Monday, July 31, 2023

Happy 80th

Remember seven days ago? 

That's when TigerBlog wrote this as his first sentence: 

So it's the final Monday in July. 

TB isn't sure what's more telling, the fact that he was wrong about that or that only one person noticed. Anyway, today really is the final Monday in July.

The final Friday in July was July 28, which also happened to be the 80th birthday of Bill Bradley. TigerBlog saw a piece on Bradley's 80th on the ESPN show "Pardon The Interruption," which began its "Happy Times" segment by wishing him a happy 80th.

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, the show's hosts, have talked about Bradley on his birthday before. They, like anyone who knows anything about him, were overwhelmingly impressed.

How could you not be? 

Not that you need TB to remind you of any of this, but Bradley has accomplished a lot in those 80 years. He was born in Crystal City, Missouri, and he came to Princeton (instead of Duke) in 1961. He was a star on the freshman baseball team, but it was in basketball that he made his mark.

By the time he graduated, Bradley had scored 2,503 varsity points at Princeton in only three years, with no three-point line. No Princeton men's player who has played before or since has reached 2,000 points, or 1,900 or 1,800 or 1,700. Only one, Ian Hummer, has even reached 1,600, finishing with 1,625.

Bella Alarie, the career record holder for the women, finished with 1,703. If Alarie kept up her career average of 16.1 points per game, she would have need to play 50 more games to catch Bradley's total. 

On the men's side, Hummer would have had to play 67 more at his career scoring average.

Bradley led Princeton to the 1965 NCAA Final Four. He is the only player in Tiger men's basketball history to score at least 40 points in a game, something he did 11 times, including in his final game, a 58-point night against Wichita State in the Final Four consolation game. Those 58 points are still the record for a Final Four game.  

He was also the captain of the 1964 Olympic gold medal-winning USA basketball team, and he won the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete.

After Princeton, Bradley went on to a Rhodes Scholarship and then two NBA championships with the Knicks, who have not won another one since. 

Next it was into politics, where he was a three-time U.S. Senator from New Jersey and candidate for President of the United States. He recently performed in a one-man show about his life entitled "Rolling Along."

The "PTI" bit about Bradley's birthday also mentioned John McPhee's "A Sense of Where You Are," which began as a "New Yorker" story on Bradley's senior year of 1965 and then expanded into McPhee's first book. Kornheiser and Wilborn called it "one of the best sports biographies ever written;" it's possible that it's actually the best.

Did TB really need to go through the whole bio again. Yes. It needs to be repeated over and over, so that none of his remarkable accomplishments are forgotten and that they can continue to be held in the awe that they deserve. 

TigerBlog has interacted with him many times, and his humility is obvious. He truly is one of the most remarkable Americans who has ever lived — and he would never even remotely refer to him in that way. He's a humble man, but it's hard to be around him and not think about his remarkable life. 

One thing about Bradley that TB didn't realize is that he was one day older than Phyllis Chase, whose 80th birthday was Saturday. Sadly, Phyllis wasn't around to celebrate; she passed away earlier this month. 

There was to have been a party to celebrate, and everyone who knew her and watched her battle with cancer so much wanted her to be around still to be a part of it. Instead, that party became a celebration of her life. 

As with any other celebration like this, it was fun. It was just like the big birthday party she was going to have, and while everyone was laughing and having a good time, it was easy to forget that this was not how it was supposed to be.

Happy 80th Bill Bradley. 

Happy 80th Phyllis Chase. 

TB kept expecting her to walk in at any minute. Of course she didn't. If she could have, she would have been laughing along with everyone else. She would have loved it.

Friday, July 28, 2023

There Is No Answer

TigerBlog had to be somewhere in town the other day, and he was running a bit early.

He found himself near the Princeton cemetery, and so he decided he would go visit the grave of his late friend Steve DiGregorio. He knew basically where it was, and so he parked and walked through the gates.

It took him 30 seconds to find the general area and then 10 minutes or so to zero in on the headstone. He walked over and nodded his head when he got there. He could hear Digger's voice.

"Hey. I've been here the whole time."

Seriously, he could actually hear those words in Digger's voice. It made him laugh a bit. He thinks Digger would be happy to know that. 

It's been nearly two years since he's been gone. TigerBlog can't count the number of times that he's thought of his friend is that time, but it's a lot. Something comes up, and the first thought is "Digger would have laughed at this."

The sadness doesn't go away. The reality hits home every time. You can laugh at his memory, but you can't make him come back.

TigerBlog wrote yesterday about the passing of James Mastaglio, one of the Princeton men's basketball greats from the Class of 1998. He figures that Mastaglio's teammates will come to feel the same as he does about Steve DiGregorio as time goes by: They'll remember all the good times and won't let anything about him fade, and that will have to be good enough when the harshness filters back in.

TB spent a lot of time Wednesday speaking with Sean Gregory, one of Mastaglio's teammates and classmates and now a great writer with Time Magazine. In fact, TB pulled off into a rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike to forward Gregory the obituary TB had written to get Gregory's feedback and to have him share it with the Mastaglios before it was posted.

Writing obituaries is quite emotional. TB has written far too many of them the last few years. 

As he got back on the road, TigerBlog was struck by the shock of having someone like Mastaglio taken away at such an early age and contrasting that with where he had just been. Specifically, TigerBlog was driving back after having breakfast with his father, who will be turning 88 soon.

Digger was 60 at the time of his death. Mastaglio was 47. TB's mother was 55. 

Everyone knows someone who falls into the category of someone who was taken far too young. As for FatherBlog, as TB said, he's about to turn 88. He hasn't exactly done everything he can to ensure good health and longevity, and yet here he is.

As TB drove along, he wondered what to make out of all of it. Every time he tries, he realizes that there is no answer.

TB heard from a lot of people at Stags. One of those was another teammate, Jose Ramirez Del-Toro, now a sports medicine doctor. This is what Jose texted TB:

In my mind, the saddest thing is his kids. He loved his kids and they adored him. Last time I saw him, we were getting shots up in Jadwin and his daughter was there. He was so proud of her and so patient teaching her to shoot. And she hung on his every word. It was super cute. Big Pete was watching from the sidelines completely wrapped up in the moment of his son and granddaughter… I remember thinking that there’s nothing like fatherhood and Stags was in heaven at that moment. Totally at peace hanging out with her! It’s all so sad makes me sick to my stomach…

That is exactly how TB feels.

He also heard from his colleague with the Princeton Varsity Club Brendan van Ackeren, someone who didn't know Stags well. This is what Brendan said:

Stags news…so crushing. Knew the guy for 1 day and could feel his larger than life personality My images of him that one and only day are 1) shooting hoops with his kids on the court in Jadwin with his dad and wife overlooking and 2) hanging with his boys reminiscing about the glory days. They day we all dream about.

Brendan, whose words were perfect, also sent TB a photo that he tried to find yesterday. It shows Mastaglio this past February, when he and his teammates were honored for their successes a quarter-century earlier. 

Stags is smiling and waving to the crowd. Gregory is to his right, clapping. Steve Goodrich is next to him, smiling and clapping. Jason Osier is next to Goodrich, also smiling. 

They'll never forget their friend and teammate. 

As for why? As TB said, there is no answer.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Remembering Stags

Where do you start? 

Do you start with what a great basketball player he was? What a great teammate he was? 

Do you flashback to all the shots he hit, and all the shots he forced opponents not to hit? 

Or maybe you talk about him as a person. You liked him from Day 1. He was tough and strong and yet caring and understated. He was fierce on the court. He was quiet, considerate, appreciative, funny away from it. These qualities made him a teammate and a great young man.

Hey, you can even talk about all the times you'd seen him since, all the times he was in Jadwin with his father. All the handshakes and the smiles and the good wishes. All the times you saw him, mentioned the graying hair, talked about the families, remembered what he had been a part of as a Princeton Tiger.

Then you realize it doesn't really matter. 

You can start wherever you want. It doesn't take long to come back to the present, to think about the moment you heard the news, to shake your head one more time at the unfairness, the senselessness, the sadness.

James Mastaglio was one of the best all-around players Princeton men's basketball has ever seen. He was part of one of the program's most glorious eras. TigerBlog can't think of one even remotely negative interaction he ever had with the man they called "Stags."

And now he's gone. 

How is it possible? Make it make sense. 

James Mastaglio, a husband, father of two, son, teammate and friend to so many, passed away earlier this week. He was only 47 years old.

TigerBlog got the news Tuesday morning. He had to reach it twice, three times, four times — and still he refused to believe it. Stags was gone? No way.

TB last saw him in February, when Mastaglio and his teammates and coaches from the 1996-98  teams gathered in Jadwin Gym to be honored 25 years after they'd won three straight Ivy League titles, won their NCAA opener twice, moved into the national rankings and drew sell-out crowds to their home building every night. They were as big a story as there was in college basketball in 1997-98, when they went 27-2 and finished the regulars season ranked eighth nationally.

When you think of that team, you think of Steve Goodrich's near-perfection of the Princeton center position, of Mitch Henderson and his ability to throw ridiculous lookaway passes with either hand, of Brian Earl's silky three-point shooting, of Gabe Lewullis' unstoppable scoring, rebounding and defense. 

Do you think of Mastaglio first? Probably not.

And he was fine with that. He just went out every night, game after game after game, and did everything right. He could do it all. 

Dick Vitale was enamored of him. He had him on his "All-Glue" team, basically as high a compliment as you can pay to a player. It's saying that you are the one who holds everyone else together.

For his career, Mastaglio actually shot better than 50 percent from the field, something extraordinary for someone who took so many outside shots. He stood 6-5, but he could guard players much smaller or much taller. He once played all 55 minutes of a triple-overtime game (a win over Texas A&M). He held the record for most points by a Princeton freshman in his first game for 14 years.

When North Carolina came to Jadwin Gym his junior year, Stags — who had been coming off the bench that season but was thrown into the starting lineup when Henderson had to miss the game after the death of his father — led Princeton with 18 points, shooting 7 for 9 from the field and 4 for 5 from three-point range. 

The memories of Mastaglio the player, etched into Princeton basketball history, will always be there. He has a well-earned, well-deserved place as one of the leaders of those teams that made such an impact on the basketball world.

Mastaglio the person? 

It doesn't get much better. 

He was a Long Island kid, from Garden City. He talked like one, that's for sure. He had a quality about him from the time he first stepped into Jadwin. It was just as TB said before, the on-court Mastaglio and the off-court Mastaglio. 

TB saw Mastaglio at Jadwin countless times since he graduated, usually with his father Peter. They were a great pair, from the time the son was a player at Princeton all the way through the last time TB saw him.

When TB saw the news, it was chilling, unbelievable.

He immediately thought of all the guys with whom Stags played, the ones who called him "Big Game James." Through all the years that have passed, the members of those teams have only grown closer. Henderson is obviously the head coach now. Even Brian Earl, the Cornell head coach, is still a huge part of their circle. TB isn't sure there is a closer group of alums than the ones from those teams.  

How did they react to the news? 

He was especially heartbroken for Peter, and for Mastaglio's wife Bridgette and his children, 11-year-old Olivia and eight-year-old Kellan. How could they possible deal with this? 

The children will have to go the rest of their lives knowing that they only had a short time with their father. They'll mention how their father passed away when they were young. 

Hopefully, though, they'll remember him as what he was: a great basketball player and a great person. 

There will certainly be enough people around who can remind them. 

They can ask TigerBlog if they want. He'll tell them that there haven't been many more impressive people around here in all the years he's been at Princeton than James Mastaglio.

At one point yesterday, Stags' teammate Sean Gregory told TB he had a few photos he could use if he needed any. Gregory then texted one to TB.

When he looked at the attachment, he saw a smiling Mastaglio, on a golf course, giving a thumbs up. It made TB smile at first, and then it made him tear up a bit.

And that's how it is. 

You can start wherever you want. You can smile at his smiling picture. 

In the end, James Mastaglio is gone, way, way, way too soon. 

Make it make sense.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Good Luck Bret Lundgaard

Bret Lundgaard, as TigerBlog learned yesterday, attended the University of Washington, where he was a journalism major.

Had he known that, TB would have asked Lundergaard about it. Did he go to college thinking he'd get into the profession? Or did he always want to be a coach, in his case, a swimming coach, which is what he has been at Princeton with the women since 2017. 

For his part, TB never took a college journalism class. Perhaps if he had, he would have ended up as a swimming coach, just like Lundgaard did? Instead, TB majored in American history and became a writer. 

It's interesting how those things can work, right? 

This has all gotten TB to wondering what you are taught in college journalism classes. Everything he learned, he learned while he was working at the newspaper way back when, that, plus reading writers he liked and copying their styles. 

Until he read that Lundgaard had majored in journalism, he never wondered about what the curriculum was. And now Lundgaard is leaving, so asking him has become more difficult. 

Lundgaard's tenure with the Tigers ended this week when it was announced that he was leaving Princeton this week to become the head coach of the men's and women's programs at the University of Kentucky. The Wildcats are getting a great coach, not to mention someone with a great sense of humor who is very, very easy to like.

TB will remember Lundgaard mostly for his squash matches against Craig Sachson, who was the swimming and diving contact here when Lundgaard started. Apparently the two of them had some tremendous battles.

In fact, TB asked Sachson to write a guest blog about Lundgaard, and Craig said he would — just not yesterday. TB will bring that to you sometime between now and the end of the summer.

What's the hardest thing for a coach to do? 

Is it to take over a program that is on the bottom and turn it into a winner? Yes, that obviously is a huge challenge.

Or is it taking over for an overwhelmingly successful longtime coach? There are probably more instances where someone turned a loser into a winner than there are of someone who took over for the legend and succeeded as well.

That is not easy.

Teeter coached at Princeton for 33 years. In many ways, she was Princeton women's swimming and diving. When she stepped aside, Lundgaard took her spot. 

And how did he do? Well, he certainly achieved enough to become the head coach of an SEC program. That says a lot about what he did with the Tigers.

In his time at Princeton, Lundgaard coached his team to the 2020 and 2023 Ivy League champions. Also, from the release on his hire at Kentucky:

While at Princeton, Lundgaard produced a total of 21 Ivy League individual champions while coaching 57 student-athletes to All-Ivy League status, including 28 on the first team. The Tigers also were named a CSCAA Scholar All-America Team every season from 2017-2023. The program boasts a 42-12 dual meet record during Lundgaard’s tenure and a 27-8 mark in the Ivy League.

That's success.

Kentucky swims in a powerful conference. Is there any sport in which the SEC isn't good? 

The Wildcat women finished third in the league and 19th in the country last year. The men's team was eighth in the league and 28th in the country. 

Actually, make that tied for 28th in the country. And with whom did Kentucky tie? 


Kentucky women's swimming won its first SEC title ever in 2021. The men have never won an SEC title, and the championship meet dates to 1937. It doesn't help that Florida has won 44 of the championships, but hey, it's good to have a challenge.

That's certainly what faces Lundgaard. 

As for the Tigers, the women's swimming and diving program had four head coaches in its first 13 years and now has had two in the 39 years since.

The most recent of them, Brett Lundgaard, now heads off for his next stop, in Lexington. He leaves a program that is coming off two championships in three seasons, and he leaves as the reigning Ivy Coach of the Year.

He certainly did at Princeton what is not easy to do anywhere. He followed the legend and did well.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Going Camping

Since Jim Brown did so from 1957-61, only one NFL running back has gone for at least 6,000 yards while averaging at least five yards per carry in his first five seasons.

Can you name him? 

Hint - He's a current player. Hint No. 2 - TigerBlog would never have gotten it right. 

In fact, his first two guesses were Earl Campbell and Barry Sanders. Campbell ran for 5,995 yards but only averaged 4.5 per carry. If you're too young to remember the Tyler Rose, as he was known, watch some highlights on YouTube.

As for Sanders, the same applies if you never saw him. Also, in his first five seasons, he ran for 6,789 yards. His average? It was 4.74. 

His next guess was Eric Dickerson (8,256, but again, 4.72).

The correct answer is Nick Chubb, who has 6,341 yards on 1,210 carries, for a 5.2 average, through his first five seasons. TB didn't get it right. He also didn't even realize that Chubb was on the Cleveland Browns. 

TigerBlog saw this in a story on the CBS Sports website that had 50 facts as the NFL opener is 50 days away. Among some of the other more interesting ones are:

* Green Bay has had only Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers as its opening day quarterback every year since 1992.

* Minnesota's Justin Jefferson has 24 games with at least 100 receiving yards in his first three NFL seasons. That's not just the record for three years. Even if he doesn't get another 100-yard game this year, he'll already have the record for four years, which was 23 (by Randy Moss).

* Justin Herbert has 14,089 passing yards, which is the most any QB has ever had in his first three NFL seasons.

Football, of course, is just around the corner. NFL teams are in training camps, or about to be. The first preseason game is one week from Thursday, between the Jets and Browns.

With all due respect to every other American sport, football is still the king. Whether it's college or pro, nothing generates interest, eyeballs and dollars like football.

The first game of the NFL's regular season will be on Sept. 7 between the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Detroit Lions, who 1) have the longest current streak in the NFL of not having not won a playoff game and 2) are the favorite team of Ford Family Director of Athletics John Mack. One day the Lions will win the Super Bowl, and TB will have to tell everyone that no, John Mack has not jumped on the bandwagon.

Princeton has five players in NFL camps this summer.

TB shared the highlights of Princeton's 2018 win over Dartmouth that essentially gave the Tigers a perfect season. There are three players from that team who are hoping to be playing again come the 2023 openers.

All three have NFL experience. Two have caught regular-season TD passes. One has a Super Bowl ring. 

Those three would be Stephen Carlson, whose previous NFL experience has been with the Browns but who is in training camp with the Chicago Bears. Carlson is a tight end and a veteran special teams player.

Jesper Horsted, who was a wide receiver at Princeton with Carlson, was formerly on the Bears, and he then spent last season on the Raiders' roster. He's back in camp with Las Vegas this summer. 

John Lovett, the two-time Bushnell Cup winner as a quarterback at Princeton, scored both Tiger touchdowns in that win over Dartmouth in 2018. He went from there to the Chiefs, where he won a Super Bowl ring and then to the Packers, where he was getting regular playing time as a fullback/H-back and special teams player before his time there ended with an injury.

He was on the Dolphins' injured reserve list last year. Now healthy again, he's hoping to make the Dolphins as the do-it-all player he's always been.

In addition, two Princeton alums are now NFL rookies. One of them is Henry Byrd, the offensive lineman, who is in camp with Denver. The other is Andrei Iosivas, a sixth-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals.

There's wall-to-wall NFL coverage all year long. It is really going to ratchet up now that teams are actually practicing and a new season is on the horizon. Keeping up with the five Tigers will be a part of that now.

As for the current Tigers, the team kicks off its season on Sept. 16 at San Diego. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

You Can Quote That

So it's the final Monday in July. 

Where can TigerBlog go for inspiration for today's entry? How about yesterday's edition of the Big Green Alert Blog.

If you have never seen it or read it, the BGA Blog covers all things Dartmouth football, and by extension the Ivy League. There's also a splash of other Ivy sports in there as well.

The man who writes it is Bruce Wood, whose resume includes having worked in Dartmouth sports information and covering the Big Green for the Valley News. 

In the annals of Ivy athletics media history, there aren't too many people who can match up to him in terms of quality, longevity and dedication. 

His daily entry yesterday included three items that resonated with TB.

First, there was a bit of a trivia question. Bruce made a list of the Ivy League schools and the number of schools in the FCS that share their nickname. According to this list, there six FCS schools who are nicknamed "Tigers."

Princeton is one. That was easy. TigerBlog immediately got Towson and Grambling as well. That left three. 

Okay, he'll get back to that. 

Then there was Bruce's daily "extra point," which is more about his own daily routines, experiences and travels than Dartmouth football. On most days, you can find a reference to either his children, his dog or his old VW van.

Yesterday, Bruce mentioned an issue that anyone who has written a story can understand. What do you do with a direct quote when it is grammatically incorrect? Do you clean it up? Do you use it as is?

Bruce said he chooses not to use the quote at all. TB is firmly in the "clean it up a bit" camp. Actually, to be more accurate, it's "clean it up a bit without changing the meaning." He figures that his own questions are not listed word-for-word and besides, he's never had anyone ever tell him he misquoted them.

Of course, TB also has a great deal of experience in making up quotes. This isn't to say he fabricates them. It's just that through the years, there have been a few coaches who have told him: "make me sound smart."

His favorite story of making up a quote dates back to, who else, Pete Carril. Back when Midnight Madness started to become a big deal, TB got a call asking for a quote from Carril about whether he would do it. 

TB didn't even bother going up to the basketball office. He just waited an hour and called back to give the reporter Carril's (made-up) quote: "I can't stay up that late."

And the quote? It ended up making it all the way into Sports Illustrated. Carril either never saw it, thought he actually said it or simply didn't care either way. 

And the other three Tigers? TB came up with another. Tennessee State. Seriously, he didn't look it up. That leaves two.

TB mentioned that there were three things in Bruce Wood's blog from yesterday that were of interest. The third was the best of the three:

In fairness, there was also a highlight video of the Harvard-Dartmouth game a year later. Bruce called them "what might be the most hard-fought loss and most remarkable win since Big Green Alert came online in 2005."

The Princeton-Dartmouth game in 2018 remains the most intense Ivy League football game TigerBlog has ever seen. It's up there with any sporting event he's seen live for that matter.

If you forgot, that game matched 7-0 Princeton and 7-0 Dartmouth. Each team had a long scoring drive on its first possession, and then the defenses pretty much took over. Dartmouth's only other points came on a safety. Princeton's only other points came on a 34-yard touchdown drive. Every play was contested. No yard came easily.

Final score: Princeton 14, Dartmouth 9. Two weeks later, Princeton was 10-0 and Dartmouth was 9-1. The difference between unbeaten Ivy champion and runner-up was razor-thin.

And that leaves two more FCS Tigers. 

Okay, he had to look these up. One is Jackson State, whom TB thought was the Jaguars. The other is Texas Southern; TB would have guessed something other than Tigers. 

By the way, there are six FCS Tigers, and three of them are in the SWAC (Jackson State, Texas Southern and Grambling).

Anyway, thanks, Bruce, for today's inspiration. 

And if you don't make a daily stop at Big Green Alert, you might want to start.

Friday, July 21, 2023

March Of The Tigers II

TigerBlog's gym has a bunch of televisions on the walls.

If you go early, as TB did yesterday, you can see either the morning shows or SportsCenter. TB hardly pays attention to either, and the TVs are all muted anyway. 

Every now and then, something will catch TB's eye. Such was the case yesterday, when he saw a graphic on ESPN that asked "what will Zach Martini's holdout mean for the Cowboys."

As it turns out, actually, it said "Zack Martin," not "Zach Martini." 

Zack Martin is a Cowboys' offensive lineman. Apparently his holdout is a big deal for the Dallas offense.

Zach Martini is a member of the Princeton men's basketball team. He's not, as far as TB knows, planning to hold out.

What Zach Martini can do is say that without him, there would have been no Sweet 16 trip for the men's basketball team this past season. The same is true of a bunch of the Tigers, up and down the roster. 

In fact, that was the name of the first episode in the series "March Of The Tigers" that you can see on It was called "1 to 16," meaning it took every single team member to make it happen.

The second episode is entitled "Going Dancing." 

The first two episodes in this series have been extraordinarily well done. 

The "Going Dancing" one takes you right back to that magical Sunday in March, when Princeton first knocked off Yale to win the Ivy League men's tournament and then had the NCAA tournament Selection Shows for the men and women in Jadwin Gym.

Does it get much better than that? 

Reliving it all in the middle of the summer is great. For TigerBlog, there were a few parts of the Yale game that he didn't really remember, such as the way the first half ended, and watching the video was a great reminder.

Plus, if you're a Princeton fan, it can't help but make you smile to revisit it all. 

The videos are really well made. The interviews really punctuate it all, and they also give you great insight into the personalities of those who made it happen.

For instance, there is Matt Allocco, the second-team All-Ivy League selection. Allocco, a rising senior who is known as "Mush," is spoken of as a coach on the floor. Tiger head coach Mitch Henderson mentions how Allocco can lead both the team and the coaching staff. 

It made TB think of Henderson himself back when he was a player on the great Princeton teams of the mid-1990s. That, of course, made TB wonder is maybe one day Allocco will be a Princeton coach, following in a long line of former Tiger players who have gone on to join the staff through all the years.

Anyway, once again, "March Of The Tigers" delivers.

Lastly, for this week at least, TigerBlog wants to congratulate Abby Meyers on making the most of her two-week emergency contract with the Washington Mystics of the WNBA. The Princeton alum scored her first WNBA points and made a name for herself with her hustle, team-first mentality and desire.

He's not 100 percent sure the way contracts work, but the Mystics had to release her after the two weeks. 

The WNBA website lists Meyers' team affiliation as "TBA." Meyers, TB figures, has not scored her final points in the league. 

Oh, and one thing TB doesn't like: that same WNBA website says that Meyers "played college basketball at Maryland." Uh, yes, she did. For one year. The majority of her career was clearly spent at Princeton, where she was the 2022 Ivy League Player of the Year. Maybe a little mention of that would be great. 

Speaking of Meyers, THIS STORY by Jenn Hatfield from The Next Hoops website is tremendous. It definitely captures Meyers and her time with the Mystics.

And that's that for this week. 

There are now six weeks left until the first Princeton athletic event of 2023-24, which will be a women's soccer home game on Aug. 25.

Circle that on your calendar. Watch the "March Of The Tigers" video.

And have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Diamond Reflections

Back when TigerBlog was in the newspaper business, he worked with a man named Rick Freeman, who, in addition to being a Navy veteran, a scholar, a baseball coach and a sportswriter is also one of the absolute nicest people you'd ever want to meet.

For many, many years Rick wrote a Sunday baseball column, and the name of it was "Diamond Reflections." TigerBlog is borrowing that today as he writes about three separate baseball-related subjects, two of which relate to Princeton:

* Do you know how many active Major League Baseball players have at least 2,000 career hits? 

The answer is not a lot. Actually, it's six. That's it. 

The idea that a pitcher will reach 300 wins in these days of pitch counts and limited innings is pretty much out the window. If anything, a relief pitcher has as good a chance of getting to 300 wins as a starter, and maybe even better.

But 3,000 hits? Maybe it's because of how many at-bats now end in either home runs or strikeouts, but players don't seem to be piling up the number of hits that they used to. 

There are 33 players all-time who have reached 3,000 hits, and only 10 of them got their 3,000th hit this century. Of those 10, two — Cal Ripken Jr. and Rickey Henderson — did so in 2000 and 2001.

There were also eight who reached 3,000 between the start of the Major Leagues and 1970, when Willie Mays became only the ninth to do so. That means there were 15 total between 1970 and 2000. What was it about that era? It had to be the way the game was played. 

TigerBlog remembers a lot of singles, doubles and triples when he watched baseball as a kid. He also remembers that there weren't a lot of strikeouts. 

Still, it's a bit surprising that only six have 2,000 hits. Only one active player, Miguel Cabrerra, has at least 3,000. The other five with at least 2,000: Joey Votto, Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus, Freddie Freeman and Andrew McCutcheon.

Oh, and 300 wins? There are 24 pitchers who reached that milestone. Only four of them — Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Roger Clemens — have done so since 1990. That's 33 years ago.

* Congratulations go out to Alex Jurczynski on being named the head baseball coach at Siena. Jurczynski was most recently part of Scott Bradley's staff at Princeton for the last six seasons.

Jurczynski takes over a team that went 14-41 a year ago. Of course, he can tell you all about turning a team around in a short time, and he and Bradley led the Tigers from a 7-33 season in 2022 to a .500 record this year and a spot in the final round of the Ivy League baseball tournament. 

Jurczynski's resume has a little bit of everything on it. 

Division I assistant at Princeton? Check. Division III assistant at SUNY-Oswego, which happens to be his alma mater? Check. Junior college head coach (at Hudson Valley Community College)? Check.

He grew up not far from the Siena campus, which is just outside of Albany. The Saints compete in the MAAC, which is a really, really good baseball conference. Like Bradley, Jurczynski was also a catcher, and that turned out just fine at Princeton.

Jurczynski is a young head coach at 32 years old. If he wants to break the Siena record for longest baseball head coaching tenure, then he'll be coaching there until he's 86, since Tony Rossi led the Saints for 54 years before stepping aside midway through this past season.

Good luck to Alex, who has been a tremendous part of Tiger Baseball and, for that matter, Princeton Athletics as a whole. 

* Scott Bandura, drafted earlier this month in the seventh round by the San Francisco Giants, signed a pro contract earlier this week. Where will he start his Minor League career? TB isn't quite sure yet.

By signing, Bandura obviously cannot play his senior season with Princeton. Like quite a few others before him, Bandura will be finishing school, coming back to campus this fall after his first pro summer. As you recall, former Tiger Chris Young did that, doing the first semester of his senior year on campus and then writing his senior thesis on buses while he was in the Minors. 

TigerBlog as you know hates giving drafts grades immediately after they happen, but he did find one pretty solid analysis of the Giants' picks. They give Bandura a reasonable shot to make the Majors and referred to him as "the best pure hitter to come out of the Ivy League in years."

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Senior Writers

TigerBlog's title — his 11th at Princeton — is now Senior Writer/Historian.

Until earlier this week, he had never seen anyone else in college athletics with the title Senior Writer. Now he's found two of them, and they're both at the same school, the University of Florida.

How did TB find this out? 

The College Sports Communicators, the organization known for decades as "College Sports Information Directors of America," announced the results of its annual Fred Stabley Sr. Writing Contest Monday afternoon. The winner was one of the two Florida Senior Writers, Chris Harry, who won for his piece on former Gator men's basketball player Patric Young, who is now in a wheelchair after a devastating accident in a pickup truck in June 2022. 

The story's title is "I will be the one who determines this chapter of my life." You can read it HERE.

Harry's background is in newspapers, where he spent 30 years as a sportswriter. Now he writes for the UF website, and his bio on the site says this is what he likes to do most at work:

"To tell the story of University of Florida athletics from the inside by hopefully giving readers (and Gator fans) some insight not available through traditional media outlets; a peek behind the curtain, if you will."

That very much resonated with TigerBlog, who has the same exact approach to his own position at Princeton. That is the very essence of what he writes here every day, for that matter. Harry certainly seems like someone to whom TB can relate.

Harry spends most of his time with Florida's men's basketball team, which is how he got to know Young in the first place. The story is one of tragedy and triumph, of Young's spirit in the face of his life-changing ordeal, of the support he's gotten from his wife, family and the Gator basketball program. 

Does he ask himself why it happened to him? 

"The rain falls and the sun shines on the righteous and the unrighteous equally. Anyone of us can face anything."

Congratulations to Chris Harry. His story was well-deserving, and he is quite worthy of the honor.

According to the CSC story, Harry's piece on Young "narrowly edged" out TigerBlog's story "The Strength of Mark Ellis," which earned national runner-up honors. Mark Ellis was a strength and conditioning coach at Princeton before he left to go to Northwestern a few weeks ago, and he is one of the most impressive people TB has ever met. 

You can read that story HERE if you haven't already.

It appears that TB is making progress, by the way, since a year ago he also earned national runner-up honors with his story on John Schroeder, a men's lacrosse player killed on 9/11. The release for last year said that TB was "edged." He's gone from "edged" to "narrowly edged" in one year. 

Not to brag or anything, but TigerBlog has had the National Story of the Year three times. The three that won? His story on Pete Carril's first year without a basketball team to coach after he retired from the Sacramento Kings, his story on then-11 year old Nick Bates after the men's lacrosse team rallied around him after his mother Ann passed away and his story on men's lacrosse player Tyler Campbell, who was killed in World War II.

He's also now had four overall national runner up stories and a bunch of stories that have won the top national prize for the different categories, of which there are eight. TB's feature on Ellis was in the Coach/Administrator Profile category; Harry's was in General Feature.

Speaking of the writing contest, TB also wants to mention his good friend and colleague Justin Lafleur, who won top honors in the Historical Feature category for his piece on Dartmouth softball as part of the Big Green's 50th anniversary of women's athletics celebration.

There are also district winners. The country is split into eight districts, of which Princeton is in District 2. 

TB's Princeton colleague Warren Croxton won the District II top honor in the Social Justice/Diversity and Inclusion category with his piece on Tiger football player Nasir Cook and his Nashville Youth Initiative. You can read that one HERE.

Warren loves to write feature stories, and it's great to see him recognized for his work. 

In fact, it's great to see everyone who is recognized. The writing contest is important because it encourages excellence in an area that in these days of social media and video might not always get the attention it deserves.

It's nice to know that there are those who still take the task of writing long-form stories seriously and excel at it.  

Fred Stabley Sr., by the way, was Michigan State's sports information director from 1948-80. He passed away in 1996 at the age of 81.

HERE is the link to the story that has all of the national and district winners.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Remembering A Great Amphitheater

So what stadium was described this way after its first game: 

"An engineering wonder that takes its place among the greatest structures in the country."

If you guessed Palmer Stadium, you'd be correct. Opening Day, by the way, was Nov. 12, 1914, when Princeton lost to Yale 19-0.

In fact, Palmer Stadium when it opened was listed as one of only five actual football stadiums in the country. Can you name the other four? Hint - Franklin Field, which bills itself as the oldest stadium in the country, is not one of them.

TigerBlog will give you a few paragraphs for that one.

In the meantime, this is was in the Daily Princetonian after that first game, which drew 41,000 to the new building:

Despite the fact that the new Palmer Stadium enabled over 8,000 more people to see the Yale-Princeton game this year than ever before, the records of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company show that the number of people carried on that day is only 60 more than it was in 1912. The figures are: 1912, 16,536 passengers; 1914, 16,596. The greatly incresed use of automobiles is largely responsible for this lack of increase in railroad travel.

Can you imagine the sports talk shows and the Twitter debates that would have followed that revelation? 

This was another quote on the new stadium the week after its first game:

As one approaches it he is struck with its impressive columns and dignified proportions. Also, if he is a man who sees farther than his physical vision, he must feel that here is a great tribute to the value of outdoor life and exercise, a great amphitheatre where the thousands will watch the final result of months of that careful training and preparation that makes for better scholarship and all the best results of discipline anal subservience of self for the common good.

That's an early take on what would come to be coined 80 years later "Education Through Athletics" by Ford Family Director of Athletics Emeritus Gary Walters.

The other four schools with "real" stadiums in 1914, at least according to the Prince, were Harvard, Syracuse, Yale — and the College of the City of New York. Cornell and Michigan, it said, were opening their stadiums the following year. 

Opening Day at Palmer Stadium included a P-Rade that started on Cannon Green. There were celebrations and speeches and thanks given to Edgar Palmer, Class of 1903, who donated the money to build the stadium and name it after his father. How much did Edgar give? 

How about $300,000? If that doesn't seem like a lot, consider that today that amount equates to nearly $11 million, which is still only about a quarter of what it took to build Palmer's replacement 83 years later.

And how long did it take to build the new stadium in 1914? Well, construction started the first week of April. The first game was played there in November. There were literally two crews of 50 men each who started at different sides and had a race to the middle, with the winners to get a bonus.

Unfortunately, Palmer Stadium held up like it was built by sides in a race. It wasn't long before the concrete structure, which was built just before a real understanding of how the structure would expand and contract, was really known. As such, with freezing and thawing, the building began to show cracks within 10 years. 

By the time TigerBlog came along in the 1980s, Palmer Stadium was way past its prime. After orange and black netting had to be installed under the entryways to catch the falling rock in the early 1990s, Walters and the rest of the University administration knew it was only a matter of time before a new stadium had to be built.

And so that's what happened. 

Why bring all this up today? 

Why not? It's a July Tuesday. Seemed like a good day to talk about the old place. It may have had no frills and it may not have stood up to the weather, but it was still a place that anyone who was ever there remembers fondly, including TigerBlog. As someone with the word "historian" in his title, he has an incredible appreciation of just how storied a facility Palmer was, and not just in football but also track and field.

And besides, he can't get over how many people he works with never got a chance to see a game there.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Hoops Rooting Interests

There are certain things in sports that never come off the resume.

In the case of anyone associated with the Princeton men's basketball program a year ago, that means that the words "Sweet 16" will always be a part of them. For proof, look no further than the second paragraph of the release out of the University of California at Santa Barbara that announced the hiring of Skye Ettin as an assistant coach. 

The UC Santa Barbara Men's Basketball team is thrilled to bring on Skye Ettin as an assistant coach with the program, Head Coach Joe Pasternack announced today. "We are really excited to add a coach like Skye to our program," Pasternack said. "He comes from an incredible program in Princeton that reached the Sweet 16 last season."

There it is. Sweet 16. 

Ettin's move comes after he spent six seasons on Mitch Henderson's staff at Princeton. Ettin was a strong, steady presence with the Tigers, and TigerBlog has never heard anyone say a bad word about him. 

You don't put together teams like Princeton has had of late, and you especially don't reach the Sweet 16, without a strong, deep coaching staff. Henderson has certainly put one together, and his team has reflected that. 

UC-Santa Barbara, by the way, went 27-8 last year and won the Big West Conference tournament by beating Cal-Poly, UC-Riverside and Cal State Fullerton in three days. The Gauchos lost to Baylor in the opening round of the NCAA tournament 74-56 after leading by one at halftime.

Also, the Gauchos' roster last year featured six players from California and five international players. That makes for an interesting mix. 

Ettin is a Mercer County guy through and through, having attended Princeton High School, played at The College of New Jersey and then coached under Henderson. As he heads across the country, Princeton fans can add UC-Santa Barbara to the list of schools for which you root.

That's sort of how it works, right? You have your lifelong favorites, and then you have the teams you root for because of their connections to Princeton. 

That list will now also include whatever professional team Tosan Evbuomwan will be a part of this coming season. For now, that means the Detroit Pistons.

Playing with the team after signing after the draft, Evbuomwan did not play in the first two summer league games, which TB supposed was pre-planned. He did play in the next two and he played like he did at Princeton, which is to say he did everything well.

In his first game, he was +16 during his time on the court. He scored (six points), rebounded (two boards), passed and especially defended, guarding players from 6-2 to 7-0. Detroit won that game 94-90 against the Toronto Raptors.

In his second game, Evbuomwan had nine points, two assists, two rebounds and two steals in a 79-73 win over San Antonion (who did not dress No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama). Evbuomwan was a plus-12 in that game.

Evbuomwan is the kind of player who will make an impact in any game he plays. His skill set is just too good and too well-rounded. He also isn't someone who makes no contribution if his shots aren't falling, which adds to his value. 

Of course, speaking of rooting interests, there's always the United States of America.

Princeton alums Blake Dietrick and Carlie Littlefield played together for the U.S. team at the 3x3 Women's Series event in Pristina, Kosovo, this weekend and came away with the championship.

Between them, Dietrick and Littlefield scored 2,260 points, and that's without a senior season for Littlefield. Dietrick was the 2015 Ivy League Player of the Year after helping Princeton to the 30-0 regular season and then an NCAA tournament win, the program's first.

Littlefield would have been the 2021 Ivy Player of the Year had the pandemic not gotten in the way. The two combined for six Ivy League championships in the seven seasons that they played.

They finally got to be teammates this weekend in Kosovo, and it paid off in a big way. The U.S. team went unbeaten in pool play and then defeated Israel in the semifinals and France 14-13 in the finals. 

Want to watch the whole game? It takes 20 minutes, and it's pretty much what you'd expect from halfcourt 3x3, which is to say a lot of defense, a lot of physical play and a lot of offensive movement:


Friday, July 14, 2023

Oxford vs. Cambridge

During his recent English travels, TigerBlog found time to go to the campuses of both Cambridge and Oxford Universities.

First of all, it's really hard to imagine colleges that dwarf Princeton University in terms of age. Both of those schools go back several centuries more than Princeton does, which is just astonishing. 

Teaching at Oxford goes back to 1049, which is before England was even England. Cambridge only goes back to the 13th century.

While at Oxford, TB toured the Bodleian Library, which is the school's main research library. It's actually way more than that, since it's also the home to more than 13 million printed items and, as one of six "Legal Deposit" libraries in the United Kingdom, it is entitled to request a copy of anything that is printed in Great Britain.

The amount and age of the books there are as extraordinary as the architecture. At one time, the books were actually chained to the shelves to prevent their unauthorized removal. These days, they're still under 24 hour control, only now each and every volume there has its own alarm.

Apparently, they have always taken this very, very seriously. There's a plaque that makes this point clearly:

"When the library opened, scholars began to come from all over Europe to read the books. These were so valuable they were not permitted to leave the reading rooms — even King Charles I, who asked to borrow a book in 1645, was refused permission."

If you know English history, you know that Charles I ended up having his head chopped off. It's possible Charles I didn't take no for an answer on the whole book thing. 

As he walked around Cambridge, TB thought of John McPhee and how he studied (and played basketball) there for a year after graduating from Princeton in 1953. 

Walk around Oxford, and you can't help but think of all of the Rhodes Scholars who have studied there, including 17 Princeton athletes. The most notable of them, of course, was Bill Bradley, who attended Oxford after leading the Tigers to the 1965 NCAA Final Four and before he won two NBA titles with the Knicks. 

Oxford is located in the Cottswolds, an area northwest of London that is famous for its, well, nothingness, as in miles and miles of protected lands. There are small English towns that dot the landscape, and, like the rest of the country, there are public walkways — footpaths, they're called — that allow anyone to walk along those areas, even if they cut across someone else's property. Walk along them in the Cottswolds and you're likely to see way more dogs and sheep than people.

Cambridge sits 100 miles away to the north and east. Like Oxford, the schools are actually made up of dozens of separate colleges under one name (the rowing powerhouse Oxford Brookes is a completely separate entity not part of Oxford University). Also, their campuses are spread out throughout the town, and in fact Oxford says that the entire city is its campus. 

Their rivalry, of course, is quite legendary. It's most famous for "The Boat Race," which matches Oxford and Cambridge on the Thames (though not where Henley is). The first race was in 1856; Cambridge has a lead of 86-81 in the series, with a dead heat in 1877.

During his tour of the library at Oxford, TB's guide refused to say the name of "that other school," in much the same way as people from Princeton and "that other school" (the one ironically in Cambridge) do the same. She did point out that Cambridge was formed by a group of Oxford students who broke away.

The experience at the two schools is very similar. TB actually finds it fairly interesting in that he has spent so much of his life on the campuses of the most prestigious universities in the United States (including his long-time employer, which is THE most prestigious) and yet he was a bit overwhelmed by being at Oxford and Cambridge.

Did he like one better than the other? Probably Oxford, if he had to choose, no offense to Mr. McPhee.

Anyway, that's today's conversation. It's not exactly in-depth Princeton Athletics for today, but there is something about seeing those two campuses that should appeal to any Princetonian.

And there are now six weeks until the 2023-24 athletic season at Princeton begins. 

In the meantime, have another great summer weekend. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

News Items

In a perfect world, Chris Eubanks would have won his Wimbledon quarterfinal match yesterday and then TigerBlog would have found out that he had played against Princeton at some point during his college career.

Unfortunately, neither of those things happened.

If you've been paying attention to Wimbledon the last 10 days or so, then you know that Eubanks has gone from someone very few people had heard of to the story of the tournament to date. Eubanks is a 27-year-old American who played college tennis at Georgia Tech and who didn't break into the top 100 of the world rankings until this past March.

In fact, his career had stalled to the point where he actually was thinking about giving up. He was even working in TV, for the Tennis Channel.

Then Wimbledon started, and his game skyrocketed. Along with it, so did the obvious joy with which he plays, and the crowds immediately responded. It was clear there was a connection between Eubanks and the fans. All you had to do was see any clip of him around the crowds to see it.

It ended yesterday in five sets against third-seed Danill Medvedev, after Eubanks won the second and third and looked like he might be able to do it. Medvedev, a former US Open champ, held it together and turned things around.  

It'll be interesting to see what he does moving forward. He certainly has the name recognition now.

With the loss and with no connection to Princeton, TB had to find something else to write about today. Fortunately, there were two news items that he stumbled on that set him back on the right path.

In addition to all of her responsibilities at Princeton, Jennifer Caputo is also a sports fan, including as a Princeton Athletic Fellow, with the women's squash program.  

Before she came to Princeton, she spent several years working for Major League Baseball, ultimately as VP of Human Resources for MLB Advanced Media. 

TigerBlog is also pretty sure she's a loyal reader here.

Caputo was in the Princeton news yesterday, when the announcement was made that she will be assuming the title of Deputy Vice President for Alumni Engagement in the Office of Advancement. The full University announcement can be seen HERE.

As you well know, the alumni group at Princeton is unlike that of pretty much anywhere else. It is a fiercely loyal, very supportive, very active group of people whose connection to the University dates back a few years, a few decades and everywhere in between.

To have a very high leadership position in that organization is very impressive. Caputo deserves all the congratulations in the world as she starts her new role. 

Included in the release was a quote from the new president of the Alumni Association. And who would that be? 

Well, that would be Monica Moore Thompson, Class of 1989. Monica, of course, is the wife of John Thompon III, the former Princeton men's basketball player and coach. 

Any group that has Monica as its president is headed for success. If you know Monica at all, you know what TB is saying.

TB first saw the news about Caputo's new position on Twitter. The tweet he saw before that came from the College Sports Communicators group, and that one included a link to a story with this title:

Gen Z workers don’t love their jobs—so, they’re changing work culture
Gen Zers are quitting traditional corporate cultures. If companies want to woo and retain young talent, Gen Z-led companies reveal how to inspire, motivate, and reward Gen Z employees.

It was worth a click, TB thought. He's glad he did.

The website was, which is a business, technology and innovation site. The first three words of the story are: "When Charlie Durbin ..."

Hmmm. Charlie Durbin? The former Princeton men's lacrosse player? 

Yes, it was the same Charlie Durbin, a member of the Class of 2019 who had a very solid career, including a 21-goal senior season.

The premise of the story is pretty much what you would think. In Durbin's case, he was working in M&A (TigerBlog learned that means Mergers and Acquisitions) before he left to launch his own start-up.

This is a paragraph from the story:

According to LinkedIn data, 72% of Gen Zers are considering quitting their jobs. Gen Z currently make up just 8.5% of the labor pool, and if bosses are having trouble managing Gen Z now, what happens when that number swells to 30% by 2030 as the rest of the approximately 70 million members of this generation follow suit and as baby boomers continue to retire?

That's interesting stuff. You can read the whole thing HERE.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Sadak Makes The Call; Bandura Gets The Call

If you're asking who the two most exciting players in Major League Baseball are right now, there are only two possible answers.

The first, by a wide margin, is obviously Shohei Otani, the Angels' pitcher/slugger, who just happens to be the most exciting player in TigerBlog's lifetime. What he is doing is unprecedented, and he continues to amaze more and more as time goes on.

The second? That would be Cincinnati rookie Elly De La Cruz, who has risen to that level in just 30 games. 

You saw the highlights the other day from when De La Cruz stole second, third and home in a span of two pitches, right? 

TB read something that said the last time a player stole three bases during the same at-bat was back in 1915. He's not sure that's true, but hey, it hasn't been done in forever.

The last Reds' player to do so was Greasy Neale, in 1916. Is that name familiar? A little more than 30 years later, he'd coach the Philadelphia Eagles to the 1948 and 1949 NFL titles. 

The TV call of the steals by De La Cruz was played everywhere. The voice? That would be John Sadak, whom you remember from his days of calling Princeton men's and women's basketball.

Like another former Princeton broadcaster, Tom McCarthy, Sadak has risen to become a Major League Baseball TV announcer. McCarthy, of course, is the TV voice of the Philadelphia Phillies. 

A third Princeton announcer, Patrick McCarthy, does radio for the New York Mets.

The steal of second was pretty standard announcing, with a punctuation of "another stolen base for De La Cruz." Okay, good, solid start.

Then De La Cruz took third: "Pitch down and in. He takes off again. Feign throw. There's no chance. Two steals." That came with a voice that raised the excitement level without overdoing it.

Then, when the pitcher turned his back after getting the ball back, De La Cruz didn't hesitate.  

"He's going home. The throw. He stole home!!!!" 

Then he said the only part that TB didn't quite like.

"The most thrilling man in baseball stole second, third and home."

As TB said, he's the second most thrilling. 

That, of course, is nitpicking. Sadak's calls were brilliant. It was the kind of moment that obviously doesn't come around very often, and it required the announcer to meet the occasion. Sadak did that and more so.

While TB is on the subject of baseball, Princeton outfielder Scott Bandura was selected in the seventh round of the MLB Draft, going to the San Francisco Giants with the 210th overall pick. If you've ever seen Bandura play, he certainly looks the part of a professional baseball player, with the way he can hit, hit for power, run and field. 

By the way, you know how much TB hates reading instant draft grades. He read two stories on the same website on consecutive days, the first of which was a redraft of the 2013 draft, which would have been much different and which goes to show you how tough to predict prospects can be, and then one that gave grades to the 2023 picks. 


Back at Bandura, from the story on

The rising senior had all-time great season for the Tigers, posting a .363/.454/.665 slash line in 47 games for the Tigers, adding 12 home runs and 45 RB. He led the team in runs (46), triples (three), slugging percentage, stolen bases (15), total bases (121) and on-base percentage. He set the Princeton program record in total bases while his 46 runs are tied for the second most in program history. His 28 extra base hits are second most all-time while his slugging percentage is third and RBI are seventh.

Bandura was obviously impressive all season. He was a huge part of Princeton's rise from a 7-33 season to a spot in the Ivy tournament final this year. He plays with skill and confidence, with a great deal of joy mixed in. That's a great combination.

And so that's the baseball story for today. 

TB will sum it up this way: Somebody makes the call; somebody gets the call. 

In this case, it was John Sadak and Scott Bandura. Congrats to them both on their impressive work.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

She Was Wonderful

Want to know all about Phyllis Chase? 

When she first found out that she was suffering from pancreatic cancer, a few members of the Princeton men's lacrosse team made her chocolate chip cookies.

"That was so sweet of them," Phyllis told TigerBlog. "They're such nice guys."

That was the loving side of Phyllis.

"Of course, the cookies weren't good, but I appreciated it."

And that's the honest side of Phyllis. With Phyllis, you never got one without the other. 

Phyllis Chase, who spent 27 years working in the business office of the Princeton Department of Athletics, died Sunday night after putting up the same courageous fight that so many others have. She was three weeks shy of her 80th birthday.

In addition to working at Princeton, Phyllis was also the longtime wife of Bryce Chase, Princeton Class of 1963 and a lifer with the men's lacrosse program. If a more perfect love has ever existed than the one between Phyllis and Bryce, the list isn't very long. 

TigerBlog doesn't want to list the number of people who have taken on cancer and in the end not won, but he knows far too many of them. So do you. 

He will mention one person though. His mother. MotherBlog also passed away from cancer, back in 1994, when she was only 55. Her attitude was similar to the one Phyllis showed. 

Cancer wasn't going to slow her down, and if she didn't make it in the end, it wouldn't be because she didn't try every possible solution. Even more than that, there was no way that she was going to just sit around and sulk.

Phyllis? She did exactly the same things. 

It's fitting that the last time TB saw Phyllis was at Contes, the legendary Princeton pizza restaurant. What? Miss out on a good time? Not Phyllis.

She was defined by many things, including the warmth and honesty that TB already mentioned. In many ways, those were also the things that defined MotherBlog. Perhaps that's why TB was so fond of Phyllis and so drawn to her and Bryce all these years. 

You want love and honesty? Here's an email that TB got from Phyllis in 2009, when he first started doing this blog:

Since I now know where to find the blog ---  I have gone back and read them all.  You are such a contrast, from your excellent, sensitive writing to your in person persona where sarcasm reigns supreme. I know you have a soft side and can be thoughtful and kind but you seem to keep that hidden from many.

That's how Phyllis was all the time. She never sugarcoated anything. She told it the way she saw it, and you couldn't help but love her for it.

She was a warm and beautiful person. She had a zest for living and a fast sense of humor. She loved people. She was as loyal as it gets. It's probably not possible to count the number of weddings she and Bryce attended. That's just how it was. Once she was in your life, she stayed there. 

She was welcoming. How many young coaches who were just starting out at Princeton have lived in Phyllis and Bryce's basement, rent-free of course. 

If you were invited for dinner and asked what you could bring, the answer was always the same: "just yourself." If you were at an event where Phyllis was, she'd be taking pictures, not with her phone but with an actual camera, from which she would get actual prints, doubles, keeping one and giving you one. The walls of her house are covered with photo collages she put together through the years.

As TB closes his eyes now and imagines her, he can see her smiling, because that's what she was usually doing. 

TB was not the only one who thought that way of Phyllis. Ask pretty much any Princeton men's lacrosse alum, and you'll get the same response. That's also true of anyone who worked with her, many of whom TB heard from after the news started to get around. His longtime friend and former colleague Craig Sachson spoke for all of them when he texted this: "That's terrible. She was wonderful."

To know Phyllis was a joy. To see her around Bryce as much as TB did was even more amazing.

Bryce is a tough ex-Marine, or at least he thinks he is. And, actually, now 60 years post-Princeton, he is still one of the tougher guys you'll ever meet. 

Not around his wife, though. TigerBlog wrote a novel a few years ago, and he modeled two of the main characters after Bryce and Phyllis. And why wouldn't he? They were almost too good to be true anyway.

This is what he wrote about the fictional couple, though he was actually writing about Bryce and Phyllis:

I’d come to learn that it was rare when he didn’t snap to do exactly what his wife told him to do. He was almost like a medieval knight or something. He was tough, except when it came to his wife, in which case he was as soft as a puppy.

That's how it was. He'd act tough. She'd give him a look — and right back into line he would fall. 

They were just extraordinary together. Every time he saw them. 

Bryce will always have the memory of that perfect love that lasted through the decades. Without Phyllis, he will still have their children and, just as importantly, their extended family of Princeton Lacrosse, with legions of people — including TB — who would do anything for Brycie at the drop of a hat. 

An email went out yesterday to the Friends of Lacrosse about Phyllis' passing. The news hit everyone who received it with a gut punch. That's what happens when one person means so much to so many others.

For his part, TB knows he's lost a great friend, a loyal supporter, a person he could always count on and in many ways the closest thing he's had for a mother in recent years. 

Craig was right on with what he said, 100 percent right on.

Phyllis Chase?

She was wonderful.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Happy Birthday Coach

It's July 10.

What better day can there be to talk Princeton men's basketball? 

Pete Carril was born on this day in 1930. He celebrated 92 of these birthdays before he passed away last summer.

Does TigerBlog need to even say anything about Carril at this point? Okay, how about this:

When TB first started doing this blog every day back in 2009, he wasn't quite sure what he would do when he got to the summers. Would he write three times a week? Take the summer off? Instead, he decided to power through and come up with some sort of content every day. 

His theory was that if he couldn't think of anything at all, there were always funny Pete Carril stories he could tell. As it turns out, there will always be something about Princeton Athletics to write, and so it never came to that. On the other hand, there are a lot of great Carril stories that TB and others have, so maybe you'd like one to celebrate his birthday.

Princeton was flying to play in one of the in-season tournaments that it used to go to each December. On this particular trip, Bill Carmody sat on the aisle, Carril sat in the middle, an older gentleman sat at the window and TB sat behind the older gentleman. As the trip went along, Carril started working on a crossword puzzle. 

As Carril continued to fill in the answers, the older gentleman started to chip in. "Fifteen down is such-and-such." "Thirty-two across is this." 

With each answer, Carril would groan at him, half to grudgingly say thanks and half to express a bit of displeasure. Finally, he'd had enough. The next time the old man started to give an answer, Carril cut him off briskly and said "Yo Pops, when I want your help, I'll ask for it."

Happy birthday, Coach.

As TB said, it's a good day to talk about Tiger men's basketball.

If you've been on of late, you noticed the summer edition of "Hard Cuts," the team's longtime video series. It's a special series on the "March of the Tigers," as in how amazing Princeton's March of 2023 was.

The first episode recaps some of the highs and lows of the season leading up to the Ivy League tournament opening round win over Penn. There are great highlights and interviews throughout the seven-minute piece.

The story is told really well. It does a great job of taking you back to those moments, and for wanting to see what's next. What Princeton fan wouldn't want to see it all again?

If you missed it the first time, here's a spoiler warning: It's a happy story.

One of the best moments is when Xaivian Lee knocks down a big three-pointer against the Quakers. He is interviewed, as are his teammates. The moment is captured in video and in stills.

Lee was a freshman a year ago, playing in all 32 games while averaging five points and two rebounds, along with 28 assists and 16 steals in 12 minutes per night. All of those numbers figure to go up as his career goes along, but his numbers don't really define him. He's one of those instant-energy guys off the bench, and his impact on the court is unmissable.

His skills were on display recently in the U19 World Championships in Hungary, where he played for Canada.  

In fact, Lee led the Canadian team in scoring, averaging 14.1 per game as his team finished seventh. His scoring average ranked him 14th in the tournament, and he also led Canada with 3.1 assists per game while also pulling down 3.3 rebounds.

Lastly, the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League is in full swing this week. Tosan Evbuomwan, who was the leader of the Princeton team that had that great March, is with the Detroit Pistons team there. 

And there you have some Princeton men's basketball for your Monday. Of course, it's not just any Monday.

It's Pete Carril's 93rd birthday. Again, happy birthday, Coach.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Roster Changes

Welcome to the first Friday in July.

It's worth mentioning that July is the only month of the year that has no Princeton Athletic events. Opening day, of course, is seven weeks from today, when the women's soccer team hosts Monmouth. By two months from today, six Princeton teams will have combined to play 14 games. 

It's a quick turnaround from one year to the next. 

A stark reminder of that fact came yesterday morning, when TigerBlog woke up to a whole lot more emails than he usually does. 

TB will get into that in a minute. First, remember when you used to wake up and read the newspaper? 

From the time he was around, eight maybe, until his mid-40s or so, TigerBlog started every day, or at least 99 percent of them, with a newspaper or two and a bowl of either Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies. The newspaper would be waiting outside his door when he woke up. Do kids still have paper routes? 

One of his favorite parts of the newspaper was the transactions section, which documented pretty much any move that any professional team or college made. A baseball trade? Football cuts? A new basketball coach? 

It was all there in the transactions section. When TB first started out at Princeton, it was a very big deal to get all of the department's new coaches in those transactions.

With that in mind, TB goes back to all the emails he had yesterday. It was sort of like mass transactions, Princeton style.

When any team makes a roster move of any kind — addition, subtraction, new athlete, someone withdrew, whatever it is — an email gets sent out to a distribution list of several people in the athletic department. TB, and the rest of those in communications, are among those people.

The new athletic year will bring one email for every incoming athlete. All of those emails arrived yesterday. They all say the same thing: "Roster Changes," and then have the sport abbreviation in parenthesis. After that is the player's name and the reason for the email.

In this case, they all said "added." Just like that, you're officially part of the Princeton Athletic tradition.

If you've been reading TB for a while, you know that he's fascinated by freshman athlete orientation each year. Each new Princeton athlete sits there, with no idea of what direction the next four years will take. The possibilities are limitless, as are the variables.

This year, TB didn't have to wait until everyone is back on campus for that experience. He got it through the emails.

It's hard not to scroll through all the names and think about where they are now and what they're doing. They're with their high school friends, doing their summer jobs, doing their summer workouts. They are connecting with the others on their team in their class, mostly on group chats, following up on recruiting visits, as friendships that will last forever are in their embryonic stage. 

Think about that. Think about all the current friendships that are solidified and locked in for a lifetime after meeting as Princeton Athletic teammates. Those friendships all had to start somewhere. This is where the next generation of those friendships is beginning, symbolically in all those emails. 

There are some names that TB has heard before. Most of them are brand-new names. Many of them will become very familiar to TB and to all Princeton fans during the next four years. 

It's always an interesting sight to see new players in the uniform numbers that previously were worn by players who just graduated. It takes some time to get used to all that.

For now, though, at least to TB, they're pretty much all just names on a whole bunch of emails. TB doesn't usually like seeing his inbox flooded like that, but in this case it's for a worthy cause. 

The new year is coming. 

But don't think about that now. Just have yourself a great, and safe, summer weekend.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

M.H. Ford

The list of prominent alums from Ripon College, a tiny (enrollment of less than 1,000) liberal arts school in Wisconsin includes a whole bunch of state legislators and NFL players from the early days. 

If you go to the school's Wikipedia page, you'll see that almost nobody on the list is a household name. There are, though, three who jumped out at TigerBlog.

First, there is Al Jarreau, the Grammy Award-winning singer who, if you recall, sang the great theme song from the wildly underrated show "Moonlighting." In terms of name recognition, Jarreau comes in third.

There's a tie for first, a relatively unbreakable on at that. In fact, you could say that two of the 15 or so greatest American actors ever are Ripon alums. For TB's money, by the way, the best of them all never went to college. He'll get back to you on that.

One of the Ripon alums is Spencer Tracy, Class of 1924. Perhaps you've heard of him? 

The other is Harrison Ford, Class of, well, it doesn't say. That's because he was actually expelled four days before graduation after a plagiarism issue. It's probably something he laughs about more now than he did back then.

With all of his success, Ford has been nominated for one Academy Award, and that was back in 1986, for "Witness." William Hurt won that year, for "Kiss of the Spider Woman," which TB has never seen. Tracy, on the other hand, was nominated nine times for Best Actor, winning twice in back-to-back years with "Captains Courageous" in 1937 and "Boys Town" in 1938.

By the way, the No. 1 actor according to TB? That's Humphrey Bogart. By the way, did you know Humphrey Bogart was a seventh cousin of Princess Diana?

What does Ripon College have to do with anything today? Well, it's like this.

TigerBlog looked up Harrison Ford and found the story about Ripon College and his almost-graduation. Then he wondered who else might have gone there and saw the rest of the list.

And why the interest in Harrison Ford? 

It's because of Princeton alum Mike Ford. No, they're not related, or at least TB doesn't think so. 

Ford's full name, though, is "Michael Harrison Ford." 

By the time M.H. Ford was born, H. Ford had already made 24 movies and was a huge star. Perhaps the Fords were big fans? 

Anyway, M.H. Ford turned 31 on the Fourth of July. During the week of his birthday, Ford was one of the best hot streaks he's had in his entire Major League Baseball career.

Say what you will about Mike Ford, but he doesn't give up easily. There aren't a lot of guys who would have persevered through what Ford has, with endless stops along his baseball journey.

It goes like this:

* undrafted out of Princeton after being the Ivy League Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year in 2012, he signed with the Yankees. 

* he made his MLB debut with the Yanks in 2019

* he stayed with the Yankees until June 2021 before being designated for assignment

* then it was to the Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals for the rest of the 2021 season, all of which he spent in Triple-A

* his 2022 season saw him go from Seattle to San Francisco to the L.A. Angels back to Seattle, for a total of 50 Major League games and a whole bunch of Triple-A games

* still with Seattle, he started the season in Triple-A (Tacoma) before being called up June 1

For his career, Ford has a .212 batting average and .725 OPS. What he can do, though, is hit home runs.

In fact, Ford has 476 career at-bats and 27 home runs, as well as 18 doubles. This season, he has seven home runs, two doubles and 10 singles in 68 at-bats.

Ford has caught fire of late for the Mariners, who are right around the .500 mark. For his part, Ford has been on an 8-for-15 run, and he crushed a shot into the Bay in the Mariners' July 4 game at San Francisco. 

That's not a bad birthday present. 

Hopefully Ford is in the Majors to stay now. TB wishes he had an easy way to look up how many players stick with it through the ups and downs that Ford has had. It's a real testament to how strong his character is, and how much he loves to play baseball.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

An Atlantic Bridge

England is an interesting place to be on the Fourth of July.

Considering that it was England against whom the Colonies rebelled and from whom they ultimately declared their independence, being a Yank in England on July 4th certainly offers a unique perspective. 

TigerBlog asked a few of the people he ran into what the Fourth of July means to them. The responses were pretty universal: a shoulder shrug and that's about it. A few said that these days it just seems like a chance to have a party in "the States," complete with hot dogs and hamburgers.

TB also met one friendly bloke who said that he likes to play a game with Americans he meets. He likes to guess where they are from.

And where did he suppose TB was from? How about Cincinnati, Ohio. 

TB told him he must have him confused with his daughter, who lives not far from there. Then the bloke asked TB where he was from, and so TB offered his best aggressive "Sopranos" voice, to which the bloke and his buddy both laughed and both said "New York."

Close enough.

Another one of the people to whom TB spoke said this: "Fourth of July? Tough loss for the Empire."

That was funny.

To celebrate the holiday, TigerBlog saw a concert in Cambridge entitled "An Atlantic Bridge" that was a mix of British and American choirs. TB thought it would have been appropriate to end with "This Land Is Your Land" — you know, "This land was your land. Now it is our land." Just kidding. Just kidding.

In fact it was a very nice event. It didn't exactly have a patriotic flair, though, for either country.

After his experience at Henley, TigerBlog wanted to go to Wimbledon for the early rounds this week. What he learned is that getting tickets to the All English Lawn Tennis Association grounds is slightly harder than getting invited to Buckingham Palace for cream tea with Charles and Camilla. 

The only way to get in is by standing in the queue and hoping to get one of the same-day tickets available. The queue each day actually starts the night before, as you can camp out — as long as you follow some very strict rules for behavior. Sleeping in a tent outside the Wimbledon gate isn't really TB's thing.

During his time in England, TigerBlog has assumed that he'll run into at least one person who is wearing something that says "Princeton Athletics" on it. He's not sure why, of course, since it's a huge country and there are only a handful of U.K athletes at Princeton.

One of them, of course, is probably Princeton's most well-known from this past academic year. TB was on a train at one point and he started talking to three 20-somethings, one of whom said he was from near Newcastle. TB said that Princeton's best basketball player, Tosan Evbuomwan, was from Newcastle. Had he heard of him? No, was the response, with a qualifying "They have good basketball up there."

Princeton's current rosters are dotted with athletes from the U.K. Of Princeton's 38 teams, there are 12, in fact, with a Brit on the most recent roster on the webpage.

The team with the most? This shouldn't be a surprise after what TB watched last week. It's women's open rowing, with 11. 

Next up? That's field hockey, with seven. Percentage wise, field hockey has the highest total of U.K. athletes on its roster, as seven of the 23 players on the team this coming season, early one-third, are from Great Britain. 

On the men's side, the team with the most is the men's heavyweight rowing team, with five. Men's track and field was next, with three.

Queen Elizabeth, in a 1976 address in Scotland on the occasion of the American Bicentennial, mentioned three Americans in her speech. One was Alexander Graham Bell. The other two were John Witherspoon and James McCosh, which sparked this in a Daily Princetonian story:

Richard Funkhouser '39, retired from the Foreign Service and now living in Scotland, noted that 'out of the rich history of Scottish-American relations, the Queen chooses two Princetonians out of three famous names to illustrate her point.' Could there be an alumnus speech writer in Buckingham Palace?

Around that time, TB remembers an ad campaign by British Airways that featured the great English actor Robert Morley, who at the end famously said, in his thick accent, "Do come home. All is forgiven."

The Fourth of July will always link the U.S. and the U.K. As Morley said, all is forgiven.

TB hopes you had a great Fourth of July. God Bless America — and Save The King.

Monday, July 3, 2023

Goodbye To Henley

TigerBlog still hasn't figured out which way to look when he crosses the street in England. 

Logic, and a lifetime's experience, says the cars are coming from one direction, until you realize that they aren't. It's a very weird phenomenon. Fortunately, TB hasn't been hit yet, through all his confusion.

If you spend any time at all here, you realize the English are very proud of their traditions and history. It's why, TB supposes, that the monarchy still exists and why the Queen had around an 80 percent approval rating at the time of her death. 

This country is all about tradition and history. Walk past any church or cathedral, and odds are that it's easily 1,000 years old. Get something delivered by what is known as "the post," and it'll come in a red truck that doesn't just say "mail" on the side but "Royal Mail," complete with insignia.

One of the great traditions here is the Sunday Roast. Go into any pub, and you get your choice of beef, lamb or chicken, along with potatoes, vegetables and, if you like, Yorkshire Pudding. 

Almost everyone in the pub is dressed up, with the possible exception of one of the young men TB saw yesterday in a pub about an hour north of London. This particular Brit was wearing a Texas Rangers jersey of all things.

Did he know anything about the team, TB asked him. Nope. At that point, TB figured that mentioning that the Rangers have the second-best record in the American League and that they're five games up in the division would be pointless, and it would be even more pointless to mention that former Princeton baseball/basketball star Chris Young was the team's General Manager. 

TB was another one who wasn't dressed up. He wasn't even wearing anything that said "Princeton." Instead, he had his new longsleeve blue "Henley Royal Regatta" t shirt that he bought. 

The world's best regatta, one that dates to 1839, ended yesterday with the championship races. Oxford Brookes, whom TB had never heard of until last week, won pretty much every Cup, and TB learned two things about the school: 1) it's not affiliated with Oxford University and 2) he was rooting against them.

The Leander Club is also hard to root for, considering that like Oxford Brookes, the club is dominant. TB did root for Leander is yesterday's Silver Goblets and Nickalls Challenge Cup, which Leander's duo of O.H. Wynne-Griffin and TJE George won yesterday by 1.5 lengths over a Canadian boat. 

TJE George, by the way, is Princeton alum Tom George, Class of 2018. George, and English native, won an Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo Olympics two summers ago in the Great Britain 8.

Princeton's current athletes had great experiences here, on the water and off, one that they'll never forget. The racing here is tremendous, with Olympic and international rowers all over the place. 

Remember, though, that TB told you the English are all about their traditions and history. And that's what leads to what had to be the best part of the Henley Regatta this year for Princeton.

Back in 1973, Princeton's lightweights won the Thames Cup at Henley. This past Saturday, every member of that boat, all nine of them, were back on the Thames for a ceremonial 50th anniversary row by. 

You have to watch this video to fully appreciate it:

It's extraordinary on so many levels. First, there is the mere fact that 50 years later, they can still not only row together but also can get the boat in and out of the water. 

Second, there's also the idea that this was important enough that every one of them made it back.

Then there is the simple idea of what Princeton Rowing means to them and to everyone else who is a part of it. TB wrote a story last week about some of the current rowers here, and men's lightweight rising junior (and 2023 IRA national champion) Nick Aronow said this: "Princeton Rower. Princeton Rower For Life."

Nowhere was that more apparent than with the 1973 boat. 

The Henley Royal Regatta ended yesterday with the final races. TB has never seen anything quite like this event, and he couldn't be more glad that he was able to attend. 

Tradition being what it is here, all of the festivities and pomp will be back on display a year from now. 

Never been? Start planning now.