Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Happy Birthday Gary

TigerBlog starts today by wishing a happy birthday to the one and only Gary Walters.

The Ford Family Director of Athletics Emeritus, Gary is as big a Princeton Athletics fan who has ever lived. He has been completely invested in the Tigers since he first came here from Reading, Pa., in September of 1963.

He was brought here by his father and dropped off in the courtyard outside of Dillon Gym as he moved into 345 Pyne, his first room here. More than 59 years later, there was Gary, in the Princeton Stadium press box, watching Princeton and Lehigh play football.

How many Princeton games must he have seen in his life? Has anyone ever seen more? 

Gary's time at Princeton has included being a student, a psychology major whose senior thesis was entitled: "Stereotyping by College Students Re-Examined: A Replication and Extension of the Katz and Braly (1932) and Gilbert (1950) Investigations."

He also was the point guard on the basketball team, which reached the NCAA Final Four in 1965, his sophomore year. As a senior, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, along with his teammate Chris Thomforde.

He would be an assistant coach at Princeton as part of the 1975 NIT championship team. He became the AD in 1994, starting a 20-year run that can be summed up by his favorite phrase: "Education Through Athletics And An Unmatched Tradition Of Athletic Success."

Gary isn't on campus too much these days, but he's completely plugged into the Princeton teams and the people who work with them. It's been more than eight years since he's been the AD, so there have been several years worth of Princeton athletes and staff members who weren't here under his leadership. Hopefully, though, they've gotten to know the name and his legacy, even if they haven't known him.

So happy birthday to Gary.

Of course, his connection to Princeton predates even his time as a student and athlete in the mid-1960s, though he couldn't have known it at the time. His basketball coach, and American government teacher, at Reading High School was none other than Pete Carril.

Gary and Pete are cornerstones of the great legacy that is Princeton men's basketball. Pete's coach his senior year at Lafayette was Butch van Breda Kolff, who coached Gary as a player at Princeton. Pete replaced van Breda Kolff at Princeton, and since then, every head Princeton coach — Bill Carmody, John Thompson III, Joe Scott, Sydney Johnson, Mitch Henderson — played for Carril and was hired by Gary (except for Carmody, who coached with Carril but played for Gary when he was the head coach at Union).

That's quite a straight line for one program. Is there any other program in any sport at any college that can match that? 

Coach Carril passed away last month. There was a small, private family funeral, and it was announced that there would be a public memorial in Jadwin Gym at a later date.

That later date is Friday, when Coach's life will be celebrated in Jadwin. It's the fitting setting for such an event.

Celebrating Coach.

The main court is named for him, of course. He talked often about watching as the building was constructed early in his 29-year tenure as head coach. He'd tell the story of how he used to get a six-pack and go down to watch the building go up. "I knew I had to put a team on the court that was worthy of the building," he'd always say.

He did, of course. He put a lot of worthy teams on the court. 

TB will be at the celebration. He'll try to focus on the speakers and the videos and the tributes, but he knows his mind will drift, to all the times he and Coach spent together in the building. He's sure he won't be the only one in attendance who will be doing the same.

The event is free and open to the public. It starts at 11.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Princeton 14, Rutgers 12

As you recall from last week, TigerBlog mentioned that Jerry Carino, one of New Jersey's top sportswriters, was working on a list of the top 50 women's college athletes in the state's history in honor of the 50th anniversary of Title IX.

The rules were this: 

* had to compete for a four-year New Jersey college
* didn't have to be a New Jersey native
* were being judged on what you did as a college athlete and in one year after graduation

Carino reached out to TB for help in identifying some Princeton athletes for the list. His story appeared in the Asbury Park Press, and other Gannett papers, over the weekend. 

One of TB's first questions for Carino was whether or not the list would be ranked in order, and Carino said it would be. This got TB to immediately thinking about who the top female college athlete in New Jersey history was.

It took almost no time for a name to pop into his head, and it turned out to be the woman who was No. 1 in the story as well. That would be basketball player Carol Blazejowski, from Montclair State.

In her time at Montclair State, Blazejowski scored 3,199 points, averaging 31.7 points per game, including 38.6 per game as a senior in 1978, when she led her team to the AIAW Final Four before losing to UCLA. She was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994.

Had it been TB's list, he probably would have had Blazejowski as No. 1. He will say, though, that a case could be made for Ashleigh Johnson.

The Princeton water polo goalie was a first-team All-American who won the first of her two Olympic gold medals while still an undergraduate. Also, within a year of graduation, she was named the top water polo player in the world.

As it turned out, Johnson was No. 3 on Carino's list. Who was No. 2? That would be Sue Wicks, the Rutgers women's basketball player who was the 1988 national women's Player of the Year and a three-time All-American.

Johnson was the highest-ranked Princeton athlete on the list. In all, there were 14 Princeton athletes out of the 50 total, more than any other New Jersey college. This does not surprise TB.

Rutgers, with 12, was second, which means that those two schools comprised with 26 of 50, or more than half. Next up was Seton Hall, with five, and then the College of New Jersey with three.

Who else from Princeton was on the list? 

Princeton had two more in the top 10, with NCAA champion and two-time Olympic gold medal winning rower Caroline Lind at No. 8 and swimmer Cathy Corcione at No. 9. Corcione was an Olympic swimmer in 1968 as a 15 year old who then won four individual national titles and a gold medal at the World University Games as one of the Tigers' first great women athletes.

Next up were a pair of two-sport athletes and teammates on two NCAA championship teams. That would be No. 14 (Theresa Sherry, lacrosse and soccer) and No. 17 Rachael Becker DeCecco (lacrosse, field hockey). Sherry scored the game-winning goal in overtime in the 2003 NCAA final against Virginia; Becker was the 2004 Tewaaraton Award winner as the top lacrosse player in the country.

NCAA hammer throw champion Julia Ratcliffe was No. 20. Eliza Stone was No. 24 after being an NCAA individual sabre champion while leading the Tigers to the team title as well. Both Ratcliffe and Stone would reach the Olympics in 2021.

There were two more Olympians at No. 27 and No. 29, first Kat Sharkey, an NCAA field hockey champion who is the program's all-time leading scorer, and then Diana Matheson, a first-team All-American in soccer who was on Princeton's 2004 NCAA Final Four team and who won two Olympic bronze medals.

One spot behind Matheson was Bella Alarie, whose 1,703 points are the most in Princeton women's basketball history. Another basketball player, Niveen Rasheed, was 37th; between them, they had five Ivy Player of the Year Awards.

Three-sport athlete Demer Holleran, a three-time national squash champion and an All-Ivy League lacrosse goalie, was No. 40. Carol Brown was No. 41 after being a national champion swimmer and Eastern champion rower before becoming the first Tiger woman to win an Olympic medal when she won bronze in rowing in Montreal in 1976.

The other Princeton athlete on the list was Sarah Filler at No. 32. Fillier, who is back with Princeton this year after winning Olympic ice hockey gold last winter, is the only current collegian who made the list. 

One thing that really stands out to TB is that Princeton's 14 athletes competed in 11 different sports. The 12 from Rutgers were in six sports. It speaks to the Princeton Athletics model — and the Princeton Athletics success.

All in all, it was a fun project. Thanks to Jerry Carino for his efforts.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Iosivas Did What?

There are some moments in sports that make you stop and gasp as you think "What in the world did I just see?"

The beauty is that you never know when such a moment may occur. It can be any time, and it doesn't need to be at a critical moment of a championship game.

It can be, for instance, is the early fourth quarter of a non-league football game that is essentially out of reach, say, the Princeton-Lehigh game this past Saturday. 

Princeton won the game 29-17. It was 10-10 at halftime and then 23-10 at the end of the third after an extraordinary 15 minutes by the Tiger defense. In fact, on any other day, that would have been the whole story of the game.

And that all changed in a blink, courtesy of the extraordinary athletic gifts of Andrei Iosivas.

By now, if you're a Princeton fan, you've probably watched the play several times. If you somehow missed it, you can see it here:

Maybe it doesn't look as amazing on video as it did live. Maybe it does. Either way, you'll have to take TigerBlog's word for it that in real time, this was stunning stuff.

For anyone else, this is a 15-yard completion at most. From the moment Iosivas touched the ball, though, it just seemed different. 

Iosivas took the ball on his 38 heading towards the Lehigh sideline and then made an arching turn upfield while shifting into overdrive. At least four Lehigh defenders had an angle on him, and not one of them came within five yards of actually making contact.

For the most extraordinary view, keep on eye on No. 13 for Lehigh, who, by the way, is a transfer from Penn State. He thinks he has the perfect angle on Iosivas. When he comes into the picture, he is on his 45 and Iosivas is on Princeton's 45. That's a 10-yard difference.

The sprint between them ends as Iosivas reaches the end zone and No. 13 is just about at the 10. That means Iosivas covered 55 yards in the same time as the defender covered 35.

And No. 2 for Lehigh? He thought he had time to get to Iosivas if No. 13 didn't. He doesn't appear in the video until Iosivas is already in the end zone.

That's what being a world class-level decathlete can do for a football player. No matter what, though, Iosivas has definitely vaulted into the "don't turn away because you never know what might happen when he touches the ball" category. That's a rare group of athletes whom TB has seen here in all his time at Princeton. 

About 15 seconds after Iosivas scored, Ford Family Director of Athletics John Mack walked past TB and said "Iosivas is pretty fast." As he did that, TB was reading a text message from Zack DiGregorio that said the same exact thing. TB is guessing that similar words were spoken and texted by Princeton fans everywhere. 

TB spoke to Tiger head coach Bob Surace and quarterback Blake Stenstrom after the game, and both were just shaking their heads at the play Iosivas made. There was awe in both of their voices.

As TB said before, the story of the game would have been Princeton's third quarter defense. Tied at 10-10 at the half, Lehigh had four possessions in the third quarter, and they ended this way: two interceptions, one lost fumble and one blocked punt.

The short fields let Princeton build a 23-10 lead. Iosivas made it 29-10 with his 65-yard catch and run.

The win improved Princeton to 2-0 on the young season. Next up is the Ivy opener this coming Saturday at Columbia, who is also 2-0 after dismantling Marist and Georgetown. It will be a big test.

Then again, all league tests will be big ones. Brown, for instance, was 1-6 in the league a year ago with a 49-17 loss to Harvard. After graduating its NFL-level quarterback E.J. Perry, Brown fell 35-28 to the Crimson Saturday and was driving for a potential tying score late in the fourth.

Brown is Princeton's next home game, on Oct. 14, after the trip to Columbia and another to Lafayette. The season is 10 weeks long, and 20 percent of it has already happened.

Blink and you'll miss it. 

Sort of like how it works with Andrei Iosivas.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Two Retirements, One Home Opener

TigerBlog has never heard anyone say "I can't stand that guy OJ."

Okay, maybe he needs to clarify. He's talking about Tom Odjakjian. 

This OJ is one of the most well-liked people TB has met in the entire world of college athletics. Don't believe TB? This is the text he got from Kurt Kehl (the person who hired TB to work in the Princeton Office of Athletic Communications way back when):

"OJ - one of the nice people you will ever meet."

Kurt sent that Wednesday night, after the release went out announcing that OJ is finally retiring after spending the last 27 years with the American Athletic Conference. His most recent title was Senior Associate Commissioner for Broadcasting and Digital Content. 

Before he worked at the AAC, he spent nearly 15 years at ESPN. This is from his bio on the AAC website:

Odjakjian served in various executive roles at ESPN from 1981-94, including as the director of college sports. He was responsible for negotiation, acquisition, scheduling and budget supervision for the network’s collegiate sports programming. Odjakjian was the architect behind the creation of ESPN’s basketball Championship Week and football Bowl Week and had a hand in the network’s NFL, NBA, NHL and Olympic sports programming.

That's pretty good stuff to have in your bio. 

Going back before then, OJ was a football and baseball player at Lafayette. He began his career in, of all places, the Princeton OAC back in the 1970s. 

Wherever he has gone in his career, OJ has stayed a huge Princeton fan. TB has seen and spoke with him many times through the years, and he has always been dialed in to what's been going on with the Tigers. 

TB sends his best to OJ. He's far from the only one to do so.

Read the comments. You'll see what he means.

In other retirement news, how about a shoutout for TigerBlog. He too is retiring. And why not? He has reached the usual retirement age of ... 87. 

FB graduated from Boys' High in Brooklyn and spent a few days at Hunter College before deciding that wasn't for him. He'd take the subway in from Brooklyn to Manhattan to go to his classes and eat the lunch he packed before he ever got there. Maybe that's what was the tipping point.

He'd spend two years in the Army and then bounce around a few jobs until he settled in the insurance industry in 1960. He's closing up his office in Manhattan this week, ending a 62-year run as a highly successful businessman. 

FatherBlog was bursting with pride when he saw his granddaughter graduate from Princeton last May. He long ago became a Princeton fan when TB started working here. 

In fact, one of the most charming things that FB has done through the years is call TB up on a Monday morning to tell him the score of whatever Princeton game he'd checked up on, with a detail or two thrown in as well. It's always been hard for TB to figure out if his father either 1) was trying to show he was following the Tigers or 2) didn't quite grasp that TB was at the game, but either way it's always been endearing.

Perhaps Monday he'll tell TB about how the Princeton-Lehigh football game went. 

The Tigers open their home football schedule Saturday (kickoff is at 3) against the Mountain Hawks, who come in with a record of 1-2, with a win over Georgetown sandwiched around losses to Villanova and Richmond.

 Princeton won its opener last weekend in Florida, defeating Stetson 39-14. The Tigers trailed 14-7 before overwhelming the Hatters over the final three quarters.

The Ivy League itself got off to a 7-1 start last weekend. Princeton's league opener is a week from tomorrow, when the team heads to New York to take on a Columbia team that was very impressive in a 38-3 win over Marist last week. It'll be Columbia at Georgetown tomorrow.

The Ivy League as a whole looks very strong across the board this year. The three teams who went 1-6 in the league last year — Penn, Cornell and Brown — all won their games last week. Every game this year will be tough.

In the meantime, though, there's the home opener against a Patriot League foe. To help get you ready, you can read THIS FEATURE on one of Princeton's captains, linebacker Matthew Jester, written by Craig Sachson for princetontigersfootball.com. 

Remember, kickoff is at 3. Hopefully you'll be able to be there.

If not, TB can give you his dad's number to let you know how it goes.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Wild Scene At 52

TigerBlog was talking with field hockey assistant coach Sarah Mansfield yesterday about using a picture in a graphic.

The one he had chosen, it seemed, had been used once before. No problem, TB told her. There were a lot of celebration shots to choose from after the team's most recent game had ended.

The field hockey team defeated Maryland 4-3 in overtime on Bedford Field Tuesday afternoon in what was a thrilling game. It also said a lot about the Tigers.

Princeton was two days removed from a 2-1 overtime loss to Northwestern, the defending NCAA champion and the No. 1 team in the country. At that point, Princeton had a 3-3 record — with the three losses against the No. 1, No. 2 (North Carolina) and No. 4 (Louisville) teams, all by a single goal.

The Tigers had a 1-0 lead on Northwestern deep into the fourth quarter before the Wildcats tied it and then won it in the OT. It was, or at least could have been, a deflating loss for Princeton.

And now the task was to dial up the physical and emotional intensity with only one day off in between. And they had to do so against another team that is as good as any in the country. 

Not only that, Princeton fell behind by a goal three times in the game. Each time Princeton fought to tie it, Maryland took the lead again. It looked like it would be another heartbreaker, until Beth Yeager did what next-level players do. 

First she tied it with less than two minutes to play. Then she won it in the second overtime. Of course, this was more than just one player who did it all herself. It was a total team win. When Princeton needed goals, though, Yeager came through.

It was impressive by the entire team. It also was huge. Princeton vaulted to No. 3 in the RPI with the win, helped by its strength of schedule, which ranks No. 1 in Division I.

On another note, Princeton and Maryland have now played seven straight one-goal games. The last five games between the teams have gone to overtime. 

The scene Tuesday late afternoon into evening at Class of 1952 Stadium was awesome. The Princeton-Maryland game was heading to overtime on Bedford Field. The Princeton-Loyola men's soccer game on Sherrerd Field was approaching. 

Had the field hockey game gone to a shootout, maybe they could have even overlapped a bit. Either way, it made for a great scene, with two games separated by a few yards.

Maybe it wasn't a great scene if your job was to figure out how to stream two games from one facility with one press box that came so close to overlapping. Or if you work in events. But hey, it was definitely something different.

Speaking of great celebration pictures, there was this one after the men's soccer team won its game against the Greyhounds 2-0:

That would be Gabriel Duchovny, who hammered in a perfect shot late in the first half to make it 2-0 for the Tigers. It was the first collegiate goal for Duchovny, a freshman.

TB's question is this: Was he pointing at the photographer, or was he pointing to teammates and the photographer was standing in the right place? 

For someone who scored his first goal, it would be amazing presence of mind to realize where the photographer was. 

If you liked the Class of 1952 doubleheader, or if you missed it, you can do it again tomorrow. 

The field hockey team's next game is tomorrow at 4 and is the Ivy League opener against Penn. The Quakers are 0-6, but they have the second-best strength of schedule and also have a one-goal loss to Northwestern (4-3 last week).

The men's soccer team will again follow that with a game of its own, this tine against Rider, again at 7. 

The Broncs are coached by Charlie Inverso, who goes way, way back with TB and way, way, way back with Princeton head coach Jim Barlow. Inverso is a great person, and he also is as good as doing impersonations as anyone TB has ever heard (other than Rich Little, Eddie Murphy and Andrew Dice Clay, and he's close).

So that's two games, 50 yards or so apart, once again. Both are free.

How can you beat that? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Who's No. 1?

TigerBlog was an American History major while in college in West Philadelphia.

He's pretty sure that everyone else in his class who had the same major is a lawyer now. How many of them besides TB have a job with the word "Historian" in the title? 

One thing that is fascinating to TB is that so much of what is taught in history classes these days hadn't even happened yet when he was in school. It's like turning on the oldies station on the radio and hearing songs from when he was in high school or college. 

What does that say about him? 

History, of course, has always fascinated TB. That's why he majored in it. These days, his primary focus is Princeton Athletic history, which all by itself includes history, philosophy, drama, sociology, literature, art and pretty much any other humanity and social science. Maybe he should see about teaching such a class here? 

It can be a lot of fun to be the Department of Athletics' historian.

Take yesterday, for instance. TB received an email from Jerry Carino, one of the top sportswriters in the state of New Jersey. He's working on a project for the Gannett papers (Bergen Record, Asbury Park Press, among others) to name the top 50 collegiate women athletes in New Jersey history. 

He asked TB if he could recommend some Princeton women for the list. Has anything ever been more in TB's wheelhouse than that? 

TigerBlog, of course, wrote a book on the history of women's athletics at Princeton. During that project, he was asked to make a list of the greatest women athletes Princeton has ever had in order, and each time he tried it, he came up with a different list. 

For Carino's project, the requirement is that an athlete was to be considered based on what she had accomplished at a New Jersey college, not beyond it, unless it was something that happened within one year of graduating. He cited the conundrum of Carli Lloyd, the Rutgers soccer player who was a third-team All-American in college and then went on to become of the greatest American women's soccer players ever. What to do with her? 

TB calls that "The Striebel Effect." Matt Striebel had a college career similar to Carli Lloyd's (really, really good but not elite) as a lacrosse player at Princeton (he also played soccer and has the distinction of scoring goals in both the soccer and lacrosse NCAA tournaments). After graduation, he went on to be one of the greatest professional and international midfielders of all time. Where would you rank him on a list of college athletes? 

Anyway, back at the top 50 in New Jersey history, TB started in the same place he always starts when it comes to all-time great Princeton women athletes, with Princeton's two women who have won two Olympic gold medals. That would be water polo player Ashleigh Johnson and rower Caroline Lind, though Lind doesn't quite make the "one year" rule because she graduated in 2006 (as an NCAA champion) and didn't win Olympic gold until 2008 and 2012.

Beyond those two? There are so many that it's hard to choose. It's the same issue that TB has always had when it comes to a list like this.

Carino's email also took TB back to his days as a sportswriter in the 1980s and early 90s. He saw a lot of great women athletes at other schools then, especially at Rutgers and really at the College of New Jersey, which was then Trenton State College. One name TB gave Carino was Gina Carey, a field hockey/lacrosse player at TSC who is now an assistant coach there. 

For the Princeton names? TB is still mulling it over. He has a few days to come up with the list. 

Does anyone have any advice? Feel free to let TB know.

In the meantime, he's looking forward to the final product and to see all the names on the list. One thing TB did tell Carino yesterday: He'd rank Ashleigh Johnson No. 1.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

A Field Hockey/Men's Soccer Doubleheader

Are you still not following Shelley Szwast on Twitter? 

How is that possible if you're a Princeton fan? She's a source of endless great Princeton Athletics content.

She can be found at @split2ndphoto. She's definitely a professional photographer, but she's also a fan first and foremost, something that is very obvious when you talk to her or when you look at her social media. Again, you're missing out if you don't.

Go ahead. Follow her. TigerBlog will give you a few seconds to do so ...

... all done? Good.

Shelley takes a lot of photos of Princeton's teams, and she packages them nicely on her social media feed (you can find her on Instagram too). Like this, for instance:

This past Sunday was somewhat typical for her, as she shot field hockey against Northwestern at noon and then women's soccer against Delaware at 7.

In between? She sat in the Class of 1952 Stadium press box and did some work, mostly on the photos she'd just taken. Now that's dedication. She deserves to be followed.

If you've never been to Class of 1952 Stadium, it's made up of two fields, Sherrerd Field and Bedford Field. The press box is in the middle and has windows on both sides, so you can see either field.

There is another doubleheader coming up today, one that would be easier for Shelley, and anyone who wants to watch both games. It begins on the Bedford Field side at 4 with a field hockey game against Maryland then continuing at 7 with a men's soccer game on Sherrerd Field against Loyola.

When TB first started covering Princeton Athletics, the entire facility was nothing more than a mix of grass, dirt and rocks, used mostly to park heavy equipment. Back then, Princeton field hockey played on Gulick Field and Princeton soccer played on Lourie-Love Field, which sat side-by-side diagonally opposite where Class of 1952 is now. They were completely no-frills facilities, though they did have their charm. 

Meanwhile, back at today's game, the field hockey team was ranked No. 8 last week. After a 3-1 win over Delaware and a 2-1 OT loss to No. 1 Northwestern, it'll be interesting to see what today's new rankings look like.

Princeton brings a 3-3 record into the game today. The three losses are to the teams ranked No. 1, No. 2 (North Carolina) and No. 4 (Louisville). Those three are a combined 22-0. All three beat Princeton by one goal.

So if you've played No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4, you might as well play No. 3, right? That's what Maryland is. The Terrapins are also unbeaten, improving to 8-0 with a 4-2 win over Ohio State Friday night. The last six Princeton-Maryland games have all been one goal games, including four straight in overtime.

As a sub-plot, Maryland head coach Missy Meharg coached Princeton head coach Carla Tagliene and associate head coach Dina Rizzo when they were Terrapins, including to the 1999 NCAA title. 

As for the men's soccer game, this is a matchup of two teams who reached the NCAA tournament a year ago after winning their conference championships.

Loyola, for its part, is coming off its first Patriot League championship, won a year ago by knocking off American in the tournament final. Loyola then played 120 scoreless minutes with North Carolina in the NCAA tournament before losing in penalty kicks.

Princeton went 7-0-0 last year in the Ivy League before its own first-round loss, 1-0 to St. John's.

The Tigers this year are 1-2-1. A year ago, Princeton was 3-4 heading into the Ivy League. 

If you can't make it today, you get another chance to do this again Friday, when the field hockey team plays Penn in its Ivy League opener at 4 and then the men's soccer team is home against Rider at 7.

After that, the men's soccer team heads back to Queens to take on St. John's Tuesday before its own Ivy opener against Dartmouth in Hanover a week from Saturday. 

If you're at Class of 1952 today, you'll get to see two excellent matchups, with no admission charge for either. And if you look on the sidelines, you'll see Shelley doing her thing.

Give her a follow.

Monday, September 19, 2022

For Openers

Here's a quick trivia question for you: Who was the last Princeton quarterback to start the season-opener two straight times? 

The answer is Chad Kanoff, who was the starting quarterback for the 2016 opener against Lafayette and the 2017 opener against San Diego. For that matter, he also started the 2015 opener, also against Lafayette.

If it's a trick question, it's because John Lovett, who wasn't technically the starting quarterback in any game in 2016, won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, something Kanoff won in 2017 and then Lovett won again in 2018, when the Tigers went 10-0.

Lovett was the clear starter in 2018. In 2019, Kevin Davidson was the starter. In 2021, it was Cole Smith, whose graduation meant that Princeton would have its fifth different starting quarterback in five years as the 2022 season kicked off.

This time around, it was junior Blake Stenstrom who was the opening day starter. For the first time since Kanoff in 2016, Princeton's starting quarterback was not a senior.

Stenstrom was, like the Princeton team as a whole, very steady in a 39-14 win at Stetson Saturday. In some ways, it was what a coaching staff might consider to be a perfect opener: a win, with some big contributions by some new faces, as well as enough that still needs to be worked on to get everyone's attention come film time.

A year ago, in Week 2, Princeton defeated Stetson 63-0. If those were the only numbers floating around your head before the game started, then you probably wondered what was going on when Stetson took leads of 7-0 and 14-7. What was going on was the presence of Stetson's rookie quarterback Brady Meitz, who had thrown for nearly 800 yards in the first two Hatter games, both wins.

From TigerBlog's perspective, this was much better than a 63-0 romp. Meitz threw two long TD passes in the first 17 minutes, and TB was interested to see how the Tigers would react to a little adversity early on.

The answer was: really well.

To that point, Stetson had 178 yards of offense and two touchdowns in three possessions. Going forward, Stetson had no points and 65 more yards. 

Princeton scored the final 32 points of the day, including a safety in the second quarter that built a 22-14 lead at the break. The safety, by the way, meant that Princeton's defense outscored Stetson's offense 2-0 after the second touchdown.

Something else that any coaching staff loves to see is a win in which it's pretty difficult to pick out who the top player for the day was. In this case, Princeton got contributions from all over the place, from some who have made them before and others who are in new roles.

Take the wide receiver position, for instance. The leading receiver, not shockingly, was Andrei Iosivas, who caught six passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Jo Jo Hawkins, who had one career reception prior to this season, also caught six, for 70 yards.

Stenstrom, for his part, was 23 for 33 for 256 yards and the two TDs to Iosivas. The fact that the team has a new starting quarterback again and yet has been so successful through the years is a testament to a coaching staff that knows how to prepare those in the program to be successful and the team-first culture that exists with the Tigers.

The game against Stetsopn gave Princeton a chance to blend the new and the old together. It gave the team a chance to travel, flying by charter to Florida. It gave the team an opening day win.

Up next is the home opener against Lehigh, this coming Saturday at 3. The Mountain Hawks are 1-2, having beaten Georgetown and lost to Villanova and Richmond.

After that is the Ivy opener, at Columbia. Has anything been learned about the league after one week of games? Well, the Ivy teams did go 7-1. In other words, no week will be easy.

Princeton is 1-0. It learned quite a lot about itself in the game in Florida — including that there is much left to learn. 

All in all, you couldn't ask for more on opening day.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Opening Kickoff

The opening kickoff of the 2022 Princeton football season is a few hours away.

The Tigers, coming off another Ivy League championship a year ago, will be on a plane today to Florida in advance of tomorrow's 1:00 game at Stetson.

This is the start of a 10-games, 10-weeks run that will see Princeton chase a fifth Ivy championship under head coach Bob Surace, who has won the title in 2013, 2016, 2018 and 2021. Surace also was the All-Ivy League center on Princeton's 1989 Ivy champ.

Before the games begin, there is THIS FEATURE STORY written by TigerBlog's colleague Warren Croxton on Princeton's Nasir Cook and his Nashville Youth Initiative. It's a very inspiring story.

There is also this video that is very much worth your three minutes. It's a day in the life of Tigers Uche Ndukwe and Andrei Iosivas. 

Those types of videos are among TigerBlog's favorite kinds of content, especially in football. It's a sport where the players are wearing helmets and head-to-toe padding, and it's hard to necessarily see the individual person and personality underneath all that. To have a video like the one of Ndukwe and Iosivas gives you a window into who they are.

Ndukwe and Iosivas are two of Princeton's football captains for the year. The Tigers have seven in all, with those two plus tight end Carson Bobo, wide receiver Dylan Classi, offensive lineman Henry Byrd, linebacker Matthew Jester and defensive back Michael Ruttlen Jr.

Princeton was picked to finish third in the league, behind co-No. 1s Harvard and Dartmouth. This, of course, means nothing once the games start.

In all the years that TB has been watching Ivy League football, he's always felt like last week was the toughest, when pretty much everyone else is playing and there is still one more week to go until you do. This week has always been a fun one, with nearly a month of preseason, not to mention all of the off-season work and conditioning, now over and the promise of the new year here.

Every team in the league is 0-0, and every team in the league should be thinking this could be the year. Certainly Ivy football history is filled with unheralded teams who have made a serious run and even won the championship.

One team that isn't 0-0 is Stetson, who is 2-0 after wins over Concordia (Michigan) and Louisiana Christian. This is the Hatters final non-league game, and the schedule for them will now feature eight Pioneer League games. Stetson's first football coach, you might recall, was former Princeton head coach Roger Hughes. 

Princeton defeated Stetson 62-0 last year on a day when two Hatters quarterbacks combined to throw for 173 yards in the loss. That total is less than half of what the team's new QB has averaged for the first two weeks.

Brody Meitz, who redshirted a year ago as a freshman, has thrown for 794 yards and four touchdowns while completing 60 percent of his passes in the two games to date. He comes into the game against Princeton as the reigning PFL Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 444 yards and three touchdowns last week. In that game against Louisiana Christian, he completed 25 of 44, and his 25 completions went to 10 different receivers. 

According to his bio on the Stetson website, Meitz is a pre-med major who would like to be an orthopedic surgeon. The 25 completions he had last week are also five times more than all of Princeton's quarterbacks combined entering this season.

Blake Stenstrom completed five passes a year ago while backing up Cole Smith. In fact, who is second on the team right now in career completions? That would be Classi, the wide receiver.

Breaking in a new quarterback is not new for Princeton's offense. It happened in 2019 with Kevin Davidson and last year with Cole Smith, and both had very big seasons.

The quarterback question will be answered soon enough. So will all of the other questions about this team, which graduated a lot of familiar faces. There is plenty of experience still on the team, and the great depth that Surace and his staff have put together makes the competition for all of the spots intense.

And now it's time for the opening kickoff. Princeton and Stetson, tomorrow at 1.

It'll be mid-November before you know it.

 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

48-16

Of the 1,000 varsity athletes plus all of the coaches and staff who make up the Princeton Department of Athletics, TigerBlog has no doubt who the happiest of all of them was around dinner time last Friday.

That would be women's lacrosse associate head coach Kerrin Maurer.

Since Maurer joined the women's lacrosse staff, the team is 47-16, with Ivy League championships, Ivy tourament championships and NCAA tournament appearances each full season. 

As of Friday evening, Maurer improved to 48-16 on the Princeton sidelines. This time, though, it was one field over from where the lacrosse team plays.

With the three field hockey assistant coaches out sick, Maurer came to the rescue as the only assistant to head coach Carla Tagliente for the Tigers' game against No. 7 Syracuse. With the team off to an 0-2 start after one-goal losses to No. 2 North Carolina and No. 4 Louisville a week earlier, Princeton was looking to get a win against another highly ranked ACC team, one that happened to be the highest scoring team in the country.

The challenge was to prepare and play the game without any assistant coaches. 

Into that void stepped Maurer. There was a time several decades ago when anyone who played women's lacrosse also played field hockey, and in fact there was a time when Chris Sailer was the head women's lacrosse coach and assistant field hockey coach, while Beth Bozman had the reverse roles. Those days, though, are well in the past.

Maurer laughed before the game that she'd played field hockey in seventh grade. Then Princeton went out and topped Syracuse 5-1. 

After the game, there was nobody anywhere smiling wider than Maurer. TB texted her afterwards to say that she seemed to be having fun during the game, and her response was "That was awesome."

Come Sunday, Princeton then knocked off No. 15 Rutgers 4-1. When the rankings came out this week, Princeton had gone from 17th to eighth. Tiger goalie Robyn Thompson, who had back-to-back eight-save games, was an easy choice for Ivy Defensive Player of the Week.

Maurer wasn't able to be on the sideline for the Rutgers game, with the acceptable excuse that she was needed by the lacrosse program. That led to a rarity for any college team, which is to have only the head coach with no assistants.

It reminded TB of the story of when Pete Carril was alone with the men's basketball team at a game at Virginia in 1975 and then got thrown out after arguing a call. What would have happened had Tagliente gotten tossed at Rutgers? Of course those odds were long and it never came close to happening. 

Still, after the game, she admitted that she'd thought about it. She also said that Maurer had loved her one game on the field hockey sideline and that she had done a really good job, something that resulted in instant acceptance on the part of the players.

Beyond that, Tagliente talked about the commonalities that exist in coaching, beyond the Xs and the Os. It was pretty interesting.

Princeton will begin a remarkable stretch of five games in 10 days tomorrow, when Delaware comes to Bedford Field. In fact, all five games of this stretch are home games.

Next up after Delaware? That would be No. 1 Northwestern Sunday at noon. It must get easier after that, right? Barely. That would be No. 3 Maryland, another Final Four team from a year ago, for a game Tuesday. The Ivy opener will be a week from tomorrow against Penn, and then the run ends with a game Sept. 25 against Lafayette. 

The win over Syracuse was huge for Princeton and its confidence as the schedule continues to be brutal. How big will that game prove to be in the long run of the season? Well, confidence is an interesting thing. After not having the lead at any point in the first two games, Princeton never trailed in the last two. It is of such things that very successful seasons are born.

On the other hand, a loss to Syracuse would have left the team uncertain heading to Rutgers. Who knows what might have happened next?

So does Kerrin Maurer deserve the credit for turning Princeton's field hockey season around? Well, that might be overstating.

It's not overstating anything, though, to give her credit for stepping in and making a real difference, not to mention having a blast.


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Princeton, Stanford, Notre Dame And That's The List

TigerBlog is extraordinarily proud to be able to put "P'22" after his name.

It's not really anything he actually accomplished. It was all Miss TigerBlog, who graduated this past May with the Class of 2022. 

Even a few months later, TB still marvels at what she accomplished everytime he thinks about it. When he updated the women's lacrosse letterwinners in the record book and added her fourth letter, he stopped and again thought about how impressed he was that she balanced that with mechanical and aerospace engineering and saw both through all four years.

In the time that his daughter was on campus, TB didn't really see her all that often, which was fine with both of them. She wanted to make her own way. He wanted to say out of her way. 

It worked — but it was also nice for both of them to know that the other one was close by. She actually admitted to that, though not until after graduation.

As the new school year has begun, it is definitely strange not to have her around anymore. She was one of the students who stayed enrolled during the 2020-21 academic year, and so many of her friends and other athletes who came in with her who did withdraw for the year are now seniors, which makes it even odder.

If you'll indulge TB for a little parental pride, MTB is on her way to Paris next week to present a paper at the International Aeronautical Congress. Her presentation will be on: Nuclear Fusion Powered Titan Aircraft.

So yes, there's a great deal of parental pride there. She did not ask her father for help on the subject. If she wants to know something about Princeton Athletic history, though, she shouldn't hesitate to ask.

The opportunity to attend Princeton, study what your passion is and play the sport that you love is unparalleled. There have been so many people who have benefited from the experience, and to see his own daughter have that chance too was just amazing.

It's worth keeping in mind when you watch Princeton's teams compete that they are composed of athletes who also excel at the absolute highest academic level. TB thought about setting out to quantify this, and what he found out was really eye-opening.

The news came out this week that Princeton University was named the No. 1 national university in the country by the esteemed US News rankings. It was the 12th straight time that Princeton has been at the top of those rankings.

Of course, everyone at Princeton is rightly proud of that.

Here's something else Princetonians can be proud of, TB figured out.

His idea was this: What if you combined a school's US News ranking with its Learfield Directors' Cup ranking? Then what would you find.

The Directors' Cup measures overall athletic success through NCAA tournament participation and results. In other words it looks to define the best all-around athletic programs in the country.

Princeton finished 18th in the Directors Cup a year ago, for its best finish ever, as well as the best finish ever by an FCS school. Prior to last year, Princeton's best finish had been 21st, back in 2001-02.

So what did TB find out when he looked at both lists? 

There are only three schools that were in the top 20 of both rankings. Here's the full list: 

* Princeton (No. 1 in US News, No. 18 in Directors' Cup).
* Stanford (No. 3 in US News, tied with Harvard and Yale by the way, and No. 2 in Directors' Cup)
* Notre Dame (No. 18 in US News, No. 8 in Directors' Cup)

If you add the two together, then Stanford is first with 5, followed by Princeton with 19. Nobody else is under 20.

That's pretty amazing stuff, people.


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Portrait Mode

TigerBlog had the chance to meet with Barnes Hauptfuhrer yesterday morning.

The name probably rings a bell. Hauptfuhrer was a three-time All-Ivy League men's basketball player at Princeton, and he earned first-team All-Ivy honors in 1976 as a senior as part of Princeton's 14-0 Ivy League championship team that lost 54-53 to Rutgers in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Princeton had two first-team All-Ivy selections that season. The other one was also the Ivy Player of the Year. Can you name him? TB will give you a few paragraphs to figure it out.

Hauptfuhrer's career high was a 31-point game in a 70-59 win over Brown at Jadwin Gym his senior year, and he finished his career with 1,079 career points. He also holds a record that can't be beaten, having shot 11 for 11 from the field (and 2 for 2 from the line for 24 points) in an 80-66 loss to Notre Dame in 1974.

Here's another trivia question: Who led the Irish in scoring in that game? Hints - 1) he went on to score 23,177 points in the NBA; 2) he averaged 24.3 points per game for his career in the NBA and 3) he's in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Hauptfuhrer was the 44th pick in the 1976 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets, selected in the third round of what used to be a 10-round draft. He wouldn't play in the league, instead going from Princeton to grad school at Virginia and then to a long and successful career in banking. 

He recently published a book on Amazon called "Teamball," which takes his basketball career, especially his time playing for Pete Carril, and mixes it with the rest of his life experiences to speak about issues in leadership and management.

You can see more about it HERE, including how to purchase it. 

It looks pretty interesting. Here's something from Edward Kelly, Princeton Class of 1975:

“I went to Princeton because of Bill Bradley, marveled at John Wooden’s success at UCLA, suffered as a 76er fan the dominance of Red Auerbach and the Celtics, watched Pete Carril’s artistry at Princeton and, more recently while living in Charlottesville, have admired the discipline and commitment that Tony Bennett instills in his teams at Virginia. Until this book, I had not appreciated what linked these men to each other: a devotion to core-values driven leadership. Barnes ably explains in this engaging book what this is and why it matters - in everything from sports to business to politics."

As for Bill Bradley, he was on the Princeton main website recently after a ceremony to unveil a portrait of him that was painted after he was one of 10 people put forward by the University's Portraiture Nominations Committee. The painting, done by New York City artist Burton Silverman, will hang now in the Frist Campus Center.

Of course, no list of the most iconic Princetonians of all time would be complete unless Bradley was near the top. The greatest men's basketball player in the long history of the program, Bradley put up 2,503 career points, done in three years with no three-point shot. He still has the 11 highest-scoring games in Princeton's record book.

He also led Princeton to three Ivy League titles and the 1965 NCAA Final Four. He won a gold medal as the captain of the 1964 United States Olympic men's basketball team, and he won the Sullivan Award that year as the nation's top amateur athlete. 

He'd later win two NBA championships with the New York Knicks and earn a spot in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

And that's only one side of his story. The other is that he was a Rhodes Scholar who went on to be elected to the United States Senate three times. 

Another book well worth reading is "A Sense Of Where You Are," John McPhee's first book, which chronicles Bradley's 1965 senior year. McPhee was unable to be at the ceremony for Bradley, with whom he has stayed very close through the years, but he did write this about when the 1965 team returned to campus after its 40-point win over Providence in the East Region final and sent it along:

“Bill got up on top of the bus that returned the team to the center of the Princeton campus,” McPhee wrote. “A scarf flying across one shoulder, he addressed the thousands of students who had swarmed around the bus. Affection for his teammates and for the school around him came across in everything he said, feelings he would never lose. He is still on top of the bus, and his likeness has evolved into an enduring portrait.”

That is really good. 

Oh, and the trivia answers: The first one was Armond Hill. The second was Adrian Dantley.

Monday, September 12, 2022

21 Years Later

TigerBlog went to put his new chair down on the beach Saturday afternoon when he noticed a woman about 10 feet away who was glaring at him.

What was the issue? He couldn't figure it out. Maybe it was his "Princeton Lacrosse" shirt? Was she a hater? 

Eventually, TB moved further away. Then, about 30 minutes later, he noticed that the woman was yelling at a different guy who had sat down where TB was before. This time, the man yelled back at her. Then they both turned the other way.

At one point, TB walked up to the guy to ask what had happened, and he said she felt he had the whole beach and why did he have to sit so close to her, even though he was nowhere near her. As it turned out, though, the guy was a Princeton fan, a football season ticket holder for that matter. 

He and TB spoke for awhile about the Tigers, about his seats, about his former career as a pilot for United. Nice guy.

This is a great time of year to be at the Jersey Shore. It's post-Labor Day, so the crowds are mostly gone. The weather is perfect — and it was especially so on Saturday, when it was sunny and 80 degrees with a cooling breeze off the ocean.

It was a day at the beach. Yesterday was not. 

Those two sentences are literal and figurative.

Saturday was Sept. 10. For TigerBlog, it's always a bit of a surreal day, a reminder of what the world used to be like. 

Yesterday was Sept. 11. That's always a day to remember when the world changed.

It's been 21 years now since nearly 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon and in western Pennsylvania. It's hard to believe that most of the current Princeton students weren't even born yet on the day of the attacks.

When TigerBlog was flying back from North Carolina last weekend with the field hockey team, he explained to the freshmen that before 9/11, anyone could go up to the gate simply by walking through the metal detector. If you were meeting someone who was flying in, you could stand at the gate and see them as they got off the plane.

It's a world they never knew. 

This is what TB's memory of 9/11/2001 is, something he's written many times before:

He was dropping off TigerBlog Jr. at the University League Nursery School, on the far side of the parking lot outside Jadwin. It was the most perfect weather day, crystal clear, sunshine, no humidity, not a cloud to be found.

TB dropped TBJ off at the school, and the woman who was the office manager said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

TigerBlog walked outside, looked up, and thought "how in the world did that happen?" By the time he got to Jadwin, he found out how.

Most of that day was spent huddled around the only television around, the one in the athletic training room in Caldwell Field House. It was a day where people spoke very little, where everyone had dazed looks on their faces.

By mid-afternoon, he went back to get TBJ at the nursery school. He can still see the children, swinging on the swings, playing in a sandbox, oblivious - happily oblivious - to what had happened to the innocence of the world outside that playground.

Later that night, after it was dark, TigerBlog walked outside to the end of his driveway and looked up. There were no planes in the sky. They'd all been grounded. TB remembers it vividly, the sight of the stars, without planes, above a world of confusion, angst, uncertainty, fear.

In fact, when TB got to Jadwin that day, the first person he saw was John Mack, now the Ford Family Director of Athletics and then in his first year of working in the department. 

There were 14 Princetonians who were killed on 9/11. There were hundreds more who were near Ground Zero when it all happened.

One of those who died was men's lacrosse player John Schroeder. TB wrote about him a year ago on the 20th anniversary.

When TB went to meet with John's father Jack, he was struck by the American flag that hangs in his kitchen. The stripes are composed with the names of every person who was killed that day.

It's an overwhelming thing to see them all there and to imagine all of their stories. And, each time the anniversary roles around, there are people who mark another year without them.

Sept. 10 is the last day of innocence.

Sept. 11 is the day it all changed. It's a day that always needs remembrance, and reverence.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Rugby's First Home Game, Greg Busch Is Back, PLL Playoffs And More

The Princeton Department of Athletics had its first staff meeting of the 2022-23 academic year yesterday.

As he sat in the Frist Multi-Purpose Room, TigerBlog thought back to the first time he attended one of these meetings. Back then, the man who was leading the one yesterday, Ford Family Director of Athletics John Mack, would have been in high school.

TB figured, somewhat weirdly, that maybe a third of the people in the room weren't even born yet during the five years he spent covering Princeton back at the newspaper. Yikes

One of the highlights of the meeting yesterday was the presentation by women's rugby head coach Josie Ziluca on the rules of the game. TB has seen some rugby and has the most basic sense of how it works. Hearing from Josie was pretty enlightening.

Ziluca and her team made their varsity debut last weekend at Sacred Heart. The team plays at home (on the Washington Road field) for the first time as a varsity program tomorrow at 1 against Army. 

The game will be the team's alumni appreciate day. This is a huge year for the rugby alumni group, who had such great experiences and successes while the program was on the club level. Now that it's varsity, there is a great deal of pride for those who helped pave the way.

TB knows enough about rugby to know that it's a wild sport to watch. Admission tomorrow and for all women's rugby games is free.

What else can TB tell you today? 

* Also at the meeting yesterday was Greg Busch, who will be the new Senior Associate Director of Athletics/Student-Athlete Experience. He replaces Allison Rich, who left to become the Director of Athletics at New Hampshire.

Busch, who has spent the last 17 years at Rider, is a 1999 Princeton graduate who was a member of the men's soccer team. He has also been an adjunct professor at Rider, and he's had TB come to speak in his class.

Before he went to Rider, though, he first worked at Princeton. In fact, Busch and TB used to make the Senior-Athlete banquet video, back when it was done on iMovie and done by two relative novices who spent hours and hours watching the little pinwheel spin around and around as the file got bigger and bigger. It was frustrating as anything TB has ever done here, but on the plus side, he did get to know Busch and realize what a great person he is.

When TB texted Busch to congratulate him, this was the response he got:

Btw just thinking- do u want to start recording the senior student-athlete banquet acknowledgement video on iMovie now?  Should be ready by reunions with the multicolored circle spinning for the next 9 months…

Ah, some memories will last forever. 

In the meantime, Greg Busch will be a great addition to the Princeton senior staff. 

* The Premier Lacrosse League will hold its semifinal games tomorrow at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Princeton will be well-represented there. 

It will start with the Waterdogs and Whipsnakes at 1 and be followed by the Archers and Chaos around 3:30. The Waterdogs include Princeton alums Michael Sowers and Zach Currier. The Archers have Princeton alums Tom Schreiber and Ryan Ambler and is coached by former Tiger head coach Chris Bates.

A week ago, the four Princetonians combined for 10 goals and four assists in their quarterfinal wins. 

You can watch the games on ESPN+, and the Whipsnakes-Waterdogs game will also be on ABC.

* TigerBlog wrote about the women's soccer team here yesterday and wrote about Princeton and women's soccer for goprincetontigers.com.

TB wrote a feature story about Princeton's leadership in the National Women's Soccer League, centered around alums/team owners Kara Nortman (Angel City), Chris and Angie Long (Kansas City) and Mark Wilf (Orlando).

Nortman was a keynote speaker at an event at the recent UEFA Women's Championship in England, where the home team won the championship in front of 87,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. That event, and the Women's World Cup, have helped build the NWSL into a stable cutting-edge league that is seeing nothing but growth.

You can read the story HERE.

* In addition to the women's rugby game tomorrow, there are also home events in field hockey (today at 4 against No. 7 Syracuse), men's water polo (Princeton Invitational all weekend) and women's soccer (Sunday at 1).

There are also other events that aren't too far away, including another field hockey game at No. 15 Rutgers at noon Sunday and the HYP cross country race tomorrow in Franklin Park.

The complete athletic schedule is HERE.


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Tigers Host Tigers

The third most common nickname among American four-year college teams is Tigers.

What are the first two? TigerBlog gives you a few paragraphs to think about it. 

There are in fact 72 schools whose nickname is Tigers. The first of all of them was, of course, Princeton, who came dangerously close to being called the "Lions" after the Class of 1879 gift of two Lions "to guard Nassau Hall."

Lions, though, would give way to Tigers soon enough. It actually sort of started on Thanksgiving Day 1876, when Princeton and Yale played football. It was on that day that the team wore uniforms for the first time, all black ones with a "P" on the chest.

Eventually, the team added orange stripes on the sleeves. Orange became the color of choice in honor of William of Orange of the House of Nassau, who was an 18th century English king. 

In 1882, after one of those games with the black jerseys with orange stripes, a newspaper story credited Princeton with "fighting like Tigers," and it stuck.

Meanwhile, back in the present day, you'd think that with so many teams who are nicknamed Tigers that there'd be a lot of Tiger vs. Tiger games. In reality, there are hardly any.

One of those games is tonight, though, when the Tigers (Princeton) play host to the Tigers (LSU) in women''s soccer. Gametime is 7. Admission is free.

LSU, from the SEC, comes in with a record of 4-0-2. The game tonight will be the first of two in New Jersey for the Tigers, who also play at Rutgers Sunday. Rutgers is the only team to have beaten Princeton so far this year. 

The Tigers (the LSU ones) have already played two games in California, three in Louisiana and one in Mississippi. They were an NCAA tournament team a year ago. 

LSU has never played an Ivy League team before or played a game in the state of New Jersey before.

As for the Tigers (the Princeton ones), prior to tonight, the only other time Princeton played a team from the SEC was in 2004, when the Tigers (assume TB means Princeton's the rest of the way) knocked off Vanderbilt 3-0 in a game played at Penn. For the record, Emily Behncke had two of the Princeton goals that day, while the third came from Esmeralda Negron.

That win improved Princeton's record to 3-0 on the season. The Tigers would finish 19-3 and reach the NCAA Final Four that year, an accomplishment that was a first — and remains an only — for an Ivy women's soccer team.

The 2004 season opened, by the way, with Texas A&M, who is now in the SEC but back then was still in the Big 12. Princeton won that game 2-1 on goals by Diana Matheson and Negron in the first six minutes. 

Princeton is also home Sunday (at 1) against George Mason, a team that Princeton doesn't have a lot of history with but what history does exist includes something huge. Tonight's game will be the eighth between them, and George Mason (they're the Patriots) has a 4-3 edge, though Princeton won 3-1 last year in the only game they've played against each other in the last 20 years. 

The first game in the series was a huge moment in program history, as it was the first NCAA tournament game Princeton ever played in women's soccer. The Tigers would win that one 1-0.

If you're wondering who scored the first NCAA tournament goal in Princeton women's soccer history, the answer is Kerry Shaw, who headed in a cross from Kathy DeBoer with 11 minutes to play.

Princeton will play Thursday (at Hofstra) and Sunday (home against Delaware) next week as well. After that is the Ivy opener on Sept. 24 at Yale. 

Also, the answer to the question of the most common nicknames? Hawks is second. And No. 1?

Eagles. 

TB wouldn't have guessed that. He'd have figured Lions or Bulldogs, which happen to be four and five on the list.

And as a reminder, it's Tigers vs. Tigers at 7 tonight on Sherrerd Field.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

There'll Never Be Another Georgie Buck

Our Man Buck
There once was a guy named Buck,
Was always around when teams needed luck.
Fields needed seeding, courts needed cleaning,
Clocks weren't working, lights were blinking,
Panic was everywhere, mayhem was extreme,
But a call to Buck made everything peaceful and serene.
He seeded the fields, cleaned the courts,
Fixed the clocks, turned on the lights and iced the rink,
Just when everything appeared lost and out of sync.
Buck to the rescue, he averted the brink.
He retired one day, while kids were at play,
He bowed out with grace, saying good luck from Georgie Buck,
Coaches and players may come and go,
But everyone knows that Buck ran the show.

- Pete Carril  

It's next to impossible for TigerBlog to think of George Boccanfuso without thinking about Pete Carril, and so it is that the sadness of having now lost both of them in a span of two weeks is a bit overwhelming.

Just as there will never be another Pete Carril, there will never be another George Buccanfuso. And if a fraction of the people who follow Princeton Athletics know the name "George Buccanfuso" who know the name "Pete Carril," it doesn't change the impact that he had here.

If you do know him by name, it's more likely that you know him by the only name that TB ever called him: "Georgie Buck."

If you knew him personally, you knew what a kind, gentle, giving, happy, funny — and really, really hard-working — man he was. You knew his raspy voice and easy laugh. You knew Phyllis, his wife of 67 years, almost all of that time spent on the Princeton campus. 

You might not have known that the longest time he was away from Princeton were the four years he spent in the Army, including serving in the European and Pacific theaters during World War II.

More than anything else, you knew his work ethic.

Georgie Buck passed away on Aug. 29, at the age of 96. It was two weeks to the day after the death of Coach Carril.

There's sadness to that, to be sure. There's also some sort of eternal happiness to that, knowing that two men who meant so much to each other, who gave so much to Princeton, are united again.

Carril came to Princeton in 1967, or 20 years after Georgie Buck was on the payroll. Georgie grew up in town and on campus, where his father John was the head of the athletic grounds crew beginning in 1920 and lasting 47 years. Before any of that, John worked on the crew that built Palmer Stadium — in 1914.

As for Georgie, he followed in his father's footsteps beginning in 1947. He'd "retire" from Princeton in 1989, though he never actually stopped working.

Every day in Jadwin Gym, there was Georgie Buck, mop in hand, floor to be cleaned. There was Georgie Buck, fixing the clock during a game. There was Georgie Buck, doing whatever it was that needed to be done.

He did this in his 70s. He did this in his 80s. He did this in his 90s. 

When he was well into his 80s, he fell off a scaffold and broke a bone in his neck. This was confirmed by an x-ray, which he waited five days to get. He was a tough guy. 

He and Carril were cut from the same cloth, and it's not surprising that they got along so well. Carril never called him George either. In fact, he rarely called him Georgie Buck. From Coach, it was usually just "Yo Buck."

When TB first became the men's basketball contact, Carril insisted that there be a bio of Georgie Buck in the media guide. He also wanted his poem "Our Man Buck" to be included. It's the poem that TB started with today.

TB went back and watched the 2017 video on goprincetontigers.com about Georgie Buck. He could not help but smile when he watched THIS.

You can hear Carril talk about Buck. You can hear Gary Walters and Mitch Henderson talk about him as well. Phyllis is in it as well.

You can also get a real sense of who the man was, and you can hear the raspy voice that TB mentioned. 

Georgie Buck was always good to TB. He was always good to everyone at Princeton. It won't be the same to walk into Jadwin Gym and not see him. 

Rest in peace, Georgie Buck. 

Say hi to Coach.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

The Deciding Vote

After TigerBlog posted the picture of the Princeton and Penn field hockey teams last week, he received this email:

"When have you have seen Tigers and Quakers who were smiling together before?"

That's easy. Here you go, from 2017:

That's Zack DiGregorio, at the time a Penn student, before he and TB did the stats for a men's lacrosse game at Franklin Field. Zack was a student-worker in the Penn athletic communications office.

See? A Tiger and a Quaker, unless you consider TB to still be a Quaker nearly 40 years after graduation. Or, with all of Zack's close ties to Princeton Athletics through his father Steve, maybe he's more a Tiger than a Quaker.

For his money, TB will call this a Tiger and a Quaker. When Zack worked as a student, he worked for Michael Mahoney and Chas Dorman. Of course, Chas is now a Quaker turned Tiger, as he now works for the Princeton OAC.

Zack, by the way, turned his back on what could have been a great career in athletic communications to go into politics. TB supposes it's noble.

Had Zack stayed in athletic communications, he would have had a vote for the possible name change for the organization that since 1957 has been called "College Sports Information Directors of America."

As you recall, TB has mentioned this twice now. The vote was held last Wednesday, with the results announced late Thursday — and the results were stunning.

First, TB will remind you of what was on the ballot. The choice was either to keep the existing CoSIDA name, or to change it to "College Sports Communicators." 

Then, he reminds you of what it would take to make the name change. There were two things that had to happen: 1) at least 10 percent of eligible voters had to vote and 2) at least 60 percent had to vote to change.

So what happened? 

Well, there were 3,619 eligible voters, so obviously 362 votes were necessary. The total number of votes was 1,235, so that satisfied the first requirement.

Next, the vote was 741 votes to make the change and 494 votes not to make the change.

In case you don't have your calculator with you, the percentage of yes votes would be the number of such votes divided by the total votes cast. That would be 741/1,235 — or .600000.

Not .601. Not .600001. Exactly .600000.

Had one person who voted "yes" instead voted "no," the percentage would have been .59919. If one person who didn't vote had instead voted "no," the percentage would have been .5995.

That's just craziness.

TigerBlog voted "yes" for the proposal. It's very weird to think that had he simply clicked "no," then it wouldn't have passed. How many times have you heard that every vote counts? And how many times have you thought no election can ever be decided by one vote.

TB had never heard of a voting for anything where one vote either way would have swung it, so he did  a search. It turns out it has happened once on the federal level, in a New York Congressional race in 1910, when Charles Bennett Smith defeated incumbent D.S. Alexander 20,685-20,684.

So now what? CoSIDA, as it's always been known, will be rebranding. TB voted yes because he thinks the term "sports information" is part of a bygone era of the profession. 

Sports Communicators is a more modern name, as well as one that does a better job of reflecting what exactly those in the profession do these days. This is from the story on the website:

The name change is a major step in a larger strategic plan to highlight the association’s evolution and expansion. This move better aligns with its membership makeup and further positions the organization to support and advocate for its members who serve in the communications, digital and creative college sports industry, regardless of position or title.

TB is okay with all of that. At the same time, he's always liked the "CoSIDA" acronym. 

CSC? He'll get used to it.

He has to. After all, he's the one who cast the deciding vote.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Hanging Out At Gate B4

Exactly three weeks from today, the Princeton field hockey team will open its Ivy League season with a home game against Penn.

On that day, they'll be opponents. Rivals.

TigerBlog isn't sure what exactly the word is to describe what the teams were yesterday, but it definitely isn't opponents or rivals. 

They were travel partners, and not in the traditional Ivy sense of playing the same opponents on opposite sites in a weekend. They were actual travel partners, as in traveling together. 

They were practice partners. They were dinner companions. 

It was quite an interesting day for the two, uh, rivals.

Princeton and Penn both open their seasons today at the University of North Carolina, where Penn will play Louisville at 2:30 and then Princeton will play the host team at 5. Come Sunday, it'll be Princeton-Louisville at 11 and Penn-UNC at 2. If you're keeping track, UNC is ranked second, Louisville is ranked ninth and Princeton is ranked 13th.

Princeton's original plan to get to Chapel Hill was to take a flight that left Newark at 9:30 yesterday morning. The original itinerary for the teams' practices was for Penn to have UNC's game field at noon and Princeton at 3.

It all started to go a little pear-shaped when Princeton's flight was cancelled Wednesday night. The Tigers scrambled to get on a different flight, which left Philadelphia at 8:49 yesterday morning. 

Or at least was supposed to.

Princeton left Jadwin Gym at 5:30 to go to the Philly airport. There was no line at security, so everyone was through by 6:45, leaving two hours until departure. 

That's where Princeton and Penn first crossed paths. The Quakers were on the same flight.

The plane was to leave from Gate B4. It came from Indianapolis to Philly very early yesterday, and it was sitting at the gate looking good to go by 7:30 or so. The board said "On Time" in big letters.

When it came time to board, though, there was an announcement that no traveler wants to hear: The flight is delayed due to "mechanical problems with the aircraft."

The very nice people at the gate said they'd update everyone every 15 minutes. In the meantime, the Princeton team and the Penn team were on opposite sides of the waiting area, both teams sprawled out, Princeton in orange "Princeton field hockey" sweatshirts and Penn in gray "Penn field hockey" sweatshirts.

Eventually, they started to do what you would expect, which is to start to mingle. It's the kind of sport where most people know someone on the other team. 

Every 15 minutes came the update: "No update." Eventually, the two coaching staffs talked about the best way to get to North Carolina in case the flight never left. Charter a flight? Rent a bus? Rebook? 

Pretty much every food stand in the gate area had either an orange or gray sweatshirt stop by. There was laughing, singing, social media posting (Gracie McGowan deserves the credit for that).  

The time the flight was supposed to leave came and went. So did 10:30. And 11:00. For the entire time, a man around 35 or so stood in front of the desk, as if the call to board was going to come any second. TB told him he admired his optimism. The man responded that he had been on the flight from Indianapolis to Philly and that he "knew first hand the plane was working before."

Finally the announcement came: This plane is being replaced by a different one that is at Gate A11.

It's about a seven-minute walk from Gate B4 to Gate A11, so all the orange and gray sweatshirts made their way along. There was another shorter wait there, and then it was wheels up at noon, just after the captain said that the issue with the other plane was "a problem with the fuel, and well, we need the fuel to fly the plane." She made a good point.

So now it was take-off, five and half hours after everyone got through security. The flight itself took 50 minutes, 50 very smooth minutes. As the plane landed, the captain wished "both teams good luck."

Of course, Penn had already missed its practice time. Princeton's coaches offered Penn one half of the field for the Tigers' slot, and so there they were back together again, on opposite sides of the field. 

If that wasn't enough, it turned out that the teams had made reservations in the same restaurant, and so there they were again, eating together.

In all of TB's time at Princeton, he's never seen anything like it. The two teams became an extended Ivy family, three weeks before they meet each other again.

When TB was doing his interviews for his book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton, one of the common themes was that through the decades, the details of the games blurred considerably, but the moments together away from the games were never forgotten. 

TB thought of that while he watched the scene play out. Maybe Princeton and Penn will win this weekend. Maybe they won't. Those details will fade.

They will always remember the time together at Gate B4, and for the rest of the day. 

It was certainly an adventure.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Do You Remember

Here is something for you to start the new month:

Okay, so it's not the 21st night of September. Still, it is September, and that is the name of the song.

That video was recorded in 1990 in Japan. That's around the time that TigerBlog saw Earth, Wind and Fire in New York City, and it's among the absolute best concerts he's ever seen.

TB's favorite song by the group is "Fantasy," which is up there with the best songs he has ever heard. Across the board, though, the group has such a unique and powerful sound that he can't think of a single song of theirs that he doesn't like.

So now it's September. August certainly flew by, right? 

TB starts out the month by sending his congratulations to his colleague Elliott Carr on his recent engagement to Colleen Doherty, who works as event and administrative coordinator at the Ivy League office. The two were recently in Australia, Elliott's home country and a place he hadn't been able to go since the start of the pandemic.

You have to travel a long way to find a nicer person than Elliott. TB is very happy for the two of them.

Being that this is September, there are some other pieces of news for TB to share, though none are as big as Elliott's news.

First, TB has a new title, his 10th all-time at Princeton. This one is his favorite: Senior Writer/Historian.

That sounds pretty good, right? And speaking of titles, that leads him into the second thing he wants to mention.

Of all of his titles, none of them has had the phrase "sports information director" in it. Yesterday was the day for members of the College Sports Information Directors of America to vote on whether or not to change the name to College Sports Communicators.

TB wrote about this when the issue was first presented and said he wasn't sure how he was going to vote. He ultimately voted in favor of the name change, largely because he believes that the term "sports information" conjures up images of a profession that doesn't exist anymore. The organization has had the name, by the way, for more than 60 years now.

He's not wild about the name "College Sports Communicators," and he does like "CoSIDA" as a nickname. Still, he voted for the change, because, you know, change is often a good thing. Maybe "College Athletics Communicators" might have been better.

The results of the voting will be known today. TB will let you know. To change the name requires a 60 percent "yes" vote and a minimum of 10 percent of the eligible voters to have voted. The number that TB is most interested in is actually the percentage of people who voted.

Lastly, today — Sept. 1, 2022 — marks TB's first day on the NCAA men's lacrosse rules committee. It's a four-year term, and TB is one of four new members of the eight-person panel. Maryland head coach John Tillman is the chair, and there is representation across all three NCAA divisions. There's also a mix of coaches (five of them) and administrators (three).

TB has taken a unique road to the committee. His playing career is limited to an over-40 league in which he tore his patella tendon. His coaching career consisted of six years of coaching his son.

His lacrosse background is in communications. He has helped write the rules of statkeeping, which has required anticipating every conceivable scenario that could happen in a game. He's always been interested in the intricacies of the rules, and he has some ideas about ways to improve the way the game is played. 

At the same time, there have been a great number of changes made to the game over the last few years, almost all of them for the better.

He joins the committee on what is an off-year, since rule changes are for the most part enacted every other year. There is a chance to make rules changes that require immediate attention, but for the most part, this first year will be spent observing, discussing and getting a lot of feedback.

His term runs through 2026. 

Anyway, welcome to September.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Cutdown Day

If the Princeton men's lacrosse team couldn't win the NCAA championship last spring, then TigerBlog is glad that it was Maryland that did. 

Maryland defeated Princeton 13-8 in the semifinals and then Cornell 9-7 in the final. In doing so, the Terps became the first team since Loyola in 2012 — meaning the first team in the shot clock era — to hold both of its Final Four opponents to under 10 goals. Maryland also prevented the 2022 Tigers from becoming the first team in program history to be in double figures in every game of a season.

The accomplishment of the Maryland defense speaks volumes about the team's defensive coordinator, right? And who would that be?

It would be Jesse Bernhardt, himself one of the top defensemen in the world the last decade. Why was TB rooting for Maryland if Princeton couldn't win? It's because Jesse Bernhardt was Princeton's defensive coordinator before he went on to Maryland. 

Bernhardt spent one season at Princeton before being replaced by the current D coordinator, Jeremy Hirsch, who himself built a defense that made it back to Championship Weekend. 

As for Bernhardt, TB learned a lot about him in the one year he was at Princeton, including that his favorite movie is "The Great Escape." He also learned about the Bernhardt family, with his father Jim, older brother Jake and younger brother Jared.

Jake is the offensive coordinator at Maryland, joining his brother on the staff this year after five years at Vermont. Jim's sport was football, and he was a longtime professional and college coach.

And Jared? Well, he's just an athletic freak. Like his two older brothers, he played lacrosse at Maryland, winning the Tewaaraton Award in 2021. He would certainly have been a dominant force in the Premier Lacrosse League, except he wanted to use his remaining year of eligibility to play college football.

He did so last year at Ferris State as a quarterback. He was so good at it that Ferris State won the Division II national championship. Then he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons, who brought him in as a wide receiver.

 To recap, Bernhardt played one year of college football as a quarterback and then went to an NFL training camp as a wide receiver, a position he has never before played. What happened next? He stood out all through the summer, and yesterday he made the team as the roster was trimmed to 53.

Of course, a lot happens after "final" cuts and before the first kickoff of the regular season. Still, it's quite a testament to what kind of athlete Bernhardt is. 

The day of the final cuts is always a brutal one in the NFL. There are players who are so close to fulfilling a lifelong dream who have that door slammed shut in their faces. For most of the ones who are cut and not picked up by a practice squad, their football days are likely over.

Also, the difference between a player who makes it and a player who doesn't has to be minimal. The stress has to be significant in the hours leading up to the deadline.

Princeton grad Jesper Horsted found himself on the right side of the cutdown day as he made the Las Vegas Raiders' 53-man roster. Again, as is the case with Bernhardt, who knows what could happen between now and the opener.

Still, Horsted has continued to be what he has always been since the first he put on an NFL uniform with the Chicago Bears after being a key cog in Princeton's unbeaten 2018 team (John Lovett, the 2018 Bushnell Cup winner as Princeton's quarterback, was put on injured reserve by the Miami Dolphins last week).

Horsted moved from wide receiver at Princeton to NFL tight end. He was with the Bears for three years, splitting his time between the active roster and the practice squad. His career regular season stats to date are 10 receptions for 108 yards, and three of those catches have gone for touchdowns. 

TigerBlog has written this before several times, and he stands by it: given a chance to play regularly, Horsted will be a consistent contributor who will put up solid NFL tight end numbers. 

Hopefully he gets that chance in Las Vegas this year. 

He cleared a big hurdle yesterday.


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Perfect Start

TigerBlog got this text message from Zack DiGregorio yesterday after TB wrote about driving Pete Carril's old car:

Your blog today reminded me that, when Coach sold my dad the silver 1997 Mercedes, there were two things he left in the car: the scent of cigars that, even years and years later, never totally left, and a cassette tape of the “Sounds of Greece”

That sounds right. 

TB wanted to share that with you to get started today. He also is reminded now of a different quote that he used to hear a lot at this time of year, back when he was a sportswriter. 

He's told you this before, but you probably don't remember. When it was still Trenton State College (as opposed to The College of New Jersey), the athletic program had a kickoff luncheon before the first athletic events of the year. 

Each year that TB attended, the college president said the same thing: "I predict that every Trenton State team will go undefeated this year."

That, of course, drew laughs and smiles. Not shockingly, it never came true, but hey, dream big, right? 

To that end, every Princeton team is currently undefeated for the 2022-23 academic year. Will it stay that way? Um, probably not. 

On the other hand, for right now, there is a "0" in the cumulative loss column. There's a "2" in the cumulative win column, courtesy of the women's soccer team, who opened its season with a 4-2 win over Colgate and a 2-0 win over Fairfield this past weekend.

The two wins gave Princeton a sweep of the first Ivy League Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week awards. Heather McNabb was the former, after she had three goals and an assist against Colgate, and Kelsey Wozniak was the latter, who had her first collegiate goal and first two collegiate assists on the weekend. 

Princeton puts its perfect cumulative record on the line this week with 13 events in five days, beginning Thursday with the women's soccer game at Rhode Island. A day later, there will be three more teams in the mix. 

The first 12 of those 13 events will be on the road. The home game will be Monday at 4, when the men's soccer team hosts Vermont, an NCAA team a year ago who defeated Princeton during the regular season in Burlington.

Before that the men's soccer team will be at Rutgers Friday at 7 in a great matchup for this time of year. Princeton went 7-0-0 in the Ivy League a year ago, but the Tigers fell 1-0 to the Scarlet Knights before the league season began. Rutgers is 1-1 after a win over Nebraska-Omaha and a loss to Creighton to start its season last week.

The field hockey team also plays Friday, at second-ranked North Carolina. The Tar Heels are 2-0, with wins over Michigan and Iowa, ranked third and fifth. Princeton, ranked 13th in the preseason, will also play No. 9 Louisville in Chapel Hill Sunday. Princeton went 10-7 last year against the same kind of brutal schedule that this year's team will face, and that team did not graduate a single player.

The women's volleyball team will be playing in Towson's tournament, starting Friday with matches against Morgan State and Towson. The next day marks the varsity debut for the women's rugby team, which plays at Sacred Heart. 

The men's water polo team will playing over the weekend at Navy, which means visiting former Princeton coach Luis Nicalao (an all-time TB favorite). The home debut is the following Saturday, when the Tigers host Army. You'll have four chances to see the Tigers play at home, and if you've never seen rugby, it's well worth the time.

If you look at the composite schedule, you'll see it still shows that this is August. As such, there are mostly empty boxes on the calendar, which means there are no Princeton events on those days.

If you flip to September, you'll see far fewer blank boxes. That means that Princeton teams will be off and running.

They're perfect now through one weekend. It won't stay that way, of course, but it doesn't mean that they won't be trying.