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.

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