Web Exclusives: From the P-Nut Gallery
a column by Nate Sellwyn nsellyn@princeton.edu

October 8, 2003:

The Magical Fairyland of Princeton Sports

So, the P-Nut loves a good fantasy. Not the Dungeons & Dragons kind. Not the Wizard of Oz kind. Not the kind with hobbits and wizards and talking loaves of bread and flying bikes. No, the fantasy sports kind. The P-Nut loves sitting down at midnight every night to pore over boxscores and sift through the waiver wire. The P-Nut loves grabbing Edgar Alfonzo the night before he hits his first ever grand slam. The P-Nut loves trading for Peyton Manning the week before he throws six TDs. The P-Nut loves four consecutive years of Fantasy Basketball Championships. The P-Nut loved taking Jason Allison in the 10th round of his hockey draft. The guy puts up a point per game, for crying out loud! In today's NHL!

For the confused, fantasy sports are the means by which unathletic persons such as myself involve ourselves further in sports. They enable sports fans to live the ultimate dream: Running their own sports team and competing for a league championship. A fantasy sports manager "owns" a virtual roster of real-world athletes in a specific league (NFL, NBA, MLB, etc.) and manages that team like a real sports team's general manager in competitions against other fantasy team owners. Team owners succeed based upon the compiled real-world performances of their "drafted" players. Make sense?

Fantasy sports began as a pastime for hard-core fans known as "StatHeads," who would follow 300-400 major league players and their respective statistical performances. Now, though, sites like Yahoo have made the fantasy process both simpler and easier on the neophyte.

This week I decided to take a look at which Princeton players could be considered fantasy studs. Well . . .there aren't many. The big fantasy-stat-friendly teams — baseball, basketball, hockey, football — just aren't very good lately.

Even so, the best fantasy guys are not always the guys on winning teams. In basketball, for example, Elton Brand is a fantasy monster — he puts up boards, points, and blocks, all while shooting a good percentage. Playing for the Clippers doesn't hurt him.

The Princeton problem is not one of success, just of mentality. The teams lack individual stars. That said, there are some stand-outs.

Thomas Pauly '04/05, for one. A junior last year, Pauly actually put up some real fantasy numbers last month. Playing for the Cincinnati Reds' "A" affiliate in Dayton, Ohio, Pauly has a 1-1 record and a 2.30 ERA. More impressively, he has a WHIP (Walks or hits per inning pitched) of 0.79. On top of that, he's thrown 12 strikeouts in just 15 innings. I'd love a guy like this on any of my fantasy teams.

Pauly was also a fantasy stud here at Princeton. His WHIP was actually higher, coming in at a fairly average 1.31. He posted a 1.46 ERA, however, and hurled 74 strikeouts in just 55 innings. Not only that, but like the Twins' Johan Santana this year, he made the move from bullpen to starter late in the year, and pitched two victories.

Baseball is the only Princeton sport with a guy like that, though. Hockey has no stars, although Matt Maglione '04 posted decent numbers (14 points in 29 games, 22 penalty minutes) for a defenseman. For a hockey guy, though, I look for someone who is either going to give me a shot at some points every game, or really sit in the box awhile. Patrick Neundorfer '06 might turn into something this year. He only managed 8 points in 28 games last year, but sat in the box for 47 minutes. Given increased time this season, he could turn into the kind of guy I'd consider picking up.

Basketball? No one even close. I need a guy who puts up at least 15 points a night and has the potential to fill another category (assists, rebounds, steals, blocks). Every team in the NBA has at least two guys who can do this, and many have three or four. The Tigers? Well, to be fair, Judson Wallace '05 finished the year with numbers I'd consider. He topped the 20 point mark three times in the season's last four games, and led the team in rebounding three times also. He also put together 2 assists per game, a steal per game, and almost a block per game over the course of the season. On top of that, he made almost four three-pointers a game. Only a select few NBA players — Rasheed Wallace, Shawn Marion, and Cliff Robinson are the ones I can think of right away — manage a block, a steal, and a three in every contest. So maybe Wallace has potential for this year.

Football... I mean... Last year there were guys, I'll say that. Cameron Atkinson's final game? 233 yards and three TDs? Those are Priest Holmes numbers, and Priest is easily the most valuable fantasy guy in the NFL when he's healthy. This year, though, is just ugly. When the team can't crack the 14-point mark, it's tough to find a valuable fantasy guy. B.J. Syzmanski '05 has caught for a respectable 76 yards a contest, but with only one TD, he wouldn't make my team. The rushing corps doesn't even have a contender. The guy who could turn it around is quarterback Matt Verbit '05. He's throwing a respectable 274.5 yards per game, and doesn't throw the ball away. That said, unless some of those passes find the end zone, he remains made for the waiver wire.


Nate Sellyn '04 is an English major writing a creative thesis, and thus actively looking for employment. Seriously. You can reach him at nsellyn@Princeton.EDU