Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Opposition Swish

If your closet is mostly filled with orange and black, like TigerBlog's is, then you picked the right weekend to go to Dayton.

That was TB's first thought as he sat in a sports bar Friday night in the Ohio city that is about an hour from Cincinnati. Everywhere he looked there was orange and black, for the beloved Bengals, who were readying to play in the AFC Championship Game. 

His initial reaction was that everyone was wearing Princeton gear. The way the mind can train itself is a wonderful thing.

As it turned out, the Bengals lost to Kansas City 23-20, plunging Southwest Ohio into despair. As TB sat in a breakfast place (aptly named "Another Broken Egg Cafe") yesterday morning, his waitress saw his orange and black and said "tough loss." When she looked a little closer, she saw that it said "Princeton Lacrosse" and not "Cincinnati Bengals," to which she said "I'm from Vineland originally, so I'm an Eagles fan, but I can't say that here today."

As he mentioned yesterday, TB drove to Ohio to visit Miss TigerBlog, who is working in Dayton in her first post-Princeton job as an aerospace engineer. It's coincidence that he was here when the Bengals were one game from a return trip to the Super Bowl.

TB had seen that Dayton was playing Richmond Saturday at the UD Arena, which is one of the most famous in all of college basketball and a building in which TB had never before been. Richmond, of course, is coached by Chris Mooney, Princeton Class of 1994 and a first-team All-Ivy player during his time as a Tiger.

Earlier in the week, TB had emailed Doug Hauschild, the men's basketball SID at Dayton. TB had never met Hauschild, though when he read his bio he saw that Hauschild has been at Dayton longer than TB has been at Princeton, which is saying a lot.

Hauschild immediately got back to TigerBlog with tickets, credentials and a parking pass. It was quite hospitable of him, and it's also how those in athletic communications tend to operate.

The arena, by the way, is beautiful. Opened in 1969, it has hosted more NCAA tournament games than any other venue.

Prior to the game, TB and his daughter had lunch with Justin DiCarlo, a freshman on the Flyers' soccer team. DiCarlo attended Hotchkiss, where one of his close friends was current women's lacrosse freshman Jamie MacDonald, and he has started at Dayton this semester, allowing him to practice with the team this spring while having four years of eligibility.

Justin is also the son of Vinnie DiCarlo, who worked in the Princeton OAC in the mid-1990s. If you've been a longtime TB reader, you know that Vinnie stole a sign that said "this is not a public entrance to the RCA Dome" during Princeton's 1996 NCAA tournament appearance there.

The game was an 86-60 Dayton win behind what seemed to be sizzling three-point shooting, as in 14 for 27 for the night. What's more amazing is that the Flyers started the day 1 for 10 from beyond the arc, meaning they finished up 13 for 17. 

Overall, Dayton made 15 straight shots at one point, the last 11 of the first half and the first four of the second. TB was amazed at how hot Dayton got. 

After it was over, TB waited outside the Spider lockerroom to say hi to Mooney, who is one of the nicest guys who's ever come through the Princeton men's basketball program. It's always great to see him, even if it came after a frustrating day. 

Afterwards, TB went back to his hotel to watch Princeton-Yale men. If TB thought Dayton was hot, what did that make Yale? 

The Bulldogs topped Princeton 87-65 and shot 14 for 21 from three-point range in the process. If you put that together with the way Dayton finished up, then those two were a combined 27 for 38 from three-point range against Mooney and Mitch Henderson. That's 71 percent from three-point range.

Even if you include the 1 for 10 to start the day, it's still 28 for 47, or 60 percent, which is also nuts. Since TB was rooting for Richmond and Princeton, all he could do was shake his head. Hey, in basketball, there are those kinds of days.

The Princeton loss leaves the Tigers in a first-place tie with Cornell at 5-2 as the league race reaches the midway point. Yale and Dartmouth, who defeated Columbia 83-73 behind 41 points from Dame Adelekun, are both 4-3, followed by 3-4 Harvard, Penn and Brown.

This coming weekend is a huge one, as Princeton hosts Cornell Friday night and then Columbia Saturday night. 

The Cornell game will be preceded by a celebration in honor of Princeton's 1996, 1997 and 1998 teams, the ones that defeated UCLA in the NCAA tournament and then went 28-0 in the league the next two years, rising into the Top 10 in 1998 and defeating UNLV in the opening round of the tournament.

Henderson, the Princeton coach, and Earl, the Cornell coach, were obviously Princeton teammates during that run. They will be joined at Princeton by most of the others who were on the team then, as well as coaches and managers.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Rolling 11

At the top of the coverage of the AFC Championship Game yesterday, CBS reporter Tracy Wolfson mentioned that Kansas City quarterback Pat Mahomes had a high ankle sprain that was usually a three- to six-week injury but that Mahomes had spent four or five hours a day getting treatment.

TigerBlog had to wonder why all professional athletes wouldn't do that. If Mahomes could come back and play quarterback eight days after that injury, why would any professional athlete sit out for three to six weeks? 

Wolson, if you didn't know, got her start in television at WZBN, which was a cable station in Hamilton. She spent a great deal of time on the Princeton campus, doing stories on Tiger athletes and covering games. 

The Super Bowl is set now, with the Philadelphia Eagles to take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 12 in Glendale. For those keeping track, it'll be Super Bowl LVII.

TigerBlog will now take this opportunity to go with a cute baby Twitter celebration, courtesy of his colleague Warren Croxton, one of the biggest Philadelphia sports fans you'll ever meet.

As for the win by the favorite team of Warren (and presumably his daughter Theresa), it was nice to see the Birds win, but hey, it wasn't quite a fair fight, not once San Francisco lost Brock Purdy in the first quarter. When Purdy came back after Josh Johnson went out with an apparent concussion, it was clear that 1) he couldn't throw and 2) that San Francisco needed to throw.

Why leave Purdy in there to hand off down three touchdowns? Yes, there was no other QB, but either Christian McCaffery or Kyle Jusczcyk could at least try to throw the ball. It couldn't have been any worse. If Bob Surace had been the 49ers coach, he would have done it.

Johnson, by the way, has played for 13 NFL teams in his career. He played college football at the University of San Diego, back when Jim Harbaugh was his coach. In fact, they played at Princeton in 2005, in a game the Tigers won 20-17. Johnson for the day was 24 for 46 for 301 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in the game.

TigerBlog watched the games yesterday in Ohio, where he spent the weekend visiting Miss TigerBlog, who is in her first post-Princeton job. They were watching on YouTubeTV, using TB's account, and they logged in about an hour before kickoff.

And what did they get to see as they scrolled through the channels? Princeton-Quinnipiac women's hockey.

There are some events that are historic because they directly impact championships. There are others that lack those stakes on the game but nevertheless make their own kind of history. 

The women's hockey game yesterday was the second one of those.

Princeton was shut out by Quinnipiac 4-0 Saturday afternoon in Connecticut. That's fourth-ranked Quinnipiac, by the way, a team that improved to 24-4-0 with the win Saturday.

In that game, Princeton took only 21 shots, all of which were turned away by Bobcat goalie Logan Anders. Fast-forwarding 25 hours, and Princeton took only 23 shots — and turned them into 11 goals. 

That's one of the most extraordinary turnarounds in that short of a time that TB can remember, especially considering the caliber of the opponent. 

Even more amazingly, Princeton had three different players with a hat trick. Three? Yes, three — Maggie Connors, Sarah Fillier and Jane Kuehl, who had not only her first hat trick by also her first career goals.

The 11 goals Princeton scored were the most since the Tigers also scored 11, back in 1997 against St. Lawrence. If you're wondering what the highest goal total by a Division I women's hockey team this year has been, it's 13, by both Mercyhurst and Wisconsin. Princeton is the fifth team to score at least 11 in a game this year. 

The win was big for Princeton, who is in eighth place in the ECAC, where eight teams make the playoffs. Regardless of its significance, though, what Princeton did yesterday at Baker Rink was simply amazing.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Never Again

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

This date was selected for a very specific reason — it was on this day, Jan. 27, in 1945, that the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp, where approximately 1.1 million people — most of them Jews — were killed by the Nazis. 

In all, there were six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, which was more than two-thirds of the total Jewish population of Europe at the time. In Poland alone, nearly three million of the 3.5 million Jews who lived there before World War II were killed.

To this day, there are fewer Jews alive now than there were prior to the Holocaust. Think about that. For that matter, if TigerBlog's great grandparents had stayed in Poland and Odessa instead of coming to the United States in 1898, odds are good that TB's family would have ended with them and the next generation.

There were others — who like the Jews were considered inferior races — who faced the same attempted extermination as the Jews. The exact number of those who died in the Holocaust isn't clear, but it approaches 10 million.

This was 80 years ago. Today there is a steady rise in anti-semitism throughout the world, including in this country, which makes the phrase "Never Again" even more important. For those who don't know much about the Holocaust, you can learn more by clicking HERE for the Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. Or watch "Schindler's List."

TigerBlog has been to the Dachau concentration camp outside Munich. He would like to visit Auschwitz at some point, not because it would be fun but because it would be important.

TB wanted to share this with you today, before he talked about the weekend in Princeton Athletics. It's not the greatest segue ever, but for a day like today, it's important to remember what happened less than a century ago while focusing on the good things about life. 

And so it's on to the weekend.

For those who made both ends of the Penn basketball doubleheader on Martin Luther King Day, there's another, albeit more challenging, opportunity tomorrow. 

The women are home in Jadwin at 2 against Yale. The men's game in New Haven tips at 7. Doable? Depends on the traffic. If you do both games, let TB know.

As TB said earlier in the week, the women's race appears to be five teams for one (or more) champion(s) and four spots in the Ivy tournament at Jadwin. Columbia and Penn are both 5-1; Princeton, Yale and Harvard are all 4-2. Everyone else has five or six losses.

Clearly, every game is huge. The games among the top five are even more so. In addition to Princeton-Yale, this weekend also has Cornell at Brown, Dartmouth at Columbia and Penn at Harvard. By Sunday, the race can look extremely different in many different directions.

On the men's side, Princeton is in first place at 5-1, after last weeks' thrilling OT win over Dartmouth. Behind the Tigers? There are five teams with either two or three losses.

On the hockey front, the women have a home-and-home weekend with No. 4 Quinnipiac, the ECAC leader, with games in Hamden tomorrow at 1 and at Baker Rink Sunday at 2. The men step away from the ECAC schedule to host LIU for the second time tomorrow night at 7.

The men's hockey team also has a single-game trip next weekend to Dartmouth. After that, it'll be three straight weekends of back-to-backs to close the regular season, as the Tigers look for home ice in the ECAC playoffs, either by finishing in the top four and getting a bye or finishing fifth through eighth and playing at home in the first round.

Right now the Tigers are in fifth with 20 points, five back of Colgate and six points ahead of ninth place.

There is home wrestling in Jadwin Gym tonight against Harvard and tomorrow against Brown, with both matches at 6. TB wrote yesterday about the men's and women's track and field H-Y-P meets up at Harvard; the men's and women's swimming and diving teams also have their H-Y-P meets at Harvard as well.

The women's water polo team hosts its Winter Invitational. 

There is also home men's and women's squash (Trinity tomorrow, Yale Sunday), with men's and women's tennis and men's and women's fencing on the road.

As always, the complete schedule is HERE.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Keeping Track

TigerBlog continued one of his favorite traditions earlier this week.

Each year, on a January Monday, TB heads down to Philadelphia to meet up with his college roommate Charlie Frohman for cheesesteaks. 

If you're a Phildelphia cheesesteak fan, then you have the one place, and only one place, that you'll go. In TB's case, that would be Geno's, on the corner of Ninth, Wharton and Passyunk (and if you pronounce the last one "PASS-ee-unk" then you've never lived in Philly).

Back when TB was in college, there were many, many late-night visits to Geno's, since it was always open. Those are some of TB's favorite memories of his time at Penn.

Charlie now lives in Jacksonville, where he runs several businesses, and he comes up to Atlantic City for a trade show each year during this week. The routine is that he flies into Philadelphia, rents a car and then meets up at Geno's on his way to AC.

Each year, he invites a handful of his college friends, most of whom live in New York City. Usually, though, TB is the only one who makes the trip (granted, for him it's easier). But hey, he'd drive from New York anyway, since it's Geno's.

As TB pulled up to Geno's Monday, he saw his other best friend from college, Ed Mikus Jr., who had driven down from Westchester County. Oh, and Ed Mikus Jr. likes to be known as Ed Mikus Jr., or for short EMJ. 

To mark the occasion, the three had a photo taken. Charlie said he was posting it to the class Facebook page, which made TB laugh, because he's wearing Princeton stuff, which is how it should be.

Geno's, of course, is an outdoor eatery. And every year, regardless of how cold, snowy, sleety, windy or whatever, the Geno's tradition in January requires sitting at one of the picnic tables. It may be chilly, but it is heaven.

There aren't too many Penn alums who have worked in the athletic department at Princeton through the years. TB can think of a handful, though one leaps out immediately.

That would be Fred Samara, the men's track and field coach and a member of the Penn Class of 1973. Samara became the Princeton head coach just four years later, one year after he competed in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

He has been the head coach of an incredible 49 Ivy Heps titles between his time as head coach of indoor and outdoor track and field and briefly cross country. When you make the list of the greatest coaches in the entire history of the Ivy League, you better have Fred's name somewhere near the top. 

Samara has shown no signs of letting up as his tenure rolls on. His men's track and field team is ranked eighth nationally in the first U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll of the season. 

Of course, as you recall, this is the same Princeton team that finished fifth at the 2022 NCAA Indoor Championships. The Tigers sent eight athletes there, and all eight became All-Americans.

This year's team has four individuals and two relays ranked in the top 10 in their events. The Guttormsen brothers, Sondre and Simen, are ranked fourth and sixth in the pole vault, an event in which Sondre was the NCAA champ indoors and outdoors last year and Simen was fourth in both.

In fact, Princeton's highest individual ranking belongs to Greg Foster, who is ranked third in the long jump. Foster is a freshman who competed at the Lawrenceville School. 

The Tigers are in Cambridge this weekend for the H-Y-P meet. Indoor Heps are four weeks away and will be held at Dartmouth, while the NCAA Indoor Championships will be in Albuquerque in March. In between it's a busy schedule for Princeton, which you can see HERE.

The women's team, by the way, is also in Harvard for H-Y-P. The complete schedule for both teams can be found HERE. Speaking of highly ranked freshmen, Princeton's Tessa Mudd set a Princeton and Ivy League record by going 14-2. Mudd, from South Carolina, is currently ranked sixth in the country.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Keep It Classi

TigerBlog remembers the news about Shoichi Yokoi like it was yesterday, even if it actually was 50 years ago yesterday.

If the name isn't familiar, Shoichi Yokoi was the Japanese soldier who hid in the jungles of Guam, with his home in a cave, for nearly 28 years after World War II ended because his orders were not to surrender. He was finally discovered on Jan. 24, 1972, which was 50 years ago yesterday.

After the discovery, Yokoi was the subject of several documentaries. On the flip side, his story also became perfect fodder for sitcoms (including Gilligan's Island) and comedians everywhere. 

TB didn't realize that Yokoi would live another 25 years after his discovery. In fact, he returned to Japan and got married before passing away in 1997 at age 82. 

For his part, TigerBlog cannot imagine lasting 28 days, or possibly even 28 hours, in a cave, unless it had really good WiFi and nearby take-out. In all seriousness, Yokoi survived all that time on whatever grew in the area and whatever he could catch. 

It's an extraordinary story. Check out one of the documentaries if you'd like to learn more.

TigerBlog has never been to Japan, or the Far East. The idea of a flight that long is a bit much for him. 

The Ivy League football senior all-star team took the trip last week for the Dream Bowl, which the Ivy League would win 24-20. It was way closer than any Ivy Epson Bowl had ever been.

Former Penn quarterback Ryan Glover scored the game-winning touchdown on an 18-yard run with 11 minutes to go. Prior to that, the Japanese team was ahead 20-17 after Trashaun Nixon's one-yard TD run in the third quarter.

Nixon finished with 101 yards rushing on 20 carries, as well as four receptions for 70 yards, while his teammate Samajile Grant had seven catches for 91 yards. Both are former American college players, with Nixon from New Mexico State and Grant from Arizona. The team also featured several Division II players, though the majority of the team was made up of Japanese natives, including both quarterbacks in the game, who combined to go 21 for 43 for 261 yards and a TD.

As the Princeton contingent, the Tiger defenders — Dawson De Iuliis, Michael Azevedo, C.J. Wall, Ike Hall and James Stagg — combined for seven tackles, and Will Powers punted six times, with a long of 53 and four of his six inside the 20. Offensive lineman Connor Scaglione was also on the team.

Keeping up with the Princeton football theme, everyone knows that Andrei Iosivas is playing in the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl before heading to the NFL Combine. His draft chances are high.

His fellow Tiger wide receiver Dylan Classi, meanwhile, continues to open eyes. Classi played last weekend in the Tropicana Bowl in Florida and finished with five catches for 117 yards, in addition to a lot of eyes opened.

This was from a write-up on CBSSports.com about the most impressive players in the game:

Classi's route running was the most impressive part of his week here in Orlando. It was the work within his stem and at the top of his route where he found his separation. He's got really good, quick hands that were able to snatch the ball out of the air and, in some cases, away from the defender. He also brings great value as a special teamer in the return game.

Also, if you do a search for Dylan Classi, the predictive text brings you back some of Bob Dylan's classic hits. 

TigerBlog has no doubt at all that Classi could be a productive NFL wide receiver. None. All he needs is the right chance. 

His performance in Florida last weekend was a step in the right direction.

Lastly, in keeping with today's football theme, if you click HERE you can see Princeton's future football schedules through 2029 (keep in mind this is all subject to change). There are some new names on that list and some interesting travel as well.

If you look at those games, the last of them is the 2029 Penn game. 

The Tiger starters for that game are somewhere around 12-15 years old right now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Blooming St. Rose

Do you know who the last National League pitcher to throw a complete game in a Game 7 of a World Series is?

Hint - Dallas Cowboys' kicker Brett Maher.

No, it wasn't actually Maher, or for that matter anyone related to him. It's just that as TigerBlog watched Maher's extra point attempt against the 49ers Sunday evening get blocked, he thought back to a certain pitcher. 

The main draw of the game for TB was seeing Maher get an opportunity to kick. Maher, as you recall, missed four extra points a week earlier in the Cowboys' easy win over Tampa Bay. And now all eyes were on him to see how he would respond.

When he finally did, it was on that extra point attempt ... and it was blocked. It was extraordinary. You could see the shell-shocked look on his face. And, to be honest, it didn't look like the kick would have been good had it not been blocked.

To his great credit, Maher came back and drilled two field goals on two attempts, one from 25 yards and the other from 43. There was no doubt on either one. 

When the extra point was no good, though, TB thought back to Pittsburgh Pirates' pitcher Steve Blass, who in 1971 won two complete games in the World Series, including the aforementioned Game 7. 

In 1973, though, Blass inexplicably lost the ability to throw strikes. By 1974 his career was over. It came out of nowhere. The same was true of second basemen Steve Sax, who in 1983 suddenly and without warning lost the ability to throw to first base. 

In the case of Sax, he was able to regain control and save his career. Hopefully the same thing happens for Maher.

TB went 3 for 4 in his predictions from the weekend, missing out only on the Bengals-Bills game. He did better last week, and the obvious lesson is that predictions are easier after the games are played.

Between now and the conference championship games next weekend, there will be another one-game Ivy basketball weekend as the league race continues to sort itself out. This weekend will mark the midpoint as every team plays its seventh game, and each result seems to dramatically alter the standings.

TB talked about the men yesterday. Today he goes to the women's side. 

Right now, there are five teams separated by a single game: 5-1 Columbia and Penn and 4-2 Princeton, Harvard and Yale. The other three teams all have at least five losses.

The Tigers, who defeated Dartmouth 79-59 last weekend in Hanover, are home Saturday at 2 against Yale.

Remember, the top four teams in the standings advance to the Ivy tournament at Jadwin Gym the second weekend of March. 

Princeton was led against Dartmouth by Madison St. Rose with 15 points, which earned her the Ivy League Rookie of the Week award for the second straight week. Do you think St. Rose has gotten better as her first year has gone along? 

Consider these numbers:

Last five games:
* 14.0 points per game, four games with at least 15 points, 28 for 56 shooting (50 percent), 7 for 22 from three-point range (32 percent), team is 5-0 (4-0 Ivy)

Season prior to that:
* 5.7 points per game, zero games with at least 15 points, 27 for 102 shooting (26.5 percent), 6 for 41 from three-point range (14.6 percent), team was 8-5 (0-2 Ivy)

In case you didn't do the math, she has 70 points in the last five games after having 74 in the first 13. She has made seven three-pointers in the last five games (five of which have come in the last two) after making six for the first 13 games. Overall she has made 28 baskets in the last five games after having 27 in the first 13.

That's what happens to most really good freshmen. It takes some time to get acclimated and then bam — away they go. Yesterday TB talked about Caden Pierce, a freshman on the men's team who also won Ivy Rookie of the Week this week. Today it's Madison St. Rose. 

This weekend's game is the last one of January. After that, the page turns to February. 

In the Ivy League, it won't be quite as mad as March, but it'll be pretty close. 

Monday, January 23, 2023

Piercing Play

When TigerBlog saw the box score from Princeton's 93-90 overtime win over Dartmouth Saturday at Jadwin Gym and saw that Caden Pierce had 17 points and 13 rebounds, he had two immediate thoughts:

1) Who was the last Princeton freshman to have a game like that, and 2) those two numbers didn't take into account his biggest contribution of the day.

The play to which TB refers in No. 2 is the kind of play that can win you championships.

The answer to No. 1 is ... TB doesn't know. He did some really basic research and learned that it wasn't Chris Young (who would have been his first guess) or Ian Hummer (who would have been his second). He'll have to do a bit more digging.

In the meantime, there was the game Saturday afternoon at Jadwin.

Dartmouth came into the game looking to do something it hadn't done since 1940 - beat Princeton, Yale and Harvard on the road in the same season. The Big Green had already taken down the other two, and it looked very much like they would reach the triple for the first time in 83 years.

It was a back-and-forth game, one that featured great performances by players on both teams. While he's doing his research, perhaps TB can also find out if a visiting team ever had two players with at least 24 points, as Dartmouth did with Ryan Cornish (31) and Dusan Neskovic (24). 

The Tigers were equally as clutch, with five in double figures. Tosan Evbuomwan had a team-best 20 points, along with a team-best five assists. His two best finishes came with 3:45 to go in the second half to tie it at 70-70 and then with 3:23 left in overtime to put Princeton up 80-78.

In between, Dartmouth snapped the 70-70 tie by scoring six of the next seven, and suddenly it wasn't looking good for Princeton, now down 76-71 after a Brandon Mitchell-Day three-pointer with two minutes to go.

It still didn't look good 50 seconds later, when Keyshawn Kellman missed the first of his two fouls hots. When he made the second, it was 76-72, Dartmouth ball, in the double bonus. Get the ball in. Shoot foul shots. Close out the win.

Ah, but the first part proved to be tougher than usual.

Pierce, lined up over the indounder, got a hand on the ball and then possessed it and flipped it to Evbuomwan, who then did what he does as well as anyone Princeton has had play for it in a long, long time — found the open shooter on the perimeter and got him the ball without committing a charge. 

In this case, the open man was Matt Allocco, who did what he does, which is to say he canned the three, making it 76-75 and bringing the Jadwin crowd very much back into it. 

Without Pierce's play, it's very likely that Dartmouth finds itself on the foul line for two up five points. Instead, Princeton had all the momentum.

In fact, the steal changed everything. Despite having a five-point lead in the final two minutes, Dartmouth never went to the foul line. Not once. There would be two more Big Green turnovers in the final minute, as Princeton's defense fed off of what Pierce had done.

Dartmouth had its last lead at 82-81 with 2:25 left in the OT, and it was tied for the final time at 85-85 with 1:13 to go before Kellman (six of his 18 for the game and six of Princeton's 17 in the overtime) put the Tigers on top for good.

The very hard-earned win over Dartmouth, coupled with Harvard's win over Cornell, left the Tigers alone in first at 5-1, ahead of the 4-2 Big Red.

The Big Green is now one of four 3-3 teams, along with Harvard, Yale and Brown. The league race continues to change week-to-week, all heading to the Ivy League tournament at Jadwin the second weekend of March. 

Of course, had Dartmouth won Saturday, there would have been a three-way tie at 4-2.

Like TB said, little plays can become very, very big.

Friday, January 20, 2023

What's Up This Weekend?

Since his son is an alum of Sacred Heart University, TigerBlog has earned a lifetime pass of rooting for the Pioneers' teams.

Factor in that his longtime friend and former Yale athletic communications legend Steve Conn is now at Sacred Heart, and TB has even more reason to proudly wear his Sacred Heart gear.

SHU has done a great deal in building its academic programs in the last 10 years or so. For a school that is the same age as TigerBlog, it has come a long way in a short time.

In addition to its upgraded academics, the school has also raised a great deal of money (a huge thank you goes to former Director of Athletics Bobby Valentine) for its team's facilities. This past weekend, Sacred Heart debuted its new 3,600-seat Martire Family Hockey Arena, which looks like a great place to see a game. The first game was last Saturday, with a 3-2 overtime loss to Boston College. 

Still, it seemed like quite the party atmosphere from the social media accounts TB saw. You can see what the arena looks like HERE.

TB starts his Friday by congratulating Sacred Heart on the new addition.

As for hockey closer to home, this weekend has the Princeton women at home and Princeton men on the road.

The women host Yale tonight at 6 in what figures to be a great matchup against a Bulldog team that comes in ranked second in the nation and with a record of 17-1-1, including 10-1-1 in the ECAC. Yale won its first eight games, tied Cornell, lost to Colgate and since have won nine straight. 

Princeton will follow the game tonight with a game tomorrow at 3 against Brown, who is tied for 10th in the league standings. 

The Tigers are tied for seventh in the league, with Harvard. Princeton is 10 points back of fourth place in the league, which would mean home ice in the first round of the playoffs, and six points ahead of ninth place, which would mean not making the playoffs.

Here are two notes about ECAC women's hockey: 1) you get three points for a win and one for a tie and 2) beginning next year, all 12 teams will make the playoffs.

The men's hockey team is at Colgate tonight and Cornell tomorrow night, with face-off at 7 for both games. Sometimes a great deal of analysis is necessary in advance of a game; other times it's a bit more simple. Which one is this weekend's for the men?

Consider the standings:

3. Cornell 22 points
4. Princeton 20 points
5. Colgate 19 points

The prize for finishing in the top four is a first-round bye in the playoffs. Teams 5-8 will be home in the first round.

In addition to hockey, it's another typically busy weekend all around for the Tigers.

The men's basketball team is home tomorrow at 2 against Dartmouth in a matchup of two of the three teams who are over .500 in the league at this stage of the season. Princeton, at 4-1, is tied with Cornell for first place, while Dartmouth, who has already won at Yale and at Harvard, is 3-2 (the Big Green also own a win over Penn at home).

While the men are home, the women are at Dartmouth. The Tigers have won three straight after their 0-2 league start, which leaves them tied with Harvard for fourth, behind three 4-1 teams (Columbia, Yale and Penn). With each weekend that goes by, the race for the championship and the four Ivy tournament spots will get just a bit clearer.

In addition to hockey and basketball, the Princeton Athletic schedule also has men's and women's tennis, men's and women's squash, wrestling, men's and women's track and field, women's swimming and diving and men's and women's fencing.

There's also the Dream Bowl in Tokyo, which makes an Ivy League football all-star team against a Japanese team. That game, which includes seven Princeton players, kicks off at 11 Eastern tomorrow night, or 1 pm Sunday in Japan.

The complete weekend schedule can be found HERE.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Football Here, There And Everywhere

TigerBlog forgot to give you his predictions for the first weekend of the NFL playoffs, so he'll do that now:

Giants over Vikings
Cowboys over Buccaneers
49ers over Seahawks
Bills over Dolphins
Jaguars over Chargers
Bengals over Ravens

And there you have it.

Just kidding around. Had he actually picked the games last week, he definitely would have missed on the Chargers-Jaguars game and would probably have gone Vikes over Giants. 

Speaking of last week's games, it's not hard to see how a kicker can miss four extra points. You miss one, and then another, and then it's all in your head. TB is looking forward to seeing how Brett Maher bounces back this week after the historically bad performance he had against Tampa Bay.

TB admires how the Cowboys have stood by Maher, who is the first placekicker in NFL history to have four career field goals of 60 or more yards. Had the team released him, it wouldn't have been anything new for him; he's been released 13 times since he became a pro out of Nebraska in 2013 (and that includes times in the Canadian Football League as well).

Such is the life of a kicker, it appears.

Of all the players in the playoffs, the easiest one to root for is Brock Purdy, the San Francisco rookie who was the last player selected in last year's draft, which earned him the title of Mr. Irrelevant, a name given to the final pick in every NFL draft since 1979. Apparently, being Mr. Irrelevant brings some prestige with it, as well as some perks — the "winner" each year is invited to a week in the summer in Newport Beach, with a trip to Disneyland, a golf tournament and other honors thrown in (at least that's what is says on Wikipedia).

Purdy has already made a case that he is the best Mr. Irrelevant ever. In fact, he is unbeaten as a starter, and he became the first QB in NFL history to win his first five starts and throw for at least two touchdowns in each.

Grudgingly, TB will give you his predictions for this weekend ahead of time. He'll go with the Bills, Chiefs, Eagles and Cowboys, who win on a 50-yard Maher field goal on the final play.

The NFL playoffs aren't the only football games on the docket this weekend. The Ivy League all-star team is in Japan for the Dream Bowl, which will be played Saturday beginning at 11 pm Eastern time (which is 1 pm Sunday in Japan) between the Ivy Leaguers and a Japanese team.

In addition to the game itself, the players from all eight league schools have been immersed in local culture. There was also a visit to the U.S. Embassy.

It's the kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience that is a really nice punctuation mark on the careers of these players, all of whom have used their eligibility. 

TB can't help but wonder if the Ivy players stay tightly with the other players from their school or if they blend together, maybe by positions. 

From the Ivy League's Twitter feed, it certainly appears that the former rivals are enjoying being teammates. 

One player who isn't in Japan is Andrei Iosivas, who is getting ready for the Senior Bowl, to be held in Mobile, Ala., in early February. To be exact, the game itself is played on Feb. 4, but the more important moments might already be done by then. For all-star games like that, the practices during the week are where a pro prospect can really showcase his skills.

TB looked at the rosters for the Senior Bowl, and he saw that there are 16 wide receivers, or eight per team. That's a lot in terms of doling out playing time and keeping it even, which means that in-game moments might be limited.

Other than Iosivas, the other 15 wide receivers are all from FBS schools. There are five from the Big Ten alone. It's a great, and exciting, opportunity for Iosivas, ahead of the NFL Combine, to which he has also received an invite.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

That's The Picture

TigerBlog starts today by giving credit to Stuart Schulman, a big-time Princeton fan and loyal reader, who did both ends of the Princeton-Penn doubleheader Monday.

Stuart was in Jadwin Gym for the women's game, and he then made the drive to Philly for the men's game. If you forgot, both of them were Tiger wins.

Stuart's tweet mentions the members of the women's team who were in attendance. That's also really good to see.

How many others went to both games? There were just over 1,000 fans in Jadwin for the women's game. How many of them went to Philadelphia? 

TB enjoyed Stuart's tweet yesterday. Shortly after that one was posted, TB saw another one that caught his interest.

The NCAA has a regular social media contest that allows fans to vote for the best picture of the week in a variety of sports.

Basically, each school is asked for nominations. The top four are chosen and put out on the NCAA's social media channels for that particular sport. It's not that complicated.

This week, the Princeton wrestling team was one of the finalists for Picture of the Week. It's a pretty amazing picture actually, one that almost looks choreographed.

You can see it for yourself:

Actually, the top three pictures in the voting were all really good, and a huge jump up from the other one.

The Princeton picture came from the Tigers' 24-12 win at eight-ranked Arizona State from this past Sunday. Specifically, it came at 184 pounds, where Princeton's Nate Duggan defeated Arizona State's 21st-ranked Anthony Montalvo 3-2. 

Seriously, it almost looks choreographed, right? Duggan's win made it 12-0 Tigers, who would win the first six bouts to lead 21-0. 

It started with Quincy Monday in the 165-pound match, which was the first of the day. It didn't last long. If Duggan's bout looked like a ballet, Monday's looked more like a nature video where the majestic jungle cat (TB will go with a Tiger on this one) pounces on its flailing prey and devours it almost immediately (or in this case, a 54-second pin). 

You can see that in today's third embedded tweet:

Princeton is currently ranked 17th by InterMat in the tournament rankings but is unranked in the dual rankings. What's the difference? The tournament rankings attempt to speak to how a team will do come NCAA time, whereas the dual rankings are a consideration of how teams would do going head to head.

Whatever the rankings say, the Ivy season is about to start for the Tigers, who are at Columbia Friday to start the sprint through the league. In fact, Princeton will wrestle all five of its Ivy opponents in basically a three-week run, starting with Columbia and ending Feb. 10 at Penn. 

In between are next weekend's home matches against Harvard and Brown and then a trip to Cornell, a top 10 team in both polls. Penn is also ranked in both.

Princeton also has a home match Saturday at 6 against Rider. There's a men's basketball game at 2, so seeing both of these events will be much easier than the two basketball games from Monday. 

Also, the voting for wrestling picture of the week ended yesterday afternoon, and the Wyoming one was the winner. Princeton came in second.

Of course, it's better for your picture to come in second after a win than your picture to win after a loss. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Two For The Tigers


Even after all these years of rooting for Princeton over his alma mater, TigerBlog still can't get the Penn fight songs out of his head.

And so there he was yesterday afternoon, heading back down to his office and whistling "Drink A Highball," something the Penn band had just been playing.

The Princeton-Penn women's basketball had just ended, and TB didn't even realize what he was whistling until he got down to around D level. He laughed, since he was completely pleased to see his alma mater lose the game.

The final score was Princeton 55, Penn 40. Even though the Ivy League season still has nine more games to be played, this was still a big outcome for the Tigers.

Princeton had started out the year at 0-2 in the league before winning its next two. Penn came in as the lone unbeaten at 4-0. This is one of those "the math is obvious" games. 

And how did Princeton come up with the big win? It did so by following Carla Berube's preferred way of playing to a T, or should that be to a D, as in "Defense."

Princeton allowed Penn to score eight points, on 4 for 4 shooting, in the first 2:20 of the first quarter. It was 8-2 Quakers at the time.

What happened over the last 37:40? Princeton outscored Penn 53-32. Princeton hounded the Quakers to 10 for 44 shooting in that time, forcing 19 turnovers (to go along with one in the first 2:20).

For the game Princeton outrebounded Penn 39-26. The Tigers had nine steals. Princeton had 19 assists on 22 baskets.

Madison St. Rose led Princeton with 15 points. The freshman from the Jersey Shore had two double figure games in the season's first 13 games; she's had three in the last four.  

When it was over, Princeton was 3-2, tied with Harvard, trailing Penn, Columbia and Yale at 4-1. With every other league team now with four losses, it looks like those five are in the race for the four Ivy tournament spots.

TB walked back to the garage outside Jadwin with Penn Director of Athletics and longtime friend Alanna Shanahan. She was headed to the Palestra for the men's game (how many people out there went to both?). TB said he definitely considered the doubleheader but figured he'd watch it on TV instead.

The Princeton-Penn men's game was the final one of the day in the league. By the time the Tigers and Quakers tipped off, Cornell had beaten Columbia 102-85, Dartmouth had moved over .500 in the league by taking down Harvard 60-59 and Brown did what Brown does, which means that the Brown-Yale game went down to the final seconds before the Bulldogs won 81-78. For Brown, its last three Ivy games have been decided by two, two and three.

After trailing by one at the half, Princeton defeated Penn 72-60. The result is that Princeton and Cornell remain tied atop the league at 4-1, followed by the only other team over .500 at this point, Dartmouth, who is 1) 3-2 and 2) in Jadwin Gym Saturday at 2. There are four teams at 2-3: Penn, Yale, Harvard and Brown.

The win continued Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson's extraordinary record against Penn. He's now 24-8 overall against the Quakers, with a 5-4 record as a player and a 19-4 record as head coach - and this after starting out 0-4 as a player, which leaves him 24-4 since. 

Princeton's men also won the game with defense, rebounding — and an unstoppable night from Tosan Evbuomwan. The reigning Ivy Player of the Year scored 26 points on 9 for 13 shooting, with seven rebounds and three assists mixed in. 

Both teams did what they do better than any other team in the league. Penn, the top Ivy team at the foul line, shot 18 for 22 from the stripe. Princeton, one of the top rebounding teams in the league, had 44 board to 36 for the Quakers. Princeton held the Quakers to 33 percent shooting for the night, including 0 for 12 from three-point range.

Added up, and it was a Martin Luther King Day sweep for the Tigers over the Quakers. It was also another big step in the direction of the league race and positioning for the Ivy tournament, which comes to Jadwin the second weekend of March.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Martin Luther King Day Basketball

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which makes the Civil Rights leader the only person ever born in the United States to have a federal holiday named for him or her.

TigerBlog spent a great deal of time in college studying the Civil Rights movement and Dr. King's role in it (he'd also be fortunate enough to meet John Doar, the Princeton basketball alum who was also a huge factor in the movement). 

In addition, TB has also been to the national park that bears Dr. King's name in Atlanta, back before it was a national park. The Civil Rights museum there is a must.

The occasion of his birthday first became a Monday federal holiday in 1983. Within three years, the NBA began to play games on the holiday, a tradition that will continue today with nine games. Memphis (where Dr. King was killed in 1968) and Atlanta (his home) are at home each year.

The basketball tradition on the holiday was actually born a few months after the assassination itself. A year ago, TB wrote this on the holiday:

The National Basketball Association first started playing matinee games on Martin Luther King Day in 1986.

The first game to feature NBA players in honor of Dr. King came much earlier, back in 1968, the year in which he was assassinated. In fact, on the day after the assassination, which happened on April 4 of that year, Oscar Robertson began to organize a special exhibition game that would be played outdoors in New York City on Aug. 15.

According to an AP story, that game included players like Wilt Chamberlain, Lenny Wilkens, Dave Bing, Dave DeBusschere, Willis Reed and Walt Bellamy. That game raised $90,000 in support of Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

If you haven't heard of all of those players, then stop what you're doing and look them up. They are among the all-time greats the game has ever seen.

A year ago, the Ivy League began its own version of Martin Luther King basketball. The same is true again this year, as all 16 teams will be playing, with each team to face its traditional Ivy League travel partner.

For Princeton, it means games against Penn. Because of the timing, it also means you can see both.

The women will host Penn at 2 in Jadwin Gym. The men are at the Palestra at 7. Both games are on ESPN+ and NBC Sports Philly, with the women also on SNY in New York.

Each team has played four Ivy League games to date. The only one of the 16 teams to be 4-0 is the Penn women, who bring that record into the game against the Tigers.

Princeton's women opened the league season with losses to Harvard and Columbia but since has beaten Cornell and Brown by an average of 17.5 points. Penn's biggest statement so far is 71-67 win over Columbia the night after the Lions defeated Princeton.

As it usually is, Princeton and Penn enter the game as the 1-2 teams in Ivy women's basketball in scoring defense.

On the men's side, Princeton is tied with Cornell for first at 3-1, with four others at 2-2, including Penn (and Harvard, Brown and Dartmouth). Both Princeton and Penn have a short turnaround after suffering tough losses on the road, the Tigers by two at Brown and the Quakers by four at Dartmouth.

Both Penn and Princeton are averaging just shy of 75 points per game. The Tigers are the league's best rebounding team; Penn is the top free throw shooting team in the league.

Princeton and Penn, of course, have dominated the history of Ivy League men's basketball. They first met on Valentine's Day back in 1903 and have since met at least twice a season every season since. 

The league will move past the one-third mark of its regular season with today's games. It'll end the first weekend in March, and then the top four teams in the league will advance to Jadwin Gym for the league tournaments to determine the NCAA tournament bids.

It's already been wild in the league so far, as wild as maybe it's every been on both sides. It's not going to calm down at all as each game is its own challenge. 

It makes every matchup special.

Of course, Penn-Princeton is always special in basketball, and always will be.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Four Zones

TigerBlog was looking through the archives yesterday in hopes of finding a picture that he never did end up finding.

On the other hand, he found about 1,000 other pictures that took him back in time. There was one, for instance, of his former colleague and longtime friend John Cornell after he got whacked in the face with a softball one day. TB will not share that picture so as not to upset the squeamish.

He did send the picture to John, who is living in Florida these days. Within seconds, he got this return message: "I returned to the game."

Here's one he will share with you, though he's not 100 percent sure what year it was:

That's Ford Family Director of Athletics Emeritus Gary Walters on the left. TB isn't quite sure who the tall guy is who is flanked by baseball coach Scott Bradley and former softball coach Maureen Barron. 

Just kidding. That's Cal Ripken Jr., the baseball Hall of Famer. Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played with 2,632; no current player in Major League Baseball has an active streak of 400 straight games. For that matter, Ripken once played 8,264 consecutive innings. Nobody will ever break his record.

He also had 3,184 hits, 431 home runs and 1,695 RBIs, as well as 19 All-Star Game appearances, two Gold Gloves and two American League MVP awards.

There are tons of photos like this, all saved on an old server. At some point, TB will get lost for a whole day or so going through them and picking out some others, but not today.

It's too busy a weekend for Princeton. And don't worry, Princeton has all four Continental US time zones covered. 

Of course, it's nothing like what's coming up in a few weeks. At the Office of Athletic Communications meeting this week, the main topic was the schedule for February and March, and it's very, very busy, but in a very good way.

In the meantime, there's this weekend.

TB will go by time zone.

The Pacific Time Zone? That would be the U.S. Pole Vault Summit, where the Guttormsen brothers Sondre and Simen figure to compete. Sondre won the indoor and outdoor NCAA titles last year, and Simen was fourth in both. 

Central Time Zone? That's wrestling. Princeton will be taking on Oregon State in Austin at the FloWrestling Showcase tonight at 8 Eastern.

Mountain Time Zone? That's also wrestling, as the Tigers go from Texas to Tempe to wrestle against No. 8 Arizona State Sunday at 4 Eastern. TB wasn't sure if Tempe was Mountain or Pacific, but he's pretty sure it's Mountain.

The rest is in the Eastern Time Zone. If you're looking for games actually in Princeton, you have a few choices. 

The men's hockey team is home tonight against LIU in the first of two meetings this year between the teams at Baker Rink. LIU comes in at 6-13-1, and the most impressive of all of those is probably the "1." 

The Sharks have a 2-2 tie against Quinnipiac, the No. 1 team in the country, on their record. That alone gets your attention.

Princeton is off from ECAC games this weekend. The Tigers will be back on the Baker Rink ice Tuesday, when Providence is in town. Both games start at 7.

If you come to Jadwin Sunday, you can see home women's tennis (vs. Richmond at noon), home women's squash (vs. Cornell at noon) and home men's squash (vs. Cornell at 2:30). 

The only other Princeton team at home this weekend is the women's basketball team, which hosts Brown at 2 tomorrow and then Penn Monday, also at 2. Penn is the lone Ivy unbeaten in women's basketball right now at 3-0 as the race starts to take shape.

There is also men's and women's swimming and diving, women's hockey, men's basketball and men's and women's track and field on the road. 

If you want to see Princeton swimming and diving and track and field, then you'll want to be heading to Annapolis. All four of those teams compete at the Naval Academy.

The full schedule for the weekend is HERE.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

A Few Things For Thursday

A few items for your Thursday: 

* The roster for the Dream Bowl was announced by the Ivy League yesterday. In case you don't know, the Dream Bowl is a football game that will be played on Jan. 22 (Jan. 21, 11 pm Eastern time) between a team of Ivy League senior all stars and a Japanese team in Tokyo's National Stadium, which was part of the new Olympic venues.

The game is a distant relative of the Ivy Epson Bowl, which had a similar format back in the 1990s.

Princeton will have seven representatives on the Ivy League team: Michael Azevedo, Dawson De Iullis, Ike Hall, Will Powers, Connor Scaglione, James Stagg and C.J. Wall. 

There is more to this trip than just the football game. This is from the official release:

The Ivy League delegation will arrive in Tokyo on January 15 and balance its time between preparation for the game along with several Japanese cultural and educational events, including a planned visit to the U.S. Embassy, interaction with Ivy League alumni, discussions with Japanese students and social exchanges with the Japanese team. The league’s group will be joined by two professors from Ivy League institutions to further the educational experience of the travel party.  

* TigerBlog received a ton of feedback from his entry yesterday about the retirement of Bill Tierney.

One of the people who got in touch with him was former Tiger Mark Schwartz, a member of the Class of 2006. Here's what Schwartz had to say:

One of Coach T’s leadership qualities that I don’t think many people other than those within the program understand is that he is a master of making everyone believe that they are critical to the outcome, whether it’s the first guy (e.g., Boyle) or the last guy (e.g., me πŸ˜Š). I was talking to someone on Saturday after the announcement who said that Coach T was the greatest lacrosse coach ever; I told that person that is obviously the case, but he is also the best leader I have ever been around.

What he said is so true. TB responded to Mark that he knew exactly what he meant, since Tierney had a way of making TB feel like he had to fill his own role to the standard of everyone else or else the team would suffer.

To everyone else who reached out, TB appreciates the feedback. And to those who didn't but read it, hopefully you learned something about Bill Tierney the man, in addition to Bill Tierney the lacrosse coach.

* On the subject of former Princeton coaches, TigerBlog has wanted to share this about former water polo coach Luis Nicolao. 

Luis, who was extremely well-liked during his 20 years at Princeton, is now the head men's coach at the Naval Academy. He's also an Academy graduate, Class of 1992.

TB saw a headline in late December about an owner who dove into an icy lake to rescue his dog. It seemed like a heartwarming piece, so TB clicked on it. 

And, lo and behold — the owner was Luis Nicolao. TB's jaw dropped.

Anyway, it is a great story. You can read it and see the video HERE

TB has no way to track how many times the links he puts here are actually clicked on, but this time it's mandatory. You won't regret it at all.

And to TB's friend Luis — well done. That was a great save, and one lucky dog.

* There's a women's basketball game tonight at 6 at Jadwin between Princeton and Hartford in the Tigers' final non-league game of the year. It's also the first of three home games in five days for the Tigers, who will host Brown Saturday at 2 and then Penn Monday at 2.

It'll be a very busy stretch for TB's Office of Athletic Communications contact Warren Croxton, who is the women's basketball contact. 

The women had two games at home last weekend. Still, Warren found time to make his way over to Baker Rink and came away with this piece of photographic perfection:

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The Best There's Ever Been

Bill Tierney stood in a large conference room in Philadelphia the Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend in 1992 to address the media.

He was two days away from his first time as a head coach at the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse Final Four. Could he have imagined what the future held for him? Could he have guessed his Princeton Tigers would win that one and then five more after it — and that he'd then win a seventh with Denver, a team that on that day was coming off a 3-11 season as a member of the Division II Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Lacrosse League.

On that day, Tierney said something that was so profound that it's stayed with TigerBlog all these years later. "Everyone likes me now. If I keep coming back, they won't."

He coached Princeton in that one and then nine more after it. Once he left for Denver, he came back five more times.

That's 15 appearances in Championship Weekend. TigerBlog thought back to that quote from back in 1992 when Tierney announced last week that the 2023 season will be his final one as a college head coach. 

To TigerBlog, who was with Tierney for the last 20 of his Princeton seasons, there is no doubt that Coach T as pretty much every player called him is the greatest lacrosse coach of all time. For that matter, there aren't too many coaches in any sport who have done what Tierney has done.

Oh sure, there are coaches who have won more championships on the pro and college levels. And yes, there are other coaches whose names conjure up unimpeachable greatness: Lombardi, Auerbach, Jackson, Belichek, Saban, Wooden, Bowman, Torre.

But how many of them did what Tierney has done? For that matter, how many would have ever tried? 

Phil Jackson won six NBA championships with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in Chicago. He won five more with Shaq and/or Kobe. Now imagine that he took over Sacramento and won six championships and then left to take over the Knicks and won again. That's what Tierney did.  

Princeton had never been to the NCAA tournament before Tierney started here in 1988. He won it all in Year 5. Denver had two NCAA tournament appearances and no wins when he took over in 2010. His first team reached the NCAA tournament; his second reached the Final Four. He won the championship in 2015.

That's not just reloading with all the advantages in the world. That's building it from the ground up, all the way to the top. 

And what about that quote from 1992? 

Tierney was right. The more he won, the more he earned the wrath of fans of teams who weren't winning, especially because of his fiery ways on the sideline (which aren't unique in sports, or even just in lacrosse).

To those people, TB says this: You couldn't be more wrong about a person. Take it from those who played for him and know him best, players like Ryan Mollett, a first-team All-American defenseman who won NCAA titles with Tierney in 1998 and 2001:

"Whatever records he sets will at some point in time be broken. What will never be surpassed are Coach Tierney's integrity and the example he has set for so many of us." 

You could pretty much do a roll call of his players, Princeton and Denver, and you'll get the same response.  

Or you can ask TigerBlog, who had a front row seat for Tierney's meteoric rise at Princeton and then everything that came after that. Tierney was so much more than a lacrosse coach during those years with the Tigers.

His greatness extended far beyond the wins and championships. He was all about the people, giving his time to the families, the fans, the opponents, everyone who came into his orbit. He'd walk around hotel parking lots on the mornings of games and pick up the trash. He never, ever, ever took credit for anything his teams accomplished.

TB could tell you so many stories of great things that Tierney did far from the spotlight, making impacts that were so important to so many people. Equipment. Time. Advice. Whatever you needed. He was there.

Back in January of 2009, Tierney came to speak on a Saturday to a group of youth coaches in Bucks County, across the river from New Jersey. TB wrote about what Tierney's message was that day:

* if you walk way from a youth game happy only because you won, then you're not doing it the right way
* if you "kick 'em in the butt," then you have to turn around and embrace them as well
* if you take a bunch of kids and let them play a game, what they'll remember most is that they had a good time doing it

What really stood out that day? It wasn't the message. It was the audience. Lower Bucks Lacrosse didn't exist before Tierney came to Princeton. Neither did so many of the other youth leagues in the Princeton area. How many kids played lacrosse because of the way Tierney grew the sport? 

TB knows two who did. His two children. He'll get back to that in a second.

From his own part, TB had seen exactly one college lacrosse game in his life before he first saw a Tierney-coached Princeton team play in 1990. TB knew nothing of the sport, of the different positions, of the rules, any of it. He learned it all from Bill Tierney. 

From that start in 1990, Bill Tierney has been there any time TigerBlog has needed anything from him. He can't remember ever asking for anything where the answer was "no." Even more, there has never been a time when TB ever questioned that Tierney would be there for him any time he called.

There aren't many people like that you can say that about whom you run across in your life. 

So where to wrap this all up? How about on a youth field in 2007?

Tierney had promised TigerBlog Jr., then a fourth-grader, that he would come to one of his games that season. Now it was April, and he hadn't been able to yet. Princeton lost at Cornell 10-6 on a Saturday afternoon in Ithaca.

TBJ had a game the next day. He asked his father if he thought Tierney would be there. TB said that it was a lot to expect, after the way the game the day before had gone. Maybe he'd come later in the year, even though there weren't many games left. And if he couldn't, TB told his son, he'd have to understand just how rough it is during the season and how little down time coaches got.

The next day, just as the game was starting, TB noticed someone on the far side of the field, setting up his lawn chair and sitting down far from anyone else. It was Tierney. TB didn't say anything to TBJ, and he wondered if he saw the coach there. 

When the game ended, the teams went through the handshake line. TBJ, as the goalie, was first in line. As soon as he shook the last hand, he turned and sprinted across the field to where Tierney was and jumped into his arms. From across the field, TB could just smile.

To those who have never met him and don't know him, Bill Tierney is someone to admire, someone to respect, someone to root for in this final season, someone to appreciate and ultimately someone to call by what his truest, most accurate legacy:

Bill Tierney is the best there's ever been.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Hobey's 100th

Had Hobey Baker been asked when he graduated from Princeton in 1914 to describe how someone at Princeton might dress for a hockey game in 2023, he probably would have described the outfit that TigerBlog's colleague Chas Dorman wore this past weekend at the rink that has Baker's name.

In fact, the rink has had Baker's name for 100 years, which is what the celebration this past weekend was about. Chas, who put a ton of work into the festivities for the weekend, was certainly dressed the part for such a centennial, that's for sure.

Here, you can check out his Twitter feed:

See what TB means? 

The best part of the look is that Chas can totally pull it off. If TB tried that, it wouldn't work nearly as well.

Here's to Chas and his fashion statements.

And to what he and several others did to make the weekend so special. 

The Stanley Cup was there. Princeton's women Olympians were there. The games, all four of them, were filled with excitement.

The women set an attendance record, and had the top ECAC crowd this year, with 1,544 at Baker Rink Saturday. 

The women swept their two, knocking off Dartmouth 5-2 and Harvard 3-0. The men split their games, losing a heartbreaker in overtime Friday to ninth-ranked Harvard 4-3 and then bouncing back 22 hours later to beat Dartmouth 4-2.

How much more can you ask from one weekend?

The historian in TigerBlog hopes that, as Hobey Baker Rink was celebrated, Hobey Baker the man has not been forgotten. Maybe he's naive to think that Baker's exploits at Princeton are well known to the current generation, but their definitely worth remembering.

Baker was already a legend when he came to Princeton from St. Paul's School in New Hampshire in 1910. He played freshman football, hockey and baseball, but rules at the time prevented him from playing three varsity sports, so he gave up baseball.

He appears to have chosen wisely, as he is in the College Football and Hockey Halls of Fame. His exploits at Princeton as an athlete — and a sportsman — were unprecedented. His exploits after Princeton made him one of the most iconic figures that college athletics has ever seen. It didn't hurt that every picture of him makes him look like a Hollywood movie star.

Baker would play in exhibition hockey games for the St. Nicholas club team while working business in New York City after he graduated, and huge crowds would come see him play. Bored with all of that, he found a new fashion in flying and then in war, and he died in a plane crash shortly after the end of World War I when he was testing a refurbished plan after he had been given his orders to return home. 

Did he do it on purpose? It remains a great mystery.

Baker died on Dec. 21, 1918, at the age of 26. Princeton announced it would build a new hockey rink and name it for Baker. It opened the first week of January in 1923, and it obviously turned 100 last weekend.

The wins for the women's team left the Tigers in sixth place in the ECAC standings, seven points behind fourth place (which would mean home ice in the playoffs) and then seven points ahead of eighth (the top eight qualify). Next up is a trip this weekend to Cornell and Colgate.

The men find themselves tied for third place, chasing a first round bye that goes to the top four teams and also trying to stay at least in the top eight, assuring home ice for the first round of the playoffs. Next up for the men are two non-league games, against LIU Friday at 7 and Providence a week from tonight at 7, both at home. 

The next ECAC games for Princeton are the 20th and 21st, also at Colgate and Cornell. There's another home game against LIU on the 28th, a single-game weekend at Dartmouth on Feb. 3 and then the return to back-to-backs. By then, the rest of the league will have caught up to Princeton in games played, as the Tigers have played 13 to date, most in the league, whereas everyone else has played between eight and 12.

There is a lot of exciting hockey to be played the rest of the season, but that's looking forward. For now, it's one more look back, to a celebration weekend of an arena, and to the man whose name that arena has had for 100 years now.

In the history of Princeton Athletics, there is nobody who compares to Hobey Baker. 

Ivy Hoops Heading Towards Madness

Jadwin Gym once hosted a circus during which an elephant's weight collapsed the floor.

It's also had a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert. Really. It was back on Nov. 1, 1978.  The band opened with “Badlands” and more than three hours later finished with an encore of “Rosalita,” “Born To Run” and “Quarter to Three.” Among the other songs played were “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “Prove It All Night,” “Racing In The Street,” “Thunder Road,” “Jungleland” and “Backstreets.”

What else has happened at Jadwin? Eddie Murphy did his one man show there during his "Delirius" tour on Aug. 2, 1983. TB saw him three nights earlier at the Valley Forge Music Fair and can vouch for the fact that it was hilarious.

It was the site for one of New Jersey's most famous high school basketball games, one that drew an estimated 13,000 people to the building (Camden vs. Neptune in 1981). It's had all kinds of dramatic moments, with record-setting track performances, NBA games and NCAA championship events in fencing and wrestling.

What's coming in March, though, might just be the craziest stuff the building has ever seen.

The Ivy League men's and women's basketball seasons end in Jadwin from March 9-11 with the two tournaments, to which the top four teams will advance. If the start of the season is any indication, then get ready. 

By the way, for ticket information, including how to buy all-session passes or single-game passes, click HERE.

So where to start? 

Each team has played three league games. Between the men and the women, there are 16 teams. Only two are unbeaten — the Princeton men and the Penn women.

When Princeton lost 58-55 in overtime to the Columbia women Friday night, it meant that for the Tigers to get an Ivy League championship, Columbia would have to lose at least one game to another team in the league team, something it did not do a year ago.

So what happens? Columbia, riding a 10-game winning streak, was knocked off by Penn Saturday night at the Palestra. Princeton, who was 0-2, rebounded with a convincing 70-48 win over Cornell Saturday at Jadwin as Madison St. Rose had her best game with 15 points, Kaitlyn Chen finished off a 33-point weekend and Julia Cunningham pushed her career total to 932 points.

Just like that, the entire outlook for Princeton changed. Now, even with the two losses, Princeton would be assured of at least a share of the title by winning out. 

Princeton plays its final non-league game Thursday at 6 at home against Hartford and then takes on Brown Saturday at 2, also at Jadwin.

On the men's side, Princeton improved to 3-0 with a 68-49 win over Columbia and a 75-68 win over Cornell, both on the road. Next up for Princeton is a trip to Brown Saturday and then Jan. 16 at Penn, which means the Tigers will play six of their final nine league games at home.

Right now, Princeton is ranked fourth in Division I in defensive rebounds per game and 19th in Division I in total rebounds per game. Princeton is also the No. 5 team in the country in rebound margin. Those are gaudy numbers, all of which lead the league, by the way.

The win over Cornell was the 100th Ivy League win for Tiger head coach Mitch Henderson, who became only the eighth coach in league history to reach the mark. Pete Carril, with 310, leads everyone, and that's not going to change any time soon.

The defending Ivy champion Tigers almost got a triple-double from Tosan Evbuomwan against the Big Red, as he went for 15 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. That's tantalizingly close to achieving something no other Princeton men's player ever has and only Leslie Robinson has done on the women's side. 

There were five Tigers in double figures against the Big Red, led by 20 from Ryan Langborg. Princeton did what you need to do on a back-to-back weekend with a four-hour drive in the middle — it put Friday night's game at Columbia away with a 36-24 halftime lead and then had 15 players get in the game, with no player who played more than 27 minutes.

Right now, Princeton is 3-0. Cornell and Penn are both 2-1. Every other team is 1-2. Who are the easy wins? Who are the teams with no chance to make it to Jadwin?

The answer to both questions is: nobody.

If this is as wild as Ivy League basketball is after just three games, just wait until the tournaments come to Jadwin in March. 

It figures to be madness.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Make Hobey Proud 100

While you're trying to figure out who Howell Van Gerbig was, TigerBlog will tell you a few things first.

Then he'll get to Howell.

So in the meantime, TB was looking through a list of Honda Award winners for the best women athletes in college sports, and he noticed the Division II overall winner for 2013-14 was Bentley's Lauren Battista, who of course is now an assistant coach with the Princeton women's basketball team.

Battista had quite the career at Bentley, especially her senior year, when the team finished 35-0 and won the NCAA championship. That season, the year she won the Honda Award as the top female athlete in Division II, she averaged 17.8 points per game while only playing 28.8 minutes per game, since the Falcons were usually up by a lot come the end of the game. 

In fact, the team won all of its NCAA games that year by at least eight points. All but one game during the regular season was won by double figures. 

Battista, who has continued her winning ways under Carla Berube at Princeton, has been busy this week getting ready for an old-fashioned travel-partner weekend at Jadwin Gym.

The Princeton women host Columbia tonight (7) and Cornell tomorrow night (5) in the second and third games of the league season. The Tigers fell in their Ivy opener at Harvard last weekend, ending a 42-game Ivy League winning streak.

Columbia is coached by former Princeton assistant Meg Griffiths (Harvard and Yale are also coached by former Tiger coaches). The Lions are sizzling, with a 12-2 record and nine straight wins (season losses are to Vanderbilt and Iowa State). Princeton, of course, defeated Columbia three times last year, twice in the regular season and then in the Ivy League tournament final.

Win or lose tonight, there is no time to dwell on that game. Cornell comes into its game tonight at Penn at 8-6 overall and 1-0 in the league after defeating Dartmouth last weekend. 

There's also home men's and women's swimming and diving this weekend. In fact, the whole weekend schedule can be seen HERE.

The big story this weekend, though, is the hockey celebration as Hobey Baker Rink turns 100. 

To be exact, the first game ever played at the rink was on Jan. 5, 1923, so 100 years ago yesterday. That game was against St. Nicholas, a club team from New York City on which Hobey Baker had played for two years after graduating from Princeton in 1914.

Princeton won that game 3-2, and that brings us back to Howell Van Gerbig. It was Howell who scored the first (and second) Princeton goals ever at Baker Rink (for the sake of historical accuracy, J.E. Bierwith from St. Nick's scored the first goal of the game, and thus in the building).

The next night, 100 years ago tonight, Princeton defeated MIT 9-0, as Van Gerbig scored six times. Is that still the building record? 

Van Gerbig would go on to become a lawyer, one with some pretty famous friends it appears. His son Barry also played hockey at Princeton, graduating in 1961. Here are some facts about Barry: 1) his godfather was Bing Crosby (yes, that Bing Crosby), his father-in-law was the famous actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and 3) he was the owner of the California Golden Seals of the NHL, an expansion team that lasted nine years. That's pretty fascinating stuff.

That's a lot of history, but this is a day for history. 

As for the present, there are four games on the ice this weekend, with the women against Dartmouth today at 3 and the men against Harvard at 7, followed by tomorrow with the women against Harvard at 3 and the men against Dartmouth at 7.

There are all kinds of events around the games as well, including a visit from the Stanley Cup and from Princeton's recent women Olympians. There will also be a Hobey 100 Fan Village set up Saturday. 

For more information about the Hobey events for the weekend, click HERE.

Princeton is a place that combines history and the present in so many areas, including athletics. Yesterday TB shared with you the story of the five women's swimmers from the 1970s who swam together in the Aegean Sea this past fall.

Today it's a building that dates to when Warren Harding was the President and yet still is alive and well to this day. This weekend is its turn to shine.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Still Making Waves

TigerBlog has kept this space completely apolitical for the 14 years he's been doing this.

Today he starts out drifting a bit into the political arena, though not in a way you might think. 

You know the song "Brandy, You're A Fine Girl?" Of course you do.

TigerBlog has always liked that song. Most people do. It's a nice, sad little story about a waitress named Brandy and her love for a sailor who nevertheless leaves her because his first love is the sea. 

TB has been listening to that song for more than 50 years now. And now he'll never hear it the same. Why?

Because the other day, someone mentioned that the song sounds like it's being sung by Barack Obama. And if you listen to it, yes, yes it does. What the heck? 

The song was actually sung by a group called Looking Glass, with a lead singer named Elliot Lurie. The group is a classic one-hit wonder, but here's something that TB never knew until he looked it up yesterday: the group was originally formed at Rutgers.

"Brandy" was released on May 18, 1972. Since he's drifted to the outskirts of politics, TB would say that perhaps the Watergate burglars were humming the song a few weeks later during their break-in?

A little more than a month after the song's release, on June 23 of that year, Title IX was signed into law. As you know, the legislation, all 37 words of it, has done a lot to level the playing field for female athletes.

Not all of the progress was made by law. Much of it was made by the sheer force of the women who competed back then, and Princeton is a great example of that.

Women's athletics at Princeton debuted in 1970, with tennis players Margie Gengler-Smith and Helena Novakova and continued in the winter of 1971 with swimmer Jane Fremon and diver Cece Herron. By the time Title IX was enacted, Princeton was competing in six varsity sports for women. Today that number is 19.

Herron's married name is, aptly, Waters. She was the last person TB spoke to for his book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton (click HERE), and her story is covered in the book's introduction.

Cece, who graduated in 1974, lives outside of Seattle, and TB got a chance to visit with her when he was out there to see his brother a year ago. It didn't take very long to realize that she brings a lot of energy with her in whatever she's doing.

For further proof, TB refers you to the story that was posted yesterday on goprincetontigers.com. It was written by Waters about a trip that she and four of her former Princeton teammates — Carol Brown ’75, Jane Fremon '75, Deb Deffaa '76 and Patricia Freeman '77 — took to Greece this past October to swim in the Aegean Sea.

The whole story is great. Cece gives the credit for organizing the trip to Brown, about whom she says "And – no luck factor here – the same swimmer who pioneered the creation of that illustrious program in 1971-72 was the driving force behind our 2022 saga in Symi. Carol Brown"

TB has no trouble believing that. Brown is a powerhouse herself, and she helped get women's swimming and diving going while also being one of the first women rowers (and a 1976 Olympic bronze medalist in rowing). 

Cece also threw this into the story: "("I don't do horizontal in the water; only vertical") no longer held water." 

The story is about their trip. It's also about how it came about, with a touch of tragedy mixed in as the death of a former teammate helped provide motivation:

A second catalyst, also unexpected but numbingly tragic, came in February 2021, with the very sudden passing of swimmer Liz Osborn, '76. "It was a wake-up call," notes Deb. "I had had such a great conversation with Liz at Reunions and thought, 'We need to continue this.' Then she was gone."

More than anything else, the story is a microcosm for what Princeton Athletics is all about. It's a group of friends for the last 50 years who came together at Princeton all those years ago from very different backgrounds with very different experiences since. 

What holds them together is the bond they formed as undergraduates. And that bond is unbreakable. 

Read the story. You'll see what TB means.

Also, next time you listen to "Brandy," you'll laugh to yourself.