Dartmouth, which is better than Bradley did. 

As he thinks about it, TigerBlog has never typed those words before: Better than Bradley did. 

First time for everything, huh? 

And now it's time to start to get to work on that feature. Like he said, you'll like this one.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Jeremiah Tyler, Bushnell Cup Winner

If you've only ever watched Jeremiah Tyler play football and have never had the chance to meet him, then you've only seen a part of what makes him so special.

When TigerBlog wrote a story about Tyler before the season began, he used the word "magnetic" to best describe the Princeton senior linebacker. It's a perfect description of him. 

He's magnetic, as in, those around him are just naturally drawn to him. As TB wrote earlier, you can see it when you watch others around him and when you talk to him yourself. When TB was talking about Tyler yesterday to someone, he described him as "another level guy," and when he was asked if he meant that as "NFL," he said "no, another level person."

That is not to say he's not a great football player. He most certainly is. He plays at another gear, a combination of size and speed with extra determination. The result has been one of Princeton's best-ever football players. 

Yesterday in New York City, Tyler took his place among those Princeton all-time greats when he won the 2021 Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. In doing so, he became the 12th Princeton Bushnell winner.

On the other side of the ball, E.J. Perry of Brown was the offensive winner. TigerBlog wrote about the unique situation with the two finalists yesterday, as he felt a really strong case could be made for Dartmouth's Derek Kyler, despite the fact that he wasn't a first-team All-Ivy pick.

While Tyler and Perry (there's a pun about the actor somewhere in there) were the men of the hour yesterday, TigerBlog does want to point out something about Princeton head coach Bob Surace. Tyler was the 12th Bushnell winner Princeton has had, and now seven of them have played for Surace. 

The Bushnell Cup has been awarded since 1970, and Surace has been the head coach since 2010. That means that Surace has been the head coach for basically 20 percent of the time the award has been given and has coached 58 percent of Princeton's winners. And yes, there have been two winners each year since 2011, but still, that's an incredible statement on Surace's ability to recruit and develop great players.

Oh, and Surace has had five other players who were Bushnell finalists (meaning one of two players to be in consideration) and not get selected. Hey, he's won four Ivy titles now in eight seasons, and you don't do that accidentally.

One of the finalists who did not win was Tyler two years ago. In fact, both Perry and Tyler were finalists in 2019. If TB is looking at the list correctly, they're the first two players to be runner-up and then come back and win the award later, though there were two players - Dartmouth running back Nick Schwieger and Cornell quarterback Jeff Matthews - who won one year and then were subsequently runner up another year. 

Another interesting fact, at least to TigerBlog, is that Princeton has only ever had two Ivy League Rookies of the Year, an award that began in 1981. Who were they? Usually TB gives you a few paragraphs to figure it out, but instead he'll just tell you: Doug Butler (1983) and Chuck Dibilio (2011). 

Of course, that's all about history. In the present, it's a moment to salute Jeremiah Tyler.

His numbers are impressive (a team-high 58 tackles, with seven for loss, as well as two sacks, a fumble recovery for a TD and six pass breakups), but they hardly define him.

Here's what does: winning.

Princeton was 35-5 in his four seasons, winning three Ivy League championships. That's what Tyler's ultimate Princeton football legacy will be, winning.

Oh, and doing so with a personality that brought out the best in everyone around him, on the field and off.

He's the ultimate team player, but even the greatest of team players is still entitled to an individual moment in the sun. So congratulations to Jeremiah Tyler, on the Bushnell Cup.

Like everything else he has accomplished here, it's very well-earned.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Bushnell Day, And A Basketball Trivia Question

Tonight at 6 at Jadwin Gym it will be Princeton against UMBC in men's basketball.

Princeton is 3-0 all-time against the Retrievers, with wins in 1994, 2003 and 2004. Do you know what Princeton player has scored the most points in a game against UMBC? Guesses? TB will give you the answer later.

First, there is the matter of this: Here are the 2021 stats for Quarterback No. 1, factored out over 100 pass attempts: 66 for 100, for 683 yards, with 5.2 touchdowns and 3.2 interceptions.

Here are the same stats for Quarterback No. 2: 71 for 100, for 825 yards, with 7.1 touchdowns and 0.4 interceptions. 

Who are the quarterbacks? The first one was Brown's E.J. Perry. The second one was Dartmouth's Derek Kyler. Those two are the finalists for the Bushnell Cup for the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, an award that will be announced today at 12:30 in New York City.

The finalists on offense are fascinating. First, you have Perry, who is a wonderful player. He can throw and run, and he put up big numbers week after week after week. In fact, these were his numbers against Princeton: 34 for 51 for 334 yards and five touchdowns, with 82 more rushing yards, as his team scored 42 points against the stingy Tigers. 

Unfortunately for Perry, Princeton scored 56 of its own. Perry, for his part, led the Ivy League in total offense and was eight in the FCS. Brown, though, went 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the Ivy League.

As for Kyler, he threw 239 passes, or 205 fewer than Perry did. Kyler completed 71 percent of his passes and added 17 touchdowns with just one interception. His team went 9-1 and tied Princeton for the league championship by going 6-1 in the league.

What makes it all even more interesting is that there were two first-team All-Ivy League quarterbacks, and Kyler wasn't one of them – but one of his teammates was. Nick Howard was a first-team pick after rushing for 15 touchdowns but only throwing 11 passes all year.

Can Kyler be the Ivy League Player of the Year without being first-team All-Ivy? Has that ever happened before? 

TigerBlog can give you two examples of players who were named the national player of the year in their sport without being first-team all-league. One was Princeton men's lacrosse player Scott Bacigalupo in 1994. The other was Rutgers men's soccer player Alexi Lalas in 1991.

So who would you vote for on the offensive side? TigerBlog can make a really strong case for both (of course if he had a vote, he would have gone with Jacob Birmelin, but that's another story). Honestly, if he had to have chosen between Perry and Kyler and cast a ballot, he's genuinely not sure which way he'd have gone.

On the defensive side, the finalists are Princeton's Jeremiah Tyler and Harvard's Jordan Hill. Both are, obviously, great players. Hill had more tackles (you'd expect that from an inside linebacker); Tyler had more tackles for loss (you'd expect that from an outside linebacker). Both of their defenses ranked in the top three in the FCS against the rush. 

TB would enthusiastically vote for Tyler here. Are you sensing a bias? 

If Tyler does not win, TB thinks it would be because there were so many great players on the Princeton defense. He'd be a victim of how good his teammates are, though his presence makes everyone better. Seriously, though, he's played alongside Samuel Wright, James Johnson and Trevor Forbes, any of whom could have been in New York as a finalist today. And that doesn't even take into account Ushe Ndukwe and Delan Stallworth, who were injured and missed considerable time.

It's a great situation to have. And Tyler would trade every individual award he's earned for the championship his team won. Yes, everyone says that. In this case, it's the absolute truth. Tyler is a team-guy first and foremost. You saw that in Game 1 this year, when he was inadvertently ruled out due to a targeting call that couldn't be overturned because the video went down, even when it was obvious that he'd committed no targeting. He was allowed back into the game when the video was fixed, so he missed a quarter.

This was his season opener. This was after a year away. This was his senior year. And this was on a play where everyone in the stadium knew there was no targeting. So what did he do? He picked up his teammates. He went into the lockerroom and got chairs for them to sit on. He never hung his head or sulked or anything at all. For all of his greatness on the field, those few series when he couldn't play speak so much about who he is.

Today he's in New York. Congratulations to all four finalists. It's a strong field every time, and this year is no different. TB loves the format, by the way. 

And the trivia answer? Spencer Gloger, who had 22 against UMBC in the 2003 game.