Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Flying To Where It's Warm

TigerBlog begins with a huge "thank you" to everyone who showed their support of Princeton Athletics on TAGD.

Once again your efforts speak volumes about what Princeton Athletics has meant to you and continues to mean to you. The current athletes will feel a direct benefit from your generosity.

Looking ahead, there are two Princeton teams who got on airplanes to fly to warmer, much warmer, climates yesterday. Neither is going for vacation. 

The first was the men's water polo team, who rolled out in the middle of the afternoon yesterday to head to Southern California and the NCAA tournament, where Princeton will play UCLA tomorrow at 6 Eastern time.

In advance of that game, TigerBlog wrote a feature yesterday about Roko Pozaric, a freshman on the team. Pozaric is another great Tiger athletic story, a freshman who came to Princeton from his native Croatia and has made a huge impact on his team.

In fact, he was the Northeast Water Polo Conference Rookie of the Year and a first-team all-league selection. Helped along greatly by Pozaric's 66 goals and 41 assists, Princeton has won a program-record 26 games, most recently a 17-8 win over Fordham in the NCAA opening round game. 

UCLA is the host for the entire tournament. The winner of the game between the Tigers and Bruins will advance to the semifinals, to take on Cal.

If you want to read the story TB wrote about Pozaric, it is HERE.

If you don't want to read it, you should know that Pozaric had never been to Princeton, or the United States for that matter, before the day he arrived as a student a few months ago. Actually, you should read it for the leaf story alone, or to hear what his teammate and fellow first-team All-NWPC selection Keller Maloney had to say about him.

Here's a sample of that: “I’ve been here four years, counting the gap year last year,” Maloney says. “Being his teammate inspires me every day, makes me grateful for everything we have, especially after a year as depressing as the Covid year. That’s just how he is. He inspires the team in unlimited ways and not just as a water polo player."

That's pretty good stuff. 

The men's water polo team is the final Princeton fall team to be playing, which means their tournament will mark the end of what's left of crossover season. 

The winter teams are in full swing now, with some teams that are already well into at least the early portions of their league schedules. One team that still has more than a month to go until the Ivy League begins is the women's basketball team (actually a month and a day).

Still, the Tigers have a fascinating game tonight against Florida-Gulf Coast. Tip-off in Fort Myers is at 7.

Princeton comes into the game at 5-1. FGCU comes in at 7-0 and ranked 22nd in the country. This is a great chance for both teams. 

Speaking of the town the game is being played in, it's never easy to know if it's "Myers" or "Meyers." In the case of Florida-Gulf Coast, it's the former. In the case of Princeton's leading scorer, it's the latter, as in Abby Meyers, who is averaging 17.7 points per game.

For Princeton under head coach Carla Berube, the key numbers will always be the ones on the other end, though, and so it helps frame this matchup to know that Princeton allows 47.2 points per game, sixth in Division I, while FGCU ranks 12th in scoring offense, at 84 points per game.

The game figures to be decided somewhere in that stat alone, no? 

Diving a bit further, the Eagles love to shoot the three-pointer, averaging 24 attempts per game. That's first in Division I. Their 11.6 made three's per game rank third.

Princeton? The Tigers defend the three very well, allowing its opponents just under 20 percent shooting from beyond the arc. That's ninth best in Division I. Again, the game figures to be decided somewhere in there. 

You can watch this game on ESPN+. 

Today's high temperature in Ft. Myers and Los Angeles will be the same: 80 degrees. These are not vacations for the two Princeton teams though. 

They'll be all business. Maybe they'll be all business in beautiful weather, but all business nonetheless.

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