Extra Point: There’s No Place Like Jadwin, Which Pays Off for Princeton’s Teams

In the last four seasons, the Princeton men’s and women’s basketball teams have enjoyed remarkable success in the Ivy League, particularly at Jadwin Gym, where the men have had a 25–3 record and the women were a perfect 28–0 prior to the start of this year’s league games. On the road against the same teams, the men have been strong, though not as dominant (18–10), while the women had a still-eye-popping 26–2 record.

Home-court advantage is common in college basketball, but according to Michael James, a 2006 Harvard grad, data analyst, and Ivy basketball devotee, Princeton’s edge is extraordinary. His predictive model for Ivy men’s games, which draws on 20 years of data, gives the Tigers an extra 5.5-point boost at Jadwin. Second-best is Yale, which gets an extra 2.6 points at home.

Why is Princeton so much better at home? Do student cheers from the Jadwin Jungle unnerve visiting teams? Does the supportive crowd inspire more cohesive defense or better shot selection for the Tigers? Those factors may play a role, especially at the men’s games, which can draw more than 4,000 fans. But John Ezekowitz, a recent Harvard grad, has a different theory: Players and coaches told him that Jadwin, with its asymmetrical layout and cavernous dome, can be a difficult space for shooters, giving a noticeable advantage to the Tigers, who practice on the court every day.

Numbers that Ezekowitz compiled for the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective last March support that claim: In the last six seasons, visiting Division-I men’s teams have made 29.9 percent of their three-point attempts at Jadwin, nearly five percentage points below their season averages.

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Extra Point: Hitting the Big Time — Tigers Make Their Mark in Pro Sports

Like many of his classmates, Mike Catapano ’13 is trying to prove himself in an entry-level job. He spends about 10 hours a day at the office, uses evenings to brush up on some of the new things he has learned, and travels about twice a month. Working on weekends is a must.

It’s a rough gig, but the rewards are sweet: a starting salary of about $400,000 and a chance to realize a dream that he’s had since he was 8 years old.

Catapano, a rookie defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs, is Princeton’s lone NFL player. In college, he grew into the physical build of a pro lineman (6 foot 4 inches, 270 pounds) and developed the speed and strength to chase down NFL quarterbacks. He credits his undergraduate experience — not just the football part — with preparing him for the challenges of his new job. “Princeton really tests you,” he said. “You learn to be a professional in everything you do.” …

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Listening for the ‘Pitch of the Past’

Peddlers, jackhammers, whistles: Historian Emily Thompson *92 lets you hear the sounds of life in 1920s New York City

cover-120413The streets of New York City in the late 1920s featured a cacophony of sounds — some old, many new. Steam shovels and pneumatic jackhammers clattered on concrete. Fog horns and boat whistles blared from the shorelines. Sidewalk peddlers lifted their voices above a disorienting din of traffic and trains.

While the urban commotion inspired poetry and prose by Jazz Age writers like Claude McKay and F. Scott Fitzgerald 1917, many citizens were less enthusiastic, expressing their anger and frustration in letters to city officials.

Emily Thompson *92 has read hundreds of those complaints, now filed under “N” for noise in the archives of the city’s health department. “The letters are wonderful — everything from the crabbed handwriting to the wails of despair,” says Thompson, a professor of history who specializes in the study of sound and technology. “These silent documents, these letters written on pieces of paper, still transmit that visceral despair and anguish that a lot of people were really feeling.”

Thompson’s research on noise complaints in New York played an important role in her acclaimed 2002 book, The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900–1933. This fall, the dusty letters and forms found new life in “The Roaring ’Twenties,” an interactive online exhibit published by Thompson and designer Scott Mahoy in the multimedia journal Vectors.

Illustrating history with documents and film may not seem particularly innovative, but Thompson and Mahoy’s project has a distinctive integration of sound, video, and place. They combined archival papers, maps, and newsreel films with common Web tools (Google Maps, Flash animation, digital images, and videos) to create an engrossing survey of what it sounded like to live in New York between 1926 and 1933, the years covered by Thompson’s research. …

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Extra Point: Fueled by a Record-Setting Offense, Football Roars to an Ivy Championship

Princeton fans have come to expect a certain set of adjectives when TV announcers describe the men’s basketball team. Terms like “deliberate,” “unselfish,” and “cerebral” may be meant as compliments, but they carry a clear subtext: Princeton is the tortoise, slowly and steadily outsmarting the proverbial hare.

On Princeton football broadcasts this year, announcers embraced a new vocabulary — one that begins with “quick,” “creative,” and “athletic.” Practically overnight, coach Bob Surace ’90’s Tigers became the Ivy League exemplar of the fast-paced, no-huddle, spread-formation approach used by top-10 teams like Oregon and Baylor, setting a league scoring record with the multi-dimensional quarterback Quinn Epperly ’15 leading the way.

Epperly threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in Princeton’s 59–23 dismantling of Yale Nov. 16, earning the Tigers at least a share of the Ivy title for the first time since 2006 and a second straight Big Three bonfire. …

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Extra Point: Working to Make Teams More Inclusive, Athletes and Coaches Stand Up as Allies

Imagine you’re a gay athlete in college, struggling with the decision to come out of the closet. Each day at practice, you see your teammates and wonder, would they treat me differently if I told them? What would my coach think? How would things change?

It may be difficult to predict how people will react, but it would help to hear a few supportive voices around the gym, on the field, or at the pool.

Last spring, Mark O’Connell ’14 of the swimming and diving team joined with a handful of friends to identify and amplify those voices, creating Princeton Athlete Ally, a group that he said aims to recruit athletes and coaches who will “stand up for the LGBT community” and create a “safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment.”

Allies can be gay, straight, bisexual, or transgender, and while the signs of support often are small — an Athlete Ally button on a backpack or a status update on Facebook — the overall effect has been positive. O’Connell, who was inspired by former Maryland wrestler Hudson Taylor and his international Athlete Ally campaign, has found receptive audiences on campus, including during his appearance at a recent athletics department meeting of about 100 coaches and staff. …

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Extra Point: Field Hockey Stays Loose, Eyes Another Big Postseason Run

About a half-hour before the Princeton field hockey team’s Sept. 27 game against Yale, the Tigers lined up on the sideline, hand in hand. They took turns shouting the team’s four “focus words” — Excellence! … Passion! … Authentic! … One! — and then broke into a warm-up run across the field. Skipping, dancing, and clapping their way through the pregame drills, they looked relaxed, excited, and not at all weighed down by the pressure of being the defending NCAA champions.

Co-captain Michelle Cesan ’14 said that early in the season, the Tigers seemed to have a “fear of failure,” with the memory of last fall’s near-perfect 21–1 record still fresh in their minds. After a pair of losses, the captains made a conscious effort to inject more fun into match days.

The approach seemed to pay off against Yale: Princeton controlled possession, outshot the Bulldogs 25–5, and won 2–0. Two days later, the Tigers shut out No. 3 Connecticut for 62 minutes before surrendering a late goal and falling 1–0. …

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Extra Point: The Advocate in the Corner Office: Gary Walters ’67 to Step Down in 2014

Gary Walters ’67 remembers the spring day in 1963 when he walked into his 12th-grade American-democracy class and saw the maps pulled down over the blackboards. The class braced for a pop quiz, but the teacher, Pete Carril (yes, that Pete Carril), announced instead that he had good news. Releasing the maps one by one, he revealed a message scrawled in chalk: 

“Gary … Walters … has … been … admitted … to Princeton.”

Getting in, Walters says, was the start of a “transformative experience” and a deep connection to Princeton. Last month, 50 years after he arrived as a student, the kid from Reading (Pa.) High announced that he’ll be leaving the University — stepping down as the director of athletics at the end of the academic year, his 20th in the job.

Walters made a name for himself as a point guard for two Ivy League basketball champions, including the 1965 Final Four team, and served as an assistant coach to Carril in the early 1970s, but his legacy was forged in his current job. Since he returned to campus in 1994, Princeton teams have averaged 11 Ivy championships per year and collected 48 national team or individual titles. …

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