Before you read further, click on this picture. It was taken two seasons ago at the buzzer after Princeton defeated Harvard 54-51. Many of you are in it.
In the stands to your left of Will Barrett and to your right of assistant coach Tony Newsom, clapping with both hands while wearing a light blue shirt, stands Bill Sword '76.
Bill died during Hurricane Sandy on Monday night at the age of 61 when a tree in his yard fell on him.
If you sat behind the bench at Jadwin Gym, you might not have known Bill personally, but you certainly knew his voice.
When I told my wife with disbelief on Tuesday morning "Bill Sword died!" nothing registered.
When I said "the 'YOU'RE MONEY, WILL!' man died!" she joined my shock and sadness.
Bill seemed to arrive habitually late to games in a rush to reach his seat while still well-dressed from work, usually around the first media time out. Once he was seated he immediately made up for lost time.
The sections behind the Princeton team are a faithful yet traditionally quiet bunch with few exceptions.
One of those exceptions was Bill.
His support of specific Tigers (like Will Venable, who I referenced above) and playful derision of certain members of the opposition (he took particular glee in how Princeton shut down Zack Rosen and kept the Quakers from a share of last year's Ivy title) always cut through the air and found my ears.
If they could reach backwards 8-10 rows, I'm sure his words found their intended targets on the court more than a few times.
Jadwin Gym will be a less fun, less-spirited place without Bill Sword.
When he renewed his site subscription just last week, I wrote Bill a note of appreciation for his continued support of what I do. His response was a short one, but included the following:
"highlight of the year is re-upping and getting season tickets!"
I'm so very sorry he won't be able to use those tickets this season. Whomever fills Bill's bleacher seat in future years will be hard-pressed to match his passion and level of caring when it comes to Princeton basketball.
He will be missed.
My condolences to his wife Martha and his three children.