February 7, 2001:
a habit of winning: Julia Beaver '01 may be the best ever in women's
from disappointment: Mason Rocca '00's Princeton career was plagued
joins hoops exodus
Matt Golden's From
the Cheap Seats column
a habit of winning:
Julia Beaver 01 may be the best ever in womens squash
Womens squash star
Julia Beaver 01 is a winner. Since she first realized individual
success in the under-13 category of the sports junior tournaments,
Beaver has been virtually unbeatable. The first woman in Ivy history
to win player-of-the-year honors three times, Beaver is also the
first to win three straight league championships and has piled up
a 623 career record at Princeton. Beaver has also won two
individual collegiate national championships.
Her impressive résumé
of accomplishments, though, came with a price. She has always been
a favorite in her matches and says she played most of them knowing
that the gallery was cheering for her underdog opponent. In
junior tournaments, nobody ever wants to see the favorite win,
Beaver says. There werent many people behind me, other
than my parents and my coaches.
This feeling of isolation
helped Beaver forge extraordinary mental toughness, a trait that
Princeton coach Gail Ramsay cites in conjunction with her aggressive
style of play as the main reasons for Beavers success. Ramsay
says of her star pupil, She has a very lethal attacking game
with wonderful short shots and straight drops. She plays a higher-risk
type of game, winning points outright on short rallies.
Having spectators applaud
her mistakes and brush off her success as expected was trying. But
the situation changed when Beaver came to Princeton in 1997 and
started playing in the teams number-one position. Suddenly,
she had a group of teammates pulling for her on every point. She
says, It was a real transition at first, going from playing
solely as an individual to playing on the Princeton team. Its
been great for my game.
According to Ramsay,
Beaver also discovered the satisfaction of playing for more than
individual success. Julia puts her team and Princeton in front
of the individual squash game she knew before. From the age of 10
or 11, she dominated the junior leagues, then led us to the national
championship as a freshman. Its been a pleasure watching how
she handles success, remaining modest but also quietly confident.
Youd never imagine shes as accomplished as she is.
Although Beaver is nearing
the end of her Princeton career, she plans to continue playing,
moving into the professional ranks by joining the world womens
professional circuit. Runner-up at last years U.S. Open tournament,
Beaver realizes shell have to further hone her game for this
next step in her career. She explains, My attacking game can
be a weakness when Im playing very strong players and cant
convert the attacking shots that Im usually able to make.
Ill have to learn a different strategic approach, which I
can do by playing stronger opponents.
This year, the team (31
overall, 01 Ivy) has particularly needed Beavers toughness
and leadership due to a litany of early-season injuries: Number-five
player Emily Eynon 02 started her season late because she
also runs for the cross-country team; Anna Minkowski 02 is
just returning from a broken ankle; number-eight Jean Shingleton
03 went out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament;
and number-nine Rebecca Gutner 01 suffered a death in the
family. Despite strong efforts from the rest of the team, Ramsay
says it has been impossible for the rest of the lineup not to be
affected. An upset defeat by Brown marked a low point, but Beaver
says the team plans to use the loss as motivation.
Despite the teams
early struggles, Ramsay remains upbeat. Many of the injured are
on the mend, and other strong prospects have stepped in to fill
her nine-member starting lineup. She says, Overall Im
still optimistic about our chances for a successful season. Adverse
times will make us stronger in the long run. While not favorites
in the Ivy race, the Tigers hope to defend their league title as
their star stakes her claim as the best ever in womens collegiate
squash by winning her third individual national championship.
By Paul Hagar 91
Paul Hagar is a former PAW editor.
Mason Rocca 00s Princeton career was plagued by injuries
When Mason Rocca 00
stepped onto the basketball hardwood at Princeton, fans got plenty
of bang for their buck. Rocca was a ferocious competitor who earned
his keep under the basket. He rebounded, set screens, and gave the
Tigers a physical inside presence.
But Roccas aggressive
style left his body bruised and repeatedly forced him from the Princeton
lineup. During his freshman season, Rocca sprained his ankle several
times. As a sophomore, he broke his wrist midseason and sat out
the entire second half of the schedule. Junior year, a severely
sprained ankle kept him out of the preseason, but Rocca recovered
and enjoyed his most productive season as a Tiger. As a senior,
Roccas season was all but lost to ankle surgery; he played
in just eight games and couldnt help but feel that his collegiate
career had been punctuated by a question mark.
Last May, Rocca accepted
his degree in electrical engineering. But he was not prepared to
accept the end of his playing career. After being drafted this past
spring by the Trenton Shooting Stars of the International Basketball
League, Rocca decided to give the professional ranks a shot. He
now calls the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey, his home.
Rocca says, I was
kind of frustrated with my college experience in terms of the injuries.
I never felt like I got a chance to prove what I could really do.
The injuries never ended. Im hoping this experience will give
me the opportunity to see what Im made of.
intention was to play overseas in Italy, where a number of his relatives
reside. Hes visited several times and enjoys the Italian culture,
but difficulties acquiring a work visa forced Rocca to turn to the
IBL. After speaking with Princeton head coach John Thompson 88
and former Tiger standout Steve Goodrich 96, who played in
the IBL last season for the Baltimore franchise, Rocca was convinced
the league would be the right opportunity.
The IBL has franchises
in Trenton, Richmond, New Mexico, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Las
Vegas. Due to financial strains, teams from Baltimore and San Diego
folded this past season. Most of the players, who are former collegiate
standouts or foreign players, hope to use the 54-game schedule as
a springboard to the NBA, so the style of play is vastly different
from that of most Ivy League games. You wont find suffocating
defense or disciplined offense; instead, IBL games are played in
an up-tempo style as players try to display their individual skills.
Rocca is still adjusting
to the IBL game. He says, There are a lot of really good athletes
who are trying to push the ball up the floor, so the game is a lot
faster. Ive always done a good job of rebounding, and I run
the floor pretty well, so those two elements mesh well with this
style. Im still trying to find my niche on offense. At Princeton,
the majority of our shots were either threes or lay-ups and hook
shots inside. Now, the medium-range jumper is something Ive
really been working on.
Rocca comes off the bench to provide a spark for the Shooting Stars.
His tenacious approach to the game blends well with his role. But
most important, Rocca has remained healthy through the seasons
early stages at least by his standards. I broke a rib
around Christmas, but thats been it so far. This has been
a great experience for me. I love playing games, and Im just
trying to improve. If I can make a living playing basketball for
the next 10 years, thats great. If not, Ill deal with
that when the time comes.
By Mark Gola
Mark Gola is a frequent
joins hoops exodus
The Princeton mens
basketball teams roster took another hit when Eugene Baah
02 left the team recently. Baah, who was averaging 3.7 points
(lowest among Tiger starters) and 2.5 rebounds while playing 22.7
minutes per game, was reportedly unhappy with his role on the team.
A strong defender and an explosive athlete, Baah struggled with
his shooting this season. The forward had converted only 27 percent
of his field goal attempts.