Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Hard Way

There's doing things the easy way, and then there's doing things the hard way.

This was a "doing things the hard way" weekend for Princeton basketball. The end results were exactly what both teams needed, no matter how they got there.

TigerBlog checked on the women's basketball score at halftime Friday and saw it was 30-20 Harvard.

Knowing that Columbia was going to be a heavy favorite in its final two games (and Columbia defeated Brown 83-55 Saturday), TB's first thought was this: Welp, now it's time to see what Carla Berube's team is made of.

The answer came 20 minutes later: A lot.

Not that there was much doubt. This team has shown time and again what it can do when times get tough.

This time, though, it was a bit different. This time was a more immediate challenge with big stakes. This wasn't preparing all week for a big game. This was adjusting and rallying to stay in the championship hunt.

Final score: Princeton 51, Harvard 47.

How did that happen? It was the way Berube's teams always play. Defense, and toughness.

After allowing 30 first half points, Princeton held Harvard to 17 in the second half, with nine in the third quarter and then eight in the fourth. Harvard shot 46 percent in the first half (12 for 26) and then was hounded into 35 percent in the second (7 for 20). 

Princeton, for its part, shot 25 percent in the first three quarters and then 6 for 10 in the fourth quarter. It was a 47-47 game with less than a minute to go when Princeton got the three winning plays, all on toughness. 

First, there was an offensive rebound by Ellie Mitchell (her fifth of the night and 12th overall; when you see Mitchell's intensity in chasing down loose balls, you can't help but think of Mason Rocca). Then there was the Kaitlyn Chen basket that proved to be the winner. Lastly, there was one more defensive stop.

Watch the Chen basket again. How many times would she make that shot? It's hardly high percentage. Game on the line? No problem. 

As for the men, Princeton held off Harvard 58-56 after leading by 18 points in the second half. Again, this wasn't easy, especially since Harvard needed a win to stay in the hunt for an Ivy tournament spot. Princeton made every big play it needed to at the end, including 5 for 6 foul shooting in the final 20 seconds and 2 for 2 by both Ryan Langborg and Caden Pierce in the final nine seconds.

Just like for the women, there was a lot on the line for the men as well. Princeton entered the weekend in a three-way tie for first with Penn and Yale, and with a home game against the Quakers left this coming Saturday (noon tipoff) to end the regular season.

Yale and Penn both won their games as well, so those three are all 9-4 heading into the final game. Harvard, Dartmouth and Columbia have all been eliminated, and either Brown (7-6) and Cornell (6-7) will be the fourth men's team at Jadwin next weekend for the tournament. 

In addition to the Penn-Princeton game, it'll be Columbia at Cornell, Yale at Brown and Harvard at Dartmouth. Those matchups are reversed for the women.

The Princeton-Penn men's winner is assured of at least a share of the Ivy title. Yale would get one too by beating Brown; should Brown beat Yale, then 1) Brown would be the fourth team in the tournament and 2) the Princeton-Penn winner becomes the outright champion.

Cornell can still get in by beating Columbia and having Yale beat Brown, depending on what happens with the top three.

On the women's side, it's like this: 

Princeton and Columbia would tie for the championship if they both win or both lose. One would be the outright champion should it win and the other lose.

Penn and Harvard are already in. There are all kinds of different scenarios related to seedings, which likely could come down to NET rankings.

Figuring out all the tiebreakers won't be easy. Neither will the tournament once the games start.

Tomorrow is March. Nothing is easy in basketball this time of year.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Tracking Championships

The Ivy League men's and women's Indoor Heps championships were held at Dartmouth this past weekend, and they were not without drama.

 And the winner of the women's weight throw, as well as the Outstanding Field Athlete of the Meet, is named ... Ratcliffe?

Wait. That's familiar.

And Ratcliffe is from Down Under? Again, familiar.

As far as TigerBlog can tell, Harvard's Stephanie Ratcliffe isn't related to Princeton's legendary Julia Ratcliffe. It's a pretty American point of view to think that might be the case, simply because they have the same last name, compete in similar events and are from the same area of the world. 

Actually, Princeton's Ratcliffe is from Hamilton, New Zealand, and Harvard's Ratcliffe is from Melbourne, Australia, which are separated by nearly 1,700 miles. That's like having two athletes with the same last name in the same event, with one in New York and the other in Denver and figuring they're related. 

Anyway, Harvard's Ratcliffe hasn't thrown the hammer outdoors yet, at least not in college. It'll be interesting to see how her throws this spring compare to Princeton's Ratcliffe, the 2014 NCAA champion and 2021 Olympian.

The Princeton women came in second at the Heps this weekend at Dartmouth while having five individual winners. Alexandra Kelly won the triple jump and the long jump, which is pretty good for the first Heps of your freshman year. 

Her classmate Tessa Mudd won the pole vault and set a meet record in the process at 13-7. Madeleine Wood, a sophomore, won the high jump, and Princeton's Distance Medley Relay team of Maddie Liebich, Stella Vieth, Maddie Cramer and India Weir also won. Liebich and Cramer, by the way, are also freshmen. 

Then there was the men's meet. This was just a bit of craziness.

Princeton won its eighth straight Heps indoor championship, outlasting Harvard by a single point, 164-163 (sounds a bit like the Kings-Clippers game last week). Princeton won the meet by taking the 4x800 relay (Jordan Kaplan, Ethan Reese, Connor Chen, Sam Rodman) by more than a second over Cornell. Harvard came in seventh in the event after dropping the baton on an exchange, which helped the Tigers come away with the title.

The championship was the 24th indoors for the Tigers. Fred Samara? He now has been the Princeton head coach for 51 Heps championships. It's going to be a while until someone matches that number.

Princeton was missing several key athletes who would have scored points. Included in that group was pole vaulter Simen Guttormsen, who would have almost surely finished first or second had he not been hurt.

His older brother Sondre set a meet record of 18-8 1/4, topping the rest of the field by just about a foot and a half. In fact, somewhat stunningly, Sondre didn't attempt a jump until every other competitor except one had finished. Once he cleared that height and the last remaining opponent missed three times, securing the win, he then raised the bar seven inches for his next attempt.

Greg Foster, yet another Princeton track and field freshman, set a meet record with in the long jump of 25-9 1/2 feet. Princeton also had wins by Rodman in the 1,000 meters, Phil Kastner in the Heptathlon, Daniel Duncan in the 60 meter dash and Duncan Miller in the mile.

If you were following along on Twitter, then you saw some great championship graphics that kept someone busy. It was the good kind of busy.

It's always fascinated TigerBlog that track and field can be such an individual endeavor, and yet it makes for such a great team sport as well. If you've ever been to a Heps event you know what he's talking about. 

First, it's not just the winners who make the team win a championship. When a meet is decided by a single point, every placing is critical and depth is a necessity. 

Second, there is such a great camaraderie among track and field teammates. Perhaps it's because they share such a strong individual commitment to being the best they can be.

It's a long ride back from Dartmouth to Princeton. TB senses for the Princeton track and field teams, it seemed a little shorter than it actually was.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Happy 108th

Happy birthday Joe Schein, Class of 1937.

You read that right. Class of 1937. 

Joe Schein turned 108 yesterday. He's Princeton's oldest living alum. If you're 108, that means you were born in 1915, or two years before the United States entered the war. That's World War I, by the way.

If you think the world has changed a lot since you've been alive, imagine what it looks like to Schein, a retired psychiatrist. He was also a varsity athlete at Princeton, having lettered in fencing.

TigerBlog has seen Schein lead the P-Rade many times. TB also found this on a story about Schein on his birthday a year ago:

According to Princetoniana expert Greg Lange ’70, writing in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, Schein, son of Russian immigrants, was an excellent debater and athlete — captain of the state-champion fencing team from Barringer High in Newark, New Jersey. He entered the University as one of 11 Jewish students in the Class of ’37, lettered in fencing, won honors with his thesis on Baudelaire in Modern Languages, and was active in the pre-med society. Schein also organized and led some of the earliest Jewish services on campus, which often included Albert Einstein.

The fencing team this year got together to sing "Happy Birthday" for Mr. Schein. TB would like to join them in sending his best wishes.

With birthday wishes to start, today's business also includes a huge early season men's lacrosse game on Sherrerd Field, as Princeton welcomes the defending NCAA champion Maryland Terrapins to town. Face-off tomorrow is at 1.

The game is a rematch of last season's NCAA semifinal game, in which Maryland defeated Princeton 13-8. The Tigers actually outshot Maryland 49-47 in that game, but the Terps got a career-best 19 saves from goalie Logan McNaney in the win. 

If you count returnees from that game, Princeton returns five of its eight goals (two from Alexander Vardaro and one each from Christian Ronda, Coulter Mackesy and Alex Slusher) and Maryland returns four of its goals (two from Owen Murphy, one each from Kyle Long and Jack Brennan). None of that, of course matters. Yes, Maryland was hit hard by graduation (and suffered a really unfortunate injury when McNaney tore his ACL), but you'll be waiting a long time before the Terps run out of talented players.

Princeton is ranked third or fourth, depending on what poll you like. Maryland is ranked sixth. It'll be a great game.

While the lacrosse season is just starting, the Ivy League basketball and ECAC men's hockey seasons are coming to the wire, with two games left for each team in all three. 

The men's hockey team is on its way to Union and RPI, and almost all of the math favors having the Tigers at home next weekend in the first round of the playoffs. The top four seeds all get byes. The next four host a first round game (the first round is no longer best of three).

As for basketball, the women are home tonight against Harvard, with tip at 6. Princeton enters the weekend tied with Columbia (at Brown tomorrow) for first at 10-2, while Harvard and Penn (at Dartmouth tomorrow are both 8-4. 

Princeton, Columbia, Harvard and Penn are locked into the Ivy tournament, to be held at Jadwin in two weeks. The order of seeding, and the Ivy League champion (the regular season winner is the official Ivy champ) is very much up in the air.

Princeton ends the season at Penn, while Columbia hosts Cornell and Harvard hosts Dartmouth.

On the men's side, Princeton, Yale and Penn are all 8-4 and tied for first place. The matchups are the same as the women, with the sites reversed. Princeton and Harvard tip in Cambridge tomorrow at noon.

Princeton, Yale and Penn are all in the tournament, but they continue to pursue the championship. Columbia is mathematically eliminated. The other four are competing for the last remaining spot, and there are about a thousand different outcomes or so. 

It's the last weekend of February. It's a time of big early season lacrosse and end of season basketball.

And of course yet another happy birthday to Joe Schein.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Championship Forecast

TigerBlog was standing just outside the press box at Class of 1952 Stadium Tuesday afternoon around 4:30, or 90 minutes before the start of the Princeton-Manhattan men's lacrosse game. 

All of the sudden, the wind went from breezy to unprecedented. It whipped right across the balcony at a pace that TB had never experienced before, and it was so strong that it lifted a table up and shot it into the air before it crashed down onto the bleachers about halfway down, denting the metal seats. Eventually it made its way to the bottom of the stands, in pieces.

And just like that, the wind stopped. It was crazy. It was also fortunate, because there was nobody in the stands at the time. Had it been during the game? ... TB doesn't want to think about it. 

There were players on the field for early warmups. And people who were working. TB's colleague Cody Chrusciel was closest to where the table landed as he was setting up for the ESPN+ broadcast. For a split second, it looked like the table was going to land about 10 feet or so from where he was standing, but it never got that close. Still, it was scary stuff.

Also, shortly after that, a beautiful rainbow appeared over the scoreboard. Shelley Szwast got a perfect picture of it:

That's perfect, right? 

If you have a Princeton email, then your notifications were erupting shortly before all this happened at the possibility of a tornado. At that time, TB was in his office down in the Jadwin basement all afternoon, so he had no idea that a massive hail storm was raging outside.

And, while a tornado never actually touched down in Princeton, apparently one did strike Mercer County (Princeton's county). There was extensive damage to a condo complex called Lawrence Square Village, where TB lived back in the mid-1990s. That's about five miles or so from campus.

From the story that TB read, it was Mercer County's first tornado since 1999. When TB used to work at the Trenton Times, he remembers a discussion about why Trenton High School's teams were nicknamed "Tornadoes" when there were never tornadoes in Mercer County. 

This has been a very mild winter in Mercer County, and TB is hoping it stays that way. The high temperature for today is forecast to be near 70, and though it will cool off again after that, there is no snow or horrible cold snaps in the 10-day forecast. 

This is why you don't get your weather from a groundhog.

The forecast for this weekend does include a 100 percent chance of three more Ivy League championships to be decided, with the men's swimming and diving championships at Brown (the first events were last night) and the men's and women's indoor Heps track and field championships at Dartmouth.

The Princeton men's swimmers enter the competition ranked 24th nationally. Harvard comes in ranked 22nd. This should not be shocking if you're a fan of Ivy League men's swimming and diving.

When was the last time a team other than Princeton or Harvard won a league championship? Well, if you go by the current championship meet format that began in 1997, then the answer is never. Since then, only Princeton or Harvard has won.

If you go back further to when the round robin was used to decide the champion, then Yale got a share of the title in 1993. When was the last time that a team other than Princeton or Harvard was the outright league champion? 

That would be Penn. In 1971. That's 52 years ago. That's extraordinary.

You can get more information, including where to find schedules and results, HERE.

As for the indoor men's Heps, it's not quite 52 years, but when was the last time a team other than Princeton or Cornell won? That would be Penn as well. Back in 1997.

Princeton heads to Dartmouth looking for its eighth straight indoor Heps crown. All of the scheduling for Heps can be found HERE.

The women's side hasn't been as dominated as the men's, but it has been 10 years since a team other Harvard or Penn has won. 

It's a Championship Weekend for those three sports, and possibly men's and women's basketball. TB will have more on that possibility, as well as what's next up for Sherrerd Field, tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Pyne Winner

First and foremost, congratulations to Ella Gantman, the women's soccer goalkeeper who was announced yesterday as one of the two winners of the 2023 Pyne Prize.

You can read all about Gantman and the other winner, Austin Davis, HERE.

From the release: The Pyne Honor Prize, established in 1921, is awarded to the senior who has most clearly manifested excellent scholarship, strength of character and effective leadership.

Also from the release: 

“Ella not only thinks critically about improving the communities that she’s a part of to be more inclusive and engaged, but follows through and creates that change,” said Claire Pinciaro, assistant dean for student life in Yeh College.

If you don't realize it, that's one Princeton women's soccer goalkeeper talking about another. Pinciaro was an All-Ivy selection as a senior, when she helped the Tigers go 7-0-0 in the league and then to a win over West Virginia in the first round of the NCAA tournament before falling to Marquette in the second round.

For the record, Pinciaro made seven saves in the NCAA win over West Virginia. Former head coach Julie Shackford said this after the game: "We have to give a lot of credit to Claire for coming up big both in the first half and the second half."

Gantman's made history of a different kind this past fall, when she had a shutout in the first game ever played on the new Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. 

As TigerBlog read the University release about the two Pyne winners, he was particularly struck by how Gantman mentioned that she was a "proud product" of the Washington, D.C., public school system. In fact, how about this:

“I am deeply honored to have been selected for this prize,” Gantman said, adding that she was initially shocked upon learning of the award. “I am a proud product of the D.C. Public Schools system, and this level of recognition from an institution like Princeton was never on my to-do list.” Gantman said receiving the Pyne Prize also has inspired reflection. “I was born in a rural rice town in China, and I was orphaned by the time I was a few days old. Most of the children from my orphanage will never step onto a college campus. This prize is a reminder of where I come from, where I am and an encouragement to continue to serve my communities,” she said.

Ever the historian, TB went back through the list of winners of the award, which dates back to 1922. The first winner was Charles Denby Jr., who also had a connection to China, where he spent much of his career as a diplomat. 

There were quite a few names on the LIST OF WINNERS who stood out to TigerBlog. Among them were Art Lane of the Class of 1934, who captained the football team to the 1933 national championship and for whom Princeton's annual award to a senior athlete for outstanding commitment to sport and society is named. Two years after Lane won, the 1936 winner was Pepper Constable, who also was the captain of the national championship football team.

TB doesn't know how many athletes have won the Prize. He does now that football players Brent Woods in 1983 and Alex Sierk in 1999 were winners. Woods, you might recall, was one of the quarterbacks at Princeton in the early 1980s who rewrote the passing record book; Sierk was a placekicker whose field goal on the final play of the 1995 season gave Princeton an outright title.

Hockey player Landis Stankievech was the 2008 winner, which is probably the least shocking news you'll ever hear if you know anything about him. The same is true of Jen Babik, a field hockey/softball player who won in 1993.

The first woman to win was Marsha Levy, and she also became the first woman to be elected as an alumni trustee. She went from Princeton to get her Ph.D. at Yale and is now a professor at NYU in the psychoanalysis area.

Three years later, Sonia Sotomayor was one of the winners. TB didn't have to do a search on her to find out what her current job is.

The list is an impressive one. To be included on it makes you extraordinarily special. 

Make sure you read the accomplishments of this year's winners. You'll see what TB means.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

A Dominant 24th

Princeton hosts Manhattan in men's lacrosse tonight at 6. You can get tickets HERE and watch HERE.

From the first season of official Ivy League men's basketball (1956-57) through the 1990-91 season, there were only four times that a team went 14-0 in conference games.

The first of those, by the way, was Princeton in 1968-69, which was Pete Carril's second season as Tiger head coach.

Princeton then went 14-0 in the 1991 Ivy season, meaning that there were only four perfect league teams in the first 35 years of Ivy men's basketball team. Starting with those 1991 Tigers, there have been 10 perfect teams in the last 32 years. 

What changed? Why have there been more perfect teams? That's a question for another day.

TigerBlog's first thought is that it's a fluke and that there are no trends that are reflected. Or maybe not. He's not sure. It may be surprising to you to learn that none of Bill Bradley's three varsity seasons saw Princeton go 14-0. 

At the other end of the spectrum, no team has ever won the league with more than four losses. There have been four seasons in which the champion went 10-4, all of which were in the 1980s. Amazingly, all of those 10-4 teams were outright champs.

The current season will be the fifth time that the league champ has at least four losses, since Princeton, Penn and Yale are all tied for first at 8-4 with two games to go. Since Princeton plays Penn, there can't be a three-way tie at 10-4, though there could be a three-way tie at 9-5.

The Ivy League made it official that those three teams have all clinched spots in the Ivy tournament, which means that seven of the eight spots for the event at Jadwin March 10-12 have been confirmed (tickets HERE). The women's field is set, with Princeton, Columbia, Penn and Harvard, though the order is still TBD. 

The fourth team on the men's side will be either Cornell or Brown. Or maybe Dartmouth or Harvard. TigerBlog doesn't have the patience to figure it out yet.

It's always been fascinating to TB how differently each of the 33 Ivy sports crowns its champion. For some, it's a long, long road that spans months and features a double-round robin. The 180 degree opposite of that is cross country, whose league championship takes less than a half hour.

Track and field and swimming and diving have their championships earned during multi-day meets. The women's swimming and diving event was held at DeNunzio Pool this past Wednesday through Saturday, and when it was over, Princeton was once again the champ.

Princeton started it Wednesday with two relay wins and never trailed, outdistancing second-place Harvard 1,480-1254. 

The Tigers also produced the high scorers for both swimming and diving. Senior Nikki Venema was the high-point swimmer for the second time in her career, with the maximum 96 points. Freshman diver Charlotte Martinkus won both the one-meter and three-meter events, finishing with 54 points.

One of TB's favorite celebrations is the way swimmers and divers (and water polos and rowers) jump and/or get tossed into the water following their wins. This past Saturday night, among those who ended up in DeNunzio Pool were Ford Family Director of Athletics John Mack and Office of Athletic Communications swim contact Elliott Carr.

Princeton has now won 24 Ivy League women's swimming and diving championships. Only one other team has reached double figures, and that's Harvard, with 15. The 2023 Princeton title was a dominant one.

As for the 2022-23 academic year, Princeton has now had six teams win league championships, including five in Ivy sports. Your conference champs to date are: field hockey, men's cross country, women's volleyball, men's water polo, women's fencing and women's swimming and diving. 

This weekend will see three more league championships contested, with men's swimming and diving at Brown and men's and women's indoor Heps at Dartmouth.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Score Update

Okay, so stay with TigerBlog on this one.

He was trying to find out if there had ever been an 80-37 game in Ivy League women's basketball before this weekend. As he went through the year-by-year results of each team, he got all the way through five schools without seeing one. 

Then, the sixth, was Brown. It listed an 80-37 game from Dec. 18, 1977 — against Princeton. Interesting. Princeton's was the first record book TB checked, and it listed no such score. 

Now confused, he went back to the Princeton record book and saw that it listed that game as 80-57. Who was right? Princeton or Brown? Maybe it was 80-47 and both schools got it wrong? 

To find out, he went to the Daily Princetonian archives. He wasn't sure there was even going to be an issue that late in December, but lo and behold, there it was, a Dec. 19, 1977 edition. 

Of course, as always happens when he goes through the archives, TB got immediately distracted. The first story listed the hiring of the new football coach. Since it was 1977, TB knew that the new coach was Frank Navarro. 

What he didn't know, until he read the Prince story, was that Navarro was a controversial hire and that then-Director of Athletics Royce Flippin went against the wishes of the search committee to bring him on. The story mentioned that seven of the 11 members of the committee were against Navarro, including the two 1978 captains, Bob Ehrlich and Greg Bauman. Ehrlich, of course, went on to become the Governor of Maryland.

For his part, Navarro coached Princeton for seven seasons, finishing with a record of 29-35-3. Also, that was great reporting in the student paper by Nancy David.

Before he could refocus on 80-37, he was further distracted by the next story, which was Princeton's 68-57 win over Rutgers in men's basketball. It turned out to be Pete Carril's 200th career win, on a night when Frank Sowinski scored 26 and Tom Young came off the bench to score 16 points on 8 for 10 shooting. 

Young also had this to say, at least as quoted in the Prince, about his Rutgers counterpart: "He looks awesome from the stands, but he's not so good on the floor; he's not that fast."

That player, by the way, was James Bailey, who would be the No. 6 pick of the 1979 NBA Draft and who would average 8.8 points and five rebounds per game during his nine NBA seasons.

There was actually no mention of the women's basketball game in the Dec. 19 Prince, so TB had to check the next day. There it was. Princeton 80, Brown 37. How about that?

The Princeton women were competing at Brown's tournament, and had defeated Rhode Island 74-50 the night before. Here is how the Prince wrote it up:

Whatever their deficiencies as opponents, Brown's women's basketball players proved to be perfect hostesses for their Princeton counterparts at the Brown Invitational Tournament last weekend. The Bruins kept their guests happy by rolling over and playing dead Saturday night in Providence, while the Tigers (4-0) laughed their way to an 80-37 victory and the tournament championship. 

Now that is writing.

Anyway, TB went back to the Princeton archives and changed the final to 80-37. It's a score update, of sorts. It also made him wonder how many other such errors there are that have been unnoticed through the years. His best guess is "a few, but hardly any."

And that's that for today.

Wait. No it isn't. 

Why did he care about an 80-37 basketball game? It's because there were two of them this weekend in Ivy League women's hoops. 

The first was Princeton's win Friday night by that score, again at Brown. Columbia then matched that score Saturday night at Dartmouth. That's fairly wild, no? 

This weekend began without any team having clinched an Ivy tournament spot. It ended with all four women's spots secure. 

Your four women's teams at Jadwin in three weeks will be Princeton, Columbia, Penn and Harvard, in some order. With two games to go, here is the remaining schedule for the four:

Princeton — home against Harvard, at Penn
Columbia — at Brown, home against Cornell
Penn — at Dartmouth, home against Princeton
Harvard — at Princeton, home against Dartmouth

It's still mathematically possible for there to be a four-way tie for first, though that is very unlikely. Princeton and Columbia are currently tied for first at 10-2 each, followed by Penn and Harvard at 8-4. Yale, in fifth, is 5-7. 

Should Princeton or Columbia win one more game, then Penn and Harvard will be unable to get a share of the championship. Should Princeton and Columbia finish in a two-way tie, then they would be co-champs, regardless of the tournament, which will only decide the league's automatic NCAA bid.

You can get Ivy tournament tickets HERE.

Friday, February 17, 2023

The Fountain Of Youth

Raquel Welch died the other day, at the age of 82.

If you are a little bit younger than TigerBlog, then maybe the name is familiar and that's about it. If you attended Princeton when it was still all-male, then there's a strong likelihood that you were enthralled with her.

Perhaps no role better summed her up than the one she played in 1976 in the movie "Mother, Jugs and Speed." On the one hand, she threatens to sue her employer for discriminating against her based on her sex. On the other hand, her character, Jennifer Jurgens, is called "Jugs" by all the men (and the list of cast members is somewhat epic) in her workplace. Hey, it was the 1970s.

Welch was great in so many movies, including "Kansas City Bomber," where she played a roller derby star back when roller derby was a big deal. She was as big a star as there was at the time. 

TB learned after her death that her cousin, a woman, served as the President of Bolivia and that her real name was Jo Raquel Tejada. With each big star of TB's youth who passes away, he feels a little bit older.

Then he remembers where he works and the people with whom he works, and he feels eternally young. The Fountain of Youth? It's not in Florida. It's on campuses like Princeton's.

This is a typically busy weekend at Princeton.

The Ivy League women's swimming and diving championships are wrapping up today and tomorrow in DeNunzio Pool (preliminaries at 11, finals at 6). The men's hockey team is home, obviously, against Brown tonight and Yale tomorrow night (puck drops at 7 both nights). 

The men's basketball team has two big games in Jadwin, against Brown tonight (7) and Yale tomorrow night (6). Not too far away, the women's squash team will be competing in the CSA National Championships at Penn and Drexel, and the men's volleyball team will be at its big rival Penn State tonight and tomorrow. 

There's also a lacrosse doubleheader on Sherrerd Field tomorrow. The women start things off at noon against No. 13 Virginia, and Princeton then takes on Monmouth at 3. 

Two storylines: 1) It's the first game as head coach for Jenn Cook on the women's side and 2) Princeton is ranked anywhere from second to fifth in the national polls after its run to the Final Four a year ago on the men's side.

Maybe a third storyline is that the start of another lacrosse season is something that TB looks forward to all year. Even after all these years, and this will his 34th with the men's team, he still gets the same level of excitement. He's never lost that, which to him is a sign that he's been in the right career.

TB wrote a pair of feature stories in advance of the season, one on Kate Mulham and the other on Tyler Sandoval, which you can read HERE and HERE. They both have great stories to tell.

As for the basketball teams, the women are on the road, at Brown tonight and Yale tomorrow night. The Tigers would clinch a spot in the Ivy tournament with a win in any of their four remaining league games (home against Harvard next weekend, at Penn the following weekend), but the bigger goal is the league title. Princeton and Columbia are currently tied for first at 8-2 each, one game ahead of Harvard and Penn at 7-3, followed by Yale at 5-5. 

Should Princeton and Penn both beat Yale at home, then TigerBlog is 99.5 percent sure that would mean that the field for the tournament would be set, though the pairings would very much be up in the air. Should Princeton and Penn both beat Yale and Harvard win once this weekend against Columbia or Cornell, then that number goes to 100 percent.

On the men's side, Princeton and Yale are tied for first. Both would clinch Ivy tournament spots with two wins this weekend and one loss each from Dartmouth and Cornell. 

As a reminder, the Ivy tournaments will be in Jadwin Gym March 10-12. Ticket information is HERE.

Lastly, happy birthday to Digger, in the next world. Kalnikov knows a genius.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Math Test

 So as you probably know, there's a college hockey tournament in Boston every year called The Beanpot.

The tournament, which has a men's side and a women's side, includes four schools: Harvard, Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern. The first-round pairings rotate each year, as opposed to having the same two teams meet year after year.

This year's men's winner was Northeastern, which defeated Harvard in a shootout earlier this week in the championship game. For official records, the game is considered a tie, but a winner had to be determined.

What's most amazing about that is that this was the 70th Beanpot and somehow, insanely, the first time that Harvard and Northeastern played in the final. How is that even remotely possible? 

What are the odds that four teams would be randomly split into two semifinals and that two of those four teams would never meet in the final until 70 years later? To find out the answer, TigerBlog reached out to Princeton resident math genius Thayer Patterson.

And while TB waits for Thayer to get back to him, here is some more stuff, including some numbers, for this Thursday:

* The Ivy League women's swimming and diving championships come to DeNunzio Pool this weekend. In fact, the event actually started last night with two Princeton relay wins, but it kicks into high gear this morning with preliminaries at 11 and finals at 6, a schedule that repeats itself tomorrow and Saturday.

This century, only Princeton, Harvard or Yale has won the title, and all-time only those three and Brown have ever won. The Tigers have won 23 times, with Harvard next at 15.

Perhaps more than any other year, though, this time around the field is pretty wide open, with a strong case to be made for any of four teams near the top, including Princeton. 

For more information, including schedule and video links, click HERE.

The men's championships are at Brown next weekend.

* This is the final week of the ECAC women's hockey regular season, and Princeton has locked up a spot in the eight-team playoffs, accomplished last weekend with a pair of overtime wins at Baker Rink. Princeton enters this weekend in sixth place, able to move up to fifth or down to seventh, depending on this weekend's results.

Princeton will definitely be on the road for the playoffs next weekend. Where? It's possible it could be Yale, Clarkson, Quinnipiac or Colgate. If it's Clarkson, it would be the second straight ride up there, as the Tigers are at Clarkson and St. Lawrence this weekend.

* Meanwhile, on the men's side, there are two weekends to go. 

Princeton enters its home weekend with Brown and Yale (7 tomorrow and Saturday) in seventh place, with home ice in the first round to go to teams five through eight, with the top four to earn a bye. The Tigers are at Union and RPI next weekend to wrap up the regular season.

Union is currently tied with Princeton at 23 points. RPI is in eighth, with 20. Check back next week to see where things stand, since too many teams are too closely bunched to make it make sense right now.

* In other hockey news, there is McKnight Pederson, a sophomore lacrosse defenseman. Due to injuries to the men's hockey team, McKnight will have a busy weekend, since he'll be practicing with the men's lacrosse team tomorrow afternoon, serving as the backup goalie for the hockey team tomorrow night, playing for the men's lacrosse team Saturday at 3 in the season opener against Monmouth and then rushing to Baker Rink for the Saturday night hockey game.

If you're wondering if Princeton has ever had someone play for two different teams in one day, TB knows of at least one — Jason Osier, who in 1997 played lacrosse in the afternoon and basketball and night.

As for the Pederson family, there will be three of them on Sherrerd Field Saturday, with McKnight and his older brother Beau (preseason first-team All-American) on the Princeton men's team and sister Lauren on the Virginia women's team. Virginia will be at Princeton on the women's side at noon.

* Finally, this is what Thayer had to say:

I think what you are asking is what would be the odds if each team were evenly matched every year so that each team has a 50% chance of winning any game they are in. There are 4 possible matchups of 4 teams. With equal probability, there would be a 25% chance of each matchup. So the probability that you would have 69 finals without that matchup would be like flipping a 75% Heads coin and getting 69 Heads in a row. So (0.75)^69. And then this year multiply that by 0.25 = 5.99 x 10^(-10), so 10 decimal places in front.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Everybody Needs An Oph

TigerBlog was at the men's basketball banquet in the lobby of Jadwin Gym in 1992 when Pete Carril first announced the Paul Friedman Award.

He did so in a way that TB can't forget, even 30 years later. Carril told the story of Friedman, who came to Princeton to try to fulfill his dream of playing for the Tigers, even as Carril told him he never would. After two years of tireless work, he finally made it onto the varsity team — only to find out he had cancer, which would kill him shortly after he graduated in 1981.

Friedman did make it into three varsity games as a junior, and he scored his only career points with a basket in a loss at San Francisco. As Carril told his story, it wasn't about basketball ability; it was about perserverence, determination and effort. It was about giving your very best every day in every way. 

And that's the language of the award. It's given to the member of the program who does his very best, every day in every way. The first winner was Sean Jackson. It was presented by Friedman's parents. 

It was a very, very emotional scene, and it's stuck with TB for how genuine it was. In fact, until Saturday night, it was the Princeton team banquet that he most remembered, for all the ones he's attended.

This past Saturday, though, he got to attend the field hockey banquet in Prospect House. TB, you probably know, finished his second year as the field hockey contact this past fall, when the Tigers went 7-0 in the league and returned to the NCAA tournament.

That wasn't the focus of the banquet (though the season's highlights were well captured in a video put together by junior Gracie McGowan). 

No, the theme on this night can be summed up in the words of junior Bridget Murphy, who said: "Everybody needs an Oph in their life."

That's not "oaf," as in its dictionary definition of "a clumsy, stupid or uncultured person." This was "Oph," which is pronounced the same but has quite a different meaning.

"Oph" is short for "Ophelie," as in Ophelie Bemelmans, one of the eight Tiger field hockey seniors and an All-Ivy League selection in 2022. Each of the seniors had another player talk about her, and Murphy went first, talking about Bemelmans.

It did not take long to realize just how much Murphy's words were coming from the heart. She spoke about their friendship and about what it has meant to her, and when she was done, Bemelmans, and pretty much everyone else, was teary.

It continued that way through the next seven seniors. TB made some notes of what was said: 

* "The relationship between goalie and defender is a safety net that allows the rest of the team to take chances."

* "A great teammate is willing to play any role on the team to make it better."

* "She goes out of her way to make sure everyone on the team is seen and heard."

* "She's changed my experience at Princeton and my outlook on life in general."

* "I think the most precious kinds of players are those who know when to be serious and to strive for excellence while also remaining aware of the importance of their own and their teammates' emotional well-being."

* "Perhaps one of the greatest abilities of a leader is the flexibility to do whatever it takes to help the team."

* "She'd say 'they should be nervous to play us, not the other way around."

* She's been a second sister when I wanted it and a second mother when I needed it."

That last one is particularly telling. If you ever wanted to sum up exactly what it means to be a great teammate, and a great friend in particular, you can't do it much better than that.

The evening began with head coach Carla Tagliente's speech, including this: "For all the people you see raising trophies, you don't see the tears they shed along the way."

Her implication was clear. The celebrations that take plus in the public eye don't happen without hard work and commitment and without the ability to push through the tough times. 

The tears that were shed Saturday night were a different kind. They were the emotions that are built through shared sacrifices, shared moments, shared wins, shared losses, shared laughter and shared sadness. 

These were such amazingly genuine tears, brought on by words that came straight from the heart.

Much like 1992, TigerBlog won't be forgetting this one anytime soon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Ivy Champs, Again

TigerBlog thought that, as usual, the commercials during the Super Bowl were simply trying too hard. 

It's almost like the formula is "get someone famous, pay them a lot of money, spend more money on production, have almost no money left over for actual intelligent writing." The overwhelming majority of them were simply not funny. They also didn't do a great job of getting the product to stand out.

Having said that, there was one that was outstanding. It was the Dunkin' Donuts commercial with Ben Affleck. Now THIS is clever and creative.

Other than that, nothing really stood out. 

TB doesn't get it. Do they sit around the boardroom and say "Yes!!! Perfect. That's $10 million well spent?" 

Of course, the chase for Super Bowl commercial greatness stems from this one, which simply changed everything about commercials, not to mention basically the whole world and all.

That commercial is untouchable forever. It's like the "Miracle on Ice" of commercials.

If you asked TB what the second-best one he's seen during a Super Bowl is, he'd go with this one:

That Nissan commercial was from 1996. In other words, it's been more than a quarter-century of bad Super Bowl commercials.

As for the game, as TB said yesterday, it ended in a horrible way. Unless the defensive player has prevented a sure touchdown, then you can't make that call at that point of a Super Bowl. Let Kansas City kick the field goal and then see what the Eagles can do. Everyone was cheated.

Also, can the NFL figure out what's a catch and what's not a catch? How hard is that? In what world was the DeVonta Smith play not an actual reception.

Oh, and if the NFL is going to have replay work the way it does, then it has to be able to blow the play dead for a challenge if the offense rushes to the line. 

TB read a story yesterday that mentioned that Kevin Burkhardt (who is very good) was only the 12th play-by-play announcer for the lead American broadcast of a Super Bowl. Can you name the other 11? TB has them at the end.

Shortly before kickoff for the Super Bowl Sunday, the Ivy League fencing round robins were ending at Cornell. This is a great event, with all of the men's and women's teams in one place for two days of competition.

As expected, the Princeton women rolled to the league championship, going a perfect 6-0 over the two days. The Tigers had their last bout against Columbia, who was also unbeaten coming in; the result was a 20-7 Princeton win.

The men finished third, going 2-2. Harvard won the championship, one game ahead of Columbia. Those three, by the way, are the top three teams in the national rankings as well.

For more on the men's and women's results, click HERE.

As was the case in Ivy League men's and women's squash, no men's or women's fencing team lost to a team it finished ahead of or beat a team it finished behind. There was a clear, clear distribution of who was where. 

The Princeton women have now won two straight Ivy titles, not to mention nine of the last 13. Princeton also had two weapon winners, Maia Weintraub in the foil and Hadley Husisian in the epee (Weintraub, a sophomore, was the NCAA foil champ a year ago). 

Tristan Szapary, a junior, was the men's epee individual winner.

Head coach Zoltan Dudas continues to put together an amazing career at Princeton, as he now has won 13 league titles between the men and women in his 17 years at Princeton. His team has never finished out of the Top 10 nationally at the combined NCAA championships, and he has had eight top four finishes, including the 2013 NCAA title.

The NCAA regionals will be held in Haverford, Pa., on Saturday, March 11, because sure, why not, everything else is happening on that day, including three Ivy League tournament basketball games at Jadwin Gym. The NCAA championships will be held at Duke March 23-26.

The answer to the question about Super Bowl announcers:

Burkhardt, Ray Scott, Curt Gowdy, Pat Summerall, Jim Nantz, Al Michaels, Jack Buck, Joe Buck, Greg Gumbel, Dick Enberg, Frank Gifford and Jack Whitaker. Another way of putting that is "Pat Summerall and 11 other guys."

Lastly, Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

Monday, February 13, 2023

The Weekend In Ivy Hoops

Okay, that was a terrible call and an awful way to end a great game. 

And that's all TigerBlog needs to say about the Super Bowl.

So on to basketball. Which buzzer-beater was more impressive?

Was it the one TigerBlog showed you last week from the New Jersey City-Rowan game, or was it this one from over the weekend, between Portland State and Northern Arizona? 

That's close. The one in the Portland State game was extraordinary. It was extraordinary just to get the shot off, let alone have it go in, let alone do it all in 0.4 seconds. The one from last week required more, with a made three-pointer, a great steal off the inbounds pass and then something of a miraculous three to win it.

It's really tough to pick one over the other. Either way, it's hard to imagine another ending this season will challenge those two — until it does.

The weekend in Ivy League basketball didn't have any endings that were quite so dramatic. Of the eight games played between the men and women, only three were closer than 10 points and none was closer than six (Penn women over Harvard 70-64). 

The average margin of the men's games was 15 points; the average margin of the women's games was 20.3. The average of all eight games was 17.5.

Is that a function of only playing one game versus two in a weekend? Was it the matchups? Was it the home courts? A combination of all of that? 

The home teams went 6-2 in the league this weekend, 3-1 on the men's side and 3-1 on the women's side.

As TB wrote that, it got him wondering about the entire season. To date, there have been 80 Ivy games played. On the men's side, the home team is 25-15. 

On the women's side, he figured the home court wouldn't matter as much, because there seems to be more of a separation among the teams. as it turns out, the home team on the women's side is 23-17. Added up, and the record is 48-32, which means home teams have won 60 percent of the games.

The NCAA selections are three weeks from Sunday. The Ivy League tournament begins two days earlier in Jadwin Gym. 

Each Ivy team has played 10 games, so there are four more to go in the regular season. Each team will play a back-to-back this weekend, with single games the next two after that. 

For Princeton, this weekend means Brown Friday night and Yale Saturday night, with the men home and the women away. The regular season will end with single-game weekends with Harvard (women home) and Penn (men home).

The women's team defeated Dartmouth 64-47 behind 16 points from Kaitlyn Chen and 13 more from freshman Madison St. Rose, who now has at least 13 in six straight games and eight of the last nine. Princeton has now won nine straight since starting 0-2 in the league, with eight straight league wins.

As a result, Princeton is tied atop the league standings with Columbia, also 8-2. Harvard was tied as well until a loss to Penn Saturday dropped the Crimson to 7-3, tied for third with the Quakers. Yale is 5-5, with everyone else with at least seven losses.

The Princeton men fell at Dartmouth 83-76, which coupled with the Yale win over Columbia left the Tigers and Bulldogs tied for first at 7-3. 

As John Thompson III always said, the goal is to be in first at the end of each weekend.

The men's race seems to be a bit more crowded than the women's. Behind the two first-place teams are Brown and Penn at 6-4 and then Cornell and Dartmouth at 5-5. 

Who holds the tiebreakers? It doesn't matter yet. Now it's all about wins and losses. 

Next weekend will say a great deal. Again, how big a deal with the home court be? What changes the second time around? Is anyone able to sustain momentum from one week to the next? Can teams that lost this weekend turn it around again?

The season has reached the fun part.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Retirees, And More, Including A Sad Remembrance

TigerBlog starts today by giving credit to his colleague Greg Busch for knowing something about Bill Carmody that TB didn't.

Carmody, as Busch pointed out to TB, was briefly a member of Sydney Johnson's staff at Fairfield, as a special assistant. TB didn't realize that. 

Busch, by the way, is a former Princeton men's soccer player who is now the Senior Associate AD for Student Athlete Experience. He came back to Princeton at the start of this academic year after a long tenure in the athletic department at Rider.

And what did Busch ask from TB as a reward for knowing something he didn't? Public recognition, of course, which is what he has now gotten.

Meanwhile, here are some other things for your Friday:

* Bella Alarie has announced her retirement from professional basketball. The all-time leading scorer in Princeton women's basketball history did so in a social media post last week.

Alarie is the only Princeton basketball player, male or female, to win three Ivy League Player of the Year awards. Only Bill Bradley ever played basketball at Princeton and scored more points than the 1,703 that she did. Bradley and Alarie are the only two players in Princeton history who had at least 40 points in a game.

Princeton women's basketball has never seen a player quite like her. At 6-4, she was unstoppable as an inside player, a rebounder and a defender. Her 249 career blocked shots are 88 more than the next-highest total in Princeton women's history (Ellen Devoe) and 90 more than the men's record (Rick Hielscher). She ranks first, second, third and fourth on the women's basketball single-season blocks list.

Alarie's pro career started when she was the No. 5 overall pick in the WNBA draft after her senior season of 2020. She also played, very successfully, in Europe.

She's also another Princeton athlete who in so many ways seemed to be too good to be true, with her humility, friendliness and obvious joy at being a Tiger. TB, and pretty much anyone who met her during her time at Princeton, congratulates her.

* Loyal reader Steven Feldman gave TB the heads up about an item in Track and Field News that said that Julia Ratcliffe has retired from international track and field.

Ratcliffe was the 2014 NCAA champion in the hammer throw, as well as an Olympian representing her native New Zealand in 2021. In fact, she reached the Olympic final in Tokyo and placed ninth, which is extraordinary.

Like Alarie, Julia Ratcliffe was also an athlete who was always smiling, always up, not to mention a great student. TB will always remember when she first arrived in Jadwin Gym as a freshman and walked past TB's office, asking where the women's track office was. She had just gotten off the plane and taken a car service from JFK. Peter Farrell, then the women's track and field coach, said that she'd be a special one, and he was right.

She barely missed qualifying for the 2016 Olympics by a matter of an inch or so, but she pushed through to qualify on her final attempt for the most recent Games, even if her appearance was delayed by a year due to Covid.

That's two recent retirements of two of the greatest women athletes Princeton has known. In fact, TB would put Alarie in the top five, with Ratcliffe not that much further down the list. 

* The men's basketball team is at Dartmouth tomorrow at 2 in a rematch of a game the Tigers won 93-90 three weeks ago in Jadwin. Princeton trailed by six late in regulation before rallying for that victory in overtime.

Princeton, after a sweep at home last weekend of Cornell and Columbia, is in first place in the league at 7-2, one game up on 6-3 Yale. The next five teams are separated by two games, with Penn, Cornell and Brown at 5-4, Dartmouth at 4-5 and Harvard at 3-6.

The top four will advance to the Ivy tournament at Jadwin next month. In the Ivy tournament era, obviously a great deal of emphasis is put on the push for finishing in the top four, but remember, the Ivy League champion is the team that wins the regular season. That will always, always be a huge accomplishment.

* Speaking of insane comebacks in basketball, did you see the end of the Rowan-NJCU men's game the other night?

That's craziness. Give a ton of credit obviously to the one who hit the game-winner (Jason Battle), but also save some for the player who tipped the inbounds (Pharo Allah). That's how Princeton caught Dartmouth in its first meeting, when Caden Pierce did the same for the Tigers by getting his hand on the inbounds pass.

NJCU, by the way, is New Jersey City University. TB has been there many times. 

When TB was covering NJAC (that's New Jersey Athletic Conference) basketball way back when, NJSU was known as Jersey City State, Rowan was known as Glassboro State and the local team, the College of New Jersey, was known as Trenton State College. 

That game reflects the beauty of sports. You never know when you're going to have a magical moment like that. 

* Congratulations go out to Andrew Weiss, now an officer with Princeton's Department of Public Safety. Andrew's grandmother was Marge DeFrank, a well-loved longtime member of the Department of Athletics. Andrew was a familiar presence in Jadwin Gym when he was a kid, most especially at men's basketball games in Jadwin. 

It's great to have him back on campus. 

* Lastly, this Sunday marks the 14th anniversary of the day that Lorin Maurer was killed in a plane crash near Buffalo. TB has remembered Lorin every year since, even as the number of people who worked with her at Princeton and knew her continues to dwindle. 

He wrote this last year:

Lorin was the Friends Group manager at Princeton when she passed away. She was a fundraiser, but so much more than that. She had an incredible work ethic, taking on whatever task needed to be completed. More than once TB saw her setting up tables and chairs or putting tablecloths on them. Why? Because it needed to be done.

She was also a super nice, super upbeat person. She always seemed to be smiling. She was smiling the last time TB ever saw her. He'll never forget that.

Each year since her passing, TigerBlog has told the story of the last time her saw her. At the time TB's office was up on the Jadwin mezzanine, and he always left his door open. Some people would stop in and say hi. Most would just walk by.

Lorin would always stop. Sometimes, when she didn't have time to say anything, she'd just stop and smile. And that's what happened on that day.

There was a meeting that was running late, and Lorin had to get to the airport to catch a flight to Buffalo. There was a wedding in her boyfriend's family that she was going to attend. She'd be meeting him there.

She'd found love in the months before. She was really happy. 

Tragically, her plane crashed just before reaching the Buffalo airport. TigerBlog didn't know this until the next morning, when he woke up to an email with the news. It's almost as shocking now as it was then.

It was just so unbelievable, so impossible to wrap your head around. She'd just been there, so alive. And then she was gone. 

It's still too sad to imagine. Lorin is missed by those who knew her, and she will never be forgotten.

Thursday, February 9, 2023


Welcome to "Fact/Opinion Thursday."

For today, TigerBlog will intersperse unassailable facts with his own opinions, which may or not be assailable. This could be fun. 

Fact: There is a three-way tie for first in the Ivy League in women's basketball, with Princeton, Columbia and Harvard all at 7-2. Penn is at 6-3, followed by Yale at 5-4 and then no other team with fewer than seven losses. This week's schedule is: Dartmouth at Princeton (Saturday at 1), Yale at Columbia, Harvard at Penn and Brown at Cornell.

Opinion: No matter what happens this weekend, it will be impossible to pencil in four teams as the Ivy tournament participants. Should Columbia defeat Yale and Penn defeat Harvard, then the top four would all have a two-game lead on Yale with four games to go, which would seem to suggest that they would all be in good shape. The schedule, though, suggests otherwise, as the top four all have at least two remaining games against the other three, and Yale still gets to play Penn and Princeton after this weekend. 

Fact: There was a Twitter graphic on the women's basketball feed after the win over Columbia Saturday night that was a picture framed in the traditional New York City theater banner "Playbill."

Opinion: Warren Croxton, TB's colleague, always crushes it on social media, but that was one of his best.

Fact: Princeton, Columbia, Harvard and Penn are the top four scoring offense teams in Ivy League women's basketball and are four of the top five scoring defense teams in the Ivy League.

Opinion: TigerBlog, given the choice, would rather be able to stop a team than rely on its offense to lead it night after night. There will always be the night where the shots don't fall.

Fact: This weekend's Princeton-Dartmouth women's basketball game in Jadwin will be preceded by the National Girls and Women in Sports Day festivities, featuring athletes from most of Princeton's women's teams.

Opinion: The event is one of the very best things that Princeton Athletics does. If you have young athletes, boys or girls, they will love it.

Fact: The Ivy League round-robin fencing championships will be held this weekend at Cornell, where each men's and women's team will face all of its opponents in two days, with the league champs to be crowned afterwards.

Opinion: TigerBlog loves this format. He's guessing the fencers do as well. It's a chance to compete for the championship, and it's also a celebration of the fencing community. Most of these fencers grew up fencing against each other, literally traveling the world to do so. Also, Ivy League fencing is as nationally competitive as any sport. Consider the current men's national rankings, which have Harvard ranked first and Princeton and Columbia ranked second. That's in the country, not just the league. Princeton's women, the defending league champ, is the top-ranked Ivy school, ranked second nationally.

Fact: LeBron James is now the all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

Opinion: Michael Jordan is the greatest player in NBA history.

Fact: There are two weekends left in the ECAC women's hockey regular season and three weekends left on the men's side. Princeton is currently sixth in the women's standings, eight points out of fourth place and home ice and nine points up on ninth place, which would mean not making the postseason tournament. The men are also in sixth, five points out of fourth (a first-round bye) and six points ahead of ninth (all 12 teams make the tournament; teams five through eight get home ice in the first round). Princeton's women are home this weekend against Union and RPI; the men are at St. Lawrence and Clarkson.

Opinion: Every opportunity to watch Sarah Fillier play for Princeton is a special one, but she is not a one-woman team. Also, Princeton's women have three of their four remaining league games against teams who are behind them in the standings, so the chance to gain points is there. Getting home ice will be tough for the women, but it's not out of range. 

Fact: There have been more U.S. Presidents than there have been Kings or Queens of England. 

Opinion: TB never would have guessed that since English monarchs go back 1200 or so years. On the other hand, they don't have term limits.

Fact: There is women's golf on the schedule this weekend, at a tournament in Florida.

Opinion: Spring can't get here fast enough.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Positive Coaching

How's this for a resume? 

Scored a goal in overtime in an NCAA championship lacrosse game. Scored a goal in the NCAA soccer tournament. Three-time first-team All-American in lacrosse. Two NCAA championships. Became a Division I head coach.

What former Princeton athlete did all that? 

Not sure? 

She — that's your first hint — was a first-team All-American in lacrosse in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and a 2004 Tewaaraton Award finalist. She won NCAA championships in 2002 and 2003, scoring the game-winner in overtime against Virginia in the 2003 final. 

Her athletic career also included being an All-Ivy League women's soccer player, and she scored a goal in the 2003 NCAA tournament in that sport as well. She'd go on to become the first head coach of the women's lacrosse program at Cal.

Give up?

The answer is Theresa Sherry, Princeton Class of 2004. No list of the greatest women athletes in Princeton history is complete without her.

For all of her accomplishments as an athlete and coach, anyone who ever met Theresa Sherry will vouch for the fact that she is an even better human being. Knowing that, it was hardly shocking to hear the news last month that Sherry was being honored by the Positive Coaching Alliance as its National Coach of the Year.

When Sherry left Cal in 2011, she started the Tenacity Project. It's a club lacrosse program — there are a lot of them — whose goal isn't just to win tournaments and brag about its college players — there aren't a lot of them. 

The Tenacity Project website begins with a the words "Tenacity Builds Strong Women" and includes these words:  

"Tenacity is helping to build grassroots youth organizations, develop coaches and players so that “non-traditional” lacrosse areas can become powerhouses and go from having little representation on college and international team rosters, to equal representation."

From the release about her honor: 

The club is about so much more than lacrosse. They focus on mental health, leadership, and physical health training as part of their curriculum. They are empowering young women through lacrosse to have the best outcomes in life. Through The Tenacity Project scholarship and aid programs, all girls have access to lacrosse, even if their circumstances would not normally allow it.

Again, none of this is surprising. It's the sort of cause that is completely in keeping with who Sherry is. 

Tenacity is the perfect name for a program run by Sherry. She's a quiet and humble person, and she was a great teammate, as well as a great representative of the programs. On the field, though? She was tenacious. 

No moment better captured this than her game-winning goal in the 2003 NCAA final, when she basically blasted her way to the goal and fired in the score that won the Tigers a second-straight NCAA title.

The Positive Coaching Alliance does what its name implies it does, and it does so in an increasingly hostile youth and high school sports world. Its mission seems so simple and self-explanatory, and yet it's missing in so many places:

Encouraging athletes with positive reinforcement helps them hear and heed the necessary corrections. With that winning combination of truthful, specific praise and constructive criticism, athletic performance improves and so do the chances that kids stick with sports longer and learn all the valuable life lessons inherently available through organized competition.

Sherry was chosen from a group of 25 finalists for the Coach of the Year award. The banquet at which she was honored featured, among others, Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, Golden State Warrior Kevon Looney, San Francisco Giants pitcher Logan Webb, Oakland A's manager Mark Kotsay and women's soccer legends Brandi Chastain and Aly Wagner. 

That's quite a lineup. You can read more about the night HERE.

Princeton Athletics is all about Education Through Athletics. Those lessons were learned well by Theresa Sherry, and they are currently being extended to the athletes who are part of the Tenacity Project. 

As TigerBlog said, it's hardly shocking that the PCA chose her for one of its highest honors.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Welcoming Back Greatness

TigerBlog had spent about an hour in the past when he was jolted suddenly back into the reality of the present. 

And what made that happen? It was these words:

"Who has the most gray hair?"

The conversation was between two members of the Princeton men's basketball teams of 1996, 1997 and 1998. They had gathered in the Frick chemistry building in advance of the current team's game Friday night against Cornell, where the former Tigers were honored in a pregame ceremony.

It was a ceremony, by the way, that saw each member of the group introduced individually, with each drawing a loud ovation. It's clear that this is a team that resonated with Princeton fans and whose legacy has earned the ultimate respect, as it should be. 

During his time at the reception, TigerBlog was immediately taken back to all the time he'd spent with these guys when he was the men's basketball contact during their time at Princeton. He saw every game the three teams who were honored played during those years, and the athletes and coaches (and managers) from that era are some of the best people he's ever met, at Princeton or anywhere.

He'd seen some of them often through the years. There were some he hadn't seen since they graduated. Regardless of which group they fell into, it was just amazing to see them all.

But who has the most gray hair? TB wasn't ready for that.

In that moment, it struck him that it really has been 25 years since the 1998 team was vaulting up the national rankings, eventually to reach No. 8 in the final AP poll. It was that team that went 26-1 in the regular season and then defeated UNLV in the opening round of the NCAA tournament before falling to Michigan State — and team who would start four of the same players two years later when it won the national championship — in the second round in a game that was tied with a minute to go.

That's a quarter-century, in a blink of an eye. And now they were almost all back together on a campus that TB has never really left. 

Bill Carmody was there. So were assistants John Thompson III and Howard Levy. Joe Scott could not make it back, as his Air Force team had a game.

There were two different TVs going, one with a rotating photo display and the other with video of some of the highlight games of that era. There were also pictures remembering two members of those teams who have since passed away — Pete Carril and Kevin Gillett.

How much of a bond exists between everyone who was part of those teams? Consider where they all came from.

Chris Doyal flew back from London for this event. Steve Goodrich came from California. So too did Darren Hite. Phil Belin came from Nebraska with his wife and three children, the oldest of whom is an eighth-grader who is interested in writing. What advice did TB have for him? Read a lot.

C.J. Chapman, a very, very underrated player during his time as a Tiger, flew in from Denver. Ben Hart came from San Antonio. Mason Rocca came from Evanston. Jose Ramirez-Del Toro, who like Lewullis is a doctor, came from Pittsburgh. 

Chapman, Belin and Terence Rozier-Byrd (he lives in New Jersey and works in New York City) are all lawyers. Sean Gregory, whose piece on the team's trip to Spain in the summer of 1997 was featured in the 1998 media guide, is a great writer for Time Magazine. They're quite an accomplished group. Some even went into coaching basketball. Sydney Johnson was there. He was the 1997 Ivy Player of the Year, and he then coached the Tigers to the 2011 Ivy title and NCAA tournament.

As you probably know, the two head coaches in the game Friday night were teammates on those teams, Cornell's Brian Earl and Princeton's Mitch Henderson. Earl even stopped by the reception before the game, wearing his "Cornell Basketball" shirt. It didn't matter that he was the opponent that night. He was, and is, and will always be, one of them. 

They all will be. They're part of something really, really special in Princeton Athletics history. Gray hair or not, what they accomplished together is impossible to forget.

Monday, February 6, 2023

The Hunters

No matter what happened Saturday evening in a packed Levien Gym, the season would hardly be over for the Princeton women's basketball team.

Still ... this wasn't just another Ivy League women's basketball game. Not at all.

Princeton walked into its game at Columbia Saturday in an unfamiliar situation. The Tigers were the hunter, not the hunted. 

This was the situation: Columbia came in one game ahead of Princeton with six to play. A Lions win would have meant a two-game lead with five to go; a Princeton win would mean the two teams would be tied atop the league. Princeton had to have a big night after playing Friday night at Cornell and then making the four-hour ride to New York City.

It wasn't win or else for the season, since the automatic NCAA tournament bid will be decided at the Ivy League tournament in Jadwin Gym the second weekend of March. As far as the league championship went, though, well, realistically Princeton had no chance of winning another one without winning the game Saturday night. 

Columbia, after all, had only one league loss in its first eight games, and it avenged that one Friday night by beating Penn 72-50. Columbia had already beaten Princeton at Jadwin (58-55 in overtime), and its other six Ivy games saw the Lions go 6-0 and win each by at least 20 points.

That was the challenge for Princeton. It was a loud, involved crowd, one that exploded when Columbia started the game by hitting a three-pointer.

The final score? Princeton 74-56. It was 21-11 Tigers at the end of the first quarter, 36-21 at the break and never closer than 10 in the second half.

Columbia, which came into the game averaging nearly 82 per game, good for 11th in Division I, was held to a season low in points. It was more than just a win. It was a statement win. 

Instead of being two back of Columbia, Princeton is now tied with the Lions at 7-2 after its 0-2 start. The other team who beat Princeton was Harvard, who is also 7-2 after a sweep of Yale and Brown this weekend. 

Those three are one game ahead of 6-3 Penn, followed by 5-4 Yale. The top four will advance to Jadwin.

In addition to the win, Princeton's Julia Cunningham became the 27th Princeton women's player to reach 1,000 career points with a three-pointer in the fourth quarter as part of her 15-point night. She was one of four Tigers in double figures, along with Kaitlyn Chen (16), Madison St. Rose (14) and Grace Stone (13). Ellie Mitchell had nine points and 17 rebounds. 

This game was won with defense, of course. Princeton held Columbia to that season low and did so 26.2 percent shooting for the night.

The game was long decided when, with 21 seconds left, a missed Princeton shot was rolling to the corner. Mitchell, in a dead sprint, almost caught up to it before it went out of bounds. Even though she didn't quite get there, to make that kind of effort that late in a game that was out of hand shows just what Mitchell is all about, not to mention her teammates.

Princeton has five regular season games remaining, starting with Dartmouth at home Saturday afternoon. Then it's trip to Brown and Yale the following weekend, with single games at home against Harvard and then at Penn to end it. The men have the opposite schedule. 

Speaking of the men, they came into the weekend in a first-place tie with Cornell and left it one game up on Yale after sweeping the Big Red and Columbia at Jadwin.

The men's standings now have Princeton at 7-2, followed by 6-3 Yale and Cornell, Penn and Brown all at 5-4. Dartmouth is 4-5, with Harvard at 3-6 and Columbia at 1-8.

As an aside, TigerBlog hasn't looked this up, but he can't imagine the Ivy League has had too many years where it had all of its men's and women's teams with at least two losses after only nine games.

For today, that's all TB will say about the weekend of men's basketball at Jadwin.

He'll have much more on the subject tomorrow.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Reunion Night In Jadwin Gym


Princeton had just won a road game, and now Bill Carmody was speaking to the media.

Carmody sat at a table in the front of the room. TigerBlog stood behind him, to his right. One of the writers, who had never seen Princeton play basketball before, mentioned how every starter had made at least one three-pointer. 

Carmody, without flinching, said this:

"If you want to play here, you have to be able to shoot the three. Everyone in our program can make that shot." 

Then, without turning around, he just pointed his finger towards TB and said "Even our SID can make one."

TigerBlog has been here for a long time. That remains one of his absolute highlights.

In truth, TB was always a better low-post lunchtime player than he was an outside shooter, but he could make a three every now and then. In his Jadwin Gym lunchtime basketball career, TB would much prefer to be on Carmody's team than having to play against him. Why? Two reasons.

First, he got you to want to play well, just by being on his team. He also made it so much fun, with an endless commentary as the game went on.

Second, TB often guarded Carmody, or, worse, covered someone for whom Carmody set a pick. Either way meant an elbow or two was coming his way. Nothing dirty. Just a reminder that if you're going to play, you should play to win.

Bill Carmody is one of the legendary figures in the history of Princeton men's basketball. He spent 14 years as an assistant to Pete Carril, helping him build the dynasty from 1989-92 and then, after the win over UCLA in Carril's final season, leading the team to the national Top 10 in his second season.

Princeton from 1996-98 went 41-2 in the Ivy League and went to three NCAA tournaments, winning games in two of them, including a win over UNLV in 1998. Those teams were responsible for some of the best moments in program history.

Those teams will be recognized tonight in Jadwin Gym, before Princeton's game against Cornell (tip at 7). More than 20 players from those teams will back. So too will Carmody.

TB had a chance to catch up with Carmody last week, and you can read the story right HERE. If you are a Carmody fan, or if he was before your time, it's well worth the time to read it, if TB says so himself. There aren't many people TB has ever met for whom he has more respect and just flat out likes more than Bill Carmody.

The ceremony will be before the game. The two head coaches will be among those recognized, with Princeton's Mitch Henderson and Cornell's Brian Earl (the 1999 Ivy Player of the Year). The two are very close, but their friendship has to be set aside each time they go head-to-head.

Once the game starts, it will all be about the present. Princeton and Cornell happen to come into this game tied for first in the league at 5-2, followed by 4-3 Dartmouth and Yale, with Penn, Brown and Harvard all at 3-4. The race of the championship and the Ivy League tournament spots is obviously wide-open right now, and every game, every weekend, is huge.

This weekend is a back-to-back weekend in the Ivy League, so the Tigers will host Columbia tomorrow (tip at 6). No matter what happens, the league standings will look much different Sunday than they do now.

Cornell is the league's top offensive team, averaging nearly 10 points more per game than any other team (84.9 points per game; Yale is next at 75.5, with Princeton third at 75.2). Cornell is also eighth in the league scoring defense, allowing 74.2, which means that there are on average nearly 160 points scored in Cornell games this season.

Cornell also plays with great depth. The Big Red have no player in the top eight in the league in scoring, but there are five players in the top 25.

Princeton is third in the league defensively, allowing 66.9 per game. The first meeting between these two, in Ithaca on Jan. 7, was a 75-68 Princeton win; those 68 points were Cornell's second-lowest total of the year, behind only 63 in a 78-63 loss to Syracuse.

It'll be a special night in Jadwin. The pregame event and presence of so many Tiger greats assures that. 

Once the game starts? That should only make it more special.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

To The Groundhog

Today is Feb. 2, which makes it Groundhog Day. 

TigerBlog will start out today with his two annual thoughts about the day: 1) if the choices are an early spring or six more weeks of winter, then the implication is that once you get past six weeks from today you're into spring, even though six weeks from today is March 16 and 2) TB loved the movie "Groundhog Day."

That movie's lasting impact has been to get people to refer to things that repeat themselves as "Groundhog Day." Are there any other movies that have had that kind of impact on the lexicon? TB isn't talking about lines from movies, like "I'll Be Back," but actually creating a new meaning for its title.

"Groundhog Day" opened on Feb. 4, 1993. It was a low-budget comedy, but it ended up making $150 million. One thing TB didn't realize about it was that Bill Murray, the star, had a falling out with Harold Ramis, the movie's director, and the two didn't speak again until 2014, just before Ramis died. 

TB's theory that not all movies are trying to win Best Picture is perhaps best exemplified by "Groundhog Day," or by "Point Break." It's just a fun, funny, upbeat movie that you can watch again and again. It's sort of a Groundhog Day thing.

And with that ...

* Andrei Iosivas is competing at the Senior Bowl this week. The game itself is set for Saturday afternoon, but even more important than how you do in the game is how you do in front of the scouts all week. 

By all accounts, Iosivas has been crushing it so far. It was hard to find any coverage of the practices without reading about the Princeton wide receiver, whose speed, size and hands make him a player with a serious NFL future. And this is before he goes to the combine, which is tailor-made for someone who is also an accomplished decathlete.

* And so this leads us to a very easy segue. The following tweet about Iosivas comes from Patrick McCarthy, who as the radio voice of the Princeton football team knows all about how good Iosivas is.

 Today TB offers congratulations to Patrick, who yesterday was named as the new pregame and postgame radio host for the New York Mets. He'll also be the fill-in as a play-by-play announcer. 

Patrick has spent the last few years doing games for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, in addition to his work with Princeton football and men's basketball. He's also filled in for a few Philadelphia Phillies' games.

* It'll be big weekend of Ivy League women's basketball in the state of New York. It begins tomorrow night, when Princeton is at Cornell (at 6) and Penn is at Columbia. The teams then switch opponents Saturday, with Penn at Cornell and Princeton at Columbia (tip is at 4).

Right now, Columbia is in first at 6-1, followed by Princeton, Penn and Harvard at 5-2. Yale is in fifth at 4-3, and the other three teams all have at least five losses. TigerBlog doesn't need to explain the significance.

Columbia defeated Princeton 58-55 in overtime back on Jan. 6. One night later, Penn defeated Columbia. Ten days after that, Princeton defeated Penn. 

The Tigers, in fact, have not lost since the Columbia game. More than that, no game since — five leagues games, one non-league game — has been closer than 15 points.

Columbia comes into the weekend as the No. 1 scoring team in the Ivy League at 81.8 points per game. The Lions also have three of the top nine scorers in the league.

Princeton is the No. 1 defensive team, which, as a Carla Berube-coached team, is not a surprise. Teams are averaging 54.8 points per game against the Tigers.

Princeton's Julia Cunningham enters the weekend needing 24 points to get to 1,000 for her career. 

This weekend starts the second trip through the league. The top four men's and women's teams will be at Jadwin for the Ivy tournament March 10-12.

* Lastly, there was this bit of news involving BrotherBlog yesterday:

Not a bad picture of the professor.

And so now you have two brothers on four-year committees. One is with the Child Support Schedule Workshop. The other is with the NCAA men's lacrosse rules committee. 

Are they sure they're related? 

Oh, and congrats, bro.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023


So it's already Wednesday and TigerBlog has some catching up from the weekend to do.

First, there is Sondre Guttormsen. 

It seems like any time Guttormsen competes it's big news. This past weekend at the HYP meet in Harvard was no different.

For a little perspective, that's extraordinary stuff. A vault of six meters would equate to 19 feet, 8 inches. Should Guttormsen be able to add half a foot to his vault, he would become only the 16th person ever to reach that height. That's all time — and that includes outdoor vaults.

Guttormsen already has two NCAA titles, one indoors and one outdoors, both accomplished a year ago. He's already been an Olympian, in the summer of 2021 for his native Norway.

Princeton's men and women both were the winners in the HYP meets in Cambridge. There were other big performances besides just Guttormsen, including this from Lilly Paris in the hurdles:

For the complete HYP results click HERE and HERE.

What Guttormsen's in the pole vault is extraordinary. While TB is on the subject of extraordinary, there was the women's basketball performance from the other day.

As you remember from yesterday, TB was in Dayton over the weekend. The game he went to see between Dayton and Richmond tipped at 4, and he remembered right around then that the Princeton-Yale women had started at 2, so he checked the score.

He's pretty sure he said "wow" when he saw it. The final was Princeton 79, Yale 30. 

Also from yesterday, TB mentioned the amazing three-point shooting by Dayton and Yale. The opposite of that was true in the women's game.

Princeton held Yale to 2 for 17 three-point shooting. Overall, Yale shot 11 for 45, or 24.4 percent. Those are winning numbers every time.

Princeton put the game away with a 22-4 second quarter, building its lead to 36-13 at the break. 

Once again, the Tigers were led by the red-hot Madison St. Rose, who had 17 more points on 5 for 10 shooting, including 3 for 6 from three-point range. The numbers TB gave you a week ago can be updated once again to this:

Last six games:
* 14.5 points per game, five games with at least 15 points, 34 for 68 shooting (50 percent), 10 for 28 from three-point range (36 percent), team is 6-0 (5-0 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)

St. Rose saw her streak of consecutive weeks as Ivy Rookie of the Week end at two, but she did have a different recognition this time around, as she was named the USBWA's National Freshman of the Week. 

Julia Cunningham had nine points in the game, giving her 976 for her career. Should she get another 24 points, she'd become the 27th player in Princeton women's basketball history to get to 1,000.

Cunningham was a big scorer when she came to Princeton out of Watchung Hills High. She'll be the first to tell you that the offensive numbers are great, but what she's most proud of are 1) how well the team has done since she's been here and 2) how far she's come defensively. Those two, by the way, are quite related.

Besides this is no time for individual honors, though, as impressive as getting to 1,000 points is.

Princeton is now 5-2 after its 0-2 start. Columbia is 6-1, followed by three 5-2 teams, with Penn and Harvard also one game back and Yale now two back at 4-3.

Princeton is on the road next weekend, heading to Cornell Friday and then Columbia Saturday. The race is very tight in the league for the four Ivy League tournament spots and the league championship.

The tournament, as you know, will be held in Princeton the second weekend of March.